Friday, August 16, 2013

How Multiculturalism Transformed My College

The historian Polybius famously observed that empires deteriorate either internally or from without.  In some cases, however, they fall apart in both ways. This latter situation applies to American higher education, which has succumbed to numerous corrupting influences all at the same time.

To make my point, I’ll discuss the transformation that befell the college where I was employed between 1989 and 2011. Elizabethtown College, located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was for most of its history a sleepy Anabaptist college, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. When the college offered me a position as a full professor, I accepted, welcoming the opportunity to live in a charming setting and to teach at a socially traditional college.

I also imagined that I would be able to converse with a scholarly community, but my teaching experience at Elizabethtown, with a few notable exceptions, was far from stimulating. Most of the students didn’t seem eager to learn and when given the chance, were happy to disparage me and other equally demanding professors on the compulsory “evals.” Worse than the hostility of the disengaged students was the reaction of antiwar faculty colleagues who disliked my philosophy, despite my own reservations about a militantly interventionist foreign policy. Attempts at civil debate with them proved futile.

A new administration took over in 1996. It was headed by a sociologist of religion with Lutheran theological training. He pushed the college in an unmistakably ideological direction from which it would never turn back.

The new president enjoyed going to conferences with other college presidents and schmoozing with the Middle States accreditation agency that the college uses to validate its degrees.  Each time he attended such meetings, he would come back with a new diversity program to implement, or he would decide to increase the responsibilities of the college’s diversity dean in fighting for “tolerance.”

This typically took the form of being more “welcoming” to our modest number of non-Christian, non-white students. For awhile, any mention of Christmas by the faculty and staff was frowned on; and even a “Yule Bowl” celebration was awkwardly renamed Holiday Bowl at the last moment, in case a non-Christian student might take offense at a gathering associated with a Christian holiday.

My wife, who was a bookstore employee, brought up certain facts in a letter to the college newspaper: Yule festivals were a pre-Christian Germanic thing and it was ridiculous for a Protestant college to try to obliterate its specifically Christian roots.

My black student assistant (one of the few non-whites on campus) found it strange that the entire school was celebrating Kwanzaa as a “black religious festival,” when his Baptist family in New Jersey cared only about Christmas. I explained to him that his parents were not politically correct blacks, unlike the white administration at the college.

From my conversations with the president, I found nothing to suggest that he believed any of the multicultural doctrines he so energetically pushed. He was just taking his lead from the presidents of other colleges, and undoubtedly trying to make the increasingly leftist faculty like him.

And the faculty seemed delighted with his initiatives. When the administration came forth with an extensive program to integrate multiculturalism into the curriculum, there was enthusiastic faculty approval.

The multicultural pedagogy would furnish the principles for the orientation of new students, inspire the list of guest speakers who would be invited to campus to edify us, and justify the stress on diversity and social justice that went into the college’s new mission statement.  Even without injecting the righteous odor of PC into every core course, the entire college would emit its fragrance.

In its effort to get the faculty to vote to make diversity the overriding goal of the institution, the administration, aided by the social work and religion faculties, relied upon the supposed need to fight “hate crime.”  We were confronted by events that never occurred, but which were said to throw a pall over the college. The administration spoke as if there were torrential outbursts of hate against Hindu, Muslim and Jewish students, based solely on the assertion by one Catholic faculty member who had converted to Hinduism that some students looked at him in a “bigoted way.” (Those looks were better explained by the fact that he wore a pony tail.)

And though the president proposed a solution (recruiting more minorities from inner cities) that had nothing to do with the alleged offenses, that didn’t matter. One after the other, faculty members stood up to proclaim, “It’s time we make a statement.”

To make matters worse, there was a low endowment at Elizabethtown, and the tuition-driven college became heavily dependent on certain cash cows. These were primary education, communications, and social work, which all served as vehicles of leftist indoctrination.

The students and faculty who were associated with those majors hardly distinguished between leftwing activism and traditional college study. They were expected to assume certain political attitudes and to act on the basis of them as part of their college education. Students in certain majors were expected to hear all of the politically correct speakers (such as education radical Jonathan Kozol) who were brought to campus and to write papers on what they learned from the speeches.

Even staying in the dorms required getting along with a dean of students, who imposed her political values on recalcitrant residents. Students of mine were dressed down by this dean and the provost for not being sufficiently sensitive to uncorroborated “hate crimes.” In more than one case, honor students (from the political science department) were threatened with expulsion for disputing the diversity dogma that had been proclaimed for the “college community.”

Note that there was an aspect of the college’s Brethren heritage that worked against maintaining college standards. The school claims to “be educating for service,” and one frequently heard students emphasize the joys of being “hands on.” In primary education, one could be “hands on” by joining the National Education Association and by demonstrating with its members. One had an especially good opportunity to be “hands on” by attending the speech by black communist activist Angela Davis last fall, which was sponsored by the college.

Equally significant were the multiple “hires” that took place during this time. Most of the younger people who came on board have better credentials than the older generation of faculty. Unfortunately, they are not much interested in serious scholarship, but delight in complaining about any hints of sexism and racism they claim to have spotted on campus. The primary effect of the younger faculty has been to radicalize the institution beyond recognition.

Elizabethtown’s pitiable transformation corresponds to a widespread degradation of learning. What bothers me about such glib generalizing, however, is the unwillingness of those of my generation to acknowledge that what they are deploring happened on their watch.

This process of change took place in different places and varied contexts, and so when I hear from those who lament what has befallen our college that “it’s really the same all over” I get intensely annoyed. I have no doubt that at Elizabethtown something could have been done to make things less crazy if fewer professors had hidden their heads in the sand. There was rarely a vote on any issue that radicalized the school in which the “nays” could not have won or at least held their own. The critics were just too cowardly or self-centered to let their opposition be known at the appropriate time.

Although this passage from Burke may now be overworked, it seems particularly apt looking back at my college experience: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”


How 100,000 British pupils could be taught maths and science by teachers with NO TRAINING in those subjects

Thousands of secondary school children could be taught maths and science by teachers with no training in the subjects because of a recruitment crisis, an academic has warned.

Up to 30 per cent of places on postgraduate certificate in education maths courses due to start in September have not been filled.

Physics has also suffered a significant shortfall, along with modern foreign languages and English.

The lack of candidates is being blamed on growing confidence elsewhere in the jobs market and a squeeze on teachers’ pay.

It means more than 100,000 pupils could have classes with teachers who are not trained in the subject.

Numbers of applicants for maths are down 709 on last year and in physics by 386. Both are ‘national strategic priorities’ at A-level according to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Design technology has shed 345 applicants and English 343, although the latter had a surplus last year.

Professor John Howson, of Oxford Brookes’ University, said the Government got ‘complacent after the recession’ as secondary school rolls fell and a ‘high spot’ of teacher retirements eased.

He said although lots of people wanted to study teaching at that point, due to job shortages elsewhere, ‘this was never going to last’.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said there were ‘big gaps in recruitment’ particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths.

A Department for Education spokesman said there was no teacher shortage, adding: ‘This is scaremongering and based on incomplete evidence.’


