Friday, July 08, 2016

Liberal profs outnumber conservatives 28-to-1 in New England

A study of survey data collected over 25 years has confirmed that university faculty in New England are far more liberal than anywhere else in the nation, outnumbering conservatives 28-to-1, compared to a 6-to-1 ratio nationally.

Samuel Abrams, a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, notes in an op-ed for The New York Times Sunday that while decades of survey data confirm liberal preponderance throughout the academy, one region in particular stands out for its particularly extreme imbalance: New England.

“Wow, it’s getting harder and harder to find non-progressive professors on campuses right now.”

“I cannot say for certain why New England is so far to the left,” Abrams concedes. “But what I can say, based on the evidence, is that if you are looking for an ideologically balanced education, don’t put New England at the top of your list.”

Reviewing surveys of professors’ ideological leanings that were conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) between 1989 and 2014, Abrams discovered a distinct leftward shift over the past 25 years, but was surprised to discover that “the factor that had the greatest impact on the ideological leanings of college professors was their geographic region.”

The HERI surveys reveal that liberal academics outnumbered their conservative peers in 1989 by a 2-to-1 margin nationally, while in New England the figure was 5-to-1. Twenty-five years later, the national ratio had tripled, coming in at 6-to-1 in 2014, but that increase paled in comparison to New England, where the discrepancy reached an astronomical 28-to-1.

Abrams reassured Campus Reform that the findings, both in New England and nationally, are not indicative of the nation’s overall ideological leanings, suggesting instead that they are a product of groupthink and unconscious bias among university faculty and administrators who control the hiring process for new professors.

“On average the nation is more conservative than it is liberal, but professors are just so far left,” he explained. “It’s a very strong finding to see that suddenly it’s not a myth, and that academics really has shifted to be far more liberal.”

The reason for the disproportionate leftward bias in New England, Abrams added, can be attributed primarily to the hiring process rather than an ideological shift in the region.

“What’s going on in New England is most likely that they are hiring more liberal professors, rather than these professors actually becoming more liberal, and over time that can culminate into a big shift toward the left,” Abrams said. “Typically, we hire people because we’re planning on working with them and it’s a lot more attractive to have people you agree with.”

Indeed, Abrams recounts experiencing just that phenomenon when he started teaching at Sarah Lawrence in 2010, recalling that colleagues used to joke that he was a “targeted hire” because his moderate political views were practically heretical at the ultra-liberal college.

According to Abrams’ findings, the leftward shift in academia became most noticeable in the mid-1990’s.

In 1989, the surveys showed that 40 percent of professors identified as liberal, 40 percent as moderates, and only 20 percent were conservative. In 2014, however, professors identifying as liberal climbed to 60 percent, while the share of moderate professors fell to 30 percent and conservatives declined to 10 percent.

The research findings present a much larger issue than a regional ideological gap, Abrams notes, pointing out that an increase in liberal ideology can potentially lead to issues regarding free speech and academic freedom.

“It just makes you go ‘wow, it’s getting harder and harder to find non-progressive professors on campuses right now,’” he told Campus Reform. “It’s very hard to challenge people with different views on college campuses right now because there’s no one to support you.”

Abrams said the importance of establishing a balanced environment and giving students the opportunity to hear perspectives from both sides of the isle is crucial because it is currently not happening on college campuses today.

“If these are the people who are teaching our future leaders, then it begs the question, are these professors really the most balanced group of people, are these students really getting the most balanced education?” he asked.“The data suggest maybe not.”


UK: New primary school tests criticised as half of pupils meet standards

As Department for Education publishes results for year 6 tests, critics say government is gambling with pupils’ futures

Little more than half of pupils met the government’s tougher new standards in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of primary school, according to national test results.

The new tests for year 6 primary school pupils in England – used for the first time this year – had been criticised by teachers, academics and unions for being poorly constructed, while the Department for Education was blamed for a series of mistakes involved in their introduction.

The national figures, published on Tuesday, show that just 53% of pupils reached the government’s “expected standard” in all three topics – reading, maths and writing – and just two-thirds made the grade in reading.

As a rule of thumb, the expected standard equates to the previous 4B level. Last year, 69% of pupils aged 11 and 12 reached level 4B in the subjects that were tested.

A DfE source said: “These results show that our children and teachers are capable of achieving the higher standards we expect of them and vindicate the reforms introduced by Michael Gove and continued by Nicky Morgan.

“While previous governments were happy to celebrate ever higher results at the expense of declining standards, these bold secretaries of state have taken the important decision to prioritise our children’s future ahead of short-term political wins.”

Morgan had earlier warned parents that the new tests could not be compared with previous year’s results, which were based on a different curriculum and measure of attainment.

“Neither schools nor parents should try to compare this year’s results with previous years. The tests are new and are based on a new, more rigorous national curriculum,” Morgan said before the results were announced.

The biggest differences appear to have come in maths and reading. In maths, 77% of pupils reached level 4B last year, and 70% met the DfE’s definition of expected standard this year. In reading, 80% of pupils reached the 4B level in 2015, and 66% reached the expected standard this year.

Teachers said they were surprised that 74% of pupils met the expected standard for writing, because it tended to lag behind reading in terms of attainment.

In other areas, 72% of pupils met the new standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling, which could be an improvement on previous years given the more demanding curriculum.

Tuesday’s results give only the national picture, with school-level results to be published later in the year. The DfE has already said that because of the uncertainty around the results, only the lowest performing 6% of schools will be classed as below the government’s floor targets.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said the results gave a misleading picture of school performance and should be ignored.

“The government is proud to say this new curriculum is harder than in previous years, but seemingly happy to put these children at an automatic disadvantage” compared with children in previous years, Hobby said.

“Added to this, the government has made serious mistakes in the planning and implementation of tests this year, with delays and confusion in the guidance materials.”

Lucy Powell, Labour’s former shadow education secretary, called the new tests a “total shambles”.

“Nicky Morgan should spend less time sucking up to Tory leadership candidates and more time trying to sort out the mess she has created,” said Powell, who resigned from Labour’s frontbench last week.

“There’s no dressing these results up – there has been a big drop in results and standards have fallen due to the chaos and confusion in assessment created by Tory ministers past and present.”

But a DfE source responded: “Lucy Powell, or whoever is in charge of education for the Labour party these days, has got it wrong. Her lack of aspiration for our children is disappointing yet unsurprising.”

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, joined the attack, saying the Conservatives were “treating students like a lab rats”.

He added: “These results show starkly that they are gambling the futures of these young people on Michael Gove’s misty-eyed world view where every school is a prep or grammar school, students are robotic and teachers skip around teaching past participles and antonyms by rote to seven-year-olds.

“It sounds more like an Enid Blyton book than reality.”


Australia: School in a black community closed down after principal was threatened with an axe will open again with extra security

Teachers who take jobs there must be desperate. 

A remote school that was closed down after its teaching staff were forced to evacuate due to violence will reopen with increased security and offer years seven and eight.

The Cape York Academy primary school in the troubled remote community of Aurukun, in far-north Queensland, will begin providing classes again following a review of education and security at the school by the Queensland Government, according to ABC.

Teachers were evacuated on two occasions in May after school principal Scott Fatnowna was attacked and carjacked twice in two weeks.

The first incident caused the evacuation of the school's 25 staff and the arrest of six people after Mr Fatnowna was attacked with an axe as he tried to stop people breaking into the homes of two teachers. 

The review made 27 recommendations, all of which will be adopted by the Queensland Government.

As part of the recommendations, new fencing, lights, security systems have been built and personal distress alarms have been issued, according to the report.

The town currently has 23 police officers, but will receive a further eight security personnel in line with the construction of a new teacher housing area.

Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones told ABC that classes will be provided for Year 7 and 8 students and distance education will be available for later years.

'They also want a greater focus on the Wik language, particularly for the transition of early years where English is often a second language for young people,' she said.

