Friday, February 02, 2018

Grade School Uses Sex Columnist, Unicorn to Promote Gender Identity
Parents are furious after a California elementary school posted a bulletin board that addressed issues like sexual identity and encouraged children as young as four years old to break out of gender stereotypes.

The bulletin board at Rancho Romero Elementary School also featured nationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage as a role model for children. Mr. Savage also hosts an annual porn festival.

“For him to be a role model for four-year-olds to 11-year-olds is utterly disgusting,” one anonymous parent said on the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “He’s not someone you want to put up at an elementary school.”

The bulletin board included Mr. Savage’s photo (fully clothed) along with the following quote:

“A lot of kids are bullied because of their sexual identity or expression. It’s often the effeminate boys and the masculine girls, the ones who violate gender norms and expectations who get bullied.”

In 2012, Mr. Savage bullied a group of Christian teenagers who walked out of a journalism conference after he launched a profane attack on the Bible. He called them “pansy-a—d.”

There was that time he tried to infect a Republican candidate with a flu virus. And how can we forget about the time he wished congressional Republicans would “f—ing die”?

“The man does nothing but spew vitriol at people he does not like — like religious groups and conservatives,” the parent said.

The parent, who has a first-grader and a fourth-grader at the public elementary school, said the gender bulletin board has created a firestorm. Of particular concern, the school used a unicorn as a propaganda tool.

The so-called “Gender Unicorn” introduced children to concepts like gender identity, gender expression and gender presentation. It also included words like “sexually attracted to” and “romantically/emotionally attracted to.”

“A unicorn — an object loved by little children — was used to lure them to the bulletin board,” the parent said on the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “It felt like it was a creepy way to lure a child over to the board and confuse them about gender.”

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District said the bulletin board is meant to highlight a monthly theme.

“For January the theme for the month is ‘breaking out of gender stereotypes,” a district spokesperson said.

“The school has a parent-led Inclusion and Diversity Committee that maintains a bulletin board to highlight a different theme each month within the rubric that all students, staff and parents are safe and welcomed on campus,” the spokesperson added.

The school did modify parts of the display after parents raised concerns about age-appropriate content. They said the initial content was only up for about four hours.

The school also acknowledged there was a quote and a photograph of Mr. Savage — the porn peddler.

“The quote and photo were removed as part of the revision,” the spokesperson said.

There are still two questions that have yet to be resolved.

First, why is the school district using a unicorn to confuse children about things they ought not to be confused about?

And secondly, what was school leadership smoking when it decided that a person like Dan Savage would be a good role model for four-year-olds?


Red States Drop the Ball on School Choice. Here’s Why That Needs to Change

Fixing our country’s system of education needs to be a priority, especially for those who have an opportunity to do something about it.

In a speech Monday proclaiming National School Choice Week, President Donald Trump said, “By giving parents more control over their children’s education, we are making strides toward a future of unprecedented educational attainment and freedom of choice.”

The school choice movement was launched when economist Milton Friedman proposed school vouchers in 1955. It has grown in scope and sophistication in the years that followed.

States around the country have enacted innovative programs, and the diversity of options beyond the traditional public school has certainly grown.

However, as impressive as these policy victories have been, reform has moved at far too slow a pace in places where political forces should be aligned to score wide-ranging victories.

It is understandable that school choice has met resistance from ideological opponents and teachers unions that desperately want to maintain the public school monopoly regardless of education results.

What’s disappointing is the lack of urgency to act in states that should be politically favorable to a change.

Though some Democrats certainly have come out in favor of school choice, Republicans generally have been more supportive, at least rhetorically.

This is why it is a disappointment that a huge number of deeply red states passed only minimal school choice programs in recent years, despite dominance at state and local levels of government.

Many of these red states have no programs at all.

Though Texas is known for its Republican leanings and is a frequent example of a good model for red states, it has failed so far on the issue of school choice. In fact, Texas doesn’t have a single private school choice option for parents.

As Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s director for education policy, and Inez Stepman, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s education task force director (and also my wife), have noted, the Lone Star State has been dead in the water on education reform.

The two wrote in a paper for the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

The only state in the South without any kind of private school choice program, Texas recently received a disappointing 31st place (out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia) on the Report Card on American Education, published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That relatively low ranking was driven primarily by the state’s continued failure to provide parents with any kind of meaningful private school choice options, which netted Texas an ‘F’ on choice.

According to ALEC’s report card, Texas isn’t the only red state dropping the ball.

Nebraska doesn’t have any private school choice programs, nor West Virginia and Wyoming. Utah, certainly one of the reddest states in the country, has only a limited voucher program. An attempt to expand vouchers in the state fizzled in 2007.

While a majority of states have had Republican-dominated legislatures and GOP governors in the past few years, only a few of these states have used the opportunity to revamp their education systems and bring meaningful school choice options, such as education savings accounts, to students and families.

Currently, only six states have programs allowing for education savings accounts. Only one of those programs, in Arizona, is universal. It’s a nice start, but not nearly enough to change the long-term problems in education.

School choice needs to be treated as more than something on the backburner. American students are not just falling behind in areas such as math and reading, they are increasingly losing touch with American civics and culture to an alarming degree.

It goes without saying that civic literacy is necessary in a republic, but our schools have done a poor job of transmitting these values to the younger generations.

The school choice movement has come a long way since 1955, and has clearly demonstrated that parental choice markedly improves education for young Americans across the board. It’s time to stop grumbling that our schools are leaving younger generations uninformed and make sure that parents will have access to the kinds of education opportunities that will allow us to finally turn things around.


Top reason Australians are quitting the workforce: High cost of childcare forces more than 100,000 parents to stay home

A direct result of government legislation requiring a big staff of overeducated people in each centre

Nearly 120,000 parents aren't working because child care is too expensive or they can't find a spot.

The high price of child care was the top reason cited for Australians who weren't in the labour force because they were looking after children, government data released on Thursday shows.

One in three, or 95,700, said this was the case for them, while another 21,700 said there was either no childcare service nearby or no spots available.

That's more than those who said they were stay-at-home parents because they preferred to look after their children that way - a reason given by 77,600.

The Federal Government hopes its new childcare subsidy system, which starts in July, will let many of these parents be able to take up work.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham estimates the overhaul will help an extra 230,000 families get back to work or take on more hours.

The Productivity Commission report shows the most parents saying stiff fees were a barrier to returning to work were in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

However, Queensland had the lowest median cost of daycare in the country - at $400 a week or $80 a day - and the NT was the third lowest.

Parents in Queensland also had the lowest out-of-pocket costs after government subsidies, across all income brackets.

The ACT had the highest fees, with a median weekly cost of $545 for long day care.

Under the new childcare support system, taxpayers will only pay subsidies for fees up to a maximum of $11.55 an hour ($115.50 a day or $577 for a full week).

In 2017, none of the median fees charged in any state was higher than this, however, the data does not reveal what the most expensive services cost and how many there are above this maximum level.

The middle level of fees in the ACT was $10.90 an hour.


Thursday, February 01, 2018

The sad story of a brainwashed professor

Prof. Macartan Humphreys is a Leftist professor sympathetic to feminism who has done his best to keep his words and behaviour righteous by feminist standards.  He tells below how his best efforts were unsuccessful.  Feminist thinking has been an utter morass that he has tried to wade through but has still seen him cop a lot of criticism from feminists.  He is still trying however.  

I think he should give up on his hopeless task and just behave naturally.  He might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.  That would certainly become him better than the Maoist self-criticism session he indulges in below.

At the heart of his problem is that he accepts the feminist dictum that men and women should be equal in all things.  But the world naturally diverges from that and he has to accept those divergences as unjust.  He will feel the weight of his folly.  He already is, it would appear

We have a problem with gender-based discrimination in political science. I know that not because I see it, but because I keep on not seeing it, even as so many of my women students and faculty colleagues are acutely aware of it. [1] It works through a multitude of everyday behaviors that add up to unequal treatment and unequal recognition. I describe here, with permission, a number of these as reported to me by students and colleagues in recent weeks. Perhaps most surprisingly, many of the instances of discriminatory behavior described to me involved male friends and colleagues of mine who would likely self-describe as feminists. But they still engage professionally in ways that contribute to everyday discrimination. To be clear, all of these behaviors have been described many times over and better elsewhere. There is nothing new here. But the points bear repeating because the behaviors are pervasive and men are still not seeing them. I start with myself.

In early 2016 Alan Jacobs and I presented some of our joint work at Columbia. Besides the two of us there was a chair and two discussants; a third had to drop out. We were all men. And white and middle aged, and in the nomenclature of our profession, senior. The day before the event, a colleague sent me a short note: "when did this become a manel?" she asked. A manel is an all-male panel filled with people like me, being  all experty on some theme or other.  The term has a sting to it; it works its magic just by pointing out an uncomfortable fact and grouping you with any number of other manels you want nothing to do with. You can even get a badge. So I was duly embarrassed.