British private schools preparing to dump mainstream High School exams

Britain’s leading private schools are preparing to abandon A-levels because of controversial reforms to the “gold standard” qualification, headmasters have warned.

Rising numbers of fee-paying schools could scrap the exam in its current form amid a backlash over changes to way the qualification is run.

As sixth-formers across the country prepare to receive their results tomorrow, it emerged that many heads were considering shifting towards an alternative version of the exam created for schools overseas.

In all, 72 schools entered pupils for International A-levels this summer but it is believed numbers could soar in coming years.

One leading head said the exodus could eventually mirror the shift towards the international version of GCSEs which is currently taken by around 400 private schools.

Andrew Grant, former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents 250 top schools, including Eton, Harrow and Winchester, said a “high proportion” of HMC members were unhappy with changes to A-levels.

It comes as 300,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland prepare to receive A-level grades on Thursday.

Currently, pupils sit AS-level exams in the first year of the sixth-form and then A2 exams in the second year – with overall marks combining to form the final A-level result.

But the Government has outlined plans to turn AS-levels into standalone qualifications from 2015 onwards, with results no longer counting towards final marks. Instead, most pupils will only sit exams at the end of the two-year course.

Ministers insist it will cut down on the number of exams taken between the age of 16 and 18 and enable pupils to study subjects in more depth.

But the move has been criticised by HMC.

Mr Grant, the head of St Albans School, Hertfordshire, told the Times Educational Supplement: “I know I am speaking for many of my colleagues in HMC when I say we will look for a way of continuing the AS-level system.

“We at St Albans School are looking very, very seriously at International A-levels because we feel there is a tremendous value in the feedback provided by AS-levels at the halfway point.”

Cambridge University’s exam board currently run International A-levels, retaining exams in the first and second year of the course.

The Perse School, Cambridge, is among those already shifting towards International A-levels, which will retain the AS Level at the halfway point.

Bernard Trafford, head of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Royal Grammar School, and another former HMC chairman, said he “did not rule out” opting for the International A-level.

Many other schools have already moved towards other alternative exams for 16- to 18-year-olds, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Cambridge Pre-U qualification.

Figures show 99 schools entered the Pre-U this year and 188 offered the IB.

Separately, International GCSEs – introduced over the last decade to create an alternative version of GCSEs – are currently taken by around 400 private schools in Britain.

Mr Grant said he could envisage a shift towards International A-levels in similar numbers.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

So You're a Revolutionary?

Mike Adams

Gabriel Lugo is president of the faculty senate at UNC-Wilmington. He's generally a nice fellow with a good sense of humor. But, unfortunately, on August 9th, he sent out a wildly unprofessional memo to the entire university faculty. His memo lends credence to my concern that the UNC system has become little more than a political lobby for the Democratic legislative agenda. Thus I will soon propose that we rename our school DNC-Wilmington to reflect the fact that it is an institution committed to politics rather than honest intellectual inquiry.

In a section of his memo allegedly updating them on "Legal/Political" issues, Lugo informs the faculty of the following: "Gun legislation was approved. Concealed weapons will be allowed on [sic] locked vehicles in [sic] campus, on [sic] your favorite bars, and on your kid’s playgrounds. Here is how Bill Maher sees it:"

You have to wonder what Lugo was thinking, circulating a video suggesting that it should be as easy to kill your baby as it is to sell your pickup truck in North Carolina (please, watch the profanity-laced video in its entirety). Our state abortion laws have nothing to do with any pending matter of university business. Lugo is just abusing his position as Faculty Senate President in order to interject his broader political beliefs into university business. Welcome to DNC-Wilmington.

Furthermore, the Maher video is grossly misleading on the gun issue. Our state law used to ban handguns in all restaurants that serve alcohol -- even if the individual carrier has never had a drop of alcohol in his life. The new law drops the across-the-board ban while maintaining the illegality of carrying a weapon if you have any alcohol in your system. In addition, all restaurant owners still have the right to ban guns from their premises altogether, whether or not they actually serve alcoholic beverages.

In other words, the new law shifts control from the government to the person who actually owns the business. Since they are liable for things that happen on their property, they are in the best position to make the call. The law makes sense when clowning propagandists like Lugo and Maher are not misrepresenting it. But Lugo is a tenured professor, so he can lie with impunity. I’ll have more to say on that later.

Lugo's remarks about guns on playgrounds are particularly strange and misplaced. Previously, there was a ban on handgun possession in all state public parks. The new law lifts the across-the-board ban. As a criminologist, I support that change for two reasons: 1) Personal gun possession has been shown to reduce kidnapping and rape. 2) People are often kidnapped and raped in public parks.

Of course, Lugo's reference to guns in "your kid’s playgrounds" is a childish emotional distortion of the change in the law. And, once again, it has no place in an email dealing with official university business. There are no bars or "kids' playgrounds" on university property. Please, just do your job and teach, Gabriel. Stop sending me emails loaded with irrelevant political commentary.

Lugo continues saying "Students will now be allowed to have legal counsel in all hearings. Honor code violation hearings would have been excepted if the Conduct Board consisted only of students, but that is not the case at UNCW."

I'm actually glad Gabriel brought this up. I helped organize and draft that new legislation. And I think I understand why Gabriel is mad at the Republicans for sponsoring it. This new bill makes it impossible for Democratic college administrators to kick kids out of school after questioning them about minor criminal acts in the absence of counsel. It guarantees the kind of due process Che Guevara would oppose.

Gabriel continues saying "President Ross is under attack by a number of legislators who want to replace him with one who matches their ideology." As Faculty Senate President, Lugo should know that Ross, the university system president, isn't picked by the legislature. He's picked by the board of governors. And guess who picks them? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don't count. Hint: it's the governor. Now, stop for a second and ask yourself this question: is Lugo a) just lying about all this stuff? or b) just grossly incompetent? There is no "c" option.

Lugo continues saying there is "talk that after successfully getting rid of tenure for teachers, we are next." Yes, the Republicans did get rid of tenure for public school teachers. And I pray to God we get rid of tenure for college professors next. It will make professors like Lugo behave more professionally and competently -- perhaps even doing their homework before they send a political email to hundreds of people. I'm just glad Lugo admits he's not a teacher.

Lugo continues with the promise that he is "starting a business selling Che berets." We'll isn't that cute. Che Guevara used to be a prison guard at a concentration camp that incarcerated homosexuals in Cuba. He admitted to shooting prisoners, including women and children, in the head while they were handcuffed and helpless. How does the LGBTQIA Office feel about Lugo's admiration of Guevara? How about the Women’s Resource Center? And how can Comrade Lugo become a revolutionary like Che if he's afraid of handguns in public places?

Finally, Lugo says "Elections for a new senate president will take place in December." That’s good to hear. I hope they bring back Lugo's predecessor as Faculty Senate President -- a feminist who falsely accused a conservative professor of spraying tear gas in her university office. It seems that political paranoia, not competence, is the only qualification for the job.