'That will ensure that we are providing that balance between Wik language and English in the school curriculum.'

Some teachers have chosen not to return to the school, but all positions have been filled, Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said in the report.

Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk told the remote indigenous community in May that the state government was making every effort to ensure the town's long-term education needs were met.

'We all know how important education is and it is indeed my priority to ensure that all children receive a good quality education,' Ms Palaszczuk said in the town square.

'I don't care where they live in Queensland, every single child deserves the best education.'

Ms Palaszczuk and Education Minister Kate Jones spoke to around 200 people in the town square following a tour of the town and meeting with the Aurukun Shire Council.

Aurukun elder Phyllis Yunkaporta told the premier in May she was opposed to the school being closed, but put the responsibility back on the community's parents.

'Children who are running amok and are not getting an education have to be home with their parents, their grandparents,' she said.  'We need to show love to our children.'

Shocking footage from Aurukun emerged in May of a group of women brawling in front of police.

The video shows a number of young women throwing bare-knuckled punches as onlookers stood by.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

UK: Strikes are 'futile' and harm children's education, teachers told

As ever, the teachers want more money for less work

A teachers' strike is a 'futile and politically motivated gesture’ that harms pupils' education and portrays educators as ‘militant hardliners’, the head of a teaching union has warned ahead of a national walkout over pay and funding for schools.

Last month, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted in favour of industrial action over pay, working conditions and ‘underfunding’ of schools in what many believe will cause huge disruptions to most schools in the country.

Hundreds of schools are expected to either fully close or partially close across England on Tuesday. In some cases, teachers will not show up to specific lessons, the union believes.

The strike could be one of a series this summer but the Department for Education (DfE) has said the action is 'unnecessary' and 'damaging'.

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, the union which was founded on the principle of not taking industrial action, has said that striking is a ‘political action’ which shouldn’t be considered even as “a last resort”.
Politically motivated

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, she said strikes ‘damage schools’.

She explained: “[Strikes] fail to impact on those responsible for disputed policies but do provide ammunition for politicians and politically-motivated commentators eager to portray teachers as militant hardliners who are unwilling to compromise.

“Instead, they cause great inconvenience ... for pupils, parents and non-striking colleagues across the school team, damaging pupils education, staffroom relations and the economy, as many parents are forced to take time off work.”

She added: “Futile, politically-motivated, gesture-politics strikes simply strengthen the case for government interference and further rob the profession of the opportunity to wrest education away from political ideology.”

    Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the NUT said: “The NUT is aware that strike action can be disruptive to parents and carers and for that we wholeheartedly apologise.

    “Equally, teachers do not take strike action lightly. The problems facing education, however, are too great to be ignored and we know many parents share our concerns.

    “The strike is about the underfunding of our schools and the negative impact it is having on children’s education and teachers’ terms and conditions.”


Ending Racial Preferences in Higher Education… Finally.  It can be done

The Supreme Court's recent 4-3 ruling upholding racial preferences in higher education (Fisher v. Texas) is merely the latest installment of a Wrack-A-Mole game that began with the 1978 Bakke decision. The game is simple: universities, despite the explicit anti-discrimination requirements of the 1964 Civil Right Act, choose to admit less academically qualified blacks thereby discriminating against whites and Asians.

Opponents then fight back with lawsuits and voter initiatives banning preferences. In turn, these are met with various subterfuges:  fuzzy "holistic admissions," claims that "research" demonstrates the pedagogical value of campus racial diversity, assertions that campus diversity is a compelling state interest or that the handful of blacks admitted purely on merit will flounder unless joined by a "critical mass" of fellow but less-qualified African Americans.

As in the rigged carnival Wrack-A-Mole game, victory always seems just beyond reach of those rejecting racial preferences.

Can this back and forth game so inimical to the quality of American higher education be finally ended and preferences banished forever? The answer is "yes": just make racial preferences in universities a criminal violation (current law does not provide criminal sanctions).

Begin by recognizing that schools pay a hefty price for racial preferences-lost tuition, costly remedial courses, a bloated bureaucracy of Deans of Inclusions plus the sword of Damocles threat of campus unrest.

But, when it comes to the administrators personally pushing preferences, the benefits far outweigh costs. No campus bureaucrat ever lost his or her job by violating the 1964 law; many will actually advance professionally by "making the numbers." Even if caught red-handed inventing "diversity-is-our-strength" research or blatantly manipulating SAT score data, the personal cost is zero. Moreover, deceit can be a godsend to empire-building apparatchiki as the university expands the Office of Admissions to dig deeper into the records of black applicants to uncover heretofore unnoticed signs of intellectual achievement.

Nor is there any threat of retribution from those harmed by these race-conscious policies--no rejected bright Asian applicants will hold a sit-in or otherwise prove troublesome.

What if, however, those who cook the numbers and invent unsubstantiated crackpot theories faced fines to be paid personally or even risk jail time for their illegal behavior? A policy no different than holding individual corporate executives criminally liable for poisoning the water supply versus just punishing the offending firm (think Flint Michigan where city officials now face incarceration for their negligence).

This criminalization approach can be quickly implemented though, to be sure, obtaining a criminal conviction is more difficult than winning a civil suit. FBI agents might collect publicly available data on admissions, particularly where a noticeable jump has occurred. Then interview low-level admission clerks about how African American and Hispanic applications were handled.

As with investigating organized crime, grants of immunity will quickly entice minor functionaries to testify against their immediate bosses who, in turn, will be convinced to provide evidence on the higher ups. Up and up until the university's President will be asked to testify under oath why admitting blacks with SAT scores 200 points below those of rejected Asians serves some higher, legally sanctioned purpose.

Actually, the very thought of having to give such future testimony may cool the ardor for race-based admissions. And efforts to avoid a paper trail by, for example, using non-university e-mails risk charges of obstructing justice.

And just wait until the mass media feeding frenzy as the university President, the Provost and assorted Deans are marched out of their offices to awaiting vans to be taken downtown and booked. Their trials would likewise be a media circus as they squirmed trying to navigate awkward questions of why blacks from wealthy families needed a thumb on the scale while dirt poor Asians with perfect SAT scores were judged unworthy of Harvard.

Needless to say, of course, such criminalization is unlikely. But the principle-holding individual administrators, not "the University" culpable for potentially illegal racial preferences is the key message and the good news is that this can be readily accomplished sans legal changes.

So, rather that accusing "the University of Texas-Austin" of using racial preferences, expose the Dean of Admission and whoever else does the dirty work-give out their e-mail addresses  and telephone numbers and encourage those who disagree to contact them personally. Hold debates over affirmative action and invite the racial bean counters to supply proof why "critical mass" theory applies to blacks and Hispanics but not Asians.

Why not sell tee-shirts with "I'm Chinese and Too Smart for My Own Good" for those rejected from Ivy League schools despite stellar academic records? How about a student-run website that tracks campus' affirmative action accomplishments, for instance, the drop-out rates of these special admits, their reliance on remedial coursework and penchant for soft non-academic majors?

This Mau-Mauing the Flack Catchers approach is but the mirror image of the tactics that imposed affirmative action and, critically, sustain it despite the uncertain outcomes and dubious legal foundations.

Despite the damage inflicted on higher education, racial preferences will not vanish when an erudite legal scholar invents the killer amicus curiae brief; it will slowly fade away when amoral administrators, most of whom are terrified of confrontation, conclude that the personal costs of imposing this failed social engineering are just too great. Time to restore academic excellence and put brains first.


A Dustup at UNC Over Christmas Vacation and Other Microaggressions

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill caused an outcry when it published “microaggression guidelines” on a college forum. Although UNC quickly removed the post from public view, some students say the standards represent positive change.

