Friday, July 14, 2017

No safe spaces for men at Harvard

This is disgustingly sexist.  Women can have  "safe spaces" where men are not alowed but men cannot have the same freedom.  But Harvard boss Drew Faust is a woman so sexism is to be expected from her.  Leftist women tend to be blind to their own biases

Harvard University students would be forbidden from joining elite, off-campus clubs under a proposal made public Wednesday, upending more than 100 years of college tradition.

The policy applies to all “private, exclusionary social organizations” but the committee acknowledged its main target are seven all-male final clubs, many of which have wealthy endowments and own off-campus mansions in Harvard Square.

Harvard wants to “phase out” the final clubs, as well as sororities and fraternities, beginning in the fall of 2018, according to a plan compiled by a faculty committee after months of deliberation and research. Students who joined such organizations could be expelled or suspended.

Harvard president Drew Faust will ultimately decide whether the policy will be adopted. She had no public comment Wednesday.

The proposal is the latest, and most severe, step in the university’s war against the clubs, which administrators say foster a social scene that is discriminatory and unsafe.

“Time after time, the social organizations have demonstrated behavior inconsistent with an inclusive campus culture, a disregard for the personhood and safety of fellow students, and an unwillingness to change — even as new students join them over generations,” the report said.

In November 2013, for example, the Fox Club house was shut down by its alumni members for a raucous party that included nudity, alcohol, and “women in shark costumes.” Administrators say the clubs foster an environment where sexual harassment and assault are more likely.

The proposal sparked fierce, immediate opposition from final club members and others who say Harvard has no business telling students how they can behave off campus.

Professor Harry Lewis, a chief opponent of Harvard’s crusade against the clubs, said the recommendation puts Harvard in a position that combines “arrogance with insecurity” and said faculty will be likely to object to administrators’ unilateral decision-making on the issue.

“The university would suspend ordinary freedom of association rights so that Harvard can pick which off-campus clubs students can join,” the computer science professor wrote in a statement. “This is not the way to prepare the citizens of a free society.”

The proposed policy would take effect beginning with freshmen who enter in the fall of 2018. That means no Harvard undergraduates at all would be members by 2022, according to the report.

The seven all-male final clubs at Harvard have secret traditions and mysterious names like The Delphic, the Fox, and the Porcellian. Many were founded in the 1800s, and their alumni include graduates like T.S. Eliot, Henry Cabot Lodge, Bill Gates, and John F. Kennedy.

There are also four all-female final clubs as well as five fraternities and four sororities. The policy would also apply to two previously male clubs that now accept all genders, two previously female clubs that accept all genders, and the Hasty Pudding Club, a traditionally all-male theater group that is now gender-neutral.

“The final clubs in particular were products of their time. Due to their resistance to change over the decades, they have lapsed into products behind their time,” the report said. “Despite repeated attempts to encourage them to reform, there seems to be no simple solution that will bring them into greater accord with the forward-looking aspirations of the university.”

This is Harvard’s second try at a policy to curtail the clubs’ sway over undergraduate social life. A policy introduced a year ago would bar final club members — and members of any unrecognized single-gender social organization — from leading campus organizations and sports teams and prohibit them from receiving recommendations from the dean for a prestigious Rhodes or Marshall scholarship. Amid pushback, Harvard convened the committee to rethink that policy.

The committee was cochaired by undergraduate dean Rakesh Khurana, the chief opponent of the clubs among administrators, and Suzannah Clark, chairwoman of the music department.

In the 22-page report the committee released Wednesday afternoon, the committee said it based its new approach on the policies of other elite colleges. Williams College forbade students from joining fraternities in 1962; Bowdoin College did the same in 1997.

The report said the committee reviewed surveys from students from 2010 to 2015 that contained both positive and negative feedback about the final clubs. The committee acknowledged that there have been complaints that the survey data are incomplete but said it consistently heard complaints about the clubs.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the message they are sending us: The kinds of problems they describe are unacceptable in the modern age and they profoundly violate the values of Harvard University,” the report said. It did not say what the students described.

It also included an anonymous letter from a male student who urged the school to ban the clubs. He described the feeling of exclusion when non-club members hear whispers about black-tie dinners in secret spaces. He said “the structure of Harvard’s social life is the college’s greatest weakness.”

The report acknowledged its findings will be controversial and included the opinion of one dissenting committee member.

“I am unconvinced that the policy, when implemented, will solve the [discrimination] problems,” wrote biology professor David Haig.

Haig said the new policy will “escalate the conflict” between the school and the social clubs. He pointed out that nearly two-thirds of voting undergraduates voted to repeal the first set of final club sanctions in a referendum last year.

Faust has led Harvard’s push to marginalize the final clubs. Administrators first tried to pressure the all-male clubs to admit women, which some did, but that caused fierce division within some clubs. Then in May 2016 the school introduced a policy restricting on-campus privileges. That policy will apply to the class of 2021, who enter this fall, unless the administration decides otherwise.

Meanwhile, nine women were stripped of their membership in the Fox Club last month because of a disagreement between undergraduates and alumni members of the club over whether the women can continue as members after graduation.

Harvey Silverglate, a Cambridge civil rights attorney who has worked on behalf of the Fly Club, said he thinks the controversy is evidence of a larger issue — that administrators have gained nearly unilateral control over university decision-making.

Last fall, many professors opposed the final club sanctions but agreed to quiet their opposition until the committee produced its findings.

Members of several Greek life organizations balked at the proposed sanctions. No members of final clubs responded to requests for comment. The North-American Interfraternity Conference, which represents 66 fraternities, issued a statement.

“Freedom of association and speech are paramount for the intellectual and spiritual growth of students. We urge Harvard to focus on creating a culture of health and safety on campus that also respects students’ rights,” wrote spokeswoman Heather Kirk in a statement.

Camille N’Diaye-Muller, the undergraduate president of Delta Gamma, said she found her sorority to be a place where women of diverse backgrounds supported one another. “It has been the standard of a safe space for me and a lot of other women,” she said.


High school students sue school after their anti-abortion club idea is rejected for being 'too political and controversial'

Two Pennsylvania high school students have filed a federal lawsuit against their school district alleging discrimination and a violation of their free-speech rights after their failed attempt to start an anti-abortion club.

Chicago-based law firm Thomas More Society filed the lawsuit on behalf of students Elizabeth Castro and Grace Schairer Tuesday against the Parkland School District in Allentown.