Janet Napolitano's New Gig

The head of one of the most prestigious state university systems in America should have one chief qualification: She should be ideologically inclined toward openness in education for the benefit of the students. Political bias permeates the higher education system throughout the United States, indoctrinating students into the canon of leftism. A huge number of students emerge with degrees in useless political correctness, an inability to think about the world without an emotional lens, and few job skills. The right person at the head of the University of California could bring some much-needed reform.

So, naturally, the University of California system is handing over the reins to one of the least effective politicians of the last half-century, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano got her career started as Attorney General of the State of Arizona, where she was able to achieve a ban on the scourge of Christmas decorations. She then became governor of Arizona (2003-2009). In that post, she did little to protect citizens from the drug cartels crossing the southern border, repeatedly stopping bills that would have helped secure the border. She claims that she helped the state keep tuition low for students, build new facilities and increase funding for professors -- but in 2006, the state held a $1.5 billion budget surplus, and by the time she left in 2008, the state had the nation's worst budget deficit at $1.7 billion.

She was even worse as head of the DHS, where her department helped oversee Operation Fast and Furious and presided over the near bombing of a passenger plane in 2009. ("The system worked!" she trumpeted after passengers had to subdue a would-be terrorist). She became famous for her espousal of heavy petting at airports. DHS became a haven for those who would sexually harass male employees. Meanwhile, as a cover for her softness on illegal immigration more broadly, she created an artificial uptick in arrests of illegal immigrants; The New York Times rapped her for assembling "the nation's police officers and sheriff's deputies into an undertrained, poorly supervised army of subcontractors for a nationwide deportation dragnet."

Worst of all, Napolitano has demonstrated a consistent ideological dogmatism that does not allow for dissent. In one of her first moves at DHS, she greenlit a report suggesting that "radicalized rightwing extremists" were the greatest threats to national security. The DHS targeted groups that were "antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority."

The report was released one week before scheduled Tax Day tea party protests. The report stated, "Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures." Meanwhile, the DHS's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties handed out Dos and Don't for local law enforcement, including directions not to use Muslim "trainers who are self-professed reformers" due to the fact that they could "further an interest group agenda instead of generally accepted, unbiased information."

This does not signal an openness to various political viewpoints. It suggests business as usual for a university system already known for its prohibitive leftism. Yet the UC selected Napolitano, despite her lack of experience, because of her "passion for education." Sherry Lansing, committee chair and Hollywood big shot, said Napolitano would bring "fresh eyes and a new sensibility -- not only to UC, but to all of California." For those fresh eyes, the UC will pay Napolitano $750,000 per year.

Those eyes won't be fresh. They'll be jaded. And the students of the UC will suffer when they are spoon fed more Napolitano-style liberalism instead of a variety of ideological viewpoints that should be the hallmark of any great learning experience.


Australia: Underperforming NSW teachers to face dismissal

PRINCIPALS will find it easier to call out bad teacher behaviour and act on it under a NSW government overhaul that will see underperforming teachers get the boot.

From next semester, principals will be given new powers to deal with teachers who fail to attend playground duty, are late for class, don't to turn up to parent teacher interviews or refuse instructions.

"We simply can't accept that kind of recalcitrant behaviour," NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.

The get-tough measure is part of a $150 million package of reforms to boost the quality of teaching in NSW, announced earlier this year.

The crackdown comes ahead of a fresh round of enterprise bargaining with teachers next month.

Department of Education director-general Michele Bruniges said it was about dealing with a small group of teachers who were repeat offenders. "We need to be able to call it and deal with it," she said.

Mr Piccoli described it as "more like a private sector approach to performance management".

"Parents and teachers have made it very clear to me that they want teachers who are underperforming out of the system," he told reporters.  "It's going to be a fair process but a tougher process than what exists already."

Mr Piccoli said teachers who failed to live up to the standards set out in a new code of conduct could be sacked, demoted, fined or cautioned.

"There are a range of teachers who are underperforming," he said.   "Those teachers need to know there is a process in place and they face dismissal."

Mr Piccoli also announced a raft of scholarships worth up to $30,000, with the first ten teaching cadetships to be offered to high-achieving school leavers by the end of 2013.

"This is about making sure that we have the best teachers, particularly in the schools were we need them most," he said.

Announced earlier this year, teaching students will have to sit mandatory literacy and numeracy tests before being allowed into classrooms.

School leavers wanting to study at university will also need HSC band 5 results in a minimum of three subjects, one of which must be English.

Meanwhile, new pay arrangements mean salaries will be based on meeting standards rather than employment length.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Are We Serious About Education?

Thomas Sowell

Two recent events -- one on the east coast and one on the west coast -- raise painful questions about whether we are really serious when we say that we want better education for minority children.

One of these events was an announcement by Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., that it plans on August 19th to begin "an entire week of activities to celebrate the grand opening of our new $160 million state-of-the-art school building."

The painful irony in all this is that the original Dunbar High School building, which opened in 1916, housed a school with a record of high academic achievements for generations of black students, despite the inadequacies of the building and the inadequacies of the financial support that the school received.

By contrast, today's Dunbar High School is just another ghetto school with abysmal standards, despite Washington's record of having some of the country's highest levels of money spent per pupil -- and some of the lowest test score results.

Housing an educational disaster in an expensive new building is all too typical of what political incentives produce.

We pay a lot of lip service to educational excellence. But too many institutions and individuals that have produced good educational results for minority students have not only failed to get support, but have even been undermined.

A recent example on the west coast is a charter school operation in Oakland called the American Indian Model Schools. The high school part of this operation has been ranked among the best high schools in the nation. Its students' test scores rank first in its district and fourth in the state of California.

But the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut down this charter school -- immediately. Its students would have had to attend inferior public schools this September, except that a challenge in court stopped this sudden shutdown.

Why such a hurry to take drastic action? Because of a claim of financial improprieties against the charter schools' founder and former head, Ben Chavis.

Ben Chavis has not been found guilty of anything in a court of law. Nor has he even been brought to trial, though that would seem to be the normal thing to do if the charges were serious.

More important, the children have not been accused of anything. Nor is there any reason for urgency in immediately depriving them of an excellent education they are not likely to get in their local public schools.

What Ben Chavis and the American Indian Model Schools are really guilty of is creating academic excellence that shows up the public school system, both by this school's achievements and by the methods used to create those achievements, which go against the educational dogmas prevailing in the failing public schools.

If it seems strange that there would be a vendetta against an educator who has defied the education establishment and thereby improved the education of minority students, the fact is that Ben Chavis is only the latest in a long line of educators who have done just that -- and aroused animosity, and even vindictiveness, as a result.

Washington's former public school head, Michelle Rhee, raised test scores in that city's school system and was demonized by the education establishment and politicians. She has left.

Years ago, high school math teacher Jaime Escalante, whose success in teaching Mexican American students was celebrated in the movie Stand and Deliver, was eventually hounded out of Garfield High School in Los Angeles. Yet, while he was there, about one-fourth of all Mexican American students -- in the entire country -- who passed Advanced Placement Calculus came from that one school.

Marva Collins, who established a very successful private school for black children in Chicago, doing so on a shoestring, was likewise the target of hostility when she was a dedicated teacher in the public schools.

