Friday, June 09, 2017

Elite High Schools Plot to Undermine College admissions

They want to give universities vague bromides about their students instead of concrete grades

Recently the online trade publication Inside Higher Ed had an article titled “A Plan to Kill High School Transcripts . . . and Transform College Admissions.” The plan — by the Mastery Transcript Consortium, which counts over 100 top private schools as members — would have its participants stop reporting grades to college admissions offices and instead provide a new model for transcripts and portfolios. The consortium’s proposal would serve as one more step in a trend going back a century toward introducing vagueness and, by extension, discretionary power into college admissions.

The new transcript model is still in development but will follow the principles of “no standardization of content” between schools, “no grades,” and, in obvious tension with the first two principles, “consistent transcript format.” A sample transcript on the consortium’s website lists competencies in eight areas, only two or three of which even remotely resemble traditional academic subjects and most of which can be described charitably as character traits or accurately as self-actualization gibberish. Each of these eight areas is explained with half a dozen or so bullet points that seem to be cribbed from a personal ad at Davos (e.g., “develop flexibility, agility, and adaptability”).

To understand the deep logic of the proposal, it helps to ignore the pleasant-sounding rhetoric about personalization and focus on who and whom. One thing that jumps out of the IHE article is that this proposal is a creature of elite prep schools. Most American high schools have, at most, a handful of students who are realistically competitive at elite universities, but elite prep schools aspire to place a substantial fraction of their students there. Alas, that college admissions offices expect to see grades puts elite high schools in the embarrassing situation of implicitly comparing their students to one another. (While the IHE article’s title just describes a plan without planners, the title that appears on search engines and at the top of readers’ browser tabs is the much more informative “Top Private High Schools Start Campaign to Kill Traditional Transcripts and Change College Admissions.”)

The main advantage of the consortium’s new transcript model is not that it provides more information than grades by virtue of nuance and detail, but that it provides less, by means of not having a readily commensurable scale. The proposed system will make it harder to compare prep students with each other. It will make it almost impossible to compare prep students — summarized with a radar plot of character traits and a “featured credit” of “exhibit moral courage in confronting unjust situations” — to the plebs who are still reporting that they earned a 3.9 GPA including an “A” in AP Calculus.

In fairness, the consortium hopes that public schools will eventually adopt the model and that in the meantime perhaps faculty and administrators at consortium member schools can evaluate portfolios for public-school students. If you believe that, I would suggest that you have failed to earn credit in “identify, manage and address complex problems” or “detect bias and distinguish between reliable and unsound information.” However even if we assume that the consortium’s model of evaluation would work at scale, it still has the core function of obscuring concrete academic achievements and shifting emphasis toward vague notions of character.

This would be one more step in a long-standing trend in college admissions, as described in Jerry Karabel’s book The Chosen. From 1898 to 1919, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton opened up their admissions requirements by adopting the College Entrance Exam Board and abandoning a Greek-language requirement. These reforms made admission more open to non-elite boys, who as a rule were unable to take the schools’ proprietary entrance exams and attended high schools that did not offer Greek. As a result, the Ivies saw a sizable increase in Jewish students, and Columbia even experienced WASP flight, which its peers dreaded. Although Harvard discussed an explicit Jewish quota in 1922, this proved unpalatable, and so between 1922 and 1926 the big three Ivies adopted admissions boards that gave a heavy emphasis to qualitative evidence of “character” (read: WASP culture emphasizing muscular Christianity, club membership, and athletics over book learning) as a pretext to limit Jews.

Decades later, the University of California system, within which both Karabel and I are sociologists, adopted a similar policy to ensure racial balance. Traditionally, about half of the UC class was admitted by a GPA and SAT formula. The beginning of the end of this policy came in 1995 and 1996, when a Board of Regents vote and ballot initiative barred the use of affirmative action at the University of California, without which the flagship campuses of the university admitted notably fewer blacks and Latinos and notably more Asians and “decline to state” as freshmen. (White students were stable.) In response, between 1998 and 2001, the university switched to a system of comprehensive review greatly emphasizing qualitative evidence of character, and this had the desired effect of bringing the undergraduate body a bit closer to the state’s overall ethnic composition.

Basing college admission on well-roundedness and character is both noisy and cumbersome. Anyone who regularly writes letters of recommendation knows that they consume an enormous amount of time to write, and anyone who regularly reads them knows that they typically convey minimal actual information, largely because by convention they are almost never negative. Admissions essays at the undergraduate level are even worse, serving primarily to demonstrate the insatiability of credulous admissions officers for bromides.

However, the time consumed by writing and reading the materials in the admissions packet is dwarfed by the effort that goes into shaping lives to fit them. One of the biggest impacts of the demand for well-roundedness is that making a well-rounded child is an enormous drain of time for families. Garey and Valerie Ramey’s NBER/Brookings paper “The Rug Rat Race” suggests that our culture of intensive parenting is driven by competition for college admissions. They find a pronounced rise in time spent on child rearing since the mid 1990s concentrated among college-educated parents. Tellingly, the pattern does not hold in Canada, which has a less hierarchical college system. Nor does the pattern apply to underrepresented minorities, whom colleges already seek and who experience diminishing marginal returns to résumé-polishing.

To treat time spent raising kids as a problem sounds heartless, but when the increased time consists of chauffeuring kids from activity to activity or “helping” them with projects, this is a brutal war of attrition against rivals to the meritocratic elite, not quality family time. In the long run, this may lead not only to endless stress for parents and kids alike, but also to lower fertility, since if you make something more costly, you get less of it.

The sick irony is that giving great weight to well-roundedness and character is seen as egalitarian. Test prep serves the role of Satan in the theodicy of meritocracy, a ready explanation for the association between test scores and social class of origin. What this myth overlooks is that most scholarly studies of test prep estimate that it raises SAT scores by a piddling couple dozen points out of 1600. Nonetheless, our suspicion of the SAT’s well-known association with household income provides an egalitarian rationale for the regressive turn to all variety of precocious “achievement” as the basis of college admissions, as if test scores could be bought but résumé-padding could not.

For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about SATs, they are much less prone to class privilege than having to found an NGO in high school. And so we had the shameful spectacle of Stanford admitting a young man whose essay consisted of writing “Black Lives Matter” a hundred times, but who also was the son of a hedge-fund manager, attended a $33,400-per-year high school, and generally had a vita stuffed with what he describes as “activism” but is more straightforwardly recognized as waiting in line for grip-and-grin photos at expensive political fundraisers.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a plutocratic elite preening to college admissions officers about how sophisticated and nuanced it is, forever.


Men Not Learning?

The nation has just emerged from graduation season. Many of us know young people who are either leaving high school and moving on to college or graduating from college and heading off into the world. But college and the promise of better career opportunities aren't what they used to be.

The job market for college graduates in America in 2017 is tighter than it's ever been, and it gets more competitive every year. No matter the degree earned, the average college graduate is becoming less likely to find a job in their chosen profession within five years, in some cases even 10 years, after graduation. Given the fact that a four-year college education can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000, this is a troubling fact that is crippling an entire generation of young people looking to enter the workforce.