The lawsuit alleges Parkland High School denied the students' proposal to start a Trojans for Life club in 2016 for being too 'political and controversial'.

'The school is treating us like second-class citizens because we want to create a culture of life and be a positive influence to our peers,' Schairer said in a statement on Tuesday.

'We want to educate our fellow students about abortion and at the same time be a visible resource for our peers facing unplanned pregnancies.

'The school has made it clear that it will not allow us to have this type of club, so we decided to file the lawsuit.

'We are hoping for a quick resolution so Trojans for Life can hit the ground running at the start of the fall semester, along with all the other clubs at Parkland High School.'

Castro - who is a recent graduate - and Schairer - part of the class of 2018 -  initially tried forming the club in September and sent in their proposal in March, which the school rejected.

According to the law suit, the students' aim with the club is 'to educate their fellow students on the issue of abortion and to offer hope and resources to help in the cases of crisis pregnancies.'

The students then enlisted the help of lawyers who sent a letter on May 17 demanding that the school accept the student's proposal, Lehigh County News reported.

The next day the school district counsel set conditions the club would have to meet before it cold be accepted.

The school district solicitor said: 'We wholeheartedly believe that students have a First Amendment right. We're not saying they don't.

'But all rights have limitations and one of the limitations is that if their activities are potentially going to cause a material disruption of the educational process or environment or cause harm or a safety issue to them or others, at that point the First Amendment rights can be curtailed or limited, not eliminated, but checked.'


Scotland gets fast-track teacher training plan

John Swinney has won a significant victory in his plan to reform Scottish education after a proposal to fast-track teachers into classrooms was approved despite vocal opposition from unions.

The education secretary has backed a scheme to allow much-needed graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects to become fully trained in one year instead of the usual two. He endorsed it as “innovative” when it was put forward last year.

The EIS teaching union reacted angrily to the plan. It warned against shortcuts and stressed that two years was the minimum possible period for teachers to become comfortable in front of classes. [Rubbish!  I taught successfully with NO teacher training]

The Times understands that the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the independent regulator, has formally endorsed the proposal, allowing a two-year trial.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pew Poll: Majority of Republicans Think Colleges Have Negative Impact on U.S

A Pew Research Study released on July 10 reveals that an increasing majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now say that they believe universities and colleges have a negative effect on our country.

The survey, which looked at the partisan differences over the impact of major institutions on the country (from June 8-18), found that Republican attitudes on the effect of colleges and universities have dramatically changed over a relatively short period of time.

In 2017, 58% of Republicans looked at universities in a negative light, up from 2016’s 45% and 2015’s 37%, showing an 18-point decline in positive opinion.

In contrast, the study found that 72% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they believe college and universities have a positive effect on the United States.

In addition to higher education, the study also looked at the public opinion of the impact of the news media.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents almost spilt even on their opinion of the media with 44% saying they believe the news media has a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, while 46% believe it has a negative effect.

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have a very different view of the media. In fact, with an 8-to-1 difference between positive and negative opinion of the news media, 85% of Republicans say the media have a negative effect and only 10% say there is a positive impact.

The study also found that, partisan divide aside, the public’s overall evaluations of many categories have seen little change.

When combined, the majority of Americans (59%) say churches and religious organizations have had a positive impact on our country.

Almost half of Americans, 47%, believe labor unions have a positive impact, while 32% view the impact of unions negatively. Additionally, American views of the impact of banks and other financial institutions leaned toward negative with 46%, compared to only 39% positive.


The tuition fee debate in Britain

Over the past 12 months, barely concealed panic about the unpredictability of the political landscape has become commonplace. There can certainly have been few in higher education who would have guessed that, almost two decades on from the introduction of university tuition fees, their end is now reportedly ‘on the horizon’.

Both environment secretary Michael Gove and universities minister Jo Johnson have tried to squash rumours that fees are on their way out. Johnson took to Twitter to declare that ‘abolishing tuition fees & funding unis out of general taxation would be regressive, benefiting richest graduates’. Nonetheless, a conversation about tuition fees – which, until a matter of weeks ago, was completely absent – is now being had. Unfortunately, the question of who pays for higher education is being talked about in the absence of any broader discussion about what university is for, who should be a student, and to what end.

Students were first expected to make a contribution to the cost of their higher education in 1998. Fees then rose to £3,000 a year in 2006, £9,000 a year in 2012, and currently stand at an eye-watering £9,250 a year. Critics bemoan the ‘marketisation’ of universities, but this misses the point. Universities do not set their fees in a free market, but rather in a state-sanctioned and highly regulated cartel. Likewise, it’s not fees that create the student consumer - the idea of higher education as a personal investment with a guaranteed return in future earnings was set in place before tuition fees were introduced.

Today, thanks to the recently introduced Teaching Excellence Framework, higher education is more preoccupied with employability, social mobility and satisfaction than ever before. Students are presented with charters and key information sets detailing what they can expect from the university and, in return, are solicited for their customer feedback at every turn. Rarely is learning discussed as an end in itself. Instead of debate over which bodies of knowledge students should be encouraged to master there is consensus around the values students should be expected to demonstrate. There is little to suggest any of this would change if tuition fees were scrapped tomorrow.

So when it comes to funding higher education, then, there is clearly much to discuss. But the current conversation, which kicked off with Labour’s surprise manifesto commitment to end tuition fees, avoids these issues. Funding universities is being considered not in the broader context of education, but in a narrow party-political attempt at appealing to the self-interest of young voters.

The Labour Party itself did little to challenge this view, and argued the ‘policy should give 18-year-olds another reason to register to vote’. Eli Aldridge, the 18-year-old Labour candidate who tried to unseat Tim Farron, exclaimed: ‘I could not be more proud to represent a party that is promising 400,000 undergraduates starting their courses this September that they could do so safe in the knowledge that their education will not saddle them with decades of debt.’

But it was in the aftermath of the General Election result that accusations of bribery really took off. Many searching for an explanation for Labour’s better-than-expected performance pointed to a higher turnout among younger voters, who were far more likely to back Labour than people in older age groups. In other words, the tuition-fees pledge was thought to be an ‘£11billion tuition fee bribe’ that made 18- to 24-year-olds rush to vote for Labour. Since then, the idea that young people essentially sold their votes for just shy of £30,000 has gained ground.

