Friday, August 11, 2017

NYC public schools in close proximity to charters see increased test scores

Anti-school choice activists often argue that charter school expansion hurts existing schools, but a new study of New York City schools found that new charter schools are increasing the performance of schools around them.

The peer-reviewed statistical analysis, conducted by Temple University professor Sarah Cordes, indicates charter schools are not only helping the students enrolled, but also students at schools that feel pressured to increase performance due to their close proximity to a new charter school.

The study found that schools located within half a mile of a new charter school saw increased scores in both math and reading, and the increases become more significant the closer the schools were. The impact was felt most in situations where a charter school opened inside the same building as an existing school.

"The closer the school is, the more it's on the minds of the people in the building," Cordes explained to The 74, an education nonprofit.

Cordes found that the quality of the charter school does not have an impact on how much it helps other schools in the building.

"Just the presence of an alternative does it," she said. "It doesn't really matter how great that alternative is—it's just the fact that that alternative is there, it's in the building, and people see it every day."

Cordes's study, which looked at 900,000 children in grades three through five who attended a public school within a mile of a charter school, found that schools sharing buildings with charters saw upticks in student attendance and far less students failing to advance to the next grade.

There were also marked improvements in student safety and school cleanliness.

Cordes credits competition for most of the improvements, but she also notes that spending per student increased at the existing schools due to drops in enrollment.

Schools within half a mile of charters saw a nearly 5 percent increase in spending per student after the charter was introduced.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has fought to restrict the expansion of charter schools, arguing that his focus will remain on improving the city's traditional public schools.

De Blasio, however, was forced to agree to a charter school expansion in exchange for control over the city's public schools for another two years.

Cordes says she was surprised by the results of her research given the conventional wisdom on the impact of charter schools. "So much of the talk about co-location is so negative, I was somewhat surprised to see the effect was as positive as it is," she said. "I really went into this not knowing what I would find."

The report explains that further research is required to determine exactly what is causing the increased performance in public schools, and also to see whether the results are similar in other large cities.


Transgender Graduates Get $20,000 Each After Restroom Dispute

A Pennsylvania school agreed to pay three transgender students $20,000 each in a settlement allowing the students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

The details of the costly settlement—totaling $60,000 awarded to the students and $75,000 to their attorney—were released Tuesday after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette requested the information from the Pine-Richland School District under the state’s sunshine law, according to U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Hornak issued a 48-page ruling in February 2016 explaining why the Pine-Richland policy discriminated against transgender students and violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, the Post-Gazette reported.

The students—two of whom identify as female but were born male, and one who identifies as male but was born female—sued Pine-Richland High School in October 2016. Each complained that the school wouldn’t allow them to use the restroom corresponding with gender identity rather than birth gender.

The high school initially enforced its bathroom policies in response to complaints from parents who said that allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice violated the privacy of the other students.

By agreeing to settle, the high school now allows students to use whichever bathroom “consistently and uniformly [matches their] asserted gender identity.”


K-12 School Agrees to Gender Inclusion Policy With No Notice or ‘Opt Out’ for Parents

After facing a lawsuit over its treatment of a kindergartener who identifies as transgender, a nationally recognized public charter school in Minnesota has agreed to adopt a far-reaching inclusionary policy.

In the settlement, the school promised to establish a gender inclusion policy that doesn’t allow parents to opt out “based on religious or conscience objections,” and also “not [to] call parents’ or guardians’ attention to the policy.”

The agreement ends a 16-month legal battle between Nova Classical Academy and David and Hannah Edwards, parents of a child who was born male but presents as a girl.

The Edwardses filed a complaint against Nova Classical Academy, in St. Paul, Minnesota, claiming the school “failed to protect their child and other gender nonconforming and transgender students at Nova from persistent gender-based bullying and hostility.”

They also claimed the school “denied their child the ability to undergo a gender transition at Nova in a safe and timely way.”

Their lawsuit, filed March 24, 2016, said the school violated two laws, the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the St. Paul Human Rights Ordinance.

Gender Justice, a nonprofit legal and advocacy organization for LGBT individuals, represented the Edwardses in the suit against Nova Classical Academy.

The school initially denied the allegations, but Gender Justice announced Monday that both parties had reached an agreement “through a confidential mediation process.”

In addition to committing to revise its gender inclusion policies to protect and respect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, Nova Classical Academy agreed to “pay damages of $120,000 to Hannah and David Edwards and their minor child, H.E.,” Gender Justice said in a press release.

Nova Classical Academy is a K-12 public charter school that enrolls 920 students. Based on the 2013-14 school year, U.S. News and World Report ranked its upper school as the No. 1 high school in Minnesota and the No. 16 high school in the nation.

The Daily Signal covered fallout from the case last year, quoting parents who objected to the proposed gender inclusion policies.

According to Gender Justice, “the policy changes at Nova Classical Academy are already underway.”

The child in question, however, now attends a different school, apparently as a first-grader.

According to the press release, the terms to which Nova Classical Academy agreed state:

Gender-Neutral School Uniforms

Nova will remove descriptions of disallowed clothing that includes language regarding “exposing the midriff” and “skimpy tank tops” and simply bar “any clothing not allowed under Nova’s school uniform guidelines.”

Nova will add a cross reference to its gender inclusion policy in the uniform guidelines.

Nova will eliminate gendered uniform policies and make all approved uniform items available without regard to gender.
‘Opt Out’ Not Allowed

Nova will not adopt any gender policy that allows parents to opt out of requirements in the gender inclusion policy because of objections based on religion or conscience.

Nova will not call parents’ or guardians’ attention to policy or law allowing them to opt out of specific instruction regarding gender inclusion.

Professional Development

Nova will provide professional development for all staff on supporting gender diverse students, by welcoming schools or another national LGBT organization that specializes in providing schoolwide training to help staff “respond to bias-based bullying and create gender inclusive classroom environments” by the close of the 2018-2019 school year.

Nova will ensure that all staff receive such training at least once every three years through 2025.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why the hokum about rape on campus?

The appetite for campus panics is becoming insatiable. In the UK and the US, numerous surveys revealing a high level of sexual harassment at university have gained international attention.

In keeping with this trend, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has this week released a long-awaited report on campus sexual assault. And even before the data was announced, commentators were excitedly predicting the outcome of the report. ‘A wave of victims are expected to come forward following the release of the world’s largest report into sexual assault on campus’, claimed the Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian predicted ‘an influx of historical disclosures of sexual assault and harassment’ as a result of the study. The results of the report were ‘predicted to be damning’, said the Canberra Times.

Commentary on the report was indeed damning. ‘Australia has a sexual-assault problem’, said ABC. ‘Half of all students were sexually harassed in 2016’, claimed the Guardian. ‘One in five university students experience some form of sexual harassment’, wrote the Australian. But, as with so many reports on campus sexual assault, the panicky headlines don’t reflect the reality.

According to the report, 51 per cent of students were sexually harassed on at least one occasion in 2016 (including ‘incidents which took place off campus’), and 21 per cent of students were sexually harassed in a ‘university setting’ (including an ‘off-campus event organised, or endorsed, by the university’, as well as ‘technology-based harassment’). The AHRC survey that informed the report was filled out by 30,000 students – just over two per cent of the student population, according to Universities Australia data on 2017 student numbers.