It's a frightening and demoralizing situation to be saddled with a debt large enough to buy a small home before the age of 25 with nothing to show for it but an 8 1/2 x 11-size piece of onion skin paper with fancy lettering. There was a time when these degrees led straight to high-paying jobs. But that time is quickly waning.

Change is happening on a social level on college campuses, too. A recent article in the Denver Post notes that women now outnumber men nearly two to one in college attendance. Women hold nearly 60% of all bachelor degrees, and they account for almost half of all students in law, medical and graduate business programs.

It's a great thing and a long time coming that women have reached this level of academic excellence. But it comes amidst a wave of militant feminism that has a high price. By comparison, over the past decade, as the Denver Post notes, close to 30% of male college students have quit during their freshman year. This is a nationwide phenomenon. What gives?

There is something ugly beyond the increasingly limited economic value of a college education in modern America. And that's the fact that college isn't about education anymore. It's about indoctrination. Colleges in this country are not a place for learning, but are rather factories for cranking out sycophants of leftist ideology. They are surely not the haven for free speech they pretend to be. Look at the walkouts, protests and riots that are now taking place on college campuses sparked by nothing more than diverse opinions that run counter to statist groupthink.

Relationally, college has gotten bad too. James Shelley, director of the Men's Resource Center at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, gives voice to one of the real reasons young men don't want to be on college campuses. These institutions, says Shelley, "welcome young men to college by essentially telling them that they are potential rapists."

Indeed, incessant repetition of the phony one-in-five-women-are-raped statistic isn't helping. Why would young men subject themselves to such legal jeopardy?

The hostile social environment combined with the extremely limited return on investment of spending money and time in an institution of higher "learning" that no longer offers better employment after graduation makes college a bad idea for a lot of young men. It should come as no surprise that they are dropping out of — or not even bothering to enroll in — these institutions.

The problem this growing segment of emasculated men are experiencing is that there isn't really a viable alternative outside of college. Society has effectively shamed the idea of vocational training and learning a trade as some backwards mindset that no longer suits our young people. Working with your hands has become scorned in a nation that was built by people who once practiced the very trades that we now need most.

The fact is there are not enough tradesmen, or tradeswomen for that matter. The high-end professions that college is supposed to train people for these days are drowning in applicants. There are more people trained for these jobs than the market can bear.

While colleges teach classes on the evils of Western civilization and offer degrees in understanding "Star Wars" and "The Simpsons," America's infrastructure is thirsting for people with tangible skills. That's where opportunity truly is, and where viable income and steady work can be found.

Mike Rowe, TV personality and one of America's foremost practical thinkers, offers countercultural advice that should be considered by America's young people: Don't follow your passion. Passion doesn't pay the bills; opportunity does. Don't be inspired by the one-percenters who followed their passion and became Oscar- and Grammy-winning performers. Follow opportunity. Find where no one else is meeting a need and fill that need.

Higher education is not a sham. Wanting to learn more about the world is a noble pursuit and young Americans have an opportunity rare in most countries. But education is not a value in its own right. It should lead somewhere. And that place is not a leftist reeducation camp that teaches people to hate each other based on belief or gender. That place should be where you learn a skill or a trade that allows you to make a living and build a future for yourself and for your future family. This country was built by people not afraid to get their hands dirty. That is what truly makes America great.


Why up to half of all Australian teachers are quitting within five years

As a former High School teacher I cannot relate to the "cri de coeur" below at all.  I had no time pressures whatever. I just taught from the textbook and got my students excellent results that way.  But I concede that it may be different in Primary School

Everyone remembers the nerves on their first day of school, but Margaret Gordon had it especially tough. The 22-year-old was made to stand up in front of the entire assembly at her school on the NSW Central Coast and introduced by the principal as "Miss Gordon, who has just graduated from Sydney University".

Ten minutes later, the new primary school teacher was shown to a classroom full of year 2 students.

"It just felt like the workload snowballed," Miss Gordon, now 25, said. "Early on, I was at school by 8 every morning and I'd leave hopefully by 6pm when the cleaners kick you out, and weekends would just be planning and gathering resources.

"There would maybe be a little bit of time in there for grocery shopping."

She has since learnt to manage the workload and recovered her weekends, but for many of her fellow early career teachers the transition from study to work never becomes any easier.

Up to half of all Australian teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years, and new research conducted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health suggests the problem could be in the way the school day is structured.

Of the 453 teachers surveyed across NSW, two-thirds identified time management and having too much work as their biggest challenge, and more than half said they wanted more time for collaboration, mentoring and planning.

"One of the things identified is that teachers feel their time is limited and there are high demands on how they use that time," the study's program manager and principal investigator Gavin Hazel said.

Nicole Calnan, a membership and training officer at the NSW Teachers Federation, said: "It's one of the few positions where we expect teachers to produce the same results from their students in their first year as someone with 15 years of experience.

"We need to make sure that if we do expect that, they have support and more time within the school day for professional learning and collaboration with other teachers."

Ms Calnan said countries like Finland, which have fewer required hours of direct instruction, provide a successful model of how teachers could be given more time outside the classroom during school hours.

Australian primary teachers must provide a total of 6060 hours of direct instruction across K-6 classes every year, compared to their counterparts in Finland who are required to provide 3794 hours of direct instruction, according to the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on classroom instruction. The average number of required direct instruction hours across OECD countries is 4553.

"Their teaching day is structured differently," Ms Calnan said. "Face-to-face instruction time isn't as great as other countries, which means teachers have greater time for lesson preparation and students have more time for social interaction.

And obviously Finnish students still perform very well."

Ms Calnan said improving career experiences for new teachers would require a greater policy focus on teacher wellbeing, instead of only looking at how students are performing.

"[This] research is a welcome addition to our understanding of what early career teachers are facing," she said. "That hasn't been a priority for political parties."

Ms Gordon, who also represents the NSW Teachers Federation, said she has been lucky to have a good mentor in the teacher next door and her principal, but her experience stands in contrast to that of many of her friends from university.

"One school can be a vastly different experience from the one next door," Ms Gordon said.

"Some people have said the executive at their school were not supporting them or putting pressure on them; other people have talked about parents' expectations being too high. "You pretty much sign a contract and off you go.

"I think there needs to be more of a structured induction with different focuses on things like your wellbeing and how important it is to get sleep."


Thursday, June 08, 2017

American Higher Education: An Autopsy

Throughout American history, our colleges and universities have enjoyed a respect, even a reverence, from the American people. And for good reason: A college degree has long been seen as the ticket to the American Dream—as the merit-based path onward and upward.

No more.

Over the past half-century, a growing number of America’s campuses have come to be seen by those who pay for them as inefficient and thus overly expensive, at best, or as anti-individual liberty and thus anti-American, at worst. For some critics, they fail on both counts.

Our universities have not helped themselves in rebutting this public perception. Quite the contrary. Recently, a growing number of colleges and universities have doubled-down in their ongoing war on free speech and thought, as documented by annual surveys conducted by the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Right in Education (FIRE).

If these universities thought that the premium given to a bachelor’s degree would continue to trump public concerns over campus censorship, they should have been disabused of this notion after the fallout from the 2015 protests at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). Public disgust over these protests, as well as over the Mizzou administration’s spineless response to them, has led to a back-breaking decline in freshman enrollments as well as donations, as I documented here.

