Friday, August 03, 2018

Elite colleges come to Harvard’s defense in affirmative action case

Many of the nation’s most selective universities came to Harvard’s defense on Monday against a lawsuit that attacks its use of race in admissions, underscoring the potential that the case could upend diversity efforts across higher education.

While Harvard’s admissions policies may be at the center of the affirmative action lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions, colleges and universities made it clear in court filings that Harvard’s race-conscious practices are far from unusual and urged the court to uphold them.

Sixteen institutions including George Washington University, Dartmouth College, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argued that if the court prevented the use of race as a factor in admissions it would be “an extraordinary infringement on universities’ academic freedom.”

“The litigation against Harvard has the potential to undermine the ability of educational institutions to engage in careful, fair, and holistic admissions practices, and we felt it was very important to stand with our peers in support of the principle of diversity in admissions,” said Joel Malina, Cornell’s vice president for university relations, in a statement.

The universities argued that race-conscious admissions are crucial to fulfilling their academic missions and ensuring students are exposed to classmates of diverse backgrounds.

Universities across the country have their admissions lists, rejection lists, and waitlists, but Harvard’s end-of-the-admissions-line Z list is a place of both purgatory and privilege.

Students for Fair Admissions has alleged that Harvard’s admissions practices discriminate by limiting the number of Asian-American students it admits — a contention Harvard has denied.

“One of two things is true,” Students for Fair Admissions said in a statement on Monday. “Either Harvard is systematically discriminating against Asian-American applicants or the undeniable harm they suffer in the admissions process is all just a big coincidence.”

Individual universities, trade groups representing college leaders, Harvard alumni and student organizations, and current and former Harvard students were among many groups that filed legal briefs on Monday in US District Court in support of Harvard.

Conservative scholarly groups, economists, and Asian-American students rejected by Harvard in recent months filed documents backing Students for Fair Admissions.

The amicus briefs from a wide swath of outside groups offer a window into how the case, which is scheduled for trial in Boston in October, has become the latest battleground over affirmative action in university admissions. Experts anticipate it will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Harvard’s holistic approach to considering race among many other qualities in admissions has been widely adopted throughout higher education, according to court filings by the American Council on Education, a trade group that represents university leaders.

A study by the group found that 76 percent of member institutions use the holistic approach to admissions, according to the council’s court filings.

But Harvard has a “steep uphill battle” to prove its case and the university’s evidence is “hanging on by a thread,” Students for Fair Admissions, which represents several Asian-American students, responded Monday in court documents.

Students for Fair Admissions said its review of Harvard’s admissions records and documents suggests discrimination against Asian-Americans. Its expert, Duke University economist Peter Arcidiacono, found that Asian-American applicants across the academic spectrum received lower ratings on their personal traits from the university’s admissions officers than their peers. The organization also pointed to a preliminary report by Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research in 2013 that showed Asian-Americans faced a penalty in the admissions process. Harvard has said that report was incomplete and has accused the group of presenting “a deliberately misleading narrative.”

Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, has been involved in other anti-affirmative-action cases and most recently backed a challenge to race-based admissions at the University of Texas that centered on a white student. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that colleges could use race as one of many factors in admissions.

The American Council on Education suggested in court documents the lawsuit “is nothing more than a first step in a backdoor attempt to achieve the sweeping relief sought — and denied” in the Texas case.

Several more Asian-American students have joined Students for Fair Admissions and its case in recent months, court filings show.

But many Harvard student organizations have come to the university’s defense. Having significant numbers of minorities at Harvard offers under-represented students support and gives classmates a better understanding of diverse experiences, according to court documents filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on behalf of 21 student and alumni organizations.

Catherine Ho, co-president of the Harvard Asian American Women’s Association, is concerned that admissions officers show bias against Asian-American applicants. But eliminating race-conscious admission is not the answer, she said.


U.K.: School inspection chief accuses minority groups of 'entitlement' in hijab row

Amanda Spielman says school leaders must resist pressure on issues such as the headscarf

The head of Ofsted has again stepped into the debate over the wearing of the hijab by primary school pupils, accusing minority groups with a “sense of religious or cultural entitlement” of attempting to exert an outsize influence on school policy.

In a speech on Monday evening, Amanda Spielman urged school leaders to resist pressure on issues such as what children should wear or what is taught to pupils.

She highlighted a “worrying” trend in schools where headteachers were being lobbied by groups seeking to influence school policy “whether or not members of that group constitute the majority of a school’s intake”.

The importance of teaching British values in schools has become a familiar theme in the 18 months since Spielman . In her latest intervention, she urged headteachers to step up their efforts so children learn about democracy and civil society, rather than leaving a vacuum that can be filled by extremist groups.

Spielman has previously attracted criticism for her comments about the wearing of the headscarf by Muslim girls as young as five. Last year, she announced Ofsted inspectors had been told to  wearing a hijab, warning that expecting pupils to wear the headscarf “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

She also came under fire for her intervention in the case of St Stephen’s, a state primary school in east London, where the  pupils from wearing the hijab in class after an outcry from parents and others. Spielman vociferously argued it was up to headteachers to set uniform rules.

In her speech to the Policy Exchange thinktank in London, she said for some children “school may be the only time in their lives that they spend time every day with people from outside their immediate ethnic or religious group, or at least where the values of people outside their own group can be explained and openly discussed”.

She said: “Islamist extremists, particularly fuelled by the online propaganda of Daesh [Islamic State] and others, prey on a sense of isolation and alienation in some minority communities.”

Earlier this year, teachers at the annual conference of the National Education Union accused Spielman of  to girls wearing the hijab and said her remarks had gone beyond the remit of the schools’ watchdog.

In her latest foray, the chief inspector of schools in England took a defiant stance, insisting that Ofsted had a vital role in making sure that schools promote British values and vowing to continue to call out poor practice.

“For many people, the things I have been talking about today are too sensitive and too difficult for them to want to risk giving offence. They are easy things to skirt, yet the risk of doing so is great,” she said. “If we leave these topics to the likes of the English Defence League and British National party on the one hand and Islamists on the other, then the mission of integration will fail.”

She said too many pupils were being taught British values such as tolerance and democracy in a “piecemeal” fashion, with wall displays and assemblies. Instead they should be taught as part of a strong academic curriculum that would help pupils identify “fake news and siren voices”.

In a long and detailed speech, the chief inspector said the problems were confined to a small number of state schools, as well as some independent schools and unregistered provision.

She denied that Ofsted was biased against faith schools and said Muslim state schools were almost three times as likely to be judged outstanding by Ofsted than the national average, and Jewish and Christian state schools were more likely to be good or outstanding than their secular counterparts.

She also flagged up the dangers of the far right in response to a growing disenchantment with the status quo. “That disenchantment can so easily be exploited by extremists, who promise a better tomorrow by scapegoating and blaming minorities today. This is why it is right that the Prevent duty also focuses on tackling the growth of the far right.”

Responding to the speech, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed concern about a “top-down, mono-nationalist and establishment British values approach” which put the “moral onus on ethnic minorities for the supposed failures of integration”.

The MCB called on Spielman to tackle Islamophobia in schools with the same sort of gusto as she advocated British values and added: “The hijab is a religious right, and just as no one should be obligated to wear, nor must people alienate and vilify those who choose to adopt this practice.”

Mary Bousted, the National Education Union joint general secretary, accused Ofsted of being out of touch with schools on the issues of values. “The speech does nothing to help schools develop a culturally inclusive curriculum.

“Ofsted seem oblivious to the levels of racism faced by BME children and teenagers, and faced by BME professionals in education. Schools work tirelessly to support children to develop positive values – to both think for themselves and act for others. Ofsted should be supporting this work instead of making it harder.”


Australia: Young women are quite safe at university, and should be told that


"There is officially no rape crisis on our campuses." That was the headline of the news story that ran in The Australian exactly a year ago after the Australian Human Rights Commission released the results of a million--dollar survey into sexual assault and harassment.

It was disappointing news for feminist activists who had con-ducted a long campaign arguing that campuses were unsafe for young women.

Yet they managed to influence media coverage to disguise the reassuring survey results showing only 0.8 per cent of students claimed to have been sex-ually assaulted in the previous year, even using a broad definition that included being "tricked into sexual acts against their will" and incidents during travel to and from campus.

All they came up with was a high incidence of low-level harassment - mainly -involving staring and sexual jokes or comments.

Hardly a rape crisis - yet my news story was the sole mainstream report to promote the positive news. Such is the grip of these social justice warriors that stories everywhere presented the survey results as disturbing evidence of women under attack.

