Monday, December 31, 2018

Deerfield Academy confronts its male-only past

The slick, student-produced video could be a recruitment tool: a sun-washed campus, nestled in rich Western Massachusetts farmland, featuring students dancing, singing, and living a seemingly idyllic life.

“There is so much to learn here,” says a young man in a green Deerfield Academy cap, looking into the camera. “I’d send my son here for sure.” Then he pauses, and looks down. “I’d have to think about sending my daughter here, but I’d definitely send my son.”

Another young man states matter-of-factly: “It’s a pretty toxic place for girls.”

Thirty years after boys chanted “better dead than coed” in protest of the school’s decision to admit girls, one of the nation’s oldest and most elite boarding schools remains a place where female students have a sense this is not their Deerfield.

It’s a place, students say, where boys get away with breaking rules that girls can’t. Where girls have been shunned from prime seating at hockey games. And where a letter of apology was punishment enough for groping a girl.

Many of these issues are laid bare in a federal sexual discrimination lawsuit, in which a popular former teacher said young women faced unequal treatment in disciplinary hearings and when they filed sexual harassment and misconduct complaints. The ex-teacher, Sonja O’Donnell, alleged she faced administrators’ wrath for years for standing up to the school’s unwritten rule that “boys will be boys.”

Separately, a 2015 graduate told the Globe she is still stunned that a male student who groped her several times in class was only made to apologize in a letter. “Deerfield had many great professors and I learned a lot,” said the woman, now a senior at an Ivy League college. “But the culture is really backwards.”

Though the student body is split nearly equally along gender lines, inequity is spread across campus and woven into the way of life, according to 17 current and former students, most of whom asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from Deerfield and classmates.

Until recently, girls were not welcome in the sought-after upper bleachers at hockey games, long a males-only seating area, and hadn’t been considered for the coveted position of Captain Deerfield, the school’s mascot.

Students and alumni are still chafing over a message earlier this year from Deerfield’s top administrator to “Deerfield girls,” with the subject line of “self worth.” It suggested female students more “carefully consider [their] clothing choices” after visitors to campus were shocked by some girls’ short skirts and high-heeled boots.

“I wish there was more of an acknowledgment that being a girl at Deerfield is tough,” said one 2017 graduate.

The 300-acre campus of red brick buildings and rolling fields, book-ended by a tiny village of 18th-century houses along Old Main Street, seems a quaint outpost. Or as some students describe it, a bubble separated from the outside world.

Leaders of the 220-year-old academy say they are trying to shed the vestiges of an all-boys school and deny the allegations in the lawsuit. Drawing on its $590 million endowment, Deerfield hired an inclusion officer and has ramped up antibias initiatives to tackle these issues.

In a statement to the Globe, Deerfield denied O’Donnell’s allegations and said its actions against her — including cutting her pay, barring her from serving as an advocate in student discipline hearings, and not renewing her contract — were “entirely legitimate.” It called discrimination and retaliation “antithetical to who we are and what we teach.”

O’Donnell, an English teacher at Deerfield for 18 years until administrators opted not to renew her contract this year, said the school offers students incredible educational opportunities. She and her husband, Michael O’Donnell, a Deerfield teacher who resigned in August because he said the situation had become untenable, sent their son there and he graduated in May.

“I love Deerfield,” Sonja O’Donnell said. “I have never stopped believing in the potential for that community.”

On campus, pictures of Abraham Lincoln and other historic figures line the reception area of the administration building. Two statues, a confident “Deerfield Boy,” books casually slung under an arm, and a “Deerfield Girl,” clutching her books at her chest, still stand in the library.

In a 2009 survey, conducted by a consortium of private schools, nearly 90 percent of Deerfield’s 12th-grade girls said boys enjoyed more influence than girls at the school. Some students say things haven’t changed much in the nine years since.

Deerfield said it has taken robust steps to tackle these issues, including housing ninth-graders exclusively in a village of dorms to foster healthier male and female friendships from the get-go.

It also said it has added extensive gender sensitivity training and reviewed the selection process for student leadership and faculty positions, with an eye toward gender balance.

Deerfield’s reckoning has come later than others. As a wave of boys-only prep schools started opening their doors to girls in the 1970s, Deerfield’s trustees twice voted to stand firm. But in the fall of 1989, faced with a declining pool of applicants, Deerfield acquiesced.

Today, Deerfield enrolls about 650 students in grades 9 through 12. Its $590 million endowment is the fourth largest among more than 300 US and foreign schools tracked by Boarding School Review, a clearinghouse for boarding schools.

With tuition and fees about $60,000 a year, Deerfield draws from a largely affluent applicant pool. Fewer than one out of every five applicants is accepted, according to the school’s website.


Let’s Make Colleges Better at Serving Their Students

A growing chorus of voices is calling for universities to have more “skin in the game,” that is, stronger incentives for desirable outcomes. This is discussed most often with regard to student loans. Much of the blame for the student loan problem rests on college admission and retention policies.

Many schools accept numerous applicants they know are very unlikely to graduate. At some schools the six-year graduation rate is under one-third: There are at least two dropouts for every student earning a bachelor’s degree. This tragedy creates unrealistic expectations and then shatters them.

How might colleges be given a stronger stake in avoiding this problem? One way is to make them liable for part of their students’ defaulted loan balances. (Schools could be left off the hook for the default rate expected to arise from job-hindering illnesses and accidents.) If schools bore some of the costs of student loan defaults, this would induce them to become more selective regarding admissions, a change that many people would view as inconsistent with the ideal that higher education should reduce inequality.

To these people I ask: How are justice and opportunity promoted by a system that assures such large numbers of college dropouts? Shouldn’t we focus on educating students well and helping them obtain gainful employment? “Skin in the game” is a powerful inducement to help achieve these twin goals.

How else might schools develop stronger incentives for better outcomes? In 1955, economist Milton Friedman proposed that schools invest directly in their students by lending them funds to be repaid after they graduate and start earning more income. As in so many other policy areas, it took a while for academia to catch up to Friedman’s ideas. Today, Purdue University and some others have implemented Friedmanesque income-share agreements (ISAs).

Under such programs, the school pays some or all the cost of attendance in exchange for a share of a student’s future income. If the students fare well after graduation, the university benefits. Highly endowed private schools could devote some portion of their endowments to similar programs.

Adam Smith also knew about incentivizing educational excellence. In The Wealth of Nations (1776), he noted that professors at Oxford University were more effective teachers when they had skin in the game. Students paid them a fee, so the more students a professor had, the greater his income. Today, however, professors’ compensation often has little correlation to clearly identifiable performance indicators.

In contrast, corporate executives and other high-level employees in the for-profit business world typically have much skin in the game, in the form of performance bonuses, stock options, and the like. Admittedly, it is more difficult to implement performance incentives in higher education, because the “bottom line” of universities is often difficult to define and measure.

But since part of the mission of our great research universities is to make important discoveries, few tasks seem more appropriate than discovering efficient ways to improve students’ lives in the classroom and beyond. Surely, “skin in the game” will play a role in restoring the promise of higher education. Without it, we will continue down the road of burdensome debt loads, academic mediocrity, and shattered dreams.


Agenda activism takes over Australian university history classes

Agenda-driven activism has subverte­d the teaching of Aust­ralian history at the nation’s universit­ies, with gender, race and class politics dominating two-thirds of subjects on offer.

Australian history is no longer taught as a study of past events, according to a report by the Institute of Public Affairs to be released today. It argues that students are more likely to be ­exposed to disconnected themes, or “microhistories”, presented through the lens of identity ­politics, than key concepts explain­ing Australia’s development as a modern nation.

An audit of the 147 Australian history subjects offered across 35 universities this year showed 102 were preoccupied with identity politics. Of those, 13 subjects were solely focused on gender and sexuality, race or class.

ANU’s Sexuality in Australian History examined “how an understanding of sexual diversity in the past can illuminate current debates in Australian ­society”.

Monash University’s History of Sexuality 1800-the Present had topics that included “the construction of masculinity and femininity, courtship and marriag­e … heterosexuality and homosexuality”.

In comparison, four subjects featured democracy as a major theme, three covered industrialisation, and capitalism was the focus of just one subject.

Prime ministers appear to be largely overlooked, but Queensland senator Pauline Hanson is mentioned in the descriptions for three subjects.

The report’s author, Bella d’Abrera, said the audit highlighted that students were not being taught basic concepts explaining the origins of Australian society, including its successes as a ­modern nation.

She said historians had instead “recast themselves as political ­activists” and students were being “politicised in the classroom” as a result of the courses that were available to them.