Furthermore, the AHRC also admits that much of the success of the report is down to the work of advocacy organisations. ‘This report comes after years of advocacy by survivors of sexual assault… to raise public awareness of the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities’, said sex-discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins. The report even admits this bias on page 226, in a section called ‘caveats’.

But alarm bells really start to ring once you look into what is classified as ‘sexual harassment’. The three most common forms of sexual harassment students recorded were: ‘inappropriate staring or leering that made you feel intimidated’ (32 per cent); ‘sexually suggestive comments or jokes that made you feel offended’ (19 per cent); and ‘intrusive questions about your private life or physical appearance that made you feel offended’ (14 per cent). No sensible person would classify staring, making jokes or asking rude questions as sexual harassment.

In fact, the students who filled out the AHRC’s survey didn’t even consider such behaviour serious enough to report it. Sixty-eight per cent of students ‘did not make a formal report or complaint… because they did not think their experience was serious enough’, and 53 per cent ‘did not think they needed help’. If the study proves anything, it’s that female students don’t need or want universities to act as their protectors.

There is a morbid fascination with sexual harassment on campus. This is despite the fact that there has never been any credible evidence to suggest that female students at Western universities are in danger. Why would there be? Anyone who has visited a campus in the US, UK, or indeed Australia, will be able to tell you that universities aren’t hotbeds of harassment. So why is there this desire to portray campus as a dangerous place for women?

Contemporary feminism has a big problem with women’s autonomy. Feminists have given up on the idea that women should be trusted to be as strong and capable as men. A victim mentality engrained in identity politics has convinced them that women are an underprivileged group, even though all the evidence shows that female university students perform better than their male counterparts, and that the majority do not experience sexual harassment. Rather than dealing with reality, feminists seek to convince young women that the stupid joke a guy tells them at the bar is more than just an awkward encounter – it’s sexual harassment.

This not only terrifies young women, it also infantilises them. The most worrying part of the AHRC survey is its call for universities to do more. The report’s ‘recommendations’ include compulsory consent classes and new regulations to police interaction between the sexes. It even suggests, a la 1950s-style dorm-policing, a review of ‘the level and nature of supervision in a 24-hour residential setting in which large numbers of young people are living away from home’. Implementing such changes would effectively reinstate in loco parentis rules on campus, which would treat women like children who need to be watched and protected.

Those who believe they are fighting for equality by scaremongering about sexual harassment should think again. It only serves to undermine women’s freedom. Past battles for equality weren’t won on the basis of victimhood. Instead, women demanded that their strength and capability be recognised by society. Giving these hard-won freedoms away by inviting the campus authorities to meddle in women’s personal lives would be an insult to the history of women’s liberation. More than that, it would be an insult to all women.


Is College Education Worth It?

August is the month when parents bid farewell to not only their college-bound youngsters but also a sizable chunk of cash for tuition. More than 18 million students attend our more than 4,300 degree-granting institutions. A question parents, their college-bound youngsters and taxpayers should ask: Is college worth it?

Let's look at some of the numbers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "when considering all first-time undergraduates, studies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one remedial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent." Only 25 percent of students who took the ACT in 2012 met the test's readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math and science). Just 5 percent of black students and 13 percent of Hispanic students met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects. The NCSL report says, "A U.S. Department of Education study found that 58 percent of students who do not require remediation earn a bachelor's degree, compared to only 17 percent of students enrolled in remedial reading and 27 percent of students enrolled in remedial math."

The fact of business is that colleges admit a far greater number of students than those who test as being college-ready. Why should students be admitted to college when they are not capable of academic performance at the college level? Admitting such students gets the nation's high schools off the hook. The nation's high schools can continue to deliver grossly fraudulent education — namely, issue diplomas that attest that students can read, write and compute at a 12th-grade level when they may not be able to perform at even an eighth- or ninth-grade level.

You say, "Hold it, Williams. No college would admit a student who couldn't perform at an eighth- or ninth-grade level." During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. These were students with high-school diplomas and admitted to UNC. And it's not likely that UNC is the only university engaging in such gross fraud.

Many students who manage to graduate don't have a lot to show for their time and money. New York University professor Richard Arum, co-author of "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," says that his study shows that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university. That observation is confirmed by the many employers who complain that lots of recent graduates cannot seem to write an email that will not embarrass the company. In 1970, only 11 percent of adult Americans held college degrees. These degree holders were viewed as the nation's best and brightest. Today, over 30 percent hold college degrees, with a significant portion of these graduates not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined than the average American. Declining academic standards and grade inflation tend to confirm employer perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness.

What happens to many of these ill-prepared college graduates? If they manage to become employed in the first place, their employment has little to do with their degree. One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high-school diploma or the equivalent. According to Richard Vedder, who is a professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, we had 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders and about 35,000 taxi drivers with bachelor's degrees in 2012.

The bottom line is that college is not for everyone. There is absolutely no shame in a youngster's graduating from high school and learning a trade. Doing so might earn him much more money than many of his peers who attend college.


More young Britons out of work and education

The number of young people in Britain who spend long periods neither working nor studying has increased in the past year, according to a think-tank report.

The total share of 16- to 24-year-olds who spent some time not in employment, education or training (Neets) declined last year, according to an analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the Learning and Work Institute think-tank, published on Wednesday. But the analysis showed that the percentage of young people who were Neet for a year or more rose from 9.8 per cent to 11.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the first quarter of last year.

The figures — which are based on eight official data sets from January 2014 to December 2016 — underscore that while the overall unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has fallen sharply since the financial crisis, to 12.5 per cent, the government faces a growing problem of jobless young people who are becoming increasingly unemployable the longer they remain adrift.

Tony Wilson, a director at the Learning and Work Institute, said the figures should worry policymakers.

“There’s a lot the UK can be proud of, it’s done really well in youth unemployment generally,” he said. “But if we’re only focusing on the headline measures, and we’re not focusing on people who fall into long-term worklessness, then we’re storing up trouble.”

He added that while employment policy in the UK mostly focuses on getting young people into work in the first few months after they leave education, there is not enough attention paid to people who fail to secure employment shortly after leaving school.

Some politicians have argued that tighter immigration rules after Brexit would force employers to offer jobs to disadvantaged young Britons.

But Jenny North, director of policy and strategy at the Impetus Private Equity Foundation, which commissioned the Learning and Work Institute’s research, said the new analysis indicated it was unlikely that Neets would benefit from Brexit.

What we see in this data is there are so many young people who are probably Neet long-term because they don’t have the skills employers want

“We did think perhaps this will provide opportunities for young people who previously might not have been an employer’s first choice but, to be honest, what we see in this data is there are so many young people who are probably Neet long-term because they don’t have the skills employers want,” she said.

Rob Cook, operations director at TwentyTwenty, a charity that works with disadvantaged young people in Leicestershire and Derbyshire, agreed, saying the problem for Neets was not the lack of job openings.

“Imagine if you’ve been out of education or employment for a year, two years, in some cases three years, they’ve just been lost to the system,” he said. “There’s a chasm for these young people to get across to get to those jobs.”

The share of young people who are Neet in the UK has been much higher than in other EU countries — including Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands — in recent years.

Data from the OECD show the UK is one of the only developed countries where young people’s skills appear to have deteriorated relative to the older generations.