But to see Labour’s tuition-fee pledge as a bribe underestimates young voters. Yes, some no doubt voted out of self-interest. But others were undoubtedly attracted to Corbyn as a seemingly more authentic politician who encapsulated a broader message of hope and change. More importantly, the view that young voters were simply bribed curtails further analysis of why the Conservative Party holds so little attraction for young people today.

In the absence of this vital discussion, Tories have instead decided they need to join Labour in appealing to young voters with tailored inducements. On the Conservative Home website it is argued that ‘the Labour leader had policies, such as free tuition fees, that helped to inspire and engage many young voters while we offered nothing’. As a result, we see Damian Green, the first secretary of state, arguing that the debate on tuition fees needs to be reopened in a ‘national conversation’. But this isn’t a national conversation about universities so much as a national conversation about how to convince people to vote Conservative.

For those concerned with education, Labour’s tuition-fees pledge was far more alarming than simple bribery. The party played into the idea that today’s young people have a uniquely rough deal, that they represent a victimised generation that has been deprived of its natural entitlement. Corbyn fed this view with statements like ‘the Conservatives have held students back for too long, saddling them with debt that blights the start of their working lives. Labour will lift this cloud of debt and make education free for all as part of our plan for a richer Britain, for the many, not the few.’

At the same time, what students are offered under Labour’s proposals is not education, but welfare. Labour’s plan is for a National Education Service, a deliberate echo of the National Health Service, where people go for wellness, guidance and nurturing rather than uncomfortable intellectual challenge. University is being separated off from education and promoted to students as a three-year experience: a Safe Space where they can have fun and pick up a certificate while prolonging their adolescence.

The current debate about tuition fees doesn’t just degrade higher education - it degrades politics, too. It reinforces the idea of politics as an appeal to petty generational interests rather being about competing visions of how to make society better for everyone. Young voters deserve better from both politicians and universities.


What if your high school transcript didn’t include grades?

For years, students have been stacking their high school transcripts with as many advanced courses and A’s as possible in an effort to get into the best colleges. But under a radical redesign of the document — being led by dozens of private schools nationwide — the practice of listing courses and grades could come to an end.

Instead, the new transcripts would detail a student’s mastery of specific skills, such as the ability to collaborate, think creatively and analytically, take initiative, assess risk, solve problems, or write coherently.

And what about that hard-earned A in calculus? Most schools would stop itemizing courses, credits, and grades on the transcripts. Not even grade point averages would appear.

The idea is to show colleges what students can do, rather than how good they are at memorizing information or taking tests. Supporters say the change should do a better job of predicting which students will thrive in higher education and ultimately in the workplace.

“I think we overvalue content knowledge,” said Scott Looney, head of the Hawken School in Ohio, who is the founder and chairman of the Mastery Transcript Consortium , a group of schools that was created to spearhead the revisions and that includes several Massachusetts schools. “If you really think about what makes kids successful in college, it is the ability to think deeply, reason, write well, lead a team.”

But a move away from a standardized measurement could create a nightmare for college admission offices, as they grapple with a surge in applications generated by the ease at which students can apply online to multiple colleges at once.

William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard College, said high school transcripts and standardized test scores play an important role in the admissions process and “provide a common measure that allows some comparison among applicants from very different backgrounds and academic institutions.”

“Secondary school grading systems and transcripts give colleges an estimate of how much a student has achieved day-to-day in the classroom and a way to measure a student’s readiness for college-level academic work,” Fitzsimmons said in a statement. “We hope that the proposed proficiency-based transcripts will provide such information as well.”

The redesign could be the biggest change to the high school transcript since the documents came into vogue more than a century ago, when colleges began setting admission standards for the number of hours students needed to study certain subjects.

Behind the effort locally are some big-name private schools: Phillips Academy, Milton Academy, Noble and Greenough, Newton Country Day School, Brooks School, Gann Academy, and Northfield Mount Hermon. The dean of studies at Phillips is taking a leave of absence to lead the group.

Several experts say that if these schools pull off the change, then public schools — some of which have already been experimenting with alternative transcripts — will follow. Most notably, the New England Secondary School Consortium, which includes education commissioners and public school educators from all New England states except Massachusetts, has been pushing for proficiency-based transcripts for the last few years.

For many of the private schools, the move is about more than just changing the content of a transcript. They want to shift the mindset of students who have become so obsessed with grades that they are whizzing through their studies without realizing what they have actually learned, and they are unwilling to take the kinds of risks necessary to succeed in an innovation economy because they fear failure.

“Students can’t think beyond that transcript and see the entire life ahead of them,” said Sarah Pelmas, head of school at the Winsor School in Boston. “The pressure has become so intense.”

And the course grades on the transcripts reveal little about the kind of work students put into their class and what skills they learned, they say.

Under the redesigned high school transcript, however, college admission officers would be able to see specific examples of student work in just a couple of clicks.

Although the exact design is still being hashed out, supporters envision the transcript would be online and contain three layers of information.

The first layer would summarize a student’s mastery of specific skills. Then the admission officer could click on a skill to see how that student’s school defined mastery. With one more click, the admission officer could see the various examples of student work that a school used to judge mastery.

“We will run some pilots over the next couple of years,” said Patricia Russell of Phillips Academy and interim executive director of the Mastery Transcript Consortium. “Once we think the transcript is working well, we will make it available to any school.”

Eliminating courses and grades from the transcripts could create a host of problems, especially for applicants to colleges that require students to have passed certain classes, admission experts said.

For instance, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education requires applicants to the University of Massachusetts and the state universities to have taken four years of English and math, three years of science, and two years of foreign languages, as well as other courses.

Beyond the requirements, judging an applicant’s performance in high school courses — especially those related to the major the applicant hopes to pursue — is useful in determining if the applicant can handle the rigor of a college-level program, said James Roche, associate provost for enrollment management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

He questioned the need to drastically overhaul transcripts. Many of the skills the consortium hopes to detail in the transcripts are typically conveyed in letters of recommendation the colleges receive, Roche said.

“I’m not sure the world understands how thorough college applications are now,” Roche said. “I’m always impressed with the amount of work and energy that goes into the applications and the letters of recommendation.”


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education’s $1 Trillion Debt Millstone

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Department of Education has now cumulatively borrowed over one trillion dollars from the public for the purpose of funding its Federal Direct Student Loan program since January 2009.

Political Calculations’ charted the history of the Education Department’s borrowing to support its student loan business.

Between January 2009 and May 2017, the total public debt outstanding of the U.S. government increased by over 9.2 trillion dollars. Since $1 trillion of that borrowed money went to fund student loans, it accounts for 10.8% of the increase of the national debt over the last eight years.