Other examples could be cited of educators who produced outstanding results for minority students -- in New York, Houston and other places -- and faced the wrath of the education establishment, which sees schools as places to provide jobs for teachers, rather than education for students, and which will not tolerate challenges to its politically correct dogmas.


College Wants Students to Discover Their ‘Erotic Truth’

Incoming freshmen at the College of Charleston are being encouraged to discover their ‘erotic truth’ by reading a comic book memoir about a woman coming to terms with her sexual identity and her closeted gay father who had a relationship with an underage male babysitter.

“Fun home: A Family Tragicomic,” is the school’s official selection for “The College Reads!” The graphic novel written by Alison Bechdel explores gender and sexuality issues. The book is included in academic curriculum as well as other activities and all faculty and incoming students have been urged to read The New York Times bestseller.

“This book will open important conversations about identity, diversity, sexuality and finding one’s place in the world,” Provost George Hynd said in a prepared statement.”

Bechdel is the author of self-syndicated comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” and was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award.

“The themes of Fun Home support the Diversity Strategic Plan, the creating of the Gender Resource Center on campus and speak volumes about our commitment to an open campus climate for all students,” Hynd said.

The book has outraged some parents who accuse the College of Charleston of trying to confuse students about their sexuality.

“The school has a reading guide that questions the values and morals a parent has instilled,” one parent told Fox News. “It asks the child to question their own sexual identity.”

The college spent nearly $40,000 to give the book to incoming freshman and will spend another $13,000 to bring the author to campus in the fall.

According to a reader’s guide, the college wants students to explore “erotic truth.”

“What does Bechdel suggest we risk by denying our erotic truth,” the reader’s guide asks.

But some parents called the graphic novel college-sponsored pornography.

“I was appalled,” one parent told Fox News. “This is a gay-rights coming-out book and it has some pretty strong anti-Christian themes in it.”

The parent asked not to be identified because they feared their 18-year-old son might face repercussions on campus.

“The book references pedophilia and has graphic images of women having oral sex,” the parent told Fox News. “Selecting such a book makes me wonder what kind of agenda the college has.”

The parent said they contacted the College of Charleston with their concerns but were rebuffed.

“They said they are trying to help the students find themselves,” the parent said. “My wife said she thinks they’re trying to help them lose themselves of everything we’ve taught them. This is not their business. They are overstepping their bounds.”

Oran Smith, the president of Palmetto Family, a statewide conservative advocacy group, told Fox News the book is “absolutely pornographic.”

“Our concern is the vulnerability of kids some younger than 18 who are required to read that book,” Smith said. “It really is inappropriate for the College of Charleston to in essence take a side in the culture war.”

A college spokesperson told Fox News the book is not mandatory reading – but it will be included in the academic curriculum and through a number of special events.

“It’s even included in the family weekend in September,” the parent told Fox News. “Parents are going to learn from students and faculty about how the book will be infused through campus programming.”

“This is more than a summer reading book,” he said. “It sounds like they are trying to indoctrinate the freshman class.”

Bechdel told The Post and Courier newspaper that a number of universities have assigned her graphic novel to students. She denied claims the book is pornographic

“Pornography is meant to cause sexual arousal in readers, she said, which is clearly not the intent of her book,” the newspaper reported.

In addition to the book, the College of Charleston will host a public lecture titled, “Why History Matters: Same-Sex Marriage and the Courts. There will also be lectures on “The Legacy of Matthew Shepard” and “The Sexual Politics of Urban Spaces.”

Other parents told Fox News they were very concerned about publicly objecting to the book after they came under fire.

“They claim they want to have a discussion (about the book),” a parent told Fox News. “But the parents who tried to discuss it on the website were condemned. Those who did were slammed.”

In a statement to Fox News the College of Charleston defended the book and said it was selected by a committee composed of faculty, staff, administrators and students.


Australia: Education union militant and out of step, so I quit

This week, I took a step I couldn't have imagined a year ago: I resigned my trade union membership.

This was a monumental step for me. I have belonged to various unions over the past 40 years - starting with the shop assistants back in 1972. I grew up in a family proud of a great, great grand uncle, a journalist on the Lithgow Mercury, who, in the 1890s, served on the Eight Hour committee that won the right to a 40-hour working week.

I resigned from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) because I realised that the old-fashioned kind of industrial militancy the NTEU is presently pursuing is entirely unhelpful to the interests of the hard-working people in the tertiary education sector.

Universities face particularly challenging times. They rely largely on student fees (either directly, or indirectly though HECS) to fund their work in advancing community knowledge. Students can only afford to pay so much for an education. Although all universities are regulated federally and are susceptible to federal funding decisions (like the misconceived decision to remove full tax deductibility for self-education expenses), governments in recent decades have set us up as competitors with each other.

Competition to recruit the best students is fierce. The Fair Work system supports that vision of a competitive market for tertiary education services by requiring that we bargain at enterprise level for pay and conditions. University vice chancellors are mindful of their capacity to attract and retain the best staff, so my employer - the University of Sydney - pays the highest salaries in the sector. We enjoy working conditions that are a legacy of our public service history. In my time consulting as an employment lawyer, I have never seen any other enterprise bargain allowing for 50 days a year for personal leave.

Yet the NTEU has been running a destructive industrial campaign at the University of Sydney - five days of strikes in first semester, and now a threat of demonstrations at our Open Day on August 31 - in pursuit of a pay claim primarily aimed at setting a standard for other universities in our sector.

I hear colleagues saying they are ready to sign an agreement. The union negotiations so far have secured the conditions that staff value, and many are ready to accept the modest but realistic pay offer of 2.9 per cent a year for four years.

Student representatives tried to put a motion at Academic Board, pleading for peace so they could pursue their studies without the distress of crossing picket lines. But the union is determined to press on in the interests of its national campaign.

The University of Sydney has a commendable history for welcoming unions at the bargaining table, even under the old Workplace Relations Act, when the federal government of the day was keen to exclude unions from campuses. It has often been the flagship for the NTEU's national campaign for pay increases across the sector.

This year the union seems to be prepared to scupper our ship, in a possibly futile attempt to gain pay increases at regional universities. The scuffles on picket lines, the police presence on campus, the half-truths on handbills, and now the Open Day protests, can only help our rivals in their student recruitment campaigns. How can staff at Sydney possibly benefit from such actions?

I fear the NTEU has formed an unholy alliance with the Greens. I was aggrieved to learn of NTEU plans to spend $1 million on a campaign to encourage people to vote Green. This news followed a story in The Sun-Herald, in June, in which Senator Lee Rhiannon pilloried the University of Sydney for poor results in a staff engagement survey, and tied those comments to the university's alleged disregard for staff interests in its current bargaining round. It isn't too hard to join the dots in this pattern of reporting.

What is the solution, for someone like me, who is deeply committed to the interests of working people, and believes firmly in the right to bargain in a collective voice for a fair share of the fruits of one's own labour? How to do this without killing off the tree that feeds us all?

