Friday, July 28, 2017

President Trump Donates His Quarterly Salary to the Department of Education

Speaking from the White House briefing room Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders announced President Trump has donated his quarterly salary of $100,000 to the Department of Education.

"Secretary DeVos, it is my pleasure to present a check on behalf of the President of the United States of $100,000 to the Department of Education," she said.

After making the announcement Sanders handed a check to Education Secretary Betsey DeVos, who said the funds will go toward hosting a academic STEM camp for kids.

"Today's and tomorrow's economy requires students prepared for STEM careers," DeVos said. "I am grateful to the President for this generous gift. The President is committed to the nation's students and reforming education in America so that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to high a quality education."

Yesterday DeVos spent the day with advisor Ivanka Trump promoting STEM education for girls at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.


Bret Weinstein files $3.8M tort claim against Evergreen State College

Evergreen State College may soon face a $3.8-million lawsuit in connection with its handling of the the 2017 “Day of Absence” protests against biology professor Bret Weinstein.

Students at the Olympia, Washington institution who wanted a day without white people on Evergreen State College’s campus in May went wild over Mr. Weinstein’s refusal to take part. The fracas that followed resulted in a $3.8-million tort claim filed July 5, with details provided exclusively to the education watchdog Campus Reform on Tuesday.

“[Evergreen] failed to set and enforce necessary boundaries in the workplace on campus, selectively has chosen not to enforce its student Code of Conduct, and sent the unmistakable message that the school will tolerate (and even endorse) egregious violations (and even crimes) purportedly to advance racial social goals, diminishing the collegiate experience for all, and fostering a racially hostile work and retaliatory environment for faculty and staff,” Mr. Weinstein’s attorney said in a statement provided to Campus Reform.

The tort claim, which includes Mr. Weinstein’s wife Heather Heying, greases the legal wheels for a future lawsuit.

Other documents provided to the educational watchdog include emails berating the professor for agreeing to an interview with Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson.

“Bret, I don’t know what you were thinking,” one email reads. “By describing yourself to Tucker [Carlson] as a ‘deeply progressive person’ you provided him ammunition for the claim that ‘the crazies are even going after progressives! I hope that you won’t deepen your relation with Fox or pass on more raw material for Tucker’s ‘campus craziness’ show.”

Mr. Weinstein appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on May 26 and said that Evergreen College President George S. Bridges was given a set of demands — and threats of violence — by “Day of Absence” protesters.

“They have said that if he does not, if he does not accept their demands, that there will be violence,” the professor said. “[Campus police] have been hobbled by the fact that they answer to the college administration and, in fact, for several days have been barricaded in the campus police station.”

Evergreen’s Board of Trustees released a statement in early June calling the actions of its student activists “indefensible.”


CAIR Loses San Diego Schools Partnership

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to have it both ways - claiming to be a civil rights organization when it suits its purposes, but admitting at other times that its mission is religious.

That duplicity has cost CAIR a partnership with San Diego public schools and threatens to sabotage a plan to take an educational program national.

San Diego school board members agreed Tuesday night not to work with CAIR on a campaign to specifically fight anti-Muslim bullying generated by an exaggerated CAIR report. Instead, the Anti-Defamation League is poised to work on a program that aims "to comprehensively address the issue of bullying of all students."

The agenda item specifically mentioned that school board "staff is redirected from forming a formal partnership with CAIR to forming an intercultural committee which shall include representatives of from all faiths and cultures and which shall provide input to District staff on issues of cultural sensitivities and the individual needs of various subgroups within our diverse community."

Still, speaker after speaker criticized the proposal for excluding CAIR and for not specifically emphasizing anti-Muslim bigotry and "Islamophobia." CAIR-San Diego Executive Director Hanif Mohebi managed to make that argument while still denying CAIR was singularly focused.

"We have never come out saying that it should only be one group. But I think also we should realize that it might be a mistake not to focus on groups that are targeted much more than the rest," Mohebi said. "So that being said, we expect the district to publicly acknowledge and recognize the work that we have done for over a decade with the school district."

While the Anti-Defamation League also has a focus on protecting a specific group - Jews - Regional Director Tammy Gillies said its mission also is to "secure justice and fair treatment for all. That 'and' is the most important part of our mission statement. When one community is unsafe we are all unsafe."

The ADL program, she noted, has been evaluated by Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and other respected institutions.

The board agreed to work with CAIR in April. CAIR's program aimed to increase education about Islam in the classroom. Parents and religious liberty advocates balked at singling out Muslim students for safe places without providing similar accommodations to other faiths. Muslim holidays would have been added to the school calendar, and campus events falling on those holidays would be rescheduled.

It was obvious, though, that board members reluctantly decided to implement a broader policy addressing bullying across cultures and religious backgrounds. Vice President Kevin Beiser reaffirmed his support for CAIR and thanked it for over a decade of partnership, but said supported the revised proposal "because I believe it codifies the board's commitment and my commitment to making sure that all students are safe. We do have certain groups of students who are bullied at much higher rates than other students.

"We need to work together to solve that problem," Beiser said, "and we want to thank CAIR and all of you in the Muslim community for your partnership."

The anti-bullying program was never about "promoting a religion" as some critics claimed, said Board President Richard Barerra.

But lawyers with the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) sued the school district in May, claiming the program did place Muslim students above others, violating the First Amendment's establishment clause, the Fourteenth Amendment and California law barring assistance to religion. They also claimed the anti-bullying program was a solution to an exaggerated problem.

None of the speakers advocating for CAIR's continued involvement addressed that Constitutional concern.

A report by CAIR's California chapters, "Growing in Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying, Harassment & Religious Accommodation in Schools" inspired the program, FCDF's lawsuit claims.

The school district's decision to back away from partnering with CAIR is an important victory, FCDF Executive Director Daniel Piedra told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). But he remains concerned that CAIR still may partner with the school district on other programs.

Mohebi and his allies seemed upset that they will not be able to use the school district to further their agenda, Piedra said after the meeting.

"They talk about equality, but it's really Orwellian because in their philosophy and the school board's philosophy, they are really saying that all students are equal but that some students are more equal than others," Piedra said.

The FCDF lawsuit remains alive despite Tuesday's decision to switch from CAIR's program to the ADL's. The group wants to learn more about CAIR's role in drafting the anti-bullying program. If it turns out that CAIR was intimately involved, the lawsuit may move forward because students' rights would have been violated, Piedra said, and to ensure that CAIR loses future opportunities to shape policy.

FCDF could seek monetary damages, he said, but it may ask a judge to impose a consent decree compelling the school district to not partner with CAIR again.

"We are willing to work with them; however, violating the Constitution is a serious allegation, and we are going to hold that to the school district every step of the way," Piedra said.

