Friday, March 03, 2017

Preschool Teacher Fired Over 'Kill Some Jews' Tweet

A Texas preschool teacher who posted a message on social media encouraging someone to “kill some Jews” has been fired. Nancy Salem had been employed by The Children’s Courtyard in Arlington. “This person no longer works for our company,” a spokesperson told me in a prepared statement. Salem had also retweeted, “How many Jews died in the Holocaust? Not enough!”

How such a vile and disgusting person could be allowed to work around children is beyond me, but I’m glad The Children’s Courtyard investigated the incident and did the right thing. “Providing a safe, nurturing and inclusive learning environment is of the utmost importance to us,” its statement read. “The offensive comments certainly don’t reflect our views. Our employees are expected to uphold certain standards of personal and professional conduct.”

Dallas Morning News reports the tweets by Salem and other University of Texas at Arlington students were exposed by the watchdog group Canary Mission. Canary Mission’s mission is to combat the “rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses.” Its investigation revealed at least two dozen current and former students had made anti-Semitic comments on social media. Dallas Morning News also reports Salem and at least 18 other students belonged to the UTA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Canary Mission said it was a “focal point for campus anti-Semitism,” the newspaper reported. However, UTA tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Salem has never been a student there. Regardless, it sounds like the University of Texas at Arlington is infested with an ugly strain of anti-Semitism. The university must root out infected students and expel them from campus.


Students back ‘bigot’ for Glasgow university role

A Canadian psychologist accused of being bigoted towards transgender people has been nominated to become rector of one of Scotland’s leading universities.

Jordan Peterson, 54, a professor at the University of Toronto, sparked controversy last year over his refusal to use “manufactured” words for members of the transgender community just because they were perceived to be politically correct.

He is an outspoken opponent of “safe spaces” on campuses and believes that “radical ideologues” are threatening free speech through attempts to control language.

The academic has been approached by students at Glasgow University to become the next rector, a position that dates back 565 years and at the moment is held by Edward Snowden


British students to be offered degrees over two years
Universities can raise fees above £13,000 a year

Fast-track degrees will appeal to those who want to save on living costs

A new generation of fast-track degrees are to be offered to students under plans outlined by ministers today.

Universities will be encouraged to provide two-year degrees in return for the right to raise tuition fees, possibly to more than £13,000 a year.

Students would be expected to work more intensively, with holidays significantly cut. Undergraduates studying for three or four-year degrees typically enjoy summer breaks lasting up to four months as well as six weeks in total over Christmas and Easter.

While students might incur the same total tuition fees as they would for a conventional degree, the fast-track option will appeal to those who want to save on a year’s accommodation and other living costs.


Thursday, March 02, 2017

DeVos Slams ‘Education Establishment,’ Touts School Choice

The U.S. “education establishment has been blocking the doorway to reforms, fixes and improvements for a generation,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

And despite the $7 billion spent on school improvement grants during the Obama administration, the system is still failing too many children.

“How do we know that?” DeVos asked. “Our nation's test scores have flat lined, 1.3 million children drop out of school every year.”

DeVos said the Obama administration tested its model -- “and it failed miserably. “Now this is not an indictment of teachers,” she added. “Good teachers deserve to be honored and compensated accordingly.”

DeVos blamed the rigid “education establishment” and touted school choice as the solution. She also urged conservatives to “engage” and “be loud.”

So let me ask you, do you believe parents should be able to choose the best school for their child regardless of their ZIP Code or family income? Me too and so does President Trump.

We have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality for millions of families. Both the president and I believe that providing an equal opportunity for a quality education is an imperative that all students deserve.

So, now let me ask you, how many of you are college students?

Well, the fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a threat to the university community, but the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.

As secretary, I don't think the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. should have more power over your decisions than you do. I took this job because I want to return power in education back to where it belongs, with parents, communities, and states.


More Leftist racism: No More Music Composed by White Guys for School Band:

I have some bad news for all of you Burt Bacharach fans. The Spring Lake Park High School in Minnesota has decided to stop purchasing music composed by white guys — at least for the time being. “We made a commitment this year to only buy music from composers of color,” marching band director Brian Lukkasson told National Public Radio. And, well, the truth is Burt Bacharach is about as white as a jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise.

The marching band also pledges to toot their horns to at least one musical selection composed by a lady. Apparently, some of the teenage musicians were terribly offended and downright disturbed because they were performing music composed by white folks. “There’s a kind of an ideological segregation of who can and cannot be in band, based on who the composers are, and what the music is like,” student Kia Muleta told the radio network partially funded by your tax dollars. “I really, really want other students of color to be able to feel like they are welcomed and appreciated anywhere, that they don’t have to check themselves at the door,” she added.

I have no idea what that means — but whatever. “The more you practice talking about race, culture and ethnicity, the more comfortable you are,” band director Nora Tycast said. It sounds to me like racism disguised as diversity. Mr. Holland’s opus it is not.


Plea to fix ‘girl-friendly’ bias in Australian testing

The headmaster of Australia’s oldest independent school, the King’s School, has called for an overhaul of the national numeracy and literacy tests, arguing the current assessment favours girls over boys.

Tim Hawkes said four of the five domains in NAPLAN, the ­National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy, were ­focused on literacy and the exam was “substantially a test of literacy and that’s a traditional area of strength with girls, who typically enjoy a word-rich learning style’’.