Perhaps it is time for university staff to set up independent associations to bargain with management directly. The Fair Work Act permits employees to nominate their own bargaining representatives. Bargaining needs to be managed by staff who will be directly affected by the consequences of their actions rather than by a remote organisation with its own political agenda. This would be the natural evolution of a single enterprise bargaining based system of industrial relations.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Indiana Holds First Common Core ‘Pause’ Hearing

Another packed room awaited Indiana lawmakers reviewing Common Core national standards Monday, with people lining the walls, ringing the star-studded hearing room floor, and filling the upper gallery.

The five-hour meeting was the first of three lawmakers will conduct before another three by the state board of education. In between, accountants will estimate the costs of overhauling Indiana’s education system to fit national goals and tests for English and math in grades K-12. By July 2014, the state board of education will decide whether Indiana improves its own standards or sticks with Common Core.

“I have no preconceived notion as to what will come to adoption in 2014,” state Superintendent Glenda Ritz told lawmakers. She criticized Common Core in math, but said “the process will decide” whether Indiana chooses Common Core with our without amendments, or updates its own previous standards.

Indiana is the first state to reconsider the national project after public outcry led to a spring law requiring the current set of analysis. Hoosiers complained the state had not estimated the costs of Common Core, vetted its quality beside Indiana’s well-respected previous standards, and investigated the implications of signing contracts with federally funded national testing groups.

Ritz noted the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) did not request public input when the state board was considering Common Core, although “it’s not required anywhere for the department to do that.”

Academic Quality

This first hearing focused on academic quality. Those testifying on both sides referred to a comparison of Indiana’s standards to Common Core by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Indiana’s previous standards “were commonly regarded as being among the best,” said Jason Zimba, one of Common Core’s lead math writers. “During development of Common Core Indiana standards were often out on my desk.” The Fordham review showed Indiana’s math standards “too close to call” in comparison with Common Core, but did not consider career preparation, where Zimba said Common Core was better.

The institute sent Kathleen Porter-Magee to testify for the standards, and she said its review found Common Core better than Indiana’s in English. On the contrary, said Common Core committee member Sandra Stotsky, who spoke against the national standards. She quoted the review: “Indiana’s standards are clearer, more thorough, [and] easier to read than the Common Core standards.” Fordham found Indiana’s standards were grouped more logically, included better examples, and had better reading list, she said.

The Fordham math reviewer “told me and others directly that Indiana would be much better off keeping its old math standards and not going with Common Core,” testified Bill Evers, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, to quickly hushed audience applause.

Lawmakers and those testifying frequently discussed Indiana’s high college remediation rates.

“One of the things that is most disturbing is the number of students who have AP Calculus on their transcripts and come into remedial math classes,” said Chris Rock, a math and education professor at Manchester University.

Lawmakers quizzed Stotsky for a half hour after her 20-minute testimony, with questions ranging from over-testing fears to remediation.

“We have elementary teachers that have not been trained in math and science and history,” she said, when asked why Indiana graduates need so much college remediation if the state has high expectations for them. “We have a society with many distractions and the amount of reading students do in and out of school has declined. Students are doing other things with their free time. There are multiple causes for needing remediation at the high school and post-high school level.”

Nonfiction vs. Fiction

Common Core requires children to read more nonfiction. Porter-Magee said this would increase children’s academic vocabulary and subject knowledge. Stotsky said research shows analyzing fiction develops children’s minds better than fiction, and this is why English teachers are trained to teach literature.

Rep. Rhonda Rhodes (R-XX) mentioned her time as a kindergarten teacher, where bringing nonfiction materials into the classroom often meant “trying to sell our students on an agenda or a product and not stopping to think, ‘What is the purpose of this information?’”

“The floodgates have been opened by this requirement for informational text,” Stotsky replied. “What many of us would consider classical literary texts were already disappearing from the classroom. Common Core doesn’t address the problem—it sets up another problem.”

Common Core also mistreats the texts on its recommended reading list, noted Terrence Moore, a Hillsdale College history professor.

For example, Common Core recommends students only read the Bill of Rights, and never the entire U.S. Constitution, he noted. Instead, it recommends a book that describes the Constitution using “words such as ‘vicious,’ ‘master class,’ ‘camouflaged,’ and ‘ugly,’” he said. “Students’ first encounter with the Constitution will be this negative document... Yet we don’t have Common Core directing us to Federalist 10 or 51, but a highly segmented [book] from modern scholar with questionable language.”

What’s Next?

The pause law also means Indiana will keep its current state tests, the ISTEP+, until 2015-16.

“However those [standards] look, the job becomes finding and developing assessments that align with them,” Ritz said. “I’m committed to having standards and assessments and vendors will do what we would like them to do for the state of Indiana.”

The next legislative Common Core hearing will be held September 10, on the topic of testing.


Jeopardy Spelling Uproar Reflects America’s Downward Spiral


With the world, and our nation, falling apart at the seams around us, you might wonder what would drive me to write about a Connecticut eighth-grader's spelling mistake on Jeopardy. Actually, I wish to focus  more on the reactions to this error than the error itself, which only reminds us that Thomas Hurley III, like all of us, is human. Perhaps his nerves got the best of him. Maybe he actually believed that his spelling of "emancipation" in "Emancipation Proclamation" as "emanciptation" was correct.  I am sure many of us, sweating under the gaze of a pressurized, televised game show, might mess up here and there.  Had Thomas, his parents, and the scores of people expressed their dismay over what happened and left things at that, this would be over.  However, their uproar and outcry over this incident only crystallize this country's present intellectual, academic, and societal deterioration.

Thomas was competing in the "Jeopardy!  Kids Week" competition which was taped last February and aired recently and was a distant second to the eventual winner.  The answer to the final question was "Emancipation Proclamation", which the first place contestant spelled correctly, but which Thomas spelled  "emanciptation".  As it turned out, the child's mistake cost him nothing because the rules for Kids Week clearly state that only the winner of a round gets to keep the money earned, with second place receiving a consolation prize of $ 2,000.  In this case, the eventual winner, 7th-grader Skyler Hornback, broke the record for winnings for Kids Week with a total of $ 66,600.  Despite these facts, the reactions of the contestant, his parents, and a large part of the public epitomize precisely why this country is on the slippery slope to dope.

Truth be told, we are caught between two divergent, but equally destructive, notions in this society.  Half of the time, we are told that winning and achievement should be downplayed so as to not "offend" those who fail or do not achieve. The other half of the time, we are raising kids who think that they always have to win somehow and that losing is the end of the world. In view of the sheer absurdity of these two inconsistent and illogical views, is it any wonder that this society handles winning, losing, success, and failure about as well as it votes.

Our public education system spends more time and energy coddling and appeasing lazy troublemakers than rewarding and recognizing dedicated achievers. We have kids' baseball games where the score is not kept, fielding errors are not even discussed, and oblivious daydreamers are voted Player of The Game. Precision, accuracy, and fairness have been hijacked by fuzzy feelings, competitive socialism, and preferences for the less successful.  We wonder why we have lost our edge in the world, in our standards, in our critical and independent thinking skills, and in our standards of success.

