Friday, April 22, 2016

The fabricated rape scare gets even more shrill

To a Leftist scaremonger, even an unwelcome kiss is "rape".  Successful prosecutions don't enter into it

The statistic claiming 1-in-5 women are raped on college campuses is an oft-repeated but easily dispelled myth. The figure is diminished by the fact most of the evidence is manipulated and stretched to make rape occurrences appear more common than they actually are. Sadly, that’s not stopping a anti-campus rape propaganda group from launching “Unacceptable Acceptance Letter,” a campaign highlighting higher education’s supposedly callous attitude toward victims of rape.

A poster ad appeared this weekend in the Harvard Crimson, where a faux acceptance letter stated, “We know that you will make lifelong friends and memories here on campus. We’re sorry that one of these memories will include being raped by someone you thought you could trust. You’ll fear him the night he pressed you against a wall and every day after that. The claims you will make against your rapist will be ignored, mach like your right to feel safe at school. After all, you can’t expect us to expel someone on the basis of a story that beings with ‘I had been drinking.’” The caption read, “This is a true story. One in five women are sexually assaulted in college.”

Actually, they’re not, but the rhetoric doesn’t end there. The group created an entire video series as well that features incoming college freshman gleefully reading off acceptance letters that include apologies for their impending rape that will go ignored by campus officials. (See all the videos here.)

As Robby Soave over at Reason notes, “College campuses are not perfectly safe places, of course. But they are not veritable hunting grounds, either. And non-students are actually at much greater risk of sexual assault.” Unquestionably, rape is a problem. But so too are unfounded allegations (remember Jackie?) and changing the rules that sometimes result in prejudiced expulsions. As long as America nurtures the hookup culture, the problem isn’t going to get better. That’s a message you won’t see plastered anywhere near public universities.


Meet the radical new face of British students: NUS elects president who refuses to condemn ISIS and calls Birmingham University a 'Zionist outpost'

A radical activist who has refused to condemn ISIS was today elected president of the National Union of Students.

Malia Bouattia has previously endorsed Palestinian 'resistance' against Israel, arguing that 'non-violent protest' is not enough, and called her own university a 'Zionist outpost'.

She was elected as Britain's most high-profile student today hours after NUS delegates argued against marking Holocaust Memorial Day, to cheers from a crowd.

The developments were condemned by Labour MPs, who said they were 'aghast' at Miss Bouattia's election and warned that the NUS 'no longer represents students well', while a leading war hero denounced her as an 'anti-semitic advocate of terrorist violence'.

Miss Bouattia, 28, who is originally from Algeria but went on to study at the University of Birmingham, defeated current president Megan Dunn by 372 votes to 328.

She previously made the news when, as the NUS officer for ethnic-minority students, she led efforts to stop the union officially condemning the Islamic State terror group in 2014.

The activist warned that speaking out against ISIS would be a 'justification for war and blatant Islamophobia', forcing union officials to clarify that 'NUS does not support ISIS'.

In the run-up to today's election, Miss Bouattia lost the support of several NUS delegates when it emerged that she had called Birmingham University a 'Zionist outpost in British higher education'.

She wrote in an article: 'It also has the largest JSoc [Jewish society] in the country, whose leadership is dominated by Zionist activists.'

And this week a video emerged in which Miss Bouattia could be seen apparently arguing that Palestinians should take up arms against Israel to end the country's occupation.

In the clip recorded 18 months ago, she said that the only reason Muslims failed to support the 'resistance' was 'internalised Islamaphobia' and 'anti-blackness'.

Miss Bouattia said: 'To consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic. 'It can be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people.

'The notion of resistance has been perhaps washed out of our understanding of how colonised people will obtain their physical emancipation.

'Resistance is presented as an act of terrorism, but instead of us remembering that this has always been the case throughout struggles against white supremacy, it's become an accepted discourse amongst too many.'

Her election today was welcomed by Cage, a controversial human rights group whose director once described ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi as 'beautiful young man'.

The organisation tweeted: 'Congratulations to Malia Bouattia on being elected the NUS president!'

Miss Bouattia last week denied being anti-semitic after 57 leaders of Jewish university societies raised concerns about her remarks in an open letter. 'It seems I have been misrepresented,' she said. 'I am extremely uncomfortable with insinuations of anti-semitism.  'I celebrate the ability of people and students from all backgrounds to get together and express their backgrounds openly and positively, and will continue to do so.

'I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish.'

After her election, she said: 'My election was not just about NUS - it has to be about our society, and the role of our movement within it.

'We must ensure our union is at the centre of a national fight for something better, and puts liberation at the heart of all we do.'

Earlier today, the NUS conference in Brighton debated whether or not the union should mark Holocaust Memorial Day, with some speakers arguing that the NUS was 'ignoring and forgetting' other genocides.

'It suggests some lives are more important than others,' said Darta Kaleja from Chester University.

Although the motion was eventually passed, the crowd loudly cheered the arguments against commemorating the Holocaust, prompting shock in some observers.

Labour MP John Mann said: 'The union is not doing enough to combat anti-Jewish hatred, and as such is failing in its responsibilities to its members.

'I am aghast at the new president's previous response to the concerns raised by Jewish students and expect her to meet their representatives and to build confidence that tackling anti-semitism in the NUS will be a priority.'

Wes Streeting, a former president of the NUS who is now Labour MP for Ilford North, argued that today's developments had damaged the union's reputation.  'NUS is lost I'm afraid,' he wrote on Twitter. 'It's had good leadership from Megan Dunn, but it no longer represents students well.'

Former minister Sir Eric Pickles added: 'There are some within the NUS that allow anti-semitism to flourish within their organisation.'

And Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander in Afghanistan, tweeted: 'Disgraceful yet predictable. Anti-semitic advocate of terrorist violence elected President of National Union of Students.'

Being president of the NUS has long been considered a springboard to high office, with the union's former leaders including Jack Straw, Charles Clarke, Jim Murphy and Trevor Phillips.


Federal Court: Schools May Not Provide Separate Bathrooms Based on Biology

An unaccountable agency and an activist court are rewriting Title IX and remaking bathroom policy across our nation.

On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court ruled against a Virginia school district that sought to accommodate a transgender student while also protecting the privacy rights of other students.

The court concluded that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—should be interpreted as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as a Department of Education letter suggested in 2015. The ruling allows a lawsuit brought by a transgender student to proceed.

The case involves a biological girl who identifies as a boy. The court’s majority explains it this way: “G.G.’s birth-assigned sex, or so-called ‘biological sex,’” is female, but G.G.’s gender identity is male.” Note the scare quotes around what the court calls “so-called ‘biological sex.” Biological sex, in fact, is precisely what Congress protected in 1972.

In a stinging dissent, Judge Paul Niemeyer points out that “the majority’s opinion, for the first time ever, holds that a public high school may not provide separate restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of biological sex.” It’s hard to imagine that that’s what Congress was prohibiting when it enacted Title IX in 1972.

Indeed, the court’s ruling goes against human history, practice, and common sense. Niemeyer explains:

This holding completely tramples on all universally accepted protections of privacy and safety that are based on the anatomical differences between the sexes. … schools would no longer be able to protect physiological privacy as between students of the opposite biological sex.