The post on microaggressions, removed quickly after it was published last week on UNC’s online Employee Forum, cautioned employees against “brief and commonplace” displays of “implicit bias,” such as sex-specific dress codes, staff meetings at country clubs, religious vacations, and the phrase “that’s so gay.”

The Employee Forum is a group of more than 50 elected delegates from UNC’s nonfaculty employees that exists to develop “proactive, progressive recommendations” for the school’s administration. It says it aims to foster “an open and positive environment throughout the university community,” according to its website.

The term microaggression, coined in the 1970s, is used to describe the degradation of a “socially marginalized” group through intentional or unintentional verbal putdowns.

Conservatives on the UNC campus cried foul at the guidelines, which they said amounted to liberal policing of free speech.

“Once again, students at UNC are seeing the strong liberal biases of our administration and faculty play out in the day-to-day operations of our university,” Frank Pray, chairman emeritus of UNC College Republicans, told The Daily Signal in an email.

Pray added: "This microaggression guide telling university employees how to act serves to further the victim complex exhibited by much of the left at our school and demonize conservative students as aggressors" 

But other students argued that the guidelines were not intended to squelch speech, but simply to help people consider how their words affect others.

“Ultimately, we’re at a college campus to learn and not to compliment each other’s appearance or to make assumptions about people’s gender, religion, or sexual orientation,” Courtney Sams, president of UNC Young Democrats, told The Daily Signal in a telephone interview.

“Before these guidelines were published, you didn’t see many people talking about it,” Sams added. “People are thinking more critically about the words that they say. They may not agree with everything that the guidelines set forth, but they are thinking about them, so that’s a start.”

In an official statement, Joel Curran, UNC’s vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, said the Employee Forum did not represent either formal or informal university policy.

Curran also stressed that the college’s efforts to protect free speech had earned them “the highest ‘green light’ rating” from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit that works to ensure free speech rights on college campuses.

Azhar Majeed, that group’s director of policy reform, agreed with Curran, saying the university had no policies limiting free speech on the books.

The “green light” rating “indicates that a university maintains no written policies that imperil student and faculty free speech rights,” Majeed told The Daily Signal in an email. “UNC Chapel Hill earned the green light rating last year by working with FIRE to bring all of its policies into compliance with the requirements of the First Amendment.”

In the past year, college news site Campus Reform has reported on pro-life chalk messages at UNC being erased by a pro-choice group that found them offensive. It also reported on a leftist group staging a walkout from a public lecture by conservative speaker Ben Shapiro and an official “diversity dinner” to which conservative groups were not invited.

Pray, of the UNC College Republicans, told The Daily Signal:

"On the heels of a recent study showing the overwhelming tilt of our faculty toward leftism, something any conservative student could have told you without even looking up the numbers, I am hardly surprised that the university has once again failed to live up to its goals of the free exchange of ideas and a true liberal arts education"


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Scandal of K-12 Education

Another school year over, another lost opportunity for millions of students. Minorities suffer the most.

As America’s K-12 students enjoy the first weeks of summer vacation, there is good news about minority education in the U.S. The percentage of black and Hispanic high-school graduates heading off to college is going up. And black and Hispanic dropout rates are going down. According to the research organization Child Trends, between 1972 and 2014 the Hispanic dropout rate fell to 11% from 34%; the black dropout rate decreased to 7% from 21%.

But these encouraging statistics mask some uglier truths about the state of minority education. While 40% of white Americans age 25-29 held bachelor’s degrees in 2013, that distinction belonged to only 15% of Hispanics, and 20% of blacks. Another discouraging sign: The Atlantic magazine recently reported that the share of black undergraduates at top-ranked universities has stagnated at about 6% for the past 20 years. More minority students are graduating from high school, but they are often going off to community colleges, most commonly two-year schools, and not earning a four-year degree.

The root of this problem: Millions of black and Hispanic students in U.S. schools simply aren’t taught to read well enough to flourish academically. For them, the end of the school year marks another lost opportunity, another step toward a life of blunted potential.

For example, according to a March report by Child Trends, based on 2015 data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 21% of Hispanic fourth-grade students were deemed “proficient” in reading. This is bad news. A fourth-grader’s reading level is a key indicator of whether he or she will graduate from high school.

The situation is worse for African-Americans: A mere 18% were considered “proficient” in reading by fourth grade. An analysis of the NAEP data by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports: “It’s easy to look at this report and despair. It puts front and center the fact that too many of our nation’s young people are failing to achieve their potential, and that African-American students are disproportionately impacted by the shortcomings in our education system.”

The problem isn’t limited to minority students. Only 46% of white fourth-graders—and 35% of fourth-graders of all races—were judged “proficient” in reading in 2015. In general, American students are outperformed by students abroad. According to the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, a series of math, science and reading tests given to 15-year-olds around the world, the U.S. placed 17th among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in reading.

In other words, in addition to America’s unsettling racial achievement gaps in education—white fourth-graders outperform Hispanic and black fourth-graders in every state that has appropriate data—there are far too many white students not performing at grade level.

Also buried in these troubling numbers are the big differences in reading among minorities from state to state: In Alabama, Hispanic fourth-graders are reading more than two grade levels below Hispanic fourth-graders in Florida.

The difference in reading levels between minority students in different states offers an important clue about why minority reading levels are lagging. Generally, states with the highest proportion of low-income minority students do the worst, according to Child Trends. And there is no question about the difference in poverty rates among children of different races. Poverty rates among black (37.1%) and Hispanic children (31.9%) are nearly three times the rate for white children (12.3%).

Another factor affecting poor performance among minority students is persistent segregation.

According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, between 2000 and 2014 “the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent,” noting that “75 to 100% of the students were Black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a commonly used indicator of poverty.” The GAO report added: “These schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science, and college preparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended, or expelled.”

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the December 2015 law that replaced No Child Left Behind, individual states, not the federal government, decide how to hold accountable schools with a disproportionate number of failing students. For black and Hispanic students falling behind at an early age, their best hope is for every state, no matter its minority-student poverty rate, to take full responsibility for all students who aren’t making the grade—and get those students help now.

That means adopting an attitude of urgency when it comes to saving a child’s education. Specifically, it requires cities and states to push past any union rules that protect underperforming schools and bad teachers. Urgency also means increasing options for parents, from magnet to charter schools. Embracing competition among schools is essential to heading off complacency based on a few positive signs. American K-12 education is in trouble, especially for minority children, and its continuing neglect is a scandal.


'Stale' Oxford starts replacing portraits of dead white men with women, black and gay people

Oxford University is replacing some portraits of famous men with female, black and gay leaders to counter its ‘male, pale and stale’ image.

It is commissioning artists to paint dozens of new portraits to hang in its ancient buildings at a cost of £900 each.

Stickers with the words ‘next in frame’ have been put up around Oxford, asking students and staff to nominate suitable subjects by the end of this week.

In addition, colleges are already redecorating dining and lecture halls with new pictures and photographs to reflect the diversity of their alumni.

Pictures of author Jonathan Swift, 16th century poet John Donne and bible translator William Tyndale were all removed. And portraits of TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, author Hari Kunzru and journalist Naomi Wolf have been put up.

The transformations are under way at a time when Oxford has faced intense international scrutiny over the presence of longstanding male symbols.

Students led by Ntokozo Qwabe, a South African-born Rhodes scholar, unsuccessfully campaigned for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, arguing it was a reminder of apartheid.

The movement, backed by Malia Bouattia, now head of the NUS, drew global condemnation.

It failed in January, when Oriel’s governing body ruled out removing the statue after furious donors threatened to withdraw gifts and bequests worth more than £100million.

A month later, the National Union of Students’ Black Students’ Campaign described Oxford University as ‘one of the most male, pale and stale places of learning in Britain’.

It was revealed yesterday that a photograph of feminist and former Rhodes scholar, Naomi Wolf, will go on display in Rhodes House, home of the scholarship scheme that pays for non-British postgraduates to study at Oxford.