Vice-chancellors around the country promised new measures to address violence on campus, neatly fudging the evidence to present the worst possible picture. Writing in Guardian Australia, Lenore Taylor -denounced my news story, repeating Madeleine Albright's famous barb about "the special place in hell for women who don't help other women".

These bullying tactics have succeeded remarkably well in browbeating the university sector into an emperor's-new-clothes state of denial about our remarkably safe campuses. The survey results were ignored, reassuring evidence buried. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found universities to be about 100 times safer than the general community.

Instead we have witnessed an Orwellian display of doublespeak and deception over the issue. The campaign pretending young women are at risk of rape on -campus continues unabated. Last month Universities Australia -announced new "tools for dealing with sexual assault and harassment" that it hoped would lead to an increase in disclosures.

Reports on these new tools -detailed -numerous measures for encouraging more rape disclosures while neatly avoiding any mention of -actual AHRC findings. It was all strangely reminiscent of Tim Soutphom-ma-sane's efforts to solicit complaints about the -fam-ous Bill Leak cartoon just -before Leak died in March last year.

Later this month I was supposed to be speaking at a La Trobe Liberal Club student event, discussing whether universities really faced a rape crisis. Early this week university administrators told the club the talk could not take place because the topic didn't "align with the values of the university and the strong campaign they've been running against sexual violence on campus".

During subsequent discussion with the administrators I was told they were concerned about providing support and counselling for students who might be upset by my talk. Yesterday the university backed down in response to questions I'd posed asking it to justify shutting down -debate over the issue and to provide evidence to support its campus rape campaign. It belatedly agreed to allow the event to take place. However, it warned there might be security costs for the organisers. The Liberal Club is hoping the -August 14 event still may happen but many details need to be settled with the university.

La Trobe, like universities around the country, has introduced new sexual assault services, training for staff and students in dealing with sexual assault and harassment and sexual consent courses for all students. A BendigoAdvertiser article in April quoted La Trobe spokesman Tim Mitchell pledging still more -action, feebly adding "the university's campuses and residences were overwhelmingly safe places to be".

"End Rape on Campus" was the slogan for yesterday's national rally against sexual violence at universities funded by the Nat-ional Union of Students' women's -department, using compulsory student union fees.

Tanya Plibersek joined the media clamour -promoting this event with her article -titled "The time for decisive action on campus assault is now", noting the anniversary of the release of the AHRC survey data. "This disturbing -report found there are too many sexual assaults happening, too many going unreported and -nowhere near enough is being done to prevent and punish this abhorrent behaviour," she wrote. Her misleading tirade failed to -report the tiny sexual assault -numbers found in the survey, -instead claiming 145 reported rapes at -universities over the past five years.

Ironically, the justification for the expensive AHRC survey was the -dubious nature of such reports that were never subject to proper investigation.

Facts do not cease to exist -because they are ignored, wrote Aldous Huxley. There's a Stasiland quality to this conspiracy -between most mainstream media and universities as they kowtow to feminists and deny the truth about our safe university cam-puses - demonising young men in the process. Lying to young women about their safety is a sorry start to higher education for our bright young women.


Thursday, August 02, 2018

U.Va. Alumni Back Disputed Hiring of Trump White House Aide

Eleven prominent members of the University of Virginia’s alumni network released a letter Monday afternoon expressing support for President Donald Trump’s former legislative director, Marc Short, whose hiring as a scholar at a presidential center affiliated with the university is under partisan fire.

Short’s defenders include former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Class of ’91), conservative political commentator Kate Obenshain (’91), National Review Editor Rich Lowry (’90), and Thomas A. Saunders III, chairman of The Heritage Foundation’s board of trustees (’67).

“We join the editors of the [Richmond] Times-Dispatch to applaud your willingness thus far to stand behind Marc Short and for ‘placing education over emotion,’” the U.Va. graduates say in their letter to William J. Antholis, director and CEO of the Miller Center, who offered the one-year senior fellowship to Short.

In their letter, released at 3 p.m., Cuccinelli and the other U.Va. alumni express the importance of free speech on the Charlottesville campus, based on university founder Thomas Jefferson’s vision for the “illimitable freedom of the human mind.”

“This is the path of leadership and reason that the university is supposed to represent, and it offers hope not only for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, but the maintenance of a culture where dissent not only is tolerated but celebrated,” they write. 

Short, 48, left the Trump administration July 20 after serving since the president’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

The Miller Center describes itself as “a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history” and “strives to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing contemporary governance challenges.”

The letter supporting Short, 48, who has a master’s degree from U.Va.,  follows high-profile protests launched against the former White House aide in recent days.

Monday morning, U.Va. historians William I. Hitchcock and Melvyn P. Leffler submitted resignation letters to Antholis, citing their discontent over Short’s hiring. The two remain tenured faculty in the university’s history department, as reported by Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper.

Hitchcock and Leffler said Short did not distance himself enough from Trump’s controversial response to the violence and one death that occurred last Aug. 12 after white nationalists rallying in Charlottesville were confronted by counterprotesters. At one point, the president blamed “both sides” for the bloodshed.

A petition against Short, which has garnered about 2,500 signatures, argues that he was hired “without broad consultation with the many stakeholders affected by that decision.”

U.Va. and the Miller Center have stood behind Short’s hiring, however.

In an “explanation” posted on the Miller Center’s website, Antholis wrote that because of the Trump connection he consulted on the hiring more than he normally would, including “other senior faculty members, senior fellows, members of the center’s Governing Council, and policy professionals from both political parties.” Antholis, who worked in the Clinton White House, added:

Those who know Marc gave him high marks for his intelligence and effectiveness, not to mention his integrity and collegiality. The decision to make this appointment was ultimately mine.

Marc joins a list of other practitioners, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, who form a critical bridge for our scholars to the policy-making community, and vice versa. …

Nearly all of my colleagues—including most of those who disagree with this appointment—share my belief that service in the Trump administration should not be a bar to service at the University of Virginia or the Miller Center.

Of the violence last summer, Antholis noted: “Our Governing Council issued a sharp denunciation of the perpetrators of those events—one that Marc [Short] has read and embraced.”

“The loss of any Miller Center faculty or staff member saddens me,” Antholis told Cavalier Daily in response to the two professors’ resignations. “As much as I respect the depth of feelings on this issue, the Miller Center’s core focus on the presidency, our commitment to nonpartisanship, and our demonstrated ability to promote civil discourse must remain our principal responsibility, especially in trying times.”


Starving the Socialist/Marxist Campus Beast

"The gravest internal threat to this country is not illegal aliens; it is leftist professors."

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” —Thomas Sowell

For decades, Americans have been alarmed by the nation’s increasing levels of self-loathing, driven by the idea that Western civilization in general, and American exceptionalism in particular, are so corrupt they need “fundamental transformation.” DePaul philosophy professor Jason D. Hill puts the blame for this orchestrated contempt exactly where it belongs. “The gravest internal threat to this country is not illegal aliens; it is leftist professors who are waging a war against America and teaching our young people to hate this country,” he asserts.

Hill explains that college campuses are places where Western civilization “is equated with racism, cultural superiority and pervasive oppression,” courtesy of a “humanities and social science professoriat” whose primary agenda is to “have politicized knowledge supersede truth, objectivity, facts and genuine learning.”

How? By deriding reason itself as what Hill calls “a Eurocentric creation used to rationalize the existence of colonialism, slavery and genocide of native people.”

Hence the notion of “white privilege.” The concept remains as trendy as ever among the legions of apologists who somehow fail to see their own racism, despite their assertions that the color of one’s skin automatically confers or denies advantages. “White privilege means that you were born with an inherent advantage over every other race of people,” insists columnist Dahleen Glanton. “The whiteness of your skin alone allows you to leave the starting gate quicker and to run the race with fewer obstacles.” Glanton further claims that “blacks and Latinos have never gotten an equal shake. When affirmative action sought to level the playing field, white people got mad and put an end to it.”

First, affirmative action remains alive and well, especially on college campuses, courtesy of the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the “educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” Second, it isn’t white students who are challenging this odious status quo. A group of Asians — members of a minority group that is almost always omitted from any conversation about “oppression” because their success eviscerates every justification for it — is suing Harvard University for discrimination in its admission policies. When Harvard’s “holistic” admissions practices get a full airing in court — practices the university currently insists must remain confidential — it will be fascinating to learn which group of minority applicants have been allowed to “run the race with fewer obstacles.”