This unprecedented holding overrules custom, culture, and the very demands inherent in human nature for privacy and safety, which the separation of such facilities is designed to protect. More particularly, it also misconstrues the clear language of Title IX and its regulations. And finally, it reaches an unworkable and illogical result.

Niemeyer even points out that students have privacy rights to not have students of the other biological sex in their locker rooms:

Across societies and throughout history, it has been commonplace and universally accepted to separate public restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities on the basis of biological sex in order to address privacy and safety concerns arising from the biological differences between males and females. An individual has a legitimate and important interest in bodily privacy such that his or her nude or partially nude body, genitalia, and other private parts are not exposed to persons of the opposite biological sex. Indeed, courts have consistently recognized that the need for such privacy is inherent in the nature and dignity of humankind.

Nevertheless, G.G. sued the school district. Why? Because the district created a policy which says that bathroom and locker room access is primarily based on biology, while also creating accommodations for transgender students. Specifically, the policy is that only biological girls can use the girls’ room, only biological boys can use the boys’ room, and any student can use one of the three single-occupancy bathrooms, which the school created specifically to accommodate transgender students.

But even this accommodation wasn’t good enough. Hence the lawsuit and Tuesday’s ruling.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Andre Davis claims the student is at risk of “irreparable harm” if forced to use a single-occupancy bathroom. Davis says that to support the claim of “irreparable harm, G.G. submitted an affidavit to the district court describing the psychological distress he experiences when he is forced to use the single-stall restrooms.”

Davis adds that “G.G. experiences daily psychological harm that puts him at risk for long-term psychological harm, and his avoidance of the restroom as a result of the Board’s policy puts him at risk for developing a urinary tract infection as he has repeatedly in the past.” Davis concludes that for G.G. to use single-occupancy restrooms “is tantamount to humiliation and a continuing mark of difference.”

Niemeyer, however, points out that the majority relies not on the actual text, history, or legal implementation of Title IX, but on a 2015 letter from the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education: “The recent Office for Civil Rights letter, moreover, which is not law but which is the only authority on which the majority relies, states more than the majority acknowledges.” Indeed, that letter suggested that schools “offer the use of gender-neutral, individual-user facilities to any student who does not want to use shared sex-segregated facilities.”

At the end of the day, it’s hard to disagree with Niemeyer when he writes, “Any new definition of sex that excludes reference to physiological differences, as the majority now attempts to introduce, is simply an unsupported reach to rationalize a desired outcome.” This is simply an unaccountable agency and an activist court rewriting Title IX and remaking bathroom policy across our nation.

Bathroom, locker room, and shower facility policies that protect privacy based on biology while also accommodating transgender students make good sense. And as Niemeyer explains, they comply with the law, too: “when the school board assigned restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of biological sex, it was clearly complying precisely with the unambiguous language of Title IX and its regulations.”


Thursday, April 21, 2016

White Privilege Conference Wants Less Responsibility, Accountability

Somehow overlooked is that the most privileged people in America are brown.  Indians (from India) have the highest average income of any ethnic group

“We do see you, Super-Whitey. We’re coming for you.” Those words were spoken by educationalist Heather Hackman (she’s white, by the way) at this weekend’s White Privilege Conference (yes, it’s real, and it’s existed for 17 years now). The Daily Caller was on hand to chronicle the event.

Hackman is a former Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University education professor and current president of the Hackman Consulting Group, self-described as “a cadre of highly experienced teachers, leaders and experts in their fields who are also highly skilled trainers.” Her talk, entitled “No Freedom Unless We Call Out the Wizard Behind The Curtain: Critically Addressing the Corrosive Effects of Whiteness in Teacher Education and Professional Development,” highlighted the supposed unfairness of America’s white-person-controlled education system when it comes to helping minorities. Hackman blathered:

The racial narrative of White tends to be like this: Rugged individual, honest, hard-working, disciplined, rigorous, successful. And so then, the narrative of U.S. public education: Individual assessments, competition, outcome over process (I care more about your grades than how you’re doing), “discipline,” where we care more about your attendance and making sure you’re not tardy than we care about your relationships … proper English must be spoken (which is just assimilation into standard U.S. dialect), hierarchical power structure, and heavy goal orientation.

What she’s really arguing is that minority children shouldn’t be responsible, shouldn’t be held accountable and shouldn’t be expected to assimilate. It’s true, America’s education system needs to be reformed (school choice, anyone?), but it starts with getting activism out of the classroom. What Hackman wants is to further promote if-it-feels-good-do-it liberal values on gullible children who already suffer under the increasingly “progressive” education system. For anyone wondering why the state takeover of education and school choice are gaining steam, the White Privilege Conference explains it all.


New App Helps Illegal Aliens Access U.S. College Scholarships

Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca found it hard to find money for college after graduating from North Hollywood High School in Southern California. She was brought to the state illegally from Mexico by her parents when she was 4, but following a free K-12 education, she faced paying tuition for college – something she said she could not afford.

That’s when Salamanca decided to find a way to help illegal aliens gain access to college scholarships, according to KQED, a public radio and television station in Northern California.

“Salamanca’s struggle to find money for college inspired her to create a scholarship network that undocumented students can tap into just by reaching into their pockets,” the KQED article posted on April 3 said. “The network comes in the form of an app called the DREAMer’s Roadmap and it will launch this month for iOS and Android.”

“After the app launches, users will be able to find and share scholarship information via text, email or social media,” the article said. “DREAMer’s Roadmap currently has 500 scholarships on its database.”

“It is going to be the roadmap to the road of the journey that we lead every day of uncertainty,” Salamanca told KQED. “This would be their guide to college.

“It will give them hope,” Salamanca said.

The app also has a map that tells illegal aliens which states allow them to pay in-state tuition and which states allow them to pay in-state tuition, plus have access to financial aid.

The article explained that Salamanca started the app after winning $100,000 in the Voto Latinos Innovator Challenge contest and also received $25,000 from an anonymous donor.

Salamanca is now, the article said, in the U.S. legally and has been honored by the Obama administration and Facebook.

“Salamanca now has her green card and plans to attend a four-year university this year,” the article said. “As an advocate for undocumented students’ rights, she was one of Forbes 30 Under 30: Education in 2016, was named a Champions of Change recipient by President Obama’s administration in 2014 and participated in the DREAMer Hackathon hosted by Mark Zuckerberg in 2013.”


Department of Education Harasses Teachers Over Common Core Testing

Common Core Fails, but Education Department Tries to Silence Critics

This month we are in the middle of what the Department of Education educrats have labelled as “Testing Season.” That’s right. It’s not duck season, it’s not rabbit season, it’s Testing Season. As hundreds of thousands of students opt out of Common Core testing, teachers are weighing the professional risks of speaking out against this testing. Instead of fixing the problems with Common Core and its myriad of regulations, Education Department bureaucrats have resorted to shooting the messengers – our nation’s teachers. Perhaps Testing Season should be renamed Hunting Season.

The opt-out movement is gaining momentum. In 2015, over 200,000 students elected to opt out of Common Core standardized tests. This year’s numbers will be higher, and teachers are more vocal than ever in speaking out against Common Core and advising parents to opt out. These opinions are expressed despite threats coming in the form of bullying from the Department of Education.