“Historians occupy a special position because they have a unique ability to shape our society and to shape the future … but they should not attempt to rewrite the past,” Dr d’Abrera said.

“By reframing Australia’s past using the lens of identity politics, they are warping history to fit their own agenda.”

The report highlights how ­indigenous history has been framed around common themes of resistance, colonisation and the frontier wars. Twenty-nine of the 57 indigenous history subjects ­offered ­focused on indigenous-settler relations “in terms of violence and conflict rather than co-existence and co-operation”.

Dr d’Abrera said many Australian history subjects were better suited to the disciplines of politics, sociology or anthropology.

She said there was a dearth of subjects that discussed Australia’s economic and political development since 1788 and only one subject looked into the cultural conditions in Britain that led to the development of our liberal democracy.

No subject mentioned “the fact the Australian nation had ­benefited enormously from the Western legacy”, Dr d’Abrera said.

She said this shed new light on the opposition that the ­Ramsay Centre has come up against in its bid to establish ­degrees in Western civilisation at several Australian universities.

After rejection by ANU and a push-back from academics at the University of Sydney, the ­Ramsay Centre recently signed up the University of Wollongong as a partner for a course and scholarship program planned to launch in 2020.

Bachelor of Arts student Oscar Green took the University of Queensland’s The Australian Experience during his first year of study expecting to be introduced to issues around Australian history and culture.

Instead, the 19-year-old, who is involved in the IPA’s Generation Liberty program for students, was disappointed by a “disproportionate focus” on race and gender and “revisionist approach” to studying the past.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

University says a man asking out a woman who's smaller than him could be sexual harassment after they suspended a black for making a woman 'feel uncomfortable'

I am not too critical of Mizzou here. They dance all around the point below but blacks can be very pushy in their approaches to women they fancy, often showing little inclination to take "no" for an answer -- JR

The University of Missouri has claimed that a male asking a female out on a date could be sexual harassment – if she is smaller than him.

Mizzou officials made the claim as doctoral student challenged them in a lawsuit surrounding his suspension in 2016 for the romantic proposal to his student dance instructor Annalise Breaux.

The college claimed that posing the question could violate Title IX, which serves to prohibit sexual discrimination on any federally funded education program, after Jeremy Rowles sued them for racial and sexual discrimination.

The university's claim was revealed in a motion for summary judgement filed on Sunday, after a judge approved his lawsuit in July agreeing that the black student had done nothing more than make his fellow student - a white woman feel 'uncomfortable'.

Rowles had his suspension time cut in half to two years when he claimed it was 'part of a larger pattern and practice' of racial discrimination. He was also banned from his gym and residence halls permanently.

The university was the setting of 2015 protests over workplace benefits and leadership related to race that led to the resignations of the president of the University of Missouri System and the chancellor of the flagship Columbia campus.

Rowles said that 'applying the same disciplinary standards differently to students of different races was unreasonable.'

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs, who left in 2017, had claimed asking someone on a date more than once was an 'unwanted sexual advance'.

It is claimed Breaux did not firmly say 'no' in reply to date requests. She eventually asked him to 'stop making romantic advances' but also encouraged him to continue taking dance classes.

However he says she began avoiding him soon after and when he said a letter apologizing for being awkward about his 'sincere feelings' the matter was escalated.

She accused him of 'bizarre' behaviour.

Later the university accused him of exerting 'power or authority' to harass Breaux, in reference to his 'physical size'. They also accused him of using similar behavior with three other student employees who haven't spoken out against him.

When asked if authority meant hierarchical, Scroggs replied 'I didn't interpret it that way'.

Current assistant vice chancellor for civil rights and Title IX, Andy Hayes said in her deposition: 'I think there could be a feeling of that [abuse of "power"] just by the nature of your gender.'

Assistant vice chancellor for civil rights and Title IX, Andy Hayes said in her deposition: 'I think there could be a feeling of that [abuse of "power"] just by the nature of your gender

However she allegedly told Rowles in a previous Title IX investigation that he 'looked like someone who might commit sexual assault'.

Rowles was accused of having 'insinuated' he would help a female undergraduate student cheat in return for 'sexual favors' but won his case.

Various figures of authority disagreed on what constituted a violation of Title IX and Hayes admitted they couldn't communicate a consistent answer to students.


Revive For-Profit Higher Education

The Obama Administration intensely disliked for-profit higher education. Political appointees in the U.S. Department of Education (Robert Shireman particularly stands out) as well as Democrats in Congress (e.g., former Senator Tom Harkin, current Senator Dick Durbin) constantly attacked the sector. Most of them probably thought that businesses should not make profits from education, which they consider primarily a public good appropriately only provided by nonprofit schools.

All sorts of regulations were imposed: state certification requirements (forcing online companies to get state bureaucratic approval in every state in which they operated), gainful employment rules, etc. These restrictions were ostensibly designed to protect student consumers from fraud, but since in most cases they did not apply to public not-for-profit institutions, they were highly discriminatory—clearly an attempt to stamp out the schools.

The effects of this are still being felt, as evidenced by the recent decision by the Education Corporation of America to close dozens of campuses with thousands of students. To be sure, there were a number of “bad apples” engaging in deceptive practices, although a non-discriminatory policy would have closed down some public institutions as well with very poor academic and employment outcomes.

I thought the unfortunately largely successful regulatory attack was a mistake for four reasons.

* First, markets impose disciplines on all institutions charging a price for their services, including schools. In the case of the for-profits, however, that discipline is far greater, because tuition fees are virtually the only source of revenues, unlike nonprofit institutions dependent on government subsidies, endowment income or private gifts. At for-profits, satisfying the customer is critical to survival, and hence teaching is Job One—more so than at other institutions also promoting research, saving the earth (“sustainability”), achieving progressive objectives (“diversity”), providing entertainment (e.g., football), etc.

* Second, that market discipline makes colleges more efficient. Resources are more intensely used. Most proprietary institutions rent pleasant but highly functional space with good parking on the outskirts of town or operate on-line—having no real campus. Instructors each teach several sections of needed core courses, not one or two sections of classes covering obscure tangential topics that the instructor favors.

* Third, while traditional higher education talks about serving low-income persons, racial minorities and first-generation college students, the for-profits do it—without hiring an army of diversity coordinators to demonstrate institutional support for equal educational opportunity. Critics of proprietary education bash the schools for poor performance, a phenomenon largely a consequence of accepting large numbers of at-risk students. The elite private schools that heavily influence the culture of most American universities want it both ways—they want to sound like they love the poor and minorities, but they also want high academic standards, first-rate students and the like. These goals sometimes conflict, particularly given the abysmal circumstances at home and school facing many poor inner city kids prior to college.

* Fourth, the proprietary schools emphasize preparing students for specific vocational objectives. Many are two-year or even nondegree schools offering certificates denoting competency in some needed vocation, such as welding, plumbing, or driving eighteen-wheel trucks over long distances. We need truck drivers and welders just as we need engineers and accountants, and Americans have neglected public vocational education, viewing it as second-rate, inferior training. The for-profit schools include many “career colleges” that often train students with limited interest or skills in traditional book-based learning who are capable of learning other very useful skills in a short period for less money than traditional four-year bachelor’s degree-granting institutions cost.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study suggests that on average the for-profits do less well in terms of academic performance than traditional schools. There are variations, however, around that average. I recently spoke at a CEO summit of leaders of scores of these institutions, and generally was impressed with their diligence, intelligence and, as far as I could see, integrity. I would buy a used car from a randomly selected president of one of those schools as eagerly as I would from presidents of traditional not-for-profit institutions. American higher education benefits from competition and diversity of its schools. Let’s preserve that, welcoming a vibrant network of proprietary schools.


Can millennials do maths?

Comment from Australia

“I can no longer teach with these new brains,” says an exasperated Clio Cresswell, mathematics lecturer at the University of Sydney and author of Mathematics and Sex. The core of the problem, she says, is the diminishing capacity of undergraduates for “linked thinking”. And it’s not just a problem in the classroom.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” she says. “But these days students are so busy posting on social media — ‘love the burger’, ‘great fries’ — that if something tragic happens to a loved one they struggle to understand why they’re feeling the way they do. They’ve trained themselves in first-step thinking. Their worlds are constructed of disconnected moments.”

It’s an axiom of cognition that when the brain learns new ways of doing things, the command centre in the cranium evolves in response. Anthropologists and ­biologists track these changes across large spans of time, but the digital revolution has come on so fast that the brain is being remade in decades, not eons.

Between 2007 and 2012 the number of internet users doubled to two billion. Four years later the world’s digital population had leapt to 3.5 billion, and this year it reached 4.2 billion — more than 55 per cent of the global population.

