Friday, September 30, 2016

Boston Latin needs more diversity?

Boston Latin High School is prestigious because of only one thing.  The quality of its students. It no longer requires the study of Latin but it does filter out applicants by ability.  You have to be smart to be admitted.  But, as the certainties of black educational achievement will tell you, that means that the school should almost all be white.  There are very few top educational achievers among blacks. 

But Leftists hate that "unequal" reality and will always strive to destroy anything selective.  And they have already undermined Boston Latin.  They have subverted the admission procedures to the point where blacks are an absurd 20% of the student body.  Many of those blacks should not be there -- mixing with elite whites. 

Nobody likes dummies so it is a considerable tribute to the white students that for 99% of the time they do or say nothing adverse to the dummies amongst them.  Schoolchildren are however hard on one another generally.  The elite cliques that form among the "cool" students are well-known.  And those excluded by such cliques are mostly white.  So superior attitudes towards blacks can be expected not because of race but because of "coolness", however coolness is defined in that time and place.  But in the perfervidly race-conscious environment of Left-dominated American education today, normal adolescent aloofness will be characterized as racism.

There is NO racism at Boston Latin.  Blacks just don't like the way whites look past them.  Even the author below admits that the complaints are nebulous.  They are more than nebulous.  They are mistaken.  The smart white kids of Boston Latin know what terrors would descend upon them if they did or said anything racist.  So they don't do it.

So the prescription below is exactly the reverse of what is needed.  Bending the rules to let more blacks in would only sharpen racial divisions.  What is needed is strict enforcement of the rules so that the whites and blacks who are admitted are intellectually equal.  THAT is how the black students would get respect.  Respect cannot be forced.  It has to be earned.

US ATTORNEY Carmen M. Ortiz announced the findings of a civil rights investigation into Boston Latin School on Monday, but they were shockingly unrevealing. Ortiz found that there was a climate of racial discrimination and harassment at the school, and that BLS staff failed to adequately handle student complaints.

But we already knew that, primarily from Boston Public Schools’ own investigation into the incidents. What’s new is that, in one instance, Ortiz found the school in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act. As a result, the district agreed to a three-year period of oversight under the Department of Justice. During that time, BPS will be monitored to make sure the school carries out mandatory training for students, faculty, and staff on racial harassment policies; designs a restorative justice system; hires a diversity officer; and conducts an annual survey of the school’s racial climate. In fact, some of those measures had already been implemented at the school, such as the hiring of Albert Holland, in March, as special assistant to the superintendent, to help with racial tensions. He’s now been appointed as the diversity officer at Boston Latin.

Hopefully, such remedies will result in a better school environment. But Ortiz ignored the elephant in the room. The racial harassment that resulted in the civil rights violation probably wouldn’t have happened if the school were more diverse in the first place. “We know the harm racial isolation causes,” says Matt Cregor, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “When you’re made to be the only person in the room of a certain color of skin or national origin, that’s a tremendous burden.”

Indeed, the racial demographics at Boston Latin School diverge sharply from the district’s. Black and Latino students constitute 74 percent of the city’s school population yet account for only 20 percent of Boston Latin’s student body. To be fair, the district is boosting efforts to diversify the pool of candidates seeking admission to the city’s three exam schools, including Boston Latin. But in looking for long-term strategies to tackle racial tensions at the school — approaches that go beyond a survey or a training session here and there — the admissions policy must be on the table.

School officials had been already doing that. But they got off on the wrong foot when it was reported, in early July, that there was an under-the-radar advisory group examining entry requirements at Boston Latin and the city’s two other exam schools. Alumni and parents understandably cried foul, concerned about stealth efforts to change policy. It’s incumbent on Boston Public Schools to reexamine a process that shortchanges the majority of the city’s student body. But such conversations need to be conducted publicly.

Students are currently admitted to BLS based just on grade averages and test scores. A quota system once reserved 35 percent of seats for black and Latino students, but that system ended after a 1995 lawsuit in which a white student claimed reverse discrimination. Since then, minority representation has lagged.

Boston Latin is an exclusive school by nature. But application criteria have changed over time, and could change again; maintaining academic excellence is perfectly compatible with the goal of reducing racial isolation.