Under pressure from the Education Department, some New York City schools have issued internal memos warning teachers that they do not have the right to speak out against the test, including a threat that the teachers could be subject to insubordination charges. One third-grade teacher from Brooklyn, when asked whether students should opt out, stated:

“Out of concern over my position in the public school system, I don’t feel at liberty to say whether you should.” — Kristen Taylor, third grade teacher

In other places, teachers are allowed to an express an opinion on the tests as an individual citizens and but not as educators. This policy presents an obvious dilemma as teachers ordinarily speak to students and parents as educators. The policy, much like the Common Core curriculum, is convoluted, murky, and unfair:

The opt out movement is yet another indication that Common Core and the Education Department’s implementation of it has failed. Not only has Common Core failed academically, it has failed operationally. And it’s a pretty expensive failure as Common Core has already cost the nation an estimated $80 billion. Education Department bureaucrats need a scapegoat, and they are blaming everything except Common Core and the Department’s myriad regulations. Instead, they are blaming teachers and parents:

“Pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.” — Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education

The Department of Education portrays parents as ignorant and self-serving. The truth is that parents and teachers alike understand that Common Core testing has done more harm than good for their children. If it were otherwise, hundreds of thousands of parents would not be opting out.

Curt Levey, Executive Director of FreedomWorks Foundation and its Regulatory Action Center, noted that:

“What the Education Department is doing to teachers and parents is typical of what’s wrong with the federal regulatory state. Unaccountable bureaucrats write rules that show a lack of understanding of the people they’re regulating. When those people complain, the bureaucrats react not by trying to fix the problems their rules have caused, but by harassing and punishing those who point out the problems.”


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rich eccentric takes on a racist university

The pro-Jewish and anti-Asian admission policies of Harvard are grotesque and Ron Unz has done good work in exposing them.  As Harvard was pro-Nazi in the '30s it is perhaps some justice that Jews are now favoured there.  But there is NO justice in keeping a low cap on Asian student numbers.

Ron Unz's attempt now to get on the Harvard Board of Overseers is an obvious next step towards pushing Harvard towards racial justice so the powers that be are very keen to block him.  And the opposition to him is very "ad hominem".  His character has been attacked at length.  As it happens, he really is an odd character so points to pick at have been found.  His replies to his critics are here.

He seems to have made big bikkies when he sold his stock-picking application to Moody's so he now has millions to burn.  And he uses it in an unusually pro-social way.  Instead of spending in it in the usual moron way -- on big yachts and private planes and such things -- he uses it to expand intellectual diversity in the USA.  Leftists talk diversity but  all they mean by it is "black".  Unz really DOES promote diversity.  He funds all sorts of marginal voices on both the Left and the Right.  He even gives money to people he disagrees with!

Why does he do that?  Probably because of his high IQ.  The higher your IQ the more likely you are to see the world differently and when you act on that perception, the rest of the world can only dismiss you as "eccentric".   To Unz's eyes intellectual diversity is clearly very valuable.  He can see many ways in which it could prove beneficial. So he fosters it.

And his unusual mind also makes him neither Leftist nor Rightist.  Although he perhaps is slightly Right-leaning on balance, he favours some iconic leftist positions too --  rejecting a major genetic influence on IQ, for instance.

I have had some correspondence with him in the past about IQ and illegal immigration which I found interesting but in the end both too glib and surprisingly defensive. See e.g. here and here. He has great virtues but I don't think he is a particularly good academic. One notes that he did not finish his doctorate at Stanford

The election of Harvard’s Board of Overseers is usually a quiet affair. Five new members, who must be alumni, are chosen annually by paper ballot for six-year terms. The board meets five times annually and has little power beyond helping the school set long-term goals.

But this year, the election is causing a stir on campus, among alumni, and beyond.

Conservative software engineer Ron Unz, who led a successful 2002 ballot initiative that severely limited bilingual education in Massachusetts, has rounded up four other candidates — including Ralph Nader — on a platform of making Harvard tuition free for undergraduates and questioning its use of race in admissions.

The race veered into new territory last week, after opponents of Unz brought to light his funding of some authors and researchers with views critics brand as white supremacist, including several who write for a website that professes “diversity per se is not strength, but a vulnerability.”

Unz, a member of the Harvard class of 1983, defended his donations to writers and others, including $600,000 to Gregory Cochran, who posited in an article that a “gay germ” causes homosexuality, and $24,000 to Steven Sailer, who wrote that combining economic populism with “white party” issues would win the presidency.

Unz, who is also running for US Senate in California, said he does not agree with or support the positions taken by all the writers, including Cochran and Sailer, he supports financially but wants to provide an assist to “alternative media.”

“I most certainly do NOT stand behind everything said or written by everyone with whom I’m friendly, whose writings I publish, or even who have been the recipient of my financial support over the years,” Unz said in an e-mail last week.

As part of his Free Harvard/Fair Harvard campaign, Unz is also pushing for more information about the university admissions process, which prior analyses, he said, found tilted against Asians in favor of less-qualified minorities.

Meanwhile, Harvard is facing a lawsuit from a coalition of Asian-American groups, also claiming it discriminates against Asians in admissions. The groups seek the same information Unz wants, about how Harvard chooses whom to admit.

The university has defended its practices. Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said a free tuition program would become a subsidy for families who can afford to pay the $63,000 cost of attendance, noting that the college has a generous financial aid program already. Families that make less than $65,000 pay nothing.

On admissions, Neal said Harvard’s undergraduate college performs a “whole-person” review of applicants that includes their racial and ethnic background, in order to admit a broadly diverse freshman class.

A group of alumni has coalesced to try to quash Unz’s Board of Overseers slate and to question his claim that he simply wants more information about the admissions process.

“It just seems clear that this is an agenda beyond the slogan, an agenda to end race as a factor that can be considered in the admissions process,” said Jeannie Park, founder of the group, Coalition for a Diverse Harvard.

Park called the revelations about Unz’s funding of the controversial writings “disturbing” at a time when the university is grappling with many issues involving gender and race, including the campus’ historical ties to slavery.

“The fact that Unz sprinkles money around to a range of viewpoints doesn’t make it OK to finance hate speech,” Park said.

The other slate members are Stuart Taylor Jr., a journalist who wrote “Mismatch,” a 2012 book that argues against affirmative action; Stephen Hsu, a theoretical physics professor at Michigan State University, and Lee C. Cheng, chief legal officer at online electronics retailer Newegg and secretary of the Asian American Legal Foundation, which has advocated against race-based affirmative action in an ongoing Supreme Court case.

Taylor said in an e-mail that “while I deplore the views of some of the people and organizations that [Unz] has funded, I don’t see them as very relevant to assessing Ron — let alone the rest of our slate.”

Taylor said he joined the slate because he believes socioeconomic diversity is a more important factor to consider in admissions and he has “grave concerns” about the use of racial preferences and quotas. Taylor also said making Harvard College free would attract a more diverse pool of applicants.

Nader, a five-time presidential candidate, said Thursday that he supports race-based affirmative action and agrees with the other petition candidates only in that Harvard should tap its $37.6 billion endowment to provide free tuition.

The VDare website editor, Peter Brimelow, rejected claims that the site is “white nationalist or white supremacist.” He said it publishes writers of all ideologies “who are united in their belief that America’s post-1965 immigration policies have been a disaster.”