In addition, a number of states have enacted or are looking to enact legislation aimed restoring the First Amendment at their public colleges and universities. FIRE notes that “Virginia,  Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and Utah have all passed legislation to end the use of free speech zones at public colleges within their states, and similar bills are pending in California (Constitutional Amendment 14)(SB. 472), Louisiana, Michigan (S. 349)(S. 350), New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.”

This week saw the latest entrant into the campus culture wars when a bipartisan resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on public colleges and universities to terminate campus “free speech zones” (small areas on campus to which the First Amendment is effectively quarantined.)
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House Resolution 307 was introduced by Representative Phil Roe (R-Tennessee), and cosponsored by Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), Todd Rokita (R-Indiana), Rick W. Allen (R-Georgia) Glenn Grothman (R-Wisconsin), Jason Lewis (R-Minnesota), and Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama).

The resolution rehearses the judicial record that unambiguously requires all public colleges and universities to uphold the First Amendment. It then cites FIRE’s nationwide research, which reveals that “roughly 1 in 10 of America’s top colleges and universities quarantine student expression to so-called ‘free speech zones,’ that more than 20 speakers were disinvited from speaking on campuses in 2016, and [whose] survey of 449 schools found that almost 40 percent maintain severely restrictive speech codes that clearly and substantially prohibit constitutionally protected speech.”

The House Resolution also quotes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which argues, ‘‘’Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution.’”  The ACLU goes on to assert that “’all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.’’’

In a press advisory on the House Resolution, Representative Roe stated: “With our current political climate, it’s more crucial than ever that colleges and universities protect all First Amendment rights.” He goes on to decry the fact that “frequently a vocal minority of dissenters” are “allowed to drown out or block alternative viewpoints or thoughts from even being shared. . . . With this bipartisan resolution, we can send a strong message that Congress expects universities to protect and foster the free and open exchange of ideas.”

This move by the U.S. House—added to the likeminded efforts of various state legislatures and students and alums—represents a formidable force.

Will the universities listen?

Perhaps, but consider higher education’s prior history of flouting the law. In Jonathan Zimmerman’s new book, “Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (2016), he notes the instances in the past in which courts have struck down various schools’ speech codes. How did the institutions respond? Zimmerman answers, “Many universities retained [these illegal speech codes] or added new ones, even in the face of judicial decisions prohibiting them.”

As someone who spent thirty years in the Academy—as a student, professor, and senior administrator—I was less than shocked by Zimmerman’s revelation. Why? Because my experience has taught me that some in the universities today look down their noses at the average Americans who send them their children, their tuition payments, and their tax dollars. Nothing less than contempt explains their open disobedience—even to federal judicial decrees.

In short, our universities have none but themselves to blame for the growing public backlash from which they are suffering—and will likely suffer further if they continue to treat concerns over campus censorship with what sometimes appears to be smug indifference. By letting ideology trump scholarship, by elevating feelings over rational arguments, by strangling the quest for truth—their reason for being—at the altar of political correctness, our colleges and universities have squandered the almost-devotional respect felt for them by the larger society.

In this light, these schools should be grateful for the public pressure being brought to bear on them. The public’s indignation may be school’s last hope of being saved—from themselves.


Americans View Higher Education as Key to American Dream

Black and Hispanic Parents Value Higher Education the Most

San Jose and New York -- In today's high-tech economy, Americans believe that a college education has replaced a high school diploma as the gateway to the middle class, according to the most extensive public opinion survey ever conducted about Americans' views on higher education.

The survey, prepared by Public Agenda and released nationwide by several independent nonprofit organizations, finds that a towering 87% of Americans believe that a college education has become as important as a high school diploma used to be. And three out of four Americans (76%) think that there cannot be too many people with education and training beyond high school.

This is a dramatic shift in Americans' views about higher education, said John Immerwahr, author of the report. Back in 1993, a majority of Americans thought that too many people were going to college.

Parents of high school students, meanwhile, are just as resolute when talking about education and training for their own children. Almost two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed believe that a college education is absolutely necessary for their children.

American views about the importance of higher education have now coalesced, said Patrick Callan, President of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent organization working to improve higher education policy. This is an important change in attitudes.

The value placed on a college education, however, is highest among those who have the lowest rates of college participation: African American and Hispanic parents are more likely to emphasize higher education than either white parents or the population as a whole.

When asked to choose a single factor that a young person most needs to succeed in the world today, 65% of Hispanic parents and 47% of African American parents select a college education. In contrast, only 33% of white parents choose a college education as the top choice though this percentage still outranks the other choices, such as knowing how to get along with people and a good work ethic.

This finding shatters a persistent stereotype throughout much of America-that low levels of preparation for college can be traced to parents who don't value higher education enough.

In contrast, participation rates among these three groups as measured by the percentage of 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in higher education are lowest among Hispanics (20%), followed by African Americans (30%). Whites have almost double the participation rate (37%) as Hispanics.

Providing people with opportunities for higher education is the way American society promotes social and economic mobility, said Deborah Wadsworth, President of Public Agenda. For now, most Americans are generally satisfied with the availability of higher education. However, tougher economic times or changes that violate the public's values might cloud this rosy outlook.

College Costs

The survey also finds that Americans have a clear sense of who has the most difficulty paying for college: almost half (46%) of Americans say that students from low-income families have less opportunity for college than other groups. In contrast, only 16% of Americans say that students from middle-class families have less opportunity than other groups.

The report finds that the vast majority of high school parents (69%) who expect their children to go to college are at least somewhat worried about paying for tuition and other expenses. At the same time, 93% of parents believe they will find a way to pay the price.

Although Americans are willing to make sacrifices to send their children to college, they want colleges and universities to do a better job of keeping tuition low without cutting quality. Nearly two-thirds of Americans strongly agree that colleges should be doing a much better job of keeping down their costs.

These findings are drawn from a broad study of public attitudes about higher education, including issues such as college preparation and remediation, priorities for colleges, and the importance of teaching analytical thinking and other life skills.

Great Expectations: How the Public and ParentsWhite, African American and HispanicView Higher Education is based on a telephone survey of 1,015 adults, plus oversamples of white, African American, and Hispanic parents of high-school-age children.

John Immerwahr, author of the report, is a Senior Research Fellow at Public Agenda and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Villanova University.

The report was released today by four independent nonprofit organizations: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education promotes public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities for education and training beyond high school. Public Agenda regularly reports on public attitudes about major policy issues. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education conducts and publishes research on education issues. The National Center for Postsecondary Improvement identifies and analyzes the challenges facing postsecondary education.


DeVos says school spending and student outcomes aren’t related, but some research suggests otherwise

More money is not the answer for schools, suggested U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Senate testimony Tuesday — but a wave of new studies show that additional money for schools can make a big difference for students.

In an exchange with Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, DeVos reiterated her view on the topic. Kennedy began by saying, “Do you find it at all strange that in America now, we seem to judge success in education by how much money we’re spending as opposed to whether our kids are learning?”

DeVos replied, “I do find that strange. In fact, in the last administration there was $7 billion invested specifically into schools that were failing … to improve them and there was absolutely zero outcome from that investment.”

“The notion that spending more money is going to bring about different results is ill-placed and ill-advised,” she said.

