Friday, November 17, 2017

Elite colleges with fat endowments are on the defensive as the GOP drags them into a D.C. tax fight

America’s elite private colleges would rather talk about anything other than their own vast wealth, but Republicans have put the institutions they have long criticized as liberal bastions on the defensive by dragging them into Washington’s messy tax fight.

Tax overhauls drafted in the House and Senate have zeroed in on the billions of dollars that top private schools have tucked away in endowments. The lawmakers want to impose a new 1.4 percent tax on annual income spun off by these vast funds, limiting the tax to the approximately 60 schools where the endowments are worth more than $250,000 per full-time student.

That has thrust the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning — including Harvard, Dartmouth, and a dozen other New England schools — squarely into an intense lobbying battle over money.

Playing out in the shadow of the noisier debate over corporate tax cuts, it pits Republicans against the colleges and universities that produce the type of highly educated voters and leaders who often oppose Republican policies. And it forces the colleges into the awkward position of publicly defending their enormous wealth at a time of rising student debt and soaring tuitions.

Harvard leads the pack of total endowment with more than $36 billion, more than the entire gross domestic product of the state of Vermont. Princeton University has the top per-student endowment ratio, with more than $2.5 million for every full-time student. Even smaller schools in New England, such as Middlebury College and Bowdoin College, have endowments worth more than $1 billion.

Some of the schools “simply want to have a tax-free investment,” said Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who represents a swing district in southern California and supports taxing endowments.

“We can all talk about the poor kid who gets a scholarship, but sometimes this is about the professors and the people running the endowment and their salaries.”

Harvard president Drew Faust has pushed back against such characterizations, and in a recent statement said the tax is unnecessary because the school’s endowment “is not locked away in some chest” but “at work in the world.”

Harvard officials turned down a request to be interviewed for this story.

“Endowment proceeds fund nearly 40 percent of the university’s operations, with nearly a quarter spent directly on financial aid,” Faust said when the tax plan emerged last month. “A tax on university endowments is really a tax on the people who make up these institutions and the work they do: donors, alumni, staff, students, and faculty.’’

Though many of the wealthy schools remain tight-lipped about the Republican tax plan in public, some New England colleges are lobbying lawmakers behind the scenes as well as rallying their alumni.

Institutions used to being heard, such as Harvard, are at a disadvantage with this White House because, unlike past administrations, President Trump has largely shunned the school’s graduates for top posts. Most of the wealthiest schools in the country are also clustered in blue states on the coasts, where Trump saw little support during his 2016 campaign.

“These schools use endowments to build buildings, which employ our workers, and use it to subsidize student financial aid,” said Representative Michael Capuano, whose Cambridge district includes Harvard.

“If Harvard has a smaller endowment, they are less likely to build a building. And that hurts my construction industry, that hurts my financial services industry,” Capuano said.

“Some of us who represent these colleges have some concern,” said Republican Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina. “Some of these schools are really struggling. You can’t just say, ‘Look at Harvard, they have all the money in the world.’ ”

But for conservative hard-liners, there will be no tears shed about increasing taxes on institutions that many believe socialize students to leftist values and are silos for the elite. Breitbart News, Fox News, and other conservative media outlets have often referred to Harvard as a “hedge fund with a university attached,” and have pressed lawmakers to tax the endowments.

The “taxpayer gravy train” to elite colleges “needs to end,” said Adam Andrzejewski, an open government activist who led a segment on Fox News this year.

In response, school administrators are telling supporters and lawmakers that the institutions use endowment funds to kickstart local economies and help low-income students with opportunities for economic advancement.

The president of Wellesley College, which would be taxed under the proposal, recently e-mailed all alumnae to denounce the provision. In the e-mail, president Paula A. Johnson said the tax would have a “damaging toll on Wellesley’s ability to sustain the financial aid policy that enables the College to enroll a socioeconomically diverse student body.”

Wellesley’s current total endowment, according to the school, is about $1.8 billion.

Smith College president Kathleen McCartney called the tax “deeply concerning.” The Northampton school has an endowment of roughly $1.75 billion.

“The bill would adversely affect colleges like Smith, whose missions are significantly supported by endowment income and whose students come from families spanning the income spectrum,” McCartney said in a statement. “Smith awards $65M annually in financial aid, much of it funded by the endowment, and there is no question this bill would negatively impact our access mission.”

Senate Republicans have included the endowment tax in their early blueprint of the tax overhaul bill, according to GOP leaders. It remains on the negotiating table, and the Senate Finance Committee has yet to release a text of its bill.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the former chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a senior member of the Republican caucus, has had endowment taxes in his sights for years. Although his office declined to comment on the current proposals, Grassley said in 2011 that colleges were “hoarding assets at taxpayer expense.”

Another complication: Perceptions of colleges and universities have become increasingly partisan in recent years.

A July poll by Pew Research Center found 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now feel that colleges and universities have had “a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” This number is up 10 percentage points in the last year, and is now on par with other polarizing institutions such as labor unions, churches, and the national news media.


School Worker Was Told She Could Be Fired If She Offered to Pray for Someone Again

It was a small sentence—”I will pray for you”— but it meant big trouble for Cony High School technician Toni Richardson. When Richardson offered that comfort to another Christian on staff in private, she was hauled before school officials and warned not to utter a word about her faith again.

District officials kicked off the controversy last year by telling Richardson that she could “face discipline or dismissal in the future” if she expressed her faith so openly again. “I was shocked that my employer punished me for privately telling a co-worker I would pray for them,” she told reporters at the time.

First Liberty Institute’s Jeremy Dys, who filed a complaint on Richardson’s behalf, explained that it had been a hard 12 months for Richardson since then. “This entire year Toni has had to self-censor herself, making sure she’s not using religious language. … She’s even had to refrain from wearing jewelry that has a cross on it, because if someone were to overhear this private conversation or see that religious imagery round her neck, then she could face discipline or even be terminated.”

Fortunately, after a yearlong clash over religious freedom, school officials have apparently had second thoughts about their attacks. Late last week, our friends at First Liberty proclaimed victory, announcing that the district had officially walked back its threat to Richardson and issued a new memorandum giving her and others the right to make faith-based statements—without fear of school discipline.

Augusta administrators said they recognized “the rights of employees to hold and express religious beliefs and it never was our intent to unlawfully restrict those rights.”