She admitted she left Oxford in the 1980s without finishing her doctorate after encountering ‘horrible’ sexism and anti-semitism. She returned more than 20 years later to complete it.

Ms Wolf insisted that ‘changing iconography helps to change how you see history’.

She told a newspaper: ‘In my college, New College, there are portraits of men everywhere.

‘While pictures are not the same as gender or race equality, I do not think this is trivial. If all you see are white men, white men, white men, it is very hard to believe that people in your society think you have a place in history.’

Some of the Rhodes scholars who fought for colonial independence have also been placed on the walls of the Rhodes House, to flank the portrait of Rhodes, who is regarded by some as racist.

These include Zambian activist, Lucy Banda Sichone and Norman Manley, who started the independence movement in Jamaica.

In February, Wadham College unveiled portraits of the journalist Amelia Gentleman, wife of Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, and novelist and journalist, Hari Kunzru, as part of a project ‘to showcase a more balanced’ selection of alumni and fellows’ images.

Wadham’s warden, Lord Macdonald, said at the time: ‘I wanted to address the predominance in Hall and around College of portraits of white men.

‘The Wadham community is a diverse and inclusive one and, until now, this has not been reflected by the portraits which adorn its walls.’

A portrait of the first female Anglican bishop, the Right Reverend Libby Lane, was hung in St Peter’s College in January. She was an undergraduate at St Peter’s in the mid-1980s.

Oxford University said yesterday its Diversifying Portraiture project – aimed at recognising the ‘diversity of figures’ who have helped shape the institution - was launched after a successful funding bid in May 2014.

It said: ‘In the first phase, we collected more than 250 portraits already on display around Oxford, depicting pioneering individuals who challenged the stereotypes and preconceptions of their times.’

The university added in a statement: ‘The second phase is now well under way.

‘We have asked the University community for suggestions for 25 fresh portraits of living figures connected to Oxford, representing our diversity in gender, race, disability and LGBTQ identity.

‘Nominations close on July 8 and we hope to have the portraits ready for display early in the New Year.

‘The university project complements many similar initiatives undertaken by Oxford colleges in recent years.’

Dr Stephen Goss, Oxford University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Personnel and Equality, added: ‘It has been uplifting to see so many initiatives to celebrate the great diversity of inspiring characters from the University’s past and present.

‘Our next phase of portraits will be displayed prominently at sites right across the University, reflecting the remarkable contributions made by so many individuals to modern Oxford’s culture of inclusion, equality and tolerance.’


Australia: More education funding is no guarantee of better schools

We live in a time when reductions in government spending – and increases in taxes – will have to be made if our children and grandchildren are not to face much bigger funding cuts and tax hikes when lenders cease being willing to roll over (let alone increase) government debt at its present low interest rates.

Kicking the fiscal can down the road, which was the preferred approach by every party in the latest federal election, shows a preference for the current population to live better at the expense of our descendants, who will live worse as a result of our unwillingness to bring government budgets into better balance and start reducing debt now.

Big-ticket items in commonwealth and state budgets must come under heavy pressure when the inevitable spending cuts begin, because it is impossible to prune budgets severely while leaving major expenditure items untouched.

Health, pensions and/or education cannot escape the scythe, in due course, whatever the eventual result from Saturday’s election.

It may seem unthinkable that government spending on education be substantially reduced. But just how bad would the effects be on the quality of the education that our young will receive?

Many of my readers will have watched Revolution School (ABC2, Tuesdays, 8.30pm). If not, I recommend you catch up with it on ABC iView. It is about the turnaround in student outcomes at Kambrya College in Berwick, an outer south-eastern suburb of Melbourne.

When principal Michael Muscat took over in 2008, the school was chaotic and its academic results were very poor. Now, within seven years, Kambrya has become one of the most improved schools in Victoria in terms of Year 12 results. And not because of any preferential expenditure increase compared with other Victorian schools.

Kambrya has achieved its turnaround simply by working with the University of Melbourne to implement better teacher training and classroom practices.

Professor John Hattie, director of Melbourne University’s Education Research Institute, says improving the quality of feedback students receive and ensuring positive teacher-student interaction leads to the best outcomes. Class size, homework and public or private schooling are not nearly so important as the quality of individual teachers, Professor Hattie says.

Schools don’t make much difference – it’s the teachers. When I look at Kambrya’s achievements, the major message we should take home is that relentless focus on the quality of teaching can truly make a difference to the lives of students and that can happen in any school in the nation.

We have known this for a long time but have been side-tracked by vested political interests into supposing that spending more money on schools means the quality of teaching will rise as well. It hasn’t and it doesn’t.


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Stanford 'Rape' Trial

There was no rape at all. Brock Turner was convicted of assault only.  Was even that conviction unjustified?  David Solway has a sober look at the evidence and finds something not unlike the Salem witch trials

We live in a culture that has become so heavily sexualized that we are no longer able to see clearly or think rationally. Just about everything, it seems, now comes down to sex, which is, on any reasonable scale of values, merely one of many human preoccupations—central, of course, but still only one of many human interests, desires and activities. The all-consuming importance sex has acquired in contemporary thought, discourse and legislation, amounting almost to a demonic possession, is an infallible sign of both intellectual frivolity and cultural degeneracy.

We are lectured that women are always innocent in cases of sexual assault and that men are invariably guilty, when instances like the Ghomeshi trial, the Duke lacrosse fraud, the “mattress girl” hoax and many others prove the opposite. The result of our morbidly sex-obsessed culture is that we have become increasingly prone to waves of national hysteria, vigilante pursuits of ostensible felons, and the social valorization of mob justice. Less and less in cases of a sexual nature are we concerned with the impartial assessment of evidence that constitutes the basis of a viable justice system; the time-honored principles of presumption of innocence and burden of proof are gradually yielding to the “preponderance of evidence” model—which means the accused is found guilty if judge or jury determine that it is more likely than not that he (almost never she) committed the crime. Nothing here about “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Our modern Furies will pin their prey to the corkboard of their prurient passion with lepidopteran precision. That a process of this nature is a gross travesty of the administration of justice appears to have escaped the attention of the new warrior rabble among us.

The latest example of such deliberate obscurantism involves the highly publicized Stanford incident in which student and competitive swimmer Brock Allen Turner was originally arraigned on two counts of rape and three counts of assault on a young woman he’d met at a frat party—the prosecution’s plan seemed to be to throw everything at the defendant and hope something would stick. He was eventually sentenced to six months in prison on three counts of assault. The mounting frenzy of hatred soon reached epic proportions, with millions sympathizing with the woman—henceforth Jane Doe—and lobbying for both a harsher sentence and the recall of the white male judge—who was also the recipient of death threats. And yet the case is far from being as open-and-shut as an indignant population of vigilantes claim; indeed, it is shrouded in layers of ambiguity.

This did not stop a posse of angry and sanctimonious avengers, journalists, talking heads and feminists from denouncing Turner as some kind of monster. Even the more censorious brand of respectable conservatives got into the act, many of whom have plainly not researched the minutiae of the case and, sad to say, really don’t know what they are talking about. Steve Green, Scott Ott and Bill Whittle, all good men and true, did not cover themselves in glory in their Right Angle video discussion of the Stanford trial. They bought the accepted narrative.

Here is the basic information pertaining to the case, as per various media accounts, the court file, the police report cited in Cosmopolitan  (which, if you wait long enough, flips to a full-page ad for “The 31 Sexiest Movies”—what else!) and which is also embedded in the court file, and the victim impact statement (cited in BuzzFeed, naturally), a lengthy but indispensable read. One must keep in mind that these instruments are not a cold, objective, God’s-eye view of the event, but, as my attached commentary below suggests, a human survey subject in considerable measure to bias, interpretation, conjecture and inference. While interesting and necessary for research purposes, these documents taken together do not establish an airtight case for Turner’s guilt. The reader should examine them for himself or herself.