Under the now-abandoned program, students accused of bullying Muslim students were supposed to face "restorative justice," requiring them to reconcile with the other student. The school district would provide monthly reports on the bullying of Muslim students and post them online.

The district's reversal follows the FCDF's amended complaint filed last month, which challenged CAIR's local effort to hide behind the label of being a "civil rights organization." It pointed to testimony by CAIR co-founder and Executive Director Nihad Awad, who told the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that it lacked jurisdiction over a fight over unionizing CAIR employees because CAIR is a religious organization.

CAIR letterhead includes the invocation, "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful," which opens every chapter in the Quran, Charles L. Posner, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, wrote in an April 7 ruling.

This religious acknowledgement goes to the heart of the Establishment Clause's separation of church and state.

The loss of the San Diego program is a set-back for CAIR's desire to take an "anti-Muslim bullying" program national. It represents the biggest government rebuke to CAIR since the FBI instituted a policy in 2008 to break-off outreach programs due to CAIR's documented history in a Muslim-Brotherhood created Hamas-support network in the United States.

And it should send a message to districts throughout the country, Piedra said, warning CAIR that his organization will sue any public school district that partners with it in a similar anti-bullying program.

"We want to be sure for the benefit of our schoolchildren that CAIR is kept out of America's schools," Piedra said.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Christie Signs Bill Requiring NJ Schools Use Preferred Pronouns for Transgender Kids

A veto would have been over-ridden

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill requiring New Jersey schools use the preferred pronouns of transgender students, according to a Saturday report.

The legislation (S3067/A4652) compels New Jersey to mandate that state schools call transgender students by their preferred pronouns and prohibits them from making transgender students use bathrooms opposing their gender identity, according to

“This is a huge victory for equality in New Jersey, and we want to send a big thank you to Gov. Christie for standing on the right side of history on this one,” Garden State Equality, a civil rights organization, said Friday in a statement.

Transgender students will be “addressed at school by the name and pronoun preferred by the student that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, regardless of whether a legal name change or change in official school records has occurred,” says the law.

Furthermore, New Jersey schools cannot force “a transgender student to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender identity, and [must provide] reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student’s safety and comfort.”

New Jersey’s Democratic-majority Legislature passed the bill in June by a 59-15-3 vote in the state Assembly and a 25-10 Senate vote prior to Christie’s Friday signing.

“All of our children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Democratic state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, a sponsor of the bill, to “And that means having the regulatory framework in place to be sure that our schools are safe places and have supportive environments for all students.”

“If we cultivate intolerance, children will pick up on that and think it is OK to bully others who are deemed different,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, another sponsor.

While New Jersey amended its Law Against Discrimination in 2006 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, it did not contain specific provisions pertaining to pronouns and bathrooms.


From Wesleyan, a cautionary tale for Harvard on male-only clubs>

In a case that could offer a cautionary tale to Harvard University, a Connecticut jury recently sided with a fraternity that sued Wesleyan University after the school tried to force the club to admit women.

Wesleyan, like Harvard, is trying to improve what it considers a discriminatory and unsafe social scene fostered by exclusive, all-male organizations. The two universities are taking different approaches — a Harvard panel has suggested banning fraternities, sororities, and final clubs altogether — but the Wesleyan example shows how difficult forcing such change can be.

“Broadly speaking, it does suggest that there are limits to the amount of interference a private university can impose on its students’ abilities to engage in associative groups outside of the university’s control,” said Will Creeley, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit organization that is following the Harvard situation closely.

Creeley said the situation in Connecticut has significant differences from Harvard, including that the Wesleyan fraternity had been a university-sanctioned residence whereas the all-male final clubs at Harvard are off-campus social organizations that often throw parties for undergraduates. But he said the case is part of a pattern across New England of schools attempting to curtail students’ rights to associate with single-gender social clubs.

The Wesleyan case began in 2014, when university president Michael Roth announced that all residential fraternities would be required to become fully coeducational over the following three years in an effort to make the campus more “equitable and inclusive.”

In 2015, the Wesleyan chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon sued the university after the school rejected its plan to integrate women into the 127-year-old DKE house on High Street in Middletown. Its plan was to allow women from a sorority, Rho Epsilon Pi, to occupy six beds inside the DKE house — separated from the men’s quarters — as an autonomous organization.

The fraternity argued in court that it had followed the school’s order, but also that the order was unfair because Wesleyan offered other types of exclusive housing, such as the Women of Color House; the Turath House, for Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim students; and single-sex dormitories, but refused to permit fraternity brothers the same option.

The fraternity said the school informed DKE that it would have to become “fully coeducational,” then rejected its plan.

The fraternity sued under a state law, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, alleging that the university made negligent misrepresentations and interfered with the fraternity’s business relationships when it did not accept the fraternity’s plan on how to integrate women.

The case went to trial, and in June a six-person jury ruled in favor of the fraternity, awarding $386,000 to the Kent Literary Club, DKE’s alumni chapter at Wesleyan. The DKE house has still not reopened, however, because of ongoing legal matters.

The fraternity believes the case demonstrates that although private schools have broad control over rules they make for their students, they do not have complete control.

“Maybe [Wesleyan is] not so free as they thought they were to change their policies willy-nilly and to say one thing on the one hand, then do something else on the other hand,” said Scott Karsten, a Wesleyan 1974 alumnus and member of the DKE alumni association.

Karsten was a witness in the trial and negotiated with the university at the time of the coed mandate, he said.

Harvard initially considered a plan much like Wesleyan’s: pressuring single-sex clubs to go coed in 2015.

To that end, Harvard introduced a controversial policy last spring aimed at curtailing the clubs’ influence over student social life by imposing on-campus restrictions on students who join single-gender off-campus clubs.

Administrators say the clubs foster an out-of-control drinking and party culture that leads to sexual assault and permits excluding people based on appearance or social status. The clubs are known for lavish parties in their ornate homes around Harvard Square that are worth millions. Many club houses are decorated with antique books, taxidermied animals, and sunken leather sofas.

Some male final clubs did accept women, but most resisted. One that admitted women has now returned to all-male status because of infighting between undergraduate and alumni members.

Last week Harvard considered changing its approach to sanctioning the clubs, which are private organizations governed by alumni boards and are not part of the university.

Instead of asking the male clubs to admit women, a committee of administrators and faculty released a report that recommends the university forbid students from joining unrecognized single-gender clubs altogether, with a goal to “phase out” the clubs by 2020.

The list of forbidden clubs includes not only the male-only final clubs but also female-only final clubs, sororities and fraternities. The report is a recommendation, not a final policy. The ultimate decision is up to Harvard president Drew Faust.

Harvard spokespeople declined to comment on the Wesleyan case, saying it is irrelevant to Harvard’s efforts.

Wesleyan officials also declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. The Hartford Courant reported last month that the university was exploring its legal options after the ruling.

