Sunday, August 06, 2017

Harvard would rather have blacks than Asians

As Ron Unz has documented, the Harvard student body would be three quarters Asian if admissions were based on ability alone.  As it is, Asian admissions are limited to somewhere around 20%. This revelation does of course open Harvard to a charge of racism so has to be defended.  Rather than remedy a wrong, they have doubled down on black admissions, even though few blacks will be able to handle the work and will drop out at some stage

For the first time in Harvard University’s history, the majority of students accepted into the incoming freshman class are not white, a milestone for an institution that prides itself on educating future presidents, CEOs, and world leaders.

But Harvard’s push to broaden the diversity of its student ranks comes as the Trump administration intensifies its focus on affirmative action policies and suggests it will investigate how colleges shape the racial makeup of their campuses.

The US Justice Department is preparing to redirect resources from its civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, The New York Times reported this week.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration said it had no broad plans to investigate whether college and university admissions programs discriminate against students based on race and that it was looking into a single complaint from a coalition of Asian-American groups filed in 2015. The coalition filed an administrative complaint against Harvard University, alleging that the school and other Ivy League institutions are using racial quotas that shut out high-scoring Asians.

Still, news about the administration’s interest in affirmative action policies caught colleges off-guard and raised worries in academia and among civil rights advocates.

On Wednesday, several universities in Massachusetts defended their admissions practices and said they meet legal requirements. They stressed that building a campus of students from different races, places, and a variety of experiences was crucial to their academic mission.

“To become leaders in our diverse society, students must have the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. Harvard remains committed to enrolling diverse classes of students,” said Rachael Dane, a spokeswoman for the university. “Harvard’s admissions process considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors, consistent with the legal standards established by the US Supreme Court.”

Of the freshmen students admitted to Harvard this year, 50.8 percent are from minority groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. That’s up from 47.3 percent last year, according to the university.

Harvard recruiters fanned out across the country, visiting 150 communities in the United States, meeting with students and parents at night and with high school counselors for breakfast, according to the school.

Harvard admitted 22.2 percent of students who identified as Asians, about the same as last year.

Many top schools also conduct robust recruiting efforts to attract minorities.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where the freshmen minority enrollment has climbed from 21 percent in 2010 to nearly 30 percent in 2016, has made greater efforts to recruit students from high schools in cities such as Springfield and Boston, said James Roche, the school’s associate provost of enrollment management.

At UMass Amherst a student’s race and ethnicity are part of the admissions process, but not the defining factor, Roche said.

The school stands by its admissions policy and doesn’t plan any changes based on the Justice Department’s stepped up interest in affirmative action, he said.

“As we’ve learned with this administration, we need to let things shake out and see where they fall,” Roche said. “What we’re doing fits the legal standards.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also monitoring how the Justice Department will proceed. “A diverse student body is critical to the educational mission of MIT,” said Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for the university.

Edward Blum, the president of Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuit against Harvard claiming its admissions policy discriminates against Asian students, said he was surprised by the Justice Department’s interest in the case.

“I am truthfully befuddled by it,” Blum said. “No one has reached out to us.”

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that the Justice Department’s call for lawyers to review the complaint from Asian coalitions came after career staffers who specialize in education issues refused to work on the investigation out of concerns that it was contrary to the division’s longstanding approach to civil rights in education.

Blum has a similar case pending against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

And he also pushed a case brought by Abigail Fisher, a student who said the University of Texas rejected her because she is white. Last year, the US Supreme Court, in a 4-to-3 vote, decided that college admissions officers could continue to use race as one of several factors in deciding who gets into a school. The decision surprised university officials and disappointed those who had hoped to end race-based admissions.

But the ruling does require universities, if they are challenged, to show that they had no choice but to use race to create diversity on campus and that other factors alone, such as family income or an advantage to first-generation college students, couldn’t create a similar mix of students, said Vinay Harpalani, a law professor at the Savannah Law School, who specializes in affirmative action.

A more active Justice Department on this front could push schools to demonstrate that they are looking at other factors before race, Harpalani said.

“The fact that the Trump [administration] may investigate this may make universities more wary about using race in their admissions policies,” he said. “Universities typically don’t like to make details on their race-conscious policies public, because the line between legal and illegal policies is not fully clear . . . and because there are always potential lawsuits out there, and also because this is such a politically charged issue.”

Universities aren’t likely to entirely stop considering race as a factor in admissions, but having the Justice Department watching every move could have a chilling effect, said Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which has studied college racial and economic diversity. “They’re nervous, and this will make them more nervous,” Carnevale said.


Engineering Education: Social Engineering Rather than Actual Engineering

We engineers like to solve technical problems. That’s the way we think, that’s why we chose our major, that’s why we got into and stayed in engineering.

There are several other reasons why we got into engineering. One of them was the absence of what I describe here as “social engineering,” where the professor/instructor is interested not so much in solving technical problems as in setting the world right—in his or her opinion.

A second and related reason is that engineering (and the sciences generally) should be, like the scales of justice, blind. Engineering does not care about your color, sexual orientation, or your other personal and private attributes. All it takes to succeed is to do the work well.

Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards.

Alas, the world we engineers envisioned as young students is not quite as simple and straightforward as we had wished because a phalanx of social justice warriors, ideologues, egalitarians, and opportunistic careerists has ensconced itself in America’s college and universities. The destruction they have caused in the humanities and social sciences has now reached to engineering.