It’s a sad commentary on America, Family Research Council’s Travis Weber pointed out, that trying to encourage someone by telling them you’re “praying for them” would even draw a complaint. But it’s also an encouraging example for Christians about what we can accomplish when we stand up with courage and conviction.

Richardson didn’t back down when the forces of political correctness came knocking. She knew her rights and demanded they be respected. We applaud First Liberty Institute and Richardson for their persistence. Let this be a warning to other school districts that try to intimidate teachers and other staff members of faith. Christians will fight back, and despite the claims of the left to the contrary, the Constitution is on their side.

To hear the story from Richardson, check out this interview we did on “Washington Watch.”


Australia:Treasurer Scott Morrison leads in fight to preserve parent rights against homosexual lobby

Treasurer Scott Morrison is leading behind-the-scenes negotiations with supporters of the Dean Smith same-sex marriage bill, as conservative MPs demand the preservation of parental rights but concede on protections for businesses that refuse commercial dealings with gay wedding ceremonies.

Mr Morrison has emerged as the most vocal cabinet voice on stronger freedom of speech and religion protection amendments to the proposed bill amid accusations that members of Malcolm Turnbull’s executive had misled MPs over their promise to guarantee robust protections.

Leading conservative ministers Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann have come under pressure from colleagues over claims they “walked away” from earlier commitments.

The Australian understands the Treasurer has already approached colleagues of Senator Smith seeking a “goodwill” agreement to rescue amendments from the rival bill put forward by Victoria’s senator James Paterson, and which were of most concern to conservatives. Chief among them will be the “safe schools” clause preserving the rights of parents to remove children from classes that do not accord with their values, anti-detriment provisions to forbid unfair treatment in the workplace of people who hold traditional views of marriage, and broader religious freedom protections including for charities.

“The issue of same-sex marriage is settled … the issue now is religious freedom, freedom of speech and parental rights,” Mr Morrison told The Australian. “That’s what we need to debate now in good faith and come to a landing on.”

The move for detente between warring tribes within the Coalition came as former prime minister John Howard warned conservative colleagues to not “get hung up” on whether cake makers and florists should be allowed to conscientiously object to supplying their services to gay weddings.

“Clearly the decision of the public should be respected by the parliament,” Mr Howard said, “but I think it is also very important (to address) quite legitimate concerns that were raised by many people, including me and my friend and former deputy prime minister John Anderson, about the protection of parental rights, religious freedoms and freedom of speech.

“These are not small matters. It is a pity that the government, as I asked, had not spelled out before the vote how these matters were going to be covered in any ­enabling legislation.

“I don’t regard the Dean Smith bill as being sufficient. I think the two things that really do matter are freedom of religion and speech and parental rights.”

Victorian frontbench MP ­Michael Sukkar said the Yes campaign promised Australians that there would not be any consequences for parents’ rights, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience and religion. “Now we must hold them to those commitments,” Mr Sukkar said.

Liberal National Party senator Barry O’Sullivan accused a “cohort” of senior cabinet ministers of misleading the partyroom and called on the Prime Minister to ­intervene. “There is deep discontent amongst a lot of Coalition senators at the way that this has been managed, the introduction of this bill,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“It’s almost as if some cohort within the executive — there’s ­evidence that we’ve been misled, there’s evidence that decisions have been taken where they haven’t consulted with the broader caucus of the government members.

“And there is deep anger about that ... This is about procedure ... Today we will cede the government to the opposition and the Greens — that’s the effect of this motion this afternoon.

“My call is for the Prime Minister to just intervene in this and slow the process down ... so all voices can be heard and we can develop a piece of legislation that’s comprehensive and reflects not just the will of the people to have same-gender marriage, but the five million Australians who have resisted this and want to see that we provide the appropriate protections in future so we don’t fill the courts and human rights commission with cases.”

Mr Anderson said parliamentarians needed to remember that almost five million Australians had voted No.

“They are worthy of respect and our protections for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and the right to raise our children according to our values are very weak by international standards,” the former deputy prime minister said. “I do have to say to my ­Coalition colleagues, ‘Walk away from that, I would suggest, at your peril’."


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Let children dress up as boys or girls, CofE tells schools

Most of the Anglican clergy appear to be dressup queens so it figures

Children should be free to try out “the many cloaks of identity” including dressing up in girls’ or boys’ clothes without being labelled or bullied, the Church of England has said.

In advice to its 4,700 schools, which teach a million pupils, the church said that children should be allowed to “explore the possibilities of who they might be”.

The advice is included in guidance on homophobic bullying, which it has updated to include transphobic and biphobic bullying. “In the early years context and throughout primary school play should be a hallmark of creative exploration. Pupils need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity (sometimes quite literally with the dressing-up box),” the guidance says.


Technology at the Forefront of Education

Jaime Casap, education evangelist at Google, opened the 2017 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference and Exhibition, held November 9–11 in Phoenix, with an examination of the evolving state of education in the US and how it has changed—for better and for worse—with the advance of technology. The future is now, Casap says, and librarians and educators need to know how to connect with and teach a generation of learners who have spent their whole lives in a digital world.

Casap relayed a personal anecdote to illustrate the power of technology education to change lives—studying computer science allowed him to escape poverty as a kid living in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s. He also had stats: Computer science majors earn a salary 40% higher than the average college graduate. But a gap exists between where we’re going and where we are, he says. In Arizona, only 10% of schools offer Advanced Placement computer science courses. Today’s learners are digital natives, and schools must offer them tools and resources they need to thrive.

Casap said that without new technological tools educators won’t be able to reach digital natives. “Imagine what life is like for kids who have grown up in a digital generation,” he says. “How they think about learning is different because of the world they grew up in.” Today’s learners are autodidacts when it comes to digital technology, he says, and the educational system has to be retooled to adapt to that. Instead of adhering to old models that stress rote memorization of facts, educators need to teach students problem-solving skills that allow them to use technologies that are already a part of their everyday lives.

“Information on its own is a commodity,” he says. “We need to teach kids how to apply it. We need to teach kids how to find information and put it together.”

Casap stressed that we are at the beginning of this new model, and librarians and teachers are at the forefront of its adoption. “Kids today have hundreds of libraries at their fingertips,” he says. “Librarians need to help kids navigate this information and use it correctly. We need strong digital leaders, and libraries and librarians are key to this new digital economy.”