Cresswell has her own way of measuring the changes.

This year, after a break of five years during which she taught mainly gifted second-year mathematics students, she returned to a class for students who do not particularly like maths but need it for subjects such as psychology and geology. Immediately, she noticed a difference.

“They don’t turn up for lectures and they don’t ask questions,” she says. “They have no idea about the interactive process.”

She describes a sea of “glazed” eyes. “Mostly they’re looking at their screens, and occasionally they’ll take a photo of me and an equation.”

Wiki, she adds, is their go-to tool. “But while Wiki is pretty good for maths it doesn’t teach you how to think mathematically; the whole point is to connect ideas.”

Cresswell’s first-hand observations about what was once, rather quaintly, termed the chalkface are all the more penetrating because she is no badly dressed myopic maths nerd in the mould of The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Fowler. If anyone can cut through the fog of student lack of interest, it’s Cresswell, whose TED talk Mathematics and Sex has been viewed by more than eight million people.

So dispirited is Cresswell with the state of mathematics literacy, in an age when the algorithm rules just about everything, that she foresees a world divided into a numerate priesthood and an innumerate mass.

“I’m seeing a big problem in a society in which everything is maths-based,” she says. “Fewer and fewer people know how maths works, and they’re asking more and more stupid questions and getting more and more dis­enfranchised.”

Steven Schwartz, emeritus professor and former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, shares Cresswell’s concerns about maths literacy. A board member of Teach For Australia, a nonprofit body set up to tackle educational disadvantage, he nevertheless resists generalising about the digital brain when all brains are different.

Schwartz, whose academic field is psychology, stresses the prior role of genetics, which affects children’s behaviour, particularly the amount of time they spend on devices and how their brains respond.

“Kids who are genetically inclined to obesity may spend more time in the bedrooms playing computer games than riding a bike to the beach,” he says.

“This not only makes them fat but also affects their neurobiological functioning. These kids would probably wind up obese even if they never have access to a computer or phone.

“If a child inherits risk factors for cognitive deficits, as measured by NAPLAN (National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy), he or she may spend more time playing computer games, which could make cognitive deficits even worse. Limiting device time for those kids may help, especially if they spend the liberated time reading.

“On the other hand, limiting device time for kids without the same genetic disposition to cognitive deficits will not have the same beneficial effect.

“The bottom line is that kids are all different and they need to be treated as individuals. When it comes to device time, one size does not fit all,” Schwartz says.

New research does suggest, however, that some conclusions about the brain’s response to digital stimuli can be made with confidence. A recent study out of Norway, published in the International Journal of Educational Research, found that students who read texts in print performed significantly better in comprehension tests than students who read the same texts digitally.

In the graduate employment market, however, there are signs the digital brain may not be all bad. Andrew Spicer, chief executive of Australia’s biggest financial comparison website, Canstar, is “in awe” of new graduates.

“Millennials are highly educated, energetic, with a desire to learn, and many are entrepreneurial in their approach to business,” he says.

Spicer doubts there is an enormous cognitive gulf separating the generations, although he says that his young graduates clearly have different ways of communicating.

This, in turn, puts the onus on managers to learn to communicate with them.

“Millennials’ success in the workplace can be guided by teaching them patience and resilience, and managing their expectations. We have learned that it’s valuable to communicate more, and explain the why as well as the what,” he says.

Trent Innes, managing director of global software company Xero’s Australian operations, is equally sanguine.

“What’s different today is the pace of information,” he says. “Devices have accelerated the frequency with which we communicate, and that can be overwhelming. The next generation needs more advice on how to use these tools. Our education system can help kids navigate what has become a river of information.”

As principal of architecture practice BVN, it’s Matthew Blair’s job to think deeply about the ways technology is transforming architecture and building construction, and the changes, he says, are just beginning to gain momentum.

He foresees a time in the not too distant digital future when virtual reality and automation will turn architectural designs into finished built forms.

He works alongside the generation that will steer and shape this process and the most observable change he has noticed is its ability to inhabit the real and virtual worlds simultaneously.

“Their consciousness is in both places at the same time,” he says. “The brain has enabled that to happen.”

He’s not the first to observe that digital natives feel they don’t need so much to know stuff as to know where to find it.

“They think it’s more important to think critically and have ideas,” he says.

Blair concedes that the downside of the digital brain, with its capacity to traverse the temporal and virtual worlds, is a more diminished capacity to maintain concentration and focus, both of which are preconditions for the “linked thinking” that Cresswell says is essential to mathematics, and may also prove an essential ingredient of the self as conventionally understood.

“But I’m an optimist,” Blair ­declares. “And it’s good to be ­optimistic.”


Monday, December 24, 2018

UK: Oxford students uninterested in minorities

A vocal minority does not stand for the whole.  Efforts to downgrade dead white males in favour of "vibrant" minority creatives seem mostly have gone in one ear and out the other. It seems that most students were not in tune with the vibrations concerned

Oxford history students have been accused of hypocrisy after they largely failed to mention any prominent black figures in their essays on post-colonialism, despite protests over Rhodes Must Fall.

Professors complained that “we are supposedly in the midst of a consciousness raising era as exemplified by Rhodes Must Fall”, yet students barely mentioned anyone from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

History dons noted that the most popular exam question last year was “How useful is the term post-colonial in understanding Britain since 1947?” but scripts were “almost universally devoid of First Class quality”.

The lack of BAME figures in the essays was “downright alarming”, according to the examiner reports. Professors said that students were preoccupied with the “decolonisation” narrative, and there was little discussions about how immigrants have shaped life in modern Britain.

Oxford University has previously refused to give into calls from the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign to tear down a statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College over his links with Britain’s colonial past.

In recent years, Oxford students have become increasingly vocal about the need to “decolonise” curriculum so that it is less dominated by western, white men, and includes more female and BAME figures. 

Earlier this year, the Oxford student activist group Common Ground held an event titled “Decolonising the History curriculum”. The event, publicised on the History Faculty’s website, was part of a symposium which included a “de-colonial tour” of the Pitt Rivers museum.   

Professors said that they had hoped students would use this question to discuss the legacy of Britons from black and ethnic backgrounds. But they noted:  “There were no BAME actors. No Meera Syal, no Lenny Henry (whose career has seen remarkable change), no Idris Elba.

“A similar point can be made about art and literature. No mention of Benjamin Zephaniah or Chris Ofili (or again Steve McQueen), no mention of Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureishi, Andrea Levy (all best sellers, all adapted for prime time television) or Monica Ali.

“Popular music in these essays was invisible but it was implied it had stopped somewhere around Tommy Steele. No Reggae, no Two-Tone, no Northern Soul, no Bhangra influences, no Grime.”

Examiners acknowledge that the students who are the most conscious about decolonising the curriculum may not have taken this particular paper. They say that students might object “but this wasn’t in the reading” or “this wasn’t in the lectures”, which they say is “not unfair”, but add that none of the information is hard to find.

Academics also complained that a question about protectionism before and after the Wall Street Crash “inadvertently and worryingly” revealed that many history undergraduates “don’t seem to understand what the word ‘protectionism’ means”.

Professors have previously used examiner reports to lament students’ “basic common sense” in essays, adding that some found it “difficult to express their thoughts in writing” and spoke as if they were a “bloke down the pub”.


2 Students Explain Why They Defended Teacher Fired Over Transgender Pronouns

Two high school students say they organized a walkout in support of a teacher fired for not using pronouns preferred by a transgender student because they thought they should speak out on a cause they believe in.

“When I wanted to speak out about this, I just found this a great opportunity,” Forrest Rohde, a junior at West Point High School, told The Daily Signal in an interview. “I knew that a lot of people in my school would follow with me.”

School officials, Rohde said, are pushing “a false ideology” on teachers and students.

Rohde’s friend Wyatt Pedersen, a senior at the school in West Point, Virginia, said he thought school administrators were “suppressing” French teacher Peter Vlaming’s First Amendment rights.

The West Point school board voted 5-0 on Dec. 6 to fire Vlaming, saying his refusal to follow orders to use male pronouns in referring to the transgender student “harassed and discriminated against the student” and meant the teacher was “insubordinate.”

Vlaming, 47, told the school board that he did not use male pronouns in referring to the student, who was born female, because of his own religious convictions. He said he also didn’t use female pronouns to refer to the student.

The teacher “read a 10-minute statement to the board and hearing attendees about his intentions, respect, and love for all of his students and their rights,” The Virginia Gazette reported.

Rohde, 17, told The Daily Signal that he “was already kind of into politics in general.” He said he helped organize the walkout of about 100 students Dec. 7 after his father encouraged him to do what he could to show he backed the teacher.