About 50 per cent of students sitting NAPLAN, he said, were ­typically stronger in STEM ­(science, technology, engineering and maths) than they were in literacy and, coupled with fewer numeracy questions, this was “massively ­disadvantaging boys’’.

“There would be very few ­serious educators who would not conclude that the existing ­NAPLAN exam is much more girl-friendly than it is boy-­friendly. It is time this bias was corrected,’’ Dr Hawkes said.

Last year’s NAPLAN results showed girls in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9 outperformed boys in literacy but the tables were turned for all grades in numeracy.

Australia Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Robert Randall said the NAPLAN tests were ­designed to be fair to boys and girls, and any difference in achievement could be the result of a range of factors, including levels of ­engagement or teaching.

“NAPLAN test development process and analysis includes checking all test items for gender bias and removing any items that appear to favour either gender from test analysis,’’ he said.

Dr Hawkes’ critique from the prestigious Parramatta school in Sydney’s west comes as another leading principal, Paul Browning from the co-educational St Paul’s School in Brisbane, warns Australia is in danger of losing sight of what an education worth having really is. He blames a highly politicised “culture of fear’’, which he says is forcing some schools to “teach to the test’’ instead of ­inspiring creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

“We’re not saying that testing isn’t important — students need to learn how to read and write — but this fixation on standardised testing as the ultimate measure of a ‘successful’ education is not healthy,’’ Dr Browning said.

“Nobody is talking about the correlation of when we started to report and create leagues tables of our schools’ performances and the decline in our international standing in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results.’’

Dr Hawkes, who backs ­NAPLAN as a diagnostic tool and believes results should be publicly reported, said “fortunately, our NAPLAN results at King’s are good, but I feel for boys’ schools in general because they are being compared with co-ed and girls’ schools who traditionally do very well in literacy-based tasks”.

Mr Randall said: “NAPLAN tests the important skills of literacy and numeracy. The assessment of these skills, through the NAPLAN domains or subjects of reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy. has been agreed by Education Council. Any changes to the domains assessed as part of NAPLAN would require approval of ministers.’’


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Multiculturalism Run Amuck at Georgetown: What’s Wrong with Slavery and Rape?

Two weeks ago, a professor from Georgetown University publicly rose to the defense of slavery and rape, and not a single major media outlet—with the exception of a blogger on the Washington Post website and a brief posting on FoxNews—has said a word about it. The absence of outrage is not hard to figure out: Jonathan Brown's defense was limited to Islam. 

Brown, a convert to Islam, holds an endowed chair in Islamic studies at Georgetown. The Jesuit-run institution has a wealthy benefactor in Saudi Arabia, a nation which bans Christianity. How sweet.

What did Georgetown get from this arrangement? Money, and a lot of it. Twelve years ago, Saudi Arabia wrote a check to the Jesuit-run institution for $20 million; it went to support the school's Center for Muslim Christian Understanding, run by Brown. And what did Saudi Arabia get from this peculiar "understanding"? Legitimacy.

The fruit from this decayed tree is now apparent. Georgetown now employs a tenured professor who defends slavery and rape, provided the slavemasters and rapists are Muslims. This is apparently Georgetown's idea of diversity. It also shows how phony the school is. Why all the handwringing about Georgetown's ownership of American slaves in the 19th century when it employs defenders of slavery today?

Brown's position was not made in the heat of debate. If anything his comments were well prepared: they were delivered at the Islamic Institute for Islamic Thought. After being criticized by some, he tried to walk it back, offering a lame Tweet that meant nothing. 

"As a category, as a conceptual category that exists throughout states and trans-historically," Brown allegedly said clumsily, "there's no such thing as slavery." It gets better. "I don't think you can talk about slavery in Islam until you realize that there is no such thing as slavery."

It is not certain what Brown would say to slaves in Mauritania and Somalia today—they are owned by their Muslim masters. Would he tell them to stop promoting fake news? Would he tell them that slavery is a mirage? Would he tell them that they are delusional? Better yet, would he switch places with them?

Brown is also incompetent. If slavery doesn't exist in Muslim-run nations, why the need to justify it? "Slavery cannot just be treated as a moral evil in and of itself," he opined. He really means it. "I don't think it's morally evil to own somebody because we own lots of people all around us."

(Who he owns he did not say, but perhaps the Southern Poverty Law Center will look into it. Maybe I'll convert to Islam and see if I can buy him. I'll use my credit card—Mastercard for the Master.)

When someone in the audience challenged Brown, he became indignant, as well as inconsistent. "The fact that there was slavery is wrong [thus did he contradict his remark that there was no such thing in Islam]. Okay. If you're a Muslim, the prophet of God ... had slaves. He had slaves. There's no denying that. Are you more morally mature than the prophet of God? No, you are not."

One would hope that all of us are more morally mature than Muhammad. After all, he was not only a slavemaster and an advocate of violence, he consummated his marriage with his bride Aisha when she was nine years old. That's what we call rape.

Speaking of which, Brown went on to say that non-consensual sex—it's called rape—is okay with him, at least if the offenders are adherents to Islam. He took aim at the Western notion of "consent," maintaining that "It's very hard to have this discussion because we think of, let's say in the modern United States, the sine qua non of morally correct sex is consent."

Continuing his defense of rape, Brown criticized Americans for making a big deal about individual rights. "We fetishize the idea of autonomy to the extent that we forget, again who's really free? Are we really autonomous people?" In other words, since none of us are really autonomous, the difference between us and a rape victim is more contrived than real.