Getting out of its money losing student loan business should be a top priority at the U.S. Department of Education.


Balancing college and career readiness

A new short report from Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group provides some valuable insights into how state policymakers are thinking about preparing high school students for work. But it also highlights one of today’s big K-12 challenges: finding the right balance between getting students to aim for college or career.

Under the new federal education law, states are submitting new school accountability systems to Washington; 17 states submitted plans in the first round. The report looks at whether states elevated career readiness in their accountability systems. Thanks to the flexibility of the new federal law and the public demands that we better prepare more high school graduates for work, states have the opportunity to redefine what it means to succeed in high school. So instead of aiming to make acquisition of a high school diploma synonymous with “ready for a four-year college,” states can prioritize the acquisition of work-ready skills.

The report found 11 of 17 states that submitted plans in the first wave are experimenting with new approaches to career preparation. For instance, Delaware will give credit for earning an industry credential or passing the military’s entrance exam. Illinois intends to differentiate graduates as “distinguished scholars” or “college- and career-ready,” with the later designation earnable through career-ready indicators, such as demonstrating workplace experience and earning industry credentials.

Though the plans are edifying, many details have to be worked out. And there are more in-the-weeds issues to be grappled with. For example, will an industry credential be seen as equivalent to success in Advanced Placement classes? Can a school be deemed a success if everyone earns an industry credential but no one earns a college-ready score on the SAT?

These issues are at the heart of the fundamental college-or-career debate. They also bring to the fore a major concern of advocates for disadvantaged kids: If we don’t prepare all students for college, then low-income and minority kids will be pushed toward non-college tracks. Indeed, a coalition of civil rights groups recently raised concerns about new federal CTE legislation because of what they see as a too-limited role for Uncle Sam in ensuring underserved populations don’t get tracked into low-quality “voc-tech” programs.

New research by Hanushek and Woesmann adds to this discussion. They warn that over-emphasizing apprenticeships and CTE-style schooling may harm individuals’ long-term work prospects. “We find clear evidence that the initial labor-market advantage of vocational relative to general education decreases with age.” That is, helping young people acquire work-ready skills can help them land early work, but it can inhibit their ability to be prepared for changes down the line. As they write, “Vocational education has been promoted largely as a way of improving the transition from schooling to work, but it also appears to reduce the adaptability of workers to technological and structural change in the economy.” Along these lines, a recent CNBC article tightly explained some of the downsides to apprenticeships (e.g., what happens when you have one set of skills and your industry goes away?).

Helping young people acquire work-ready skills can help them land early work, but it can inhibit their ability to be prepared for changes down the line.

But on the other side of the ledger are a host of reasons to push more skills development. A number of prominent elected officials want more of their kids ready for work posthaste. Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel wants high schools to produce post-secondary plans, such as proving students were accepted into apprenticeships or enlisted in the military. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently announced an array of efforts to expand CTE and argued as a nation we’ve focused too much on college and too little on work preparation. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf just signed legislation enabling more students to opt out of traditional high school exams if they’re engaged in CTE activities.

A number of scholars are also making the case for skills development. My AEI colleague Mark Schneider recently wrote of doing away with the “bachelor’s or bust” mentality so we can foster a market of education options (e.g. apprenticeships, boot camps) that prioritize marketable skills instead of degrees. This could, he argues, lead to faster, cheaper, and higher-return paths into meaningful work. This fascinating one-year, no-money-down, skills-development school is a great example of what’s possible, and this heartwarming New York Times article demonstrates how the right training at the right time can transform the lives of struggling individuals.

The Brookings Institution’s Harry Holzer’s recent report on workforce development made the case that there will be many middle-skills jobs available in the years ahead and that skills development via provider/industry partnerships can produce “large and lasting impacts on earnings for participating workers.” These graphics produced by Bloomberg do an exceptional job of showing just how many industries are susceptible to job losses and new job formation, and therefore why skills development is so important.

With so much changing in the world of work, so much excitement about new skills providers, and so much need to get people to work, there’s a danger that state K-12 policymakers could overcorrect and force schools to focus too much on the high school-to-work pipeline. We have to remember that the college-for-all mentality of the last generation came about for a reason: Too few students were prepared for college.

The development, submission, review, and approval of ESSA accountability plans is a window into how states are trying to find the balance.


Australia: Surely millionaires can pay for their children's education without the assistance of the taxpayer?

Many students with affluent parents go to free State schools. Blaise Joseph below wants them to pay

We all know the school stereotype. Government schools are full of disadvantaged students and struggling for money, while overfunded wealthy independent schools receive taxpayer money they will just spend on fancier swimming pools.

This is a myth.

As recent research clearly demonstrates, government schools reflect the socioeconomic status (SES) of parents in the school catchment areas.

There are 538 government schools with a majority of students from the top SES quarter. This includes the academically selective government schools, which mainly attract students from very high SES backgrounds, and resemble the most 'elite' independent schools.

Around 500,000 students in government schools are from the top 25% of SES -- more than the total number of students from this category in independent and Catholic schools combined.

This challenges an unquestioned, unjustified assumption at the heart of school funding in Australia: universal free public schooling must continue.

The status quo is inequitable and unfair. High-income parents in high SES areas -- where government schools tend to perform much better -- are able to send their children to government schools for free.

In contrast, low-income parents in low SES areas -- where government schools tend to perform much worse -- have to make significant financial contributions to send their children to a non-government school if they are (understandably) not satisfied with the quality of the local government school.

Sure, the underlying long-term issue is the inconsistent quality of schooling, but in the meantime parents in low SES areas are unfairly disadvantaged.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the government school system catering for students from all SES backgrounds. But why shouldn't schooling be means-tested like most other government services? Surely millionaires can pay for their children's education without the assistance of the taxpayer?

It is unnecessary to constrain government schools from receiving significant and compulsory contributions from high-income parents. This means much more taxpayer funding than needed is spent on many government schools.

Let's end the façade that all government schools have no capacity to charge fees and are in desperate need of taxpayer funding. State governments should seriously consider charging school fees for high SES parents.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Kentucky Law Allows Public Schools To Offer Optional Bible Course

Last Friday, a Kentucky bill signed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin allowing public schools to offer elective classes teaching the Bible went into effect.