“He’s like, ‘Hey, you want to stay home? Or do you want to not go to school but protest in front of it?’” Rohde said of his father. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure. That sounds like a plan.’”

“So, I head out to the school like around 7:30 that morning, and I stayed out there for an hour and a half … holding these signs,” Rohde said.

Rohde said he had started texting friends and posting on social media about supporting Vlaming, and Pedersen came up with the idea of a walkout.

Pedersen, also 17, is what Rohde calls a “co-leader of the #JusticeforVlaming movement.”

Pedersen told The Daily Signal that he supports Vlaming because the teacher “just is an amazing man” and a “devout Christian.” For Vlaming, using male pronouns in this situation would be a “violation of his conscience,” the student said.

“I also feel like the school is suppressing [his] First Amendment rights,” Pedersen said.

Rohde said school officials have the right to disagree with Vlaming, but went too far in firing him.

“The school board can disagree with Vlaming all they want,” Rohde said. “I just think they shouldn’t have fired him over it, or given him any consequences, because it’s a false ideology they’re trying to push onto him, and basically everybody else.”

Rohde said he circulated a petition for fellow students to sign in the school cafeteria, which was met with opposition from teachers. The petition eventually was confiscated, but later returned to him.

Rohde said he would tell peers facing similar situations in schools across the country to speak up politely, respectfully, and “in a peaceful manner” for what they believe in. “Nothing that incites hatred,” he said.

“If you want to spread a message about something, you shouldn’t be afraid of the consequences,” Rohde said. “You should be proud of getting in trouble because from getting in trouble yourself, you’re kind of changing the world, basically, and changing everything for the better.”

In a statement emailed to The Daily Signal, West Point Public Schools Superintendent Laura K. Abel said the high school is supportive of students who openly back Vlaming.

The walkout “gave students an opportunity to publicly show their support for their teacher,” Abel said. “We encourage student involvement in issues that affect the school division.”

Pedersen said he thinks the high school has been unjust in its treatment of Vlaming.

“The government has a purpose in protecting students, but not to the degree of harming other people,” Pedersen told The Daily SIgnal. “I think that it’s disgusting that one student’s beliefs and ideology is being put over the teacher’s beliefs and ideology.”


White referee who ordered a black high school wrestler to have his dreadlocks chopped off or forfeit the contest is BANNED from overseeing matches as investigation is launched

Dreadlocks would provide a good handle for an opponent to use in controlling the fighter

The white referee who demanded that a black high school wrestler either cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit a match is being investigated by state officials.

Alan Maloney has been banned from overseeing contests while the probe is conducted, sources explained to TMZ Sports.

The embattled referee is also said to have felt that he was merely enforcing the rule concerning hair maintenance.

Video showed the moment that Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson had his locks cut off so that he could eventually win his match against Oakcrest Regional High School. 

Alan Maloney has not been formally suspended or disciplined but an investigation into his decision to force Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson to have to cut off his hair

In the footage, a white woman can be seen chopping off Johnson's hair and leaving it in shabby condition

While Maloney asserted that his motives weren't racist and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has worked to find out what exactly took place.

'The NJSIAA has been in direct contact with school officials and is now awaiting official incident reports. A report also has been requested from the referee involved,' it said in a statement.

'In addition – and as per its formal sportsmanship policy – the NJSIAA has provided initial information to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and will continue to send updates as they become available.

'At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred.'

'As a precautionary measure, given the degree of attention being focused on this matter, the NJSIAA will recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers.'

David C. Cappuccio Jr, Superintendent of the Buena Regional School District, released a statement stating that the school was complying with investigations and added insight as to how they perceived the events. The statement was obtained by the

'The student-athlete made the decision to have his hair cut, at that moment, in order to avoid a forfeiture of the match,' the superintendent said in a letter on Friday. 'No school/district staff member influenced the student into making this decision.'

He later added: 'The Superintendent of the Buena Regional School District spoke with the NJSIAA Assistant Director and stipulated that, although the investigation in the matter is ongoing, the assigned referee will no longer be permitted to officiate any contests that include any Buena Regional School District student-athletes.'

'The staff and administration within the Buena Regional School District will continue to support and stand by all of our students and student-athletes.' 

The now viral clip shows Andrew Johnson subjected to the impromptu hair cut right before his match competing for Buena Regional High School in Buena, New Jersey.

'A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks,' said SNJ's Mike Frankel in the Thursday clip.

'It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win.'

Under the National Federation of State High Schools Associations Situation 17, natural hair that is non-abrasive is allowed but 'must be contained in a legal hair cover.'

Frankel added that the move showcased that Johnson was the 'epitome of a team player.'

But many on social media noted that Johnson is black and the fact that he had to cut off his hair showcased obvious racist practices that are enacted towards black hairstyles.

Journalist and author George M Johnson asserted: 'This is racist. There is nothing good about this story. It's anti-Black AF to tell someone they must forfeit bc of their hair.' 


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Florida Commission Votes to Arm Teachers

Sanity in response to the Parkland atrocity may yet prevail in South Florida.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission last week voted 13-1 in favor of allowing teachers who are willing to undergo background checks and training to carry concealed weapons on school campuses. The measure aims to prevent a recurrence of the massacre that killed 17 people last Feb. 14. The move would be a step beyond the current guardian program that allows school systems to arm security guards, administrators, or librarians, and it would require approval by the state legislature.

“We have to give people a fighting chance, we have to give them an opportunity to protect themselves,” said Pinellas County Sheriff and commission chairman Bob Gualtieri. Polk County Sheriff and commission member Grady Judd agreed, and further illumined why. “In the ideal world, we shouldn’t need anyone on campus with a gun, but that’s not the world we live in today,” he said. “One’s not enough. Two’s not enough. We need multiple people in order to protect the children.”

Unfortunately, dealing with the world we live in today is not American Left’s strong suit. Florida’s teachers union and PTA have voiced their opposition to such a measure, insisting teachers are hired to educate, not be law enforcement officers. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), whose district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, echoed their assertions. “Teachers want to teach, not be armed for combat in their classrooms,” he stated. “Law enforcement cannot push their responsibilities to make our communities safer on to civilians that should be focused on educating their students.”

To be fair, Deutch’s argument has one legitimate aspect to it: The 407-page preliminary report addressed the massive failures by multiple law enforcement officers from Sheriff Scott Israel’s department to respond appropriately to the atrocity. It noted that Israel’s active-shooter policy, which states that officers “may” confront shooters as opposed to “shall” confront them, was a recipe for disaster.

“‘May’ gave them the out not to enter,” Judd explained. “They decided to be cowards instead of heroes.”

Scott Peterson, the lone armed deputy on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the atrocity occurred, tried to exploit that policy. In attempting to get a lawsuit filed against him by the family of murder victim Meadow Pollack dismissed, he asked Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning to rule that he had “no legal duty” to protect teachers and students.

Thankfully, Henning wasn’t buying it. In ruling against Peterson, Henning asserted that a school security guard has the “obligation to act reasonably.” She also found that Peterson was not protected by “sovereign immunity,” which prevents litigation from being filed against public employees based on their official conduct.

Peterson’s attorney, Michael Piper, has promised to appeal the decision. If he is unsuccessful, perhaps Pollack’s family will be able to attach some portion of Peterson’s $8,700 per month pension. The one the 55-year-old deputy began collecting after being initially suspended but ultimately allowed to resign and retire on Feb. 22 — one week after the shooting.

Sheriff Israel, who asserted shortly after the tragedy that he had provided “amazing leadership” to his department, remains as defiant as ever. “I have done nothing that would warrant my resignation and have absolutely no intentions of resigning,” he said in response to the report. “I am committed to BSO [Broward County Sheriff’s Office] and the safety of Broward County. I will remain sheriff for so long as the voters of Broward County want to have me.”

Maybe, maybe not. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, who will be sworn in Jan. 8, repeatedly called for Israel’s removal during his campaign. Now, he sounds more like a politician, insisting he wants to see the final report and “if there’s corrective action that needs to be taken, then we can take corrective action.” Chairman Gualtieri insisted nothing Israel did could be construed as “malfeasance or misfeasance.” “He had some personnel that failed,” Gualtieri said. “Any law enforcement organization is going to have people that fail. And just because individuals fail doesn’t mean that the leader of the organization is a failure.”

Really? The report notes there were seven deputies who heard shots fired and failed to act, and it characterizes their conduct as “unacceptable and contrary to accepted protocol under which the deputies should have immediately moved towards the gunshots to confront the shooter.” As for organizational leadership, the report states there was “abundant confusion over the location of the command post and the role of the staging area,” which “stemmed from an absence of command and control and an ineffective radio system.” Nonetheless, it recommends that the BSO conduct an internal investigation into the incident.