But not quite embarrassed enough to do anything about it. I told myself that although manel problems are real, they don't always reflect an underlying problem. It could just happen by chance given the small numbers involved. I suggested roping in a female colleague at the last moment to join the panel; this would be a corrective of sorts but one that would leave the woman who volunteered to do the correcting the least well prepared person on the panel.

The department chair, Page Fortna, suggested something simpler: that during the session, I just point out the issue, maybe noting that the panel was not representative of the department. She asked me to act as an ally of sorts. I thought about it and decided against it. I decided it would be ungracious to the panel participants, who couldn't do much about their own gender; that it would have injected uncomfortable politics into an academic discussion; that by drawing attention to the fact, it would make matters worse; and that in any case there was nothing to apologize for since there was no harm meant.  In short I came up with an abundance of reasons for inaction.

During the same talk I referenced a paper by Jack Snyder and Erica Borghard, but omitting that it was coauthored with Erica.

After the talk I learned that a fairly large set of women in the department, both faculty and graduate students, were disappointed by the all male panel, by the fact that I didn't engage on the issue, and by my selective citing. I was surprised. But even then, I had little difficulty finding excuses for myself. The small numbers argument still worked for me on the gender composition and, embarrassed as I was when the selective citing was pointed out, I explained it to myself on the grounds that I knew Jack better, and of course he was also first author.

Looking back I think I found it easy to explain things away because at bottom I thought of myself as someone who does not discriminate and so there must be reasonable explanations for things that others might see as discrimination.

With quite a bit of distance though I can see problems with my self explanations. For one, these issues likely would not have arisen in the first place had I the habit of applying the simplest mental checks as guards against unintended discrimination. Had I properly asked myself whether there were women in the department that would have been as or more qualified to participate in the panel as the manel members the answer would have been yes. But I didn't ask that question, at least not in time.  Had I a practice of mentally double checking who the full set of authors are on a paper before citing it, I wouldn't have left one out.  But there is a deeper issue. While I believe that such mental checks can be useful correctives, the deeper problem is that I didn't feel it necessary to ask myself these questions or respond in any other helpful way, even after women brought concerns directly to my attention. The hubris of my position seems obvious looking back, that I would so easily rely on my own assessment of the effects of my inaction and dismiss the concerns of smart people that were closer to the issue.

I think it is fair to say that most of the men that I discussed these events with saw them as small issues; some saw the concerns that the women were raising as somewhat overwrought, as I did at first.

In contrast, most women I spoke to did see the problem. And when I discussed the broader issues with my students almost every one of them reported experiencing or observing discrimination, not as unusual events, but as regular, systematic events. Very often this has been through actions of men like me, who think of themselves as concerned about discrimination and tuned in to power inequalities.

Here are some of the broader issues they have described to me.

Stealing ideas, withholding credit. In three instances in recent months, women students or junior faculty I have spoken with have felt that their ideas have been stolen from them by more senior men. Research ideas that they shared with male scholars in good faith turn up in new projects and papers, without recognition. In one case a researcher was developing a partnership with an organization for a joint project when a more senior male showed interest and the partners dropped the female researcher. In a fourth instance I heard complaints of a male co-author minimizing a more junior woman's contributions to joint work. A number of women reported observing that they do not get credited in acknowledgements when they share ideas. In many of these cases the women did not see easy paths to complain and in some cases feared retribution. I was surprised that they would fear retribution, not having seen retribution in our discipline. But that's the point. They are very conscious of a power dynamic here whereas I am blind to it.  Still it's not hard to see power at play here when you look. I imagine the men involved can convince themselves that the ideas were commonplace, or really their own, or that whatever the origin they were fastest to implement, but I'd bet they'd be more careful in how they treat the ideas if they had originated from a senior male scholar.

Seminar cultures. Many of my students described concerns about seminar cultures. That women's comments in seminars are less likely to get picked up or responded to; or if they are, only after they are repeated by a man, without acknowledgement. There is even a hashtag for this:  #hepetition. This is done by both men and women.  But it's not a hard thing to do a check whether a point has already been made, and if it has been, to build on it with acknowledgement. People seem to do that instinctively already when the comments originate from more senior people.

They are also disappointed  when they see speaker series filled by men only. They note hostile dynamics in workshops dominated by men who sometimes turn what could be collaborative engagements into competitions, with points going to the players that intellectually pummel their opponents. I was surprised to learn that some women refuse to attend workshops organized by friends of mine because they find the culture toxic. Again, it is not hard to try to make a routine of checking gender balances and asking why they are off. I have often put together a speaker series or a conference and then wondered, sometimes too late, how come it is dominated by men. In my case it sometimes hasn't taken a lot of puzzling to realize that selections were made on the basis of networks and reputations that reflect exactly the kinds of inequalities that are perpetuated by everyday discrimination.

Poor allies. A last worry raised by women in our discussions was the problem of a lack of allies. They are tired of discussing this issue among women, frustrated by the loss of time and energy spent trying to address it, concerned about being seen as pushy on the issue if they raise it. Perversely there is evidence that women are penalized for promoting diversity while men are not. Male colleagues might recognize and respond to extreme instances of discrimination, or try to think through structural responses to gender inequalities, but they shrug off everyday instances of discrimination. Required trainings in implicit discrimination are seen as a chore. Evidence of discrimination is more likely to be dismissed by men (perhaps, as suggested in this piece, because recognizing discrimination implies that your own success might be partly due to biases in the system that favor you rather than being all of your own making). They profess themselves progressive but don't pay a cost to right inequalities. When it comes down to it they don't hire the research manager that needs to work inconvenient hours so she can look after children, they don't give coauthorship to the woman research assistant, they don't reschedule conferences to avoid weekends even if these are harder for families, they don't give credit where credit is due.

There are many other related issues that were voiced: men get asked about methodological issues in a project while questions about human subjects issues get addressed to women; women are more likely to be chastised for interrupting speakers while men get applauded for mic drop interventions; male students get tapped to give technical support while women are tapped for service work (including one instance where a woman was even asked to organize a date for a visiting male speaker).

Some of these worries may seem small on the scale of things. There are big structural issues to worry about also, for sure (see for instance the evidence in this presentation by Sara Mitchell). And there are horror stories of much more blatantly  sexist behavior (see the recent APSA report and some of the reports from the #metooPhD spreadsheet , for instance). But these small everyday things matter a lot because they are about visibility and recognition. Recognition is the currency of our profession. Recognition affects a sense of self worth and the constant denial of it chips away at self confidence. Ultimately, recognition trades in for jobs, salaries, research grants, and influence.[2]

I don't know what the solutions to all these issues are. I saw last week a psychologist nonsense the idea that implicit bias trainings could help, or that such biases can even be noticed or addressed.  I hope he is wrong and that at least being aware of the results of biases can tip you off to when you fall prey to them. But whatever the solution it seems a good start to acknowledge the problem and note how it is reproduced even by those of us that like to think the problem lies elsewhere.


Scottish graduates shun teaching jobs

Teaching is suffering an image crisis with less than a third of Scots believing it is an attractive career for graduates.

A poll for The Times showed that just 30 per cent of those sampled believe teaching is a good career option for university leavers, compared to 50 per cent who do not.

Unions said the results showed that years of pay cuts were partially to blame for a recruitment crisis in schools.

The findings will undermine a suggestion by the Scottish government that teaching continues to be an attractive option. Scotland’s universities are struggling to fill places on postgraduate teacher training courses, despite some lowering their entry requirements in an attempt to fill quotas.


School Choice Helped This Girl Escape a Broken School, Then Become Valedictorian

The right to choose where your kids attend school should be common sense. But for too long, it’s something too many parents have been denied for their children.

Thankfully, we live in a day when access to education choice is gaining ground. More kids across our country are now being freed from broken schools and have the chance to select schools that meet their needs, setting them on a course to achieve their own dreams.

That is progress worth celebrating, and it’s why I am celebrating National School Choice Week. To have played a part in fighting for school choice has been a true privilege.

As an advocate for school choice, I’ve followed many families whose children found success. One of the students I’ve stayed close to is Tiffany Dunston.

I first met Tiffany and her grandmother when they attended an information session about a scholarship that would allow Tiffany to attend a better school that would nurture her. I remember chatting with a mature 13-year-old girl whose eyes sparkled as she talked about doing well in school and making her family proud.

Immediately, I knew that the future would be bright for this young girl.

That hope of a scholarship turned into a reality for Tiffany in 2004. Congress had approved the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, providing scholarships to children from low-income families (like Tiffany), which enabled them to attend a private school of choice.

I saw Tiffany again that year and learned that she had received a scholarship through the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and was enrolled at Archbishop Carroll High School.

Tiffany had grown into a lovely young woman who was thriving as a freshman at Carroll. I was delighted to see her and so many other students excelling who had benefited from the same scholarship option.

Tiffany went on to graduate as valedictorian from Carroll in 2008, and received a scholarship to Syracuse University. I prayed that this young woman would do well and accomplish her dreams there. And she did.

Not only did she thrive at Syracuse, but after receiving her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, she was accepted into a doctoral program. Tiffany received her doctorate in chemistry one year ago and is now working at Johns Hopkins University as a post-doctoral research fellow in oncology.