Thomas should have simply expressed his dismay regarding losing, expressed his just pride in coming in second, praised the winner, and moved on. Rather, he told us that he was "cheated", was "pretty upset", would no longer be a fan of the show and, as a final nail on the old poor loser department wall, characterized his costly mistake as "just a spelling error."  How many times have I heard students of all ages utter this mindless justification for their carelessness? 

We are living in a nation where spelling is brushed off as a stupid, annoying, petty concern. Americans are losing their own native language in a sea of lazy, careless apathy.  Is it any wonder that the last five national spelling bee champions come from foreign backgrounds?  More and more, we are seeing children develop a "pick up my toys and leave" attitude to defeat rather than expressing good sportsmanship, maturity, and dedication to hard work and determination. Many argue that kids should not be expected to be mature, but reality demonstrates that allowing immaturity, selfishness, arrogance, and poor sportsmanship to fester in children only leads to large children pretending to be adults.

Of course, as is often the case, kids are only the products of their home. The parents in this case not only echoed the child's poor reaction to losing, but actually seemed to praise and support it. The boy's father said that host Alex Trebek had been condescending, callous, and smug, and had humiliated his son.

After viewing the segment numerous times and asking others who did likewise, the only thing I saw was a reaction to an error Trebek accurately described as "unfortunate".  The mother stated that her son was "stunned" and that everything had been "hard to watch". 

The last time I checked, everyone is stunned when they lose and nobody loves to watch anyone they care about lose anything. However, we are not talking about a serious injury or accident, a natural disaster, or even a shocking or unfair result, given the rules of the game and the fact that Thomas had little chance to win anyway. To say that Thomas and his parents overreacted to all of this is an understatement.

The public outcry over the result is perhaps even more damning, since it demonstrates a clear ignorance regarding the rules of the game, the value of correct spelling and good sportsmanship, fair play, common sense, and priorities. Responding to the public reaction regarding this incident,  Elijah Z. Granet, a previous Kids Week winner, stated that the key issue here is whether the answer is phonetically correct more than the actual spelling. According to Granet, an incorrectly spelled answer which is still phonetically correct ( Neemo for Nemo) is acceptable but a misspelled answer which is phonetically incorrect  (  Namo for Nemo ) is never correct.  In other words, Hurley, his parents, and all of those upset over this incident are incorrectly focusing on spelling over phonetics. Granet finishes his Facebook discussion of this incident by stating that Hurley's complaint has no merits whatsoever.

At first glance, discussing a seemingly trivial conclusion to a mere game show  may seem to be a great waste of time and space.  However, in this instance, this incident is a perfect reflection of why this nation is in so much trouble.  You have a losing contestant who was given the rules of a game losing because he violated rules he either never understood or never bothered to clarify. Rather than demonstrate good sportsmanship, the contestant acts like a petulant, spoiled, sore loser, and his parents, an enraged public, and the always-present inflammatory and ignorant media, march in support spewing evidence of their own ignorance of the context and rules of the incident. No journalist bothered to check the rules, interview knowledgeable past winners such as Granet, or present the reasonable, responsible, and accurate side of this issue.  The latest form of perceived injustice was just too juicy to ignore, despite the fact that the entire uproar is nothing more than a mob's public proclamation of its own stupidity.  Sound familiar?

We are living in a society ruled by mob mentality and twisted notions of fairness. We are bombarded with a daily disregard for accuracy, rules, fair play, humility, maturity, respect, and personal responsibility.  We either have to win all the time or pretend that we won something lest we feel slighted or traumatized. Heaven forbid we should have to face losing or the reasons we lost, much less grow from the experience. Parents are as much if not more to blame for their children for this situation, and this society provides the perfect conditions to raise arrogant, mindless stupidity and twisted entitlement to worship status.

Imagine the uproar if Hurley had been a minority. I can see Al Sharpton, that purveyor of parlance, rushing to form another protest march, pointing to the irony of the answer.  As a minority myself, I find all of this nauseating. As an educator, I find this situation embarrassing. As an American, I find the entire incident and what it reflects tragic. This may just seem to be a trivial spelling issue to some, but its message clearly reflects the writing on the wall for America.


University tie-breaker: Thousands of British A-level pupils take on tough 5,000-word dissertation to secure place on top courses

Thousands of sixth- formers are opting to take a tough research-based qualification on top of A-levels amid a collapse of confidence in the exam.

More than 30,000 teenagers are expected to submit dissertations under the Extended Project Qualification this year, a six-fold increase in four years.

The qualification can be used as a ‘tie-breaker’ between university applicants with similar A-level results, or to decide whether to admit someone who has failed to meet their grade offer.

The work, which is worth the equivalent of half an A-level, is usually presented as a 5,000-word report in an academic subject ‘outside their main programme of study’.

It requires a high level of independent work and original thought – skills which universities complain are lacking in school leavers.

Private schools in particular have recognised the value of the exam and around 6 per cent of pupils took one last year, a third more than in 2011.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: ‘My guess is that the number of students taking them will continue to increase. Ofqual research has revealed that universities are keen to see an increase in independent research and learning. There is an inadequate amount at A-level, so EPQs are absolutely up universities’ street.

‘Some universities also find A-levels not stretching enough for the most able students. The EPQ does stretch them.’

Just over 5,000 EPQs were submitted in 2009. This leapt to 16,000 the following year and 24,000 in 2011. Last year 28,500 students sat the qualification, which is offered by five exam boards and uses the same grading system as A-levels. Of these, 14 per cent were awarded an A*, 19.3 per cent an A and 19.8 per cent a B.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is reforming A-levels after the gold-standard exam suffered from years of grade inflation

Education Secretary Michael Gove is reforming A-levels after the gold-standard exam suffered from years of grade inflation

Elite universities said EPQs can make the difference between winning a place on a course or just missing out. But institutions outside the research-intensive 24 Russell Group universities are also increasingly relying on them.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is reforming A-levels after the gold-standard exam suffered from years of grade inflation. Modular work is being replaced by exams at the end of courses. The number of resits is also being limited.

But the changes will only be introduced from 2015, meaning it will be several years before students sit more rigorous exams.

The Extended Project Qualification was introduced in 2008. Students can choose the topic they research but it must be an academic area not specifically covered in their other studies.

Someone studying French and geography could write about the impact of tourism on the  environment in a region of France, for example.

The qualification takes a year during which students receive 120 ‘guided learning hours’ and undertake ‘extended autonomous work’.


Monday, August 12, 2013


It’s called a “democratic” school — democratic because students are “self-directed,” and vote on what they’ll do every day.

Plans for one such school are reportedly in the works for students in the Boston metro area.  The Joan Rubin School will be a non-profit day school where students “will not be graded, nor will they be tested or separated into classrooms,” the Metro reports.

“One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to schools. I think kids in the city need access to a school like this,” said Cambridge resident Brooke Newman, 35, who is one of the founders of The Joan Rubin School…

“There is no real teaching… all the learning comes from the intrinsic motivation of the children,” said Newman.