Brown and Georgetown would be on the front page of every newspaper in the nation if he had justified Christians enslaving and raping Muslims. It would be the lead news story of the night on television, and the Internet would explode. But because Brown was justifying slavery and rape committed by Muslims—whose real life victims are Christians and Jews—there's hardly a peep.

This is moral relativism gone off the cliff. It is a direct consequence of multiculturalism run amuck. On campuses and newsrooms across the country, the Judeo-Christian ethos and heritage has been slashed and burned beyond belief, the rubble of which is Professor Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University, and the media.


Obama-Era DOE Instructions Disregard SCOTUS Interpretation of Title IX

Is it realistic to expect an institution to “remedy the effects” of a crime committed by a third party? That is what the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work, expects schools to do, regarding rapes committed by students. Given the trauma of rape, it is hard to imagine how a school could do that.

On April 29, 2014, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) told schools they must do this in order to comply with the federal law Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in educational institutions.  In its “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence,” it told schools that “imposing sanctions against the perpetrator, without additional remedies, likely will not be sufficient” to comply with Title IX (pg. 25). Instead, when responding to sexual harassment or rape committed by students, the institution must “eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.” (pg. 1, Question A-2).

These instructions from the Obama administration disregarded a Supreme Court decision interpreting Title IX, Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 648-49 (1999). There, the Supreme Court said that “Title IX imposes no such requirements” to “‘remedy’ peer harassment,” and does not even require school officials to “purg[e] their schools of actionable peer harassment,” as long as they make meaningful efforts to end it.

As Yale Law School’s Jed Rubenfeld notes in a recent article, OCR “requires schools to regulate, police, adjudicate, and punish violations ... committed by third parties, namely their students. This is privatized law enforcement” that raises serious constitutional issues. It is particularly strange, because legally, students are not even “agents” of their school, unlike a school’s “officers” or “employees.”

Even if students were akin to employees, OCR’s requirements would be overreaching.  Employers are not always expected to prevent a recurrence of harassment by their employees, much less remedy all the effects of harassment. When harassment is committed by a non-supervisory employee, the employer is only liable if it was negligent. If an employer takes action “reasonably calculated” to deter further harassment, it is not liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, even if harassment unexpectedly recurred or persisted. (See, e.g., Adler v. Wal-Mart, 164 F.3d 664 (10th Cir. 1998) (in which an appeals court ruled that an employer that disciplined most of the harassers, except one that it plausibly viewed as innocent, was not liable even though harassment unexpectedly recurred, because the employer was not negligent)).

The employer is not always even required to impose “sanctions against the perpetrator.”  For example, if the evidence is unclear about whether the accused was guilty, the employer may escape liability even if it declined to discipline that employee. (See Swenson v. Potter, 271 F.3d 1184, 1196 (9th Cir. 2001) (appeals court ruling reversing jury verdict for plaintiff because harasser’s guilt was so murky that employer’s failure to discipline him was reasonable); Knabe v. Boury Corporation, 114 F.3d 407 (3rd Cir. 1997) (appeals court ruling affirming dismissal of lawsuit over harassment where employer refused to discipline alleged harasser due to lack of corroborating witness)).

The Supreme Court has said that schools’ liability for student misconduct under Title IX is narrower than employers’ liability for employee misconduct under Title VII. In its 1999 decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 648-49 (1999), it noted both that a Title IX student plaintiff must show “deliberate indifference” by the school to obtain money damages, and also that Title IX  doesn’t give complainants a “right” to second-guess a school’s reasonable decisions about discipline, since there isn’t any “Title IX right” to “particular remedial demands” or “particular disciplinary action,” just because harassment has occurred:

“We stress that our conclusion here ... does not mean that recipients can avoid liability only by purging their schools of actionable peer harassment or that administrators must engage in particular disciplinary action ... the dissent erroneously imagines that victims of peer harassment now have a Title IX right to make particular remedial demands ... courts should refrain from second guessing the disciplinary decisions made by school administrators [who] must merely respond to known peer harassment in a manner that is not clearly unreasonable.”
The Education Department’s 2014 sexual harassment guidance is not the first time it stretched Title IX way beyond its proper meaning. As we previously explained, the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague letter from its Office for Civil Rights also distorted the meaning of Title IX. That letter improperly ordered colleges to restrict the appeal rights of accused students, pressured them to restrict cross-examination guaranteed at public universities by state APA laws, and forced them to investigate off-campus crimes that federal courts said colleges need not investigate or punish to comply with Title IX (See Lam v. University of Missouri (1997); Roe v. St. Louis University (2014)).

The 2014 guidance repeats these improper demands, and takes the demand for investigation of off-campus conduct even further, declaring that “Under Title IX, a school must process all complaints of sexual violence, regardless of where the conduct occurred,” and that “the mere presence on campus…of the alleged perpetrator of off-campus sexual violence” can violate Title IX by creating a “hostile environment.” (pp. 29-30).

This demand for investigations of off-campus conduct flatly contradicts a federal appeals court decision, Roe v. St. Louis University, 746 F.3d 874, 884 (8th Cir. 2014). Quoting the Supreme Court’s Davis ruling, the appeals court noted that “The Supreme Court has made it clear, however, that to be liable [under] Title IX, a University must have had control over the situation in which the harassment or rape occurs,” which is not the case for an “off campus party.”