In the meantime, the identity politics, victimology and multiculturalism at the heart of the campus grievance culture remain in play, and as Hill notes, they have “reached such astronomical heights in U.S. universities that trigger warnings are issued for students who feel oppressed and traumatized because they have to read the writings of living or dead white men.”

Such infantilization doesn’t stop there. Students who feel emotionally traumatized by such “horrors” as dissenting viewpoints, or the election of Donald Trump (an “oh, the humanity!” moment for the Snowflake Set if ever there was one), have been assuaged with Play-Doh, coloring books, Legos, hot chocolate, and puppy videos, all while ensconced in “safe spaces.”

Those safe spaces, sold as places where identity politics-addled students could “discuss problems they shared in a forum where they were sheltered from epithets and other attacks,” as columnist Frank Furedi put it, have become segregated spaces, highlighted by the University of California’s acquiescence to black students’ demands for segregated dorm rooms. Segregated dorm rooms they laughingly tried to rationalize by calling them “themed living communities.”

“When everyone retreats to their separate corners,” Furedi writes, “that subverts the foundation on which a tolerant and liberal university is constituted.”

On today’s college campuses that subversion is a feature, not a bug. It is reinforced by an explosion of campus bureaucrats who now “outnumber faculty 2:1 at public universities and 2.5:1 at private colleges, double the ratio in the 1970s,” and whose primary reason for being is to enforce campus “diversity” standards, The Economist reveals.

Thus, unsurprisingly, tuition costs have soared over 1,100% in the past four decades and precipitated an average of more than $30,000 of student debt for 68% of 2015 bachelor’s degree recipients.

This noxious stew, one that engenders demands for “free” college educations, along with numerous other aspects of the socialist/Marxist agenda on campus, is the “educational trope that mediates all forms of learning in today’s universities,” Hill explains. “Rejecting canonical texts and their alleged white supremacist authors is related to advancing socialism,” he adds. “Both appeal to a politics of victimology that purportedly only an emergent brand of post-colonial Marxism could solves.”

Post-colonial Marxism it all its jackboot emanations remains in full swing at places like the University of Michigan, whose speech code prohibits saying anything “bothersome” or “hurtful.” The code is enforced by “bias response teams” tasked with investigating its violations — on or off campus. At Pierce College in Los Angeles, First Amendment rights are confined to a 616 sq. ft. “free speech area” requiring campus administrative authorization to enter it. And Berkeley, Middlebury College, and Evergreen State University are places where conservatives (and insufficiently “pure” leftists) have been shouted down or driven off campus, sometimes in fear for their lives.

In the meantime, reality bites. According to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers student graduates aren’t nearly as proficient in the competencies deemed necessary to enter the workforces as they think they are. In fact, the gap between students’ self-perception and that of potential employers is considerable.

Nonetheless, Hill worries about the bigger picture. “If elitist scholars infect the minds of our students with anti-Americanism, who will defend America when those who truly threaten us from the outside descend with intent of destroying our republic?” he asks.

It’s the wrong question. Who is going defend America against the legions of semi-educated students whose increasing infatuation with socialism is bad enough, but far less problematic than a University of Chicago GenForward Survey of Americans, ages 18 to 34, revealing that “62 percent believe we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems.”

Strong government? How remarkably ill-informed. Our Constitution is the most compelling argument in world history for limited government. That colleges have become indoctrination centers promoting the benefits of strong government — in all its Constitution- and Liberty-shredding parameters — is nothing less than organized subversion.

Hill wants to put stop to it. “Withdraw your support and leave them to fund themselves,” he urges university donors. “Let them pit their wares on the free market, where they will be left homeless. The world you desired no longer exists in our universities. It lies elsewhere, in a philosophic system waiting to be discovered or created.”

President Donald Trump is indirectly abetting the effort. Via executive order, he has established the National Council for the American Worker, an initiative aimed at steering both students and older workers toward high-demand jobs. As the New York Post notes, “the Council hopes to shift the popular mindset that every child must go to college.”

It is a shift millions of Americans would heartily embrace.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to roll back the "gainful employment" rule promulgated by the Obama administration

Another damaging Obama regulation is heading for the ash heap, which is great news for students.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reporting that the Department of Education is planning to fully rescind the “gainful employment” regulations promulgated by the Obama administration.

Those regulations largely target proprietary or “for-profit” institutions of higher education. They require vocational programs, along with some programs at community colleges, to achieve certain debt-to-income ratios for their graduates. That is, students who participate in those programs must have a certain level of income in comparison with their student debt: Loan repayments can constitute no more than 8 percent of their earnings, and no more than 20 percent of their discretionary income.

Schools are considered to be in the “warning zone” and risk losing access to student loans and grants if their graduates have debt-to-earnings ratios between 8 and 12 percent or between 20 and 30 percent of their discretionary income. Institutions whose students have debt in excess of 12 percent of their earnings or in excess of 30 percent of their discretionary income are considered to have failed the gainful employment rule.

This is a classic government-knows-best policy that would have significantly limited choices for students. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is right to roll back the policy.

The Obama gainful employment rule was clearly designed to affect certain types of schools. The rule was not applied evenly across all institutions—traditional four-year colleges were insulated from it. Yet, if the regulation were extended to traditional colleges offering gainful employment-eligible programs, they would also largely fail the measure. This suggests the rule’s application to for-profit schools was more about politics than prudent policy.

This rule would have placed unrealistic expectations on many graduates. Considering that the average college graduate holds $29,000 in student loan debt, students would have to earn more than $32,000 upon graduation to fulfill the 8 percent debt-to-earnings ratio. What’s more, the average debt-to-earnings ratio among all graduates of U.S. institutions broadly is 13 percent, and for more than a third of those students, the ratio is 12 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Specifically, 26 percent of graduates from public universities, 39 percent of graduates from private universities, and 35 percent of graduates from for-profit institutions had debt-to-earnings ratios higher than 12 percent in 2009. For-profit schools actually fared better on this measure than private universities, and only 9 percentage points worse than public four-year institutions.

Simply put, the arbitrary 8 to 12 percent standard would be disastrous if applied evenly to schools across the board, as many programs and four-year public institutions would fail the gainful employment rules. Yet the Obama administration chose to target proprietary institutions and some programs at community colleges while shielding other schools. Marc Jerome of the James G. Martin Center explains:

The School of Visual Arts is a well-respected, highly competitive fine arts and design college in New York that happens to be for-profit. It has a high graduation rate (66 percent), a low student loan default rate (7 percent), and a low number of defaulters (59). These are exemplary outcomes, but because its graduates pursue creative and fine art careers that do not pay very much the first few years after graduation, many of its programs won’t pass the regulation. … [V]irtually all programs at fine arts colleges in the country would fail the rule. However, only for-profit programs like those at the School of Visual Arts would be penalized and ultimately shut down as a result. The non-profit schools get a free pass.

In addition to unfairly targeting proprietary schools, the rule limits options for students. As Harry C. Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, explained in a congressional hearing:

The black-owned businesses that I represent rely on graduates of proprietary colleges targeted by the recent gainful employment rule. These proprietary colleges serve minority, low-income, and high-risk students at much greater numbers than traditional four-year institutions and have more success doing it. As issued by the Department of Education, the gainful employment rule will limit college access to scores of minority students.

Rolling back the gainful employment rule is smart policy that will ensure students have access to a wide variety of higher education options to help them achieve their life and career goals. One caveat, however. The New York Times reports:

The Education Department wrote in the draft rule that it planned to update the scorecard with information about specific programs for all colleges and universities that are eligible for federal financial aid, ‘thus improving transparency and providing information to students to inform their enrollment decisions through a market-based accountability system.’

Adding new reporting requirements to the federal college scorecard isn’t ideal, but it is preferable to a politicized gainful employment rule that targets the proprietary sector, threatens students attending these schools with the loss of student loans and grants, and ultimately, limits choices for students.

Many students seek out vocational training as a means of establishing a meaningful, long-term career in a critical field. The government should not penalize them for that choice.


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

UK: Pupils unable to read is 'a scandal', says minister

This is pissing into the wind.  What is proposed will not even scratch the surface.  The one thing that we know helps social mobility is Grammar Schools.  They should be made available nationwide

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says it is a "scandal" that some children still start school unable to speak in full sentences or read simple words. Children who start school behind their peers rarely catch up - "the gap just widens", he will say in a speech.

He has pledged to halve the number of pupils starting school behind in early talking and reading skills by 2028.

A group of companies and charities have been brought together to work out how best to support families in England.

Educational researchers have long said that social mobility - or the lack of it - starts at home with what's known as the home learning environment.