“The idea that we would not want [a Biblical literacy course] to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy,” said Gov. Bevin at the signing ceremony on June 27. “I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

House Bill 128, signed by the governor in the state’s Capitol Rotunda, allows “local school boards the option of developing a Bible literacy class as part of their social studies curriculum,” according to Louisville-based WRDB.

The bill, which had 12 Republican sponsors, passed the Kentucky State House in February with an 80-14 vote in its favor.

Those in support of the bill’s passage recognize the importance of Biblical literacy in the United States due to the book’s influence in building and defending Western culture.

“It really did set the foundation that our Founding Fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” Kentucky Rep. D.J. Johnson told WRDB. “All of those came from principles from the Bible.”

The new law requires Kentucky’s board of education to regulate and establish an elective Bible course, covering the Old and New Testaments as well as “Biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”

However, the ACLU of Kentucky expressed concerns about the state’s new law.

“A Bible literacy bill that, on its face, may not appear to be unconstitutional, could in fact become unconstitutional in its implementation,” said the group’s advocacy director, Kate Miller. “We want to make sure that teachers can teach and make sure that they don’t go in to preach.”

Gov. Bevin and Rep. Johnson both dismissed such concerns. “You could be an atheist, and you would appreciate there’s a lot of wisdom in the Bible,” stated the governor. “As long as we’re careful with the curriculum itself, there won’t be any constitutional issues,” said Rep. Johnson.


Three quarters of British graduates will never pay off student debt

Three quarters of graduates will never repay their student loans and the poorest face the biggest debt, according to a comprehensive analysis.

The trebling of tuition fees in 2012 means students now finish university with average debts of £50,000, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. They are liable for repayments once they earn more than £21,000. After 30 years, the balance is written off.

Some 77.4 per cent were not expected to repay their debt including interest, the IFS said, compared with 41.5 per cent before 2012. Hundreds of thousands face repayments into their early 50s.

Gains for the taxpayer have been at the cost of students from the poorest homes, whom the government promised to protect when tuition fees rose from £3,000 to £9,000.


Australia: Teachers to be taught WRESTLING techniques and how to block punches to combat surge in attacks from students

An incredible development from the Left-led collapse in discipline

Teachers are being taught how to put students in wrestling holds and how to block punches to combat a surge in violence in NSW classrooms.

The Department of Education has enlisted the help of US-based company Crisis Prevention Institute to train primary and secondary school teachers in wrestling techniques, a department spokesperson told Daily Telegraph.

The institute trains prison officers in controlling violent inmates and will teach leverage-based tactics designed to force agitated students into submission.

They will be taught how to hold violent students in order to move them from location to another without physically harming them.

'Any restraint should be only that which is reasonably necessary to prevent a real and immediate threat of injury or serious damage and where there is no other practical way of preventing the likely injury or damage,' the spokesman said.

Eighteen students from public schools were physically subdued in the first half of 2016, according to the department, with teachers being bitten and hit by children multiple times at one primary school.

If a student tries to physically violate a teacher through a hold or a strike, the CPI trains them to block or dodge the punch and use leverage tactics which are not meant to be painful.

If all else fails, a teacher in crisis can call on a second teacher for help.

'They (the student) might say 'I know where your car is' or 'I know your daughter is in year one'. Then it's time to call in a second teacher for support and evacuate the classroom,' CPI instructor Paula Elliott told the Telegraph.

Teachers can also 'restrict the student's liberty of movement to minimise harm' if a student is intent on assault or self-harm, by adopting six techniques with increasing pressure. 

'The use of restraint is frowned on but sometimes it's necessary if the child is looking to self-harm or is a threat to their teacher or other children,' CPI Country Manager Peter Hickey said.

Teachers from both primary and secondary schools are being trained.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Ruling against Blaine Amendments is a huge victory for school choice

Over half of the States have Blaine amendments, which obstruct the use of school vouchers. The vouchers would mostly go to Catholic schools and the amendment stops funding of Catholic schools.  That has all now been swept aside by SCOTUS. Instead of laboriously repealing the amendments State by State, they are all gone now in one hit. 

In ruling in favor of religious freedom last week in the Trinity Lutheran case, it seems doubtful the justices of the US Supreme Court had ever heard of Catholic schoolboy Thomas Whall of Boston. If they had, they never mentioned him, though much of the case before them was owing to his legacy.

In 1859, a 10-year-old Whall was asked by his teacher at the North End’s Eliot School to recite the Ten Commandments, and he refused. Beginning the school day with biblical scripture was not unusual, but what Whall’s teacher expected was the Protestant version, which enumerated the commandments in a different way than the Catholic Church.

Whall was whipped across the hands with a rattan stick for his insubordination. His hands cut and bleeding, Whall supposedly fainted from the beating, which went on for a half hour.

In the following days, hundreds of Catholic students walked out of school in protest. What came to be known as the “Eliot School Rebellion” eventually led to the creation of a network of Catholic elementary and secondary schools separate from the public school system.

Protestants responded with an act of defiance of their own.

Maine politician James Blaine in 1875 proposed a US constitutional amendment to deny public funding for religious schools. Since the public schools were de facto Protestant institutions, the target of Blaine’s hostility was obvious: Catholic parochial schools. The proposed federal amendment failed, but it took off at the state level and currently about two-thirds of state constitutions contain “Blaine amendments,” including Massachusetts.

It is one of the ironies of history that Blaine amendments are now used against Protestant-operated schools like Trinity Lutheran’s pre-school and day care center in Missouri.

The facts of the case are fairly simple: Missouri offers a program that recycles old tires into playground surfaces. Trinity Lutheran applied for state funding under the program and was denied. State bureaucrats pointed to their Blaine amendment to justify their decision, which, not surprisingly, was upheld by state courts.

The Supreme Court, however, said Missouri’s policy was unconstitutional under the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. Writing for the 7-2 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said you cannot exclude a church from a public benefit merely because it is a religious institution and that to do so “is odious to our Constitution.”

Of course, the real debate here is not about playground resurfacing; it’s about school choice and whether parents have the right to expect their tax dollars to follow their children into religiously affiliated education settings.

In light of the Trinity Lutheran ruling, the Court returned to the states for “further consideration” cases involving a Colorado tuition voucher program and a state-funded textbook lending program in New Mexico, both of which relied on Blaine amendments to deny religious schools’ participation.

While the Court has not yet ruled on these larger funding questions, it would be hard for the justices to depart from the logic of their reasoning in Trinity Lutheran simply because the benefit is more substantial than a playground resurfacing.