OCR’s October 26, 2010 Dear Colleague letter about harassment and bullying also wrongly suggested to schools that they had a duty to regulate even off-campus conduct, such as speech on “the Internet.” That ignored OCR’s own past rulings that Title IX does not apply off campus, and does not require that colleges investigate off-campus conduct even when it has on-campus effects. For example, the Office for Civil Rights noted in 2004 that “a University does not have a duty under Title IX to address an incident of alleged harassment where the incident occurs off-campus and does not involve a program or activity of the recipient.” See Oklahoma State University ruling, OCR Complaint No. 06-03-2054, at pg. 2 (June 10, 2004).


International students studying in Australia reach record numbers, Education Department figures show

Figures from the federal Education Department show there were 554,179 full-fee paying international students in 2016, an increase of more than 10 per cent on the previous year.

The higher education sector had the largest share of Australia's international students, with 43 per cent.

Of those the largest numbers came from China and India.

The vocational education sector accounted for 26 per cent of international student enrolments with English Language Intensive Courses attracting 21 per cent.

The schools sector only attracted 3 per cent of the total figure.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the numbers showed the importance of attracting overseas students. "International education is now our third largest export sector generating more than $21 billion of economic activity in Australia, supporting many jobs and providing benefits to both Australian and international students," he said.

"There are real upsides in terms of the jobs that are created, the opportunities for Australian students to study alongside international students and to gain exposure to people from more than 200 different countries who are now studying in Australia."

As well as the data on enrolments, the Government has released the results of last year's International Student Survey.

The survey found 89 per cent of students were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience in Australia.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Time to End Obama-Era Fed Micromanagement of Colleges Under Title IX

Vice President Pence says he and President Trump “believe that education is a state and local function that should be controlled by” states, not the federal government. A great way to restore local control would be rescind the Obama administration’s federal micromanagement of college discipline. Under Obama, the Education Department sometimes pressured colleges to do things that could lead to lawsuits being filed against them by their students.

For example, the Education Department’s April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter urged colleges to restrict cross-examination in sexual harassment and assault cases. As its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) put it in that letter, “OCR strongly discourages schools from allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.” When schools take that advice, it can violate a student’s rights under a state’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA).  Under many state APAs, students have a right to cross-examine their accuser, as courts have made clear in cases such as Arishi v. Washington State University, 385 P.3d 251 (Wash. App. 2016) and Liu v. Portland State University, 383 P.3d 294 (Or. App. 2016).

(It is conceivable that the advice in the “Dear Colleague” letter could also lead to violations of federal law at colleges that follow it. In a few campus disciplinary cases, such as Donohue v. Baker, 976 F.Supp. 136 (N.D.N.Y. 1997), and Doe v. Univ. of Cincinnati, 2016 WL 6996194 (S.D. Oh. 2016), judges have ruled that some cross-examination was constitutionally required on due-process grounds to test the credibility of the accuser. But the Supreme Court has not ruled on whether cross-examination is ever required by the federal constitution in the college setting, even though it lauded cross-examination as the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” in its decision in Lilly v. Virginia, 527 U.S. 116, 124 (1999).)

The Education Department’s “Dear Colleague” Letter purported to apply the federal sex discrimination law Title IX. But it misconstrued Title IX, as I explain in detail at this link. Moreover, in advising colleges to restrict the rights of their students, it ignored language in a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that emphasized that schools don’t need to risk violating the rights of their students to comply with Title IX. In setting forth a standard for when schools need to take action against sexual harassment or assault by students, the Supreme Court said that “the standard set out here is sufficiently flexible to account both for the level of disciplinary authority available to the school and for the potential liability arising from certain forms of disciplinary action. … [I]t would be entirely reasonable for a school to refrain from a form of disciplinary action that would expose it to constitutional or statutory claims.”  (See Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 649 (1999)).

The Supreme Court plainly meant to allow colleges to avoid acting in ways giving rise to statutory claims against them under both federal and state law, since it was in response to a dissenting opinion that cited both federal and state laws limiting the ability of schools to discipline students (such as state constitutional provisions. See Davis, at pg. 649, citing the dissenting opinion in Davis, at pp. 666-668).

In addition to ignoring the Supreme Court, this Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter also wrongly imposed new obligations on schools without notice and comment, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (as I explained earlier). For example, it “ignored past Office for Civil Rights rulings authored by its own career lawyers and civil servants in forcing colleges to investigate off-campus conduct. Such ‘unexplained departures from precedent’ are arbitrary and capricious, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals noted in Ramaprakash v. FAA (2003). The Obama administration also ignored two federal appeals court rulings, and language in a Supreme Court decision, by demanding that colleges do so.”

In its April 4, 2011 letter, the Office for Civil Rights told colleges they “have an obligation” to investigate even when an incident “occurred off school grounds.” This contradicted what OCR’s career staff told colleges in Title IX rulings during the Bush administration, when I worked there. For example, OCR’s Dallas office noted that “a University does not have a duty under Title IX to address an incident of alleged harassment where the incident occurs off-campus and does not involve a program or activity of the recipient.” See Oklahoma State University ruling, OCR Complaint No. 06-03-2054, at pg. 2 (June 10, 2004).

The Obama OCR’s contrary position, which it later used to find colleges such as Harvard Law School in violation of Title IX, is clearly at odds with court interpretations of Title IX as not applying off campus, as I have noted in the past. For example, a federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by a student over an off-campus sexual assault in Roe v. St. Louis University, 746 F.3d 874, 884 (8th Cir. 2014). Quoting the Supreme Court’s Davis decision, it noted that “The Supreme Court has made it clear, however, that to be liable [under] Title IX, a University must have had control over the situation in which the harassment or rape occurs,” which is not the case for an “off campus party” (quoting Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 645 (1999)).