On average across the OECD, the proportion of young people between the ages of 16 and 29 with poor literacy skills is 26 per cent lower than for older people between the ages of 30 and 54. The proportion of young people with poor numeracy skills is 13 per cent lower than for their older counterparts.

But in the UK, the share of young people with poor literacy skills is 18 per cent higher than the older age group. The proportion of young people with poor numeracy skills is 9 per cent higher, compared to the older cohort.

Jasmin Chahan, who is almost 18, left school at 16 with one GCSE at grade C. She tried to find work in childcare but struggled to persuade anyone to take her on. She spent her time at home with her mum, leaving the house to take her little brother to school and pick him up again.

“It was quite hard, there was one point where I did give up, then I thought well I can’t give up because it’s my career at the end of the day,” she said.

Ms Chahan worked with TwentyTwenty and studied for entry-level English and maths qualifications. She has just been offered a job at a pub in Derby.

Critics have argued that Britain’s education system is geared too much to people willing and able to go to university.

“We continue with high-stakes exams at age 16 followed by an extraordinarily narrow and specialised curriculum for 17 and 18-year-olds,” Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank, wrote in The Times last month. “This is all focused on the needs of universities and works for many who go on to higher education but it is wholly inappropriate for the two-thirds or so of young people who do not.”

Philip Hammond, chancellor, said in the Budget in March that the government would spend £500m on improving technical education for 16 to 19-year-olds and introduce new qualifications, known as T-levels, building on recommendations from Lord Sainsbury’s review last year into technical skills.

The education department pointed to its changes to the school curriculum and its support for apprentices as measures designed to help reduce the number of Neets.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

University of Dallas Ranks No. 1 for Most Conservative Student Body

The University of Dallas and Hillsdale College ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in a survey aimed at determining which American colleges have the most conservative student bodies.

The rankings were based on a survey, conducted by The Princeton Review, of 137,000 students attending the 382 schools. The survey asked this question: "Politically, are you far-left, Democrat, non-partisan, Republican, or far-right?"


5 Ways to Convince College Students That Free Speech Matters

In recent days, college students have shouted down, pepper-sprayed, punched, and otherwise shut down the campus guests whose ideas they considered offensive.

The most prominent recent cases have included Milo Yiannopoulos (University of California, Berkeley), Charles Murray (Middlebury College), and Heather Mac Donald (Claremont McKenna College), but a number of institutions have disinvited scheduled speakers and disciplined students or professors for expressing their ideas.

Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, Williams University, and other schools succumbed to student pressure by disinviting scheduled speakers whose views some students find offensive.

The College of William & Mary, the University of Colorado, and DePaul University went so far as to discipline students who criticized affirmative action. The University of Kansas even disciplined a professor for criticizing the National Rifle Association.

Making a Fresh Case for Free Speech

Unless we want this depressing trend to continue indefinitely until free speech has been shuttered—not only on university campuses, but in coffee shops, churches, and public squares—Americans must make anew the case for free speech.

Many of this generation’s college students are skeptical of legal precedents establishing free speech. They have been taught, from a very young age, to discourage bullying and to protect others against intolerant or offensive speech.

Little do they know that the protection of free speech actually helps the very people who have been marginalized or offended by ensuring that those people can speak freely against the offense.

For many college students, though, “free speech” is a very abstract right, one that many of them lack the motivation to defend.

They are not convinced, and we must convince them.

We can’t merely say, “Free speech is necessary in a democratic society. Grow up and get over it, just like we did when we were in college.”

For one, some instances of public speech are genuinely hateful and therefore deeply disturbing, and we should not make light of the negative psychological impact of offensive and hateful speech. Moreover, a condescending reprimand serves to alienate rather than to persuade.

How to Make the Case on Campus

So, how do we make the case?

Instead of reprimanding students or merely citing the Constitution, we should also try to persuade them by making a practical argument about the negative consequences of restricting free speech on college campuses.

Consider these five negative consequences:

1. It defeats the purpose of going to college in the first place.

As the University of Chicago put it in a statement defending free speech: “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

One of the purposes of higher education is to welcome students of all backgrounds and teach them how to discuss and debate a wide variety of ideas. The restriction of free speech undermines that purpose.

2. It erodes the free and democratic nature of American society.

Public universities should serve as microcosms of democratic society. Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch put it well:

The purpose of a college education isn’t to reaffirm students’ beliefs, it is to challenge, expand, and refine them—and to send students into the world with minds that are open and questioning, not closed and self-righteous. This helps young people discover their talents and prepare them for citizenship in a diverse, pluralistic democratic society. American society is not always a comfortable place to be; the college campus shouldn’t be, either.

3. It encourages hypocrisy and undermines our ability to persuade.

If free speech is suppressed, you won’t know who people really are. People who hold hateful or offensive views will hide who they are, and you’ll never be able to persuade them of the wrongness of their views.

4. It ignores the fact that social progress often depends on free speech.

Many of the ideas that most Americans cherish—such as racial and gender equality—were once considered offensive. But they are no longer considered offensive precisely because courageous American citizens were allowed to display the merits of those ideas in public discussion and debate.

5. It tilts our society in an authoritarian direction.

First, if universities are free today to ban unintentionally offensive racial expressions, they will be free tomorrow to ban any sort of critique or evaluation of social groupings. Second, ideological winds tend to change direction. Students who are eager to suppress other people’s speech may one day find their own speech being suppressed.

As legal scholar Eugene Volokh has noted, Christians could be banned from criticizing tenets of Islam, and vice versa. Pacifists could be restricted from criticizing the military. Conservatives could be disciplined for arguing that there are biological differences between men and women.

In two ways, suppression breeds further suppression.

For Americans who are Christians, there is yet another reason to promote free speech: We want to be free to preach the Christian gospel, even though many people find Christianity offensive and discriminatory.

And if we do not stem the tide of free speech restrictions, we might find ourselves in a situation one day where our nation’s universities and public squares keep us from speaking about that which is most precious to us.

That is something upon which Christian Americans of all stripes should be able to agree.


Students sue Oxford for discrimination amid surge in mental health claims against universities

A law graduate is suing Oxford University for loss of earnings after completing her degree a year late due to mental health problems, as experts report a surge in lawsuits from a generation of students who are "aware" of their rights.

Catherine Dance, 24, claims she was forced to take a year-long break from her law degree because staff at Jesus College refused to allow special arrangements for her exams.

She has sued the college for psychological harm and loss of earnings, claiming that she sacrificed a year's potential salary from a lucrative graduate job.

It comes as lawyers report a sharp rise of cases from students who have accused their tutors of discriminating against them for having a mental illness. Several other elite universities are embroiled in the legal battles, with dozens of mentally ill students having sued their universities in recent years.

Miss Dance, who was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression in 2009, was allowed to sit her A-Levels in a private room and with a laptop. But Jesus College would not permit the same treatment, she claims.

She said that Oxford University’s approach to her mental health issues was “awful”, adding: "It meant I was one year out of a graduate job, plus the extra emotional damage and psychological harm."

Jesus College denies the allegations, saying they did allow "appropriate adjustments" for Miss Dance’s condition. It says that the main purpose of mock exams is to prepare students for their Finals, and since they would not be allowed to use a laptop then, the College felt it should adopt the same policy for mocks.