The fact that the Blaine amendments are firmly implanted in anti-Catholic prejudice is no longer the main issue with their continued existence. The far more serious problem is that they are unconstitutional because, as the Court said, they force churches to choose between their religious character or participation in a public program.

The public schools have changed a great deal since the days of Thomas Whall, as have the number of alternatives available to parents and their children. What has also changed is the idea that you can treat churches differently for no other reason than they are religious, and that is a victory for liberty.


Another failure of modern education: Education for life

Millennials aren't ready for the 'reality of life' and suffer from panic attacks and anxiety problems, new research has revealed.

A study of 2,000 young people preparing to start university found that many aren't ready for the challenges of living independently.

The research found that more than half of prospective students don't know how to pay a bill and that many believe that nights out cost more than paying rent.

Researchers said that many would-be students have been left worried and confused by the prospect of leaving home to start higher education.

The study found 61 per cent of millennials are anxious about the prospect of starting university, while 58 per cent are having trouble sleeping and 27 per cent are having panic attacks.

Students are worryingly unprepared

Researchers said the results suggest many would-be students are worryingly unaware of the challenges of university life.

The poll found that 60 per cent of prospective students believed that they would spend more time in lectures than they did in school lessons.

But in practice, most university subjects take up much less time than school, with students on degree courses such as history often having fewer than ten hours of lectures a week.

And while many participants considered themselves to be good with money, more than half admitted that they do not know how to pay a bill.

Many students were also unaware that paying rent is the biggest cost for students after tuition fees.

Confusion over finances

When asked about their finances, only half of prospective students correctly identified accommodation as their biggest expenditure.

Other participants said they believed their biggest expense after tuition fees would be 'nights out', 'student societies', 'groceries' or 'course materials'.

Researchers have warned that the prospect of leaving home has left ill-prepared millennials feeling anxious and panicked.

Nick Hilman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), who carried out the new research told the BBC that more needed to be done to help students adjust to university.

'Fixing the gap' between school and university

'We know lots about what students think but very little about what those applying to higher education expect to happen when they get there,' said Mr Hillman.

'We set out to fix this gap because people who expect a different student experience to the one they get are less satisfied, learn less and say they are getting less good value for money.'

The research also found that many would-be students with mental health problems aren't planning on informing their university of their condition.

Only one third of prospective students intend to tell their university about an existing mental health problem, raising concerns that institutions will be unable to properly prepare for treatment demands.


Four in ten English pupils fail to meet the expected standard in reading, writing and maths tests at the end of primary school

Almost four in ten children in England are still not meeting expected standards in the three Rs by the end of primary school.

Official data shows that just 61 per cent of 11-year-olds made the grade in reading, writing and maths national curriculum tests this year.

This means that 39 per cent failed to meet the threshold across all three subjects and could now struggle when they move to secondary school in September.

However, the results are a marked improvement on 2016 – the first year of a rigorous new testing regime in primary schools – when 47 per cent of pupils did not reach expected standards.

School standards minister Nick Gibb yesterday said the increases in scores across the subjects showed that the Government was 'right to raise expectations' of primary pupils. More than half a million 11-year-olds across England took the tests, known as SATs, in May, with the results used in league tables to assess the performance of schools.

Some 71 per cent of pupils this year met the expected standard in reading, compared with 66 per cent last year, the Department for Education statistics showed. And 75 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in maths – up from 70 per cent.

The expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling was met by 77 per cent of pupils, compared with 73 per cent last year, while writing was up from 74 per cent last year to 76 per cent.

To make the grade in reading and maths, a pupil must achieve a score of 100 or more in tests.

For writing, teachers assess whether pupils have 'reached the expected standard' or 'worked at a greater depth'. Last year, pupils sat tougher papers based on a new national curriculum for the first time, and 53 per cent of pupils reached the new standard in reading, writing and maths.

The year before, under the old system, 80 per cent reached Level 4 – the old standard expected of the age group – or above in these core subjects.

Ministers were at pains to stress that the results were not comparable between the two years.

However, teaching unions yesterday reiterated their opposition to SATs.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'Today's results tell 39 per cent of 11-year-olds that they have not reached 'the expected standard' for their age group and are not ready to begin secondary education.

'This demoralising situation says less about the efforts of teachers and pupils than about the deep flaws of our current system.'

And Julie McCulloch, primary specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, added: 'It cannot be right that the performance of primary schools is judged on a set of tests taken over just four days in May at the end of the seven years children spend at primary school.

'We currently have a system in which the SATs hang over schools like the sword of Damocles.'

But Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, insisted that improvements showed that former Education Secretary Michael Gove was right to demand higher standards.

He said: 'The improvements vindicate Michael Gove's approach. He has been proved right in demanding higher standards of schools and the schools have shown they can achieve them.'

However, he added it was 'concerning' that reading results lag behind writing scores and questioned whether parents are 'doing enough' to encourage it at home.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, insisted more must be done to educate teachers on how to teach the new primary curriculum.

He said: 'The problem is getting used to higher standards but we need to re-educate teachers in the basic skills of literacy and numeracy.'

Mr Gibb yesterday said the new curriculum has 'significantly higher expectations' of pupils.

Referring to the rise in test scores, he said: 'It certainly does show they are able to achieve the standards that we're now expecting of schools and of pupils.'


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Blame for Today’s Campus Madness

Higher education rests on the free flow of ideas. Education requires that positions be held tentatively, tested by opposing arguments that are rationally considered, and evaluated.

All colleges therefore must protect free speech. Public institutions must adhere to the various guarantees of the First Amendment.

Too often, all of these fundamental principles have been under assault. Even worse, some people who have exercised their First Amendment rights have been themselves assaulted.

As a result, those who would curtail free speech have been emboldened and those who disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy have been censored or chilled from speaking freely. There is no point in having a student body on campus if competing ideas are not exchanged and analyzed.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can't be done alone. Find out more >>

At Kellogg Community College, administrators required prior approval for speech in public forums, a twofold violation of the First Amendment. Amazingly, students there were arrested for distributing copies of the United States Constitution.

Their lawsuit against the college and against its administrators in their personal capacity is pending.

Many students erroneously think that speech that they consider hateful is violent. Yet some students engage in acts of violence against speech, and universities have failed to prevent or adequately punish that violence.

At the University of California, Berkeley, two invited speakers were prevented from speaking due to mob violence and other projected safety concerns that the university failed to control.