The student blog Wesleying last month published an e-mail the university president sent after the verdict.

“Though we disagree with the decision, we appreciate the judge and jury’s time and consideration,” he wrote, adding that “Wesleyan believes very strongly in the principle of coeducation.”

A spokesman for the national chapter of DKE also declined to comment, as did attorney Richard J. Buturla, who represented the Wesleyan alumni chapter in the suit.

The day of the verdict, the fraternity issued a statement that said it was gratified by the decision, which it said “validates that we were acting in good faith and trying to meet the university’s requirements when we submitted a plan to coeducate our residence,” according to the Courant.

DKE has sued in the past over the same issue on other campuses. The fraternity sued Middlebury College — and lost — in the 1990s when the school forced fraternities to go coed. It sued Hamilton College over the same issue in 1995, and the suit was thrown out.

Many elite private colleges in New England have banned Greek life organizations in recent decades. Middlebury College did so in 1991. Colby College and Amherst College did it in 1984 and Bowdoin College in 1997.

But not so at all colleges. In 2015, Trinity College in Hartford dropped its attempt to force sororities and fraternities to go coed. The school’s president, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, said the 15 months of conversations on campus about the proposal proved to be divisive and counterproductive.

“I have concluded that the coed mandate is unlikely to achieve its intended goal of gender equity,” she wrote in an e-mail to students at the time, as reported by the Hartford Courant.


Australian High school CANTEEN menu features turmeric lattes, smashed avo on artisan bread and vegan salted caramel

A big improvement on Mrs Obama's dismal ideas

An elite all-ages school is offering its students vegan chocolate mousse, dumplings and even smashed avocado on toast at its canteen.

Northern Beaches Christian School, in Sydney's far north, has been open to change in recent years, with teachers calling themselves everything from 'learning activists' to 'pedagogical wizards'.

And now the $15,000-a-year private school has also bid goodbye the days of writing lunch orders on a brown paper bag, with the school's canteen better resembling a beachside cafe with its variety of gourmet options.

Founded in the early 1980s, Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) became an independent and not-for-profit organisation in 2004. Today it has more than 1,300 students, with its practices seeing it 'highly regarded by educators across the world'.

And part of the school's efforts to 'empower' its students from primary school to Year 12, has been the inclusion of its independently-owned canteen - 'Grounded'.

While many parents' memories of school canteens involve brown paper bags, meat pies or devon and tomato sauce sandwiches, times have definitely changed.

It is joined on the canteen's winter menu by artisian fruit loaf, tapioca pudding, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, 'Nonnas meatballs', deli sandwiches on sourdough, as well as turmeric and chai lattes.

Promoting the canteen on its website, the school spruiks its 'great food and coffee' while also encouraging parents to pay a visit.

'The cafe aligns with our core value of being a learning community built on strong, meaningful relationships – food is a great catalyst for shared community,' the website reads.

'Grounded is an independent business, with a vision is to provide healthy, delicious food, prepared daily on the premises.' 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Australia: 'The education system is broken': Teacher who quit her job after 30 years reveals why she intends to home-school her grandchildren

Rather unclear what she wants changed.  More staff and less assessment is part of it but the rest is unclear. 

I think she fails to understand that continuous assessment is designed to circumvent reliance on a "sudden-death" examination at the end of the year.  That was once the system but was often protested against as being an unfair measure of a pupil's ability.  Lots of students who did poorly were said just to be having a "bad day".

And teachers "taught to the test" back then too.  It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

And she ignores the function of the NAPLAN (national) exams in detecting and hopefully improving failing schools.  There are many quite bad schools in the government sector.  That is why 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.

It is of course possible to have a school environment where students feel relaxed and learn in their own way.  I once taught in such a "progressive" school myself. It had a great staff/student ratio and friendly teachers  but, even so, one half of my pupils did well and the other half learnt nothing.  And the school did not survive that.  It closed down after a few years.  A school system meant to serve all just cannot be run that way.

The classic example of such a school, "Summerhill", still struggles on but it still has only 60-70 pupils and is too expensive for most parents -- meaning that most pupils come from rich homes -- and they are above-average pupils anyhow.  The school is also said to be "surprisingly strict" these days. The school has been around since the '20s but has few imitators today.  It is clearly not a viable model for government schools

She set the internet alight last year, after she penned a damning essay about the state of the Australian education system and why she was quitting after 30 years in the profession.

And now the Queensland-based teacher, Kathy Margolis, has said she has absolutely no intention of letting her grandchildren into the school system either: 'The education system is broken,' she said.

'I have said to my three sons, "If you guys one day have kids, and I haven't managed to get the system changed, then I’m going to home-school every last one of them",' she told Mamamia on Monday.

In her latest statement, Ms Margolis has said that one of her biggest concerns about the school system is the fact that kids are being expected to read and write in their first formal year of schooling.

'There are kids who are saying, "I'm stupid, I can't do this,"' Ms Margolis said.

'They can see their friends who know all the sight words. Not only that, we're giving them report cards that are telling these parents, "Your child hasn't met this standard," when really, what we should be saying to the parent is, "It's okay, they're just not ready yet, don't stress." But they're not hearing that and they're going out and getting tutors.'

Ms Margolis added that she would have 'lost her job' if she had told parents that their child merely needed an 'extra year'.

'Parents want their kids to do well and to be okay, so they're coming from a place of helping their kids. Really, the kids just need extra time,' she said.

Since Ms Margolis quit teaching, she has started working for the organisation, Protecting Childhood. 

This stands for play-based learning till the age of six, no set formal homework until the age of eight, and no standardised testing which is used to 'pass or fail' kids.


Education in Australian schools is in crisis and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up. I have been a primary school teacher in Brisbane schools for over 30 years. This year, after much thought, I have decided to look for another job, not easy for a woman in her 50s. I cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done. I love my students and they love me. I know how to engage children in learning and how to make it fun. It’s what I do best.

Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time. So now that I have justified our holidays, many of which are spent doing the above, let’s talk about what is going on in classrooms across this great nation of ours.

Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care.

The curriculum is so overcrowded. Prep teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography. As a teacher and a mother of 3 sons, this scares the proverbial out of me. We all know that boys this age need to be moving around doing things that interest them, not sitting at desks. And what about the notion of readiness? I fear those little ones who are not ready are going to be left behind. And here’s the problem with our crowded curriculum. There is not enough time to consolidate the basics. Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the 3 R’s. My own children went off to year one after having had a lovely, enriching play based year of learning back in the days of pre-school. They didn’t know any sight words; they could write maybe a few letters and guess what? They learnt to read and write without being pushed at such an early age.

In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data’s sake. Don’t even get me started on NAPLAN. Teachers wouldn’t have a problem with NAPLAN if it wasn’t made out to be such a big deal by the powers that be, the press and parents. It has turned into something bigger than Ben Hur.

