Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Leftists rediscovering their segregationist roots

Irwin Holmes was in his living room, a laptop computer in front of him, a pile of reading materials stacked next to him, and his wife seated nearby when he heard the news. North Carolina State University might create segregated student housing for African American women.

When he learned his alma mater already had exclusive student housing for Native Americans and African American males he was incredulous, and at no loss for words.

“I want to make some contacts over at that school. I’m going to go over there and let them know what I think about it,” Holmes said. “I think it’s absolutely atrocious and stupid. I’ll tell you how it affected me. I’m going to make some reasonable contributions to the school. Maybe. I’m not sure I’m going to make them now.”

Holmes, a retired electrical engineer who still lives in his hometown of Durham, was the first African American to earn an undergraduate degree from NC State, in 1960.

“I was clearly a pioneer” in tearing down racial barriers to integrated education in the Jim Crow South, Holmes said. “Somebody’s going to have to convince me why that’s not stepping backwards” to create separate housing for minorities.

Nashia Whittenburg, director of multicultural student affairs at NC State, stirred a national debate and a torrent of news articles shortly after she assumed her position on July 10. She was quoted in a university news release saying she wanted to create an exclusive living and learning village for African American women.

“Are we creating a sense of inclusion for our underrepresented students, and the opportunity for non-underrepresented students to understand that?” Whittenburg asked in justifying the segregated housing, which she likened to an after-class support system to deal with all-day microaggressions. She views female blacks-only housing as a student retention tool.

University housing director Susan Grant said Whittenburg’s plan “is not currently under consideration,” and could take more than a year to be developed if approved.

There are 16 living and learning villages on campus “to provide a high impact living and learning experience to complement and augment the academic and co-curricular experience,” Grant said.

She denied that any of the village housing is segregated, but did not answer whether people of other races lived in the Black Male Initiative or Native Space housing.

“Our focus is on cultural exploration, not exclusive of any race,” Grant said.​

It is unclear how many colleges and universities have such student housing arrangements.

James Baumann, director of communications and marketing at the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International, said that will be the subject of a research initiative in the near future.

He said that his organization has been following housing programs for African American males at, among other schools, the University of Connecticut, the University of Iowa, and Cal State Los Angeles. Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Cornell College in Iowa, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University also have ethnic and racially themed housing.

Themed housing “can address a number of different subjects that are sometimes connected to work in the classroom, and other times operate independently of the students’ coursework,” Baumann said. It can “bring together students that share an interest, area of study, or an identity. They can act as a support network that helps students build community and assist one another.”

But critics have raised questions about the legality of segregated housing for racial minorities, and whether it is a return to a darker time in the nation’s history when government policy and institutional rules separated the races.

Civil rights lawyer Irving Joyner, a law professor at the historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham, said separate housing could run afoul of the Constitution.

“If this is just done for the sake of doing it, then I think you have a clear violation of Brown v. Board of Education,” Joyner said of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared “separate but equal” education was unconstitutional.

Joyner said he is aware of efforts on university campuses and in high schools around the country “to declare that such an arrangement violates Brown v. Board, that it is a perpetuation of segregation, and because of that it should not occur.”

But he can imagine a defense for separate housing. If there is a hostility level on campus that makes African American females uncomfortable, or if they feel culturally alienated, or culturally attacked, that falls under the same umbrella as a physical attack in his mind, Joyner said.

A university has “a compelling interest” to provide separate housing as an emergency measure to protect students under those circumstances, he said. “I think that the court would allow it.”

Joyner was one of only two African American students in his dormitory during his undergraduate studies at Oswego State University in New York. He said he understands why older African Americans who endured similar experiences might feel like a return to separate housing betrays their important efforts to desegregate colleges.

But Irwin Holmes said he is less concerned about the legacy of his contributions in opening doors to minority students at NC State than he is about what might be lost through separate housing.

“One of the big advantages of integration in America has been that people who wouldn’t normally run into each other as they go through life are forced to run into each other. And what happens when you do that is you discover that there’s not much difference between us,” Holmes said.