Since free-speech protections are stronger outside of school than within K-12 schools (see, e.g., Klein v. Smith (1986)), the Obama-era OCR’s pressure on schools to investigate what it labeled as verbal sexual “harassment” (such as vulgar speech) outside of school could give rise to constitutional lawsuits against a school. That pressure was thus at odds with the intent of the Supreme Court’s Davis decision to avoid subjecting schools to the risk of “constitutional or statutory claims.”

The “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the Obama-era Office for Civil Rights in 2011 also wrongly ignored past agency rulings in demanding that colleges not allow accused students to appeal findings of guilt unless they also allowed complainants to appeal not-guilty findings — a position that some critics viewed as akin to double jeopardy.

Before the Obama administration, OCR had stated that “there is no requirement under Title IX that a recipient provide a victim’s right of appeal.”  (University of Cincinnati, OCR Complaint No. 15-05-2041 (Apr. 13, 2006)).

Under the Clinton administration, OCR had approved a school’s limiting appeal rights to the accused because “he/she is the one who stands to be tried twice for the same allegation.” (Skidmore College, OCR Complaint No. 02-95-2136 (Feb. 12, 1996)).

Similarly, under the Bush administration, OCR had concluded that “appeal rights are not necessarily required by Title IX, whereas an accused student’s appeal rights are a standard component of University disciplinary processes in order to assure that the student is afforded due process before being removed from or otherwise disciplined by the University.” (Suffolk University Law School, OCR Complaint No. 01-05-2074 (Sept. 30, 2008)).\


Jon Haidt Hopes Libertarians Can Save Us From Coddled Campus Culture

The social psychologist openly admits he wants to create a schism in academia

At the International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC) in Washington, D.C., this morning, New York University social psychologist and The Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt suggested that libertarians have a critical role to play in combatting the victimhood culture that's been exploding on America's college campuses in the last few years.

In 2015, Haidt and Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education teamed up to write a blockbuster Atlantic cover story called "The Coddling of the American Mind." In it, they drew attention to just how spectacularly colleges are failing to prepare students to think critically and deal with adversity.

Since then, things have only gotten more insane. Over the course of an hourlong breakout session, Haidt detailed everything that's going wrong with campus culture and how worried he is about what it means for the future. "For the first time in my life, I think this could continue to escalate to the point that democratic institutions start to break down," he concluded.

Haidt plugged Heterodox Academy, the platform he started to bring together scholars to resist these developments, which features resources students can use to encourage the administrators at their schools "to do three things: adopt the Chicago principles on free expression, implement a non-obstruction policy—meaning you can't shut people down. You can protest, you can wave signs, but you can't stop a person from speaking. And finally, please, university, give us some viewpoint diversity."

The goal of the project is, he openly admits, to create a schism in academia.

"We have a gigantic market failure where almost all of the elite schools are going down this road," he said, "but most parents don't want their kids to go to such a school. Now, the parents are never going to sacrifice prestige, so no matter how far left they go, parents are always going to want their kids to get into the top schools. But if credible alternatives arise," that can shake up the scary status quo.

"So at Heterodox Academy what we're trying to do is really praise the schools that say, 'We're going to produce a neutral platform and you guys can argue it out,'" he said. "Chicago and [the University of] Virginia are two of my top hopes, because they have long traditions on free speech. We're trying to create a schism so that Brown and other schools like it just become ever more like viper pits, where even the students are saying, 'This is insane.' And the students at Chicago are saying, 'Oh, it's really cool. We can argue about anything.' My hope is that students and parents will flock to the ones that aren't viper pits."

Haidt then said he thinks classical liberals like those at the conference are particularly suited, and situated, to be effective advocates on these positions. Looking at research on how different groups are viewed on campus, he noted that "conservatives are poison. They're seen as just racists [like] Milo and Trump. But as far as I can tell, libertarians aren't really hated. The left looks at you kind of warily. You confuse them, but that's good. That's an opening."

"At Heterodox Academy we've noticed that there are not a lot of conservatives out there in the academy," he added. "What there are are libertarians and centrists. That's the main kind of diversity we have to work with. And this is not about having conservatives in the academy. What we need is to not have orthodoxy. So the more you guys can raise your voices and question things, the better."


11-Year-Old Docked Points for Not Bashing Trump

To say that some people dislike Donald Trump may well be the understatement of the year. It's hard to imagine any duly elected president seeing so many protests in his first two months in office, yet here we are.

It's so bad that now an 11-year-old in Annadale, New York, was docked 15 points on a homework assignment because she failed to answer a question demanding students bash Trump:

Vincent Ungro, a dad from Annadale, New York, has an 11-year-old daughter who attends I.S. (Intermediate School) 75. She asked him for help with her vocabulary homework last Friday night because she was trying to fill in the blanks from a word bank to complete her assignment -- and was really puzzled.

“President Trump speaks in a very superior and _________ manner insulting many people. He needs to be more __________ so that the American people respect and admire him,” read one homework sentence. The next question was: “Barack Obama set a _________ when he became the first African-American president.”

And what were the choices for the two questions, you ask? These three words: “haughty,” “humble,” and “precedent.” You can guess which ones were meant to be the “correct” answers in this teacher’s mind.