Nader said he knows Unz from their work together on raising the minimum wage, when Unz was able to galvanize conservatives in support.

He distanced himself from the articles Unz has funded.

To appear on the ballot, the petitioners collected 201 signatures. They join eight other candidates nominated by the Harvard Alumni Association.

Ballots are due May 20, and winners will be announced at commencement.

The last time there were this many petition candidates for the 30-member board was 1990, according to Harvard.


British parents are furious after a head teacher made remarks about their daughters’ “hefty” bodies

A HEAD teacher has copped a grilling from angry parents after she made critical remarks about her female pupils’ uniforms and bodies.

Dr. Tracey Jones, the principal of Lord Grey School in Milton Keynes, England, reportedly had a total of 29 girls turned away at the front gate for failing to meet the uniform standard.

The pupils she ruled to have too-tight trousers or too-tight shirts were sent home.

Dr. Jones said clothing that was too tight emphasised the “heftiness” of some students, which she deemed “unflattering”.

But it didn’t stop there.  Dr. Jones went as far as to send an email to parents, saying that she wanted the girls (aged between 11 and 18) to be “modest and demure”.

She said unflattering clothing makes them “prone to bullying” and that there is “less bullying over shape and size” when everyone is “covered up in slightly loose clothing”.  She also said the policy was in place to protect the girls from unwanted harassment by male students.

But gender equality campaigners and parents were furious about the principal’s conduct, saying her remarks about students’ bodies were damaging and that it promoted a culture of victim-blaming. One told the principal’s comments were a “breeding ground for anorexia”, stressing that no head teacher should be able to comment on students’ size.

Another said: “It’s a slippery slope. What next? Will we have a letter saying: ‘please can you tell your child to be slightly less gay at school because it makes them prone to homophobic attacks’? It’s just crazy.”

Dr. Jones continues to defend her position, saying she wants her students to be “modest, to protect their self respect”. She declared that the school’s leadership team had decided it was time for a “clampdown”, voicing her objection to the “over-sexualisation of students at a young age”.

“It might seem like a very old fashioned concept but we want children to be children and we want the girls to be modest, to protect their self respect.  “Some might read this approach to uniform as old fashioned, but that is my moral stance on things and as Headteacher I set the tone of the school.”


UC waste

As we recently noted, a report from the state auditor outlines how the University of California made substantial efforts to recruit nonresident students who pay significantly more tuition than California residents. In recent years, the University of California has hiked tuition for residents as well and in 2011 that touched off student protests at UC Davis. Campus cops pepper-sprayed the students and that led to a settlement of $1 million. The sprayed students each received $30,000 but a San Francisco law firm got $320,000 for a review of how the UC should respond to demonstrations. UC bureaucrats were also paid extra for their work on that review. A New York-based consulting firm bagged $445,879 for an independent probe that reported to a panel headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, an appointee of Jerry Brown. Now it emerges that the costs were even more extensive.

After the pepper-spray incident, as Sam Stanton and Diana Lambert report in the Sacramento Bee, “UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings.” The payouts were intended “to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.” The reporters also found that, since Katehi took office in 2009, the budget of the UC Davis “strategic communications office” has increased from $2.93 million to $5.47 million. As students and taxpayers might note, UC’s willingness to spend in this manner is not matched by cuts in bureaucracy. Indeed, some campuses have been bulking up.

In 2011, the same year as the pepper-spray incident, UC San Diego created a vice-chancellor for equity, diversion and inclusion. This “diversity sinecure,” Heather MacDonald wrote, was “wildly redundant” in light of an already massive diversity apparatus. The new post came at a time when the campus was losing star scientists to other universities, eliminating degree programs to save money, and hiking tuition.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Now it’s war on the wiggas

Cultural appropriation is re-racialising campus life

Forget frat boys, transphobic feminists and Twitter trolls — the latest victims of modern PC madness are the wiggas. Those well-bred kids who like to don a do-rag, blast Fetty Wap and, worst of all, grow dreadlocks have been getting it both barrels of late.

Canadian popster Justin Bieber has recently found himself in the firing line. After unveiling his new dreaded fringe at the IHeartRadio awards last week, he’s been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ – the mortal modern crime of daring to stray outside of your racial-cultural bracket.

Bieber’s got form here. Three months ago he set the offence-taking thinkpiece generators into overdrive when he revealed his new cornrows. Worse still, the teeny-bopper star caught flak for saying he ‘identified’ with black people, and even came to the defence of Kylie Jenner’s controversial braids.

‘Saying [Jenner’s] being racist because she has her hair in braids is ridiculous’, he said at the time. And he spoke for every non-nutter everywhere when he met the latest round of scorn about his own dreads with the words, ‘It’s just hair’.

When Justin ‘Baby, baby, ooooh’ Bieber is the voice of reason, you know something is up. But the Biebs’ nonchalance only fanned the flames of a dreadlock debate that has been preoccupying the internet for the best part of a week (an age in Tumblr time).

It all kicked into gear when a video surfaced online of a black San Francisco University student squaring off with a white, be-dreadlocked peer. Corey Goldstein, with a head full of natty ginge-tinged locks, is seen arguing in a stairwell with the girl, who accuses him of stealing her culture.

Goldstein, gesticulating like a suburban G-Unit fan, tells her where to go, adding that dreadlocks trace back to Ancient Egypt. The enraged student, identified as Bonita Tindle, asks him if he’s Egyptian, and things escalate. He tries to walk away, with an indignant ‘I don’t need your disrespect, yo’, but Tindle grabs his wrist.

The video has gone viral – and with good reason. It’s a stark reminder of how the newfound obsession with offence-taking has re-racialised cultural life. The whingeing about cultural appropriation – whether it be Beyonce’s bindis or Iggy’s blaccent – has revived the idea that cultures should never mix, that they are assigned on the basis of skin colour.

This has been particularly potent on US campuses, where sections of middle-class minority students have embraced this nonsense as a way of shoring up victim points. At a campus conference in Washington, DC I attended last week, students wouldn’t stop going on about it. Donning bindis, bandanas, sombreros, you name it, were held up as ‘dehumanising’ acts of white theft.

Like so many of these new ideas, cultural appropriation is easy to swat down. Goldstein – another unlikely source of wisdom – made the crucial point: that is, cultures mix, change and influence each other over time. Dreadlocks, as he nodded to, can be traced back to Egypt, India and Scandinavia.

So-called cultural appropriation isn’t only inevitable — it’s good. In the mixing of cultures, universalism blossoms. Goldstein’s hair or his affected slang may not be a shining endorsement for cultural exchange. But a little cloying wigganess is the price we pay for keeping culture a race-free zone.

There was something else to this scandal, too, which shouldn’t escape us. The backlash was almost as big as the original outrage. The anti-PC elements of the internet continued to tear Tindle a new one days after the fact. It’s what kept it in the news and the subject of innumerable radio phone-ins almost a week after this otherwise insignificant event happened.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with calling out campus pillocks on their divisive logic. It keeps me in a job. But the reaction to PC dust-ups is running the risk of becoming just as kneejerk and bratty as that which it takes aim at. Various reports have called Tindle a ‘thug’. Many refer to her wrist-grab as ‘assault’. And a petition has been launched to have her expelled from the college for ‘bullying’.