So why am I writing this? I’m writing this because teachers need to speak up but we are often afraid of retribution. We need to claim back our profession but we are powerless. Teachers teach because we love children and are passionate about education. Our young teaching graduates enter the profession bright eyed and bushy tailed, energetic and enthusiastic, ready to make a difference. So why I ask are they only staying for an average of 5 years? Of course that question is rhetorical. I know the answer. They are burnt out and disillusioned. Older teachers like me have seen better days in the classroom so in a way it’s harder for us to see all the joy slowly being sucked out of learning. But we also have a wealth of experience to draw from and we know which hoops you don’t necessarily need to jump through. We occasionally speak out. We are not as easy to “control”. But we are tired and also burning out with disillusionment.

I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know agree with us. I write this because I love children and I can’t bear to see what we are doing to them. Last year, as I apologised once again to my class for pushing them so hard and for the constant barrage of assessment, one child asked me “if you don’t like the things you have to do then why are you still a teacher?” That question got me to thinking long and hard. I had no answer except that I truly loved kids and it was with a heavy heart that I realised that wasn’t enough anymore.

The teacher's original 976-word essay was published on her Facebook page last year. In it, she said the system was in 'crisis' and added that she wrote the post in the hope of sparking public debate.

'Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care,' she wrote at the time.

'Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data's sake.'

The post swiftly went viral and was shared thousands of times online.

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to the Queensland Department of Education for comment.

In a recent statement issued by the state's education minister, Kate Jones, to ABC Radio, she said: 'I have to ensure that early year teachers feel that they have the flexibility to do the appropriate age learning for students in their class.

'Also in the recent budget we announced that there will be a fully funded prep teacher aide in every classroom in Queensland.

'The statements will identify any issues they believe the prep teacher should have and we will provide that directly, and this is something prep teachers have asked for.'


Bloomberg Wrongly Cites 'Wealth Inequality' to Vilify School Choice

Bloomberg this week published a new article fostering the Left’s “private school is evil” canard. The author cuts to the chase in the first sentence, where he bemoans, “These days, private school really is just for rich kids.” Citing National Bureau of Economic Research data, the author reports a significant decline among middle-income participation in private schools over the last 50 years, whereas the participation rate among high-income families is essentially flat. This, the author surmises, “could come to perpetuate the nation’s growing wealth divide.”

While the article doesn’t specifically mention school choice, there’s clearly a grudge. The irony, of course, is that conservatives have long advocated for school choice — for example, by vastly expanding school vouchers. This would provide opportunities for more lower and middle class children to attend private schooling. The Bloomberg report rationally points out that “the average tuition at nonsectarian private elementary schools ― where the percentage of students from high-income families has risen substantially ― surged from $4,120 in 1979 to $22,611 in 2011.” Yet this misses a key point: Government per-pupil spending has skyrocketed as well, with quite literally nothing to show for it.

More school choice would create more competition, which naturally helps to keep rising tuition rates in check with the added benefit of boosting performance. That’s more than we can say of public schools. The fact is, statist policies are eating away at the middle class. And to Bloomberg’s point, statism affects the entire economy — including, incidentally, private school tuition. This more than anything is contributing to the so-called wealth gap. Leftists pretend it’s the other way around. And if bolstering this narrative means exploiting “wealth inequality” — a scapegoat used with virtually every topic — to demonize school choice, so be it. For them, it’s a win-win.


Minnesota Schools Adopt Transgender Toolkit for Kindergartners
Teachers told to ask children their 'preferred pronouns'

A "transgender toolkit" for public schools in Minnesota advises teachers to call children "scholars" instead of boys and girls.

The guidelines were approved Wednesday by the "School Safety Technical Assistance Council" and will be distributed to Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools and charter schools throughout the state. The toolkit attempts to "ensure a safe and supportive transition" for children becoming a different gender at school.

The toolkit allows for boys who identify as girls to use the girls' bathroom, and tells teachers to ask kids what their "preferred pronouns" are.

The Minnesota Department of Education encourages parents to have "acceptance and support of their child's gender identity" if they want their child to perform well at school.

"Schools should not assume a student's name or pronoun," the toolkit states. "School officials should ask the student and use the requested name and pronouns."

The department says no legal documents are needed to change a student's name or gender in school records. The department also said that teachers must call students by whatever name they choose to ensure that bullying does not occur.

"When students are referred to by the wrong pronoun by peers or school staff, students may feel intimidated, threatened, harassed or bullied," the toolkit states. "School staff can ensure a more respectful environment for all students when efforts are made to correct the misuse of pronouns, as well as names, in student records."

If a teacher calls a child by the wrong pronoun, he could violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, according to the guide.

Teachers also should avoid calling grade school children "boys and girls," because the phrase is not "inclusive."

"Teachers could address students as ‘students' and ‘scholars' to be inclusive as opposed to ‘boys and girls,'" the guide states.

Other tips include not picking a homecoming or prom king and queen—instead students should nominate "prom ambassadors," "homecoming court," or "homecoming royalty."

The department explains, "Language around gender is evolving."

"In some communities, the term ‘Two-Spirit' is used for an American Indian person possessing a blend of male and female spirits," the toolkit states. "The term honors people of native heritage. Two-spirit students traditionally do not seek out medical transition nor use the language of transgender nor gender nonconforming to describe their gender."

The toolkit links to several outside resource guides, including the group Gender Spectrum's "Student Gender Transition Plan," where a child can fill out their "preferred name," gender, and assigned sex at birth.

The form asks, "What does the student wish to communicate about their gender?" and what "requests" the student will make, such as a new name, pronouns, or using a different locker room or bathroom.

The plan also includes a schedule for sharing a child's new gender with the school and other parents, and a time for a "parent information night about gender diversity."

The department also references a "Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools," developed by left-wing organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, the National Education Association, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. This guide states that a child's "age and maturity" should "never be a basis for denying a transgender student an opportunity to transition in a safe and supportive environment."

The guidebook also advises that students can use the restroom of their choice. The department suggests that school officials should segregate students who feel uncomfortable by a biological boy who identifies as a girl joining the girls' locker room.

"Privacy objections raised by a student in interacting with a transgender or gender nonconforming student may be addressed by segregating the student raising the objection provided that the action of the school officials does not result in stigmatizing the transgender and gender nonconforming student," the toolkit states.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Harvard women's clubs face ban too

The usual "unintended side-effects" of Leftist regulation attempts.  There's some nasty little authoritarians in the Harvard administration. Like the Puritans of old, they seem to resent that other people are having fun

CAMBRIDGE — Just blocks from the multimillion-dollar brick mansions owned by Harvard University’s legendary all-male final clubs is a separate world.

Here, drab office building basements and former storefronts have been retouched with white lace curtains, comfy couches, and brightly decorated walls. Scattered around Harvard Square, these rented spaces are home to several of the university’s sororities and women’s final clubs.

