Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NJ: Hamilton teachers union prez resigns over Project Veritas fallout

The Hamilton teachers union boss who got suspended for making inappropriate comments to an undercover Project Veritas newswoman has stepped aside.

“I can confirm that David Perry resigned as HTEA president effective Thursday, May 3,” a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association said Friday via email.

The spokesman, Steve Baker, did not give any insight on who is holding down the fort at the Hamilton Township Education Association now that Perry has jumped ship.

The HTEA website as of Friday afternoon still identified Perry as its president, and the HTEA office number still had an answering machine recording of Perry referring to himself as the union’s top leader.

Perry, who became HTEA president in July 2016, has been a longtime teacher in the district going back to the 1980s. Hamilton Superintendent of Schools Scott Rocco suspended him effective May 2, the same date when video emerged of Perry making eyebrow-raising statements on how he can “bend the truth” to protect teachers who hit students.

Perry’s resignation as HTEA president and his suspension as an employee of the Hamilton Township School District comes at a critical time for the 1,600-member union, which is negotiating for new contracts that would give pay raises to teachers, nurses, custodians, librarians and other support staff. The current HTEA contract expires June 30.

Prior to Perry’s downfall, the Hamilton Township Board of Education was “making gradual progress with the HTEA bargaining group” over contract negotiations, according to public comments board member Richard Kanka made at the March 28 school board meeting as reported in meeting minutes.

The school board’s negotiations committee was scheduled to meet with the HTEA bargaining group on May 2, but it was unclear whether the meeting took place in the wake of the Project Veritas exposé.

Project Veritas, an undercover news organization led by muckraker James O’Keefe, used deceit and bogus plotlines to bait Perry into making controversial and indefensible statements during a secretly recorded encounter on March 27.

The operative, who went by the fictitious name Joyce Miller, told Perry a false story that her imaginary brother in-law physically assaulted a student several weeks ago.

Some of Perry’s eyebrow-raising quotes during the encounter on March 27 were:

“I’m not here to hurt anybody. I’m here to defend. No matter, the worst teachers in the world, I have defended.”

“I got people who are on drugs. And she, five times was fired and I got her job back five times.”

“Listen, if he hit the kid, he hit the kid. It is what it is.”

“He needs to not tell a soul about this. Nobody.”

“If nobody brings it up from school, I don’t say, ‘boo.’”

“That’s why I would never want to bring it up. The longer we wait, the longer there’s no cameras.”

“Now if you go to the Hamilton Board of Education and report this, they’re going to call the police, and they’re going to call parents and all that sh*t. We don’t do that. We don’t do that here. I’m here to defend even the worst people.”

“But we can bend the truth if it’s that’s kid’s word and your brother in-law’s word.”

The former union head refers to himself as “Dr. David R. Perry” and previously boasted about having a Ph.D., but The Trentonian has been unable to verify his doctorate and unable to confirm whether he has authored a dissertation.

Hamilton Township School District personnel reports from April indicate Perry’s highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree. The Trentonian has been unable to reach Perry for comment Friday concerning his resignation as HTEA president and the status of his higher education background and credentials.


Homogeneous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty

In this article I offer new evidence about something readers of Academic Questions already know: The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free—having zero Republicans. The political registration in most of the remaining 61 percent, with a few important exceptions, is slightly more than zero percent but nevertheless absurdly skewed against Republican affiliation and in favor of Democratic affiliation. Thus, 78.2 percent of the academic departments in my sample have either zero Republicans, or so few as to make no difference.

My sample of 8,688 tenure track, Ph.D.–holding professors from fifty-one of the sixty-six top ranked liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News 2017 report consists of 5,197, or 59.8 percent, who are registered either Republican or Democrat. The mean Democratic-to-Republican ratio (D:R) across the sample is 10.4:1, but because of an anomaly in the definition of what constitutes a liberal arts college in the U.S. News survey, I include two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis.1 If these are excluded, the D:R ratio is a whopping 12.7:1.

Why Political Homogeneity Is Troubling

Political homogeneity is problematic because it biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility. In a recent book on social psychology, The Politics of Social Psychology edited by Jarret T. Crawford and Lee Jussim, Mark J. Brandt and Anna Katarina Spälti, show that because of left-wing bias, psychologists are far more likely to study the character and evolution of individuals on the Right than individuals on the Left.2 Inevitably affecting the quality of this research, though, George Yancey found that sociologists prefer not to work with fundamentalists, evangelicals, National Rifle Association members, and Republicans.3 Even though more Americans are conservative than liberal, academic psychologists’ biases cause them to believe that conservatism is deviant. In the study of gender, Charlotta Stern finds that the ideological presumptions in sociology prevent any but the no-differences-between-genders assumptions of left-leaning sociologists from making serious research inroads. So pervasive is the lack of balance in academia that more than 1,000 professors and graduate students have started Heterodox Academy, an organization committed to increasing “viewpoint diversity” in higher education.4 The end result is that objective science becomes problematic, and where research is problematic, teaching is more so.