DeVos was relying on evidence from one specific program, but the broader research on money in education generally paints a more positive picture.

“There’s this notion out there that increased spending doesn’t help,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach who has studied school spending and is the director the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. “There’s good evidence that indeed increased spending does help — it increases student test scores and it improves later life outcomes.”

A few major national studies have reached that conclusion.

One analysis, published in the peer-reviewed Quarterly Journal of Economics, found that court-ordered increases in school spending caused students to attend college at higher rates and earn more money as adults. Another study, coauthored by Schanzenbach, showed that when states increased spending they saw substantial increases in scores on the federal NAEP exam.

Other national research has linked more spending to higher graduation rates and greater social mobility.
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State-specific studies have pointed to similar results. Research in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio have also found gains caused by additional education spending.

None of this research is bulletproof because money is never randomly assigned to schools, but the studies do make efforts to look specifically at the effects of additional spending itself.

Skeptics often point to the fact that education spending has increased while overall performance on federal high school exams has been flat, but according to Schanzenbach this approach to determining the impact of additional resources is problematic.

“If we want to think about what’s the effect of school funding, you can’t do correlations — you need a research design to isolate what happens when more money is pumped into the system,” she said.

In her testimony and in other instances, DeVos’s has highlighted the Obama-era school turnaround program, which produced some successes but did not seem to have much if any overall impact, according to a federal study of the program.

But Schanzenbach says this does not show that resources don’t matter. “That is an evaluation of a particular program, targeted at particular schools,” she said. “I don’t think we get to step back and say we learned something fundamental about the relationship between spending and student achievement.”


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

In U.S. Universities, a Divorce Is Needed

For a century or so, U.S. universities have been an adornment of American culture, and indeed of world culture, but, with notable exceptions, only in the sciences. Bright people have flocked to the USA from all parts of the world to study, research, and teach in physics, chemistry, biology, other physical and life sciences, and related fields such as medicine, mathematics, and engineering. The products are all around us, from life-saving drugs to the Internet, smart phones, GPS guidance systems, and countless other marvels.

But in the humanities and social sciences, the story has been different, especially during the past forty years, as Marxist-spawned doctrines such as Critical Theory and Multicultural This and That have proliferated, destroying disciplines such as English, history, sociology, anthropology, and even in large part economics and replacing them with tendentious dogmas cum jihads such as black studies, gender studies, and LGBT studies.

Moreover, aggressive administrators and zealous faculty adherents of these doctrines have now begun to extend their gaze toward and their interventions in the STEM fields, threatening to destroy the last bastions of what was glorious and truly progressive in the universities. For a long time the faculty in the substantive fields tended to ignore the crazies in the humanities and social sciences, being satisfied to be left alone to do real work. But whether they will be able to continue in this strategy seems now to be in serious question. Pusillanimous administrators have been easily swayed, if they did not in fact lead the way, in favor of the bullshitization of the U.S. universities, turning institutions away from understanding and scholarship toward ideological crusades and identity politics.

If the worthwhile parts of the U.S. universities are to continue to thrive, or even to survive as serious endeavors, it would seem that a parting of the ways must come. The STEM fields must separate themselves from the bullshit parts of the universities. The latter can then go their own way to fester in their nonsense until the general public awakens to the need to cease supporting such activities altogether. This divorce cannot come too soon. Scientific and technical progress is too important to mankind to allow it be be taken hostage by practitioners of anti-rational, mumbo-jumbo-talking, ideological zealots.


College Prevents Students From Distributing U.S. Constitution  

As American colleges and universities have embraced leftist ideology those values of liberalism so often espoused by these institutions have died and have given way to an ever-increasing tyranny of “social justice.” The latest instance of leftist intolerance comes from Bunker Hill Community College, where students were prevented from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution. The school administration justified its action based on polices contained within its student handbook, which “prohibit[s] expressive activity on campus without advance permission and approval, restrict[s] the content of printed materials that may be distributed, and grant[s] unbridled discretion” to prevent discrimination against minority views. In other words, this public school’s administration has taken it upon themselves to determine which viewpoints students are allowed to express. The thought police.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, along with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, sent the college essentially a cease and desist letter. It states in part, “Constitutionally protected freedom of speech doesn’t disappear as soon as students step on to a public college campus, which is supposed to be the very ‘marketplace of ideas.’ It’s ironic that the college is unconstitutionally prohibiting the distribution of the very document that protects the freedom of Americans to engage in free speech and to associate with one another to advance shared beliefs.”

The hiding, veiling and even prohibiting of constitutionally recognized and protected individual freedoms by leftists running these colleges and universities needs to be addressed. The freedom an individual has to promote those ideals he favors is the outworking of his right to free speech. To prevent or demand and individual capitulate to ideals by a statist authority is to do violence to an American citizen’s freedom.


‘I wake at 2am worrying about the children’: the headteachers leaving Britain's schools

Too little money, too many tests: senior staff talk frankly about life on education’s frontline

It’s five in the afternoon at the Forest school, a boys’ comprehensive near Wokingham, Berkshire, and most of the staff and students have gone for the day. But headteacher Mary Sandell is still in her office, as she is every day. The room, with its slatted blinds and motivational messages – “Make your mark on the world”; “Keep your promises” – is the one she entered as a newly appointed head three years ago. Her buzzword then was “‘fizz: I want to go into classrooms and feel fizz. I want children to feel energy and passion.”

Now all she feels is battle-weary. A combination of budget cuts and underfunding means Sandell had to axe food technology GCSE (along with the food technology teacher) from the curriculum last year, because the school “simply couldn’t afford it”. The subject had been on offer since the school opened nearly 60 years ago. Now she has to make further announcements: next year there will be no music, French or Spanish A-levels (no languages, at all, in fact, beyond GCSE), because they are no longer “economically viable”.

Nearby, in the Winnersh Triangle business park, an expanding hub of tech companies, the future looks shiny. Not so for the Forest school. “Here we are in 2017, and we’re going backwards in terms of choice, not forwards,” Sandell says. She sits brooding at her desk and considers the future. She could put up with the shabby paintwork, the rundown toilet blocks and substandard tennis courts (only two of the five have nets), but not with the fact that there are only 45 geography textbooks for the 168 pupils doing geography GCSE. There is an e-copy, but not all of the boys have a fast internet connection at home.

On 31 August, after 29 years and 43 days first as a teacher, then a deputy, then a head, Sandell will be standing down in protest at what she sees as a crisis in education. “We are short-changing our children, and by that we are short-changing the nation,” she says.

She is not the only one who feels this way. Last month, Alex and Peter Foggo, the head and deputy head, respectively, of a primary school in Hampshire, announced that they would be resigning after 25 years in education. “The last year has seen things just get harder and harder, as more and greater challenges have come to undermine our core beliefs in education,” Peter wrote recently.

Last September, Jo Garton resigned as head of Bridlewood primary in Swindon, after eight years. Concerns about school funding levels, changes to the curriculum and new assessment methods had led her to the conclusion that children were being “used as guinea pigs by politicians, yet again”, she wrote in her resignation letter to parents. “This is unforgivable.”