The College added that it made a successful application to the University for Miss Dance to sit her Final exams with "adjustments", and she was able to complete her degree earlier this month. 

Another student embroiled in a legal battle with her Oxford college is Sophie Spector, 24, who claims she was forced out after being denied extra time to hand in essays.

Miss Spector, who won a place to study politics, philosophy and economics at Balliol College, alleges that college staff “pressurised” her to go on medical leave due to her disabilities which included dyslexia, ADHD, and OCD.

Chris Fry, a specialist in equalities and human right law and managing partner at Unity Law, is representing Miss Spector and Miss Dance on a no win no fee basis.

He said that the surge of lawsuits against universities is driven by the changing attitudes of young people who are aware of their rights.

Since the 2010 Equality Act, he said has worked on more than one hundred cases of students looking to sue their university for discrimination.

Most have claimed that the “reasonable adjustments” required by the 2010 Equality Act to accommodate their mental illness were not made.

“This is a generation of students who grew up with enforceable rights,” he told The Daily Telegraph.  “It was rare to hear of anybody looking to enforce their rights in that way [before 2010], since then, we’ve had a constant stream of enquiries from students.”

He said that the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees was another factor. “If you’re paying £9,000 a year, you want to ensure that you are receiving a kind of service that allows you to maximise your outcome,” he said. “It’s clear to see why these students who need reasonable adjustments are not prepared to be pushed around or ignored.”

Official data showed earlier this year that the number of students forced to drop out of university due to mental health problems has trebled in recent years, prompting charities and counsellors to urge universities to ensure that proper support is in place.

Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, has announced plans to introduce a “contract” between universities and students, which critics fear could open the floodgates to a wave of lawsuits from students complaining that their university experience was inadequate.

Jesus College denies all allegations of discrimination, and does not accept that its requirements for mock exams to be sat in a large hall and to be handwritten place students with anxiety or depression at any major disadvantage to their peers. The College also says it repeatedly encouraged Miss Dance to seek counselling.

Oxford University said it does not comment on legal proceedings, but insisted that it takes mental health “extremely seriously”.

A university spokesperson said: “We encourage all students in need to use our free and confidential counselling service run by professionally trained staff. Each college has its own welfare team which works very closely with the University’s Disability Advisory Service to put in place appropriate provision so that students can manage their studies successfully and are not disadvantaged by their disability.”


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Nightclub and dorm footage clears USC student, 20, of rape after it showed girl, 19, who claimed she was too drunk to consent being the aggressor, kissing him, and leading him to her room

This evil woman would be jailed in Britain

Security footage from a local nightclub and a college dormitory has cleared a University of California student of rape.

Arman Premjee, 20, was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old fellow student in her dorm room after meeting at Banditos Taco & Tequila in Los Angeles on April 1.

However, the security footage showed her kissing Premjee, leading him out of the nightclub and making obscene sexual gestures.

Premjee, who had maintained his innocence since being accused, said the woman, who has not been named, wanted to leave the club where they met and have sex with him.

'She put her arms around my neck, she started kissing me,' he told Inside Edition.

Security video from inside the nightclub shows the woman taking Premjee's hand and leading him outside.

She then makes a sexual gesture to a friend - poking a finger through a circle made with her hand - behind his back.

Furthermore, security footage from her dormitory caught her signing him in.

Premjee was charged in May with rape by use of drugs and sexual penetration by a foreign object. Prosecutors said the woman was too drunk to give consent.

After seeing the video, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the case on Tuesday saying: 'I believe there was consent. There is a very strong indication that the alleged victim in this case was the initiator'

The woman told detectives when questioned that she didn't remember anything from that night.

'She knew what she was doing. She was able to stand on her own two feet. She led the way,' Premjee said.

USC is reportedly conducting its own investigation and Premjee could still be expelled.


The horror: Preschools are rife with 'heteronormativity'

A graduate student who teaches sociology at the University of Michigan recently published an article declaring that preschool classrooms are rife with “heteronormativity” that perpetuates “inequalities related to gender.”

Heidi Gansen asserts that "preschool is a good place to begin this examination, because practices that facilitate heteronormativity in classrooms become more engrained in later years of schooling."

A University of Michigan instructor recently claimed that preschool classrooms are rife with “heteronormativity” that perpetuates “inequalities related to gender.”

Heidi M. Gansen, a Ph.D. student who teaches sociology at UMich, advanced these claims in a July 14 article that examines the prevalence of “heteronormativity” in a set of nine Michigan preschool classrooms she visited.

Defining “heteronormativity” as a culture in which “heterosexuality is always assumed, expected, ordinary, and privileged,” Gansen then argues that the issue is especially important to her research because preschools contribute to the “reproduction of inequalities pertaining to gender and sexuality,” such as gender roles and gendered feelings.

“Preschool is a good place to begin this examination, because practices that facilitate heteronormativity in classrooms become more engrained in later years of schooling,” she explains.

Accordingly, Gansen spent ten months observing childhood behavior at a set of nine Michigan preschools, finding numerous ways in which heterosexuality is “produced” and “enforced” by students and teachers.

Playing “house,” for instance, is one area in which Gansen observed “heteronormativity” in the in the preschool setting, noting that only girls would imitate mothers while only boys would play fathers. If a girl asked to be the husband of the household, she would be quickly rebuffed by her peers, Gansen observed, lamenting that “children did not allow cross-gender roles.”

Gansen also cited the reading of “traditional fairy tales,” engaging in “heteronormative play,” and teachers suggesting that a boy has a “crush” on a girl as other ways in which gender-roles are perpetuated.

Meanwhile, teachers apparently make similar mistakes when they refer to “same-gender signs of affection or homosocial behaviors as friendly” as opposed to romantic, with Gansen arguing that  the teacher’s interpretation of the friendship makes no concession for the fact that some students might be gay or queer.

As a solution, Gansen concludes by outlining “disruptive” approaches teachers can take, which include talking about the legality of gay marriage and showing “acceptance” when students participate in “actions that interrupt heteronormativity.”

Gansen finishes by complaining that even in the preschools with the most progressive teachers of all the ones she observed, “children still engaged in heteronormative practices with peers,” adding that “these findings demonstrate the importance of teachers actively working to disrupt heteronormativity, which is already ingrained in children by ages 3 to 5.”

Campus Reform reached out to Gansen for additional comment on her research, but did not receive a response in time for publication.


Flirting is part of life, rape culture claims are an abomination

Comment from Australia

In recent weeks women have been busily debating the ethics of the sex robot, first on Slate’s Double X podcast, then on Mamamia a few days after. Is it dehumanising women? (It’s a doll. Does that mean porn is off bounds too, girls?) Isn’t it just an efficient way of ­deriving sexual pleasure? (Yes.) Does it take rape fantasy over the line? (No, it’s a doll. She’s not real. There is no consent or lack of consent.) All heady stuff if you’re caught up on how sex with a silicon doll is going to change men.

Here’s another way of looking at it: ask not how a silicon sex robot will change men but how real-life women are doing that ­already with their vivisection of men, dissecting what’s bad about them, depicting them as vessels of white, male privilege and likely sexual predators.

Released this week, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Changing the Course report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities is a textbook case of the intersection between the foggy world of sexual politics and the crystal-clear aim of activists to propagate hysteria ­despite the facts. The data from the report simply does not support the existence of a rape culture on campus.