The use of test scores and grades as admission criteria carries an inherent disadvantage. It favors the families who can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a test preparation course. The old quota system may have been an unacceptably blunt tool to diversify the student body, but there are legal race-conscious approaches that the district could consider, such as assigning more weight to applications from kids living in certain zip codes.

This summer’s US Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action signals that higher-education institutions have some discretion factoring race in the admissions process. That message should ring loud and clear in elementary and secondary school systems as well. To address the root of tensions Ortiz and others have identified, the district needs to look hard at the way students are admitted to BLS, the district’s “crown jewel.”


Students, refuse to think racially

The obsession with racism on campus is harming human relations

When it comes to student politics, race is all the rage. Last week, NUS president Malia Bouattia said university can even be ‘psychologically destructive’ for black students. From course curricula to banter at the union bar, universities have allegedly become infected with ‘campus racism’ – a relative term that allows NUS officials to defend BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups while labelling the University of Birmingham a ‘Zionist outpost’.

Campus racism is supposedly so endemic that universities now hold race workshops, forcing fresh-faced students to come to terms with their innate prejudices. The University of Oxford held a ‘Race 101 (Or How Not To Be Racist)’ class for freshers last year.

So when a fresher starts university, it is assumed he or she has a penchant for racism. Where the first weeks of university were once seen as an opportunity to go bonkers with a bunch of strangers, this new racialised climate has made freshers’ week a nervous affair. The Oxford Union last year passed a motion condemning itself as ‘institutionally racist’. You’re racist, your university is racist – everyone is racist.

Students are now encouraged to see everything through the prism of race – leading, most recently, to a panic about so-called cultural appropriation. At the University of East Anglia and the University of Birmingham, students have been banned from wearing sombreros because apparently the hats are disrespectful to Mexicans; party-goers at Birmingham have also been chastised for wearing Native American costumes. At Cambridge, a Lion King-themed dinner was shut down after the students’ union’s African Society complained the menu was culturally insensitive. Universities used to be places where young people could expose themselves to foreign ideas and cultures; now it’s considered virtually a crime to deviate from one’s own heritage.

Now, even certain relics of history can be deemed racist and dangerous. Last year at Oxford, a group of students demanded a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a long-dead British colonialist, be torn down à la Palmyra due to the distressing impact they claimed it was having on black students. This was a campaign that actually celebrated the alleged vulnerability of black students. Its nastiness became evident when, during a visit to his home in South Africa, a leader of the campaign made a waitress cry what he called ‘typical white tears’ after he refused to tip her – ‘even if she’s working class, she is linked to whiteness’, he said.

Even the intrinsic value of education is under threat from this new racialism. The NUS’s ‘Why is my curriculum white?’ campaign insists that universities operate ‘under a colonial legacy, perpetuating “Whiteness” both structurally and in the confines of knowledge reproduced’. The campaign is founded on the notion that black students are innately ‘under-stimulated by the content of their [white] curricula’. In short, people are only able to relate to topics relevant to their identity. This notion flies in the face of what anti-racists have always argued – that all people are capable of participating in society as equals. Where black-rights campaigners once struggled for the right to be treated the same as everyone else, now a small clique of identity-politics-driven students is fighting for the right to be different and vulnerable.

Worst of all, this ugly climate is affecting students’ social interactions. The rise of microaggressions – the idea that casual comments about a minority student’s appearance or background can make them feel uncomfortable – has frozen campus interactions. When a fresher walks into their hall of residence and asks their new flatmate where he or she is from, that is now considered potentially racist. Last year Goldsmiths’ students’ union banned white people from anti-racist meetings, because proper discussion couldn’t take place with ‘oppressors’ in the room.

While much of this might sound comical, the return of racialism in the academy is anything but funny – it has serious repercussions for freedom of speech and even human engagement. It makes new students feel uncomfortable from the moment they start university. And it harms education. This is not anti-racism – it’s anti-universalism.