This notion of using technology to reach learners in new ways was a theme throughout the first day of the conference. It was best exemplified at the IdeaLab, a digital session where 25 presenters from school libraries and vendors used tabletop video displays to demonstrate educational topics. The displays created a more engaging viewing experience than often-static poster sessions, but it was the topics themselves that pointed to the future: using 3D printing and computer modeling to make models of animals that can be dissected in classrooms, reducing the use of real specimens; creating immersive learning experiences with green screens and video editing; and teaching students to use Microsoft’s collaborative software OneNote as a research tool.


Australia: Children forced to learn about gay sex, workers sacked for speaking their minds and bakers taken to court over cake: The fears lurking behind the same-sex marriage bill

Parents losing the right to object to gay sex education, workers being sacked for expressing an opinion and bakers taken to court over cake.

With a 'Yes' vote result on Wednesday, conservative federal politicians have painted a troubling picture of Australia if same-sex marriage is legalised.

Even Labor senators are worried, with several backbenchers voting against any gay marriage bill on religious freedom grounds, to the chagrin of their party leader Bill Shorten.

Maverick Queensland crossbencher Bob Katter is so worried about parents losing the right to object to their children being taught the Safe Schools program under gay marriage he wants the law changed.

The Katter's Australian Party leader and renegade Nationals MP George Christensen, a fellow Queenslander, are working on a parliamentary bill that would give parents the right to pull their kids out of the controversial gender theory lessons.

Mr Katter, who holds the vast far-north Queensland seat of Kennedy, said the legalisation of same-sex marriage would force children into learning about gay sex and relationships.

'I don't want anyone to underestimate the damage that is being done here to the people of Australia,' federal parliament's longest-serving MP told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday night from Mareeba, south-west of Cairns. 'It opens the way for them to teach same-sex marriage in school.

'There are people preaching and teaching, and I use the word "preaching" before I use the word "teaching", because there are some very aggressive people involved in the homosexual movement in Australia. There are huge, grave dangers there.'

Mr Katter said the teaching of homosexuality in schools would cause lifelong damage to students. 'You are very vulnerable at that age,' he said.

'Unfortunately and sadly, these kids in the 12 to 15 age bracket are influenced to go down that pathway, they're looking at a much darker life than they would otherwise have.'

Mr Katter, who has been a state or federal MP since 1974, is also worried about workers falling foul of state anti-discrimination laws, and losing their jobs, for expressing an opinion critical of gay relationships.

In September, a Canberra woman was fired for saying 'It's okay to vote no' on Facebook, with her boss Madlin Sims calling it 'homophobic hate speech'.

Ms Sims, who runs a party entertainment company, said the woman was fired because she was 'extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals.' 'As someone who has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours,' she said. 

'It was never about giving people a fair go, it was all about punishing people that had different beliefs ... if a person thinks differently about homosexuality,' Mr Katter said.

New South Wales Nationals Senator John 'Wacka' Williams is worried about bakers being sued if they refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

'They might be hugely Christian, they don't believe in same-sex marriage, they refuse to bake the cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony or reception and hence they get sued,' the farmer from Inverell told Daily Mail Australia.

'Likewise, if it's a same-sex couple have a bakery and they don't want to bake a cake for the heterosexual marriage, I don't want them getting sued either.'

Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson is proposing a bill that would give bakers and florists the right to refuse to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding.

'A baker could not refuse to bake a cake for someone who is gay who's having a birthday but they could decline to provide services to their wedding,' he told the ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night.

'So it's very limited and narrow. It's only about a wedding and that's in recognition that weddings are different from other things.

'People hold very strong views about it.'

It's a rival bill to one being proposed by West Australian gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, which would only give exemptions to church and religious groups when it comes to performing a same-sex wedding.

Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley, who voted 'No' in the $122 million gay marriage postal vote survey, is concerned about protecting religious freedom.

'We certainly need protections around religious freedoms so that we can avoid anti-discrimination cases like we saw in Tasmania against Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops in 2015,' she said about the case that was withdrawn last year.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill, who hails from the NSW Central Coast, said she reserved the right to vote against a gay marriage bill, even though her boss Bill Shorten is in favour of redefining marriage.

'I will be exercising my conscience vote that I am entitled to in the Labor Party and I will be making that decision when the time comes,' she said.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Notre Dame Flip-Flops Again, Will Cover Contraception and Abortifacients

    In a stunning reversal, the University of Notre Dame has retreated from its decision to stop providing contraception to students and faculty through the university health-care plan. This decision is just the latest evidence to suggest that the Notre Dame administration is less committed to its Catholic identity and mission than it is to conforming itself to the demands of popular culture and societal pressure.

    In 2013, the university brought one of the most high-profile lawsuits against the Obama administration in the wake of the Health & Human Services contraception mandate, which required all employers — regardless of religious or moral objections — to provide birth control and abortifacient drugs to employees free of charge.

    Just last month, the HHS under President Donald Trump expanded the existing exemptions to that mandate, a move that resolved over 70 pending lawsuits (including Notre Dame’s), which were filed to seek relief from the coercive policy on religious grounds.

    In late October, Notre Dame announced that it would end contraceptive coverage for faculty and students after receiving this exemption. The reaction from most quarters of the media, and from small groups of left-leaning Notre Dame graduate students, was exactly what one might expect — general shock and horror over Notre Dame’s “War on Birth Control,” magnified by the university’s status as the largest employer (so far) to eliminate coverage.

    But these brave birth-control warriors needn’t have troubled themselves. If they had paid any attention to the controversies brewing at Notre Dame in recent years, they would’ve had plenty of evidence to reassure them that it’d only be a matter of time before the university managed to find a way to reconcile its Catholic convictions with its desire to blend in among its Ivy League peers.

    And critics wouldn’t even have had to wait very long. It took no more than week for Notre Dame to announce that it would, in fact, not be ending contraceptive and abortifacient coverage for its employees and students, after all. Very conveniently, the university’s insurance provider, Meritain Health, graciously agreed to continue funding contraception indefinitely.

    According to Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown, the university had believed that Meritain would automatically discontinue no-cost coverage at the end of the year, and that was the university’s reason for its previous announcement.

    “The university’s interest has never been in preventing access to those who make conscientious decisions to use contraceptives,” said Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins on Tuesday. “Our interest, rather, has been to avoid being compelled by the federal government to be the agent in their provision.”