There are no taxidermy collections here, passed down over generations, or grand staircases, and there’s barely enough room in some of them to throw a boozy party. Instead, it’s where Harvard’s undergraduate women say they pad around in their socks, gather to binge-watch Netflix shows, prep with their friends for job interviews, and compare notes on birth control.

But as Harvard attempts to crack down on all-male final clubs, a proposal to ban membership in exclusive clubs could have a disproportionate impact on women, who belong to such organizations in greater numbers.

“These sanctions unfairly punish women’s groups,” said Pauline Ryan, who graduated from Harvard this spring and was a member of a sorority and a women’s final club. “The administration often highlights Harvard’s mission of preparing its students for the ‘real world,’ but what they fail to acknowledge is that the real world still has ‘old boys clubs’ and that therefore women’s organizations remain necessary balancers and spaces that empower women.”

Earlier this month, a university panel recommended that Harvard bar students from joining private, off-campus clubs — a plan that would ultimately need the approval of university president Drew Faust. While the main target of the proposal is seven all-male final clubs, which administrators blame for unruly parties that have led to underage drinking and sexual assault, and for fostering a divisive culture, the recommendation calls for phasing out all elite social clubs, including fraternities, sororities, and female final clubs by 2022.

That has angered many sorority and female final club members, who say they have been swept up by the university’s efforts to crack down on these all-men bastions that draw some of the wealthiest male students on campus.

There are four sororities and four all-women final clubs for Harvard students. Membership is hard to calculate, because the groups keep their rosters private and some women join both sororities and final clubs. But Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean at Harvard College and vocal opponent of the proposed policy, estimates that 900 women belong to such clubs — as opposed to 675 men.

“A lot of the conversation has been around male clubs; that’s particularly frustrating,” said Camille N’Diaye-Muller, 21, a rising senior and the undergraduate president of the Delta Gamma sorority. She said she and many women support the university’s aims to create a safe and inclusive space for students.

“We don’t believe this will deal with sexual assault and exclusivity,” she said. “A policy like this will do more harm than good.”

Harvard officials declined to comment on the committee’s recommendations.

But in its report, the committee acknowledged that there are distinctions among the single-gender clubs and that many of them formed as “well-intentioned antidotes to the effects of the final clubs.”

But the final clubs and other such exclusive organizations create a “pernicious” influence on undergraduate life, according to the report.

“In order to move beyond the gendered and exclusive club system that has persisted — and even expanded — over time, a new paradigm is needed, one that is rooted in an appreciation of diversity, commitment to inclusivity, and positive contributions to the social experience for all students,” the report states.

While sororities say they have an open recruitment process and try to match women with an organization, not everybody gets in. The Harvard Crimson reported that 280 women signed up for sorority recruitment this year, but only 193 received invitations to join.

The women’s final groups, La Vie Club, the Bee Club, the IC Club, the Pleiades Society, are even smaller and invitation-only. Many rent space from the men’s final clubs and hold joint events.

Several women at Harvard said the sororities and women’s final clubs have been their refuge at a hypercompetitive school, where power is still held primarily by men.

While women outnumber men on US college campuses, accounting for 57 percent of enrolled students, at Harvard men make up about 52 percent of students. Though Faust became Harvard’s first female president a decade ago, the tenured faculty remains predominately male, with women accounting for between a quarter and just over a third of the tenured or tenure-track faculty, according to Harvard data.

Many of Harvard’s sororities and women’s final clubs started more than 25 years ago as an alternative social space to the male final clubs and fraternities.

For Rebecca Ramos, 22, a Delta Gamma who graduated in May and plans to be a high school teacher, her sorority was the place where she could relax most at Harvard.

The high-achieving students who get into Harvard have spent most of their high school lives participating in a gamut of activities and are eager to re-create that experience when they arrive on campus. But getting into many of Harvard’s extracurricular organizations, whether it’s the debate club, dance club, or social-service organizations, can be competitive.

Students have to go through a “comp” process, which either stands for competency or competition — the origins are in dispute. The requirements include essays, interviews, multiple tryouts. Many try, few succeed.

Ramos said she applied to join more than a dozen groups as a freshman but got into fewer than a handful, and was struggling to find her place on campus, when she joined the sorority.

“Harvard can be a very difficult place to be a student,” she said. “A lot of people at Harvard have this mask, that everything is great. It’s about, ‘Did I get the perfect internship that will land me the perfect job?’ But the sorority is a place where women feel comfortable taking that mask off.”

She said she has confided in her sorority sisters when she was stressed about how she was doing in college.

Sororities and single-gender clubs also help women form networks that can help them land jobs, provide recommendations for graduate school, and offer support if they move to a new city, members say. Members and graduates say that the ban may push the bad behavior of the men’s final clubs that Harvard is hoping to rein in further underground and make it more difficult to monitor.

Ariel Stoddard, who graduated from Harvard in 2010 and was a member of The Sabliere Society, an arts-based women’s final club that went coed this year, said having women’s social groups is important. She belongs to a women’s networking organization in Los Angeles, where she now lives.

“There are groups and clubs that exist across all ages and affiliations,” she said. “They provide a huge social support.”


Campus Rape: Revisiting the 'Dear Colleague' Letter

When dealing with sexual assault, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is working to bring Rule of Law back to college campuses   

Responding in 2011 to a false narrative that sexual assault on college campuses was out of control, Russlyn Ali, at the time the assistant secretary for civil rights in Barack Obama’s Department of Education, penned what became known as the “Dear Colleague” letter. It was a 19-page “significant guideline document” for colleges and universities to follow, but its major effects on campus life were to make it extremely difficult for a student accused of sexual assault to defend himself and to lower the standard required for disciplinary action to a simple preponderance of the evidence. Even with the reduced standard (or perhaps because of it), campus rape incidents continued to make headlines, including fake news like the University of Virginia story retracted in 2014 by Rolling Stone.

One of many lawsuits resulting from the “Dear Colleague” letter was filed last year by a recently graduated law student from the University of Virginia (not connected to the Rolling Stone case), while another case was settled earlier this year after it was revealed that the accuser was upset because the defendant stopped dating her. By this time, though, the accused had long since been expelled from the school; details of the settlement were unavailable.

And while states like California and New York developed affirmative consent laws intended to make sure that, if things became physical, both parties knew what they were getting into, the problem arises when alcohol becomes involved and one or both participants no longer are in a position to give informed consent or stop the process.

As The New York Times reported, Candice Jackson, who is the acting head of the Department of Education’s civil rights division (a successor to Russlyn Ali), opined that “the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was just not quite right.’”