“I love what I do, but there comes a point where resignation is the only option,” Richard Slade, head of Plumcroft primary school in Greenwich, south-east London has said. His school faces a £400,000 cut in funding by 2019-20. “If I’m going to deliver those cuts, standards are going to be unsafe.”

He told delegates at a recent Westminster Education Forum that “a lot” of headteachers have told him they are considering resigning, after asking why they would want to “oversee the decimation of our schools”. Last month, more than 500 headteachers signed an open letter to Theresa May, demanding that she abandon proposed education cuts, which they said represent up to £3bn in real terms.

“It’s a Headteacher Spring,” says a spokesperson for the school leaders’ union, NAHT. “An uprising. Lots are writing to MPs, governing bodies, taking an unusual interest in campaigning.”

In the 17,000 primary schools and 3,000 secondary schools across England, discontent runs deep. Research by the NAHT shows that 72% of heads say their budgets will be untenable by 2019/20; 18% of school leaders say they are already in deficit.

But the pressures are not just financial. There is also a new national curriculum in local authority schools in England, for pupils aged five to 16, and new Sats tests. The combination of external auditors (Ofsted), government targets and league tables has massively increased the stress. Work now routinely entails detailing aims and objectives, analysing data, and the anxiety of being subjected to ubiquitous scrutiny.

The micromanaging by the Labour government under Tony Blair – literacy strategies, numeracy strategies – has shifted under the Conservatives to a focus on structure, with the championing of academies, free schools and now grammar schools.

In recent years, Ofsted has increased the pressure, bringing in “no-notice inspections”. A school “doing badly” can result in the head being dismissed. “Heads now join the likes of football club managers, whose job can often rest on the result of one major match,” one headteacher wrote.

One of the effects is that people are being deterred from entering the profession. Sometimes there are no applicants for a headteacher vacancy. A 2016 report by Teach First and another charity says that “by 2022 England could be in need of up to 19,000 school leaders”. According to Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, the profession is headed towards a crisis: “School budgets are at breaking point, and so are many headteachers.”


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New Buckeye Institute Report: ESAs Would Meet Ohio’s Unique Educational Needs

On Wednesday, The Buckeye Institute released its latest report, Education Savings Accounts: Expanding Education Options for Ohio, by Greg R. Lawson and Lindsey Burke. This timely new research assesses the benefits of educational savings accounts (ESAs) and calls on Ohio policymakers to adopt this innovative tool, which gives parents the ability to pay for the education services that best meet their child’s individual needs, rather than being forced to use a one-size-fits-all model.

“The ESA concept builds upon Ohio’s successes with a variety of scholarship programs such as EdChoice and will ensure that Ohio’s children receive the education they deserve,” said Lawson. “It also provides additional incentives that propel Ohio’s educational system forward from a 20th Century model into one nimble enough to meet the demands of the 21st Century.”

In the report, Lawson and Burke outline precisely how ESAs would enable parents to customize their child’s education to meet his or her unique needs. For example, ESAs would allow parents to pay not only for private schools, but also allow them to use any remaining money in the account to pay for additional educational items such as textbooks, tutors, enroll students in online classes, or even save money for college.

“To enhance choices for families, infuse innovation into the K-12 sector, and ensure that education opportunities are as unique as the children they teach, Ohio should establish a universal ESA option that maximizes flexibility, accommodation, and parent-driven accountability, Lawson and Burke said in the report. “Ohio students deserve access to the best educational opportunities. Empowering all families to customize their children’s education through ESAs builds upon Ohio’s existing school choice options to ensure that every child has instruction suited to their individual needs.”

In the report, Burke and Lawson suggest two potential funding mechanisms for ESAs.

One option is funding an ESA program much like the state funds charter schools. The state could place 90 percent of the full per-pupil amount ($6,000) into an ESA account and send the remaining 10 percent to the student’s originally assigned school district in order to defray a portion of the district’s fixed costs.

A second option would deposit only the actual amount that the district would have received from the state into a student’s ESA account. As Burke and Lawson note, though, while this mechanism might be easier to implement, it would also create less predictable ESA contributions.

In their conclusion, Lawson and Burke find that ESAs would ensure that every child has instruction more suited to his or her individual needs and would empower parents to make and afford educational choices for their children that meet those needs.

Lawson is the research fellow at The Buckeye Institute and served for five years on the boards of two Columbus-based charter schools. Burke is the director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation and the Will Skillman fellow in education policy. She is also a fellow at EdChoice.


Some hires by DeVos contrast with her reputation

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has filled her administration with appointees whose personal and professional backgrounds challenge the opposition’s narrative that she has no interest in protecting vulnerable students.

Since her confirmation, DeVos has been a Trump Cabinet member that liberals love to hate, with opponents denouncing her as an out-of-touch, evangelical billionaire without the desire or capacity to protect vulnerable poor, black, immigrant, gay, or transgender students.

But DeVos’s appointees include a progressive Democrat who believes a broken education system is a form of white supremacy; a sexual assault survivor who is in a same-sex marriage; and a second-generation American who ran a federal program that helped unauthorized immigrants.

“It’s definitely surprising, and should make people question their assumptions about this administration,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank.


British political party says sex education for under-16s should teach 'normal science' and stop 'obsessing over gender queer theory'

UKIP's education spokesperson David Kurten says it is wrong to advocate ‘non-reproductive acts’ to those below age of consent

Sex education for schoolchildren under the age of 16 should only include “normal science” of reproduction and chromosomes, Ukip said as it criticised those “obsessing on gender queer theory”.

David Kurten, Ukip’s education spokesperson, said it is wrong to suggest anything to do with “non-reproductive sexual acts, sex-change operations or gender fluidity” should be taught to pupils under the age of consent.

He said such topics could be introduced after a child turns 16 as they are becoming adults and therefore “can deal with these different concepts” and understand them.

Mr Kurten said parents are the primary educators of their children, adding counselling should be offered to those pupils who want to talk about their feelings and “specific things”, those at “risk of sexualisation” at an early age or those who have become sexually active before 16.

Speaking at a press conference in central London, Mr Kurten said: “We must protect our children from damaging and confusing fringe ideologies which sexualise children at an early age and confuse their natural development as boys and girls – both in primary, secondary and even pre-schools.

“No one would have thought 10 years ago that it would ever be considered politically incorrect to call children boys or girls, to call parents mothers or fathers, or if you say there are two biological sexes determined by your chromosomes rather than 40 or 50 or 60 different genders then this is on the way to being considered a hate crime.

“Of course it isn’t. It’s science. “We must continue to teach scientific facts of reproduction and that your chromosomes determine your biological sex – the right age to do this is 11.

“But children deserve a childhood. They should not be sexualised with concepts which are grossly inappropriate for their age.”

Mr Kurten said he has seen materials aimed at seven-year-olds “describing sex acts, which are nothing to do with reproduction, in graphic detail”.

He went on: “This is wrong, as was the call of the NUT [National Union of Teachers] to introduce some kind of sex education into nursery schools. Two-year-olds in nursery schools can hardly talk.

“It’s wrong to suggest anything that might open the door to teach about non-reproductive sexual acts, sex-change operations or gender fluidity to two-year-olds or even four-year olds in primary schools, or even 11-year-olds in secondary schools.