That’s the case even with dodgy methodology aimed at boosting the numbers. Ninety per cent of people did not respond to the survey and the report admits the 10 per cent of self-selecting students who did respond were ­“motivated” to do so.

The finding that 1.6 per cent of students were sexually assaulted was taken over a two-year period and included ­assault in “university settings” such as travelling to and from campus. Even the definition of sexual ­assault was expanded to inflate numbers, yet still the data doesn’t support hyperbole that there is a rape epidemic on Australian campuses.

When it comes to episodes of campus sexual harassment, the devil is in the detail. The report ­defines sexual harassment as ­staring or leering, suggestive comments or jokes, or intrusive questions about someone’s private life or physical appearance. That settles it then. We have surely all been perpetrators of sexual harassment.

In the deliciously confusing, often exhilarating yet frustrating flirtations between the sexes, scrutinising a sexual advance is no easy thing. Some stares, jokes, suggestive comments and questions as to whether you’re single will be welcome sexual banter. In which case, enjoy the evening. Some will be misfired sexual advances, an ­inchoate flirtation that simply wasn’t reciprocated. In which case, no harm done and adieu.

How else does a relationship, let alone a casual hook-up, start if not with a lingering look, a suggestive joke, a question about your private life. Human interactions don’t happen in a sterile test-tube laboratory setting. They occur ­between people seeking sex, love, laughs, people full of flaws and emotions where mixed messages are not uncommon. And as sex therapist and author Esther Perel pointed out in a TED talk a few years ago: “Most of us get turned on at night by the very same things we might demonstrate against during the day. The erotic mind is not very politically correct.”

In short, sexual politics are far more complicated than the simplistic findings of the commission’s report and its nine-point plan to stamp out wicked sexual practices on campus. For every claim of sexual harassment and sexual assault, there may be ­another side to the story. If that other side is not sought out or even mentioned as a caveat to the “data”, it exposes the report as propaganda rather than a search for truth.

The collection of the commission’s data was inseparable from the politics of the rape-culture ­activists. Nina Funnell, an advocate for rape victims, claimed that “now we have the data to back up our ­assertions”. And this from ­Sophie Johnston of the National Union of Students: “It broke my heart to read this report … this is a cultural battle we are fighting everywhere.”

Johnston is right that there is a cultural battle under way across society but not in the way she has imagined. This report is more ­evidence that the gathering of knowledge has been bumped aside in favour of the accumulation of power. Here is postmodernism ­unplugged and its belief that truth is a tool of oppression. Hence the hyperbole from rape-culture ­activists that the data confirms their narrative when it does no such thing.

And the years of bullying by rape-culture activists has been ­rewarded. Universities Australia donated $1 million to fund the ­report, human rights bureaucrats have produced the perfect make-work report for themselves and university administrators, too frightened to be advocates for the virtues of truth and reason, have capitulated to the postmodern bullies.

That’s a shame because much is at stake. Not just the reputation of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which sorely needs a boost, or the standing of university administrators who immediately agreed to all recommendations with no analysis of the data. Much more is on the line, too. Like the future of feminism and the wellbeing of women.

As Laura Kipnis, author of the ­recent book Unwanted ­Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, has said: “If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama. The melodramatic imagination’s obsession with helpless victims and powerful predators is what’s shaping the con­versation of the moment, to the detriment of those whose interests are supposedly being protected, namely students. The ­result? ­Students’ sense of vulnerability is ­skyrocketing.”

Kipnis has spent years calling out the false sanctimony and feminist paternalism that conflates bad sex (a common thing on campus) with “rape culture” and treats students as “trauma cases waiting to happen”.

In her 1992 book, Sex, Art and American Culture, libertarian feminist Camille Paglia encouraged young women to reassess assumptions about sexual politics.

“We need a new kind of feminism,” wrote Paglia. “One that stresses personal responsibility and is open to art and sex in all their dark, ­unconsoling mysteries. The feminist of the fin de siecle will be bawdy, streetwise and on-the-spot confrontational, in the prankish Sixties way.”

It’s 2017 and it still hasn’t happened. Instead, there is a sterilisation of the sexes by rape-culture activists and aided and abetted by the taxpayer-funded human rights industry and nervous university vice-chancellors. This motley crew of morality police had better be careful what they wish for. Their 21st-century narrative of women as feeble carries a hefty price at a time when lagging ­self-esteem and insecurities are ­already presenting as serious ­mental health problems.

Overreach hurts even the best cause. Following an alleged case of sexual assault by a male student against a young girl this year, a teacher at an elite private school addressed a group of senior boys during assembly about respecting women.

He told the boys not to use the word moist because it was ­offensive to women. Talk about sweating the small stuff.

Inevitably, many of the boys, well-versed in the Australian art of piss-taking, found a new liking for a word they rarely used. The autumn air was moist. So were the canteen sandwiches. And so on. A teacher made fun of it, too, using the forbidden word in class, much to the delight of the boys. It was a lesson lost on the senior school head that overreach doesn’t help a cause: it undermines it. Reason, on the other hand, is persuasive precisely because it cannot be dismissed as nonsense.

That’s the most wicked part of a report that lumps together real cases of rape and sexual harassment with otherwise warm and messy, complicated interactions that happen between men and women.

Rape is a heinous crime and ought to be punished by the full force of the law. No ifs. No buts. Crying wolf, diluting definitions, confusing bad sex with non-consensual sex, pretending rapists roam campuses only ­deflects the focus away from seeking justice for genuine victims of rape.

The demasculinisation of men, making them feel guilty for being different to women, is equally heinous. Labelling them as perpetrators of sexual harassment if they look at a woman, tell a dirty joke or ask a personal question may lead us into a sexually disinfected world we no longer recognise or wish to live in.

Henry Kissinger wisely predicted that “no one can win the battle of the sexes. After all, there’s too much fraternising with the enemy.” And long may the fraternising continue, rather than featuring in junk data collected by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the warped narrative of rape-culture feminists.

If there is a boom in the sales of smiling, voice-recognising sex ­robots, don’t ask how sex with a silicon chick will change men. Better to ask what we did as a society that men might prefer that to sex with the real thing.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Fake News: DOJ and College Admission Discrimination

The New York Times cries "racist" about a Justice memo, but the real story is something different.

It’s no secret that over the last few months fake news has reached a fever pitch in the DC swamp. One of the more blatant recent examples came this week when a New York Times reporter jumped on a leaked Justice Department hiring call for staff to conduct “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

To the Times writer, this meant that the “Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.” The Washington Post quickly followed suit with the same assumption that this would benefit white students, and another piece of fake news was hot off the press.

In reality, the Justice Department mentioned no race in the call. But to maintain the illusion that the Trump administration caters to its “alt-right” racist supporters, these reporters just knew in their bones that the intent of the attorney general — that child of the pre-civil rights South, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III — was to return us to the days of Jim Crow. Those who make their living in the East Coast echo chamber not only took the bait but swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Thus, the next afternoon the Department had to come out with a clarification: “The posting sought volunteers to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior administration left unresolved. The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in a university’s admissions policy and practices.”

So the “prior administration,” which would be the one run by the supposedly progressive and colorblind Barack Obama, allowed a case of alleged discrimination against a minority group to lie dormant for over a year and a half without resolution, but those cold, heartless racists in charge now are making a priority of addressing it? No wonder the Leftmedia can’t report straight news anymore.