Tiffany’s journey has not only brought joy to my heart—it has made the hard work of fighting for school choice worth every second. And there are countless other children like Tiffany who stand to benefit from expanding school choice across our nation.

National School Choice Week is a time for us to rejoice over stories like Tiffany’s, and also look forward to a day when every child in America will have the doors of education opened wide to them. Our movement is winning. Let’s keep winning more.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

'Sexually Promiscuous' Professor at the University of Rochester Faces Censure Vote

I suspect Prof. Jaeger's behaviour was simply German.  German men tend to be a bit pushy with women.  It is expected

Later today, the faculty senate of the University of Rochester will vote on a motion to censure Florian Jaeger, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, for sexual misconduct.

"Professor Jaeger engaged in a variety of inappropriate and unprofessional sexual or sexualized behaviors in his interactions with students," Senate Co-Chairs Mary Jane Curry and Kevin McFarland wrote in an email to the faculty senate that was obtained by Reason. "These behaviors had predictable and harmful impact on students."

Jaeger, who was hired at Rochester in 2007 at the age of 31, is accused of having inappropriate relationships with multiple students, of creating a climate of sexual harassment within the brain and cognitive sciences department, and essentially of being a serial predator.

The allegations against Jaeger, which did not become public until last fall, seem damning at first blush. One of his accusers, former Rochester Ph.D. student Celeste Kidd, said he constantly made her feel uncomfortable. On September 1 of last year, Kidd and six other academics filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging a pattern of harassment and discriminatory behavior. According to this complaint, Jaeger made it clear that students who wanted to excel needed to please him, socially and sometimes sexually. He used obnoxious and objectifying sexual language, intentionally crossed boundaries with women, including undergraduates, intentionally humiliated female students, and knowingly made women feel physically unsafe; they got the sense that their discomfort excited him.

He used illegal drugs with students and hosted hot tub parties.

Kidd and her fellow complainants have also accused the university of retaliating against them. They filed an additional complaint in federal court on December 8, 2017. Student-activists have protested Jaeager's continuing employment at Rochester. Many signed a petition calling on him to be fired. One student even launched a hunger strike.

Largely absent from the conversation is one inconvenient fact: Jaeger was cleared of any wrongdoing. Not once, not twice, but three times. It's easy to see why investigators repeatedly reached this conclusion: University policy did not bar professors from engaging in sexual relationships with their students until 2014, by which point Jaeger's objectionable behavior had ceased. That's why Rochester determined that while Jaeger may have crossed certain lines, there was no grounds to terminate him—a decision the university stood by even after the complainants appealed.

Moreover, some significant factual assertions made at various stages of the investigation were deemed false during a subsequent, independent investigation conducted at the university's request by the law firm Debevoise and Plimpton.

The results of this investigation—led by Mary Jo White, a former chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission—were released earlier this month. The document detailing the findings is more than 200 pages long. It recommends that the university make certain changes to its sexual misconduct policy. But it also concludes that "while there is no doubt that Jaeger, at one time, had a reputation as promiscuous—another aspect of his character that did not change from his years as a graduate student—Jaeger's characterization as a 'sexual predator' in the complaints is baseless."

While Jaeger did indeed pursue sexual relationships with students before the university changed its rules, he was never accused of sexual assault. "We are aware of no evidence—or even allegation—that Jaeger ever engaged in sexual assault or any other nonconsensual sexual contact whatsoever."

White and her team interviewed more than 140 witnesses, including 14 of the 17 graduate students and seven of the 10 postdoctoral fellows who worked with Jaeger between 2007 and present. It was clear to them that Jaeger's inappropriate sexual behavior—including his tendency to make sexually explicit jokes and comments—abated after the university became stricter about such things in 2014.

Further, the White investigation concluded that several claims concerning Jaeger were simply false:

The EEOC Complaint, for example, suggests in two separate places that Jaeger engaged in sexual activity with a prospective student who stayed with Jaeger and his partner during a visit to [the university] in 2015. To the EEOC Complainants' credit, their subsequent federal lawsuit, where Rule 11 pleading requirements apply, withdraws that assertion, noting that the student has now confirmed that she did not experience any sexual advances or other misconduct by Jaeger during her visit.

Rule 11 is a federal provision that essentially subjects attorneys and their clients to possible legal sanction if they make unsubstantiated claims. It doesn't apply in EEOC filings—nevertheless, this aspect of the EEOC complaint was simply false, according to White.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Jaeger's behavior—the place where the harassment case seems most compelling—is his treatment of Kidd, who claims she was subjected to "unwelcome, harassing sexual comments." Her claims are complicated by the fact that she lived with Jaeger for nearly a year: She rented a room in his apartment from the summer of 2007 until the spring of 2008. Kidd characterized this arrangement as coercive—he "pressed" her to live with him—but that's hard to accept at face value. As White's report noted:

The unedited Facebook messages between Jaeger and Kidd, as well as their email communications, suggest that in summer 2007, when Kidd moved into Jaeger's house, their relationship was friendly and harmonious, and we found no evidence indicating that Jaeger coerced Kidd into living with him. Interviewees overwhelmingly indicated that while they found Kidd's and Jaeger's living arrangement strange, they all thought Kidd and Jaeger were friends from summer 2007 to spring 2008. Emails between Jaeger and Kidd at the beginning of their living arrangement echo this perception.

By all accounts, Jaeger's and Kidd's living arrangement appears to have been initially friendly and mutually acceptable, although we note that we view it as a serious lapse in Jaeger's judgment to live with a graduate student.

It's hard not to see parallels between Jaeger's situation and that of Northwestern University Professor Peter Ludlow, who was accused of engaging in a nonconsensual sexual relationship with a student—even though, as Laura Kipnis wrote in her book about the Ludlow investigation, it was difficult to imagine how the long-running relationship could possibly have been forced. "What would it mean to not consent to sending a thousand text messages?" wrote Kipnis. A similar dynamic seems to be at play here.

There's one more element to the Jaeger situation: Since 2014, he has been in a relationship with Chigusa Kurumada, who is also a professor in Rochester's cognitive and brain sciences department. Kurumada is from Japan, and living in the U.S. on a work visa. (Jaeger is himself from Germany.) Kurumada told me that she strongly disputes the complainants' claims. Moreover, in their zeal to destroy Jaeger's career, she says they have imperiled hers.

"In what was purported to be a campaign to protect and empower women, Florian's accusers—my own colleagues—belittled my professional achievements and insinuated that I was complicit in his behaviors or even enabled them," she writes via email. "I was the only woman not given a pseudonym in the EEOC complaint. Using my real name, obviously foreign, furthered the goal of presenting Florian as a perpetrator by portraying me as a stereotypically submissive Asian woman."

Kurumada's prospects have suffered greatly as a result of the efforts to oust Jaeger, she claims.

"While I have consistently carried out my academic responsibilities, I have done so while being publicly shamed by my colleagues and while my partner endures death threats and daily hate mail," she wrote. "My plans for grant proposals and journal submissions have been in large part tabled, and I have been disinvited from one speaking engagement in Japan, my native country."

It would be easier to count the damage to Kurumada's career as an acceptable loss if it meant holding a serial sexual abuser accountable. But it's hard to argue with White's exhaustively researched conclusion: Jaeger's long-ago behavior may have been gross and ill-advised, but it did not violate university policy and it no longer threatens students or faculty members at Rochester.

Nevertheless, the censure vote in the faculty senate later today could result in a loss of tenure for Jaeger.

"My client Florian Jaeger has now undergone three separate investigations...each one determined he did not violate any law or University policy," says his lawyer, Steve Modica. "Now some members of the faculty senate wish to revoke Florian's tenure because he engaged in consensual relationships 10 years ago with several female students. I would hope a group of educators from a world renowned institution like Rochester would be concerned about due process, facts, and context instead of complaints filled with misinformation and distortions."


Title IX Is an Insult to Victims of Sexual Assault

Rape is an appalling crime. Its perpetrators deserve criminal prosecution and lengthy imprisonment upon conviction. Yet the discourse on sexual assault at American colleges and universities in the past few years has fueled a backlash. Until the recent revelations of #MeToo, colleges have dominated the discussion of sexual misconduct in America. (This focus is misplaced, as young women who don’t attend college have rates of sexual assault more than twice as high as their matriculated peers.)

Much of the emerging backlash concerns false accusations of sexual misconduct. Consider some of the campus rape cases to have received the most media attention over the past decade: the Duke lacrosse players (2006), the University of Virginia assault reported in Rolling Stone (2014), Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University “mattress girl” (2012), and the Baylor athletic department sexual assault cover-up scandal (2015-2016).

The Duke lacrosse and Rolling Stone accusations have been incontrovertibly debunked; the Sulkowicz accusation is almost certainly unfounded. Only the Baylor case, in which the football coach, athletic director, and university president were all fired for systematically suppressing rape allegations, actually reflected sexual misconduct. Colleges and universities are themselves contributing to the proliferation of false accusations. Ironically, these false accusations have ensued from a misguided policy intended to protect the interests of rape survivors: the 2011 Department of Education directive known as the “Dear Colleague” letter.