Jane Doe was drinking (4 shots of whiskey and champagne, she says) before she and her sister went with a mutual friend to a frat party. Her mother dropped them off around 11 p.m., both daughters already in a state of partial inebriation. Yet it is not Jane Doe’s mother—who should have known better—who has had to face public opprobrium; it is Turner’s father who has felt the brunt of public outrage for defending his son.

By 12 a.m., they were all in their cups. The sister left the party to help a drunken friend home, leaving Jane Doe standing on the back porch of the frat house. Between then and 12:30, the “victim” spoke with her boyfriend on the phone several times. If Jane Doe was on the verge of complete incapacitation, her sister’s departure and her facility in punching numbers on a cell phone are, to put it mildly, rather curious.
At 1:01 police officers were dispatched to the scene, where they found the woman unconscious and Brock Turner being held by two witnesses who had bicycled by and found him on top of the unconscious woman. No one saw what happened between 12:30 and (approximately) 12:50 or 12:55 when the two witnesses happened upon the scene.

Another witness declares that he saw a man standing over an unconscious woman and taking a picture of her with his cell phone (maybe) or maybe just shining a light on her—the witness was drunk and he's not sure. There is speculation that Turner sent around a picture of the woman's breast to friends, but police could not find the picture on his cell phone when they checked afterwards.

A woman has come forward to say that Turner was acting “aggressively” at a party the week before, trying to dance with her and touch her. As a student I attended many parties in which such behavior was pro forma. The girls were often no less forward. Nobody saw it as denoting a criminal mindset. But then, we were not living in Salem redux.

Jane Doe claimed in her impact statement that had she not been assaulted on that night, Turner would have victimized someone else in her stead. This is a mere inference that cannot possibly be substantiated and serves only to render Turner culpable for an act he did not commit, helping to paint him as a sexual predator.

Turner’s blood alcohol level was .17%, twice the legal driving limit, and Jane Doe’s was .24%, three times the legal driving limit. It is likely that both experienced severely impaired judgment. This means that neither of their stories can be accepted at face value; memory lapses and distortions of reported details are unavoidable in such circumstances, and personal depositions are wholly undependable. Who knows what went on between Turner and Jane Doe before the drunken encounter? Was Turner the salivating fiend he is depicted as? Was Jane Doe the innocent victim most everyone has empathized with? The young woman affirmed that she had no recollection of what took place.

Why then should Turner, who was also saturated, be held fully accountable? This smacks of a double standard.

Turner’s high school guidance counselor came to the young man’s defense, calling him an “outstanding student” of good character, as did a high school friend, Leslie Rasmussen, the drummer of the Indie band Good English. Not for long though. The backlash was so severe that the counselor publicly apologized for supporting Turner. The drummer also succumbed to the pressure after several gigs were cancelled for her apostasy. Are we to assume that both character witnesses suddenly and simultaneously realized they had been dreadfully wrong about Turner over the years in which they knew him and recanted their advocacy owing to some mysterious, overnight revelation? Or might some other, more self-interested factor have come into play? At any rate, one can gauge the degree to which mob sentiment has pejoratively shaped attestations on Turner’s behalf. It is obviously career suicide to publicly oppose what has come to resemble a community lynching.

The police report initially stipulated that “a rape occurred on the Stanford University campus,” although there was no forensic evidence of rape and the charge was later withdrawn
. The two aforementioned witnesses who came upon the scene claimed they saw Turner pumping his hips as he presumably raped the woman, which shows once again how unreliable such testimony is. One may wonder whether they were simply deceived or seizing an opportunity to cash in on notoriety. No matter, the die had been cast. In the mind of a feverish public intent on retribution, before or despite the facts, judgment had already been rendered. The woman was innocent and the man was guilty.

Officer B. Shaw deponed in the police report that when he observed Turner, who had fled the scene and been chased down, being detained by the two witnesses who had apprehended him, “he had what appeared to be a cylindrical bulge consistent with an erect penis underneath his pants.” Pardon my indelicacy, but this is a long time in which to retain an erection, especially under the circumstances. And the policeman’s fixation seems salaciously crude and factually unverifiable. This plainly is not the way to build a plausible case. The whole episode is reminiscent of the keystone cops and would induce laughter were it not so fateful.

Questions pose themselves. Did Jane Doe pass out before or while they were, in Turner’s words, “making out”?  Did he force her or was the encounter consensual? The entire sequence of events remains obscure and no clear determination can be made. Neither participant was sober and no witnesses have come forward to credibly report on the in flagrante moment or on the crucial minutes leading up to it. Are we to believe that Turner dragged an unwilling or semi-conscious woman from the frat house without anyone noticing or objecting? Or was there, as seems at least feasible, prior consent or mutual nonverbal agreement as they staggered out together? Clearly, what is needed is not another kangaroo tribunal presiding over resident uncertainties, but a campus-wide campaign warning students about the perils of getting blotto.

My own view is that the entire process reeks to high heaven. When one frankly considers the evidence at hand, the skewing of inferential logic that attended the case, and the climate of anti-male hysteria in which such proceedings take place, the judge’s verdict may come to seem not unduly lenient but unfairly punitive. I concur with my wife Janice Fiamengo’s conclusion, aired in a recent video installment in her Fiamengo File series: “[Turner] doesn’t deserve any time in jail, and the judge who gave him six months…does not deserve to be recalled as a ‘privileged’ white man giving his co-whitey a privilege pass. In my opinion, both Turner and the young woman should have been given a stern lecture by the police about their irresponsible sexual behavior and drunkenness, should have been made to feel ashamed, and should have been encouraged to exercise self-restraint in the future. Both would have benefited from counseling.”

Extrapolating from the comments to the video, it is obvious that many people, blinded by the pall of media obfuscation and significant omission of detail, did not have the pertinent facts at their disposal, believed that Turner had been convicted of rape rather than assault, and were not aware that Jane Doe’s conduct was influenced by excessive alcohol consumption. Unaware of the gaps and problematic elements that compromised the eventual judgment, they had, in effect, endorsed the popular construction of the case. In the light of more complete information, many who had urged a stiffer sentence are now seriously reconsidering the affair. When delirium goes viral, not only the defendant but justice itself is harmed. The vigilantes may as well have adopted a quadrate version of Koran 17:32 as their watchword:  “And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.” That is, they decide what is or is not “lawful,” and the admissibility of any sexual encounter is made to conform to their codified preoccupations. What is undeniable is that ideological zealots have been given free rein and the hunt to incriminate men for sexual misconduct regardless of corroborative blur is in full swing.

The Stanford case serves as a perfect illustration of how the feminist ideology in collusion with the ravages of mob justice do their miserable work. The event is viewed through the warped lens of a phobic obsession with sex to the exclusion of mitigating factors: alcohol, hormones, youth, the natural preoccupations of both sexes. When the evidence shows that a rape has occurred, the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law. But in a gynocentric culture in which men are considered sexual raptors by nature, in which any sexual episode or misdemeanor is increasingly regarded as rape or assault tout court, and armies of wrathful puritans are on the march to accuse, prosecute, judge and sentence the putative offender while women are absolved of the slightest iota of intention or responsibility, the miscarriage of justice is virtually assured. No wonder the MGTOW movement (Men Going Their Own Way) is gathering momentum and the relation between the sexes is gravely fractured. We are creating a bed of stones to lie in.

Critics of my argument--or of anyone who expresses skepticism of how the affair was interpreted and adjudicated--will without doubt launch accusations of callousness or prejudice or even worse—unforgiveable sexism. This reaction will not be based upon a careful sifting of evidence or scrutiny of probabilities, but on the preformed assumptions of pure emotionalism. I expect volleys of hate.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that thanks to the inroads of the feminist agenda into the justice system and, indeed, into the minds of the credulous and self-righteous herd of neo-Cathars who can think of nothing except the evil nature of men (that is, heterosexual men); the pristine nature of women; sex, gender and deviations from the norm, whether pro or con; and the irrelevance of biological reality, we have become a foolish, intolerant and, I’m sorry to say, a mentally retarded society.