An internal investigation? Shortly after the shooting, Israel stated his department had been contacted 23 times regarding the alleged murderer and his family. Records showed at least 45 calls were made between 2008 to 2017. When confronted about Peterson’s failures? “I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility,” Israel stated. Moreover, Israel turned his office into an apparent patronage program, hiring six community affairs employees with salaries totaling $388,729, “from the ranks of his political supporters, building a community outreach wing his critics say doubles as a re-election team,” the Sun-Sentinel reported … in 2016.

Commissioner Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son, Alex, was killed at the school, cast the lone vote against the motion. He would rather see the state hire police officers for campuses and allow non-teaching staff to carry guns. Allowing teachers to be armed “creates a host of problems,” he insisted.

Problems worse than the mass killer having the ability to reload five times?

Efforts are already afoot to undermine the commission’s recommendations. Duval County’s decision to put armed “school safety assistants” in its elementary schools was met with a lawsuit filed by filed by seven unnamed families and the League of Women Voters of Florida. According to the suit, they prefer an approach “designating unarmed guardians whose job would include implementing key elements of the consensus approach to school safety recommended by experts in the field.”

Unarmed guardians? How many victims who might otherwise be saved must be sacrificed to satisfy inane, anti-gun sensibilities?

The commission’s final report will be presented to Gov. DeSantis and the state legislature by Jan. 1. And in a one-two punch sure to outrage those who blame guns for everything, President Donald Trump’s commission on school safety has recommended revoking the Obama administration’s loathsome federal guidelines that directed schools to punish minority students at lesser rates, irrespective of the frequency of their misbehavior. That policy precipitated Broward’s “diversionary” PROMISE program that intentionally kept minority students out of the criminal justice system by ignoring certain crimes. County administrators and school superintendents, who directed cops to stop arresting such students, lauded the resultant “reduction” in crime rates.

Without that policy in place, the murderous psychopath who evinced highly troublesome behavior leading to expulsion would have likely been prevented from buying a gun. The rest is history — and reprehensibly politicized tragedy.


Universities Took $600 Million Tied To Muslim Nations While Forming Grade School Curricula For US Students

A Department of Education program funds colleges to teach about the Arab world, but upcoming payments are going to colleges that have received millions of dollars from Arab countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, data shows.

One critic said that coupling the program with the foreign funding is “a back-door route to Saudi influence.”
Some of the universities employ faculty or have hosted guests who made anti-semitic remarks.

Universities funded by the Department of Education to help shape the way U.S. K-12 schools and colleges portray the Middle East and Israel are simultaneously bankrolled by $600 million tied to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Muslim-majority countries, a Daily Caller News Foundation data analysis found.

One critic called the payments “a back-door route to Saudi influence over America’s K-12 curriculum.”

The Cold War-era Higher Education Act of 1965 created a program called “Title VI” that pays colleges to help students better understand international relations and includes funds earmarked for studying the Middle East. It was intended to help prepare a cadre of intelligence agents and diplomats.

Instead, the money has funded anti-Americanism and anti-semitism in U.S. higher education, according to a November 2014 report by the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. There have been instances where some of the universities hosted or employed anti-semites, with some facing accusations of having ties to terror groups.

For 2019 through 2021, the Education Department has allocated nearly $7.5 million to 16 universities for Middle East studies and outreach, according to Title IV records. Twelve of those have recently received money affiliated with Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East, and in each case, that money dwarfed the U.S. funding, a DCNF data analysis found.

The nations included in TheDCNF’s analysis incorporate Islam or Sharia law in their governments or had an overwhelmingly Muslim population, such as in the case of Turkey. Lebanon was excluded, since Islam only holds a small majority and has a large Christian population, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.

The Education Department says that “In addition to supporting foreign language and area studies instruction and research, Title VI” recipients will “conduct outreach and develop programs that expand global opportunities for K-16 educators.”

A senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Stanley Kurtz, has been warning about the issue for years.

The system “has opened up a back-door route to Saudi influence over America’s K-12 curriculum,” he wrote in the National Review in 2007. “Believe it or not, the Saudis have figured out how to make an end-run around America’s K-12 curriculum safeguards, thereby gaining control over much of what children in the United States learn about the Middle East.”

The Muslim nations awarded $603 million to the 12 universities from 2011 to 2016 — 80 times more than the allocated Title VI funding, TheDCNF found. Israeli interests donated a total of $13 million to eight of the schools, but in every case, their funding was only a fraction of the Muslim nations’.

“As a U.S. Department of Education-sponsored National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa (NRC-MENA), the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown conducts workshops for educators throughout the year,” Georgetown University notes on its website. “The K-14 Education Outreach program focuses on the needs of K-14 educators in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and beyond.”

“The program helps teachers convey a nuanced and realistic view of Arabs and Islam to overcome stereotypes and shallow media presentations, supplementing the often inadequate treatment in curriculum and textbooks,” it continues. (RELATED: Before Killing Of Journalist, Elite Universities Took $600M From Saudis)

But Kurtz wrote: “Outreach coordinators or teacher-trainers at a number of university Middle East Studies centers have themselves been trained by the very same Saudi-funded foundations that design K-12 course materials.”

Below are examples of anti-semitism from colleges or their faculty that received funding from the Muslim nations.

The University of California, Berkeley, which is the second-highest recipient of Title IV funding and has received $19 million in funding from Middle Eastern countries, hosted a 2011 event where a lecturer said that “Holocaust denial is a form of protest.” In its report, the Brandeis Center wrote that he “downplayed the atrocities of the Holocaust.”

At Columbia University, which received $14 million from the Muslim countries, $600,000 from Title VI, and none from Israel, Iranian Studies professor Hamid Dabashi said in May that the Jewish state is behind “[e]very dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.”

The University of California, Los Angeles, held a 2009 panel comprised of four critics of Israel’s existence, according to the Brandeis Center. One described Israeli soldiers as war criminals, and another said they target civilians. The panel “riled up the largely non-student audience into chants such as ‘Zionism is racism,’ ‘Zionism is Nazism,’ and ‘F- Israel,'” according to the Brandeis Center. UCLA received $12 million from the Muslim nations. It also received $6 million from Israel, far more than any other school, but most of that money came from Israeli biotech firms, while only $980 came from a group dedicated to boosting ties with Israel, the Yahel Foundation.

In October 2015, “Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies hosted a teach-in for K-14 teachers and the public on Gaza featuring speakers who have defended Hamas and support the BDS movement,” according to the Endowment for Middle East Truth. “The event was co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council and the Jerusalem Fund.” Also at Georgetown, a Saudi-funded entity uses social justice rhetoric popular among liberal college students to advance a Saudi agenda, likening Muslims to Hispanic “Dreamers,” invoking “white supremacy” and using hip-hop.

At the University of Michigan, which has received $16 million from the Muslim countries and $1.8 million from Israel, two instructors refused to help students study abroad in Israel in 2018.

The countries whose governments and foundations — and, to a lesser extent, companies and citizens — have donated to the latest Title VI recipients are Qatar ($343 million), Saudi Arabia ($131 million), United Arab Emirates ($87 million), Kuwait ($16 million), Turkey ($9 million), as well as Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Bahrain and Iraq.

In 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found “substantial evidence” that “many university departments of Middle East studies provide one-sided, highly polemical academic presentations and some may repress legitimate debate concerning Israel.”

In 2008, Congress required that the recipients offer a “wide range of views to generate debate on world regions and international affairs,” but the Education Department later acknowledged to Congress that it did not factor that in to its decision for awarding funding, according to the Brandeis Center.

Most of the colleges did not return a request for comment from TheDCNF, but some noted that a portion of the funds come from private biotech firms and other apolitical interests. Other schools underscored that they value academic freedom.

None provided data or policy information on how they ensure they offer a “wide range of views” on the Middle East. (RELATED: Universities Hide Info On Ties To Ultraconservative Nation of Qatar)

American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson, wrote in a 2010 book that “faculty and students with sympathies for Israel encounter implacably pro-Palestinian attacks in multiple settings; these include departments where no candidates who has written in support of Israel in general or a two-state solution in particular would even be considered for a job.”

More recently, the University of California chancellors issued a statement on Dec. 13 in response to an academic boycott of Israel:

“We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse regarding conflicts in the Middle East,” they said.