That university should be reminded of a passage in one of the Supreme Court’s most important First Amendment rulings: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics … ”

A lawsuit has been brought that alleges that Berkeley has systemically and intentionally suppressed speech protected by the First Amendment because its viewpoint differs from that of university administrators.

At Middlebury College, the eminent scholar Charles Murray was at first shouted down from speaking, then when the event was moved, students pulled the fire alarm to prevent him from speaking.

It was not Murray but the students who essentially falsely yelled “fire” in a crowded theater. The Middlebury professor who moderated the debate was physically assaulted, and has yet to fully recover from her serious injuries.

It was not a mere handful of students but a mob who engaged in such appalling conduct at an institution theoretically devoted to rationality and intellectualism.

Not including those who were not captured on video, the college disciplined more than 70 students. But none were expelled or even suspended.

As a practical matter, most students received no more serious punishment than the “double secret probation” immortalized in film. As Murray noted, such weak punishment will not deter any future student disruptions.

Sacrificing a Precious Freedom

The First Amendment is clear. The Supreme Court has decided that offensive speech is protected, that speech cannot be restricted based on viewpoint, that public forums must be places where free speech rights can be exercised, and that prior restraints on speech are highly disfavored.

Otherwise, any speech that anyone found offensive could be suppressed. Little free speech would survive.

And, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls from attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But on too many campuses today, free speech appears to be sacrificed at the altar of political correctness. Many administrators believe that students should be shielded from hate speech, whatever that is, as an exception to the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, this censorship is no different from any other examples in history, when speech that authorities deemed to be heretical has been suppressed based on its content.

College students vote. Not only academia, but our democracy depends on the ability to try to advocate to inform or to change minds.

When universities suppress speech, they not only damage freedom today, they establish and push norms harmful to democracy going forward. These restrictions may cause and exacerbate the political polarization that is so widely lamented in our society.

Shunning Diversity on Campus

Whatever the nature of the speech being suppressed, I am concerned. However, prominent liberal university administrators admit that the vast amount of disfavored speech is on the conservative side of the spectrum.

Harvard President Drew Faust’s recent commencement address noted the lack of conservative ideas on campus.

And as former Stanford Provost John Etchemendy has observed, “[T]here is a growing intolerance at universities … , a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for.”

And he fears that university administrators will take the easy route of giving in to student pressure to restrict debate.

Etchemendy’s fears are being realized. In a recent interview, the president of Northwestern University undercut the apparent lip service he paid to the First Amendment.

Rather than making students confront the speech that makes them uncomfortable, he advocated making students feel comfortable by ensuring a safe space where they will not hear it.

Even worse, when asked whether he would be comfortable were the speakers shouted down at Middlebury and Berkeley to speak at Northwestern, he replied that he would permit their appearances “on a case-by-case basis.”

No. The First Amendment does not permit arbitrary prior restraints on speech by university administrators on a case-by-case basis. That is an open invitation to discriminate based on viewpoint.

That is where too many colleges are right now. Any great university would welcome numerous speakers whose positions made the president and many others on campus uncomfortable.

Some may advocate legislation in this area. Theoretically, private colleges that accept federal funds could be subject to individual private lawsuits when free speech rights, including religious free speech rights, are violated.

Some may even suggest an analogue to section 1983.

Under that approach, officials of private universities that accept federal funds would be subject to individual private rights of action for damages if they violate free speech or fail to train university officials and campus police to adhere to the First Amendment.

Signs of Hope

Fortunately, not all schools adopt the censorship approach. The University of Chicago has adopted a policy that some other universities have followed.

This policy prohibits the university from suppressing speech that even most people on campus would find offensive or immoral. It calls for counter-speech rather than suppression by people who disagree with speech.

And while protecting protest, it expressly prohibits “obstruct[ing] or otherwise interfer[ing] with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.”

Finally, it commits the university to actively “protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”

This is the approach of true education as it has always been practiced. Let us hope that it takes root in more campuses, leading more students to engage in thoughtful—and free—discourse.


Some single-gender Catholic schools are flourishing while others struggle

For 75 years, Malden Catholic High School has sought to nurture thousands of boys on their journey to manhood, instilling in them a strong work ethic and a deep faith while encouraging them to seek positive leadership roles.

But the school will move in a new direction in September 2018: It plans to open an all-girl division and has purchased property across the street to build a school for them. Officials say they hope to fill a void on the North Shore, which lacks any all-girl Catholic schools.

“We really do believe this will offer the best of both worlds for our families and students,” said Thomas Doherty, the school’s president, noting students will benefit from a single-gender education while having the opportunity to interact in extracurricular activities.

Across Greater Boston, single-gender Catholic schools are seeking ways to increase their presence as overall interest in Catholic schools is waning nationwide and the number of school-age children in Massachusetts decreases.

Expansions like those being undertaken at Malden Catholic have helped lift overall enrollment at the 15 single-gender Catholic schools in the Boston area to 7,825 students this past school year, an increase of 260 students since fall 2012, according to the Archdiocese of Boston.

This, even as overall enrollment in the archdiocese’s schools, including all grades, has declined by nearly 4,000 students over the same time period, to 37,547.

Many of the single-gender schools that are expanding say they are doing so in response to requests from families for additional opportunities and say their financial health is sound. For instance, two years ago the popular St. John’s Prep in Danvers added a middle school program, and the once all-boy Bellesini Academy in Lawrence opened a girls division.

But the broad numbers conceal enrollment problems at specific schools, as this past school year demonstrated. Last August, as students were preparing to return to classes, the last all-girl Catholic school in Boston, Elizabeth Seton Academy, abruptly closed its doors.

Then this spring, Boston College High School, the all-boys academic and athletic powerhouse, revealed it was struggling with declining applications, sparking heated speculation that some trustees were plotting to go coed. This, in turn, sent a shiver of fear through the region’s all-girl Catholic schools that a coed BC High could drive them out of business.

The controversy led to an overhaul of trustee membership at the Dorchester school.

Father Joe O’Keefe, a national expert on Catholic education, described the state of single-gender Catholic schools as somewhat fragile, like their coed counterparts, nationwide.

“The draw of sending kids to a Catholic school is not as strong as it was 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “If you are not a church-goer, it’s not as important.”

Consequently, he said, a lot of parochial elementary schools have closed, which is problematic for many single-gender Catholic schools, the vast majority of which are high schools and have long relied on the parochial elementary schools as a source of new students.