May God the Father and Mother Nature help us.


UK: Now TV's Brian Cox condemns 'safe space' bans on university speakers

Physicist Brian Cox has slammed the obsession with 'safe spaces' at universities.

The BBC presenter said he 'disagrees very profoundly' with banning controversial speakers from having a platform as he has seen first-hand how it raises intolerance among students.

Whilst he accepts that the premise of such restriction is to 'build a less aggressive space', he says that university is the most appropriate place to encourage debate on difficult questions.

Speaking to the Radio Times, the 48-year-old said: 'Because I'm a professor at Manchester, I do watch the way this intolerance is growing. Which is a word that they would object to…I suppose they're trying to build a less aggressive space, which I understand – modern discourse is polarised.

'But university is supposed to be a place where civilised debate takes place. If not in the university, then where do you debate the most difficult questions?

'So, I disagree very profoundly with the idea that there's such a thing as a safe space intellectually at a university.'

Several university campuses have been labelled 'no platform' areas or 'safe spaces', where speakers who hold racist or fascist views are not given a platform to speak at student unions.

Earlier this year the London School of Economics (LSE) was found to be one of the most ban-heavy universities, prompting revolt from students who said they did not want to be kept in a 'safe-space bubble'.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has encouraged the uptake of such policies to restrict controversial speakers, though last week leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell accused the body of 'dangerous, regressive politics'.

Cox added: 'It's nonsensical to me. The point of university is to build an intellectual armoury. You should expect that you're not going to be abused by a shouting loudmouth – you wouldn't want modern political discourse to be brought off Twitter and into the student union.

'I understand why they don't want that and they're right not to want that. But it's not difficult to build a debate. That's the basis of liberal democracy. We understand that.

'That's why there are lines in the House of Commons greater than two swords' length apart, right? We've worked that out.'

The father-of-one, who lectures at Manchester University, also called for school exams to be phased out because he believes they damage education.

He said that children being 'conditioned to obsess about exams' from a young age means that in adulthood students lack real-world understanding.

Although he did not remove his seven-year-old son, George, from the SATs test last month, he shares parents' concern about the impact of testing on their wider learning.

He added: 'One of the things that annoys me most, and I think is an unfortunate reflection on the way that schools are conditioning students to obsess about exams, is that I will be teaching my first years about relativity and they'll keep asking, 'Is this in the end-of-year exams?'

'I say, 'I'm not telling you. I'm teaching you to be a physicist, not pass exams.' They are supposed to be learning about nature. If they go to work for BAE Systems on the ejector seat of a Eurofighter, at some point someone's going to say, 'Is that safe, that ejector seat?' They can't ask anyone to mark their work. The measure of success is understanding and taking charge.'

Justin Webb also raised similar concerns about exams in a separate piece for the Radio Times, saying that they lead to the 'controlled spewing of temporarily mastered facts'.

The Today programme presenter said he has seen in his own children how the rigid mark scheme means that pupils shut out wider context and detail on what they are taught.

He joked that it is 'all the fault of the Chinese', as they introduced the first exam system into society.


The grade school where pupils speak 42 different languages and where "British" is an offensive term

More than 40 different languages are spoken by students at Claremont Primary School in Nottingham which has seen its intake blow up over the last four years.

And because of its diversity, headteacher Andrew Gallagher has introduced an ‘inclusion team’ to spot signs of racism.

He has even asked teachers not to use the term ‘British’ to reduce the chances of upsetting migrant families. He told the Sun: ‘We teach British values but we prefer to call them “human values” — we don’t want to be elitist.  ‘Being British is more than London cabs and fish and chips.’

International pupils at the school are given intensive English language tuition for two weeks and then sent into classrooms - where they are paired up with another pupil to help them overcome language barriers.

Although the school has been rated 'good' by Ofsted and its results have reached the national average – 80 percent are hitting Level 4 and above – not everyone is pleased. One father told the Sun he feels his daughter cannot speak up in class and worries the school will ‘get worse’.

In four years the school's intake has increased dramatically, from 360 children to 446. In 1992, white British students accommodated for half of the school. 

But now the school has a wide mix of nationalities - just 15 percent of the kids are white British while eastern European pupils make up 18 percent of the classes.

Newsletters are even translated into Romanian and Polish to accommodate for its growing international population.

And translators are now brought in for parent evenings to help teachers effectively communicate.

But Mr Gallagher - who admits he has not previously heard of some of the languages spoken by students - insists the varying nationalities do not hinder teaching and learning.

‘This is a good school now and I think success breeds success when it comes to multicultural families,' he said.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Elite New York school tells white children they should be ashamed of their privilege and segregates pupils by race

A clear racist:  "She added that the answer to racism is for white kids to see the 'race in everything'"

Parents with children at an elite Manhattan school are furious about a diversity program that segregates pupils by race and claims that 'even white babies are capable of racism'.

Bank Street School for Children on the Upper West Side has said the approach is intended to 'fight discrimination' by creating a 'dedicated space' in the school for kids of color.

But one parent whose children currently attend the school told the New York Post: 'Ever since Ferguson, the school has been increasing anti-white propaganda in its curriculum.'

A slide from the school program obtained by the Post, reveals that children in the KOC Affinity group  - meaning children of color - will 'feel embraced', 'explore risks' and 'share experiences about being a kid of color'.

While children in the Advocacy Group - meaning white children - are taught to 'raise awareness of the prevalence of Whiteness and privilege', 'challenge the notion of colorblindness' and of 'normal', 'good' and 'American' and 'learn models of White anti-racist advocates'.

Another parent said that the children of color are rewarded with treats and other privileges while the white children are 'made to feel awful about their 'whiteness'.

While another said: 'One hundred per cent of the curriculum is what whites have done to other races. They offer nothing that would balance the story.'

But despite parents' concern, administrators at the school claim that several other New York private schools, such as Riverdale Country School, Brooklyn Friends School and Little Red School House, are teaching a similar thing.

The teaching is applied to the K-8 school of 430 kids but parents say it 'deliberately instills in white children a strong sense of guilt', with some children reportedly coming home in tears saying they feel like a 'bad person'.

The extreme program is run by Bank Street's director of diversity, Anshu Wahi, who said that even babies display signs of racism and encourages parents to make children as young as kindergarten age to talk about race, according to The Post.

She added that the answer to racism is for white kids to see the 'race in everything' and that the program merely empowers children of color who may otherwise feel 'alienated' and 'devalued in a 'dominant white culture'.

Segregating the children of color, she says,  gives them a  'safe place' where they can share their 'ouch moments.'

There have also been concerns over the school screening of Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, which depicts Panthers founder Huey Newton as a martyr.

And while parents claim that the program forces white children to feel guilty about acts of racism committed by people they have never met, Wahi believes it is the only way to stamp the institutional racism that still exists across the country. 


Calif. Anti-Discrimination Bill Seeks to Prevent Religious Colleges From Making Faith-Based Decisions

A bill currently before the California State Legislature seeks to prevent religious universities in the state from using their faith as the basis for certain administrative decisions.

“All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private,” said state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) in an April 6  press release introducing the legislation.

Lara added that “private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws.”

Section 3 of Senate Bill (SB)-1146, which is meant to deal with anti-LGBT discrimination, would add a new section to the state’s Education Code.

The new section would make religious colleges that receive state funding subject to Section 11135 of the code, which prohibits discrimination or denial of access to a program or activity “ on the basis of “race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or disability.”

SB-1146 notes that schools can still make gender-based administrative rules, so long as they do not discriminate based on someone’s gender identity or sexual preference. Moreover, the bill emphasizes that schools are not prohibited from refusing to use their property “for any purpose that is not consistent with the religious tenets of the organization.”