The idea is that a home with a lot of books and other early learning materials, plus engaged parents giving their children quality time, talking with them and teaching them how to make letter sounds, for example, provides a good start.

But not all parents feel able to offer this kind of home environment or realise the importance of it.

'Not lecturing parents'

Researchers from the Education Policy Institute last week said the development gap between England's poorest pupils, and the others, was already at 4.3 months in the early years.

And that it grew to 9.4 months by the end of primary school.

Mr Hinds will say, in the speech in London, that this early gap has a "huge impact on social mobility".

"The truth is the vast majority of these children's time is at home.

"Yes the home learning environment can be, understandably, the last taboo in education policy - but we can't afford to ignore it when it comes social mobility.

"I don't have interest in lecturing parents here... I know it's parents who bring up their children, who love them. who invest in them in so many ways, who want the best for their children.

"But that doesn't mean extra support and advice can't be helpful."

The Department for Education says 28% of children in England do not have the required language skills by the end of Reception.

Children who communicate well early tend to do better in their lives.  But this rises to much higher percentages in deprived areas.

Mr Hinds will also say he is particularly keen to use technology to build awareness of what parents can do to boost early language development.

The speech comes a few months after communication charities, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, published their own report on the lack of progress on improving speech and language services over the past decade.

It was based on responses to a major independent cross-government review of such services chaired by John Bercow, which was published 10 years ago.

Bercow 10 Years On said that communication was crucial to children's life chances but awareness of its importance among the public and decision-makers was not sufficient.

Services were inaccessible and inequitable, it said, and too often support for children's speech, language and communication needs was based on the available resources, rather than what was needed, leading to great variations across the country.

It also said some measures shown to have worked well had been cut to save money.

The government is yet to respond to that report.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of I Can, the children's communication charity, welcomed the plans but said the coalition of companies and charities must include experts with experience of supporting children with speech, language and communication needs.

"Research shows that in some areas of deprivation 50% of children are starting school well behind their peers in language development.

"Without support, the gap between these children and other children will continue to widen, year on year, putting their life chances at risk."


STUDY: ‘Trigger Warnings’ Are Harmful To College Students

College professors and administrators use “trigger warnings” to warn students about material that may upset them, such as depictions of rape and violence. The American public has had some version of these warnings for decades, most recognizably as movie or video game ratings.

But in recent years, students have been receiving trigger warnings on a new range of material, including classical literature such as Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” because of a passage about the Greek goddess Persephone’s rape.

A new study from Harvard University psychologists, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, found that such an overuse of trigger warnings can actually be harmful to those who are exposed to them.

Psychologists Benjamin Bellet, Payton Jones, and Richard McNally took 270 American research subjects and divided them into two groups. One group was given a “trigger warning” before reading each of 10 passages from classic literature, where five of those pieces contained explicit material such as descriptions of murder.

The “trigger warning” group proved far more likely to suggest passages containing distressful language would cause themselves and others emotional distress had they experienced trauma.

Social psychologist Craig Harper wrote at Medium that the results of this study could have far-reaching cultural effects.

“This finding could have significant implications in the context of ongoing cultural debates about the power of language in reinforcing perceived oppression,” Harper wrote. “That is, if we are telling students that words are akin to violence and can cause harm, and then giving them trigger warnings to compound that message, we risk increasing immediate anxiety responses rather than decreasing them.”

Harper notes that the study is limited in its scale, and its use of non-students and exclusion of participants who had experienced trauma.

But he notes that the research lines up with the writing of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, who in 2015 wrote an article in The Atlantic claiming that trigger warnings would result in mental health damage. Part of the problem Lukianoff and Haidt found was that “trigger warnings” allowed students to avoid material that may upset them, which would further their fears and prevent them from healing.

“According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, the very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided,” Lukianoff and Haidt wrote, before explaining that someone with a fear of elevators would not be told to avoid them, but rather to gradually engage with them until they were comfortable to use one. “Trigger warnings,” on the other hand, reinforce the fear and compound anxiety.

Another problem with such warnings is that they achieve the exact opposite effect from their intentions. From Harper:

To some people, trigger warnings are an essential part of the classroom. They’re seen as a way to make ‘marginalized’ students (as is the current vernacular for describing ethic, sexual, and gender minorities, those with disabilities, and those with histories of abuse) feel like they are more included in the classroom.

This is essentially “othering” people who might take offense and assuming all people of a marginalized group need to be protected from words. It’s infantilism.

This is just one, limited, study, but it’s something colleges need to consider.


Revealed: The university degrees most likely to land you a high salary - and the ones that will leave you struggling

Most Australian students are heading into their second semester for the year and likely thinking about job prospects once graduation season begins.

And while many pursue degrees because they have a passion for that chosen field, when it comes to how much they'll be paid on a graduate salary, that varies depending on what they studied and what gender they are.

The median salary of all undergraduates employed full-time in 2017 according to the Department of Education and Training was $60,000 which is an increase of $2,100 from 2016 - and men were paid higher wages across the board.

For those who chose to study dentistry (which on average costs $53,770 for five years) they will be paid the highest gross salary of $80,000 in their first year out of university.

Medicine ($64,524 for six years) and engineering ($36,740 for four years) follow close behind with $65,000 and $62,000 respectively.

If you've undertaken the recommended four year course to become a lawyer or paralegal, which costs students $43,016 in total, you'll be looking at a $60,000 wage in your first year.

And rounding out the list in fifth place are teachers who, after four years and $25,776 of HECS debts, will secure $60,000 at their very first school.

On the other side of the spectrum are five fields of study that will hardly cover the costs of doing the degree during your first year out of university.

Interestingly pharmacy is at number one, which takes four years and costs $36,740, because you're only looking to get $41,600 as a graduate.

Creative arts (three years) and communications (three years) follow because they both cost $19,332 to do but give you $45,000 and $46,000 respectively after you receive your diploma.

Tourism (three years) comes in at number four on the list with the degree costing $32,262 and earning the student $48,000.

And six long hard years of studying veterinary science (which costs $64,524) will wind up having you lose money by earning $49,600 in your first year.

In between these sectors there are prospects for those endeavouring to study mathematics ($57,500 first year salary), computing and information systems ($59,900), architecture ($56,400), nursing ($60,000), psychology ($57,600) and social work ($62,600).

Career Development Association of Australia's (CDAA) president Wanda Hayes said there were clear benefits enjoyed by university graduates that those who aren't tertiary-educated get.

'But we know that once you're in [some organisations], there is a ceiling that you can pass through if you have a degree, which you can't pass through if you don't have a degree,' she told the ABC.

Ms Hayes said those with degrees generally had lower rates of unemployment and lower rates of underemployment across their working lives - meaning more money.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How do you get into Harvard? For the lucky few, there’s the Z list

More Harvard corruption

Getting into Harvard requires top grades, impressive extracurricular pursuits, and a dynamic personality. But there’s another way in: the Z list. Never heard of it? That’s generally the way Harvard likes to keep it.

But according to filings in the recent affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard, the university’s records show that every year about 60 students — mostly white and well-connected — enter Harvard through what is called the Z list. There’s a catch, though: These applicants are required to defer the start of college for a year.

Universities across the country have their admissions lists, rejection lists, and waitlists, but Harvard’s end-of-the-admissions-line Z list is a place of both purgatory and privilege. And it holds a rare spot in higher education, college experts say.

Few colleges and universities offer an option for students who may have missed the cut for regular admission to the freshman class but have enough pull or potential to earn a place in the next year’s class. And if they do, they’re keeping mum.

Harvard’s own Z list has, for decades, been shrouded in secrecy.

“I have heard of the Z list, but I don’t know much about it, and I’m not really sure who does . . . and would divulge,” said Allison Matlack, a private college counselor based in Needham, echoing the sentiment of many other admissions experts.

But the lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions that claims Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants is drawing back the curtain on the Z list and raising questions about whether it should even exist.

According to five years of admissions data and internal e-mails and documents that Harvard had to provide Students for Fair Admissions for the court case, about 50 to 60 students in the college’s freshman class of more than 1,600 students enter through the Z list process.

They are predominantly (70 percent) white students, and nearly half have parents who attended Harvard. Just a few are economically disadvantaged, and nearly 60 percent are drawn from a special list kept by the dean that includes children of significant donors and potential donors. As a group, their test scores and academic records fall somewhere in between students who were rejected from Harvard and those who got in.

Even in court documents, Harvard skirts the term Z list, referring to the practice as “deferred admission,” instead. Harvard’s foes have no such qualms in their legal filings.