Certainly this group has a case, although leftists are more skeptical that Asian-Americans are victims. (One valid point made in The Atlantic: The term “Asian” encompasses as wide of a range of different cultures as the generic term “Latino,” which is understood to cover such diverse backgrounds as Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, and so forth.) The Left is also less likely to see Asians as a true minority group, even though their numbers bear out the fact that they are one. Perhaps it’s because, as a group, their median income is over twice as high as black Americans and about 75% higher than the average Hispanic’s.

Because Asians are less likely to be impoverished, leftist social justice warriors are free to remind us the Supreme Court is alright with a certain amount of discrimination in college admissions as long as the institutions don’t resort to outright usage of numeric quotas in their efforts to promote “diversity” on campus. There are plenty of rich, privileged people on campus already so Asians fit right in with that group; we don’t need any more of them, leftist logic goes.

Even so, the narrative will continue to be presented that Donald Trump’s Justice Department only looks out for the interests of people who look like the president. (Granted, many believed the same thing about the last president but the mainstream media wasn’t carrying the water to make them believers.)

Sadly, we have devolved to the point where the truth seemingly cannot be told about the president regardless of what he does: If he’s on the side the media favors and does something detrimental to the nation, the spin machine is put on full throttle. It’s how we get the leftist illusion of Barack Obama being a scandal-free president. On the other hand, when a president like Trump or someone in his administration does something good for America like help out a long-standing friend and ally in Central Europe or make sure justice is served for all, as in this case, it’s made out to be a completely different story.

If there’s anything in this country we need to #Resist, it’s the temptation to believe anything the media reports. This fake news, created from a leaked document not intended for public consumption in the first place and misinterpreted in the second, is just another reason not to buy what they’re trying to sell.


The school that went gender neutral

The kids didn't like it but a few adapted

It was a bold social experiment predicated on the modish belief that perhaps boys and girls aren’t quite so different after all. The BBC’s idea was to create a gender-neutral classroom of seven-year-olds for a TV documentary.

What would happen, wondered producers, if all differences between boys and girls were removed over a six-week period? Could it change the way the children thought and close the gaps in their achievement levels?

So out went boys-only football matches and books about fairytale princesses. In came mixed sports teams, unisex books and posters proclaiming that ‘boys are sensitive’ and ‘girls are strong’.

The school even abolished girls and boys loos for the class, much to the horror of pupils.

Teacher Graham Andre was told to stop referring to girls in his class as ‘love’ and boys as ‘mate’. Every time he used one of these gender-specific terms, his pupils put a sad face on a chart next to the word.

A pink cupboard which had separate sections for the boys’ and girls’ coats was declared a ‘gender-neutral’ zone. The children could instead put their coats in any part of the cupboard. For good measure, it was repainted orange.

To encourage the students to reject the idea of gender-stereotyping, signs were put up around the classroom – such as this pair with the messages ‘Girls are strong’ and ‘Boys are sensitive’.

The youngsters were shown that women can be mechanics and men can be make-up artists to dispel the preconceptions they appeared to have that certain jobs are for girls and others are for boys.

To better reflect what is already happening with more frequency in the real world, pupils were told that they would be sharing gender-neutral toilets. Both boys and girls were appalled at the idea.

The BBC2 programme, No More Boys And Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?, which is being broadcast later this month, comes as the issue of gender in childhood is becoming increasingly contentious and complex.

There has been a huge rise in the number of young people saying they identify as being of the opposite sex or that they are ‘non-binary’: neither female nor male.

At the same time an increasing number of institutions, from schools to police and hospitals, are going to great lengths to avoid dividing people by their sex.

Last month, the Government announced plans to allow adults to legally change their sex without a medical diagnosis. In future, individuals who want to change gender are expected to simply make a statutory declaration that they intend to live as the gender they have transitioned to until they die.

At the heart of the BBC programme are claims made by Dr Abdelmoneim that, apart from having different sexual organs, there are no major physical differences between the sexes at the age of seven, and their brains are almost identical.

He concludes that the explanation for why boys act so differently to girls lies in how they are raised, from the toys they are given to the terms of endearment they hear.

He says: ‘Children occupy a world where adults are giving them messages constantly about what it means to be a boy or a girl. So parents who say it’s in their child’s nature to act a certain way or like certain toys – it came from them.’

And he warns that the differences girls and boys pick up from a young age lead to gender inequality later in life. His fears seem to be borne out when the pupils at Lanesend are asked to describe what sets boys and girls apart.

One boy, Louis, observes: ‘I think boys are cleverer than girls because they get into President easier.’

Another pupil, Kara, says she would describe girls as ‘pretty’, adding: ‘When a woman has a baby she has to stay at home while the man goes out to get money.’

Tiffany says simply: ‘I think men are better at being in charge.’

In a series of psychometric tests, Dr Abdelmoneim and his team discover that the girls have much lower self-esteem than the boys and are inclined to underestimate their abilities. In comparison, the boys are more likely to over-estimate their ability to achieve, but struggle to express any range of emotions apart from anger.

In a bid to address this, they set out a whole series of radical changes in school life. One of the first things the programme-producers ban is Mr Andre’s habit of using pet names such as ‘love’ or ‘sweetpea’ for the girls and ‘mate’ or ‘fella’ for boys. A cupboard with separate compartments for the boys’ and girls’ coats is removed.

Attentions then turn to the children’s library. Books featuring characters ‘squarely aimed at boys’ – including Star Wars stories – are culled. Instead, children are given an ‘alternative narrative’ with new stories where the princess saves the prince from the monster rather than the other way around.

Another subject that the children have decidedly traditional views on is jobs. When asked to identify professions that women do, one of the girls in the class, Lexi, replies: ‘Hairdresser, babysitter and nail designer.’ One of the boys, Riley, lists men’s jobs as ‘football player, tennis people, captain of a ship’.

And Grace says: ‘I think a firefighter is a boy because they need to hold up big ladders – what are really heavy.’

Dr Abdelmoneim says: ‘On one level this just sounds like harmless kids’ talk. But at just seven years old there is no doubt in their minds: some jobs men do and some women do and that is limiting.’

To challenge the pupils’ preconceptions about the jobs on offer to them, the TV crew brings in a male ballet dancer, a female mechanic, a male make-up artist and a female magician.

The children seem shocked by the role-reversal, but soon the girls are poring over a car engine and the boys are practising pirouettes.

One of the other common notions that the BBC team appear most keen to dispel is that boys are stronger than girls.

‘As a doctor I have got an understanding of the body – how we grow and change,’ Dr Abdelmoneim says in the programme.

‘What I do know is there is no difference in muscle mass between boys and girls up to the age of puberty.’

To prove his point, Dr Abdelmoneim pits the children against each other in a strength test. Each child takes turns to hit a fairground hammer bell three times. Both boys and girls in the class score the maximum ten points, but rather than reducing divisions in the class, the results throw the children’s emotions into turmoil.

Lexi, a top scorer, bursts into tears at her result, sobbing: ‘I didn’t think I could do it at first.’

Riley, one of the more spirited boys, throws himself on the ground in a tearful strop at the distress of coming bottom when he fails to hit the bell even once.