For many families in Massachusetts, Catholic schools are one of the few options for a single-gender education, given that state law forbids public schools from denying any student enrollment based on gender.

Proponents of single-sex education say that boys and girls focus better in class when they are segregated by gender because they are not trying to impress the opposite sex by joking around or appearing less smart in class.

They also say boys and girls respond more favorably to different learning styles. For instance, boys tend to do better academically with classroom activities that allow them to move around and release their fidgety energy, while girls do well working in small groups.

But critics argue separating boys and girls can reinforce stereotypes and eventually can make it more difficult for them to work with the opposite sex.

Bellesini Academy , which serves 105 students in grades 5 to 8, is attempting to bridge that divide, using an approach similar to one that Malden Catholic is now embracing. While the genders are taught separately, the two occasionally come together for some activities, such as reading discussion groups or science projects, to show how each might bring a different perspective to the subject and to foster an appreciation for one another.

The school, which is tuition-free and accepts only low-income students, also mixes boys and girls for recess, lunch, and some extracurricular activities.

“The single-gender approach has been successful, but for the majority of our students, they leave here and go on to coed schools, and I think they should learn to how interact with one another,” said Julie DiFilippo, head of school.

Malden Catholic is now discussing what activities might go coed when it opens its girls division a year from September. Officials say they are starting a girls division in response to parents who are seeking a single-gender environment for their daughters.

Several male students said they liked the idea of adding girls, especially since they would be in a separate program. That arrangement, they said, should enable the school to continue its decades-old practice of fostering lifetime bonds among its male students, while also providing them with new opportunities to participate in some coed programs after school.

“I think it will be a little bit of an adjustment, but it won’t be too major because we have to get used to competing with women in the workforce when we get jobs after college,” said Joe Rivers, 15, a freshman.

Last September, in an attempt to fill a void on the North Shore, the Academy at Penguin Hall opened in Wenham with about 60 young women attending class in an 88-year-old stone manor once occupied by the Sisters of Notre Dame; it later housed an advertising agency. (The school is using the original name of the manor, which was inspired by a pair of bronze penguins that grace the front entrance.)

The high school bills itself as “rooted in the Catholic tradition of education,” helping its students to develop intellectually, spiritually, physically, and creatively. But the academy is not officially Catholic, a designation issued by the archdiocese only after a rigorous review of curriculum, finances, and other components.

The only official all-girl Catholic high school program north of Boston is in Tyngsborough, the Academy of Notre Dame, which educates girls in preschool through grade 12 and is about 40 miles away from Wenham.

Molly Martins, the president of Penguin Hall and one of its founders, said she is hoping her school can provide students with a moral compass. The academy, which aims to eventually serve 400 girls, begins each day with a prayer or moment of reflection.

Many of the academy’s parents have sons at St. John’s Prep, an all-boys Catholic school in nearby Danvers. Julie Sullivan of Topsfield, whose son just graduated from St. John’s, had long wanted a similar setting for her 16-year-old twin daughters. “It was such a blessing when it opened,” Sullivan said. “I just feel single-sex schools combined with a faith-based component allow the faculty and administration to educate the whole person, not just a student’s intellect.”

On a recent morning in an oak-paneled library at Penguin Hall, four girls crammed for final exams around a table as sunshine filtered through the French-pane windows. They said they liked how the school fosters a sisterhood.

“It’s such an empowering environment,” said Kathryn Ward, 17, of North Reading. “I forget there aren’t guys in my classes.”


Colleges: Islands of Intolerance

Is there no limit to the level of disgusting behavior on college campuses that parents, taxpayers, donors and legislators will accept? Colleges have become islands of intolerance, and as with fish, the rot begins at the head. Let's examine some recent episodes representative of a general trend and ask ourselves why we should tolerate it plus pay for it.

Students at Evergreen State College harassed biology professor Bret Weinstein because he refused to leave campus, challenging the school's decision to ask white people to leave campus for a day of diversity programming. The profanity-laced threats against the faculty and president can be seen on a YouTube video titled "Student takeover of Evergreen State College" (

What about administrators permitting students to conduct racially segregated graduation ceremonies, which many colleges have done, including Ivy League ones such as Columbia and Harvard universities? Permitting racially segregated graduation ceremonies makes a mockery of the idols of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion, which so many college administrators worship. Or is tribalism part and parcel of diversity?

Trinity College sociology professor Johnny Eric Williams recently called white people "inhuman assholes." In the wake of the Alexandria, Virginia, shooting at a congressional baseball practice, Williams tweeted, "It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be 'white' will not do, put (an) end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF—-ingDie"

June Chu, dean of Pierson College at Yale University, recently resigned after having been placed on leave because of offensive Yelp reviews she had posted. One of her reviews described customers at a local restaurant as "white trash" and "low class folk"; another review praised a movie theater for its lack of "sketchy crowds." In another review of a movie theater, she complained about the "barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese."

Harvey Mansfield, a distinguished Harvard University professor who has taught at the school for 55 years, is not hopeful about the future of American universities. In a College Fix interview, Mansfield said, "No, I'm not very optimistic about the future of higher education, at least in the form it is now with universities under the control of politically correct faculties and administrators" (

Once America's pride, universities, he says, are no longer a marketplace of ideas or bastions of free speech. Universities have become "bubbles of decadent liberalism" that teach students to look for offense when first examining an idea.

Who is to blame for the decline of American universities?

Mansfield argues that it is a combination of administrators, students and faculties. He puts most of the blame on faculty members, some of whom are cowed by deans and presidents who don't want their professors to make trouble.

I agree with Mansfield's assessment in part. Many university faculty members are hostile to free speech and open questioning of ideas. A large portion of today's faculty and administrators were once the hippies of the 1960s, and many have contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the values of personal liberty.

The primary blame for the incivility and downright stupidity we see on university campuses lies with the universities' trustees. Every board of trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the governance of a university, shaping its broad policies.

Unfortunately, most trustees are wealthy businessmen who are busy and aren't interested in spending time on university matters. They become trustees for the prestige it brings, and as such, they are little more than yes men for the university president and provost.

If trustees want better knowledge about university goings-on, they should hire a campus ombudsman who is independent of the administration and accountable only to the board of trustees.

The university malaise reflects a larger societal problem. Mansfield says culture used to mean refinement. Today, he says, it "just means the way a society happens to think, and there's no value judgment in it any longer." For many of today's Americans, one cultural value is just as good as another.