    There are a couple of key problems with these claims. For one thing, allowing Meritain to continue providing free-of-cost birth control of its own accord is precisely the “accommodation” offered to Notre Dame by the Obama administration just after the HHS mandate went into effect — and that accommodation was rejected by Notre Dame as insufficient.

    In other words, Notre Dame sued the federal government not just for relief from the mandate, but also for a more substantial exemption than the weak accommodation the Obama administration proffered. Under that proposed arrangement, Notre Dame would sign a form saying that its religious beliefs precluded it from providing contraceptives and authorizing its insurance provider to do so instead.

    According to Notre Dame’s own lawsuit, this accommodation was “contrary to its faith” because it still compelled the university to “facilitate practices that Catholic doctrine considers morally wrong.” By allowing Meritain to continue covering birth control, is the university essentially admitting that its claims in court were untrue?

    This leads to a second issue with Notre Dame’s latest gyrations: They are founded on the fiction that Meritain is operating completely independent of the university’s control. But presumably the insurance plan in question is subject to the university’s input and approval. Meritain surely could not continue providing contraception if Notre Dame told it not to.

    On this point, a particularly revealing quote from another Notre Dame administrator, Paul Browne: “We have made the decision not to interfere with the provision of contraceptives administered by insurance administrators and funded independently.”

    If Notre Dame truly objected to playing any role in distributing contraception and abortifacient drugs to its employees and students, it could very easily direct Meritain to cease providing those services altogether. The university has evidently chosen not to do so. But its administrators continue trying to make it seem as if the matter is entirely out of their hands. It remains unclear whether the university has formally filed for an accommodation, which would allow Meritain to be reimbursed by the federal government for the cost of contraceptive services.

    Notre Dame alumni group Sycamore Trust perhaps put it best in a bulletin announcing this latest flip-flop: The decision to continue providing contraception and abortifacients is a “breathtaking repudiation of [the university’s] judicial representations” and a move that “has set the precedent for this sort of insurance system for surgical abortion, sterilization, and any other procedure that has a significant constituency in the university community.”

    We need not get into the ugly history of the recent controversies that have led many to believe that Notre Dame grows less committed to its Catholic mission by the year. It is enough to say simply: Notre Dame has once again shown itself to care more about the verdict of powerful cultural influencers than about upholding the convictions of the faith it purports to represent.


Hollywood Actress: Why I Homeschool My Kids

My name is Sam Sorbo. I’m a mom to three wonderful children, and the author of “They’re YOUR Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate.”

Home schooling seems like a radical idea—but only because we are conditioned to think of it that way. Why? Because most of us attended school. But after nine overhauls of our public education system in less than 30 years, according to Pew Research Center data, the U.S. has fallen in world standings for education, to 39th in math and 24th in reading. We are officially behind Estonia. … The schools aren’t getting the job done.

If you feel incapable of teaching your own children it’s because you were taught that you were not capable. Don’t handicap your child by insisting on sending her to an institution for eight hours a day.

We need to rethink education in this country. My mission is to empower parents to be the lead learners for their children. I say lead learner because education is not about downloading information into the child. Education should focus on how to learn, not what. Especially in today’s economic environment, where technological advances change the business landscape so quickly, we need elasticity in our abilities, and that comes from being able to teach ourselves.

But instead, public schools teach children that they must be in a classroom with an instructor to learn. This predicated the snowflake crisis in our universities, where young people feel “triggered” by diverse ideas. They only know what they’ve been taught, and cannot think for themselves, so anything that challenges their worldview is perceived as hostile, and they lose their self-confidence and self-control.

Public school forms a wedge between the child and the parent—that’s inevitable.

“Mommy, you have to sign this. The teacher says so.” Or, “Mommy, don’t use plastic bags for my lunch. You’re killing dolphins.” The school challenges the parent’s authority from Day One.

It’s no wonder teenagers rebel. By that time, the parent’s authority has been completely undermined by a system that insists on its way above all else. Parents surrender their precious children to literal strangers, to be taught values and principles and sex-ed and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … and then they are confused when their children disagree with them.

What is it about a child turning 5 that immediately incapacitates his parents as teachers, forcing him into kindergarten, often when he’s not yet ready to give up his nap?

Instead of being utterly enervating, home schooling is empowering. My children have taught me. My goal is for parents to realize the incredible relationship and experience that is home education facilitates if they only would choose to keep their children close.

Have you ever done homework with your child? Then you have home schooled. You’re just doing it at the end of the day, when everyone is tired and cranky and hungry. My way, home schooling, is easier, and a lot more fun.


Will Free Speech Prevail on Campus?

Alarm over the state of free speech and academic freedom on American campuses is nothing new under the collegiate sun. But it has reached fever pitch in the past few years.

The unease is justified, given the notorious disruptions and dis-invitations of legitimate and worthy speakers; the censorious echo chambers of academic disciplines intolerant of dissent; and the often-unprincipled use of speech-smothering policies such as trigger warnings, safe-spaces, bias-reporting, and mandatory sensitivity training.

More and more faculty members across the political spectrum who had remained quiet for years now feel compelled to speak out because they believe things have spun out of control.

This said, the actual extent of the problem has always remained a question. Many schools and departments have avoided confrontations, and the media is not interested in “success stories” that no doubt take place. After American Enterprise Institute political scientist Charles Murray and his faculty host were physically attacked at Middlebury College last March in a disruption heard around the academic world, Murray was able to speak at Notre Dame, Harvard, and Columbia without incident.

Given the multiplicity and complexity of higher education, empirical estimates of harm will remain at least somewhat inexact. But a growing number of surveys have helped us approach a more accurate picture. It reveals genuine cause for concern, but also reasons for hope.

On the obvious negative side, we have beheld a growing number of anecdotal accounts of student disruptions and faculty intolerance. Some of the most serious disruptions in 2017 occurred at U.C. Berkeley, Evergreen State, Middlebury, and Claremont McKenna. On the faculty front, a massive rebellion of scholars in Third World studies recently compelled an academic journal, Third World Quarterly, to retract an article that politely called for rethinking the pros and cons of colonialism. Also, faculty at the eminent University of Pennsylvania Law School publicly denounced an accomplished colleague for the sin of extolling bourgeois values on the op-ed page of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Recent surveys of student attitudes also provide cause for concern. To pick one example, a study published last month by the Brookings Institution found that half of students polled believe it is okay to shout down a speaker whom one finds offensive, with almost 20 percent agreeing that using violence to prevent offensive speech is acceptable. Surveys conducted by the Cato Institute and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education report similar findings, mixed with more nuance.