Teaching students to be mentally ill

The obsession with ‘student stress’ makes campus life dull and censorious

Procrastinating, over-tired, lacking in concentration, eating poorly? Those sound like the normal traits of a university student to me. Not anymore, it seems. According to most UK university guidance today, if you’re an undergrad experiencing any of those things, then you might be struggling with a mental-health issue.

Before students have even sat through their first lecture, they’re bombarded with advice, tips and invitations to workshops to enhance their mental wellbeing. This year, students at King’s College London will be offered the chance to attend an ‘exploring emotional intelligence’ workshop during freshers’ week, to help ‘identify and deal with the pressures and challenges of their day-to-day lives’. The UK student mental-health charity, Student Minds, recently launched its campaign #BestNightIn, encouraging students to share pictures of themselves in slippers watching Netflix, to counter the stereotypical image of the party-hard fresher. Student Minds hopes the campaign will help students ‘feel confident to do what they want’.

Such interventions aren’t isolated to freshers’ week. There’s ‘university mental-health day’, the Scottish National Union of Students’ campaign calling on us to ‘think positively about student mental-health’. And, throughout the year, there are various workshops and sessions on campuses across Britain to help alleviate students’ exam stress or their general bad feelings.

The NUS found in its 2015 mental-health survey that almost 80 per cent of students had experienced a mental-health issue in the previous academic year, a staggering increase from its report in 2013, which found that only around 30 per cent had. A survey undertaken by the Architects’ Journal found that over 25 per cent of architecture students had received intervention for mental-health issues. These stats seem worrying – but are there really that many students with serious mental-health issues?

The most common mental-health concern cited by students is stress. Most undergrads will be familiar with the mid-term slump: late nights in the library and the struggle to get up for an early morning lecture. But isn’t this just part of university life? Of studying hard for your degree? Instead of simply saying that university is meant to be hard, university management and students’ unions are telling students that if they find it hard then they might need help. This is dangerous. It does nothing to tackle the real mental-health issues that a minority of students will be suffering from; it just turns something like stress – a natural consequence of working hard – into a mental-health concern. The reason many students think they have mental-health issues is because they’re constantly told that they do. Students’ unions and campaign groups are constructing a mental-health panic on campus.

Through constantly telling students they’re probably stressed and overworked and suffering from ‘poor mental wellbeing’, universities are teaching students to think they’re ill. The health and wellbeing department at the University of York offers ‘recognising your self-worth’ and ‘pushing through perfectionism’ workshops for students who ‘try too hard’ or ‘apologise or criticise a lot’. The NUS’s stats on students with mental-health issues now make sense: when even trying too hard can be logged as a mental-health problem, it’s no wonder so many students think they are mentally ill.

The suggested solutions to this made-up epidemic are incredibly infantilising. At Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the Young Greens society put on an ‘art therapy’ session for students who were ‘stressed from the semester’. The University of Southampton’s students’ union puts on a biannual de-stressing programme called ‘You are more than…’, designed to remind students that they are more than their degree. To combat stress, Southampton provides a petting zoo for students to visit, free hand massages, and university wellbeing workshops.

Promoting the idea that students are fragile feeds censorship. The rise of trigger warnings and Safe Spaces confirms that when students are encouraged to protect themselves from stress or difficult tasks or challenging ideas, then academic rigour and freedom start to suffer. In May this year, law lecturers at the University of Oxford were told to put trigger warnings on any material students might find ‘distressing’. Students were given the option to leave said lectures. At QMUL, the students’ union passed a motion calling on the university to put trigger warnings on material that includes references to ‘violence, sexual violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, homophobia, racism, sexism, etc’. The motion recommends that students contact their course leader if they feel uncomfortable with a particular module. What next: students skipping early lectures because they aren’t comfortable with getting up before 9?

Students, it’s time for us to turn these stats around. We’re not facing a campus-wide mental-health crisis. Finding undergraduate study a challenge is normal. So, if you’re starting university this year, or just returning to the madness, join me in giving two fingers to the mental-health panic. And let’s remind ourselves why we decided to go to university in the first place: to study hard (and party hard) and to become adults. Don’t let them pathologise you or infantilise you.

Emily Dinsmore is a writer, student and a campaigner for spiked’s Invoke Article 50 NOW! campaign.


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