Jackson has since apologized for the “flippant” tone of the remarks, but no apology will ever placate a hardcore leftist who’s been [triggered]

According to on such unhinged leftist, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jackson “crossed a serious line and highlighted her clear biases in this area in a way that … should disqualify her from service in the position of top Department of Education protector of students’ right to be safe at school.” While Jackson may have exaggerated the number to some degree, it’s far closer to the truth than the Left’s oft-repeated lie that “one in five” women on campus are sexually assaulted.

The senator also leaves out the context of other statements made by Jackson to the Times. She noted the investigative process has not been “fairly balanced” between accuser and accused in recent years, and that students are deemed rapists “when the facts don’t back it up.” In fact, she said, sometimes there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.” But Murray, as a senator who will eventually vote on her confirmation, is one of those who holds the fate of Candice Jackson in her hands.

And while Murray was a vociferous opponent of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, it’s DeVos who is considering revisiting the subject of campus sexual assault and due process as “an issue we’re not getting right” after six tumultuous years. But DeVos isn’t just writing a long letter and making it stick — she’s out speaking with several of the parties involved, including rape survivors, college administrators, and — gasp — even those who were wrongly accused.

Some would like things to go even more quickly. David French, writing at National Review, suggests the “Dear Colleague” letter be immediately rescinded and colleges be compelled to turn these matters over to the civil and criminal court systems already in place. This would certainly be an improvement in due process for both parties, although aggrieved leftists will surely howl that this restoration of due process will have a “chilling” effect on victims reluctant to tell their stories.

The failure of the current system, however, means that something has to be done. While sexual assault is a problem on campus, there was already in place a lawful means of handling the issue. The problem was that victims were reluctant to put themselves through the process, and schools were fearful of the prospect of negative press from such proceedings. But preserving the rights of the accused and maintaining the presumption of innocence until being proven guilty — even if only by a standard of “clear and convincing evidence” common in civil trials — should be the standard. Let’s hope DeVos can make it right again.


Australia: University funding rationalization provokes controversy

Universities have accused the Turnbull government of muddying the waters as it prepares for a fight over higher education funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday released figures showing what students will pay under planned changes would more closely match the benefits of getting a degree.

The federal government's overhaul of higher education includes increasing student fees by up to $3200 over a four-year degree, cutting university teaching funding by 2.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, tying a portion of funding to performance measures, and lowering the threshold when student debts must start to be repaid.

Senator Birmingham said the report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, "injects facts ... into a debate that has at times been dominated by platitudes and sound bites".

It showed about 45 per cent of the benefits from a higher education were private, such as securing a well-paid job.

The government says its planned fee increase will mean students contribute 46 per cent of the cost - up from 42 per cent now - with taxpayers covering the rest.

Senator Birmingham took aim at university groups that supported the coalition's previous proposal for full-fee deregulation but oppose the package now before parliament.

They had "tried to walk both sides of the street in this debate".

The minister characterised the increase in funding to universities since 2009 as "a river of gold".

The group of six Innovative Research Universities disagreed, telling a Senate inquiry on Monday the river of gold was down to more enrolments, not any boost to per-student funding.

"If anyone's being inconsistent here, it's the government that previously embraced the concept we did need more resources," executive director Conor King told a hearing of the inquiry in Melbourne.

"In this (package) it goes down; of course we're opposed."

The Group of Eight - representing the nation's research-intensive universities - said the government's package was not coherent and would leave students paying more for less.

The government had a track record of releasing reports such as the Deloitte research to the media without showing the sector first, chief executive Vicki Thomson said.

"We find we're responding to claims about rivers of gold or vice-chancellors' salaries or surpluses which are muddying the waters when we're wanting to talk about actually what sort of university sector do we actually want in this country," she told the committee.

The Senate inquiry will also hear from the academics union, education department officials, business representatives and higher education experts on Monday and Tuesday.

It's expected to report when parliament resumes in August, clearing the way for the bill to be debated.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Schools Spice Up Student Lunches with Restaurant-Quality International Dishes Designed to Boost Enrollment

On Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue attended the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual conference in Atlanta, promising to enable nutrition professionals to prepare meals for students that are more culturally-diverse, appealing and nutritious.

In an effort to combat students’ rebellion against the skimpy, tasteless lunches schools mandated by the Obama administration – which resulted in declining enrollment, wasted food, and tighter budgets – schools are now offering a wide range of more flavorful, international, restaurant-quality dishes.

“Students expect their school cafeterias to serve the diversity of flavors they are accustomed to in restaurants,” stated the SNA in a press release.

“Attendees will test recipes including Chicken Tikka Masala and Thai Style Fish Tacos, Spicy Korean BBQ strips and Southwest Chili con Carne.”

“The USDA and SNA are partners in working together because we all have the same goals in mind, and that’s the health and vitality of our young people,” Sec. Perdue said at the conference:

“My goal as Secretary of Agriculture is to remove the bookkeeping headaches and menu problems that are distracting our school nutrition professionals from doing their real job of feeding kids nutritious and appealing meals.”

SNA attendees walked through an exhibition with 408 different booths at which new foods and menu items were displayed. This year, there was an emphasis on providing a diverse variety of international dishes.

Nutritionists and parents like those who attended the conference in Atlanta have become increasingly concerned about school nutrition after participation in school lunch programs has consistently dropped in recent years.

Sec. Perdue has already rolled back some of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s restrictions and standards. Harsh backlash against the former first lady’s infamous school lunch restrictions made national headlines during the Obama administration as school children took to social media to post photos of their tiny, unappetizing school lunches, often with the hashtag “#ThanksMichelleObama.”

In a May press release entitled “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again,” USDA announced its intention to “provide greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school meal programs in order to make food choices both healthful and appealing to students.”

While at the conference, attended by over 7,000 people, the secretary met with school nutritionists from around the country. SNA’s new president, Dr. Lynn Harvey, agreed with Sec. Perdue’s assessment of the current situation and vision for the future.

“School nutrition professionals work every day to make school meals more nutritious and delicious for our students,” said Dr. Harvey. “We are honored that Secretary Perdue recognizes these ongoing efforts and the importance of school meal programs. We look forward to working with USDA to identify ways to build on this success in school dining areas.”\


UK universities accused of giving too many first-class degrees

About a quarter of students gained a top degree last year, up from 8 per cent in the early 1990s

Universities are guilty of significant degree grade inflation, critics say, with some awarding first-class honours to more than 40 per cent of their graduates.

The number of firsts has almost doubled in five years at some universities, with almost three in ten students at Russell Group institutions being given the best degrees last year. Across the board, about a quarter of students graduated with a first — up from 8 per cent in the early 1990s.

Sceptics say that, as a result, employers are forced to look at job applicants’ A levels and even GCSE results because university classifications have become meaningless. Imperial College London and the University of Surrey gave firsts to 41 per cent of graduates last year.