“While countries in Asia are flying ahead of us in academic attainment and eastern European countries are training their own young people with all the technical skills they need to succeed, in Britain part of the debate about education is focused by obsessing on gender queer theory and whether boys should wear girls’ uniforms.

“This is nonsense and we need to focus and lead our young people to what is important – [that] they have the skills they need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.”

Asked what age would be considered appropriate to teach pupils about gender fluidity and sex changes, Mr Kurten replied: “As you know, the age of consent in this country is 16 so I don’t think we should be promoting any kind of sex education beyond the normal science – reproduction and chromosomes – up to 16.

“After 16, when people are transitioning to becoming adults and people can deal with these different concepts then we can introduce them – at an age when people can deal with and understand it. “But certainly in primary school and definitely pre-school, I wouldn’t allow it.”

Mr Kurten was challenged whether Ukip’s approach could create difficulties for children at a later age, such as with their mental health, by not allowing teaching on topics beyond reproductive science until post-16.

He highlighted the role of parents before adding: “If there are specific individuals who are at risk of sexualisation at an early age, who become sexually active at an early age before the age of consent – which is 16 – and then if there are specific people who want to talk about specific things then we need to provide a means for specific people, specific children to be counselled, to be able to talk about their feelings and talk about what they need to talk about.

“But I don’t think we need to do that for the mass of children under 16. “I think we need to teach the scientific facts but we shouldn’t be teaching children anything that might encourage them into early sexual activity – whether that’s heterosexual or homosexual.”

Mr Kurten’s education speech also included calls for a “national plan” to allow 500 grammar schools and technical schools to ensure they are in “every town, city and borough in the country”.

He accused the Conservatives of paying “lip service” to grammar schools by failing to lift the ban in seven years of government.

Addressing universities, Mr Kurten said there “shouldn’t be safe spaces or no platforming” on campuses. He added: “If students cannot respond in a mature manner if they disagree with an idea they shouldn’t be at university.”


Monday, June 05, 2017

UK: Academics challenge Oxford over forced retirement

Ageing academics at the University of Oxford are challenging rules that force them to retire at 67, arguing that the age cap makes the institution uncompetitive.

Under the rules, academics must retire by September 30 in the year before their 68th birthday. Although some may continue to work under a short-term contract, they must re-apply to keep their job.

Heated debates between opposing sides of the dispute have taken place at the ancient Sheldonian Theatre where the university’s governing body, the congregation, meets.

The dispute has been described by participants as a battle between “old, white men . . . hanging limpet-like to space and resource” and “talented young scholars . . . trying to get their first stable job”, according to Times Higher Education magazine.

In 2011 legislation scrapped the default retirement age, which meant that employers could no longer require that staff left when they turned 65.

However, employers were allowed to set up schemes enforcing retirement at a particular age if they could prove, if challenged at tribunal, that it was a “proportionate way of achieving legitimate aims”.

Only 3 per cent of employers have taken advantage of this exemption. However, Oxford did, arguing that to allow for fairness between generations, greater diversity and career progression a retirement age of 67 should be set. Similar arrangements are also in place at the universities of Cambridge and St Andrews.

Part of the Oxford scheme was that it would be reviewed in 2016 and as a result the retirement age will move up to 68. However, some academics have challenged it and want it scrapped.

Their motion was debated by the congregation on May 16, but was overwhelmingly rejected. Now campaigners have triggered a postal ballot of all 5,000 members of the congregation in a last attempt to get their way.

John Ball, 69, a maths professor who negotiated continuing employment, said that the rules were not helping diversity but were deterring the world’s best academics from taking up positions there.

“The rules make Oxford uncompetitive in recruiting and retaining world-class talent,” he said. “There is little or no evidence that since 2011 the rules have contributed significantly to the laudable aims, in particular intergenerational fairness and diversity.”

He suggested “voluntary tapered retirement arrangements”, that would help academics to hold on to research grants and not put off applicants from home or abroad.

Other academics have argued that postdoctoral students would be left without a supervisor and have their funding jeopardised.

However, Bill Allan, 47, a tutorial fellow in classics at University College, Oxford, said that this was not the case. “The argument peddled by the opponents of the retirement age that the postdoctoral students depend on them is nonsense. If they retired, the university would appoint no less eminent researchers, but perhaps younger and more diverse, who would create just as many opportunities for postdoctoral and graduate students,” he said.

The decision to scrap the default retirement age in 2011 has led the number working beyond 65 to soar. There are now 1.19 million people working past their 65th birthday, compared with 600,000 in 2006.

Despite this, most employers report that most staff still want to retire in their mid-sixties. Those who want to carry on are often offered reduced hours or a different role.


CUNY's Curious Defense of Linda Sarsour

In an era when saying the wrong thing, deemed offensive by someone, can end a career, social justice warriors always seem to get a pass. Few have received more than Linda Sarsour, a Muslim self-styled "feminist" who supports a political system that systematically represses women, celebrates child warriors on social media, and once tweeted of two ideological foes, "I wish I could take away their vaginas – they don't deserve to be women."

The more Sarsour offends, the more she is celebrated. Barack Obama honored her as a Champion of Change. Today she will give the keynote address at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health graduation ceremony.

Sarsour's endorsement of Sharia law and leadership in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement should have made her an unfit candidate to address graduates of any educational institution even if she weren't a social media provocateur. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the women whose vagina Sarsour wants to confiscate, calls her a "fake feminist." Brigitte Gabriel, the other woman, calls Sarsour a "master manipulator" successfully swaying "the gullible women's movement."

Sarsour's endorsement of Sharia and leadership in the BDS movement make her unfit to address university graduates.

Ariel Behar of IPT News wrote that Sarsour specializes in trying "to shut down those who cite her record of celebrating terrorists and advocating radical positions by calling the critics Islamophobes." Sarsour is also a conspiracy theorist, endorsing, for instance, the bizarre view that failed "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was "a CIA agent."

Sarsour's defenders claim that her views stem from anger and "should come as no surprise for a Palestinian-American;" after all what she really opposes is "right-wing Zionism." Sarsour has said that Zionists – including the vast majority of Jews – can't be feminists. She didn't say only "right-wing Zionists" can't be feminists.

Why would the CUNY want to showcase someone who, as Daniel Pipes documents, has such a "long record of incompetence, extremism, vulgarity, and eccentricity"? Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat in the New York Assembly, says "it's just nuts. It makes no sense. It's crazy to have this woman be the person who's going to speak to the students."

In an effort to explain, CUNY Chancellor James B. Millikin released an April 26 statement saying that while the views Sarsour "reportedly" has on Israel are "anathema to the values of higher education," forgoing a commencement speech by Sarsour "would conflict with the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom."

Arguments in favor of Sarsour's appearance grossly misunderstand free speech and academic freedom.

Much the same argument was made by five CUNY professors in a spirited but sophomoric defense of Sarsour's right to speak at the academic blog InsideHigherEd. Two of the five, Meena Alexander and Rosalind Patchesky, are known for their anti-Israel activism.