The letter contained extensive new guidelines for how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct cases. Although the letter has been officially rescinded, the Title IX industry has taken on a life of its own, and its dictates have become entrenched in American higher education. Title IX officers remain eager to pursue every allegation of sexual misconduct, no matter how flimsy. Often these allegations are based on nothing more than words. For example, a Howard University professor’s poorly conceived test question about bikini waxing resulted in a 504-day investigation and sanctions that included mandatory sensitivity training.

My own Title IX investigation was also largely based on words. In 2016, I was brought up on charges that included, most memorably, telling a few colleagues that I’d proposed to my now ex-wife at a strip club. The complaint also cited various instances of “potty mouth” and bawdy conversation.

All of this occurred almost 20 years ago, during off-campus outings for pizza and beer with several of my fellow junior colleagues. We were all swapping off-color stories. No one seemed offended at the time or later told me that they were offended. The complaint against me also contained fanciful accounts of gender discrimination. Here is the most specific example:

In an April 6, 2016 faculty meeting discussing the outcome of an external review report of a Department program, you yelled ‘I feel vindicated! This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along!’ You reacted this way because the director or [sic] the program is a woman…

It’s beyond my understanding as to why my endorsement of the “external review report,” a document authored by three academics at other universities, should be construed as me discriminating against my department chair. I doubt the colleague who accused me knows how I really feel about women. I hadn’t had a conversation with her for over a decade prior to the Title IX charges. In short, the accusation of gender discrimination was maximally nonsensical.

Perhaps the most ominous part of my Title IX allegations was relegated to a footnote in the allegations:

In early June, a writer for a magazine who interviewed Wolfinger called the Department to complain of inappropriate sexual comments which she alleged occurred during the interview. The OEO/AA attempted on several occasions to reach the writer to interview her and get information regarding specifics of her interactions with Wolfinger, however, she did not return the OEO/ AA’s attempts at contact and did not participate in the investigation process.

I’ve talked to hundreds of reporters in the past 20 years and had absolutely no idea what I might have said. It’s profoundly threatening to open intellectual inquiry to know that anyone can complain about you to your university at any time.

If there was a silver lining to any of this, it was instantly realizing that the case against me was so frivolous that it had no chance of being upheld. I retained top-shelf counsel right away and assiduously avoided ever having a face-to-face meeting with my Title IX inquisitor (such meetings offer prime opportunities for self-incrimination). Several months later the charges were dismissed.

I was not out of the woods yet. Early in 2017 my dean, who had not been involved in the Title IX process, filed new charges based exclusively on the Title IX investigator’s report. Although it had not been part of the initial allegations against me, the report went to some lengths to cast me as a lousy colleague: I sighed and rolled my eyes in faculty meetings. I said fuck once. I “look down on anyone who [I perceive to be] doing more teaching/service and less research.”

For these transgressions, my dean sought an official reprimand and a fine equal to a month’s pay (about $5,000 after taxes; as a state employee, my salary is public record). Fortunately, the vice president for faculty, who outranks my dean in the academic food chain, was a voice of sanity and unilaterally rescinded my dean’s attempted sanctions. This marked the end of the administrative ordeal initiated by the Title IX charges against me.

Title IX inquisitions like the ones described here trivialize the actual victims of sexual harassment and assault.
Two other faculty members have written about their experiences as the target of a Title IX investigation. Laura Kipnis, at Northwestern University, was charged for merely writing an article; her accuser claimed she’d created a “chilling climate” for reporting sexual misconduct. Kipnis’ crusade against the DCL culminated in her 2017 book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus (Harper). J. Martin Rochester of the University of Missouri-St. Louis suspects he was charged after an intemperate email exchange with two colleagues (not uncommon in Title IX cases, he never learned what the actual charges were). Ultimately, Kipnis and Rochester were cleared of their Title IX charges.

None of the cases I’ve described here had much to do with sexual harassment or assault, yet all were the basis of Title IX charges. In each case, a university conducted an investigation, sometimes at great expense to all parties (my attorney fees totaled $14,000 and I got off lightly; many accused students are expelled, while faculty members have lost their jobs).

Every second and every dollar a university fritters away on frivolous or trumped-up allegations is time and money not spent on cases with actual victims. Title IX inquisitions like the ones described here trivialize the actual victims of sexual harassment and assault, often young people who may have been subjected to gruesome assaults or stalking so invasive that it interferes with the victim’s ability to pursue a college education. Frivolous Title IX cases are a crushing insult to the unacceptably large number of women who have been victimized by their peers in higher education. No one deserves that.

#MeToo is a necessary moment of reckoning. A civilized society has no place for men (and, occasionally, women) who abuse their power by abusing their subordinates. Accusations of sexual misconduct must always be taken seriously. At the same time, anyone who is accused deserves due process, not an internet lynch mob. Civilized society also has no place for vigilantism. As the journalist Emily Yoffe has pointed out, the damage done by Title IX on campus should inform how we move toward a society free from sexual misconduct.


Top Australian University introduces mandatory sexual harassment course using stick figures to tell students they can't kiss or touch each other without an 'ENTHUSIASTIC yes'

Feminist rubbish.  One doubts that the authors have ever been kissed

Students have slammed a mandatory sexual harassment course telling them they cannot kiss or touch without an 'enthusiastic yes'.

All commencing students at the University of Sydney must take the module, originally developed at Oxford University by London-based company Epigeum.

The university's website says the course is to help students understand consensual sexual activity, which it defines as including kissing and touching.

'It is the university's way of saying, "we've done our part, we look good", but it's not actually going to fix anything,' honours student Claudia Reed told the Daily Telegraph.

Medical Science student Eleni Vellios said asking explicitly for an 'enthusiastic "yes"' before kissing someone was silly and impractical.

'It's a bit unrealistic, no one is going to ask for them to spell it out and ask for it,' she said.

Ms Reed agreed, saying they course will not help or change the minds of anyone who needs to be taught what consent is.

The compulsory survey was a 'tick-a-box exercise', she added and said the university should be more focused on fixing the problems within its residential colleges. 

The University of Sydney states: 'Whenever you participate in any sexual activity, everyone involved needs to give their full consent.

'This means that everyone is entirely comfortable with the situation and freely able to agree, give permission or say "yes" to participating in a sexual activity (this includes kissing and touching). 'Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is always a crime.'

'Consent is never ambiguous. If someone is not able to offer an enthusiastic "yes" to questions about sexual activity you do not have consent.'

'Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect, And Positive Intervention' uses stick figures to illustrate the importance of consent and the impact that drugs and alcohol have on consent.

The course states that 'everyone must have explicit permission from the person they intend to make contact with' before going ahead.  

A university spokesperson confirmed that students would be forced to keep attempting the course until they got every section correct.

'The Consent Matters module is mandatory for all new students enrolling at the University of Sydney from 2018 onwards,' she said.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How campus politics hijacked American politics

THE DEFENSE OF free speech has always been a bedrock bipartisan principle. So it’s unusual to hear a veteran liberal politician excuse campus outrage squads that shout down dissent. But that’s exactly what former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean did in a recent appearance — and his embrace of the campus left reveals a lot about the nation’s current cultural moment.

On a panel at Kenyon College last month, Dean brought up a notorious incident at Yale two years before. In 2015, lecturer and residence hall co-supervisor Erika Christakis had set off protests with an e-mail defending students’ freedom to wear Halloween costumes — such as ones based on the Chinese-inspired cartoon character Mulan — that some may find culturally insensitive. A viral video showed protesters mobbing and berating her husband, professor Nicholas Christakis. The couple later resigned their leadership posts, and Erika Christakis stopped teaching.

Dean’s take on this was that there are “consequences to free speech.” He caricatured Erika Christakis’s thoughtful, sensitive letter as an ugly screed mocking “snowflake” students and defending racist costumes. He also described the protesters as well-behaved, despite their screaming and bullying. That an academic became a target of red-hot rage for challenging progressive dogma on cultural appropriation did not seem to bother him in the least.

Dean is hardly alone in pooh-poohing worries about the illiberal academic left. With Republicans in control of the government and Donald Trump in the White House, many say that it’s crazy, maybe downright perverse, to worry about college students as a threat to liberal society. But not every form of power involves government authority. And what happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus.

For some time, a fixation on identity politics, a culture of reflexive outrage, and a scorched-earth approach to trivial transgressions have been all hallmarks of student activism and academic radicalism. They are now becoming increasingly evident in American life as a whole. In the name of defending women and ethnic and sexual minorities — all reasonable goals — progressives on and off campus are taking illiberal stances that polarize society, put a chill on free speech, and erode respect for due process.

Not long ago, tropes such as “white privilege” or “rape culture,” which reduce a vast range of social dynamics to racism and misogyny, were seldom heard outside the radical wing of the academy; today, they’ve joined the mainstream. The term “microaggression,” describing statements and acts deemed unintentionally prejudiced, now shows up without explanation even in business publications.