Modern Education: Activism Has Displaced Academics

Fascism in our schools is raising kids who are the antithesis of what the Founders stood for   

The first school in the United States, founded in 1635, was the Boston Latin School where five of the signers of our Constitution attended — John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Treat Paine, and William Hooper. The colonial home, however, was the place where the nation’s first teachers, mothers, taught their children to read by using the Bible.

In “A Place of Reading,” the American Antiquarian Society noted, “Mothers, entrusted with the care and well-being of their children’s souls, faithfully sat them down and taught them to read at home. … The Bible, however, was the staple instructional reading text. The most humble of homes usually possessed a Bible or two with which to instruct children and to engage in daily religious devotions.” The homes of the colonies taught reading to both girls and boys and, as the historical archive of printed material published through 1876, observed, “Children were considered ready for further educational instruction outside the home once they had mastered reading the Bible, but not before then.”

Once in a grammar school, the Holy Bible was supplemented by primers and horn books (wooden tablets with a handle that had a writings displayed) to expand literacy and prepare children able to progress to writing. Children were in classrooms for only about four months of the year and in a formalized curriculum for about four to five years total.

Horn book

Today, education is a massive system that has become bureaucratic, with more of a focus on the process rather than the result. What we’re seeing today, in very large measure, is a system influenced by “thought leaders” and individuals with more focus on political correctness and controlling behavior through constructing norms in the classroom that may be, and very often are, contrary to the norms taught in the home or faith community.

What better way to confirm a thesis than with real-time proof.

Let’s look at a couple of instances over the last few weeks in Virginia public schools. First, there’s the teacher who was unanimously fired by the West Point School Board for insubordination. Sounds pretty routine, right?

What was the insubordinate act? Peter Vlaming, a ninth-grade French teacher, was terminated because he said that his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for a student who is biologically female. Vlaming, however, did agree to address the male-identifying female by his/her new name, who remains protected from public awareness. The 47-year-old teacher, who spent a decade studying in France and has been teaching at the Virginia school for almost seven years, is now unemployed and a public piñata for criticism due to his “discrimination,” as alleged by the family of the student “in transition.”

In the same state, just about 100 miles due north as the crow flies, in the Arlington Public Schools, a second-grader, excited to share a story about Daniel from the Bible during show-and-tell, was silenced among his peers by his teacher. As told by his dad, his enthusiastic son stowed away his Bible among his school supplies in his bag for the purpose of telling a story that was important to him that involved the Jewish man whose courage and determination was used by God.

The eight-year-old exclaimed to his dad, “The teacher stopped me from speaking and went on to the next person. I didn’t get to tell them about Daniel.”

Ah, there it is.

If a young person is suffering gender dysphoria in spite of their DNA, anatomy, and hormones, it matters that they are not offended and their conjured up “rights” are protected as speech under the First Amendment. But Christian faith doesn’t deserve to be protected, along with their own speech under that same First Amendment either as a teacher or even an eight-year-old.

Wake up parents, grandparents, and Patriots! We must reclaim our education system and stop the indoctrination. Our children deserve academics, not activism in the classroom. The colonial home, with family as the first teachers, raised the Founders of our nation. The fascism in our schools, deconstructing our families, is raising the socialists who’ll ruin it.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Primary school students at a school in the UK will be taught that boys can have periods too, as a part of its new non-gendered sex education

They've lost their minds

Students at a UK primary school will now be told that boys can have periods too under new sex education guidance.

The advice to teachers was approved by Brighton Council in a bid to tackle stigma surrounding menstruation, The Sun reports.

The report states: “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding “menstruation must be inclusive of ‘all genders’.”

It also orders that “bins for used period products are provided in all toilets” for children and that trans pupils and students should be provided with additional support from a school nurse if needed.

The council said it was “important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together”.

“Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding “menstruation must be inclusive of ‘all genders’.”

The guidelines on tackling period poverty come just a few months after Brighton & Hove City Council issued a Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit to encourage sensitivity around student gender identity.

In the toolkit, teachers are told to be responsive to the needs of all non-binary and trans children and are reminded that intentionally not using a person’s preferred name or pronoun can constitute harassment.

It also recommends a non-gendered uniform so that children are supportive of all students, regardless of gender.

In 2016, Brighton College was thought to be the first to change its uniform policy so that transgender pupils could wear what they like.

But Tory MP David Davies told the Mail On Sunday it was “insanity” for teachers to be explaining the concept of transgender boys having periods to eight-year-olds.

“Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused,” he said.

A council spokesman told The Sun: “We believe that it’s important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together. We recommend including boys in our lessons on periods and opportunities for girls to discuss issues in more detail if needed.

They added: “We are working to reduce period poverty. By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them. “Our approach recognises the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary.”


Federal School Safety Commission Proposes Fixing Mental Health Laws, Adopting Extreme Risk Protection Orders

During a roundtable discussion Tuesday on the Federal Commission on School Safety’s report on preventing school shootings, President Donald Trump announced the progress his administration is making on the issue, including congressional passage of the Fix NICS act and the STOP School Violence Act, and the Justice Department’s new regulation banning bump stocks.

The Federal Commission on School Safety also released its report Tuesday on ways to protect students and prevent school shootings.

“My administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to address school violence. We enacted two critical reforms into law. The Fix NICS Act, which you know about, which strengthens very strongly the background checks for firearm purchases, and the STOP School Violence Act, which provides grants to schools to improve safety,” he said.

The president said his administration has “also secured historic levels of funding to give schools and police more resources to protect their students.”

Furthermore, Trump touted among other things, the No Notoriety campaign, which encourages the media not to publicize the names of the alleged shooters.

“Today, we are reviewing the recommendations put forward by the School Safety Commission. These include fixing mental health laws so that families and law enforcement can get treatment immediately to those who need it; encouraging states to adopt extreme risk protection orders, which give law enforcement and family members more authority to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others; launching a No Notoriety campaign, which would encourage the media not to use the names or, frankly, anything having to do with the shooters,” he said.

“I see it all the time. They make these people famous, and they're not famous. They're opposite. They're horrible, horrible people. I think that's a very important one -- No Notoriety campaign,” the president added.

Trump also stressed the need for armed school personnel.

“According to the Department of Homeland Security, the average duration of an active shooter incident at a school is under five minutes. All of this horrible carnage takes place in a very short period of time. That is why it's critical to have armed personnel available at a moment's notice,” he said.

“These are people -- teachers, in many cases -- that are the highest trained that you can get, people that are natural to firearms, people that know how to handle them, people that have great experience and, on top of the experience, have taken courses, and they're right on the site,” the president said.

“This is critical to the hardening of our schools against attack. Also they love our students. I've seen the teachers. I've seen so many of them, over the last two years especially where something has happened, and they truly love their students, and, by loving their students, they want to fight for their students more than anybody else would,” Trump added.

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who also attended the roundtable discussion, announced that the DOJ “has prosecuted more gun crimes this year than ever before.”

“And, in addition, today, we faithfully have followed your leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns, are illegal. We all remember what happened in Las Vegas on October 1st, and I don’t have to recount that horrific day, but, you know, the shooter that day used a bump stock to accelerate the carnage that was inflicted,” he said.

“The final rule that was signed today, the Department of Justice clarified that bump-stock-type devices are machine guns and are prohibited by federal law, and anyone possessing these bump stock devices have about 90 days to either destroy them or turn them into an ATF field office before this rule becomes final and it’s enforced,” Whitaker added, calling it “a big victory” for the Trump administration.

As reported, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the bump stock ban at Tuesday’s White House press briefing prior to the roundtable discussion on school safety.

“On another note, the president is once again fulfilling a promise he made to the American people, and this morning, the acting attorney general signed the final rule, making clear that bump stocks are illegal because they fall within the definition of machine guns that are banned under federal firearms law,” she said.

“A 90-day period now begins, which persons and possessions of bump stock-type devices must turn those devices to an ATF field office or destroy them by March 21st. Instructions for proper destruction will be posted on ATF's website today,” Sanders added.

March 21st is when bump stocks “will finally become unlawful to possess,” the attorney general said.

In addition to banning bump stocks, the DOJ looked at raising the age restrictions on firearms, but found no evidence that doing so would make an impact on school shootings, Whitaker said.

He said the DOJ “specifically worked on issues like the extreme risk protection orders” and made improvements to the FBI tip line, which some parents expressed concern about “coming out of the Parkland shooting.”

“We continue to provide crisis and emergency training for law enforcement, and we will continue to do that. And we looked at the issue of age restrictions on firearms, and we just did not have any existing evidence-based research to suggest that would make a difference, but we’re going to continue to sponsor and fund research so that we can get an answer to that question,” he said.