The unsettling episode causes Dr Abdelmoneim to directly question if the experiment is at all workable. He says: ‘I’m worried all I’ve done is upset a load of kids and none of this is having the slightest effect.’

For the most part, the Year 3 children at Lanesend Primary School in Cowes on the Isle of Wight reacted positively to the changes – until the programme’s presenter, Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, struck at the heart of what really makes boys and girls different.

‘You’ve got to start going to the same toilet,’ he announces to the class. The response is unanimous and resounding. ‘No!’ cry the children but – undeterred – the programme-makers push on with the experiment.

Dr Abdelmoneim admitted last week: ‘The children didn’t like the toilet.’ He said the girls were particularly uncomfortable with the arrangement. ‘The girls were like, “Oh they [the boys] come out with their bits dangling out and they don’t wash their hands.” ’

Mr Andre admitted parents were equally unhappy, adding: ‘The head put the toilets back to normal when the film cameras left.’

He said: ‘We are getting some new toilets and I think we are going to make them gender-neutral. It’s the parents who are not so happy about it, especially with the older children, so we might have to look at something else there.’

Despite such setbacks, Mr Andre is not put off. He said that since the TV cameras departed, his class have continued to embrace gender neutrality. ‘There’s a little girl in our class who couldn’t stand football but now she’s joined a team. And you’ve got a boy going to his mum’s belly-dancing classes.

‘I’ve carried on with the gender-neutral messages. I’ve shared them with the whole school. So we’re looking at – rather than having a gender-neutral classroom – having a gender-neutral school.’


Australia: Smart money should go to teach the teachers

Analysing the latest NAPLAN test can be an exercise in frustration. No jurisdiction improved its mean score in any assessment domain from 2016 to 2017. The only break in the statistical monotony was a drop in Year 3 writing scores in South Australia.

Extending the comparison back further gives more reason for hope.

There have been big gains in Years 3 and 5 reading and in Year 5 numeracy in several states and territories since the tests began in 2008, but progress is patchy in other areas, especially writing.

The states and territories that have made the most important gains since 2008 are Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. While it is difficult to pinpoint why, it is reasonable to assume sustained incremental improvements are because of better teaching. There are sizeable pockets of schools in each of these jurisdictions that have embraced explicit instruction, especially in phonics, and have seen their ­NAPLAN scores rise as a result.

The NT Year 3 reading results are especially pleasing. There was a non-statistically significant dip this year, but this was after an upward trajectory in previous years.

Secondary school is a different story. It is a struggle to find any improvement in any area in Years 7 and 9 in any state or territory over the lifetime of NAPLAN.

To some extent this is to be expected: achievement in literacy and numeracy in high school is highly dependent on foundations laid in primary school. Hopefully, improvements in primary will soon flow through, but these gains will be lost if students do not continue to get high-quality teaching.

This year’s NAPLAN data show there is no straightforward relationship between school funding and students’ achievement. There have been substantial funding increases to all states and territories since NAPLAN began, particularly since the “Gonski” funding model began three years ago, but only some states have improved, and only in some areas.

The evidence that extra money has contributed to higher achievement is far from clear. It is well-­established that teaching is the greatest in-school influence on student achievement.

Once high-quality teaching has been established, good teaching costs no more than poor teaching. This is partly why it is difficult to find a consistent causal association between the size of the education budget and results.

Improving results requires schools to use evidence from the best multidisciplinary research on how children learn and the most effective way to teach them. If increased spending is not invested in making sure all teachers have this knowledge and expertise, then it is destined to be wasted.


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Harvard would rather have blacks than Asians

As Ron Unz has documented, the Harvard student body would be three quarters Asian if admissions were based on ability alone.  As it is, Asian admissions are limited to somewhere around 20%. This revelation does of course open Harvard to a charge of racism so has to be defended.  Rather than remedy a wrong, they have doubled down on black admissions, even though few blacks will be able to handle the work and will drop out at some stage

For the first time in Harvard University’s history, the majority of students accepted into the incoming freshman class are not white, a milestone for an institution that prides itself on educating future presidents, CEOs, and world leaders.

But Harvard’s push to broaden the diversity of its student ranks comes as the Trump administration intensifies its focus on affirmative action policies and suggests it will investigate how colleges shape the racial makeup of their campuses.

The US Justice Department is preparing to redirect resources from its civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, The New York Times reported this week.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration said it had no broad plans to investigate whether college and university admissions programs discriminate against students based on race and that it was looking into a single complaint from a coalition of Asian-American groups filed in 2015. The coalition filed an administrative complaint against Harvard University, alleging that the school and other Ivy League institutions are using racial quotas that shut out high-scoring Asians.

Still, news about the administration’s interest in affirmative action policies caught colleges off-guard and raised worries in academia and among civil rights advocates.

On Wednesday, several universities in Massachusetts defended their admissions practices and said they meet legal requirements. They stressed that building a campus of students from different races, places, and a variety of experiences was crucial to their academic mission.

“To become leaders in our diverse society, students must have the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. Harvard remains committed to enrolling diverse classes of students,” said Rachael Dane, a spokeswoman for the university. “Harvard’s admissions process considers each applicant as a whole person, and we review many factors, consistent with the legal standards established by the US Supreme Court.”

Of the freshmen students admitted to Harvard this year, 50.8 percent are from minority groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. That’s up from 47.3 percent last year, according to the university.

Harvard recruiters fanned out across the country, visiting 150 communities in the United States, meeting with students and parents at night and with high school counselors for breakfast, according to the school.

Harvard admitted 22.2 percent of students who identified as Asians, about the same as last year.

Many top schools also conduct robust recruiting efforts to attract minorities.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where the freshmen minority enrollment has climbed from 21 percent in 2010 to nearly 30 percent in 2016, has made greater efforts to recruit students from high schools in cities such as Springfield and Boston, said James Roche, the school’s associate provost of enrollment management.

At UMass Amherst a student’s race and ethnicity are part of the admissions process, but not the defining factor, Roche said.

The school stands by its admissions policy and doesn’t plan any changes based on the Justice Department’s stepped up interest in affirmative action, he said.

“As we’ve learned with this administration, we need to let things shake out and see where they fall,” Roche said. “What we’re doing fits the legal standards.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also monitoring how the Justice Department will proceed. “A diverse student body is critical to the educational mission of MIT,” said Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for the university.

Edward Blum, the president of Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuit against Harvard claiming its admissions policy discriminates against Asian students, said he was surprised by the Justice Department’s interest in the case.

“I am truthfully befuddled by it,” Blum said. “No one has reached out to us.”

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that the Justice Department’s call for lawyers to review the complaint from Asian coalitions came after career staffers who specialize in education issues refused to work on the investigation out of concerns that it was contrary to the division’s longstanding approach to civil rights in education.

Blum has a similar case pending against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

And he also pushed a case brought by Abigail Fisher, a student who said the University of Texas rejected her because she is white. Last year, the US Supreme Court, in a 4-to-3 vote, decided that college admissions officers could continue to use race as one of several factors in deciding who gets into a school. The decision surprised university officials and disappointed those who had hoped to end race-based admissions.

But the ruling does require universities, if they are challenged, to show that they had no choice but to use race to create diversity on campus and that other factors alone, such as family income or an advantage to first-generation college students, couldn’t create a similar mix of students, said Vinay Harpalani, a law professor at the Savannah Law School, who specializes in affirmative action.

