Wednesday, October 23, 2019

University BANS 'acts of intolerance'

With Halloween approaching, college students may be thinking about what type of party they should host or what costume they should pick.

However, at Furman University, students might be restricted in their plans.

Free speech nonprofit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) highlighted Furman’s “Acts of Intolerance” policy for its October speech code of the month.

The policy states that “an act of intolerance” can be defined “as any conduct that serves no scholarly purpose appropriate to the educational experience and demonstrates bias against others,” based on their sex, national origin, age, etc.

Under the policy, certain costumes and theme parties can “prompt additional investigation” and are discouraged by the school.

“Theme parties that encourage people to wear costumes or act in ways that reinforce stereotypes or are otherwise demeaning,” the policy lists as one item that can lead to “additional investigation.”

Additionally, “culturally offensive gestures,” vandalism, and the use of slurs can all be considered “Acts of Intolerance.”

“When an Act of Intolerance is targeted toward a specific person, it may rise to the level of discriminatory harassment. It may also constitute a hate crime for the purposes of local, state, or federal law,” the policy states.

The same student policy handbook that has the “Act of Intolerance” policy also guarantees the freedom of expression.

“Students are guaranteed freedom of inquiry and expression,” the handbook reads.

Laura Beltz, senior program officer for FIRE, told Campus Reform that the policy could stifle speech on campus.

“If you're a student and you're reading this policy and you see that you could be investigated or even punished over expression like this,” Beltz said. “[Students] may self-censor because [they’re] so concerned that any sort of subjectively controvers[ial] or offensive expression could be investigated. [You’re] going to be a lot less likely to engage in conduct that could go up to that line. So, it's a problem really either way whether they're investigating the surface expression or not and that's why they need to revise this policy to make it clear.”

Beltz also said that since Furman does promise to its students that it will respect freedom of expression, “they should be living up to that promise.”

Similarly, in 2018 at Gonzaga University, students received a campus-wide email warning them about being “culturally inappropriate” in their costumes, as reported by Campus Reform.

“Halloween has also become known for more dangerous and damaging traditions like binge drinking, sexualized or culturally inappropriate costumes, and vandalism,” the administrator and student body president wrote to students. “We urge our community to be aware of the potentially harmful impact insensitive behavior can have on fellow students, other members of the Gonzaga community, and our Logan neighbors.”

During an event, a University of Utah administrator even called cultural appropriation “the baby of racism and capitalism,” as reported by Campus Reform.

Campus Reform reached out to Furman University but did not receive a response in time for publication.


California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law to help DACA students

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill into law that will require California Community Colleges and the California State University system to create a “Dreamer Resource Liaison” for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students on each campus.

The Dream Resource Liaisons will be tasked with “streamlining access to all available financial aid, social services, state-funded immigration legal services, internships, externships, and academic opportunities.” The new law also encourages California colleges and universities to create “Dream Resource Centers” to aid the liaisons and to “create a safe and welcoming environment” for DACA students.

"Gov. Newsom and the Democrats focus their time and efforts on useless feel-good programs for illegal aliens who do not pay their fair share of taxes."    Tweet This
Citing President Donald Trump’s threat to deport illegal immigrants, the bill states that providing these resources to DACA students is “imperative.” Under current California law, illegal immigrants already qualify for in-state tuition.

Laura Metune, the vice-chancellor of governmental relations for the California Community Colleges system, said that while she supports the new law, California’s colleges do not have adequate funding for the bill’s new mandates. Metune estimates the liaisons and resources will cost $2.9 million.

“The reality is that colleges are being mandated to implement with no new resources,” Metune said in a statement. “We hope, and will continue to encourage, colleges to identify existing funds or leverage philanthropic dollars to accomplish this work.”

According to, 19 community colleges in California currently meet the new staff requirement. With 115 total community colleges in the California system, 96 community colleges would need to hire or select a Dreamer Resource Liaison by the 2020-2021 academic year. Eighty-two community colleges in California are also currently without Dreamer resource centers. Most California State University campuses already have liaisons and resource centers for illegal immigrant students. Only four of the CSU campuses lack resource centers.

The University of California system is exempt from the law’s requirements but is encouraged to comply. A spokeswoman for the UC president’s office told that all UC campuses have liaisons and resource centers.

In a statement to Campus Reform, the College Republicans at CSU-Chico slammed Newsom for prioritizing illegal immigrants.

"Gov. Newsom and the Democrats focus their time and efforts on useless feel-good programs for illegal aliens who do not pay their fair share of taxes," the CSU College Republicans said, noting the Golden State's homeless population, which is now more than 120,000, and the state's education system, which ranks 21st in the country.


Australia: `Back to basics' plan for new NSW curriculum

The abandonment of year-denominated progress will require a lot more work from teachers and administrators.  Where will the money for that come from?

The NSW school curriculum is poised to be pared back significantly to enable a greater focus on the core subjects of English, maths and science, with the state government promising a "back to basics approach" to education.

Mandated content within the curriculum could be reduced by as much as 20 per cent, while subjects relating to health, safety or social concerns could face the chopping block, under recommendations proposed in the interim report from the NSW curriculum review to be released on Tuesday.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the draft report, which stemmed from a review under way since May 2018, indicated "significant change" was required to be made to the curriculum. "Students need to be equipped with strong literacy and numeracy foundations to succeed in the 21st century," she said. "We want a curriculum that leaves no student behind while stimulating students who are advancing faster than others."

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW "strongly supports a back to basics approach". Many of the findings from the review, led by Australian Council for Educational Research chief executive Geoff Masters, appear to mirror those made in the 2018 report into Australian school education by David Gonski.

Among more than a dozen recommendations, described as "reform directions", is a call for NSW to scrap the year-level curriculum and instead deliver learning based on each student's level of attainment.

Under such a model, students would progress through a sequence of attainment levels — most likely at different times and rates — rather than all moving in "lockstep fashion from one year-level syllabus to the next" de-pending on their age.

Such a change would have implications for the assessment and reporting of student learning, with A to E grades to be scrapped. "Rather than grading each student's performance against the same year-level syllabus expectations, information will be provided about the highest attainment level a student has achieved in each subject at any given time and the progress they are making towards the achievement of the next level, as assessed by their teacher," the report says.

"In this way, parents/carers and students will be provided with information about how a student is progressing and whether they are on track with learning expectations."

According to the report, "the crowded nature of many syllabuses, particularly in primary schools ... was described as encouraging superficial coverage of material rather than teaching for under-standing, exploring relevance and meaning, and providing opportunities for students to transfer and apply their learning".

"The review also heard wide-spread concerns about additional expectations and demands placed on schools and that further reduce time for quality teaching and learning. "A number of submissions observed that schools are fulfilling functions once the responsibility of families and other institutions in society ... particularly in relation to student mental health, wellbeing and the development of personal qualities."

From "the Australian" of 22 Oct., 2019

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