According to Lara’s press release, private universities use religious beliefs to “avoid complying with Title IX” without disclosing the exemption to students or staff at the institutions. It claims that “students are completely unaware of the exemption and what the potential consequences would be in the event their sexual orientation or gender identity did not align with the universities’ values.”

In response, the proposed bill’s second section would require schools that claim a religious exemption from Title IX to “disclose to current and prospective students, faculty members and employees the basis for claiming the exemption and the scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption.”

The bill was passed May 26 by the California Senate. On June 22, the state General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee amended and approved the legislation, and referred it the next day to the Judiciary Committee, which further amended it on Wednesday.

However, the bill is facing opposition from religious and academic leaders in California and elsewhere.

In an interview with, Kim Colby, the director at the Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, said that even though the bill as currently amended “would not apply to chapel attendance or to religious requirements of the students,” it would not allow institutions to make “decisions based on sexual issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation.”

“This is certainly an example of overreach on the part of the California General Assembly, and it is a threat to religious liberty because religious colleges typically have conduct standards for their students that implement traditional Christian beliefs regarding proper conduct for students,” Colby said.

“It’s not really appropriate for the state to be telling religious colleges what their beliefs should and shouldn’t be regarding marriage, sexuality and family matters, and how they require their students to abide by those beliefs,” she added.

“Even the amended law is a huge infringement on the relationship between the colleges and their faculty and what colleges can expect of their faculty in adhering to traditional religious viewpoints regarding sexuality, family and marriage,” Colby concluded.

Meanwhile, the California Family Council (CFC) says the bill’s intent is “to target Christian schools that maintain biblical beliefs on marriage and sexuality.”

CFC claims the law would “force religious colleges and universities into a dreadful choice": either give up state funding or relinquish the “ability to maintain the school’s religious convictions.”

However, LGBT rights groups in California have expressed their support for SB-1146. “Students and staff have a right to know when their school requests a license to discriminate against the LGBT community,” said Dave Garcia, director of policy and community building at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. 

His support was echoed by Equality California executive director Rick Zbur. "This bill would let any school seeking to skirt federal anti-discrimination protections know that its policies would be public, and that anyone discriminated against would have legal recourse,” said Zbur.


After Brexit: British academics need to get out more

The referendum has revealed how closed-minded academia has become

The result of the EU referendum has made abundantly clear the gulf that exists between the intellectuals and the masses; between those with PhDs and those with GNVQs; between those who spend their days in front of a computer and those whose work prevents them from tweeting their every thought.

A poll conducted in the run up to the referendum suggested 90 per cent of academics intended to vote Remain. We now know that the academics who took to social media to declare ‘I don’t know anyone who is voting Leave’ were not exaggerating. In the days since the referendum result was announced, this unfamiliarity with the strange Other – that is, the 52 per cent of the electorate who voted Leave – has brought many academics’ barely concealed contempt for the masses out into the open. According to one professor, Leave supporters are irrational, xenophobic, ignorant Little Englanders.

Not only have many academics become remote from the views of ordinary people, universities are rapidly becoming politically homogenous institutions. Another poll, this time carried out just before the last General Election, showed 46 per cent of British academics intended to vote for Labour and 22 per cent for the Green Party. Higher education now needs to stop and consider the consequences this closed-mindedness might have for scholarship and academic freedom.

While commentators have been busy shining a light on the antics of censorious students, lecturers have quietly transformed universities into an ideological bubble. For many academics, higher education has become a political Safe Space, a place where they can retreat from ideas, and people, they disagree with. This position of safety allows some scholars to celebrate their self-declared radicalism, their supposedly progressive work on gender identity, intersectionality, critical race theory and heteronormativity, without ever having to test their views on the general public.

In an academic department, when one political position becomes dominant, those who disagree are told implicitly or explicitly to fall in line and conform – or shut up. Post-referendum, the outrage scholars have directed at those who voted to leave the EU has sent a very definite message about who is and is not welcome in academia.

This growing political homogeneity is detrimental to academia’s most basic goal – the pursuit of knowledge. When a majority of lecturers and researchers think alike, the university stops acting as a marketplace of ideas, where truth claims can be rigorously challenged. Instead it becomes an echo chamber where awkward questions are avoided and prejudices are confirmed.

Despite being so unashamedly, even proudly, out of touch with the majority of people who voted in the referendum, many academics have been vehement in their outrage at not having had their expertise and superior opinions listened to. Most of their vitriol has been directed at Leave campaigner Michael Gove, and his suggestion that ‘people have had enough of experts’.

But, for the most part, this newfound love of knowledge, evidence and the truth is coming from the very same people who have made academic careers out of asserting that there is no truth – that, at best, we can have multiple truths, and that knowledge is dependent on the perspective and identity of the originator. Such is their love of knowledge, they readily ditched the canon in a bid to turn the curriculum into relativistic homage to identity politics.

The current demand to ‘fight back against Brexit anti-intellectualism’ unwittingly reveals how little academics understand about what knowledge means. Yes, scholars may have greater access to information and data sets. But there is no one correct way to understand and interpret facts. Information and data may be useful for pub quizzes – as desperate educationalists have often been quick to point out – but knowledge involves an understanding of how people interpret data in relation to their experiences and prior learning.

There is, for example, no single correct way to interpret economic statistics. The same data may be understood very differently by someone living in Oxford on an academic salary than by someone employed on a zero-hours contract in Sunderland. Ironically, this is why being more in touch with the general public can enhance academic knowledge in the social sciences. At the very least, academics would have been less shocked at the outcome of the referendum.

It is academics themselves who have problematised and jettisoned knowledge from higher education and left an intellectual vacuum at the heart of the university. One way this has been filled is through attempts to socialise young people into a particular set of liberal values. Consent classes and campaigns against lad culture are the most explicit attempts at modifying the behaviour of students. The hidden curriculum of higher education promotes the causes of global citizenship, sustainability and feminism. In the weeks to come we will no doubt see calls for universities to redouble their efforts in inculcating students into such values. The growing political consensus means that both the project of promoting values rather than teaching knowledge, and the particular values being promoted, go unchallenged.

Using higher education to mould a certain type of citizen with an approved political outlook on the world has historically been the hallmark of dictatorships. In more democratic societies, universities have traditionally been concerned with the conservation, transmission and pursuit of knowledge. Students need access to this knowledge, and to be confronted with a range of viewpoints, in order to make up their own minds about the world they will inherit.

In the aftermath of the referendum, scholars must move out of the ideological and intellectual Safe Space they have constructed. Failure to do so will only feed the suspicion that academic fondness for the EU is driven by a shared disdain for the masses.


Sunday, July 03, 2016

This New Law Ensures South Carolina Students Will Study the Founding Documents

The South Carolina Founding Principles Act requires the study of the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and “the structure of the government and the role of separation of powers and the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights” to be added into statewide social studies programs.

This bill, signed June 1, reinforces South Carolina’s Section 59-29-120 that required all public education students, both in high school and in college, to pass a test after a year-long class on the founding documents and principles.

The Founding Principles Act bolsters the existing law by adding an accountability clause requiring the State Department of Education to report to the House and Senate Education Committees as well as the Public Works Committee every two years. This report will outline how South Carolina educators are teaching the documents in their classrooms.

State Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Lexington, told The Daily Signal, “I was just so worried about the erosion away from our foundation, and when I say that, I think it’s time we get back to the basics. The basics in which this country was founded. That’s exactly what we wanted to accomplish with this bill.”

Furthermore, teachers will be provided with “professional development opportunities” to ensure the subject is being properly taught.