Integrated schools and close living arrangements foster interracial friendships that might not otherwise occur, and that is “the main reason America’s changing today,” Holmes said. “When you mix, magical things happen that nobody can anticipate.…”

Holmes chose NC State for its engineering program. NC Central, from which his father and mother graduated, and where his father was an All-American football player, and later teacher and coach, did not have an engineering curriculum. And going to North Carolina A&T was out of the question because that was NC Central’s arch rival, and his parents wouldn’t have allowed that, he said with a chuckle.

Despite two racially charged encounters with professors, a sour experience or two from his white teammates on the tennis team, and a sucker punch from a white opponent during an intramural basketball game, Holmes said his experience at NC State was overwhelmingly positive.

Most professors were determined he would graduate, and helped him any way they could. Most of his fellow students were friendly. And he was named co-captain of the tennis team his senior year.

Holmes, like Joyner, said there might be more racial tension on campus today than during integration.

White teachers might not encourage African American students to excel because they don’t believe they are as capable as white students, he said. African Americans might feel that whites still don’t accept them into their groups. So they no longer try to assimilate where they don’t feel wanted, and tend to band together.

But he doesn’t believe that justifies splintering the races further through separate housing.

Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Reform, said he is unaware whether any research has been done on the effects of segregated college housing.

But he said there is research at the high school level that shows self-segregation is common. He cited former Spelman College president Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? as one of the books that found that even if students are physically together in school, their friendships tend to be overwhelmingly homogenous.

“Meaningful, intergroup bridging does not seem to readily occur even where groups are physically mixed,” McCluskey said. “And this seems to be largely a function of homophily—people liking people like themselves—rather than animosity toward other groups.”

But proponents of race-themed housing, such as NC State’s Nashia Whittenburg, don’t appear to be working to bridge racial divides or reduce students’ tendency to self-segregate.

They seem to be more interested in creating psychological “safe spaces” for minority students than in breaking down social barriers. In the name of “inclusion,” they may end up perpetuating the exclusionary campus culture that Irwin Holmes and others fought against decades ago.


Illinois Passes Its First, Country’s 18th, Tax-Credit Scholarship Program

By Vicki Alger 

This week the Illinois legislature passed legislation creating the country’s 18th tax-credit scholarship program, and the bill is on its way to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who’s said he’ll sign it. UPDATE: Gov. Rauner signed the bill.

Officially called the Invest in Kids Act, Illinois’ flagship tax-credit scholarship program was passed as part of a compromise school funding bill. (See SB 1947)

Unlike voucher scholarships, which are funded by government appropriations, tax-credit scholarships are privately financed through donations to non-profit scholarship organizations.

The Invest in Kids Act makes students from low- and moderate-income families eligible for scholarships, which are scaled based on family income. When awarding scholarships, non-profits must give priority to low-income students, students in districts with poorly performing public schools, called “focus districts,” and siblings of scholarship recipients.

Scholarship amounts cannot exceed the lesser of necessary private school costs and fees, or the statewide average public school operational expense per student, which averages just under $13,000. Scholarship limits are higher for special needs, English learner, and gifted/talented students.

Students from families whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $45,510 for a family of four, receive full scholarship awards. Partial scholarships worth 75 percent of the maximum amount can be awarded to students whose family incomes fall between 185 percent and less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $61,500 for a family of four. Students from families with incomes of 250 percent up to the program income limit of 300 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $73,800 for a family of four, are eligible for scholarships worth 50 percent of the maximum award.

Individuals and businesses can claim a credit off their state taxes worth 75 percent of their donations to scholarship non-profits, and the aggregate value of tax credits that can be claimed in a given year is capped at $75 million. That works out to a maximum of $100 million annually in donations for need-based scholarships.

Even though the Invest in Kids scholarship program represents just a fraction of Illinois state education funding, which amounts to $8.2 billion, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey called it a “time bomb” that could “sabotage school funding.” (See here also.) Hardly.

States that have enacted tax-credit scholarship programs have saved as much as $3.4 billion combined—approximately $3,000 per scholarship student. An official government analysis of the country’s largest scholarship program in Florida also found that the state saved $1.49 in education funding for every dollar claimed in donation tax credits.

What’s more, under the 500+ page bill the Chicago Public School system gets an additional $450 million, and the City of Chicago gets to increase property taxes by $130 million.