73% of Top U.S. Universities Do Not Guarantee the Presumption of Innocence in Title IX Sexual Misconduct Trials

Among the top-ranked universities in the country, only about half require impartial fact-finders in sexual misconduct adjudication—and three-quarters make no guarantees that accused students will be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Those findings are included in a timely report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that surveyed U.S. News & World Report's top 53 universities' due process protections for students involved in disputes relating to Title IX, the federal statute that governs campus sexual misconduct. According to FIRE, just 30 percent of the schools guaranteed accused students a hearing, and only 10 percent mandated some form of cross-examination. As a result, 86 percent of surveyed institutions received a D or F grade for failing to safeguard the civil liberties of the accused.

"Students accused of serious campus offenses routinely face life-altering punishment without a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves," said the report's lead author, Susan Kruth. "Universities need to provide basic procedural protections that help ensure accurate outcomes, and right now they overwhelmingly do not."

Accused students are often unable to meaningfully defend themselves, barred from involving lawyers in the proceedings, and forbidden from questioning their accusers or presenting evidence on their behalf. As a result, many students found responsible for sexual misconduct have filed lawsuits that allege breach of contract on the part of administrators, as well as constitutional violations. As FIRE's report notes, 11 of the 15 institutions that received an F grade have dealt with such lawsuits.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently unveiled a series of proposed reforms to Title IX that would make the process significantly fairer. These would mandate some form of cross-examination, narrow the definition of sexual harassment, and require proper training for adjudicators. They also stress that accused students must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The reforms are currently undergoing a public notice and comment period as required by law. According to FIRE's report, if the surveyed universities adopted all of the new policies, their grades would rise to at least Cs.

It's great that FIRE continues to do the important working of protecting civil liberties on campus (unlike a certain other organization that purports to defend civil liberties).


Thursday, December 20, 2018

DeVos to cancel $150M in student loan debt after court loss

The Education Department on Thursday announced that it will be canceling $150 million in student loans, upholding an Obama-era policy that Secretary Betsy DeVos has long fought to overhaul.

DeVos had previously proposed to restrict “borrower defense” claims brought by students who had been enrolled in schools that were either closed or made false promises, but a federal judge ruled in September that DeVos’s efforts to nix the 2016 regulations from taking effect was illegal.

The department said in a press release that it has so far identified roughly 15,000 borrowers who are eligible for an automatic “closed school” discharge as a result of the court rulings siding with the students.

Out of the $150 million in student loans the department has announced will be automatically discharged, $80 million is attributable to loans taken out by borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit educational chain that closed its schools in 2015.

Borrowers whose schools closed between Nov. 1, 2013, and Dec. 4, 2018, will account for the remaining $70 million.

The department confirmed that it will begin notifying borrowers of the move on Friday.

Some discharges may take longer than 90 days to complete, the announcement also states, and borrowers will be informed by loan holders of which specific loans will be forgiven.


British Universities warned to curb 'spiralling' grade inflation

Universities have been warned to curb their “spiralling” grade inflation, as the regulator’s analysis reveals a surge in first class degrees.

The Office for Students (OfS) has threatened institutions with sanctions, including fines or even de-registration, if they fail to take action over the issue.

A major analysis of degrees awarded by 148 universities shows that the percentage of first class degrees has increased from 16 to 27 per cent over the past six years.

Meanwhile, the percentage of first and upper second class degrees awarded has increased from 67 to 78 per cent over the same period.

The research, published on Wednesday by the OfS, shows that students who left school last year with CCD or below at A-level were almost three times more likely to graduate with first class honours than they were in 2010-11.

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said the new figures should act as a “wake up call” for universities, as he called on the regulator to “deal firmly” with any institutions “found to be unreasonably inflating grades”.

The lifting of student number controls in England in 2015 gave universities free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit - but the move has led to accusations that they now act like businesses, seeking to maximise their revenue by recruiting as many students as possible.

Universities are in fierce competition to attract students and offering a high proportion of top degrees is seen as one way to entice school leavers to an institution.

Birmingham University is the most extreme case, with the proportion of first class degrees rising by 28.5 per cent over six years, according to the OFS analysis. The proportion of first class and upper second degrees awarded by the Russell Group university has increased by 36.6 per cent over the same time frame.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said the grade inflation since 2010 is “significant" and "unexplained”, adding that the sector must “quickly get to grips” with the issue.

She said: “It is fundamentally important – for students, graduates and employers – that degrees hold their value over time. This spiralling grade inflation risks undermining public confidence in our higher education system.”

She warned that if the university sector does not take action over the issue, “we will use our powers to drive change”.

Universities must abide by a series of conditions of registration with the OfS, one of which states that degrees must hold their value over time. If an institution breaches this condition, it could be fined, have its registration suspended or revoked altogether.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, acknowledged grade inflation is an issue, adding that universities are “already taking steps” to tackle it. “It is essential that the public has full confidence in the value of a degree,” he added.

Mr Hinds said: “Students across the country work hard for their results and they deserve a grading system that properly recognises this.

“We want and expect to see results improve over time, but the scale of this increase in firsts and 2:1s  cannot be proportionate to improving standards.

“I sincerely hope today’s figures act as a wake-up call to the sector – especially those universities which are now exposed as having significant unexplained increases. Institutions should be accountable for maintaining the value of the degrees they award.”


UCB Profs: Don’t Use Student Evals Because White Men Score Higher

Antifa isn’t the only form of left-wing lunacy at UC Berkeley. One professor wants the school to stop using student evaluations because white male professors score higher, according to Campus Reform.

UC Berkeley history professor Brian DeLay tweeted “Over the next few weeks, students will get the chance to evaluate their professors and TAs. They’re going to get it wrong. They’ll be harder on women and people of color than on white men. Tenured white male faculty, in particular, should help their students understand this.”

Brian pointed to a study purporting to show that students rate white male professors higher than professors of other races and genders. The professor says “I’ve often gotten valuable feedback in student evals, feedback that has improved my teaching. We have a lot to learn from our students, obviously. But given the well-documented shortcomings of [student evaluations of teaching], we shouldn’t be using them for hiring, tenure, or promotion decisions.”

Now there are a few concerns here. One: correlation is not causation and students could be rating white male professors higher for factors unrelated to their genitalia and melanin level. Two: it kind of undermines your whole racism/sexism thesis when male professors are getting higher ratings despite there being more females than males enrolled in higher education. And three: aren’t professors supposed to be the ones preventing the wrongthink with things like implicit bias tests? It’s like, “hey, let’s stop student evaluations that prove to us what a bad job we’re doing at doing a bad job!”

Here’s the thing: students are the most important stakeholders at a school. Professors will be more inclined to ram left-wing talking points down students’ throats if they know these same students can’t hold them accountable. Plus, if students suffer from implicit bias, wouldn’t it stand to reason that faculty members would, too? Seems like they aren’t thinking things through at Berkeley.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What CAN I joke about? Comedian cancels university show after students force him to sign 'behaviour contract' banning sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, transphobia... plus SEVEN other ‘isms’

A comedian has pulled out of a student charity event after being asked to sign a contract banning him from being offensive about almost anything.

Konstantin Kisin was sent a 'behavioural agreement form' which stopped him telling jokes which were not 'respectful and kind'.

The form stated: 'By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.'

Student leaders said the ban was necessary to preserve the event as a 'safe space' and a place for 'joy, love, and acceptance'.

But Mr Kisin, 35, who was born in the Soviet Union, said the demand amounted to a 'threat to freedom of speech' and pulled out.

The fundraising event, scheduled for January 23, is organised by the Unicef On Campus society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London.

Mr Kisin was one of four comedians invited to perform unpaid, with proceeds going to the UN children's charity.

Politics student Fisayo Eniolorunda, the society's event organiser, wrote in the invitation: 'Attached is a short behavioural agreement form that we will ask for you to sign on the day to avoid problems.'

After listing subjects covered by the no-tolerance policy, the form stated: 'It does not mean that these topics cannot be discussed. But, it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.'

Mr Kisin wrote back saying that although he supports Unicef, he could not sign such a contract. Mr Kisin, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, said yesterday: 'I couldn't believe it. The only people who should be controlling what comedians say are comedians. This is a threat to freedom of speech and I have declined the invitation on a point of principle.

'I grew up under the Soviet Union. When I saw this letter, basically telling me what I could and couldn't say, I thought this was precisely the kind of letter a comic would have been sent there.'

The SOAS student union said it 'does not require external speakers to sign any form of contract or behavioural agreement'. A spokesman said the contract had been drawn up by the Unicef On Campus society without consultation with the student union, and the society had been 'over-zealous' in its interpretation of Charity Commission guidelines.