Having attended Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, a school that practices a similar democratic learning model, Newman maintains a strong belief that Boston needs the alternative learning environment, which she believe will encourages freedom, trust, and respect. …

The school, which is named after Sudbury Valley Founder Joan Rubin, will be open to students between the ages of 5 and 19, and may take about 200 students. The age groups will not be separated, Newman said. Instead, pupils will be encouraged to mentor and learn from each other.

What could go wrong?


CPS to cut back on standardized tests

Shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic

Chicago Public Schools officials are cutting back some of the standardized tests the district requires for students, especially for its smallest ones, freeing up more time for instruction and saving some money for the cash-strapped system in the process.

CPS, long under fire for excessive testing from parents, the teachers union and grassroots groups such as Raise Your Hand, said Tuesday it’s reducing the total number of CPS-mandated assessments.

But some of those stakeholders, while pleased at the reduction, are still troubled by how the remaining tests will be used to evaluate teachers and possibly entire schools.

Talks and more than a dozen focus groups organized with parents, Local School Councils, the Chicago Teachers Union and principals, prompted and guided the change, said Didi Swartz, CPS’ director of assessments.

Their common complaint?

“The amount of preparation that happened in classroom was really crowding out instructional time in preparation for high stakes standardized testing,” Swartz said.

Kindergartners, first graders and second graders no longer have to take the NWEA MPG (Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress for Primary Grades) test in spring and fall, though their schools must choose from a list of assessments to monitor these primary students’ literacy. Second graders will join third through eighth graders to take the NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test aligned to the Common Core curriculum in spring but no longer in the fall, too. Eighth graders will also skip the EXPLORE test given in preparation for the ACT in 11th grade. And ninth through 11th graders will also sit for the spring session of the EPAS (Explore, Plan, ACT) test, skipping a fall session.

Most of the reductions come from eliminating fall testing sessions, and leaving spring ones in place. The district, counting each grade given a test as one test, calls it a reduction by 15 tests from 25 last year to 10 starting in the 2013-14 school year. But overall, four tests out of nine required by the district have been eliminated: the MPG for K-2, the fall MAP session for 3-8, EXPLORE for 8th graders and the fall EPAS for 9-11.

State requirements aren’t affected, so all third through 8th graders will still take the state-required Illinois Standard Achievement test, 11th graders will take the Prairie State Achievement Examination, or in the cases of students with significant learning disabilities, the Illinois Alternate Assessment and of English Language Learners, the ACCESS test. Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said less testing — and prepping for tests — will mean more classroom time devoted to real teaching. It’ll also save some $2.4 million over last year’s budget for district-required standardized tests, projecting $8.3 million this year over last year’s $10.7 million, according to the district. It estimated another $4 million for K-2 literacy and math assessments the schools will choose, down from $4.7 million last year.

“What we are doing though was not a money issue when we were looking at this initially,” Byrd-Bennett said. “It was really about a best practice for kids and what gives teachers maximum instruction time and responding to the overwhelming cry by parents and teachers that this district in fact over tested youngsters.”

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, applauded the cutback in testing and Byrd-Bennett for really listening to teachers and schools before making any decisions.

“I had this discussion with Barbara very early in her tenure and she did agree there were too many tests -- that’s the good news,” Lewis said.

“Our concern is not even the number of tests. ... Our concern is what are the tests being used for. Tests are being used for purposes they weren’t designed for.”

Some of the tests come with high stakes for kids promotions’ and for teachers’ employment, she said.

The More Than A Score collaborative, including the Raise Your Hand parent group, petitioned and helped parents figure out how to legally opt their children out of some of these tests last year. A handful of parents did keep their children home on some testing days.

Raise Your Hand director Wendy Katten also was concerned at how CPS could use the NWEA test, though glad that the district’s youngest students won’t be tested as much as before.

According to a draft CPS showed her Monday of their proposed performance policy — a draft the press office declined to release to the Sun-Times Tuesday, citing its draft status — the NWEA will replace the ISAT to help determine a school’s rating, which in turn could contribute to district decisions about a school’s future. And Katten wondered how many of the tests schools may choose from to help them guide teaching will actually be optional, saying “We will wait and see.”


UC must stand for Unlimited Cash

UC Davis hired a associate chancellor for strategic communications, at an annual salary of $260,000, according to this Fresno Bee story.  $260,000? That’s almost $100,000 more than the state pays Gov. Jerry Brown. It’s also a higher salary than UC Davis paid to Luanne Lawrence’s predecessors, who had different titles.

    Mitchel Benson earned $182,000 in 2011 as UC Davis’ associate vice chancellor for university communications. Barry Shiller, who was interim executive director for strategic communications, earned $203,000 in 2012. Beverly Sandeen made $218,000 in 2010 as vice chancellor for university relations, a broad position that no longer exists.

It seems that UC Davis Communications czar is a high turnover post.

Lawrence’s  high salary bothers me of course because UC Davis may need the money to pay for the next $1 million legal settlement it makes with students who do not like how they were treated when arrested for breaking the law.

 Over the weekend the Chronicle ran a Center for Investigative Reporting story about UC’s decision to allow administrators with medical needs to fly business or first class.

    What followed at UCLA was an acute outbreak of medical need.
    Over the past several years, six of 17 academic deans at the campus routinely have submitted doctors’ notes saying they have a medical need to fly in a class other than economy, costing the university $234,000 more than it would have for coach flights, expense records show.

    One of these deans, Judy Olian of the Anderson School of Management, has tackled the arduous 56-mile cycling leg of the long course relay at Monterey County’s Wildflower Triathlon at least twice, according to her expense records and race results. She described herself in a 2011 Los Angeles Times profile as a “cardio junkie.”

UC has a fundamental problem: Administrators apparently believe that they can work in academia for a state university subsidized by state taxpayers and get paid like the top 1.5 percent. (UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi enjoys a base salary of $400,000, which puts her in the top 1 percent.) They have no obligation to pinch pennies, no duty to be careful with Other People’s Money — and their solution to their bad reputation? Hire top-dollar image polishers. And then these arrogant academics want the public to feel badly because they are so strapped.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fighting Dirty to Save Affirmative Action

The higher education community breathed a deep sigh of relief in June when the Supreme Court declined to strike down affirmative action in college admissions in Fisher v. University of Texas. The near-unanimous Court (7-1, with Justice Kagan recused) recalibrated and restricted the manner by which schools can consider race without disturbing the precedent that allows the narrow use of racial preferences in order to ensure campus “diversity.”

But that relief should be temporary because the University of Texas will be hard-pressed to meet the new, more demanding standards. The Supreme Court underlined that public institutions must overcome a high constitutional bar, “strict scrutiny” in legal terms, when they use race, which requires “a careful judicial inquiry into whether a university could achieve sufficient diversity without using racial classifications.”

“The university must prove,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the Court, “that the means chosen by the university to attain diversity are narrowly tailored.”

The Supreme Court thus voided the pro-UT ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for being too deferential to the university. Regardless of administrators’ experience in crafting admissions policies, courts, in this case, the Fifth Circuit, must determine whether the use of race really is necessary to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.