But these arguments conflate and grossly misunderstand free speech and academic freedom. Which speakers a university, even a public one, invites to deliver commencement speeches is not a First Amendment issue. This is not a matter of deciding whether to allow this or that student demonstration or campus guest lecture to take place; it's a formal endorsement, not of what the speaker says, but of the speaker's qualifications and ability to inspire an audience. Of course Sarsour has a First Amendment right to her anti-Zionism and even to her anti-Semitism. But CUNY does not have a First Amendment obligation to honor her or provide a platform for her.

Academic freedom is another thing entirely. Sarsour is not a CUNY faculty member, or even an academic. Even if she were, her academic freedom would only be violated if Millikin tried to influence the content of her teaching.

CUNY does not have a First Amendment obligation to honor Islamists.

Those who cite Columbia University's hosting of a lecture by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a precedent are missing the point entirely. Having a morbid intellectual curiosity perform live for the benefit of scientific observation is one thing. Inviting one to give parting words of advice to your student body is another thing altogether.

If Millikin really found Sarsour's support for BDS (no need for the qualifier "reportedly") "anathema to the values of higher education," as chancellor he could have easily overridden her selection. This is what likely happens all the time in nearly every academic institution when someone suggests a conservative speaker be invited.

The problem, most likely, is that Sarsour received far more faculty support than any conservative who ever made it past the first round of nominations at CUNY.

If university administrators want to wilt under pressure and allow this kind of spectacle to take place, they should at least find the courage not to cite the First Amendment and academic freedom as the reasons.


Boston College High School in ferment over co-education

A bit surprising in "progressive" Massachusetts

The chairman of the trustees at Boston College High School has left the board as part of a massive restructuring that aims to restore confidence and transparency in its leadership, following a public uproar about the idea of admitting female students to the all-boys institution.

It remains unclear whether John McQuillan, the chairman who faced heated accusations from parents and alumni about allegedly orchestrating a coeducation movement, resigned or was forced out. About two dozen other trustees, from both sides of the coeducation debate, have also left the board, according to the new roster of trustees.

In announcing the changes, the board of the school, which was founded in 1863, reaffirmed that it has no plans to allow female students to attend.

The outgoing board of trustees announced the changes late Wednesday afternoon in a letter to the BC High community, two days after the board decided to dramatically shrink the number of trustees serving the Dorchester school. The new board has 12 members, down from nearly three dozen.

“As you know, the board is composed of many good people who care about the school’s mission and ensuring its future,” according to the letter, which was obtained by the Globe. “We acknowledge that, in recent months, communications to the school community have not worked as we would have liked, and the resulting rumors and articles in the press have created confusion and unease among our community.”

For the past two months, BC High has been embroiled in controversy over speculation that some trustees wanted the school to go coed in an attempt to reverse a slide in applications. The idea proved unpopular among many parents and alumni, and a Jesuit leader warned trustees that Cardinal Sean O’Malley opposed a coed BC High out of concern it could put some all-girl Catholic schools out of business.

McQuillan, who had been dodging questions about the coeducation controversy, finally addressed the issue directly last week in a public statement, saying that the time was not right for the institution to consider admitting female students.

The board, in an attempt to put that controversy behind it, reaffirmed its position Wednesday that BC High should remain an all-boys institution and would continue with a Catholic focus, even as it faces future enrollment challenges that many other Catholic schools are also grappling with.

“The new board of trustees is committed to working with the Jesuit Provincial’s Office and the Archdiocese of Boston to address these challenges,” the letter said. “The new board is in unanimous agreement that we are not pursuing an option to convert BC High into a coeducational institution. And, as a group, we are reaffirming BC High’s Jesuit, Catholic identity.”

Many parents and alumni, though, remain skeptical that the shake-up in trustees will help the school turn the corner. One chief concern is that the board, in making its announcement, did not explain how decisions were made in terms of which trustees would remain on the board and which would leave.

“Everything regarding this board has been a comedy of errors,” said Greg Vasil, a parent. “I don’t have a lot of confidence in this lineup.”

And he added, “For a school stressing diversity, shame on the board of trustees that no one of color is on the board.”

The one trustee of color, John Barros, who graduated in 1992 and is the city’s chief of economic development, is leaving the board. Other well-known trustees who are exiting include Jack Dunn, a spokesman for Boston College; Joseph Corcoran, of the Corcoran Jennison Companies, a development firm near the BC High campus; and Patrick Cadigan, Anne Hajjar, and John Hajjar II.

The chairman of the new board is the Rev. Brian Conley, a Jesuit; the vice chairwoman is Kelly Verrochi, president of Thrive Inc., a leadership consulting firm; and the secretary is Paul McManus Jr., a wealth manager. The immediate goals of the new board are to seat a new president, to begin the healing process throughout the community, and to rebuild the board over time, according to the letter.

The board initially began discussions about changing its composition at a meeting last week at a law firm McQuillan uses for his environmental cleanup business. The proposal was introduced as the board gathered to discuss differences among board members, some of which stemmed from a divide on the coeducation issue.

BC High officials on Wednesday would not release details about the deliberations and would not disclose the criteria used for deciding who would remain on the board.

Joe Donahue, a trustee who left the board about a year ago, said he viewed the change in trustees as a positive development.

“There’s collateral damage on both sides,” he said. “It’s time to move on and run a school. . . . If the board stays true to the school’s mission and traditions, they will do fine.”


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Antisemitism at a Canadian university

We’ve written before about Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada in connection to BDS and virulently anti-Israel activism crossing over into flagrant antisemitism and creating a toxic environment for Jews

Now, a new disturbing story has surfaced at Ryerson. But this time it involves anti-Israel, pro-BDS faculty there allegedly behaving badly toward a Jewish undergraduate student.

At issue are a series of conversations, conducted primarily over email, between a Jewish undergraduate student majoring in the field of Social Work—Rebecca Katzman (22)—and faculty affiliated with this school at Ryerson.

According to the exchanges reported in The Toronto Sun, all of which occurred in August and September of 2015, Katzman was discouraged (and eventually, effectively prevented) from pursuing her third-year placement (a type of required internship) at a respected Toronto Jewish organization—the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre (JCC) or the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).

Both organizations have strong “track records” in addressing social justice issues, so Katzman had assumed that there’d be no problem getting her placement request for either one of these agencies approved.

She thought wrongly.

According to Sue-Ann Levy, who broke the story on Sunday May 28 in a lead cover for the Toronto Sun, Katzman “wasn’t prepared in the slightest for what happened” with Heather Bain, the School of Social Work’s Field Education Coordinator, when she approached her with the JCC and UJA placement request.

Levy reports for the Toronto Sun:

After making it clear to Bain about her preferred placement, Katzman said the field coordinator advised her in an e-mail in late August of 2015 she did not follow up with the JCC or UJA because their values appeared to be ‘in opposition’ to the values of the School of Social Work.

Bain listed those values as the advancement of anti-oppression; anti-racism; anti-colonialism and decolonization; feminism; anti-capitalism; Queer and trans liberation struggles; issues in disability and madness (cct); among others (many of which are not listed on the school’s own website.)

‘My understanding is both agencies have a strong anti-Palestinian lean,’ Bain continued, suggesting that if Katzman agreed to bring a ‘critical awareness’ (of Palestinian solidarity movements) to either agency she might reconsider.”

Most students faced with that kind of faculty pushback would have let the matter drop.