A more active Justice Department on this front could push schools to demonstrate that they are looking at other factors before race, Harpalani said.

“The fact that the Trump [administration] may investigate this may make universities more wary about using race in their admissions policies,” he said. “Universities typically don’t like to make details on their race-conscious policies public, because the line between legal and illegal policies is not fully clear . . . and because there are always potential lawsuits out there, and also because this is such a politically charged issue.”

Universities aren’t likely to entirely stop considering race as a factor in admissions, but having the Justice Department watching every move could have a chilling effect, said Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which has studied college racial and economic diversity. “They’re nervous, and this will make them more nervous,” Carnevale said.


Engineering Education: Social Engineering Rather than Actual Engineering

We engineers like to solve technical problems. That’s the way we think, that’s why we chose our major, that’s why we got into and stayed in engineering.

There are several other reasons why we got into engineering. One of them was the absence of what I describe here as “social engineering,” where the professor/instructor is interested not so much in solving technical problems as in setting the world right—in his or her opinion.

A second and related reason is that engineering (and the sciences generally) should be, like the scales of justice, blind. Engineering does not care about your color, sexual orientation, or your other personal and private attributes. All it takes to succeed is to do the work well.

Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards.

Alas, the world we engineers envisioned as young students is not quite as simple and straightforward as we had wished because a phalanx of social justice warriors, ideologues, egalitarians, and opportunistic careerists has ensconced itself in America’s college and universities. The destruction they have caused in the humanities and social sciences has now reached to engineering.

One of the features of their growing power is the phenomenon of “engineering education” programs and schools. They have sought out the soft underbelly of engineering, where phrases such as “diversity” and “different perspectives” and “racial gaps” and “unfairness” and “unequal outcomes” make up the daily vocabulary. Instead of calculating engine horsepower or microchip power/size ratios or aerodynamic lift and drag, the engineering educationists focus on group representation, hurt feelings, and “microaggressions” in the profession.

An excellent example is the establishment at Purdue University (once informally called the “MIT of the Midwest”) of a whole School of Engineering Education. What is this school’s purpose? Its website tells us that it “envisions a more socially connected and scholarly engineering education. This implies that we radically rethink the boundaries of engineering and the purpose of engineering education.”

I have always thought my own education in engineering was as scholarly as possible. Once I became a professor, I never worried about how “socially connected” the education we provided at Michigan State for engineering students was. With trepidation, I read on to see if I was missing something important. I learned to my dismay that Purdue’s engineering education school rests on three bizarre pillars: “reimagining engineering and engineering education, creating field-shaping knowledge, and empowering agents of change.”

All academic fields shape knowledge and bring about change, but they don’t do that by “empowering” the agents of change. And what does “reimagining engineering” mean? The great aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán said that “a scientist studies what is, while an engineer creates what never was.” In engineering, we apply scientific principles in the design and creation of new technologies for mankind’s use. It’s a creative process. Since engineering is basically creativity, how are we supposed to “reimagine creativity”? That makes no sense.

And, just for the record, engineers “empower” themselves and, most important, other people, by inventing things. Those things are our agents of change.

The recently appointed dean of Purdue’s school, Dr. Donna Riley, has an ambitious agenda.

In her words (italics mine): “I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics, and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups…. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism, and colonialism…. Gender is a key…[theme]…[throughout] the course…. We…[examine]… racist and colonialist projects in science….”

That starts off innocently enough, discussing the intersection of engineering with public policy and ethics, but then veers off the rails once Riley begins disparaging the free movement of capital, the role of Western civilization, and the nature of men, specifically “colonialist” white men. How can it improve the practice of engineering to bring in such diversions and distractions?

Riley’s purpose seems not to be how best to train new engineers but to let everyone know how bad engineers have been, how they continue to “oppress” women and persons of color, how much we need “diverse perspectives,” and how the “struggle” continues to level all distinctions and differences in society.

Lest the reader believe I exaggerate, let him peruse a periodical called the Journal of Engineering Education, the Society for Engineering Education’s flagship journal. In each number, readers find at least one article with a title such as “Diversifying the Engineering Workforce” or “Understanding Student Difference” (January, 2005, Vol. 94, No. 1).

I chose this volume at random, but they are all like that. The first section of the latter article is “Three Facets of Student Diversity” in which the authors explain how to “motivate” and “retain” students in engineering, the emphasis being on minorities and women. We’re told that “diversity in education refers to the effects of gender and ethnicity on student performance.” Issues like “validation” and “learning styles” are discussed, and of course the instructor must teach “to address all three forms of diversity.”

The central philosophical premise of the article is leveling. It absolves students of responsibility and provides the non-learner with a ready excuse (“my teacher is a bigot!”). And there is no way to quantify its assertions. The “data” are little more than questionnaires or anecdotes. If only we were more fair and just, women and “minorities” (whatever that word means any more) would flock to engineering.

Engineering education’s basic assumption is that engineering will be improved if the profession is crafted to be more diverse, but that is completely untested. In the universe I live in, engineering is for those who want to and can be engineers. It’s not for everybody and there is no reason to believe that aptitude for engineering is evenly distributed.

It is one of life’s accidents that we are as we are. Perhaps it’s in our DNA. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (three long-dead white males) seemed to understand the role of “accidents” in human life better than we do. One thing is certain—we are not infinitely moldable clay. Contra Rousseau, the notorious “blank slate” theorist, we have proclivities and talents and gifts.

Thus, it does not seem to be a valuable use of our finite resources to try to “push” people into areas in which they show limited interest or ability. That, however, seems to be precisely the mission of “engineering education” schools and programs.

Nobody wants to see an uncoordinated doofus on the NBA basketball court simply to add “diversity.” We pay to see top-notch talent compete for victory. We should apply the same standards to engineering and stop pretending that we can “game” our wonderful profession so that anyone can succeed.

Nor should we attack engineering’s foundations, its dominantly Western character, so that non-Westerners might suffer fewer “microaggressions” and somehow feel better about studying it.

What is won without effort is surely without merit, and what is torn down and trampled will not easily be raised up again. We had better tread carefully.


Australia: Girls as young as 11 'could be given the contraceptive pill at school without their parents consent' under new regulations

This is typical Leftist authoritarianism:  Designed to divert all authority to themselves.  It goes back to Karl Marx's hatred of the family

Girls as young as 11 could have access to the contraceptive pill without their parents consent under a new school program.

Doctors in Secondary Schools program have updated their guidelines meaning parental consent was not a legal requirement which could mean teachers are able to override a parent's decision for their children not to see a doctor during school hours.

Providing treatment for physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, the $44 million program involves GP clinics operating once a week in 100 Victorian secondary schools, according to The Australian.

The program is aiming to balance the rights of young people and parental involvement where young people in Victoria are able to give their own consent to their own treatments if a doctor considers them to be a 'mature minor'.

Education Minister James Merlino told the publication the program does not change the current legal requirements in the medical industry.

'Rules around consent are treated in exactly the same way as it would in our community. This gives reassurance to parents and the school that health service being provided is in line with their expectations,' Mr Merlino said.

However, if children are under 14 and listed on their parent's Medicare cards, their parents can access appointment information.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling told The Australian parents should be included in decision making about their own children and it was concerning schools could override parent's consent.