Other studies leave more room for ambiguity and hope. Many of the new surveys do not compare college students with society writ large. But a recent article in The Economist, cites evidence that young people who have attended college remain more tolerant of controversial speakers than the general public—a finding consistent with a long line of social science research that correlates education with increased tolerance of unwanted speech.

In addition, a Gallup survey of 3,000 students for the Knight Foundation and Newseum found that 78 percent favor schools where “offensive and biased” speech is allowed. Even at Yale, where an infamous protest against free speech and pro–free speech faculty erupted last fall, 72 percent of students opposed speech codes, with only 16 percent favoring them.

So, what gives? The Economist supplies an explanation that makes sense, given my own experience as a free speech scholar and activist: Typically, fewer than 20 percent of students are anti-free speech, but the anti-speech activists are more aggressive than their tolerant counterparts and better able to influence school administrators. For their part, the administrators who appease them in the name of “diversity” lose sight of higher education’s primary duty: to pursue truth with intellectual competence, honesty, and freedom.

Higher education can turn things around if it finds the resolve and fortitude. Will it?


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

British Schools Hope to Improve Performance With Chinese Textbooks

What a load of rubbish!  Chinese students do better because they have higher IQs, because they are not allowed to be disruptive and because they work harder.  Two of those could be applied in Britian but instead they concentrate on the least likely cause.  And the Chinese texts will probably be unsuitable for Britain's dumber and less committed students

In the latest report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Chinese mainland (consisting of the Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong provinces) ranked fifth among nations with the world’s highest math scores. According to the report, around one in four students in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China are considered top-performing in mathematics. The United Kingdom, by contrast, was ranked 27th among nations, despite performing much better in reading and science.

These low math scores have generated concern among British educators, who hope to see their rankings improve to match those of China. In 2014, the UK’s National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) partnered with Shanghai academics to implement Asian styles of teaching in a small group of British schools and academy trusts. By 2016, the UK Department for Education had allocated $50.3 million in funding to unleash this “master” mathematics program across 8,000 primary schools.

A press release from the Department for Education says the new program will focus on “children being taught as a whole class, building depth of understanding of the structure of maths.” According to this approach, each lesson focuses on a single mathematical concept, which the class will continue to cover until every student has a firm understanding. As a result, much of the funding for this educational overhaul will go toward training educators to adopt this new pedagogy.

Another key component of a “master” mathematics education is the use of high-quality textbooks. Until now, the NCETM has relied on Chinese textbooks to train British teachers, but a recent deal between HarperCollins and the Shanghai Century Publishing Group aims to make these textbooks available to British students as well.

“To my knowledge this has never happened in history before—that textbooks created for students in China will be translated exactly as they have been developed and sold for use in British schools,” said Colin Hughes, the managing director of Collins Learning (a UK division of HarperCollins), in a statement to China Daily.

The idea of integrating Chinese textbooks into British schools has gained popularity in the UK over the last few years. The nation’s School Reform Minister, Nick Gibb, has been particularly vocal about his belief that international textbooks are key to improving education standards.

“In this country, textbooks simply do not match up to the best in the world, resulting in poorly designed resources, damaging and undermining good teaching,” Gibb said at a 2014 Publishers Association conference. At the same conference, Gibb also cited research from the UK education expert Tim Oates, who argues that textbooks, not teachers, are responsible for England’s declining education standards.

Other experts have expressed reservations about requiring UK schools to adopt Chinese textbooks, arguing that it could undermine the many positive aspects of a British education. “A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to improve children’s learning,” wrote Ruth Merttens, a professor at the University of St. Mark and St. John, in an essay for The Guardian. “Worse still, it undermines more important features of our culture and heritage, where we punch above our weight in creativity.”

Still others fear that the British educational system is ill-equipped to handle the rigor of a Chinese curriculum. In Shanghai, for instance, many students endure 10- to 12-hour school days, in addition to attending private tutoring sessions and school on Saturdays. While the average student around the world spends about five hours on homework each week, Shanghai students spend nearly 14 hours a week on their assignments. Much of this preparation is geared toward passing the university entrance examination, or “gaokao.”

By contrast, a UK education is far less time-consuming and devotes more attention to individual learning. British educators also tend to move quickly from one subject to the next and cover a wide range of subjects, rather than specializing in a single area like mathematics. Interestingly enough, the Chinese Ministry of Education has recently turned to the UK for guidance on how encourage creativity in primary schools.

With Chinese and British schools excelling in different areas, it remains to be seen whether the UK will benefit significantly from China’s “master” mathematics program (or whether China will benefit from the UK’s creativity initiatives). Nevertheless, in a nation where only 10 percent of math teachers rely on textbooks, perhaps British educators could use some international help.


£52-a-week new private school ‘based on Easyjet’

Scotland’s first no-frills private school plans to adopt an “Easyjet” financial model that founders believe will allow establishments to emerge across the country.

A new charity, the Schools Educational Trust, intends to charge as little as £52 a week for private education, a price that it believes would make opting out of the state sector an option for families on average incomes.

James Tooley, professor of education policy at Newcastle University, who is also behind more advanced plans to open a cheap private school in Durham, insisted his model could be financially sustainable by operating with low profit margins in a similar approach to that of budget airlines and hotels.

It is understood that work has begun on finding a site for a small school, probably in Edinburgh but possibly in Glasgow, for 200 pupils. If the project is successful, it is hoped that others of a similar size will open elsewhere.

“Private education is not affordable for most people,” Professor Tooley said at the charity’s launch event in Edinburgh yesterday, chaired by Lord Digby Jones, the crossbench peer and former UK trade minister.

“Digby came up from Milan yesterday, he flew British Airways business class. He could also have flown Easyjet. In [private] education, all we offer at the moment is British Airways business class, there’s no Easyjet equivalent. Yet both will still get you to Edinburgh.

“Or, to mix my analogies, you can come and experience the beauty of Edinburgh and stay at the Balmoral, the poshest hotel here. Or you can stay at the youth hostel and still enjoy Edinburgh. You can still experience education at a low-cost level.”

Giving an example, he highlighted potential rental costs of £20,000 a year, or £100 a child in a school of 200. Another £1,550 per child could go on teacher and principal salaries. If all other costs could be covered with the remaining £1,050 per child from the £2,700 annual fees, the school would break even.