Not only is this the same sort of crybaby tactics the PC brigade itself routinely engages in, it also risks clouding the issue. The reaction to PC-gone-mad scandals is often personalised and petty. Just as, after the Tim Hunt scandal, fuming hacks spent months digging up dirt on Connie St Louis, the feminist academic with a liberal definition of the truth, so, too, has Tindle become a punching bag for anti-PC bloggers to get their moral rocks off.

Neither Tindle, St Louis nor Biebers’ Twitter-bound haters are the source of our moral rot, however. They’re idiots, thrashing about in the vacuum left by grown-up politics. The idea of cultural appropriation is ridiculous – and we shouldn’t mince words in saying so. But it springs from the disarray of the ideal of universalism and the long, slow entrenchment of identity politics, not from the attitudes of a few PC loudmouths. We must resist the urge to whinge about ‘far-left bullying’ or set about twitch-hunting the twitch-hunters.

Remember: politics shouldn’t be personal. After all, that’s what got us into this mess in the first place.


At my university, censorship is out of control

An Edinburgh student on how even head-shaking is now being banned

My first experience of being censored was at football grounds. As a Tottenham fan, I chanted the word ‘yid’ at stadiums around Britain during my teenage years. The Y-word is part of Tottenham’s footballing identity. It speaks to the Jewish heritage of much of the team’s fanbase. Using it is also a way of deflecting the anti-Semitic chanting of other fans. Then, in 2013, the police threatened to arrest those who uttered the Y-word at games, even if they were using it to define themselves. I found myself facing possible arrest for chanting a word that means a lot to me. So I came to know that speech in Britain is not always free.

However, one place where I imagined people would not be punished for what they said was at university. I now realise how foolish that hope was. Soon after I arrived at the University of Edinburgh in September 2015, I learned of the bizarre ‘safe space’ and No Platform policies on this campus and other campuses across Britain. So at the end of 2015, I launched a campaign to change the speech codes at Edinburgh, which, among other things, give the students’ union the power to rescind invitations to speakers with whom they disagree. My petition received over 1,000 signatures and was supported by several public figures.

I’ve spent the six months that I’ve been at university trying to work out why so many students’ unions support censorship and think they have the right to deem what is acceptable and unacceptable speech. The student leaders who push these policies are the obvious culprits here, but actually censorship on campus has a longer history. Many of today’s student leaders have inherited ideas from earlier generations of student radicals. As Brendan O’Neill has argued, they are in many ways the ‘bastard children’ of their equally illiberal predecessors in the 1980s and 90s, who No Platformed racists and Zionists and later sought to silence religious fundamentalists and even rap artists.

Those students of the last century who argued that speech needs to be policed and that offensive ideas are a form of violence are now grown up (well, kind of) and they have influenced, and in some cases are teaching, the new generation. Today’s student radicals think censorship is acceptable, and even progressive, because many of their lecturers or left-wing heroes hold a very similar view, and have done so for years.

If today’s student leaders differ to those of the past, it is that their support for censorious policies is even less intellectual than their predecessors’. Many seem to have abandoned rational thought in favour of screaming down people they oppose and constantly expressing outrage. So at Yale, Nicholas Christakis was encircled and screamed at by shrieking students. His crime? Supporting his wife, Erika Christakis, after she sent out an email defending the right of students to wear whatever they want on Halloween.

Other students have run screaming into pro-Israel gatherings or have burnt far-left literature. At Edinburgh last week, at a meeting of the student council, the students’ union vice-president Imogen Wilson had a safe-space complaint made against her after she raised her hand to denote disagreement. Another safe-space complaint was made in relation to her ‘negative head motions’ (ie. she shook her head). Remarkably, when I asked Imogen about this incident, she defended the safe-space policy, and agreed with her accusers that her gestures could indeed have been ‘intimidating’.

So, not content with doing what many other students’ unions do and banning speakers for being ‘dangerous’ and newspapers and songs for being offensive to women, while also clamping down on the wearing of certain costumes on the basis that this is ‘cultural appropriation’, Edinburgh’s student leaders now threaten to punish people for raising their hands or moving their heads.

These ideas, mad as they seem, have not come out of thin air. I have taken some sociology courses at Edinburgh, and in these courses I have found a lot of intellectual support for the idea of censorship as a progressive good. Many in the field of sociology seem to accept the dangerous idea that violence must be redefined to include hateful, ‘discriminatory’ or offensive speech. When I calmly criticised this idea, I encountered a lot of hostility. One tutor even felt the need to apologise privately to other students who had listened to me criticise laws in mainland Europe that outlaw Holocaust denial. The notion that words are violence, and censorship can be justified, is held in many areas of the academy; the safe-space brigade did not invent it.

The usual response to us students who argue for free speech on campus is defamation. So when I defend the right and ability of women to argue against misogyny, I am labelled a sexist; for defending the rights of minority groups to hear racist speech and challenge it, I have been branded a racist; I was called an ‘Islamophobe’ after Richard Dawkins supported my petition for free speech at Edinburgh. If students get this kind of abuse for standing up for free speech, then perhaps it is understandable that more professors — who have livelihoods and families to protect — aren’t putting the case for full academic freedom.

The illiberalism of today’s students doesn’t run through their bloodstreams. It isn’t natural. Censorship is not passed through genetics. Rather, their hostility to freedom reflects a broader cultural disdain for the idea of liberty and open debate. Standing up for free speech on campus will require challenging the censorious ideas that have taken hold there over decades — both in student-union circles and among many academics — and encouraging liberal students and professors to have the courage to stand up and be counted.


How the EU strangles scholarship in Britain

A Brexit would help us fight the bureaucratisation of universities

David Cameron’s choice of a university for last week’s launch of his government’s pro-EU propaganda booklet should come as little surprise: many academics and vice-chancellors are at the forefront of campaigns to keep Britain in the EU. Cameron used his platform to give universities a shout-out: ‘We think it would be a bad decision to leave – for the economy, jobs, investment, family finances and universities.’ Few from within the higher-education sector seem prepared to challenge the doctrine that EU membership is good for universities.

The project of rallying academics and students to the Remain cause has been led by Universities UK (UUK), a group of vice-chancellors and university leaders, which claims to be ‘the definitive voice for universities in the UK’. UUK argues that:

‘There are 125,000 EU students at British universities, generating more than £2.2 billion for the economy and creating 19,000 jobs, while 14 per cent of academic staff come from other EU nations. Research funding from Brussels is worth £1 billion a year, boosting the quality of research, benefiting the economy and helping British academics to tap into a continent-wide pool of knowledge.’

The frequent incantation of these primarily economic benefits has overshadowed questions about how EU membership has, over a period of several decades, fundamentally altered the nature of higher education and what it means to be a student.

In July 2015, UUK launched its Universities for Europe campaign with the stated aim of demonstrating how ‘the EU strengthens our already world-class higher-education system’. The campaign aims to ‘promote powerful evidence and highlight compelling stories about the benefits of European Union membership’. Did any of the 133 members of UUK question whether it was appropriate for British academia to hold a collective political position on EU membership? Or, indeed, what this stance might mean for the academic freedom of individual scholars who take an opposing view? The idea that ‘powerful evidence’ should be sought and promoted in order to prove an already determined political position is hardly a shining example of good academic practice.