The University of Texas itself has proven that it’s not, given that its Top-Ten Percent Plan — by which the top 10% (since changed to eight) of graduates in every high school in the state are guaranteed admission — had already created a campus with some of the highest “diversity” in nation. And UT’s addition of racial preferences to that race-neutral policy, far from being narrowly tailored, is arbitrary. For example, UT justifies preferences to Hispanics by pointing to the need for a “critical mass” of such students, even as it denies preferences to Asians, who comprise a smaller part of the student body.

Apparently recognizing the weakness of its position, the university has different ideas on how to fulfill the Supreme Court’s order sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit. Instead of briefing the court of appeals on how its racial preferences can survive strict scrutiny, UT’s lawyers have asked that the case be sent back to the original district court in Austin. They want to relitigate pointless issues such as Abigail Fisher’s standing to continue with her lawsuit and her damages claim.

These procedural points have already been raised and lost by UT, both at the Fifth Circuit and before the Supreme Court, which received extensive briefing and oral argument on both standing and damages but still declined to dismiss Fisher’s case. One of the most basic principles of legal process is that a party can’t argue the same issue again and again to the same court in hopes of reaching a different answer.

Moreover, the Supreme Court’s remand order couldn’t be clearer. The justices ruled that “the Court of Appeals must assess whether the University has offered sufficient evidence that would prove that its admissions programs is narrowly tailored to achieve the educational benefit of diversity” and emphasized that this “is a question for the Court of Appeals in the first instance.” Again, according to the basic operation of our legal system, there’s no wiggle room.

There can be no explanation for the university’s actions but that it’s resorting to dubious legal filings in order to put off the day of reckoning. If it’s somehow successful at this dodge, hundreds of Texas high school students over the next few years will be unfairly and unconstitutionally denied admission simply because they’re the wrong race or ethnicity.

UT’s prevarications come at a substantial cost, not only to those rejected students, but also to the taxpayers picking up the tab. Just last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott informed the Fifth Circuit that his office was withdrawing from the case, so all further work defending the university will be conducted by an expensive Washington law firm.

There’s an important lesson here: History teaches that evasive tactics by individual actors can persuade judges that the difficulty of weeding out unconstitutional admissions programs on a case-by-case basis outweighs any marginal benefit of racial preferences.

It’s a lesson that UT may need to relearn the hard way. The educational establishment may rue the day it again decided to pursue massive resistance to a Supreme Court ruling on civil rights.


More than 14,000 high-achievers turned down by Oxbridge as competition for places has increased

More than 14,000 students who are predicted to get top grades at A-Level have been turned down by Oxford and Cambridge this year as competition for places has increased.

The universities are having to reject more than expected after hundreds of extra students applied to study there from September.

Cambridge has received 16,145 applications - 450 more than last year but will only make offers to 4,138 of those.

Oxford is still calculating its figures for 2013, but said it will be similar or slightly higher than the 17,241 from last year, where 3.233 had acceptances.

Nearly all people from the UK who apply for Oxbridge will be predicted to get at least three A's at A-Level.

'The university seeks the ablest and best-qualified students with the greatest potential from every background and every part of the UK,' a spokesman for Cambridge University told the Independent.

'Admissions decisions are based on students’ ability, commitment and their potential to achieve.  The success rate of suitably qualified applicants is broadly the same regardless of where in the UK they are from.

'Our outreach goal is to ensure that any student with the ability, passion and commitment to apply to Cambridge has a clear picture of what the university can offer them and receives all the support necessary for them to best demonstrate their potential.'

Figures show that applications to all Britain universities are up overall.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said in June there were 637,500 applications, up from 618,250 a year earlier.

Universities are charging up to £9,000 a year in fees and up to £35,000 for foreign students.

But poor teenagers are still almost half as likely to go to university than richer classmates, official figures suggest.

Around a fifth of 15-year-olds receiving free school meals (FSM) - a key measure of poverty - went on to higher education in 2010/11, compared with more than a third of those not getting the dinners, according to statistics published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The data also shows that privately educated youngsters are more likely to study for a degree, and to go to the most selective universities, than state school peers.

It comes amid continuing efforts to encourage more poorer teenagers to consider going into higher education, and increasing investment by universities in the area.

The latest figures show that 20 per cent of pupils who were receiving free dinners at age 15 were in higher education by the time they were 19, compared with 38 per cent of non-FSM students - an 18 per cent gap.

The numbers of FSM pupils going to university has risen - in 2005/06 13 per cent went on to study for a degree compared with 33 per cent of other pupils - a 19 per cent gap.

Universities are planning to spend more than £700 million in 2017/18 on recruiting poorer students and those less likely to apply - an increase of more than £100 million from 2012/13, a BIS spokeswoman said.


Poll: Parents Think Schools With Armed Guards Are Safer

Shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, the National Rifle Association suggested putting armed guards in America's schools in order to protect our children from deranged killers. They weren't the first to suggest this idea. Former President Bill Clinton started putting armed guards into schools back in the 1990s and many schools today have police officers on duty. Regardless, the NRA was mocked and ridiculed by the Left and the anti-gun crowd for their suggestion.

Since December, many school districts have taken safety measures into their own hands. Most recently, we saw teachers at an Arkansas school getting extensive concealed carry and emergency situation training. Nearly $50,000 was set aside to purchase handguns for qualified teachers, but the state's Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, put a hold on efforts to keep kids safe and wrote in a legal memo that districts do not have the ability to train teachers as armed security guards.

Arkansas school districts can't use a little-known state law to employ teachers and staff as guards who can carry guns on campus, the state's attorney general said Thursday in an opinion that likely ends a district's plan to arm more than 20 employees when school starts later this year.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, wrote in a legal opinion issued by his office that a state board that licenses private security agencies didn't have the authority to allow districts to employ their teachers and staff as security guards. A state lawmaker requested the opinion a day after The Associated Press reported on a plan by the Clarksville School District in western Arkansas to use more than 20 teachers and staff as volunteer security guards armed with concealed 9 mm handguns.

"Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards," McDaniel wrote.

But a new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows a majority of parents would feel safer if their kids went to a school with an armed guard.

Most Americans with school-age children continue to say they would feel safer if their child attended a school with an armed guard and think the decision to put armed guards in the schools should be made by local government officials.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Americans with children of elementary or secondary school age would feel safer if their child attended a school with an armed security guard. Just 24% say they would feel safer if their child went to a school where no adults were allowed to own a gun. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.
Utah has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools for more than a decade and has never had a mass shooting.

Independence Institute scholar and University of Denver law school professor David Kopel told the Senate Judiciary Committee today that the only way to immediately stop the next copy cat killer in a school is to allow trained teachers to carry guns.

Kopel praised the state of Utah because it allows teachers, in particular, to carry concealed guns if they pass a background check and undergo training.

He said the gun prohibition lobby has created scare tactics around this, but Utah’s policy — in place for several years — is proof that it works.

“Quite notably, we’ve never had an attack at a Utah school,” Kopel told the committee, which held the gun violence hearing just a week after an assault-weapons ban was introduced in the U.S. Senate. “If we want to save lives, armed defense in the schools is the immediate and best choice.”