In comparison, private schools in Scotland charge an average of £14,000 a year, with the most expensive setting fees of £26,000 for a day school place.

“If costs are less [than £2,700 per child], even a tiny bit less, you can create a surplus which you can reinvest in the business to expand the business,” Professor Tooley, a founding trustee of the new charity, said. “I’m talking about the creation of a very low-margin business, but if you’ve got enough children there, you can create a viable business which would be of interest to investors, donors, and most importantly, parents.”

He has helped set up low-cost private schools in developing countries over the past decade. He said he had become passionate about the idea after noticing cheap, fee-paying schools appearing in some of the poorest parts of the world, including Sierra Leone, Somaliland and Liberia, which outperformed publicly-run counterparts.

“This is an extraordinary global phenomenon — low-cost private schools are serving poor families, outperforming the government schools and they’re affordable to the poor,” he said.

Ross Greer, education spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “Comparing schools to airlines is probably an indicator this scheme is unlikely to take off.

“Education should not be a business. Creating another tier of private education, where those with enough money can withdraw from state schools, will only create more closed loops of privilege and inequality.”


Civic Education To Save The Republic

If the American republic is in trouble, better civic education is the answer.  That is the conclusion reached by a number of papers and studies in recent years, including “The Republic is (Still) at Risk—and Civics is Part of the Solution” presented to the Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit a few weeks ago.

Consider a few compelling data points:

* In the last National Assessment of Educational Progress testing, only 18% of 8th graders were “proficient” or above in history, and only 23% in government.  A mere 1-2% were “advanced.”  By the way, if you believe students learn what is tested, those exams are no longer given in the 4th and 12th grades, only in the 8th

* Xavier University found that one-third of Americans could not pass the civics portion of the American citizenship test, whereas immigrants pass at a 97.5% rate.

* A poll of 18-34 year-olds found that 77% could not name a senator from their home state. And don’t remind me about those who think Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court.

While civic ignorance is itself a major problem, its effect is compounded when it is applied to particular issues of the day.  For example, a poll found that those under 30 preferred socialism over capitalism 43%-30%.  Similarly, a Reason-Rupe poll of 18-24 year olds showed that 58% supported socialism.  But when Reason-Rupe asked a follow-up question whether governments or markets should manage the economy, young people said markets by a 2-1 margin.  Essentially, they do not understand what socialism is.

The same ignorance is manifest in a recent study about free speech and the First Amendment by Hoover Institution and Brookings Institution fellow John Villasenor.   Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment, say 44% of college students, with 51% saying it’s ok to disrupt an offensive speech with which you disagree, and 19% saying it’s fine to use violence for that purpose.  Another 62% of college students mistakenly believe the First Amendment requires a controversial speaker on one side to be balanced by a speaker on the other side.  Wow.

Part of the problem is that civics and history are not required by most of our colleges and universities, so those going into the teaching profession are not well prepared themselves.  Moreover, these days the emphasis in colleges and schools is on “civic engagement”—getting involved—rather than civic education or knowledge.  One would think the latter should precede the former.  The recent and heavy emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has been important, but it has also crowded out courses and investments in civics and history.

A few states are awakening to the problem and beginning to address it.  Florida now requires a middle school course in civics with follow-on testing with good results.  Illinois mandates a high school civics course with teacher development to support it.  The Ashbrook Center in Ohio has gone national with its programs to retrain history and civics teachers to teach using primary documents, rather than relying exclusively on typically boring and frequently biased textbooks.  There are several points of light, but not nearly enough.

A statement attributed to Abraham Lincoln delivers a frightening prospect:  “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”  If you are concerned about the direction of America, it is time to do something about the study of civics, which is the real long-term solution.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Houston Protestors Interrupt Speech by David Horowitz

Students for Genocide? "U. Houston Was Recently Named to List of "Top Ten Worst Schools that Support Terrorists,"

About 100 angry student protestors supporting the Hamas-funded and Hamas-guided campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine staged a loud and disruptive walkout of David Horowitz's November 2nd speech at the University of Houston. Horowitz is the founder of the California-based David Horowitz Freedom Center and his speech, which was sponsored by the Young America's Foundation, focused on "The Terror Network on American Campuses."

The protestors carried Palestinian flags and a sign stating "Black Lives Matter." During the walkout, which took several minutes, they attempted to shout down Horowitz, making it impossible to hear his words. The protestors chanted, "David, we reject your presence on our campus" and "Zionists off our campus, Islamphobes: off our campus." A video of the protestors attempting to derail Horowitz's speech is available here:

The David Horowitz Freedom Center recently named the University of Houston to its new report on the "Top Ten Worst Schools that Support Terrorists." Coinciding with the release, the Freedom Center placed posters on the Houston campus exposing the links between Students for Justice in Palestine and the terrorist organization Hamas, whose stated goal is the destruction of the Jewish state and the annihilation of its Jews.

The University of Houston hosted the Students for Justice in Palestine National Conferenceon October 27-29, 2017, an event that has become notorious for its secrecy and for anti-Semitic speakers who support anti-Israel terrorism.

As was revealed in recent congressional testimony, Students for Justice in Palestine is a campus front for Hamas terrorists. SJP's propaganda activities are orchestrated and funded by a Hamas front group, American Muslims for Palestine, whose chairman is Hatem Bazian, is a founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, and whose principals are former officers of the Holy Land Foundation and other Islamic "charities" previously convicted of funneling money to Hamas.

Hamas is a State Department-designated terrorist organization whose explicit goals, as stated in its charter, are the destruction of the Jewish state, and the extermination of its Jews.

"Students for Justice in Palestine together with other student organizations such as the Muslim Students Association, and Jewish Voice for Peace have formed a coalition to spread Hamas propaganda," explained Freedom Center founder David Horowitz. "This propaganda effort was designed to destroy the Jewish state, annihilate the Jewish people, and fan the flames of hatred for America as Israel's 'protector.'

Their mission-aided by funding and organizational support from Hamas-is to whitewash actual terrorist attacks and promote the genocidal lies of terrorist organizations in order to weaken the Jewish state, deny it legitimacy, and ultimately destroy it."

"American universities like the University of Houston provide cover and financial support for these terrorist agents, allowing them to provide propaganda that advances Hamas's genocidal agendas," Horowitz continued. "It is disgraceful that President Khator and the University of Houston should provide cover and financial support for these terrorist agents, allowing them to spread propaganda lies that advance Hamas's genocidal agendas."