Opposing bigotry and injustice are noble goals; but the social justice movement, on and off campus, goes far beyond that. It labels people by identity, creating a hierarchy in which being “marginalized” confers status while being “privileged” brings shame. Moreover, given its focus on changing “wrong” attitudes, is almost by definition hostile to free speech: dissent, even counterargument, becomes “microaggression” or “discursive violence.”

The flap over kimonos in Boston in 2015 was a case in point. When the Museum of Fine Arts put on an interactive event that let visitors try on a kimono, protesters — primarily student activists — denounced it as “orientalism” and “cultural appropriation,” much to the bafflement of many Japanese-Americans and the Japanese consul. In the name of cultural sensitivity, a cross-cultural exchange was canceled. (Even the Trump administration has yet to shut down a single museum program.)

RAUCOUS COLLEGE activism is nothing new — though, in the 1960s, campus protesters fought for free speech, mostly in opposition to the Vietnam-era draft. In the late ’80s and early ’90s came the “political correctness” wars, which reflected shifting cultural mores on race and gender and helped entrench leftist orthodoxies on campuses.

The excesses of the campus left re-emerged as a national story in 2015 with a wave of student protests, at Yale and elsewhere, that were marked by shocking intolerance for dissent. More recently, student activism has taken the form of forcibly shutting down heretical speakers, from an American Civil Liberties Union representative to Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald.

Yet the assault on “bad” speech is not just a campus matter. Especially after the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville that turned violent last August, the idea that free speech protections should be reconsidered has been gaining currency on the left. Typical of the genre was a recent NBC News opinion piece by writer Noah Berlatsky, who argued that the First Amendment is too broad and that hate speech should be legally restricted. (What kind of speech Berlatsky would ban is unclear. While his focus is on white supremacists and neo-Nazis, his argument about the harms of “hate speech” seems to cover anything that promotes “stereotypes” about minorities.)

For now, the First Amendment seems safe. But the campus-bred identitarian left is leaving its mark on society in other ways, especially in areas directly connected to culture: media, publishing, and entertainment, which in turn help shape the social climate. Dissident progressive Phoebe Maltz Bovy notes in her recent book, “The Perils of Privilege,” that mainstream-media culture criticism is now heavily fixated on identity politics: Films, shows and entertainers are routinely discussed in terms of their treatment of race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality and often sternly reprimanded for taking an incorrect approach. (The recent backlash against the Golden Globe-winning movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” for its alleged blind spot on race is a case in point.)

Often, the effect is a chilling one. Publishers now employ “sensitivity readers” to prevent offense — which doesn’t always work. Last year, a young-adult novel depicting the persecution of Muslims in a dystopian America, previewed and praised by several Muslim-American readers, was savaged online for a “white savior narrative” because it portrays a white character’s journey to overcome her prejudice. Criticism is not censorship; but when the fear of a backlash becomes so strong that books get withdrawn and rewritten, this can create a genuinely repressive self-censoring climate.

The chill can extend to businesses. Once again, what starts as campus outrage can spill beyond campus. Two years ago, Oberlin College was briefly at the center of a PC-gone-mad story when some students complained about culturally insensitive ethnic cafeteria food. Earlier this year — after an outcry against “culinary white supremacy” in the online press and social media in Portland, Ore. — two women (one white, one part Chinese) felt obliged to shut down the burrito shop they had started after a trip to Mexico. Their handmade tortillas, it seems, were too oppressive.

How do ideas like “culinary white supremacy” make it off university grounds? Partly, it’s because professors who marinate in campus politics enjoy intellectual authority in the outside world, and their opinions appear in the national media. Partly, it’s also because a huge generation of students who have absorbed the “social justice” creed of the campus left, often promoted not only in class but in mandatory workshops, take that outlook with them when they graduate.

Among other things, this trend is evident in the recent conflicts over #MeToo, the movement against sexual abuse. As the list of accused men has grown, even veteran feminists, such as Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, have criticized the movement for equating accusation with guilt and boorish come-ons with rape. The call to “believe women” — instead of waiting for evidence and due process — was a campus protest slogan before #MeToo adopted it.

Likewise, the controversial sexual assault accusation against comedian Aziz Ansari, who appears to be guilty of little more than being a jerk on a date, reflects campus sexual conduct codes. The article accusing Ansari of misconduct was published on, an offshoot of a media company that caters to college-age women — and is mainstream enough to count Rupert Murdoch among its investors.

Recent graduates, and the cultural politics they bring, also influence corporations that want to maintain a progressive image — including the tech giants that set the tone for much of the social media. One popular code of conduct for digital communities, cited as a model by companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, stresses that “marginalized people’s safety” must be prioritized over “privileged people’s comfort.”

Materials in the recent lawsuit by James Damore, the former Google engineer fired for writing a memo suggesting that gender disparities in tech jobs at the company are partly due to innate differences in career interests and personality characteristics, reveal a workplace culture where conservatives are routinely blacklisted and diversity promotion includes workshops on “healing from toxic whiteness.” Employees who question such methods are likely to penalized, formally or informally.

IS THE DOCTRINAIRE left as dangerous to liberal democracy as the unified rule of the right? Certainly, the Trump-era Republican Party has the potential to do grave damage to democratic institutions and is already damaging liberal norms. But the academic left’s hostility to these norms should not be discounted, and its influence over progressive and Democratic dogma is only growing.

What’s more, left-wing campus politics also feed and empower the right. Stories of political correctness run amok, gleefully picked up by conservative media (and in some cases overblown), boost the perception of rampant hypersensitivity, speech policing, and anti-male and/or anti-white bias. New research by Georgia State University Ph.D. candidate Zack Goldberg confirms anecdotal reports that many Trump voters were at least partly motivated by concerns about political correctness.

Perhaps the real danger is that “social justice warriors” on the left are propping up Trumpism on the right, and vice versa. With each side spurring the other to action in a feedback loop, there will soon be little room left for anyone else.


Oxford University gives women more time to pass exams

This is sexist rubbish, deeply unfair bigotry against men

 Students taking maths and computer science examinations in the summer of 2017 were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers

Oxford University exam times were increased in a bid to improve the low scores of women, it has emerged.

Students taking maths and computer science examinations in the summer of 2017 were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers, after dons ruled that "female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure". There was no change to the length or difficulty of the questions.

It was the first time such steps had been taken. In previous years, the percentage of male students awarded first class degrees was double that of women and in 2016 the board of examiners suggested that the department make changes to improve women's grades.

 The lengthening of exams was welcomed by some female students
The lengthening of exams was welcomed by some female students
However, despite the intention being to lessen gender discrepancies, the main effect of the time increase appears to have been an increase in the number of 2:1s overall, with 2:2 figures falling. Men continued to be awarded more first class degrees than women in the two subjects.

A university spokesman defended the changes as "academically demanding and fair", and noted that while 39 per cent of female mathematicians achieved first class degrees compared to 47 per cent of men, women's scores had improved year on year.

The lengthening of exams was welcomed by some female students. Antonia Siu, Undergraduate Representative of Oxford Women in Computer Science, said: "I am uneasy about schemes to favour one gender over another.

"But I am happy when people see gaps between groups of people who should not reasonably have such gaps - such as between genders, races or class - and take that as a starting point to think about the kinds of people they unintentionally are leaving behind."


We must celebrate heterosexuality: Top UK girls' school head warns of danger of focus on gay and transgender issues

A deputy head at a top girls’ school has warned of the ‘real danger’ of heterosexuality being ignored in favour of lessons on gay and transgender issues.

Cathy Ellott, pastoral deputy of St Mary’s Ascot, said it is important to continue to discuss relationships between men and women because this is the ‘majority experience’.

She added that such partnerships should be ‘learned about and celebrated’ in schools so that children are prepared for adult life.

She also said her all-girls Catholic boarding school in Berkshire is rejecting a wider trend of using gender-neutral language.

Many institutions have chosen to simply refer to pupils as ‘students’ so that transgender youngsters do not feel alienated, but Mrs Ellott said St Mary’s would continue to identify itself as ‘a school for girls’.

Her comments, made in an interview with the Independent School Parent magazine, come after the Government introduced compulsory relationships classes for children of all ages. The lessons must include material about same-sex relationships and transgender issues to comply with the Equality Act.

A number of schools are already teaching children as young as five about gay relationships and gender dysphoria. Mrs Ellott said that while pupils at St Mary’s were taught about LGBT issues, such issues are not the focus of relationships lessons.

She warned there was a ‘real danger’ that too much emphasis on alternative lifestyles could sow confusion in youngsters.

She added: ‘There is a danger that the other sexualities are discussed, and heterosexuality – which is the majority experience – is ignored rather than learned about and celebrated.’ At St Mary’s, girls discuss transgender issues as part of its PSHE (personal, social, health and economic) studies, and relationship and sex education, ‘within the context of its Catholic ethos’.

Mrs Ellott said: ‘This means that, although the girls are educated about transgender issues, they are encouraged to develop their own response to these issues, guided by their faith.’

While some schools have stopped using the words ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ so that transgender pupils feel included, St Mary’s is taking a more traditional approach, she said, adding: ‘We would not enforce this in our school as we identify ourselves as a school for girls.