Let’s put the ‘mattress girl’ case to bed

Paul Nungesser should not have to live with continual accusation

This week, Columbia University settled a lawsuit brought by ex-student Paul Nungesser. Nungesser sued Columbia under a US federal law known as Title IX, which forbids universities from discriminating against students on the basis of gender. The law hit the headlines when students started deploying it to claim damages for universities’ apparent failure to investigate allegations of sexual assault on campus properly. Nungesser argued that Columbia’s failure to deal with an allegation against him amounted to discrimination and seriously affected his ability to continue his studies.

In 2013, Nungesser was accused of sexual assault and anal rape against another Columbia student at the time, Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz alleged that consenting intercourse between them had turned violent, and Nungesser anally raped her. When Nungesser was exonerated by both a local police investigation and an internal university investigation, Sulkowicz began carrying a mattress around campus as part of an ‘endurance art’ project. She called the work ‘Carry That Weight’ and said it was illustrative of women’s burden in having to deal with sexual assault. She became known as the mattress girl.

The project received global attention and divided opinion. One art critic called it the ‘best art show of the year’ and said it demonstrated ‘radical vulnerability’. Sulkowicz received awards from two prominent American feminist groups. She was profiled in New York magazine. Others said Sulkowicz was a liar, especially following revelations that she had sent Nungesser flirtatious Facebook messages the morning after the alleged attack. These two young students became symbols of the competing interests in rape investigations - especially of the clash between ensuring a proper investigation and maintaining the presumption of innocence.

Despite being cleared, things turned grim for Nungesser. His name was included in a ‘rapist list’ pasted to the wall of the men’s toilet at Columbia. Sulkowicz was allowed to carry the mattress on to the graduation stage and received academic credit for the project (many saw this as tacit approval by the university of Sulkowicz’s conduct and presumably her accusations). It was this granting of credit that formed the basis of Nungesser’s Title IX suit. He accused Sulkowicz’s supporters of bullying him and claimed he had been subjected to widespread harrassment. In its settlement statement, Columbia said ‘Paul’s remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and [this is] not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience’.

Many are saying that with the settlement of the lawsuit, justice has been done. But in fact, this case highlights the sorry state of justice in these campus cases. On the one hand, you have a young woman who accuses another student of a serious crime and who feels the only way she can achieve a resolution is by harassing him through artwork. On the other is a student who has been exonerated of said serious crime, and who rightly expects to be able to move on with his life. Whatever actually happened on the night, the use of this case to make broad statements about the justice system has made it harder for either side to achieve anything resembling justice.

Neither of these people is straightforwardly in the wrong. Sulkowicz is allowed to voice her perspective on what happened to her. It is a sad fact that more and more young women are turning to social media to voice their allegations because they think the justice system will let them down. But there has to be a line where a legitimate voicing of concerns becomes something else, where it becomes overbearing and wrong. Because Nungesser has a right to the presumption of innocence and due process. When he was exonerated, he should have been allowed to carry on with his life unimpeded and free from harassment or continual accusation. He cannot be convicted in the kangaroo court of public opinion just because there was no evidence to prosecute him in a real court. Sulkowicz’s right to discuss what she thinks happened to her must be balanced against Nungesser’s legal rights and his right to move on.

It was wrong to elevate Sulkowicz to the status of a feminist icon. That introduced an utterly unhelpful dimension into the case and inflamed suspicion around Nungesser. After the mattress project, Sulkowicz created an art piece called ‘Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol’ (‘This Is Not A Rape’). It is a video work showing her engaging in sexual activity with a man. The website that hosted the video said the activity is ‘supposed to resemble rape… but is entirely consensual’. She said the piece is meant to ask questions, like: ‘Are you searching for proof? Proof of what?’; ‘What do you want from this experience?’; ‘How well do you think you know me?’. Some welcomed the artwork as ‘brave’, while others cited this sexually explicit video as further evidence of Sulkowicz’s willingness to court publicity.

We will probably never know what happened between Sulkowicz and Nungesser on that night. The politicisation of the case makes it even less likely. Nungesser’s name should no longer be associated with a rape allegation and Sulkowicz should never have become an international symbol of feminist struggle. The more we politicise these cases the harder they are to deal with in a fair and objective way. This is the only lesson to take from this debacle.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The gap that never will close

We see below that parental education is found to be the big factor in how well the child will do in education. It is also shown that this is a genetic influence.  So there is no hope that black educational attainment will ever equal white educational attainment.  In general, poorly educated parents must bring forth poorly educable chidren.  The exceptions are to be treasured but will not be frequent

Genetic Influence on Intergenerational Educational Attainment

Ziada Ayorech, Eva Krapohl, Robert Plomin


Using twin (6,105 twin pairs) and genomic (5,825 unrelated individuals taken from the twin sample) analyses, we tested for genetic influences on the parent-offspring correspondence in educational attainment. Genetics accounted for nearly half of the variance in intergenerational educational attainment. A genomewide polygenic score (GPS) for years of education was also associated with intergenerational educational attainment: The highest and lowest GPS means were found for offspring in stably educated families (i.e., who had taken A Levels and had a university-educated parent; M = 0.43, SD = 0.97) and stably uneducated families (i.e., who had not taken A Levels and had no university-educated parent; M = −0.19, SD = 0.97). The average GPSs fell in between for children who were upwardly mobile (i.e., who had taken A Levels but had no university-educated parent; M = 0.05, SD = 0.96) and children who were downwardly mobile (i.e., who had not taken A Levels but had a university-educated parent; M = 0.28, SD = 1.03). Genetic influences on intergenerational educational attainment can be viewed as an index of equality of educational opportunity.


College Professor’s Failed Defense of Federal Meddling in College Discipline

Hans Bader shows up some logical slipping and siding

A college president recently promoted fallacies about the law in order to justify federal micromanagement of school discipline. Writing in the Washington Post, Brooklyn College’s Michelle Anderson defended a 2011 letter from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dictating “the standard of proof in campus disciplinary proceedings.” It told colleges that had been using the “clear and convincing” evidence standard to instead use a mere “preponderance of the evidence” standard, if the allegation involves sexual harassment or assault (rather than a non-sexual offense).

For an unelected federal bureaucrat to dictate the burden of proof at colleges across the country is disturbing. But Anderson defended OCR’s action, claiming that “Preponderance is the standard of proof that applies throughout our justice system, except when life or liberty is at stake.”

This is an inaccurate claim. The civil justice system uses the clear-and-convincing evidence standard for many matters. I don’t know how Ms. Anderson could have taught law (as she did for years) without learning this basic legal reality.

One common example of the legal system using the clear-and-convincing evidence standard is given by Connecticut’s Office of Legislative Research. As it notes, “Most states require clear and convincing evidence” before punitive damages can be awarded, requiring “a high probability or a reasonable certainty that the plaintiff’s version is” true. This is not the only type of court case in which such clear proof is required. As I pointed out in the Wall Street Journal in 2014, “The clear and convincing evidence standard is often used for cases such as license suspensions and many issues involving fraud, punitive damages, wills or family decisions.”