Harvard declined to answer specific questions about the Z list, but university officials cited previous reports by the college that suggest legacy admissions is a way to foster a stronger loyalty and community among alumni and further grow the school’s vast-by-any-measure $37 billion endowment. Harvard’s admissions officials believe these students can benefit from a gap year as an opportunity to grow and mature.

Still, Harvard’s eminence and its reluctance to talk explicitly about the Z list — who gets selected, how they’re picked, even how the list earned its name — has made it the stuff of lore.

‘I’m happy for any way a kid can get to go to a dream school.’

It’s not detailed on Harvard’s admissions website, and Internet chat boards are filled with rumors and anonymous tidbits about this admissions quirk. It’s been mentioned in just a handful of articles in Harvard’s student newspaper, The Crimson, and in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden’s book “The Price of Admission.”

“Can someone tell me what a ‘Z’ list is in this case? I know what a Z-list celebrity is, but not this,” a Washington, D.C., parent posted on an online discussion board last year.

“What happens after not taking off wait list? Does this secret process Z list happen? How would we know if offered Z list?” another person posted on the College Confidential website.

“Do you request? Or would you get a call or e-mail?” another curious poster asked.

At Harvard, which zealously guards its admissions formula, the Z list (supposedly named by a lower-level worker in the admissions office for the last group of students admitted, according to The Crimson) may be among its most impenetrable practices.

However, the legal filings in the US District Court case confirm what many Internet posters and college experts have long suspected about the Z list.

It’s a backdoor channel to get into Harvard, said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, who is an expert witness for Students for Fair Admissions.

“Eliminating this preferential program for largely white, wealthy, and well-connected students would be an important way to increase Harvard’s racial and socioeconomic diversity,” Kahlenberg said.

Harvard in its filings disagrees that eliminating the Z list would improve diversity. In fact in court documents, Harvard argues that dropping race-conscious admissions, the Z list, and practices common to many schools, such as, giving advantages to children of alumni and donors, and recruited athletes, would reduce the number of African-American and Hispanic students by half.

Harvard looks at multiple factors in offering admissions, officials said in a statement.

“Harvard College is committed to admitting a freshman class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, from its capacity for academic excellence to its ability to help create a campus community that gives each student the opportunity to learn from peers with a wide variety of academic interests, perspectives, and talents,” said Rachael Dane, a Harvard spokeswoman.

Harvard may be reluctant to end the Z list for other reasons, too.

The Z list is a way for Harvard to keep its alumni and donors happy while maintaining its reputation as a highly selective college, said Bev Taylor, the founder of New York-based Ivy Coach.

A handful of students that Taylor has counseled through the admissions process have gotten into Harvard through the Z list. All had some legacy connection to Harvard and families willing to donate to the school — anywhere from $1 million over four years to several millions — Taylor said.

And though Harvard’s offer came late in the admissions process and the gap year wasn’t always planned, most students accepted the conditions. They traveled, participated in gap-year programs, or worked for their parents’ companies, she said.

One student rejected the offer and went to Yale University instead, concerned that he would be at loose ends with the year off, Taylor said.

“We were thrilled they had that avenue,” Taylor said of the Z list. “I’m happy for any way a kid can get to go to a dream school.”

Other Ivy League institutions, such as Brown University and Princeton University, said they do not have a deferred admission program such as Harvard’s Z list. Cornell University for the past 30 years has offered some rejected high school seniors a chance to transfer to the campus in the following year, after they complete their freshman year at another school and earn satisfactory grades. About a quarter of Cornell’s approximately 750 annual transfer students come through the program, but it has no relation to donor or legacy status, said John Carberry, a university spokesman.

Harvard’s Z list is such an anomaly that some students sometimes wonder if it’s a prank.

“Funnily enough, I turned down the call from an unknown Cambridge number,” a student, who was accepted onto Harvard’s Z list, posted on Reddit a few months ago. The student acknowledged that his mother had gone to Harvard and given the college some money.

Idabelle Paterson, 19, from Connecticut had never heard about the Z list until she got the call from Harvard’s admissions office while in gym class last year. Paterson said she isn’t sure why she made the list, since nobody in her family attended Harvard and she doesn’t know anybody who gave to the university.

“It was so terrifying and exciting and shocking,” said Paterson who just finished up her gap year and is planning to attend Harvard in the fall. She had already committed to Johns Hopkins University when she got her phone call from Harvard. She had two weeks to decide.

Paterson said she has spent the year interning at a museum, traveling to New Zealand for a month, waitressing, and attending Harvard’s archeological field school program abroad. The gap year helped her learn to be independent, she said.

But she sometimes worried about how it might affect her place among the men and women of Harvard, she said.

“I did struggle with the feeling that I hadn’t truly gotten in, that I was not qualified enough, that I was not as legitimate as everyone else who got in,” Paterson said. “Now I know that I got there the same as anyone else, just via a slightly longer and less common path.”


Scotland: Language courses at risk amid staff shortage

With weeks to go until lectures begin, some modern language courses for teachers at leading universities are half empty. There is already a widespread recruitment crisis in the profession.

At the University of the West of Scotland only 11 of 20 places for one-year postgraduate teacher training courses in modern languages in secondary schools had been filled by mid-July.

Of 22 places at the University of Edinburgh, only eight had been taken. The University of Aberdeen filled its places, but it offered only seven.

For the primary school English and Gaelic teaching course at the University of Highlands and Islands, 59 students had been secured against a target of 84.

The figures are not final and may change if students apply late or change their minds about taking the courses, but the sector is not expecting to hit targets for language teachers this year.

A spokesman for the University of the West of Scotland said: “At this stage, and in line with the rest of the sector, we do anticipate that we may be under target for modern languages.”

There are already significantly fewer language teachers than there were a decade ago, despite head teachers being expected to deliver an ambitious plan in which pupils have the chance to learn two additional languages. There were 722 French teachers last year, compared with 1070 in 2008. Over the same period the number of German teachers has almost halved, to 100. The number of Spanish teachers has increased from 64 to 107.

The number of pupils taking languages in schools has plummeted. In 2007 there were more than 56,000 pupils taking modern languages at Standard Grade level. By 2016, under the new exam system, this had fallen to just over 23,000. Critics have blamed teacher shortages for limits to the numbers of subjects being offered in schools.

Iain Gray, education spokesman for Scottish Labour, said: “With fewer young people studying modern languages, fewer people are doing it at university and therefore fewer people are available to teach it. It is a vicious circle that will damage Scotland’s economic future. We have already seen the impact in the shape of plummeting modern language qualifications. The SNP government must urgently review these figures and ensure everything possible is being done to recruit and retain modern languages teachers.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “Teacher numbers — including secondary teachers — are increasing, and the ratio of pupils to teachers is at its lowest since 2010. We have also increased student teacher intake targets for the seventh year in a row and are setting targets to train teachers in the subjects where they are needed most.

“Our ambition is to expand and improve learning and teaching in modern languages and STEM learning so that young people are equipped with the skills they need in an increasingly globalised world.”


Australia: Why students aren’t prepared for life after school

THERE’S a point in adulthood where many of us step back and go, “Christ, I am not prepared for any of this.”

And a lot of it falls on our schooling. We spent years learning to measure the angles of a triangle, but navigating our taxes remains a nightmare. We memorised quotes from every Shakespearean tragedy ever written, but networking events can put the fear of God in us.

The narrative goes that if you study hard, get high scores and land a spot at a good university, you’ll breeze into a decent job.

But worrying research shows this is definitely not the case — and it’s the next generation of workers that face a big struggle.


Concerning new research has found students are not adequately equipped to brave the workforce, due to an emphasis on school tests like NAPLAN and the ATAR results.

The Mitchell Institute report stresses the importance of teaching about life after school, saying “trade-offs within the curriculum will be necessary”.

The report suggested a key issue was focusing on scores that could be numerically measured, like the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) tests, rather than the workplace.

“Narrow proxy measures of academic achievement are made a priority — as demonstrated by the emphasis that many schools place on lifting NAPLAN results and Australian Tertiary ATARs.”

As a result, many young people are disengaging from learning, and failing to hone the life skills necessary for the world outside of school. approached around a dozen university students to ask what they wish they’d learnt in high school.

Lazarus, 23, who is studying a Master of Physiotherapy at the University of Technology, Sydney, said he wished he had learnt more about networking, and knowing the right way to approach prospective employers.

His friend Daniel, doing the same degree, added that he wished he’d been taught how to finetune resumes before starting university.

While most students felt confident doing their taxes, they said “money management” was a big thing they wish they knew, including how to save and what to invest in.