The Freedom Center posters placed on Houston's campus contained the hashtag #StopUniversitySupportforTerrorists. They were torn down by university authorities who have turned their backs on the First Amendment and the very idea of free speech. Images of the posters that appeared at Houston and other campuses may be viewed at

The David Horowitz Freedom Center, founded in 1988, is a not-for-profit organization located in Sherman Oaks, California. The Center's mission is to defend free societies like America and Israel, which are under attack by totalitarians both religious and secular, domestic and foreign.

Via email


Professors Not Happy That Jordan Peterson Wants To Warn Students About ‘Radical Left’ Classes

Professor Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto instructor who won’t use “gender neutral” pronouns, says students should know what they’re getting into when taking courses from hard-core leftist faculty. That’s not sitting well with some of Peterson’s colleagues who say identifying their politics amounts to harassment.

Peterson told the Toronto Star on Friday that he has discussed the idea of creating an “information website” that would forewarn students that a course they’ve selected has an ideological axe to grind with “radical left social justice-oriented courses.”

“I’m not happy with the fact that a huge chunk of the humanities and the social sciences have turned into an indoctrination cult. So I thought, well, the students need to be informed. Because they don’t have the information necessary to make an informed choice, and this would help them make an informed choice,” Peterson told the Star.

The professor says he’s surprised that there would be objections raised now when he hasn’t even discussed the website for over three months. What Peterson envisioned at that time was a reference of “courses and professors and disciplines that should be avoided” for students not interested in left-wing social justice teaching.

But that isn’t sitting well with the U of T facility. Faculty association president Cynthia Messenger issued a statement on Friday that explained how her group “has taken the unprecedented step of asking that the entire executive meet with the provost’s office to express our deep concern about this threat to our members and to the academic mission of the university.”

Peterson was unfazed by the “unprecedented” action, telling the Star that if “what the faculty association did today was an attempt to intimidate me into not doing it, you can be bloody sure that they’ve failed completely.”

The free speech advocate dismissed the statement as another example of university groups “bowing to pressure from a radical minority.”

Peterson asked where the “threat” is to anyone. “It isn’t obvious to me, at least, that providing students with more information about the courses that they’re going to take and their philosophical underpinnings actually constitutes a reprehensible move.”


Professor draws ire for saying students will have to work hard and avoid drinking

UK’s Cambridge University physical sciences professor came under fire this week from mental health campaigners and students after he suggested undergraduates will have to work hard and abstain from drinking to pass the course.

Eugene Terentjev draw the fury of students and mental health activists after sending out an email last week to first-year natural sciences undergraduates at Cambridge, telling them the course will be difficult and thus they should refrain from drinking and other social activities if they wish to succeed, according to an email leaked to student-run publication Varsity.

“Physical sciences is a VERY hard subject, which will require ALL of your attention and your FULL brain capacity (and for a large fraction of you, even that will not be quite enough),” Terentjev wrote to the students.

“You can ONLY do well (ie achieve your potential, which rightly or wrongly several people here assumed you have) if you are completely focused, and learn to enjoy the course. People who just TAKE the course, but enjoy their social life, can easily survive in many subjects — but not in this one.”

He added: “Remember that you are NOT at any other uni, where students do drink a lot and do have what they regard as a ‘good time’ — and you are NOT on a course, as some Cambridge courses sadly are, where such a behaviour pattern is possible or acceptable.”

The professor’s comments caused an uproar among activists and students, who called his email “extremely damaging” and neither “appropriate nor acceptable”, with one other university vice-chancellor accusing Terentjev of “frightening impressionable undergraduates”, the London Times reported.

A mental health campaign at the university, Student Minds Cambridge, said the message sent by the professor “could be extremely damaging to the mental well-being of the students concerned, and potentially others as well,” the Times reported.

Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, said the professor message scaremongers the students rather than helping them to learn to live a balanced lifestyle. “Frightening impressionable undergraduates into believing that work alone is all-important is irresponsible, unkind and wrong-headed,” he told the newspaper.

The university’s student union welfare officer, Micha Frazer-Carroll, also criticized the content of the email, claiming it criticized “the very premise of having a social life, or any sort of life, outside of study.”

“The university believes that all first-year students in all disciplines, having undergone the thorough admissions process that Cambridge requires, have the capacity to succeed academically,” a spokesperson for the University told the Times.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Furious stepfather refuses to let his stepdaughter, 12, complete her homework after she is asked to pen them a note about becoming a Muslim

A furious stepfather has refused to let his 12-year-old stepdaughter finish her homework after she was asked to write a letter to her family about becoming a Muslim. 

Mark McLachlan, 43, from Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, has slammed the decision by the Kepier School to ask pupils to pen the note.

He has refused to let his stepdaughter, who he has asked not to be named, complete the task after failing to see what the letter would accomplish.

Mr McLachlan said: 'I know as part of the national curriculum they have to learn about all religions.

'I just don't see why they should ask a child to write a letter addressed to their family about converting to another religion. I really just don't see what the letter will gain.

'If they want children to learn about Islam, then go teach them all about it and its history.

'What I don't want is a school asking my stepdaughter to look into reasons for converting to another religion.

'Like every parent, it is our decision on how we raise them and once they are old enough to make decision, then it is there choice.'

Mr McLachlan visited the school to raise his concerns and was told that this was part of the curriculum and was shown example exam questions for Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.

The homework came to light when Mr McLachlan was looking through the youngster's school planner and saw the teacher has written the task to be handed in on November 8.

He added: 'When I saw this assignment in the planner, written by the teacher, you could have knocked me over with a feather. 'I told her she will not be completing it and she is more worried about getting detention. 'We send our kids to school to get a good education and use what they have learnt to have a good career.

'I have no problem with them learning about religions but I feel they should not be asking 12-year-olds writing to their parents about why they are converting. 'I just found the task wholly inappropriate.

'I would like to emphasise how much respect I have for the head of year and deputy head who were very receptive to my complaint and concerns but unfortunately in this instance the national curriculum has failed miserably in my opinion.'

Mr McLachlan took a photo of the assignment and posted it online, where it has been shared hundreds of times.

One user commented: 'Would they go to a Muslim school and ask them to write a letter to their parents about converting to catholic? I doubt it!  'Children should not be made to write letters about converting to any religion for any reason.'