Anderson believes that if the court system applies a preponderance standard, so, too, must campus disciplinary proceedings. But this belief has no logical or historical basis. Colleges used a higher standard in campus disciplinary proceedings for many years, without any objection from the courts. As James Picozzi noted in 1987 in the Yale Law Journal, “Courts, universities, and student defendants all seem to agree that the appropriate standard of proof in student disciplinary cases is one of ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.” (University Disciplinary Process: What’s Fair, What’s Due, and What You Don’t Get, 96 Yale L. J. 2132, 2159 n. 17 (1987)).

A federal appellate judge, Jose Cabranes, continued to advocate the use of the clear-and-convincing standard in campus disciplinary proceedings in a January 2017 op-ed in the Washington Post, which also noted that “the American Association of University Professors has described [it] as essential in any fair proceeding.”

Although colleges stopped using the clear-and-convincing standard for sexual harassment and assault allegations after the Education Department ordered them to in 2011, many of them (such as Duke University, or the University of Virginia’s Honor System) still use that higher standard of proof for other types of allegations, such as vandalism, non-sexual assaults, or honor code violations.

The April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that Anderson defends also contains more disturbing forms of federal micromanagement, as noted earlier, along with bad legal advice for colleges. It encouraged colleges to restrict cross-examination by the accused, even though the Supreme Court called cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” in its decision in Lilly v. Virginia, 527 U.S. 116, 124 (1999) – and campus cross-examination is also a specifically protected right under some state Administrative Procedure Acts. In a departure from longstanding Education Department policy, it also demanded that colleges regulate off-campus conduct (which led to people being investigated for sexual harassment for off-campus speech about sexual issues, such as an essay criticizing campus “sexual paranoia” in the Chronicle of Higher Education). And it ignored past agency rulings by demanding that colleges allow complainants to appeal not-guilty verdicts unless the accused is barred from appealing (which critics viewed as akin to double jeopardy).

Anderson is not troubled by any of this federal overreaching (her writings indicate she would go even further, to require accused people to prove they had verbal consent to sex, contrary to the fact that consent is often non-verbal, and most happily married couples engage in intimate contact without verbal consent). Although she doesn’t explain why the standard of proof should be the same in campus disciplinary proceedings as in civil litigation, the Education Department tried to justify this position in its April 4, 2011 letter. It reasoned that the lower “preponderance” standard was “the standard of proof established for violations of civil-rights laws” in lawsuits brought in federal court. Therefore, it claimed, preponderance must also be “the appropriate standard for” schools to use in “investigating allegations of sexual harassment or violence.’”

But as discussed earlier, that is a red herring, since the mere existence of harassment or assault by a student (as proven by a preponderance of evidence) doesn’t give rise to liability on the part of the school; only the school’s faulty response to it can. Liability under Title IX is based on whether the school mishandled sexual harassment or assault allegations, not whether students engaged in harassment. Students cannot violate Title IX; only schools can be sued under Title IX, not individuals. (See, e.g., Smith v. Metropolitan School District (1997).) Moreover, Students “are not agents of the school,” so their actions don’t count as the actions of the school. (See UWM Post v. Bd. of Regents (1991)).

As the Education Department admitted in its 1997 “Sexual Harassment Guidance,” “Title IX does not make a school responsible for the actions of harassing students, but rather for its own discrimination in failing to remedy it once the school has notice.” (62 FR 12034 (1997)). So to violate Title IX, an institution’s own actions must be proven culpable under a “preponderance” standard — not the mere occurrence of harassment.

Since an institution itself must behave in a culpable fashion, not just the accused harasser, federal courts have held that there is no violation of the civil rights laws even if harassment occurs, as long as the institution investigates in good faith in response to the allegation of harassment. That’s true even if the institution ultimately refuses to discipline a harasser based on the reasonable belief that he is innocent, after applying a firm presumption of innocence (such as demanding corroborating evidence, see Knabe v. Boury Corp., 114 F.3d 407 (3rd Cir. 1997)).

For example, a federal appeals court reversed a jury verdict that awarded a worker $85,000 against the U.S. Postal Service for sexual harassment, even though harassment did occur, since the Postal Service had, after investigating the worker’s sexual harassment complaint, reasonably, but erroneously, failed to credit plaintiff’s allegations. As the court explained, “a good faith investigation of alleged harassment may satisfy the ‘prompt and appropriate response’ standard, even if the investigation turns up no evidence of harassment. . .[and] a jury later concludes that in fact harassment occurred.” See Swenson v. Potter, 271 F.3d 1184, 1196 (9th Cir. 2001), quoting Harris v. L & L Wings, 132 F.3d 978, 984 (4th Cir. 1997).


Does free speech damage brains?

Can science, which has given us so many blessings, also help us settle disputes about free speech on campus?

Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, thinks so. She argues in the New York Times that science can “provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society.” It’s a point that she doesn’t prove, and that poses dangers to which she seems blind.

Barrett writes that science has shown that “abusive” speech damages listeners’ bodies, especially their brains, and should therefore be considered a form of violence. But it has also shown that “merely offensive” speech does not have this effect. So campuses should let Charles Murray speak, since he is offering “a scholarly hypothesis to be debated,” but is not “a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos.”

While I am not very familiar with the latter’s work, it certainly seems correct that a speech by Murray (a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute) would be much more likely to generate an intelligent discussion.

Colleges, and collegiate organizations, should take that fact into account when deciding whom to invite. If that’s all that Barrett wants to establish, she does not need to invoke science. Thinking through the mission of a university ought to be enough.

The science she cites does not really help her case. Her judgment about Murray and Yiannopoulos may be correct, but it is not obviously scientific. It’s hard to see how she overcomes this problem.

I suppose colleges could run tests in which random samples of undergraduates were exposed to prospective speakers and before-and-after comparisons of the fine structure of their brains were performed. Even then, though, we might have to take into account that some undergraduate brains are more susceptible to damage than others.

But it’s worse than that. Her factual assertions undermine her conclusion. She emphasizes that it’s “chronic stress” that affects the brain and nervous system: “If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that’s the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain.” That seems like an argument for, not against, tolerating a one-off speech by Yiannopoulos.

Nor does Barrett reckon with the fact that her rationale for keeping abusive speech off campus sweeps wider than her objective. If anything that causes “long stretches of simmering stress” is violence, then any professor with a reputation as a tough grader has a lot to answer for. So do traffic engineers, wedding planners and mortgage lenders.

Come to think of it, can an op-ed be sufficiently annoying to rewire a reader’s neurons for the worse? If so, is it too “literally violence”? It might be time for a citizen’s arrest.