Mitchell Institute Policy Analyst Kate Torii stresses the importance of learning “real world” skills like networking.

“Exposure to the world of work provides opportunities for students to build connections with professionals outside their usual family networks, and to learn by “doing” in real world contexts,” she wrote in The Conversation.

“This offers some valuable benefits — enriching school learning, building students’ employability, and helping them develop the capabilities (such as problem solving, collaboration, and resilience) that we know are valued in work and life.”


This isn’t the first report to address concerns about how we’re failing our students.

Last month, research by Year13 found high school students were focused on picking subjects as a means of maximising their ATAR score — at the expense of expanding their skill sets.

Saxon Phipps, founder and director of Year13, told young people believe they can gain a higher ATAR result by choosing easier subjects.

For example, a student who should be doing Extension Mathematics might do the easier General course as a means of scoring higher in that subject.

“There’s a huge societal pressure,” he said. “Even if they don’t use their ATAR score, they’re doing it for the glory that comes with a higher mark.”

In addition to contributing to mental health issues, this meant students weren’t adequately prepared for the outside world upon graduating high school.

And to what benefit? The university dropout rate is higher than ever, with recent Federal Government figures showing that students packing in their degrees has reached its highest levels in a decade.

At the same time, only 71 per cent of graduates were able to secure a job straight out of university, while almost 15 per cent were still unemployed four years after graduating.

In 1986, it took university graduates an average of one year to gain full-time employment. It now takes almost five years.

Earlier this year, Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel called for a broader discussion into how the skills students learnt in school could be applied to real life when they graduated.

“The total percentage of people studying advanced mathematics has almost halved between 1992 and 2012, from 16 to 9 per cent,” Dr Finkel told “Maths in particular is a core enabler of all STEM subjects. It’s the language of science.

“There could be some misinterpretation here, but it seems kids are consistently being told to pick subjects that maximise their ATAR rankings.”

He also said every single parent, teacher, student and careers adviser needed to at least understand how the ATAR system worked.

“We want young people to study the most advanced studies they’re capable of, and for the doors of opportunity to remain open,” Dr Finkel said.

“Every time a kid gets the wrong message, that door slams shut.”

A review of the curriculum is expected by 2020.


Monday, July 30, 2018

Harvard still in denial

Harvard strenuously denied allegations that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants and sought to discredit the legal challenge to its admissions policies in court documents filed Friday.

The Ivy League college, whose admissions practices are at the center of a federal affirmative action lawsuit, argued that it values the ethnic backgrounds of its Asian-American applicants and has not capped the number of students it lets in based on their race.

Harvard called the statistical analysis done by Students for Fair Admissions, which mounted the discrimination lawsuit, “deeply flawed,” fostering a “misleading narrative.” The university offered a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal to what it described as the plaintiff’s “900 paragraphs of supposedly undisputed facts — many of which are neither undisputed nor even facts,” according to court documents.

Harvard’s filings on Friday were the first formal response to allegations by Students for Fair Admissions that the school limits the number of Asian-American applicants it accepts and that across the academic spectrum those applicants receive lower ratings on their personal traits from the university’s admissions officers than their peers.

Both Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions, which represents several Asian-American students, presented summaries of their evidence in the case in June. But Harvard insisted that Students for Fair Admissions’ arguments thus far fall short of proving intentional discrimination, and fail to meet the standards for a quick judgment on the organization’s behalf.

Harvard called its opponent’s June filing a “45-page press release, devoted to presenting a misleading narrative that is manifestly subject to genuine dispute,” according to court documents.

Judge Allison D. Burroughs has indicated that a trial is likely, and has already scheduled a start date for Oct. 15 in federal court in Boston.

Edward Blum, leading the charge on behalf of Students for Fair Admissions, said the organization will present its counter to Harvard on Monday.

In a statement he said, “Students for Fair Admissions looks forward to presenting our case at trial in October at which time the remaining redacted data, memos, emails and depositions Harvard refuses to disclose will be made public.”

Last year, 22 percent of Harvard’s admitted students were Asian-American, 15 percent were black, and 12 percent were Hispanic.

Harvard has sought to keep much of its admissions information under wraps, citing protection of its students and the exposure of potential trade secrets about how it determines who among more than 40,000 applicants will be offered fewer than 1,700 seats each year.

The high-stakes case could transform how colleges consider race in admissions and is being closely watched by university leaders, legal scholars, conservative and liberal interest groups, and the US Department of Justice.

Blum, the organization’s president, has been involved in other anti-affirmative-action cases and most recently backed a challenge to race-based admissions at the University of Texas that centered on a white student. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that colleges could use race as one of many factors in admissions.

But the Harvard case opens a new front against affirmative action, charging that it hurts Asian-American college applicants.

Several outside groups are likely to file their own briefs in the case next week. The Justice Department under President Trump has urged schools to drop race-conscious admissions policies and earlier this month overturned Obama-era guidelines on affirmative action, a signal some experts said that the federal government also will get involved in the Harvard case.

“It’s the affirmative action wars here,” said Anthony Carnevale, the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, who has studied college access.

Elite schools such as Harvard are models for other colleges,and the case and discussions that come out of it will probably have reverberations across higher education, Carnevale said.

Experts also expect the case to ultimately reach the Supreme Court in the coming years.

As part of its case against the university, Students for Fair Admissions tapped Duke University economist Peter Arcidiacono for its analysis of six years of Harvard’s admissions data. Arcidiacono’s analysis found that many more Asian-American contenders for Harvard’s freshman slots were described as “standard strong” — a phrase that Harvard uses to describe applicants with strong qualities but not strong enough to merit admission — even when they performed better academically than students of other races who were so described by admissions officers.

But Harvard said Friday that describing students as “standard strong” was not an “epithet.” In fact, Harvard argued, it doesn’t penalize Asian-Americans based on their race, but values their experience in the admissions process. Harvard said it trains its admissions officers to understand the nuances between various Asian-American communities and to avoid treating them as a bloc.

In its filings, the university pointed out that Harvard’s admissions officers highlighted how one student’s parents were born in Tibetan refugee camps in India and that another Vietnamese applicant was the first in the family to go to college and was the valedictorian for an un-named citywide magnet school.

Harvard also criticized Arcidiacono’s methodology because he excluded applicants who are given an extra boost in the process, including recruited athletes and students of alumni, which reduces the sample pool and magnifies gaps between racial groups.

While Students for Fair Admissions acknowledged and outlined these practices in court documents, Harvard said leaving that information out of the core data analysis skewed the results.

Harvard said its opponents “cherry-picked” information to support their case.

Harvard contends that its evidence shows that it uses race appropriately in admissions and that Asian-Americans were not penalized in the process. Having a diverse student body is a cornerstone of its education, Harvard insists.

Both Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions are likely to see various outside groups coming to their defense in the coming weeks.

Jin Hee Lee, senior deputy director of Litigation with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., said the case, which seeks to overturn affirmative action, isn’t just about Asian-American students.

The case “goes to the heart of what the university should be,” said Lee, who is representing Harvard student and alumni groups that will be filing in support of the university next week.

For centuries, Harvard was open to only wealthy, white, men, and many fear that if the university loses the case, it could be a step back in who has access to the Ivy League school, Lee said.

“This case is important and people feel very strongly about it,” Lee said.


Britain's teachers of terror: How extremists infiltrated classrooms

Twenty-four hours after Khuram Butt led his last Quranic class for the young children of an English Islamic school in June 2017, he strapped on a fake suicide vest, pumped himself up with steroids and committed a terrorist atrocity.

The dedicated extremist led three men in a murderous attack on the capital’s London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians and embarking on a frenzy of stabbing that left eight dead and dozens injured before they themselves were shot dead by police.

What was not known at the time was that for four months before the attack, the 27-year-old had been given the opportunity to mould the minds of young Muslims at the fee-paying Eton community school on the outskirts of London. He had no Arabic, no specialist knowledge and was unsupervised despite a conviction for violence.

The fallout from the murders and the scandal of the unsupervised sessions concluded this month with the school’s head receiving a life ban from teaching. But documents seen and interviews conducted by The National have revealed flaws within the British schooling system that allowed extremism like Butt’s to flourish unchecked.

Even before the revelation of his involvement in lessons, the school had remained open despite its founder being exposed in the media as a key player for the now banned extremist group Al Muhajiroun.

His wife was the school's former head teacher but she had tried to hide their relationship from the authorities. Sophie Rahman described laws that ensured schools play their part in identifying potential extremism as an attempt to "silence" Muslims speaking out against "state structured discrimination".