This same pattern of paying lip service to academic values while pushing through an expressly political objective can be seen in Universities for Europe’s approach to debate. Having already made absolutely clear its intention to extol the benefits of EU membership, the Universities for Europe website then declares:

‘We also want to promote the role of universities as places of debate and sources of academic expertise. Universities will open their lecture halls to host public debates to give people opportunities to hear from all sides, to discuss the pros and cons of EU membership and discover more about its impact on universities and, in turn, how this affects them.’

The intention to debate is laudable. But in a context where the ‘definitive voice for universities in the UK’ has already made its view on Brexit abundantly clear, the proposed discussions can only ever be a charade designed to justify its own particular position. The professed support for debate is followed by a list of ‘common myths and misconceptions’ where selective arguments for Brexit are derided.

Apparently, one ‘myth’ is that ‘European students and researchers will still come to the UK even if we are not in the EU’. Instead of exploring whether or not EU students will still want to study in a post-Brexit UK, those who think they will are simply chastised: ‘This is a careless, risky assumption to make.’ This closes down criticism. And Universities for Europe’s arguments warrant criticism. For example, the over-reliance on economic justifications for remaining in the EU presents universities as businesses rather than places concerned with the pursuit, preservation and transmission of knowledge. If universities are not primarily concerned with knowledge then it does not matter how much money they receive from the EU – they are no longer universities. Yet, stretching back decades, every EU directive on education has further contributed to eroding the significance of disciplinary knowledge.

The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) came into existence in March 2010. It comprises 47 countries and represents the culmination of the Bologna Process, a political project designed to ‘strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education, and to foster student mobility and employability through the introduction of a system based on undergraduate and postgraduate studies with easily readable programmes and degrees’. Although the Bologna Process was not directly overseen by the EU, and not all participating countries are EU members, it received substantial EU funding and direction via consultative members such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Students’ Union, the European University Association and the European Association of Institutions of Higher Education. The EHEA’s emphasis on economic competitiveness and employability changes the role of universities from education to training and contributes to the transformation of students into consumers.

Furthermore, the need to make each nation’s qualifications equivalent has increased the bureaucratisation of higher education. The EHEA acknowledges that ‘quality assurance has played an important role from the outset’. ‘Harmonisation’, or the erosion of national differences in approach, required the introduction of a European qualifications framework so that a degree in any EHEA country signifies a student has studied for the same length of time and to the same standard. This ignores the different prior educational experiences of students as well as different cultural traditions and expectations of what a university is for.

Worse, it ignores the distinctive nature of different subjects. In practice, it means that discussion of what students should know has been replaced with learning outcomes, instrumental goals a student can demonstrate having met, and credits, ‘a quantified means of expressing the volume of learning based on the achievement of learning outcomes and their associated workloads’. Inevitably, as with all attempts at standardisation, the danger is a race to the bottom – in this case other European countries have had to come in line with England’s shorter degree programmes.

The need to quantify and measure learning outcomes and credits means the pursuit of knowledge, for students and lecturers alike, becomes relativised and robbed of all significance. It becomes just one goal among many to be ticked off over the course of an academic year. Knowledge is presented as just as important as a range of other outcomes, relating to employability, sustainability and lifelong learning. Rather than knowledge, the EHEA is most committed to promoting ‘the social dimension of higher education’. For the most part, this seems to be about widening participation and the need to ensure people from disadvantaged backgrounds can access university.

However, it also embodies a distinct body of values such as the promotion of social justice, inclusion, global citizenship and sustainability. Individual academics have not been consulted on these values but, just like credits and learning outcomes, they are expected to make cursory reference to them in module and programme-specification documents. It should be for lecturers, not EU-funded bureaucrats, to determine what students are taught.

The replacement of knowledge with values is reflected in many of the arguments being put forward by the EHEA, UUK and others. The presence of EU students in UK universities and the existence of exchange programmes such as Erasmus are praised for providing students with an international university experience and opportunities to gain intercultural competence. There is indeed much to celebrate in having a diverse group of students, but university has to be about more than just bringing people into contact with each other. This should be a byproduct of going to university, not the main event.

UUK’s argument, that EU membership allows British universities to ‘tap into a continent-wide pool of knowledge’, suggests a very narrow and instrumental view of knowledge. Brexit will not stop scholars from being able to read books, attend conferences or communicate with academics from the rest of Europe. However a vote to remain in the EU may see the pursuit of knowledge further relegated behind numerous other political, economic and social goals. Brexit will not solve all the problems currently facing the British higher-education sector, but at least it will allow those working in UK universities more control over changing direction.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Degrees are more necessary than ever before, but the rewards aren’t as great

Comment from Australia

HAVING a degree has become a basic prerequisite for most careers. Those without a degree are more likely to be disadvantaged in career and economic terms.

You could think of this as somewhat like mobile phone ownership. Twenty years ago, those of us without a mobile phone got by just fine — having one was a status symbol. Now, even though the phones are much, much better, having one is nothing special. And those without one will really struggle.

Yet widespread participation in higher education has implications for individuals. On the one hand, the more people who have a degree, the more this becomes a basic expectation for employers. On the other hand, the more having a degree becomes a basic expectation, the less “special” it is and the lower the premium, in terms of pay, that can be gained.

We can see this clearly in shifts in graduate starting salaries. Since the mid-1970s, median annual starting salaries for bachelor degree graduates have deteriorated steadily.

In 1977, when a minority of people completed high school, let alone went to university, graduates of engineering, education, computer science, social work, veterinary science and agricultural science all had starting salaries above male average weekly earnings (MAWE) — the long-term benchmark for salary levels in Australia.

In 2011, only graduates of dentistry, optometry and earth sciences had salaries above MAWE. Even medicine, perhaps the most sought-after degree, has taken a tumble, from a starting salary of 138.5 per cent of MAWE in 1977 to 91.4 per cent in 2011.

This diminution in monetary value of having a degree corresponds to steep rises in participation in higher education over the same period.

Three decades ago, only around 40 per cent of young people completed high school (46 per cent in 1985, for example). Today, around the same proportion complete a university degree.

What all this shows is that we are experiencing credential creep. The level of educational credential needed to stand out from the crowd has risen steeply. This is compellingly demonstrated by the steep increases in participation in the highest degree levels.

Australian universities graduated nearly 8000 doctorates (PhDs and professional doctoral degrees) in 2013, more than double the number graduating in 1999.

Of course, higher education is about much more than the piece of paper received at the end.

Remarkably, in the face of such steep increases in participation, graduates’ satisfaction with their experience at university is extremely high. It has remained high over the past decade, at well over 90 per cent. Similarly, more than half of Australia’s universities rank in the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities top 500.

Data such as this flies in the face of anecdotal concerns about a decline in the quality of higher education in Australia.


Universities today enrol an exceptionally diverse community of students, of varying social, academic and cultural backgrounds. That this has been achieved without plummeting satisfaction levels or widespread loss of institutional standings — despite static or declining public funding — is remarkable.

But these increases in participation and diversity create social tensions.

Australian tertiary education is now characterised by a lack of clear purpose. This stems from policymakers’ failure to conceptualise the tertiary education landscape and the role of the institutions that comprise it, as well as the lack of any instrumental view of objectives based on need.