But Rebecca Katzman is not like most students. This gutsy young lady doggedly pursued the issue, determined to get to the bottom of Bain’s contention that Toronto’s JCC and UJA stand against social justice values.

So she wrote another follow-up email to Bain.

She specifically asked the field education coordinator how she came to her conclusions, since the JCC and UJA “websites do not indicate any anti-Palestinian policies in the slightest.”

On August 25, 2015 in a lengthy email, Bain told Katzman that she decided not to pursue the JCC and UJA agency placements after consulting with some Jewish colleagues affiliated with “Jews Against Israeli Apartheid movements.”

As noted in the Toronto Sun article, with encouragement from the pro-Israel campus organization StandWithUs, Katzman proceeded to book a meeting with then-Ryerson president Sheldon Levy to discuss the issue.

She indicated doing so in an email to Bain on September 4. The email (LI was provided with a copy) is brilliant.

In it, Katzman boldly asks to see a list of other agencies that were rejected from the Social Work program on account of their being opposed to the school’s values. She bluntly calls out Bain’s “wild accusations” about the JCC and UJA being anti-Palestinian and requests a list of those colleagues who were involved in making that determination “without any evidence.”

She also mentions that Bain would be “wise to inform” these colleagues that:

"to call Israel an Apartheid state is academically dishonest and is not only an insult to the only democratic state in the Middle East, but is even more insulting to people who are Black in South Africa. Israel is a multiethnic, multiracial state with freedom of religion and civil rights for all its citizens. Israel has 15 sanctioned religions and a 20% Arab minority that have equal rights and protections as in any democracy. Israeli Arabs have five political parties and holds seats in the Israeli Parliament.”

Katzman closes this withering email by noting the “incredible social service work” that the JCC and UJA do for Jews and non-Jews who are “struggling” in Toronto, including children, immigrants, and the poor:

I didn’t realize that the relevance of all of these social services were conditional on whether or not the agencies were involved in Palestine solidarity movements. Do you mind directing me to WHERE it is stated on the social work website that being involved in an agency was conditional to solidarity with the Palestinian movement? (A copy and pasted link would be fine please).”

It’s a superb closing to a blistering missive. But the clincher was no doubt mentioning in the last line that she’d informed the JCC and UJA—and had set up an appointment with President Levy.

That’s when Kristie Wright—Bain’s boss—herself wrote back indicating that “misinformed information” had been provided to her. Bain also responded by noting that the school doesn’t in fact require that agencies “align with Palestinian solidarity movements” in order for them to be considered as placement partners.

Michael Forbes, Ryerson’s group director of communications, did get back to Levy though. He reportedly insisted in an email last Friday that the School of Social Work took a “quick, thorough and responsive action on this matter”, claiming too that Bain apologized immediately and corrected the information.

He also states that Ryerson is “proud of its strong history” of placing students in a diverse range of institutions, including the Prosserman JCC.

But Forbes reportedly “refused to say” whether Bain was disciplined and his sense of the timeline doesn’t jive with the email trail: according to the emails, Katzman only received an apology on September 9—two weeks after her initial email to Bain and only after she had mentioned setting up a meeting with the university’s President.


Antisemitism at Cambridge university, England

On October 28 last year two Jewish students accidentally entered a closed party at the Grad Union bar. This event was hosted by Christ’s college’s two largest drinking societies: the Hippolytans and the Marguerites. One of the victims stated: “We heard shouting and were literally grabbed and pulled out of the building by about seven large, intimidating males.”

The perpetrators subsequently shouted vitriolic anti-Semitic slurs at the victims: ‘f***ing Jew, you don’t belong here’, ‘dirty Jew’ and ‘f*** off darkie’.

Even more problematic however is Christ’s college’s response to the incident. On November 18 Shlomo Roiter-Jesner (HSPS, Hughes Hall), the only victim willing to identify himself received an email from Prof. Stapleton. This email read as follows: “The internal disciplinary process of the tutors is now concluded and two students have been disciplined. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.”

Later however it was revealed that these two students were disciplined only for ‘using foul language and participating in a scuffle’. They were not however held to account for the anti-semitic dimension of the incident. However Prof. Stapleton claimed: “I reject categorically that Christ’s has engaged in a cover-up on this matter.”

Prof. Stapleton has now admitted the college was in the wrong

According to a public statement on behalf of Christ’s: the college’s failures are myriad. Firstly, the college could not identify a culprit for the anti-Semitic attacks and so couldn’t bring any student to justice. Secondly, because a culprit could not be found they did not even entertain the possibility that anti-Semitic abuse occurred. Finally, Christ’s did not invite any of the victims to be interviewed about the incident.

In the wake of this criticism, Christ’s has taken significant steps to neutralise the situation. The college have accepted that there was indeed anti-Semitic abuse and so have banned their drinking societies from hosting events out of college until October 2019 or till someone admits to the abuse.

Mr Roiter-Jesner told The Telegraph: “We are satisfied that Christ’s is now comfortable giving credence to our story, admitting that anti-Semitic conduct occurred and taking decisive steps to improve their disciplinary system.”

It is encouraging that Christ’s has started to take this matter seriously but this incident also has seriously concerning undertones.


Judicial Watch Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Review California In-State Tuition Benefits for Illegal Aliens

Judicial Watch announced it filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over a California Court of Appeals decision allowing the University of California's to provide of $27.1 million in taxpayer funds for non-resident tuition and financial aid to illegal aliens. The petition was filed on May 23, 2017, behalf of Earl De Vries, a legal resident and taxpayer of California (Earl De Vries vs. Regents of the University of California (No. BC555614))).

Judicial Watch argues that federal immigration law requires that a state law providing benefits to illegal aliens must "affirmatively" provide for such eligibility. In 2011 the California State Legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid.  Under the California Constitution, however, the UC Board of Regents is "entirely independent" of the state legislature in policy matters, so there is no lawful way for the California legislature to allow or require the University of California to provide the public benefits for illegal aliens.  And, under the federal law, only state legislatures may provide any in-state tuition and public benefits for illegal aliens.  Despite this, the UC Board of Regents began providing the benefits anyway.

According to the Judicial Watch petition:

    "By finding that entities other than state legislatures can determine illegal aliens' eligibility for public benefits, the Court of Appeal's decision weakened the federal government's powers over national immigration policy, transforming a law that allows 50 state legislatures to participate in immigration decisions into one that could allow 500 or 5,000 state agencies and local governments to participate in those decisions".

In August 2014, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit on behalf of De Vries in the L.A. County Superior Court, asking the court to halt the estimated annual $19.6 million in non-resident tuition waivers; $4.3 million in taxpayer-funded grants and scholarships; and $3.2 million in state loans the Regents had started giving illegal alien students.  Under California law, taxpayers have the right to sue to prevent unlawful expenditures of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources.

In March 2015, the Superior Court dismissed the complaint and the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, affirmed the Superior Court ruling on December 9, 2016.

In January 2017, Judicial Watch filed a Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court.  On February 22, 2017, the petition for review was denied.

"California politicians should follow federal and state law rather than attempt to unlawfully force California taxpayers to subsidize illegal aliens," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "In-state tuition for illegal aliens at the University of California is just another form of sanctuary policy, which is both a misuse of tax dollars and a violation of law."