‘We use “pupils” in formal situations and documentation, and often use “girls” when addressing the girls. The girls themselves have said that they prefer this.’

She did not reveal whether the school has any transgender pupils, but said that if a girl wished to transition each case would be treated on an individual basis.

‘We would work very closely with the girl, her parents and where necessary other health professionals to consider what is best for the girl within a girls’ full-boarding school environment,’ she said.

Mrs Ellott also voiced concerns that some children are facing medical intervention if they question their gender at a young age.

Figures have shown child referrals to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service have soared over the last six years. Children can be given hormones to block puberty, which will make transitioning easier after the age of 16.

Mrs Ellott said: ‘If children suffering from gender dysphoria require medical support to flourish, then I am pleased that these services are available. However, I have serious concerns about medical intervention in children as part of a transitioning process.’


Monday, January 29, 2018

Gun-Control Activists’ Misleading School Shooting Count, Includes Window Broken by BB Gun

Many in the media have pushed a gun-control group's count of school shootings in the aftermath of Tuesday's shooting at Marshall County High School that left 2 dead and 18 injured.

That count, created by Everytown for Gun Safety, claims there have been 11 school shootings thus far in 2018. However, nearly all of the incidents included alongside the Marshall County shooting bear little or no resemblance to that shooting or other well-publicized school shootings, like those at Sandy Hook Elementary or Columbine High School. None of the other events included in the gun-control group's count feature more than one injury, most featured no injuries at all, and one involved a BB gun being shot at a school bus window.

In its threat assessment on school shooters, developed in the wake of the Columbine shooting, the FBI sought to answer "why would a student bring a weapon to school and without any explicable reason open fire on fellow students and teachers?" Despite its clear focus on violence committed against students and faculty during school events, the assessment did not provide an official definition for what a school shooter or a school shooting is.

Everytown for Gun Safety uses its own definition based on what it said is "expert advice and common sense," which the gun-control group claims is "straightforward, fair, and comprehensive." The group said it counts "any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds."

This broad definition places two separate suicides, a January 9 incident where a man shot a BB gun at a bus window resulting in no injuries; a January 10 incident where a student in a criminal justice club accidentally shot a peace officer's real gun at a target on a classroom wall instead of a training gun resulting in no injuries; a January 9 incident where gun shots were fired from somewhere outside of Cal State San Bernardino, which struck a building on campus without injuries; and other incidents next to the murder of a Winston-Salem State University student at a nightclub on the Wake Forest University campus, the January 22 shooting of a 15-year-old at a Dallas-area high school, and Tuesday's Marshall County High School shooting which left 2 dead and 18 others injured.

In its explanation of its count, Everytown includes an open call for new gun-control measures as a result of the number of school shootings it claims occur each year in the United States.

"How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives," the group asks in its methodology explanation. "Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That's unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school—comforted by the knowledge that they're safe."

The group claims to have identified 283 school shootings since 2013 using its methodology.

Reporters from outlets like The New York Times, NPR, CNN, Politico, The Huffington Post, and other major media have unquestioningly forwarded the activists' count on Twitter or in pieces for their publications. Peter Alexander of NBC News used the count without revealing who complied it, their political leanings, or any caution over their methodology when questioning Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House press briefing on Wednesday.

Many major media outlets have also unquestioningly pushed dubious statistics from gun-control groups in regards to mass shootings. A June 2017 Free Beacon analysis found only 8 of the 154 shootings cited by gun-control activists and major media outlets as mass shootings actually meet the FBI definition of mass murder.

The media's amplification of misleading school shooting counts may be part of the reason a 2017 survey found most parents greatly overestimate the likelihood of a school shooting at their child's school. Thirty-six percent of parents thought it was "highly likely" their local high school would experience a gun incident within the next three years. Only 8.6 percent of the parents, however, said they actually knew of a firearm incident at their local school sometime in the last five years.


Where free speech should be promoted, free speech is under attack

Free speech is under attack at college campuses across the country.  The problem is not limited to a few colleges barring radical speakers to avoid a riot.  Universities large and small, public and private, are restricting students’ and professors’ speech or enabling others to silence speech with which they disagree.

These restrictions take a variety of forms.  For example, speech codes at many colleges ban speech that is “offensive,” a subjective standard that allows college administrators to arbitrarily ban speech they find disagreeable. For example, Georgia Gwinnett College stopped a student from speaking about his religious faith because it “disturbed the comfort of persons” – even after he had gotten a permit from the school to speak.

Other schools claim they allow free speech but impose so many rules and procedures that it is almost impossible for speakers to reach an audience. Pierce College in Los Angeles, for example, limited students’ “free speech” to a space the size of a couple parking spots and required a permit to speak even there.  At a community college in Michigan, a student was arrested and jailed for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution because they didn’t have a permit.

Even where they don’t limit speech directly, schools’ actions often enable students to silence others’ speech through shouting, threats of violence, or actual violence.

Sometimes schools fail to prevent students from intimidating and even attacking speakers, as happened at Middlebury College, where student protesters violently shut down a debate and physically assaulted one of the school’s own professors.   In other cases, schools’ policies effectively encourage this behavior by imposing special limitations on speakers they deem controversial.

A new policy at Berkeley, for example, imposes a curfew, security measures, and location restrictions for events that administrators decide are likely to “interfer[e] with other campus functions or activities.”  It doesn’t require much creativity to turn this policy into a heckler’s veto.  If you disagree with a speaker about to visit campus, simply declare his views offensive and threaten to riot, and the speaker will be sidelined.

The net result of these policies has been a narrowing of the views expressed on campuses and therefore the range of views students hear.   The heart of a university education used to be exposure to a wide range of ideas and the opportunity to debate their merits in order to inform one’s own positions and learn to articulate them persuasively.  This has apparently taken a backseat to students’ desire to be comfortable and affirmed.  University administrators, faculty, and students – not to mention the parents and taxpayers who are footing the bill – should be concerned that the quality of higher education is diminished by this change.

And everyone should be concerned about threats to free speech, regardless of their political beliefs. It should not give anyone comfort that she disagrees with the speech that is being silenced at the moment. Viewpoints that are mainstream now may quickly become minority views, and vice versa, as has happened repeatedly throughout history.  That is why protecting even unpopular speech in the short run benefits everyone in the long run.

When public universities restrict speech, it has constitutional implications as well.  The First Amendment prevents government institutions from imposing speech restraints such as arduous permitting restrictions or arbitrary curfews, particularly if the school discriminates against certain viewpoints.  Yet this is precisely what many university speech policies do.

The U.S. Department of Justice is not standing on the sidelines while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights – we are backing free speech lawsuits against universities that violate the First Amendment.  Thursday, we are filing a brief supporting a group of Berkeley University students who allege that the University’s policy imposing stricter rules on controversial speakers violates the First Amendment.  This is the third suit in which we have filed such a brief, and it will not be the last.

Defending the fundamental constitutional rights of all Americans is a core part of the Department’s mission, and defending free speech rights is particularly important.  Free speech is not only a fundamental right, but, as James Madison said, the “effectual guardian of every other right.”  Free speech enables citizens to advocate for all their other civil rights and is the single most powerful bulwark against government tyranny. This is perhaps why our Founders protected it in the very first amendment in our Bill of Rights.  It is also why the Department of Justice is working so hard to protect it - free speech is too important for the Department of Justice not to speak on its behalf. 


Mathematics educator recognized

A contribution to Australia from China

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) congratulates Eddie Woo, its members and supporters of the mathematical sciences community on their inclusion in the 2018 Australia Day Honours.

Professor Prince said it was gratifying to see members of the mathematical community acknowledged in this way.

“Policy shapers, innovators and role-models, these are individuals whose passion and leadership are causing ripples of change across the Australian mathematical pipeline,” he said.

Wootube founder and Head of Maths at Cherrybrook Technology High School, Eddie Woo, received the 2018 Australian Local Hero Award for his application of modern technology approaches in the classroom. The 2016 AMSI Choose Maths Excellence Award winner also delivered this year’s NSW Australia Day address.

Perhaps one of Australia’s most famous mathematics teachers, Woo is a true pioneer whose creativity and passion in the classroom has transformed student engagement and achievement. With over 160,000 followers, the impact of his work is felt globally.

“An outstanding educator and mathematics advocate, Eddie has made an indelible impact on Australian mathematics and is richly deserving of this recognition and the platform it provides to further their work,” he said.

Media release from

Sunday, January 28, 2018

To celebrate school choice, expand federal support for charter schools

This week is National School Choice Week, a time to celebrate the importance of giving parents the freedom to select a school that meets their child’s needs. A new poll from the American Federation for Children shows that school choice is highly prized by parents and voters. Fully 63 percent of likely voters support school choice, including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Support for public charter schools is even higher, at 72 percent.

Few ideas in American life enjoy such wide-ranging support, and it didn’t develop by accident. Policymakers in both parties have consistently championed choice and worked to make more choices available to parents everywhere. At an event held last week at the American Enterprise Institute, veterans of the Bush and Obama administrations joined scholars and policy experts to discuss the legacy of the past 16 years of federal education policy, during which school choice thrived thanks to pushing and prodding from Washington.