It has become unclear what differentiates the vocational, education and training (VET) sector from the university sector and, in turn, from private tertiary education providers. Enabling, bachelor and sometimes postgraduate-level education is available from all three kinds of institution.

Despite this, funding and regulation of VET and higher education are undertaken by state and federal governments respectively. The regulation of private, international and postgraduate coursework education has been developed ad hoc rather than planned.

The result is a series of policy and legislative artefacts formed on the hop, rather than a coherent and systematised sector serving clear societal needs.


Having a degree is no longer a quality status signal in itself. What counts now is what institution? What course? What extra-curricular activities?

The more ubiquitous holding a degree becomes, the more we will see status signals and classing structures strengthening their place within the higher education system, with a more nuanced differentiation of the credential as capital.

This raises important questions about social equity.

Today, young people are pressured to go to university even if they may not be particularly interested in scholarly pursuits.

Many end up in institutions or courses that are unsuited to them, despite their ability, for selection measures remain tightly correlated with social class.

Large employers (banks and the like) no longer focus their recruitment on school leavers and train them up. Now they recruit university graduates and complain that they do not have the required skills. Similarly, students forgo earning while they are learning, and the costs of gaining a qualification are high.

Pressing inequalities in early education and schooling that lead to inevitable inequalities at the tertiary level; credential creep that is pushing all the way to the PhD; increasing stratification in the status of institutions, disciplines and modes of study — these are the contemporary frontiers for equity in Australian tertiary education.

We need a new conceptualisation of the purpose of tertiary and higher education, of training, of skills. And it needs to be supported by policy and funding mechanisms that recognise new realities rather than perpetuating old stereotypes.


Finally, There Are Some Young People Standing Up to the PC Left

The situation on college campuses has spun out of control. At America's elite universities, our supposed best and brightest have had their minds poisoned by a brand of left-wing pabulum that is so toxic that the mere use of terms or characters that might offend someone, somewhere, sometime is enough to send them into a catatonic state. Where colleges were once an open forum for the exchange of ideas and rational debate, they're now pockets of safe spaces where adult toddlers can retreat any time their hard left worldview is challenged. It's a disaster, and it threatens the very intellectual stability of our nation.

One group is sick of it, and they're taking action:

On Freedom Day, April 13th, Young Americans for Liberty launches the Fight for Free Speech campaign, a national movement committed to ending unconstitutional, restrictive speech codes and combatting threats to Free Speech on college and university campuses, by hosting more than 340 coordinated events nationwide.

C.J. Sailor, YAL’s Director of Free Speech said of the program, “College campuses are under threat from authoritarian voices that only look to stomp out ideas and viewpoints. Our Fight for Free Speech campaign is the largest coordinated attempt to combat these threats and encourage the healthy, free flow of ideas.”

The Fight for Free Speech campaign will run from April 13th through April 20th. During that time there will be more than 340 events in all 50 states. At these events, YAL chapters will host sneak-peek screenings of Can We Take a Joke?, starring comedians Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, and Penn Jillette. The film is set to release later this year. Participating campuses include Clemson University, University of California - Berkeley, Auburn University, Morehouse College, University of Georgia, Temple University, Ithaca College, American University, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, and many more.

The film gained distribution this month from Samuel Goldwyn Films, the production house behind The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and other recent hit productions. Recently news about the documentary has been featured in Reason Magazine, The Interrobang, Variety, and the Federalist. The Federalist titled their piece on the film, “Go Watch Can We Take A Joke?” and called it, “Required viewing by everyone in this country.” It premiered to a sold-out crowd in November at the IFC Center in New York and has since been featured at several film festivals including the Sun Valley Film Festival.

Along with organizing screenings of Can We Take a Joke?, YAL chapters are strategically reforming campus policies across the country to respect Free Speech rights. Dozens of reforms are occurring right now in coordination with legal groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education (FIRE).
Young Americans for Liberty grew out of Texas congressman Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign. Since then, the organization has grown to nearly 600 chapters nationwide. Their statement of principles reads:

We are the Young Americans for Liberty. We recognize the natural rights of life, liberty, and property set forth by our Founding Fathers. Our country was created to protect the freedoms of the individual and be directed by We the People.

We recognize that freedom requires responsibility, and therefore we hold ourselves to a high standard of character and conduct. Integrity motivates our action. Principle defines our outlook towards government. Peace and prosperity drive our ambitions towards our countrymen.

We inherit a corrupt, coercive world that has lost respect for voluntary action. Our government has failed and dragged our country into moral decay. The political class dominates the agenda with a violent, callous, controlling grip. For this we do not stand.

We welcome limited government conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians who trust in the creed we set forth.
There's no question that college campuses are in trouble, but are they too far gone? We think not. The radical left-wing ideology preached on college campuses tends to fold like a cheap suit when it comes up against the demands of the real world. Still, it remains incredibly dangerous tonic for impressionable young minds, especially when left to grow unchecked. We salute Young Americans for Liberty, and hope they're successful in their quest to restore free speech on college campuses.


80,000 British children may miss out on their first choice of primary school: Crisis intensifies following baby boom fuelled by migration

Unprecedented numbers of children – up to 80,000 – are expected to miss out on their preferred primary schools this year as the national places crisis intensifies.

A baby boom fuelled by migration has left many local authorities at breaking point – and the most over-populated won't be able to offer some families a single place.

Experts said the problem could get worse as councils lose powers to create new places because more schools are becoming academies, which are free from local authority control.

They also warned of over-crowding in classes and poor facilities as schools struggle to keep pace with the rising birth rate.

On Monday, more than 600,000 children are due to receive their primary school allocation on what is known as National Offer Day.

A Daily Mail survey of councils suggests up to one in seven children will miss out on their first choice in some areas, while one in 20 may get none of their preferences.

Around 20,000 families are expected to miss out on all of their choices, while several thousand are likely to be offered no place.

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: 'The Government misjudged the issue and is desperately trying to catch up with the rising birth rate.

'The situation is not helped by the fact that while local authorities are responsible for securing sufficient places, they have neither the power to open new schools nor decide admissions to the growing number of primary academies.

'In short, parents are less likely to get the school they want, and, if they do, the class is more likely to be crowded and the classroom temporary.'

According to the Mail's survey, 13 per cent of applicants have missed out on their first choice in Hull, with 5 per cent getting none of their choices. The city's most oversubscribed school is Gillshill Primary, with 245 first-choice applications for just 60 places.

Last year, applications in England rose from 623,526 to 636,279, with 12 per cent missing out on their first choice school and 3 per cent missing out on all of their choices.

Yesterday, research revealed that competition for places is so fierce that even the worst schools are becoming difficult to get into.

According to the FindASchool website, the difference in average catchment areas between schools in London with 'outstanding' and 'requires improvement' Ofsted ratings has more than halved since 2010.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 'Despite rising pupil numbers, 95.9 per cent of parents in England received an offer at one of their top three preferred primary schools last year. We have spent £5billion creating places since 2010, with over 100,000 primary places added in 2014/15 alone.'


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Something that puts the left-wing cry-bullies who call the tune in our "multiculturally correct" universities on the defensive

Check out Bill Whittle's cheeky new video commentary "Appropriate This!"