Most importantly the Invest in Kids scholarship program “will bring hope to many students who have been trapped in schools that do not meet their education needs,” according to the Heartland Institute’s Lennie Jarratt.

Thus Illinois will soon officially be the largest blue state with a private school parental choice program, which should give hope to Californians that nonpublic educational choice could be a reality someday soon.

“Illinois, a state mired in debt and tortured by one of, if not the worst teachers unions in the nation, has finally done something to help children stuck in failing schools,” says the Heartland Institute’s Teresa Mull. Her colleague Tim Benson concurs, adding, “At the dawn of 2017, I never would have expected that one of the states to pass a new education choice program would be Illinois, the poster child for governance – both stupid and criminal. Yet here I am, pleasantly surprised to be wrong.”


UK: Liberal school that's just too liberal: Top £10,000-a-year Steiner school is ordered to close amid child safety fears after series of damning inspections

When my son was a toddler, we visited the local Steiner School with a view to seeing if it might be right for him. But it was way too wacky for us

A top £10,000 a year school has been ordered to close following a damning report from Ofsted that flagged up serious fears of child safety.

The Rudolf Steiner School, in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, will close down after failing to make improvements since the education watchdog's last visit in December, when it stopped any new pupils from coming aboard.

But now the school has been ordered to close down for good, with inspectors saying data protection had been breached, pupils were able to wander off-site during lunch breaks and that there were no 'professional boundaries' between students and teachers, with some meeting up outside school.

The school is currently appealing the decision and will continue to operate as normal until a decision on this has been made.

A statement on the school's website reads: 'On 26th July the School received notice from the Department for Education of the Secretary of State's decision to de-register the School from the Register of Independent Schools, subject to appeal.

'This notice was a result of the findings of Ofsted's May 2017 Inspection.

'After almost seventy years of providing a unique and inspiring education to countless children, the School is facing closure.

'The School is appealing the deregistration and the community is now coming together in a positive and dedicated campaign to save our school.'

After it failed the report in December, Ofsted officials visited the school in May to see if it had managed to turn its fortunes around.

However, lead inspector Philippa Darley and her team found that, in many respects, teachers were far behind the necessary standards, with some even casually meeting children outside class.

The report said: 'Professional boundaries between staff, parents and pupils are not maintained... Parents arrange for pupils to see their teachers, and former teachers, off the school site.  This culture is unchanged, despite known serious safeguarding failings.

The report also slammed the school for lying to parents about the severity of some of the issues, and for failing to keep data secure.

'Leaders have underplayed and misrepresented the school's safeguarding failings to parents,' it said. 'On more than one occasion, they have publicly stated that the failure is simply one of 'record keeping'.

'They have also stated that 'no transgressions or wrongdoings were found to have taken place' and have implied that former parents who expressed concerns have misrepresented the position. These messages are not supported by the inspection evidence.

'Leaders have failed to ensure that information relating to child protection is retained in line with the rules on retention of data promulgated by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

'They have failed to take proper steps to save the email accounts of former staff, including those of one former leader for safeguarding.

'Records of pupils going off-site at lunchtime continue to be poorly kept. It is not always clear if pupils have returned to school.

'These standards remain unmet. Crucially, leaders do not base their decisions, at all times, on what is in the best interests of the child. This is the core principle of good safeguarding practice and a statutory requirement for all schools.'

A new principal has been appointed in a bid to save the school from closure, and an entirely new Council of Trustees has also been put in place.

In a public statement on the school's website, co-signed by the new principal and the chair of trustees the school said:

'The new leadership of the School is putting into effect a strategy to address all of the issues identified by Ofsted and others, working closely with parents, staff and all stakeholders

'While the School feels it provides a positive experience for children, there have been real and serious failings going back several years.

'The School and leadership wishes to fully and publicly apologise to those children, and their families, to whom the School failed to provide the safe and supportive learning environment it should.

'The new leadership is determined that the School continues to learn and apply all the important lessons arising from past complaints to ensure that such failings never happen again.

'While a lot has been done, there remains a lot to do. The new leadership team is fully confident that the required progress can be achieved.'


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