Since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 and worked with both Democratic lions (Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts) and heartland Republicans (Rep. John Boehner of Ohio) to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal government has aggressively worked to shine a light on achievement gaps and cajole states into developing plans to eliminate them. President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program, launched in 2009, doubled down on the federal government’s role in promoting educational accountability among states. These laws also bolstered investments in public school choice, magnet schools, and charter schools. The result has been a proliferation of school choices since 2001, particularly public charter schools.

Reform-minded Democrats, including many urban leaders of color, have courageously embraced charter schools against the wishes of the union-dominated education establishment. Republican reformers, meanwhile, have overcome their suspicion of federal intervention to accept the critical role the federal government plays in fueling charter school growth and giving parents more options about where their children attend school.

While President Bill Clinton provided early and essential support to charter schools, it was during the Bush and Obama administrations that growth really took off – from about 2,300 schools serving 600,000 students in 2001 to 6,800 schools serving more 3.1 million students last year. In more than 200 school districts across America, at least 10 percent of public school students are enrolled in charter schools. And in some cities, the share is much larger – more than 90 percent in New Orleans, around 50 percent in Washington, D.C., and about one-third in Indianapolis and Newark, N.J..

The past 16 years also spurred the growth of national charter school management organizations such as KIPP, Green Dot, and Rocketship Public Schools. Major regional charter networks have taken root as well: IDEA Public Schools consistently achieves a 100 percent college-acceptance rate among students in Texas’s economically disadvantaged Rio Grande Valley, and Success Academy has propelled low-income students from Harlem and the Bronx into the top echelons of student achievement in New York. California-based Summit Public Schools, through its partnership with Facebook, is the national leader in developing software to help students become more self-directed, independent learners.

Many single-site charter schools are providing vital options for students whose district-run schools simply haven’t worked for them. Local philanthropy has played a role in this process, but the federal government has been a driving force, making $3 billion of investments through the Charter Schools Program created in the late 1990s. Schools like Crossroads Academy of Kansas City, Mo., and Harding Fine Arts Academy in Oklahoma City relied on CSP funding to get started. Both schools diversified the learning models available to local students and have been recognized for academic achievement.

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which has conducted the most extensive studies of charter schools, finds that students – especially disadvantaged students – often gain the equivalent of weeks of extra learning by attending charter schools. This can be the result of innovative approaches to teaching and learning, or simply of giving students an environment in which learning is celebrated and they are encouraged to believe in their own abilities.

While the Bush and Obama administrations actively encouraged charter school growth and achievement – in conjunction with visionary school leaders, dedicated teachers, never-quit parents, generous philanthropists, and supportive state and local elected officials – the trend is poised to continue in the Trump administration.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke at last week’s AEI event. She recalled her own work as a charter school and choice advocate in Michigan and reiterated her commitment to fostering educational innovation by giving states and local communities more latitude to take the lead in promoting a variety of choices for students and families.

The current administration is less interested than its predecessors in using federal levers to prod states into action, but it is firmly committed to the idea that students benefit when the adults in their lives can make a choice about their education. We hope the administration will continue to show a real commitment to choice by fighting for more funds for the federal Charter Schools Program. The CSP has amply demonstrated its effectiveness in making high-quality options available to the majority of parents who want to be able to choose their child’s school.


Taming the Tuition Tiger

You can’t put a price on education, the saying goes, but if you did, it would be very high. And the cost falls on everyone.

Indeed, our economy is hampered by a two-pronged higher education problem: Collectively, Americans have racked up some $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. At the same time, that debt has been amassed by those who drop out before earning a degree and by those earning degrees with limited utility in the market.

Yet, despite growing evidence that generous federal subsidies have driven tuition increases, policymakers continue to subsidize increases in college costs, instead of tackling the drivers of student debt. Easy access to federal student aid has enabled colleges to raise tuition profligately over the past several decades. When combined with generous loan forgiveness policies, which must be paid for by taxpayers, the result has been a three-fold increase in the cost of college since the mid-1980s.

Economist Richard Vedder found that, had tuition and fees at colleges and universities grown at a rate similar to the growth prior to 1978 — before there was significant federal subsidization of tuition — college costs at state universities would be closer to just $5,000 today.

The Higher Education Act (HEA), first passed in 1965, is the trough at which universities feed. The HEA authorizes multiple federal student loan programs, as well as the federal Pell Grant Program and the federal work study program.

The HEA isn’t a safety net of last resort for students who cannot afford college; it is a luxurious hammock in which students can repose, accessing subsidized student loans with few if any credit checks or examination of their ability to repay. The federal government originates and services 90 percent of all student loans, crowding out the private lending market and placing taxpayers on the hook for student loan defaults and loan forgiveness policies.

This vicious lending-and-spending cycle serves no one well — save university administrators. The federal government makes loans available to anyone, universities raise tuition fully aware of the ease with which the federal government provides the loans — and students borrow more and more to finance college.

The best way we could begin lowering college costs would be to dramatically curtail federal student loans. Although the PROSPER Act now before Congress doesn’t fully achieve this goal, it does begin reforming the HEA in a way that will lower costs for students and unburden taxpayers.

The bill would create a single loan option for borrowers, simplifying the current nine convoluted repayment options into just two: a standard 10-year repayment plan and an income-based repayment option. Perhaps most significantly, the proposal would eliminate loan forgiveness programs. Today, students can have their loans forgiven after 20 years — a figure which drops to just 10 years if a student enters government or nonprofit work after college.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that American taxpayers are set to lose $108 billion over the next decade due to loan forgiveness policies. Loan forgiveness unfairly shifts the burden of paying for college from the student to the taxpayer, more than two-thirds of whom do not hold bachelor’s degrees themselves. At the same time, such practices enable universities to raise tuition, knowing that students will have their loans forgiven in due time.

Importantly, in addition to ending generous loan forgiveness policies, PROPSPER would also eliminate the in-school interest subsidy, which costs taxpayers nearly $8 billion per year, and isn’t well-targeted to low-income students.

Although there is more work to be done to really cut college costs, consolidating student loans, eliminating loan forgiveness, and eliminating in-school interest subsidies provides a long-overdue step toward resetting college pricing. Encouraging private lending to re-emerge would also help.

Additional reforms to accrediting processes that include alternative education opportunities, without expanding arbitrary power to executive branch officials, are among PROSPER’s further moves in the right direction.

However well-meaning federal policy on education, it’s clearly making the problem worse. It’s time for lawmakers to show that they’ve learned this very expensive lesson — and help make college more available and more affordable once again.


Meet the Anti-PC Professor

Political correctness has overtaken the higher education system — but as left wing lunacy infects campus after campus, more students and faculty are willing to stand up to the social justice mob once and for all.

One example of this is New York University's own "deplorable professor" who finally said enough was enough.

"In the fall of 2016," New York University professor Michael Rectenwald recently told The Daily Caller, "I was noting an increase of this social justice ideology on campuses, and it started to really alarm me. I saw it coming home to roost here at NYU, with the creation of the bias reporting hotline, and with the cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos talk because someone might walk past it and hear something which might 'trigger' them."

Rectenwald, himself a leftist, created an initially anonymous Twitter account, @antipcnyuprof, to speak out against that ideology and the "absolutely anti-education and anti-intellectual" classroom indoctrination he was witnessing, as well as the collectivist surveillance state that the campus was becoming, as students were urged to report each other for the sin of committing microaggressions.

In October of that year, he outed himself as the man behind the controversial Twitter account, and "all hell broke loose." He swiftly found himself the target of shunning and harassment from his colleagues and the NYU administration. In true Cultural Revolution fashion, several colleagues in his department in the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group published an open letter declaring him guilty of incorrect thinking. "The thing that is interesting here is that they were saying that because I don't think like them, I am sick and mentally ill," Rectenwald said to the Daily Caller.

Instead of kowtowing to the campus totalitarians, Rectenwald declared himself done with the Left in a February 2017 tweet ("The Left has utterly and completely lost its way and I no longer want anything to do with it.") and has gone on to become an even more fervent defender of free speech and academic freedom. He has appeared often in conservative media to discuss those issues and the harassment he has received from the Left.

Recently Rectenwald even filed a lawsuit against NYU and four of his colleagues for defamation. He consented to answering some questions for FrontPage Mag about his conflict with the NYU ideologues.

Mark Tapson: A year ago on Twitter you wrote, "Goodbye to the Left, goodbye." Can you describe your intellectual journey from "left-liberal activist" to outspoken "deplorable" and what drove that seemingly sudden transition?

Michael Rectenwald: In hindsight, I think that the transition was less sudden than it might have appeared. I had gone from a left-liberal activist to a left communist before I became "deplorable." I narrate the history of the transition in my book, discussed below. But I'll tell something of the transition here.

My public criticisms of "social justice" ideology and politically correct authoritarianism resonated with large swaths of the political right. I gained a sizeable new audience and support network — through Twitter, Facebook and via hundreds of supportive emails. I also drew backing from "cultural libertarians," as Paul Joseph Watson dubbed this newly-emergent "counterculture." It should come as no surprise that many Trumpists backed me, especially given Trump's regular (although non-specific) criticisms of political correctness.