Whittle's targets are students of color who attack whites who wear their hair in dreadlocks, or eat General Tho's chicken in the cafeteria, or have mariachi bands at their parties, or hang a Dream Catcher on the rear view mirror of their car.

To leftists, these whites are cultural thieves rapaciously appropriating the intellectual property of oppressed minorities.

Like all effective satirists, Whittle puts the shoe on the other foot and asks these radical students how they feel about appropriating the intellectual property of the white Wright Brothers when they fly on an airline...

About stealing the cultural work of white innovators like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs when they use a computer...

Or about taking advantage of dead white male Alexander Fleming when they use penicillin to get over strep throat!

Faith schools 'shunning poor pupils': Report says middle classes are tightening their grip on the best primaries

Church schools are shunning the poorest children as the middle classes tighten their grip on the best school places, according to a new report. Educational charity the Sutton Trust found there are 1,576 primary schools in England which are 'highly socially selective'. Each has a proportion of disadvantaged pupils that is at least 9.2 percentage points different from the communities they serve.

It said many of these select on faith-based criteria, which prioritise middle class families who are more likely to be regular church-goers.

And it added that research by the Education Datalab showed socially selective schools are more likely to be high-performing – so deprived children are being barred from some of the best schools.

It comes as hundreds of families across the country will find out which primary school their child has been allocated on Monday, which has become known as National Offer Day.

Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: 'Disadvantaged young people should have the same chance of accessing the best state school in their neighbourhood as their better off neighbour.

'Today's findings warn us that primary school admissions are far from a level-playing field.'

The research examined the difference between the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in a school's intake and that of its local neighbourhood.

It revealed many schools employing complicated and narrow admissions criteria appeared to be taking a disproportionate number of wealthier children from neighbourhoods.

The research also identified correlations between a school's performance and its socially selectivity. Just 1 per cent of schools in the bottom 10 per cent for performance at age 11 are also in the top 10 per cent most socially selective schools.

In contrast, 14 per cent of schools in the top 10 per cent for performance at age 11 are also in the top 10 per cent of socially selective schools.

The most socially selective primary schools tend to use more complex oversubscription criteria than the typical school, which uses about five criteria.

Of the 100 most socially selective primary schools identified by the brief, one used as many as 18 different oversubscription criteria.

Areas with particularly socially selective schools included London, Blackpool and Hartlepool – with many using faith-based – often Catholic – criteria.

Dr Allen said: 'There are many benefits to giving parents a choice over where their child is educated, but our new research shows that that there is not equity in access to many primary schools, either because higher-income families are advantaged in their ability to exercise choice or because their admissions criteria favour certain pupils.'

Under the School Admissions Code, faith schools are allowed to prioritise children of their faith when they are over-subscribed.

They must be fair and transparent, and must not disadvantage unfairly a child from a particular social or racial background.

New academies and free schools with a faith designation can only prioritise up to half of their places by reference to faith, where they are oversubscribed.

A Department for Education spokesman said: 'Determining admissions policies on the basis of wealth is both morally wrong and against the law.

'All schools must follow the School Admissions Code which should make sure school places are allocated fairly, with an admissions policy that does not unfairly disadvantage children from a particular social or racial group, or those with a disability or special educational needs.

'Parents with concerns should report them to the Schools Adjudicator, who can intervene.

'Our recent White Paper is aimed at empowering parents to hold schools and the system to account. Alongside this, we will also be consulting on amending the mandatory School Admissions Code.'


Australia: Another university grievance mongers’ song and dance

What a marvellously McCarthyesque moment. On the ABC’s 7.30 this week the shamefaced former collaborator admitted to his inquisitors that he saw the error of his ways. James Dunn, a big burly country boy who’s treasurer of Baxter College at the University of NSW, acknow­ledged that even last year he was involved in the college’s annual Boys Night Out activities where they chanted “appalling” songs.

Now that furious students are protesting against these “disgusting songs which glorify rape”, he has seen the light. “I’m condemning my own actions at this time,” he blushingly disclosed.

And the lyrics of the song 7.30 described as “hideous”?

I wish that all the ladies were buns in the oven

And if I was a baker

I’d cream them by the dozen

Crude? Yes, bawdy and lusty, but also a typical drinking song, the type of vulgar sexual ditty that has been part of our culture since before Chaucer’s time. I remember the girls at Ascham School romping through a performance of the Canterbury Tales that included the memorable lines:

And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,

And seyde, ‘Y-wis, but if ich have my wille,

For derne love of thee, lemman, I spille.’

Not so different. But, then, these female fascists probably would like to ban Chaucer too.

The Baxter drinking song speaks not of rape but of men’s desire for sex, an urge some feminist lobby groups appear to regard as reprehensible. Here’s Jocelyn Dracakis, a student rep on the UNSW Council: “It shows lyrics that glorify acts of rape … It’s completely revolting that this kind of behaviour has been allowed to take place in the college.”

Among the lyrics sung by students and replayed on 7.30 was this little gem: “I’d like to tickle their clitoris.” Rape culture? On the contrary. Isn’t this exactly what we women have long been asking for? How it is possible that this nonsense was the leading story on our ABC’s top current affairs program? Let’s hope Michelle Guthrie takes note.

The most depressing aspect of this whole affair is the lobbyists have persuaded the university administration to cave in to their strident demands that such songs be verboten. The university released a statement saying it was “appalled by the sexist and demeaning attitudes and behaviours” and had “taken steps to insure that incidents of this kind do not occur again”.

Surely our intellectual elite should have the guts to stand up to these crazy grievance mongers. OK, young men’s right to sing a dirty ditty isn’t actually a noble cause. But there are important issues at stake in the inability of university authorities to withstand such silly, vexatious campaigns.

This month the University of Sydney Union gave in to protests and decided the 88-year-old Catholic Society at the university should face deregistration on the grounds that it was discriminatory to require senior members to be Catholic — that’s despite the union funding a “women’s room” and a centre for indigenous students. Similarly lily-livered behaviour now characterises some of the world’s leading universities.

Late last year British columnist James Delingpole wrote a marvellous column in response to the decision by Oriel College at Oxford to give in to student demands to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes, British imperial hero and founder of the Rhodes scholarship. Delingpole penned the letter he wished Oriel College had sent to the black South African student demonstrator. It included some memorable statements:

“Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to squander your time at Oxford on silly, vexatious, single-issue political campaigns … We are well used to seeing undergraduates — or, in your case, postgraduates — making idiots of themselves. Just don’t expect us to indulge your idiocy, let alone genuflect before it. You may be black — ‘BME’ as the grisly modern terminology has it — but we are colourblind.

“We do not discriminate over sex, race, colour or creed. We do, however, discriminate according to intellect. That means, inter alia, that when our undergrads or postgrads come up with fatuous ideas, we don’t pat them on the back, give them a red rosette and say: ‘Ooh, you’re black and you come from South Africa. What a clever chap you are!’

“No. We prefer to see the quality of those ideas tested in the crucible of public debate. That’s another key part of the Oxford intellectual tradition, you see: you can argue any damn thing you like but you need to be able to justify it with facts and logic — otherwise your idea is worthless.”

Where’s the logic in claiming a song about tickling the clitoris contributes to the rape culture? A trivial issue, perhaps, but symptomatic of a wider malaise.