One of the features of their growing power is the phenomenon of “engineering education” programs and schools. They have sought out the soft underbelly of engineering, where phrases such as “diversity” and “different perspectives” and “racial gaps” and “unfairness” and “unequal outcomes” make up the daily vocabulary. Instead of calculating engine horsepower or microchip power/size ratios or aerodynamic lift and drag, the engineering educationists focus on group representation, hurt feelings, and “microaggressions” in the profession.

An excellent example is the establishment at Purdue University (once informally called the “MIT of the Midwest”) of a whole School of Engineering Education. What is this school’s purpose? Its website tells us that it “envisions a more socially connected and scholarly engineering education. This implies that we radically rethink the boundaries of engineering and the purpose of engineering education.”

I have always thought my own education in engineering was as scholarly as possible. Once I became a professor, I never worried about how “socially connected” the education we provided at Michigan State for engineering students was. With trepidation, I read on to see if I was missing something important. I learned to my dismay that Purdue’s engineering education school rests on three bizarre pillars: “reimagining engineering and engineering education, creating field-shaping knowledge, and empowering agents of change.”

All academic fields shape knowledge and bring about change, but they don’t do that by “empowering” the agents of change. And what does “reimagining engineering” mean? The great aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán said that “a scientist studies what is, while an engineer creates what never was.” In engineering, we apply scientific principles in the design and creation of new technologies for mankind’s use. It’s a creative process. Since engineering is basically creativity, how are we supposed to “reimagine creativity”? That makes no sense.

And, just for the record, engineers “empower” themselves and, most important, other people, by inventing things. Those things are our agents of change.

The recently appointed dean of Purdue’s school, Dr. Donna Riley, has an ambitious agenda.

In her words (italics mine): “I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics, and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups…. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism, and colonialism…. Gender is a key…[theme]…[throughout] the course…. We…[examine]… racist and colonialist projects in science….”

That starts off innocently enough, discussing the intersection of engineering with public policy and ethics, but then veers off the rails once Riley begins disparaging the free movement of capital, the role of Western civilization, and the nature of men, specifically “colonialist” white men. How can it improve the practice of engineering to bring in such diversions and distractions?

Riley’s purpose seems not to be how best to train new engineers but to let everyone know how bad engineers have been, how they continue to “oppress” women and persons of color, how much we need “diverse perspectives,” and how the “struggle” continues to level all distinctions and differences in society.

Lest the reader believe I exaggerate, let him peruse a periodical called the Journal of Engineering Education, the Society for Engineering Education’s flagship journal. In each number, readers find at least one article with a title such as “Diversifying the Engineering Workforce” or “Understanding Student Difference” (January, 2005, Vol. 94, No. 1).

I chose this volume at random, but they are all like that. The first section of the latter article is “Three Facets of Student Diversity” in which the authors explain how to “motivate” and “retain” students in engineering, the emphasis being on minorities and women. We’re told that “diversity in education refers to the effects of gender and ethnicity on student performance.” Issues like “validation” and “learning styles” are discussed, and of course the instructor must teach “to address all three forms of diversity.”

The central philosophical premise of the article is leveling. It absolves students of responsibility and provides the non-learner with a ready excuse (“my teacher is a bigot!”). And there is no way to quantify its assertions. The “data” are little more than questionnaires or anecdotes. If only we were more fair and just, women and “minorities” (whatever that word means any more) would flock to engineering.

Engineering education’s basic assumption is that engineering will be improved if the profession is crafted to be more diverse, but that is completely untested. In the universe I live in, engineering is for those who want to and can be engineers. It’s not for everybody and there is no reason to believe that aptitude for engineering is evenly distributed.

It is one of life’s accidents that we are as we are. Perhaps it’s in our DNA. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (three long-dead white males) seemed to understand the role of “accidents” in human life better than we do. One thing is certain—we are not infinitely moldable clay. Contra Rousseau, the notorious “blank slate” theorist, we have proclivities and talents and gifts.

Thus, it does not seem to be a valuable use of our finite resources to try to “push” people into areas in which they show limited interest or ability. That, however, seems to be precisely the mission of “engineering education” schools and programs.

Nobody wants to see an uncoordinated doofus on the NBA basketball court simply to add “diversity.” We pay to see top-notch talent compete for victory. We should apply the same standards to engineering and stop pretending that we can “game” our wonderful profession so that anyone can succeed.

Nor should we attack engineering’s foundations, its dominantly Western character, so that non-Westerners might suffer fewer “microaggressions” and somehow feel better about studying it.

What is won without effort is surely without merit, and what is torn down and trampled will not easily be raised up again. We had better tread carefully.


Australia: Girls as young as 11 'could be given the contraceptive pill at school without their parents consent' under new regulations

This is typical Leftist authoritarianism:  Designed to divert all authority to themselves.  It goes back to Karl Marx's hatred of the family

Girls as young as 11 could have access to the contraceptive pill without their parents consent under a new school program.

Doctors in Secondary Schools program have updated their guidelines meaning parental consent was not a legal requirement which could mean teachers are able to override a parent's decision for their children not to see a doctor during school hours.

Providing treatment for physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, the $44 million program involves GP clinics operating once a week in 100 Victorian secondary schools, according to The Australian.

The program is aiming to balance the rights of young people and parental involvement where young people in Victoria are able to give their own consent to their own treatments if a doctor considers them to be a 'mature minor'.

Education Minister James Merlino told the publication the program does not change the current legal requirements in the medical industry.

'Rules around consent are treated in exactly the same way as it would in our community. This gives reassurance to parents and the school that health service being provided is in line with their expectations,' Mr Merlino said.

However, if children are under 14 and listed on their parent's Medicare cards, their parents can access appointment information.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling told The Australian parents should be included in decision making about their own children and it was concerning schools could override parent's consent.


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