Ungro, 46, told his daughter not to fill in those blanks -- and wrote a note to the teacher, Adria Zawatsky, on the homework sheet, as The Post noted. “Please keep your political views to yourself and do not try to influence my children on them. Thank you,” he wrote.

The teacher docked the points -- which Ungro called "vindictive."

The teacher emailed Ungro and defended her question, stating that she was addressing his personality rather than his ability to serve in the office of president. She went on to add that the media makes similar references to Trump, and that she believes she has the same right.

Talking to Your Liberal Adult Children About Trump
Unfortunately, people can either stop reading or change the channel when the media pontificates in an unwelcome way.  An 11-year-old can't.

Students are stuck in that classroom and they're required to do what the teacher says in these cases -- and it can affect their future if they do not comply. This is a prime example of forced political indoctrination in public education.

Not all the news is bad, however. It seems the principal agreed with Ungro to some extent. While she wasn't fired, she was reprimanded and a disciplinary letter was placed in her file. That may not be much, but it's better than nothing, and if she keeps it up she may lose her $102,000 teaching job.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Trump Right to Fix Obama’s Unlawful Transgender School Policy

The Trump administration acted Wednesday night to fix the Obama administration’s unlawful “gender identity” school policy and return authority to parents and teachers in the states.

Civil rights officers in the Department of Justice and the Department of Education issued a joint letter saying the administration was rescinding the policy, which had required schools to allow students who identify as transgender to use the restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities of their choice—or face loss of federal funds.

In the letter, they said the Obama mandate did not show “due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts” in making education policy.

The Trump administration is doing the right thing in correcting Obama’s unlawful overreach, which imposed a one-sided solution on all 50 states. Parents and teachers in local schools now can work to find win-win solutions that protect the dignity, privacy, and safety of all students.

For years, the Obama administration unilaterally had redefined bans on “sex” discrimination to include “gender identity.”

The problem came to a head May 13, when Obama’s Justice and Education departments sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to our nation’s schools, informing them that “both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX,” a 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded schools.

With this decree, the Obama administration directed all schools to allow “students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

Schools were told they had to allow students access to bathrooms, locker rooms, dorm rooms, and hotel rooms for overnight field trips based entirely on the self-declared gender identities of their students.

On Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the Obama administration’s attempt to redefine sex was unlawful, and blocked the decree from going into effect.

O’Connor held that it “cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex as used … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female,” and he placed a nationwide injunction on the administration’s guidance to schools.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, appealed this ruling Oct. 20. But on Feb. 10, with Jeff Sessions as the nation’s new attorney general, the Justice Department withdrew that motion for a stay and cancelled the scheduled oral arguments.

The Trump administration rescinded the Obama guidance saying officials would interpret the word “sex” in Title IX to mean “gender identity.” Instead, the administration will allow parents and teachers to work together in local schools to find nuanced solutions that address the needs of everyone.

Wednesday night’s moves signaled a change in position that could have a significant impact on the Justice Department’s controversial Title IX lawsuit against North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (known as HB2), which the Trump administration inherited.

The actions also could affect a Title IX gender identity case, currently set for oral argument at the Supreme Court next month, that depends in large part on the Department of Education’s position.

Dignity, Privacy, and Safety Concerns

Last week at The Heritage Foundation, a panel of women explained the many policy problems with “gender identity” laws. As one of them said, “when gender identity wins, women always lose.”

The panelists—a rape survivor, a lesbian, a feminist activist, a stay-at-home mom, and a conservative—explained how people who identify as transgender should be free to live as they want, but that the law shouldn’t therefore eliminate women-only spaces or redefine what it is to be a woman.

While we must be sensitive to the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of people who identify as transgender, that is not a reason to ignore the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of everyone else.

Unfortunately, the Obama-era policies were entirely one-sided. They favored the concerns of people who identify as transgender while entirely discounting the concerns of others.

Safe Spaces for Women, a group that “provides survivors of sexual assault with care, support, understanding, and advice,” recently submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court explaining how gender identity policies can negatively impact sexual assault survivors:

Safe Spaces for Women has a strong interest in ensuring that the voices of women who have suffered sexual abuse are heeded when policies are made that may directly affect their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. This includes policies that require educational institutions covered by Title IX to admit to female showers, locker rooms, and restrooms biological males who identify as female. While Safe Spaces for Women bears no animus toward the transgendered community, it is deeply concerned that … survivors of sexual assault are likely to suffer psychological trauma as a result of encountering biological males—even those with entirely innocent intentions—in the traditional safe spaces of women’s showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

The brief goes on to note that the guidance from the Obama administration was issued “without giving those affected a voice in the process. … improperly circumvent[ing] the notice and comment process when that process was needed most.”

Likewise, Kenneth V. Lanning, a 40-year veteran law enforcement officer who specialized in sex crimes for the FBI at Quantico for 20 years, explains the problem with “gender identity-based access policies” for sex-specific intimate facilities.

Lanning says “the problem with potential sex offenses is not crimes by transgendered persons,” but rather “offenses by males who are not really transgendered but who would exploit the entirely subjective provisions” of such policies “to facilitate their sexual behavior or offenses.” Lanning explains that:

Allowing a man, based only on his claim to be [a] transgendered woman, to have unlimited access to women’s rest rooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, etc. will make it easier for the type of sex offense behavior previously described to happen to more women and children. Such access would create an additional risk for potential victims in a previously protected setting and a new defense for a wide variety of sexual victimization.

Indeed, as The Daily Signal previously noted, such sexual victimization already is occurring by men who have disguised themselves as women.