Criticism of political correctness was supposed to be the exclusive province of the rightwing. For most observers, it was almost inconceivable that an anti-P.C. critic could come from another political quarter. Unsurprisingly, then, the majority of people who discovered my case, including some reporters, simply assumed that I was a conservative. As one Twitter troll put it: "You're anti-P.C.? You must be a rightwing nut-job." But as I explained in numerous interviews and essays, I was not a Trump supporter; I was never a right-winger, or an alt-right-winger; I was never a conservative of any variety. I wasn't even a classical John Stuart Mill liberal.

In fact, for several years, I had identified as a left or libertarian communist. My politics were to the left (and considerably critical of the authoritarianism) of Bolshevism! I published essays in socialist journals on several topics, including a Marxist critique of postmodern theory, analyses of identity politics and intersectionality theory (here and here), analyses of political economy (here and here), and an examination of the prospects for socialism in the context of transhumanism. I became a respected Marxist thinker and essayist. I had flirted with a Trotskyist sect, and later became affiliated with a loosely organized left or libertarian communist group.

It wasn't only strangers who mistook me for rightwing or conservative. So too did many who knew better. An anti-Trump mania and reactionary fervor now gripped liberals and leftists of nearly all stripes. Previously unaffiliated and warring left and liberal factions consolidated and circled the wagons. Anyone who failed to signal complete fidelity to "the resistance" risked being savaged.

After my appearance on Fox Business News, such rabid ideologues ambushed me. The social-justice-sympathetic members of the left communist group to which I belonged denounced me in a series of group emails. Several members conducted a preposterous cyber show-trial, bringing charges against me and calling for votes on a number of alleged transgressions. From what I could tell, my worst offences included appearing on Fox News, sounding remotely like a member of an opposing political tribe, receiving positive coverage in right-leaning media, and criticizing leftist milieus just as Trump became President.

I denied that these self-appointed judges held any moral authority over me and declared their arbitrations null and void. Meanwhile, the elders of the group (one a supposed friend of mine) had remained silent, allowing the abuse to go on unabated for a day. When the elders finally chimed in, they called for my official expulsion. I told them not to bother as I wanted nothing further to do with them; I quit.

In their collectivist zeal, they later stripped my name from three essays that I'd written for publication on their website, and assigned their authorship to someone else entirely. Upon discovering this fraudulence, I publicly berated them for plagiarism. A prominent member of the American Association of University Professors noticed my complaint and investigated the alleged breach of intellectual integrity. Verifying my authorship of the essays, he condemned the group's actions in a popular blog. Only then did the benevolent dictators return my name to the essays' mastheads.

Friends and acquaintances from other communities also turned on me with a vengeance, joining in the groupthink repudiation. After my appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News, the Twitter attack was so fierce, vitriolic, and sustained that my associate Lori Price and I spent a whole night blocking and muting tweeters.

But the worst banishment came from the NYU Liberal Studies community — to which I had contributed a great deal, and of which I had striven for years to be a well-regarded member. Soon after the open letter appeared, I recognized a virtual universal shunning by my faculty colleagues. One after another, colleagues unfriended and blocked me on Facebook. The few that didn't simply avoided me entirely, until I saved them the trouble and unfriended them. Most stinging were the betrayals of those who once relied on my generosity, some whose careers I had supported and considerably advanced.

Despite the harsh treatment doled out to me by the social justice left and the warm reception I received from the right, I did not become a right-winger, or a conservative. But after the social-justice-infiltrated left showed me its gnarly fangs and drove me out, I could no longer identify as a leftist.

MT: As a staunch First Amendment defender, do you think it is possible to reverse the culture of politically correct totalitarianism that seems to be dominating academia today, and how can we do that?

MR: It is possible but reversing a forty-year trend that has finally resulted in what we have today — the complete takeover of academic pedagogy, philosophy, and policy by "social justice" ideology — will take a long, sustained effort, and the support of elements of the culture outside of academe, including media pundits, writers, independent scholars, public intellectuals, and a growing body of disaffected and vocal academic apostates and other renegades willing to take risks — as Bret Weinstein, Jordan Peterson, and others, including myself, have done.

The way will be treacherous because the "social justice" left controls academic departments and administrations almost entirely, and everyone else within academia has been cowed into submission for fear of being "called out" as well. We are dealing with a Maoist-like Red Guard as we undergo a soft cultural revolution of our own. David Horowitz has been right all this time about the communists lurking in academia. Their impact has now been manifested through the "social justice" movement.

I put "social justice" in scare quotes because this term is a misnomer if there ever was one. Although the movement trades on a euphemistic name and the good will that movements that have gone by the same name have earned, including the Civil Rights movement, contemporary "social justice" has nothing to do with justice and is anything but benevolent.

It is a movement based on postmodernist theoretical notions and as I have pointed out (here and here), the postmodern adoption of Stalinist and Maoist disciplinary mechanisms, such as "autocritique" and "struggle sessions." It is totalitarian through and through. We must learn from and employ the tactics that served to defeat totalitarian leftism in the past.

MT: Apart from personal vindication, of course, is there some larger objective you are hoping to accomplish through this defamation lawsuit against NYU?

MR: I want to make clear that social justice activists cannot get away with replacing the First Amendment with their own speech codes. They are not the official arbiters of acceptable speech, despite their self-arrogation as such.

The First Amendment does not protect all speech. It does not, for example, protect speech that leads to illegal activity and/or imminent violence. It does not protect defamation, slander, or libel. The First Amendment does not protect speakers from liability for the foreseeable consequences of their speech.

The "social justice" leftists are now claiming that I am a hypocrite because I am suing over insults, and that I am seeking a safe space of my own. But they apparently do not understand the difference between an incidental differing of opinion, an insult, and the real damages of defamation. I never claimed to be a free speech absolutist. And my own exercise of free speech and so-called academic freedom amounted to criticism of the "social justice" ideology and the mechanisms prevalent in academia and beyond. I never once mentioned any individuals by name. I never once engaged in ad hominem argumentation.

My attackers, however, showed no such restraint. In fact, they maliciously and mendaciously attacked me using official university email list servs, with the explicit aim of damaging my professional reputation and destroying my career.

Meanwhile, irony, contradiction, and hypocrisy are all on their side. Based on the postmodern theoretical notion of "social and linguistic constructivism," the "social justice" left deems language use a material act. Thus, they excuse shutting down speech they disapprove of, "by any means necessary." Yet "social justice" leftists actually have no problem with truly damaging language use — as long as it's being undertaken by them, that is.

While Antifa, the "social justice" extracurricular infantry, burns down campuses to prevent the airing of "dangerous" speech, the "social justice" leftists seek safe spaces — not as protection from the violence of their compeers, but from the so-called "discursive violence" of non-PC-left speakers. Yet "social justice" ideologues undertake the most virulent forms of libel and defamation when dealing with speakers who express views at variance with their own.

Ironically, precisely while calling me a "racist," "sexist," "bully," and "Satan," I was bullied, abused and pelted with racist, sexist and other remarks that denigrated me on the basis of my race and sex or gender. The irony, double standard and hypocrisy are astounding. If the reverse had been the case, all hell would have broken loose. The defendants apparently thought that individual rights are not real and that because I am of a certain category they could make such statements with impunity. But the law doesn't agree.

So, while this suit is not merely symbolic — I have actually suffered from defamation, from malicious and mendacious speech intended to destroy me professionally and otherwise — it is also meant as a symbolic case in point, as an example to demonstrate the intent and scope of the First Amendment, which differs markedly from "social justice" speech rules. The main "social justice" speech rule is this: "social justice" leftists can say (and do) whatever they want to say (and do). And they can shut down whatever they don't want said (or done) — "by any means possible." The only problem is that they are legally wrong.

MT: You have a new book in the works about the postmodern roots of social justice ideology. Can you tell us a little about that and when we can expect it?

MR: The book is a memoir whose central argument is that the contemporary "social justice" creed and movement is the child of postmodern theory, while also incorporating some of the methods of Stalinism and Maoism. Just as postmodern theory lay dying in the academy, it gave birth to a child: "social justice" ideology.

I demonstrate the genealogy of "social justice" by recalling and retracing my own graduate education in Critical Theory (The Frankfurt School) and postmodern theory (deconstruction, poststructuralism, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, third-wave feminist theory, Science Studies, gender and transgender theory, and so on). The book explains just how social justice derives from postmodern theoretical notions and how and why these notions are not only philosophically wrong but also extremely pernicious. I recall my own indoctrination into these schools of thought, as well my emergence from them. The book is 95% complete, so hopefully it will appear in matter of a few months. The tentative (and hopefully final) title is Springtime for Snowflakes: 'Social Justice' and Its Postmodern Parent. (I am currently on the market for a new publisher.)

MT: With a title like Springtime for Snowflakes, it's bound to be a great read. Thanks, Professor Rectenwald, and congratulations on your escape from the dark side into the light!

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