The Unicef On Campus society raises money for the charity but is not officially affiliated with it.


Doing Things Right: Betsy DeVos, Title IX and Due Process

It took 149 pages of quasi-incomprehensible prose to state, but the U.S. Department of Education has finally done something positive: it has issued a proposed rule on the enforcement of the Title IX statute relating to sexual assault. It is to be commended because it follows the rule of law: the Department has formally proposed something that must, according to statute, be subject to public review and comment.

This is in vivid contrast to the Obama Administration’s notorious 2011 “guidance” in sexual assault matters, which it issued without any opportunity for public comment or debate. The “guidance” technically had no formal legal standing, but universities treated it as if it were law. If this procedure were allowed to occur regularly, zealous government bureaucrats could drastically change the rules by which American citizens live and work, totally independent of constitutionally provided provisions of representative democracy.

Therefore, independent of the content, Secretary of Education DeVos’s issuance of a rule is more in keeping with constitutional principles. To be sure, a strong case can be made that we would be better off without central direction of higher education, and that the narrow approval of the Department of Education in the late 1970s was a mistake, but that is a discussion for another day.

The DOE rules say that universities are responsible for investigating sexual assault and harassment issues occurring on campus, but it appears that off-campus activity unrelated to the university’s programs should not be subject to university scrutiny. As I interpret this, a college student accused of sexually assaulting a non-student off campus during summer vacation would not usually be brought into the university disciplinary process. It is not entirely clear where the line is to be drawn between on-campus and off-campus activity, and whether geography is the prime determinant. But it appears to be a step in the direction of saying to universities that potentially bad behavior by students in settings where you have no control or remote involvement should be handled the way such cases are handled for non-university citizens, through law enforcement.

I have often wondered “why should university students be treated differently than anyone else, and why allegations of rape, a serious felonious law violation, should not automatically be referred to law enforcement for adjudication?”

An even more important victory for fairness and adherence to Anglo-American legal traditions that predate American independence comes from the DOE saying colleges must determine the evidentiary standards to be used in sexual assault allegations, and that students must have the right to cross examine their accusers in some fashion.

Under the Obama guidance rules, Washington declared (illegally in my judgment although it was never really tested definitely by the courts) that a “preponderance of evidence” standard should be used. If colleges were 51 % sure a student was guilty, he or she should be punished. That is completely at odds with American jurisprudence and has led to some clearly demonstrated cases of unfair and wrongful accusations made against students.

I know of one largely unpublicized incident where a student was found guilty of sexual misconduct and expelled, but where later a jury would not convict him in a formal legal proceeding—but the student nonetheless committed suicide because of acute despondency arising from his life being ruined.

My prediction is many colleges will continue to use the unfair preponderance of evidence standards (which are wholly appropriate in many civil proceedings) because of a desire to be politically correct and to demonstrate “we will not tolerate sexual misconduct.”

The same colleges, however, often invite such misconduct, in my judgement, by such practices as permitting co-ed dormitories, giving out condoms like candy to students, and tacitly tolerating illegal excessive consumption of alcohol by underage students. How often do students get punished for illegal drinking?

The DOE rules should probably nudge courts into finding colleges who put political correctness above adherence to American traditions of jurisprudence liable for damages when they ruin innocent student lives. Colleges love to show how uber-progressive they are, but they love money even more. Whoremongering trumps moralizing.

No doubt the DeVos rules will lead to much invective from college officials and Members of Congress, but perhaps also lead to a needed national discussion.


When College Degrees Impede Opportunity

College credentialing and degree inflation tend to serve the needs of employers, not students

Duke University recently announced that it will no longer ask job applicants about their criminal histories. Duke’s move follows the Common Application’s August decision to drop a question inquiring about students’ criminal history. For prospective employees and students alike, the push to “ban the box” reflects a healthy desire to strike down barriers that may impede social mobility. Yet, oft overlooked in all of this, especially within higher education, is the way in which college degrees serve as an impediment to opportunity.

Of course, at its best, higher education is a powerful engine of opportunity and socioeconomic advancement. And that’s the way it’s almost universally described. Nevertheless, for too many Americans, the truth is that postsecondary education is principally a toll: an ever-more expensive, two-, four- or (let’s be honest) six-year pit stop to employment that is increasingly mandated, gratuitously, by employers’ HR departments.

Today, thousands of employers routinely use college degrees as a convenient way to screen and hire job applicants, even when postsecondary credentials bear no obvious connection to job duties or performance. In a comprehensive report last year, researchers from Harvard Business School documented increasing “degree inflation” -- as employers demand baccalaureate degrees for middle-skill jobs that don’t obviously require one.

The researchers estimated that this phenomenon encompassed more than six million jobs across dozens of industries. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed admitted to having rejected applicants with the requisite skills and experience simply because they lacked a college degree.

Degree requirements are proliferating absent evidence they correlate with job necessity -- and, indeed, despite some evidence to the contrary. A 2014 survey conducted by Burning Glass Technologies found that employers are increasingly requiring bachelor’s degrees for positions whose current workers don’t have one and where the requisite skills haven’t changed.

Employer preference for degrees is rising even for entry-level occupations, like IT help-desk technicians, where the job postings do not include skills typically taught at the baccalaureate level, and there is little to no difference in requested skill sets for postings requiring a college degree compared to those that do not.

Now, it’s important to clarify that while colleges and universities are the primary beneficiary of degree inflation, much of the responsibility for it lies elsewhere. Instead, this is largely a product of employer convenience and the unintended consequences of federal antidiscrimination law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It did, however, allow employers to use “professionally developed” hiring tests, insofar as they were not “designed, intended or used” to discriminate. In Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971), the Supreme Court unanimously interpreted this language to mean that when a selection process disproportionately affects minority groups (e.g. has a “disparate impact”), employers must show that any requirements are directly job related and an accurate predictor of job performance.

This “disparate impact” standard, which Congress codified in federal law, nominally applies to all criteria used in making employment decisions, including educational requirements. Crucially, however, this standard has only been scrupulously applied to other, noneducational employment tests. Employers using IQ tests to screen and hire applicants, for example, must use approved, professionally developed tests and justify IQ thresholds. That is, if companies require job applicants to possess an IQ of 110, they must be able to demonstrate why an applicant with an IQ of 109 is incapable of performing a job that someone with a 110 IQ can. One need only read that sentence to understand why human-resource lawyers quiver in horror when executives ask about using that kind of screening test.

Even directly applicable employment tests can run afoul of federal regulators. Last year, for instance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the railroad company CSX Transportation for discrimination, because male job applicants passed the company’s physical-fitness tests at a disproportionately higher rate than female applicants. Even though the test was stipulated to be “job related” (since employees were required to lift heavy objects) and “consistent with business necessity,” the EEOC still required CSX to adopt “alternative practices that have less adverse impact.”

College-degree requirements, meanwhile, have escaped scrutiny. In turn, risk-averse employers have become increasingly reliant upon them as an expedient way to screen applicants while avoiding the legal pitfalls accompanying other employment tests. For employers, the logic is simple: a college degree is an easy-to-read signal that an applicant likely possesses a desirable bundle of behaviors and social capital -- such as the ability to turn in work, sit still for long periods, take direction and so forth -- in addition to confirming the baseline verbal and written skills required for most jobs.

Ironically, indiscriminate degree requirements carry obvious disparate-impact implications, making their casual acceptance all the more remarkable. Indeed, the Harvard report noted that the practice disproportionately harms groups with low college graduation rates, particularly blacks and Hispanics.

The burdens of credential inflation, of course, fall most heavily on those of modest means -- heightening the obstacles for low-income and working-class individuals. Degree requirements summarily disqualify noncredentialed workers with relevant skills and experience from attractive jobs. They bar young people from taking entry-level jobs and building the expertise and abilities that open up new opportunities. And they hold families and would-be workers hostage, forcing them to devote time and money toward degree collecting, whether or not those credentials actually convey much in the way of relevant skills or knowledge.

Those intent on ensuring that higher education is more of an engine of individual opportunity than a security blanket for businesses would do well to consider the part colleges play, however passively, in all of this. What might be done? Well, in postsecondary education, there is an overdue opportunity to develop alternative credentialing models and devise new ways to credibly certify aptitudes and skills. Most important, there’s a need to ask where and how institutions may be complicit in enabling statutory and legal practices that compel students to unnecessarily enter college -- not because they want or need the things a college degree represents, but because they fear being denied good jobs based on their failure to buy a piece of paper.

Diplomas are “useful servants,” Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in Griggs, but “they are not to become masters of reality.” Academe should consider its role in permitting diplomas to become the capricious masters of opportunity.