What to Do Now

Wednesday night’s actions by the Justice and Education departments will lead to good policy outcomes, which is why it should not be limited to Title IX.

The Trump administration should extend this decision to every area where federal agencies have imposed new “gender identity” rules on the American people without basis in law, without congressional authorization, without considering legitimate countervailing concerns, and without the support of the American people.

Congress should make such administrative actions permanent by reintroducing and passing H.R. 5812, the Civil Rights Uniformity Act, which clarifies that the term “sex” does not mean “gender identity” for the purpose of interpreting civil rights statutes. This would have the benefit of undoing the past and current abuses of Title IX, as well as preventing future abuses of other civil rights law.

Passing the Civil Rights Uniformity Act would ensure that unelected bureaucrats and judges would not get to unilaterally reshape policy affecting women and girls. It would allow schools to continue providing separate bathroom and locker room facilities and sports teams based on biological sex, not gender identity.

It also would address other unilateral Obama-era “gender identity” reinterpretations in health care, emergency shelters, housing, and employment. At the same time, such legislation would properly leave states and private entities entirely free to provide nuanced, sensitive, and reasonable accommodations of people who identify as transgender.

Up until last year’s prime-time interview of the celebrity then known as Bruce Jenner, few Americans ever had had a conversation about transgender issues. It’s a conversation we need to have.

But the Obama administration tried to shut down these discussions before they’ve even begun. The Obama administration attempted to force a one-size-fits-all policy on the entire nation rather than allow parents and teachers and local schools the time, space, and flexibility to find solutions that work best for everyone.

The Trump administration has taken the first steps to correct this.

While the Obama administration attempted to rewrite law to impose a federal “gender identity” policy on the entire nation, the Trump administration is respecting federalism, local decision-making, and parental authority in education.

For most Americans, concerns related to transgender students are a new reality. Rather than follow the Obama administration’s rush to impose a top-down solution on the entire country, the Trump administration is allowing the American people to have these conversations, consider all the relevant concerns, and make policies that will best serve all Americans.

Good for them.


Michigan State U. Bans Whiteboards in the Dorms Because People Write Things on Them

Are students engaging in more harassment, or are administrators defining harassment too broadly?

Michigan State University will prohibit students from hanging whiteboards on their dorm room doors beginning in the fall.

That's because some people write offensive messages on them, and the university wants to take an even more proactive approach to fighting harassment.

Apparently, instances of students writing hate speech on other students' whiteboards have become more frequent.

"The functionality of whiteboards used to outweigh the downsides," Kat Cooper, a university spokesperson, told The Detroit Free Press. "That's not happening anymore."

Maybe students don't need to write on each other's whiteboards—they can just text. But if that's the case, why not just let whiteboards be optional? If a student doesn't find them useful, or is worried about offensive messages, he can take his down.

No, no—they all must come down. There's too great a danger of someone saying something that someone else doesn't like, according to administrators. The Free Press's article details the numerous strategies MSU deploys to prevent such an occurrence:

The university also has an anti-discrimination policy.

Staff, including resident assistants inside buildings, file reports with MSU's Office of Institutional Equity when they come upon offensive language on whiteboards. That office investigates the issues when reported, through the people who write the offending words or images are rarely identified.

"Any student found in violation of the university's Anti-Discrimination Policy can face sanctions ranging from a warning to suspension," Ande Durojaiye, director of Office of Institutional Equity, wrote in an e-mail.

Here's a theory: maybe the behavior of MSU students isn't worsening—maybe people aren't suddenly more prone to engage in harassment. Rather, the university has defined harassment in increasingly subjective terms, and encouraged members of campus to report each other anonymously. Students aren't abusing the whiteboards: administrators are abusing the students' free expression rights.

In such an environment, I'm sure it makes more sense for MSU to simply shut everyone up.


Australian university asks white male students to fill out a questionnaire 'to understand why they are privileged'

University students were handed a 29-point 'male privilege checklist' during diversity workshops on orientation week.

The checklist detailed ways in which males were perceived to have advantages over females in careers, sexuality, personal safety, child rearing, and even clothing.

The University of Western Australia in Perth confirmed the checklist was part of 'Diversity Dialogue' workshops last week, along with material on race and sexuality.

'My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favour,' the first point read.

'My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed,' another read, adding that 'my clothes will probably fit better'.

Other lines on the first page said carelessness with finances or driving would not be attributed to a male's sex, their grooming is quicker and cheap, and were not assumed to have to sacrifice career for family.

Point 17 read: 'If I'm not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are small and easy to ignore.'

Promiscuous men were less likely to be called a s**t, males were interrupted less, under less pressure to be thin, and men's ability to make decision was never question due to the 'time of the month'.

Other material in the workshops included a 20-point list called 'understanding white privilege' where students had to tick yes, no or maybe next to each line.

One read: 'Can you go into a shopping centre by yourself and be confident you won't be harassed or threatened?'

'Can you operate successfully in public life, knowing only your first language?' another read.

Others dealt with whether people made them feel welcome and included, and saw people of their race on TV or at work, felt comfortable around authority figures, or were positively portrayed in the media.

The last point read: 'Can you name five famous Australians of your own ethnic background?'

The third handout, 'understanding heterosexual privilege', asked if students took for granted rights like public displays of affection, and talking openly about their relationship.

Others included their partner appearing in family photos, not feeling judged, and not having people assume their partner was of the other gender.