“We now have the assurance that the founding principles will be taught.” @ChipHugginsSC

“A major part of forming future citizens capable of self-government is ensuring that they are properly educated in the founding documents of our nation,” Arthur Milikh, associate director for principles and politics at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email. “This was once common sense throughout America, but now we are forced to fight to ensure that even the most basic texts—the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence—are taught.”

“These works tell us about the nature of our country, the principles for which we stand, and the way to preserve our constitutional order. Should these texts be lost to students, the next generation will be ruled entirely by popular culture and public opinion,” Milikh wrote.

Huggins, the main sponsor of the bill, said the legislation “ensures that when the standards are rewritten, the founding principles will still be included.”

The Founding Principles Act, however, does not force South Carolina public colleges to do the same.

Section 59-29-120 states that “no student in any such school, college, or university may receive a certificate of graduation without previously passing a satisfactory examination upon the provisions and principles,” but does not hold either public high schools or colleges to that standard. The accountability aspect of The Founding Principles Act only applies to South Carolina public high schools.

Even though Huggins didn’t win the battle with mandating the founding principles into state college curriculums, he believes he won the war with high schools. He stated that the important thing is “we now have the assurance that the founding principles will be taught.”


UK: How 50,000 graduates who left university last year now have jobs that do not require a degree such as working in a call centre or stacking shelves

More than 50,000 recent graduates are doing jobs that do not require degrees such as working in call centres, waiting on tables and stacking shelves.

They are stuck in ‘non-professional’ roles in sales, customer service, secretarial posts and skilled trades six months after graduating last year.

Of these, 9,180 are in ‘elementary occupations’ which includes sweeping streets, collecting garbage, washing windows, sorting mail and cleaning buildings.

The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency will worry students who face graduating with debts of more than £40,000 following the tripling of tuition fees to £9,000 a year.

Out of 237,425 full time first degree university leavers in 2014/15, 75 per cent were in employment or combining work with studying, six months after graduating.

Some 13,900 were unemployed (six per cent) – down from 16,730 (seven per cent) in 2013/14.

Among the employed graduates in the UK, 50,350 were in ‘non-professional’ jobs including administrative, caring, leisure and service posts.

However this proportion – 29 per cent – was down from 32 per cent in 2013/14.

Some 790 graduates were working as ‘process, plant and machine operatives’ and 1,925 in skilled trades such as tiling and plumbing.

Another 9,180 were in ‘elementary occupations’ – down from 10,855 in 2013/14.

These posts include mail sorters, bar staff, waiters and waitresses, street vendors, caretakers, shoe cleaners, hotel porters, door-to-door and telephone sales people, vending machine money collectors and meter readers.

Among this group, 2,060 had graduated from creative arts and design courses; 1,305 from biological sciences and 875 from social studies.

Of the full-time first degree graduates who were employed in the UK, 71 per cent were in ‘professional’ employment. The mean salary of graduates was £22,500.


Are College Admissions Officers Equipped to Judge Who Is Ethical?

College admissions officers say they aim to admit only the most ethical students to America’s elite universities -- but what is their real goal?

Are students at elite colleges good people? They are supposed to be — doing ethical deeds is part of the admissions process. It is virtually impossible to be accepted by competitive schools without convincing the admissions committee that you engaged in hundreds of hours of community service, prompted only by a desire to “give back,” “help the less fortunate,” “fight injustice,” or something along those lines. And yet, if the statistics endorsed by the universities themselves are to be believed, college men rape women at roughly the same rate as Mai Mai militia fighters in the Congo.

Whether or not these statistics are accurate, the students themselves seem to regard each other as a bunch of rapists, racists, and microaggressors. So, according to both university officials and students, admissions officers are poor at selecting morally good people. This raises the question of whether admissions officers are even in a position to identify which 17-year-old students are ethical based on the sort of evidence available in their college applications.

But this is not the question that admissions officers are asking. Instead, they plan to double-down on making college admissions partly a morality contest. A recent report out of Harvard, endorsed by more than 80 high-ranking admissions officers from dozens of universities, argues that colleges should give the ethical qualities of applicants far more weight than in the past. They will require that students do more intensive, “meaningful, sustained community service,” and make even stronger pledges of allegiance to justice and morality. Admissions will then select those who, in addition to meeting academic requirements, are the most “ethically responsible and concerned for others.”

There is an obvious epistemic problem here, glibly dismissed in the report. If you tell students that, to get into college, they need to appear to demonstrate (in documentable form) their morality, what stops them from doing good deeds for selfish motives — not because they are virtuous, but because they want to get into college? The Harvard report simply exhorts admissions committees to “assess whether service has stirred in young people deeper questions about justice and emboldened them to challenge injustice.” In lieu of looking into applicants’ souls, they can ask them to submit letters from “a supervisor, a recipient of a service, a peer or a teacher” testifying to their moral growth. This reflects serious naïveté about how easy it is to falsely pose as a do-gooder.

Consider a case that’s playing out right now. Thomas Pogge is the director of the Global Justice Program and the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale. He has another appointment with the word “justice” in the title at King’s College London. On just the homepage of his website, the words “justice,” “ethics,” “moral/morally,” or the phrase “human rights” appear 15 times in total. Pogge seems like a college admissions officer’s ideal person. He spends his life using his intellectual talents to advocate for the disadvantaged and the oppressed. And he is widely looked upon as a moral paragon. Or at least he was until last month. Now it appears, with new details emerging weekly, that he has been systematically sexually harassing and exploiting female students for decades, offering letters of recommendation, jobs, and other academic benefits in exchange for sexual relationships. In one case he allegedly attempted to assault a student in a hotel room, and withdrew a job offer when she resisted. For all his talk about the evils of exploitation and power differentials between developed and developing countries, Pogge targeted foreign women whom he perceived to be unsophisticated about their options for defending themselves.

Pogge’s story illustrates how easy it is to use the social-justice talk and conspicuous do-gooding that make admissions officers weak in the knees as a cover for immoral, even sociopathic, behavior. If Pogge fooled thousands of experts in moral philosophy for decades even while being in the public spotlight, how on earth can college admissions committees tell which 17-year-olds are genuine based on a short paper application? Indeed, they must be astonishingly arrogant about their own abilities if they think they can tell who experienced moral growth from a community-service project just by reading recommendation letters from a student’s “supervisor, a recipient of a service, a peer or a teacher.”

Given how absurd it is to try to determine which high-school students are ethical exemplars based on such easy-to-fake data, one wonders whether recruiting moral students is the true aim of the authors and endorsers of the Harvard report. Closer examination suggests they may have another motive. The proposed community-service requirements seem like a way to force college applicants to make a declaration that they accept liberal theories about the origin of inequality and injustice — and weed out dissenters who refuse to do this or who don’t do it convincingly.

Despite the report’s claim that it is not seeking to “promote a particular moral or political ideology,” it’s clear enough what sorts of community service it’s looking to promote, and what kinds of conclusions it wants high-school students to draw from their experience. It says that students should “undertake community service and engagement that deepens their appreciation of diversity” and that “spark[s] . . . a deeper understanding of social structures and inequalities.” This is not-so-subtle liberal-speak, and we all know what it means. Promoting multiculturalism (though not European or Christian culture) is one of the main goals of the Left.

The report asks students to have a multicultural experience and to draw conclusions about the source of social problems. Are students supposed to conclude that there’s not enough Burkean conservatism? Or that we need to implement more of Thomas Sowell’s recommendations? Those ideas would conflict with the multicultural vision extolled in the report itself. It’s obvious, rather, that college applicants are being invited to derive lessons about structural racism, oppression, and that sort of thing. The proposed community-service requirements are a more severe way to force applicants to get on board with the liberal explanation for social problems, or else be barred from top colleges.

Unfortunately, the community-service advocates don’t seem to be worried that colleges will be infiltrated (even more than they already are) by Pogges who are experts at moral posturing in the pursuit of narrow self-interest — so long as the moral posturing is done on behalf of the Left.