And yet just months before the school was effectively closed by its landlord – a Muslim charity dedicated to countering radicalisation – officers for the English education inspection agency, Ofsted, found the school’s leaders had taken effective action to ensure a "far more robust" safeguarding culture in the school.

"Either the inspectors are not up to the job, they don’t ask the right questions or … they’re not probing deeply enough,” said Mike Gapes, the local member of parliament, who had previously raised concerns about the school in the House of Commons. "It's either that, or they're having the wool pulled over their eyes by a school who created a facade while the really extremist stuff was happening behind."

The case follows another scandal earlier this year when it emerged that an administrator tried to recruit a 300-strong children’s army at a different independent Muslim school to act as a “death squad sent by Allah” and carry out terrorist attacks. Inspectors had once described the school as “outstanding”, despite such activity being at its height.

The cases have exposed the failings of an inspection regime that has been subject to constant financial cuts over more than a decade, resulted in a shortage of monitors and cut the quality of their work, the UK’s spending watchdog said in May.

In the case involving Butt, the school in Ilford, Essex – initially named Ad-Deen Islamic Primary School – opened in September 2009, charging £2,040-a-year to provide “very high quality academic education alongside classical Islamic culturing,” according to the establishment's website.

The school’s social media sites showed pictures of happy children making and selling cakes, collecting money for people suffering in Syria, and painting. The reality behind the pictures told a different story.

Its proprietor and main shareholder, Sajeel Shahid, set up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan that was attended by the leader of the July 7, 2005, attacks on the London transport network that killed 52 people.

Mr Shahid was reportedly sent from Britain by the leaders of Al Muhajiroun to become a key figure in Pakistan – a country seen by the group as being ripe for Islamic revolution – and where extremists were sent to train before returning to Britain to plot bombings.

Mr Shahid, who holds a computer science degree from Manchester, ran the group’s safehouses in Lahore. In one interview in 2001, he told a newspaper: “We see the American and British governments as the biggest terrorists in the world.”

Mr Shahid was named in a 2007 court case as a contact for the kingpin of a plot to target shopping centres and nightclubs in Britain with home-made bombs made from fertiliser. Five men were jailed in 2007, but Mr Shahid was not prosecuted. He was detained for several months in Pakistan in 2005, according to reports, and expelled over alleged links to Al Qaeda.

Despite his background, Mr Shahid was able to rent space from a community centre in Ilford, on the eastern edge of the British capital, and start running a primary school in an area with a majority south Asian population and known for its links to Al Muhajiroun.

Anjem Choudhary, a hate preacher and key figure in the development of Al Muhajiroun, lived just three streets away before he was jailed in 2015 for inviting support for ISIS.

The group's co-founder Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born extremist who moved to Britain in the 1980s, preached at the community centre before he was thrown out – and subsequently banned from entering Britain in 2005.

“He [Bakri] used this place for his talks,” said Bashir Chaudhary, the chairman of the League of British Muslims UK that runs the centre. “He said something that was inappropriate for Islamic teaching. I stood up and his followers shouted me down. Eventually we had to throw him out.”

The group secured notoriety when it tried to organise a conference after the September 11, 2001 attacks dedicated to the “Magnificent 19” plotters responsible for bringing down the World Trade Center in New York. Al Muhajiroun’s followers have been linked to a series of terrorist attacks in Britain and abroad and the groups leaders’ have been cited as inspirations for British fighters who travelled to Syria to join the ranks of ISIS.

Company documents showed that Mr Shahid, 42, set up an education business two years after the school opened in 2009, attended by some 50 children aged three to 11. Mr Shahid – known as Abu Ibrahim – led Friday prayers at the community centre, said Mr Chaudhary.

The Dutch national quit as director in March 2014, several weeks before a British newspaper exposed his extremist background.

His position as director and proprietor was taken by Sophie Rahman, 42, according to company filings, his wife and the mother of his children.

Despite an “urgent” investigation by the Department for Education (DfE), the school was allowed to continue operating. Officials declined to say if they were aware of the relationship between the couple, or if it took steps to remove Mr Shahid as proprietor.

Documents suggest that the authorities were told that Mr Shahid was a member of Al Muhajiroun before it was proscribed by the government when he claimed to have given up his membership.

After he stepped down as a director and proprietor of the school, he still played an active role in its daily affairs and was responsible for paying the rent, according to Mr Chaudhary.

“I thought his [Mr Shahid’s] objective was to open a school and make money,” Mr Chaudhary told The National. “He was getting good money. How he wanted to use that money is another story.

“I later had contact with the security agencies and they told me that he was never convicted, but they had suspicions. The checks should have been made by the appropriate regulators. They were the ones to have done that.”

Inspectors branded the school “inadequate” under Ms Rahman’s leadership in 2016 but none of the parents complained, according to former councillor Ahmad Shakil Warraich, who went to the community centre every Friday. “I knew everyone and people came to me if they had any concerns,” he said. “Nobody ever contacted me.”

Mr Shahid was also a manager at an Ilford gym that had become a gathering point for extremists, and where he would have known Butt. The three London Bridge terrorists met there before they launched their deadly attack.

In submissions to her disciplinary hearing, Ms Rahman claimed that Butt approached the school and volunteered to run Quranic classes. She denied that her husband had referred him but never appeared at her own hearing to be questioned further on the claim.

Butt taught up to three classes a week in the months before the attack. Pupils reported him as saying that the “worst creatures are the kuffar”, a reference to non-believers, and told the children that it was fine to lie to their parents if there was a “state of war”.

She alerted education authorities following the attack on June 3 that Butt worked at her school, but took 41 days before giving a final list of all the children who attended his classes, her disciplinary hearing was told.

She also failed to tell authorities about her marriage to Mr Shahid, the hearing was told, and first suggested that she only knew him from the school.

The school closed its doors for the last time in August last year, its fate sealed before Ms Rahman was struck off because Mr Chaudhary decided to evict the school from the community centre. It still owed rent, he said.

That it took a major terrorist attack to reveal the school’s inner workings pointed to the failure of repeated inspections at the school, said experts.

The warning signs were there and officials in 2015 had warned that Britain's education ministry had to be “more vigilant, more inquisitive and have more robust systems in place” to root out school-based extremism.

“We should be mindful that those who inspect our schools must be as savvy as those who seek to abuse those schools to indoctrinate young minds with extremist ideas,” said Emma Webb, who has investigated extremism in schools for the Henry Jackson Society think tank.

“We need to be able to prevent these individuals from accessing young impressionable minds in the first place. If we fail, we will lose a generation to hatred and intolerance.”


Australia gains as Britain loses its appeal for foreign students

Australia is about to overtake Britain as the second most popular destination for international students.

It is likely to have already outstripped Britain in the number of overseas students from outside Europe, according to research based on international enrolment figures from across the world and suggests the UK's spot as the leading destination for European students is "about to be decimated by Brexit".

The paper by Simon Marginson, director of the Centre for Global Higher Education at University College London, draws on data from Unesco and the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It concludes that Australia may have surpassed Britain in 2018 and, if not, will almost certainly do so in 2019. The US is the top destination.

Unesco figures on incoming international students from all parts of the world appeared to show that Britain was comfortably ahead of Australia in 2015, with 431,000 overseas students compared with 294,000.

The research says the gap has narrowed substantially with international student numbers growing by 2.6 per cent between 2011 and 2015 in the UK and by 12.1 per cent in Australia over the same period. National data obtained by Times Higher Education magazine, which reported slightly different figures, suggests that these rates of growth have continued in 2016.

Professor Marginson said the government was "running a post-study work visa regime that is much less attractive than that in Canada, Australia and, until recently, the US".

"It is this, not Brexit, which will ensure that the UK moves down to number three in the global student market in 2018 or 2019," he said. "Later, however, Brexit will compound the decline." If EU students are charged international student fees post-Brexit, "then it is impossible to imagine anything other than a substantial overall drop in EU students entering the UK, and that will erode the UK's already declining global market share."

He added: "After more than half a decade in which migration politics and Home Office regulation have conspired to hold international student numbers in a flatline trend, the UK is the world's leading nation in educating international students from Europe at tertiary level, but its position is about to be decimated by Brexit's effect on tuition prices."

Australia has six universities in the global top 100 ranking, published by the magazine. The highest ranked this year was Melbourne University, which was 32nd. However, Australia is perceived as more welcoming in some countries, particularly India where numbers studying in Australia have soared.

Britain is perceived as less welcoming to international students than some other English-speaking countries. This year it emerged the Home Office may have falsely accused 7,000 foreign students of faking their proficiency in English and told them to leave.