Another user said: 'Isn't part of RE to research, investigate and teach about all religions? 'I feel like this homework is just an exercise about converting to another religion. That's been blown way out of proportion.'


Delaware Considers Letting Students Decide Race, Gender Without Parents’ Permission

“White boys could soon self-identify as black girls in Delaware.” So begins one of the latest columns of Fox News’ Todd Starnes, reporting on what parents probably wish was fake news.

Unfortunately for the families in The First State, reality may soon be optional for kids in Delaware public schools. In one of the more incredible headlines of the year, local officials in the state’s Department of Education are actually debating a regulation that would let students choose their race and their gender.

If it sounds unbelievable, that’s because it is. For the last few years, families have been shocked that they’d have to defend traditional biology in places as sacred as restrooms, showers, locker and changing rooms. Now, the proponents of this government-sponsored make-believe are trying to make everything self-subjective.

It’s the campaign for these “protected characteristics,” local liberals argue, that would give children the ability to redefine their most defining traits. And without ever calling home. Under “Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination,” students can make these determinations without letting their parents know.

“Prior to requesting permission from a parent or legal guardian, the school should consult and work closely with the student to access the degree to which, if any, the parent or legal guardian is aware of the Protected Characteristic and is supportive of the student, and the school shall take into consideration the safety, health, and well-being of the student in deciding whether to request permission from the parent or legal guardian,” the proposal states.

“Literally,” Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis told Starnes, “if a parent affirms their child’s biological sex, and now race, they are [considered] discriminatory through policies like Regulation 225. These policies are setting parents up as … unsupportive, even abusive, if they affirm their child’s biological realities … ”

Of course, the irony is that someone’s being abusive, according to the American College of Pediatricians—and it isn’t parents. This is exactly the kind of agenda they classify as “child abuse.” Theis is calling on people across the state to get involved in stopping state officials from putting kids in dangerous situations—and keeping parents in the dark about it.

By law, the people of Delaware have 30 days to “comment” about the regulation, but the agency is under no obligation to change it. Hopefully, parents can apply enough pressure to force the governor to back away from the idea. Join Theis and other concerned citizens by pushing back on this madness.


Britain’s universities are under fire from all sides

Right-wingers are on their case over Brexit, liberals fret about free speech, and everyone seems to be sick of fees

THERE are few things in which Britain can still claim to lead the world, but higher education is one. The country’s grandest universities top global league-tables. They attract many of the world’s best researchers, as well as students from every continent. The Department for Education found that income from foreign students and research contracts was worth £12.4bn ($20.6bn) in 2014. Yet, at a time of widening political division, politicians and pundits of all hues are united by a growing scepticism about universities.

From the right, they are under fire for their opposition to Brexit. On October 24th it emerged that Chris Heaton-Harris, an MP and government whip, had written to all university vice-chancellors to ask for the names of professors “who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”. Universities interpreted Mr Heaton-Harris’s letter as a threat to academic freedom, and complained angrily. The Daily Mail declared the backlash “a troubling insight” into the academy; “Our Remainer Universities”, roared its front page. Some Tory MPs are troubled by polls showing the left-wing attitudes of academics, says Nick Hillman of the Higher Education Policy Institute, a think-tank. Brexit has stoked such fears.

At the other end of the political spectrum, liberals worry that universities have not done enough to protect free speech. In recent years student activists have tried to block talks by figures such as Germaine Greer, a feminist who was held to be transphobic, and Nick Lowles, an anti-racism campaigner who was accused of being Islamophobic for criticising extremism. Although such attempts rarely succeed, many worry about their suffocating effect, with news reports often exaggerating their impact. The Daily Telegraph recently reported, incorrectly, that the Cambridge student union’s women’s officer was forcing the university to “drop white authors” from the English curriculum.
Voices on the left are also criticising universities over their admissions policies. David Lammy, a Labour MP and former education minister, last month accused Oxford and Cambridge of fostering “social apartheid” after he obtained figures showing that 16 Oxbridge colleges did not admit a single black A-level pupil in 2015.

Perhaps most worrying for universities, however, is the area where left and right seem to be finding common cause: money. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s far-left leader, has promised to abolish tuition fees and fund higher education out of general taxation, something that universities fear would choke their budgets. Lord Adonis, a former Labour education minister and one of the architects of the fees system, now tweets incessantly against what he calls the “cartel” of English universities, which he accuses of failing to justify the high fees (of £9,250 a year) that they are allowed to charge, and wasting the cash on extravagant salaries for bureaucrats.

Shake it to the left
The Conservatives, for their part, are spooked by Mr Corbyn’s recent electoral gains, particularly among young voters. Many Tories now want to lower tuition fees, which, as one party aide notes, would at least be easier than solving the housing crisis, the other big millennial complaint.

There was little opposition when Mrs May announced at the Tory party conference last month that she would freeze the cap on tuition fees and would set up a review of the funding regime. Potential successors to Mrs May, including David Davis, have been quick to make clear that they, too, have doubts about the current funding regime. In a sign of the changing political environment, the Centre for Policy Studies, a Thatcherite think-tank, released a paper in October which urged the government to cut fees to avoid a “financial time-bomb” of unpaid loans.

Universities have done a poor job of defending themselves against this concerted criticism. Following Mr Heaton-Harris’s ill-judged letter, hyperbolic comparisons by academics to Soviet Russia and McCarthyite America did little to help their cause. They have struggled to transmit the message that higher fees mean more university places for poor pupils. Although vice-chancellors act as an army of well-connected lobbyists, they are not always effective at shaping public debate. “Universities sometimes give the impression that they only care about finance when it applies to their balance-sheet,” rather than when it affects their students, says Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and former head of the national students’ union. Michael Arthur, the president of University College London, complains that “when it comes to fees we’re portrayed as being a bit greedy.”

The more critical atmosphere has already had an impact. The government is keen to promote its reforms designed to make universities work harder for their fees, including a new teaching ranking and a beefed-up regulator. The freeze on fees may not look like much yet, but it will cause university income to be eroded by inflation every year until it is lifted. Meanwhile Jo Johnson, the universities minister, recently announced vague plans to impose fines on institutions that fail to uphold free speech.

The past two decades have witnessed a big increase in higher-education attendance; it is not surprising that there is more scrutiny of what goes on. That does not make it any more comfortable for universities to be the ones under examination.