Students discussing them on school leaver social media groups were outraged at being 'forced' to sit through the workshops.

'That's just wrong,' one student wrote, while another commented 'you have got to be joking'. A third even wrote an eight-point 'female privilege checklist'.

A young woman said though men did have advantages over women, the checklist was 'dumb' and ignored the women also had privileges. 'I think the best way to realise the different types of advantages we have all had is through listening to other people's stories, not to have a blatant check list that blames one section of people,' she wrote.

UWA said the workshops were voluntary and used to start a conversation about unconscious biases about gender, race and diverse sexuality.

'Some of the examples listed on the material are common unconscious biases that people may have, sourced from documents provided by organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission,' it said.

'They are intended as discussion points, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the university, its staff, or students.'


Sunday, February 26, 2017

British Free schools ‘should be curbed’ as spending soars to £1bn over budget


The budget for free schools doubled in the first five years of the programme and almost £10 billion will be spent on them by 2021, a critical report has revealed.

Tory MPs and head teachers suggested it was time for the scheme — established by Michael Gove — to be curbed so that schools could not be set up to cater solely for parental choice in areas where extra places were not needed.

The report, by the National Audit Office, said the programme had been much larger in scale and cost than the Department for Education planned. Its publication comes at a time when many school buildings are crumbling and heads face real-terms cuts in budgets.


UK: Five of the maddest bans from this year’s Free Speech University Rankings

Today spiked launches the Free Speech University Rankings 2017, the third annual edition of our groundbreaking analysis of campus censorship in the UK. It paints a bleak picture. Censorship on campus is getting worse as universities and students’ unions seek to ban or regulate or smother free speech out of existence. In what should be bastions of open debate, speaking your mind is now a dangerous game. But with campus bureaucrats constantly rising to new megalomaniacal heights, some of the bans at least make for striking – and sometimes hilarious – reading. Here are five of the maddest things we found this year.

London South Bank’s warning on blasphemy

The fight for the freedom to criticise religion, to blaspheme, was at the very heart of the historic fight for free speech. Yet it seems some universities, terrified of offending students of faith, are turning the clock back. The FSUR 2017 found that 43 per cent of universities censor speech that might offend religious people. But London South Bank University’s Code of Practice for Freedom of Speech was easily the most striking. It warns students that one definition of an ‘unlawful meeting’ is one ‘at which there is a likelihood that the speaker(s) may… commit blasphemy’. If you ever needed more proof that campus censorship is a sign of a new Endarkenment, have a read of this.

Edinburgh makes misgendering a thoughtcrime

Restrictions on criticism of transgenderism or ‘misgendering’ trans students figured high in the findings this year. According to our research, 34 per cent of institutions had a policy of restricting discussion of transgender issues or of enforced transgender pronouns. Yet more proof that transgenderism is the fastest-formed orthodoxy of our times. But the University of Edinburgh’s Trans Equality Policy took things an Orwellian step further. Not only does it require students to ‘use the name and pronoun that the person asks you to’; it also tells them to ‘think of the person as being the gender that they want you to think of them as’. It has quite literally made ‘transphobia’ a thoughtcrime.

Newcastle’s puritancial policies

If you thought university was a time to set your sexuality, as well as your mind, free, have a look at Newcastle University Students’ Union’s policies. Not only does the union ban ‘wolf-whistling, catcalling or making sexual noises’, it has some pretty stringent regulations regarding clubnight promotion: ‘Never objectify students by using them as a tool, in imagery or wording, to draw custom, eg promoting events with the promise of “sexy shot-girls”, basing marketing on the idea of “available” women or men.’ Apparently even suggesting that students might want to have sex with each other is horrifying to these little Mary Whitehouses.

Cardiff Met’s guide on ‘inclusive language’

Worried that your choice of words might be conveying a hidden, deep-seated sexism? Then Cardiff Metropolitan University’s guide to inclusive language is a must-read. Here’s one gem of advice: ‘It’s good practice to alternate the order of the genders if you are talking about women and men, he or she, mother and father (though not mid-sentence, as it sounds a bit forced).’

Steve the Stag

One fascinating byelaw, held by the University of Surrey Students’ Union, dictates how the SU mascot, Steve the Stag, may be depicted by members. Here’s the quote in full. Read it. Think of someone taking the time to write it. And you’ll glimpse something of the maddened mindset that underpins campus censorship today: ‘No member is permitted to position, use, photograph, or depict the official mascot in any way that would run contrary to the values of the union – this includes (but is not limited to): drinking alcohol; smoking cigarettes; involved in lewd acts.’


Australian universities ask students to respect Muslims by not shaking hands with the opposite sex

Top Australian universities are asking students to respect Muslims by understanding that shaking the hand of the opposite sex is not allowed for followers of Islam. 

Adelaide's Flinders University, Perth's Curtin University and the University of Western Australia (UWA) provide information to students aimed at giving them a better understanding of Islam.

This information hopes to further the understanding that 'shaking hands or touching members of the opposite sex who are not family is not permitted' for Muslims, The Australian reported.

It also says greeting Muslims with phrases such as or 'Happy Easter' or 'Merry Christmas' is not culturally appropriate.

National Union of Students ethno-cultural officer Lorena White told The Australian universities should not force students to participate in actions that do not respect their faith.

UWA and Flinders University do not have a formal handshake protocol, according to a spokesperson from each institution.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said: 'We expect them [universities] to be ­accountable to their communities, students and the taxpayers who fund them and to reflect community expectations and standards.'