Simon Birmingham, Australia's minister for education, put a video on YouTube in which he says students from more than 180 countries are very welcome in Australia which is a "safe and friendly place to live and study". After graduating, Australia invites international students with a qualification relating to a key occupation to apply for an 18-month visa. A post-study work stream gives extended options, with a visa of two, three or four years.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Manchester University students paint over Rudyard Kipling mural. Students replace poem If by ‘well-known racist’ with Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise

This is simply ignorant.  Kipling was born in India and anybody who has read his famous novel "Kim" will recollect a quite loving tale about India.  If anything, Kipling portrayed India and Indians too favourably, failing to make much mention of its poverty.

And his poem "If" is simply widely known advice to persevere in adversity, an entirely personal poem with no mention of any ethnic group or political situation.

And people who condemn his poem "The white man's burden" have almost certainly not read it.  It is in fact in praise of an American "Progressive", Theodore Roosevelt.

In the poem, Kipling was setting out the duty of  the British to help poor populations and said that they would have to do so without expecting any praise for it.  He was right about that.

If anyone doubts the humane impulse that formed British colonial policy, just reflect that it was in 1807 that Britain became the first major country to abolish slavery. And, unlike Abraham Lincoln many years later, the British both attacked it outside their own domain and abolished it at home. Lincoln's war "against slavery" was fought while permitting slavery in the North! Lincoln's war was really a power-motivated war with slavery as a thin pretext.

And the humane thinking (mostly of Christian origin) behind British policy is spelled out in Kipling's poem. Kipling saw the British as having a civilizing mission and saw that mission as one of replacing primitive values with humane and Christian ones. And he persuaded himself that TR had such values too. He wrote his poem as a commentary on the American takeover of the Philippines. He saw America as joining Britain in the mission of civilizing backward people.

It was a very idealistic poem. Kipling was a writer, not any sort of colonialist.  The egotistical poem by Maya Angelou is a much lesser work.  It's just a Leftist whine

Kipling's poem "If", which was written around 1895, had been painted on the wall of the university’s newly refurbished students’ union. But students painted over the verses, replacing them with the 1978 poem Still I Rise by the US poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

In a statement on Facebook, Sara Khan, the union’s liberation and access officer, said students had not been consulted about the art that would decorate the union building.

“We, as an exec team, believe that Kipling stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment and human rights – the things that we, as an SU, stand for,” she said.

“Well known as author of the racist poem The White Man’s Burden, and a plethora of other work that sought to legitimate the British empire’s presence in India and dehumanise people of colour, it is deeply inappropriate to promote the work of Kipling in our SU, which is named after prominent South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.”

Kipling, born in Mumbai in 1865, was the first English-language writer to be awarded the Nobel prize in literature, in 1907, and he remains its youngest recipient to date.

His works have long been criticised for their colonialist sympathies, with George Orwell writing in 1942 that Kipling was a “jingo imperialist” and “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting”.

The White Man’s Burden, written in 1899 during the Philippine–American war, encourages the US to assume colonial control of the country.

Khan said the decision to paint over the mural was “a statement on the reclamation of history by those who have been oppressed by the likes of Kipling for so many centuries, and continue to be to this day”.

A spokesman for the union apologised for not considering student opinion before commissioning the mural. “We understand that we made a mistake in our approach to a recent piece of artwork by failing to garner student opinion at the start of a new project. We accept that the result was inappropriate and for that we apologise,” he said.

If is one of Kipling’s most well-known works. Two lines from the poem (“If you can meet with triumph and disaster / and treat those two impostors just the same”) are written on the wall of the players’ entrance to Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

Janet Montefiore, a professor emeritus at the University of Kent and editor of the Kipling Journal, said the students should have been consulted about the mural as it was “their wall” but that the decision to paint over the poem was “a bit OTT”.

“Of course he was a racist. Of course he was an imperialist, but that’s not all he was and it seems to me a pity to say so,” she said. Montefiore argued that Kipling was “a magical storyteller” and that his perspective was part of history. “You don’t want to pretend that it all didn’t happen,” she said.

“Dickens said dreadful things about black people in the Jamaica rebellion. Does that mean you don’t read Dickens?”

She added: “If is not a racist poem. It’s a poem of good advice. I don’t personally like [the poem] but it has meant a great deal to a lot of people.” Montefiore invited Khan to write a piece for the Kipling Journal, setting out her opposition to the writer.

Amit Chaudhuri, author and professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia, said Kipling was “a compelling and very, very gifted writer” who “clearly had racist prejudices”.

He said Kipling wrote about India in a language that was “very interesting, rather than merely exotic”.

“What in a lesser writer would have been predictable is in him very unpredictable and alive,” said Chaudhuri. “There are great blind spots in Kipling and the blind spots are all the more curious and regrettable because they occur in a writer who was extraordinarily observant and acute in his observations.”

Chaudhuri added: “There may be a case for rethinking our relationship to writers and whether writers are ever perfect but also for rethinking our own desire to for them to be perfect.”


Overhaul of sex education in England could elevate LGBT rights

England’s schools could for the first time treat LGBT life the same as heterosexuality in a radical shift that campaigners say would transform the lives of children struggling with their sexuality or gender.

According to draft guidance published by Britain’s Department of Education (DoE), children from five to 16 would be taught that other families, “either in school or in the wider world, sometimes look different from their family”.

The existing rules governing sex education in schools, which came into force in 2000, state there should be “no direct promotion of sexual orientation”, angering many activists.

“All young people deserve an education that reflects and celebrates the diversity of our communities,” Ruth Hunt, chief executive of LGBT rights group Stonewall, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Far too many lesbian, gay, bi and trans students are leaving school, having received no information or advice on how to lead healthy and safe relationships.

“[The proposed changes] will transform the experience of many thousands of LGBT young people at school.”

Under the proposed guidelines, children of both primary and secondary-school age will be taught about marriage and civil partnerships of both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

“It’s a big step,” said Ian Bauckham, a former head teacher who advised the government. “The over-arching principle that runs across both primary and secondary schools is that all teaching about relationships must be LGBT inclusive.”

Britain’s other regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all have devolved education authorities with differing approaches. Wales, for example, recently announced a revamp of its curriculum that will introduce “relationships and sexuality education” for all children.

Countries such as Denmark and Sweden also focus on teaching pupils about the wider aspects of sexuality – rather than simply offering advice about sexual relations.

“Sex education needs to prepare young people for adult relationships,” said Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

Society is also becoming more comfortable with LGBT matters – and at a much earlier age than the previous generation.

According to a recent BPAS survey of 1,004 16-18-year-olds, 17 percent identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual (none did as transgender). A survey by Stonewall last year estimated the number at 2 percent of the British population.

“Sex education has to be reflective of the fact that many young people do identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual – and it makes no sense to exclude them,” O’Brien said.


Know-nothing journalists

JOURNALISM graduates are leaving university "almost comically underprepared" to work in the real world, according to a local newspaper editor.

Paul Mitchell, group editor of the South Australian Riverland paper The Murray Pioneer, said six young hopefuls during the paper's recent recruitment process were "completely clueless", unable to answer a series of basic politics, current affairs and general knowledge questions.

The 23 questions included head-scratchers such as "Who is Australia's Treasurer?", "What does NBN stand for?" and "Which political party does Donald Trump represent?" Only two of the six knew the name of the federal opposition leader, while one confused him with the PM.

"This isn't just a bad batch of candidates," Mitchell wrote in an editorial last week. "The Pioneer has been running basically the same test for many years, only altering the handful of current affairs questions included on the list.

"The abysmal results have been consistent, and if anything are slowly getting worse. What do the poor general knowledge and current affairs results say about our schooling system, and more specifically, our university system?"

Try your hand at the full quiz below. "If you get 10 correct, you're doing better than most of the allegedly news-hungry and switched-on job hunters fresh out of their journalism courses, ready to `tell people's stories' and take on the world," Mitchell said.

Mitchell told the editorial, which included sample responses from the six candidates, had "generated a lot of feedback" from people in the local area. He said most who took the test themselves scored in the 20s.

"Most people were a bit shocked at the responses we got to the test," he said. Asked whether he blamed the quality of the university courses or graduates' reliance on social media for their news, he said it was a "combination of both".

"When they've completed their studies and they get these type of results, that makes me scratch my head a little, but equally if these young people are serious about careers in media and journalism you'd think they'd be a little more switched on," he said.

But he didn't pin the blame for lack of preparation on a sense of entitlement, saying he hadn't picked that up from candidates. "Some of them are just generally clueless," he said.