The Nonconforming Few

A few liberal arts colleges are outliers and do not conform to the standard liberal slant. One, Thomas Aquinas, has thirty-three full-time faculty and all are Republican. The two military colleges in my sample, West Point and Annapolis, have D:R ratios of 1.3:1 and 2.3:1. Although it is debatable whether military colleges are liberal arts colleges, U.S. News’s inclusion of them in the liberal arts category is fortuitous because they offer evidence that when colleges provide supportive environments, intellectual diversity is achievable. There are other exceptions, such as Claremont McKenna, which adopted a viewpoint diversity strategy early in its history, and Kenyon, which is one of a few of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges located in a predominantly Republican state and which did not become coed until 1969.

Thomas Aquinas and St. John’s, another college with above average Republican representation, have emphasized interdisciplinary teaching and downplayed the publish or perish imperative, which Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern have argued contributes to left-oriented groupthink.5 The exceptions to the Democratic-only rule indicate that institutional factors and discrimination might be key reasons for political homogeneity in the liberal arts colleges.

Trend toward Homogeneity

Noah Carl shows that in Britain the trend has been toward increasing leftward affiliation.6 The same has been true in the U.S. More than a decade ago, Stanley Rothman and colleagues provided evidence that while 39 percent of the professoriate on average described itself as Left in 1984, 72 percent did so in 1999. They find a national average D:R ratio of 4.5:1.7 More recently, Anthony J. Quain, Daniel B. Klein, and I find D:R ratios of 11.5:1 in the social science departments of highly ranked national universities.8 This study finds a D:R ratio of 10.4:1 across all liberal arts departments if the military colleges are included and 12.7:1 if the military colleges are excluded.


School District Apologizes After Student Wears Confederate Flag T-Shirt While Holding Gun

A school and one of its students are coming under fire in North Carolina after the yearbook published a photo that some say is deeply offensive.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the controversy started at Cape Fear High School, which is in the central part of the state. A senior at that school posed for a picture that appeared fairly innocuous at first glance … but a closer look has some pundits accusing the school of racism.

“A school district outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has issued an apology after one of its yearbooks featured an image of a white teen wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt, holding a shotgun and standing in a cotton field,” the newspaper explained.

If you weren’t paying attention, you might think that the image is fairly common for that part of the country. An outdoorsman holding a hunting shotgun isn’t that out of place in the south, but the added elements of the Confederate flag and the cotton field backdrop might suggest something more.

“In light of all the publicity we’ve had lately over shootings in schools, I thought it was kind of tacky that we’re featuring photos publicizing guns,” a parent named Jay Butler told The Observer about the yearbook picture.

“It was a minute or two later that I noticed he was standing in a cotton field, wearing the Confederate flag. That’s when I thought: ‘This is appalling,’” the parent continued. “But I don’t blame the parents or the student, I blame the school.”

People seem split on how to interpret the image: Is it an innocent snapshot of blue-collar life in the rural south, a joke that went to far, or something overtly meant to be racist?

WTVD reported that it may not have been the senior who submitted the photo, but his mother. She told that news outlet that she “saw nothing wrong with it” when the picture was sent for inclusion in the yearbook.

Other parents like Butler, however, disagree. “It disrespects other students and nationalities,” the area father insisted. Presumably most students at the school are the same nationality — American — but he likely meant other races.

“Whoever did the yearbook really screwed up on this one,” the concerned parent continued. “People were beaten, whipped, raped just to pick that cotton. It is offensive because we’re trying to get past that.”

The school district, meanwhile, has issued a formal apology.  "We sincerely regret that a photo of this nature was overlooked. It does not reflect the values of Cape Fear High School,” Cumberland County Schools said.

“Our climate is one of inclusiveness. Moving forward, measures will be taken to ensure there is a more thorough review process of the yearbook in place before it is published,” school administrators continued.

On one hand, there is such as thing as over-sensitivity, and people may be projecting their own views onto a photo that was genuinely meant to be innocent.

On the other hand, however, it’s hard to say that the combination of elements — the Confederate flag, the cotton field, the shotgun — don’t evoke imagery from slavery.

Regardless of whether the image was meant to be offensive, the school is right on one thing: Somebody should have noticed that this was likely to create a controversy, and simply chosen another image instead.


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