Friday, September 07, 2018

You Can Get a Good Job Without a Bachelor’s Degree

Careers in skilled services pay well. More Americans just need the right training.

“To get a good job you must have a bachelor’s degree.” This is a common myth that needs to be debunked. For years, Americans have been told that, with the decline in manufacturing, the blue-collar job that required a high school degree or less was gone for good.

The truth is that not all good jobs for people with less than a bachelor’s degree have been eliminated. Far from it. There are 30 million jobs in the U.S. that pay good wages without a B.A.: The median salary is $55,000 with an opportunity to move up the career ladder.

But it’s important to understand that today’s good jobs are different from those of the past. Job-seekers without a B.A. in 2017 need to search beyond traditional blue-collar sectors and look to skilled-services industries. Nationally, a gain of 4 million jobs in financial services, health services, information technology and other skilled-service industries has more than offset the 2.5 million well-paying jobs lost in manufacturing since 1991.

There is a catch: To secure these roles, workers need to get some education or training beyond their high school diploma. Much of the growth in good jobs that pay without a B.A. (including in manufacturing) has benefited workers with associate degrees or some college education — 4.1 million since 1991.

These jobs are not isolated to just a few communities. Twenty-three states have increased good jobs that pay without a B.A. in blue-collar industries, including Utah where these jobs have more than doubled. Jobs in skilled services have also increased in nearly every state, more than doubling in Arizona, Idaho and Montana since 1991.

We’re not saying that B.A.s are overvalued — the degree is still one of the surest ways to gain a competitive edge in the job market and earn middle-class wages. But we cannot expect every student to attend a four-year college and get a B.A. before they start working.

College debt is at an all-time high, and students are questioning the return on their investment. Many young people will work full-time for years before getting a B.A.; others will never complete a four-year degree at all. Those without a bachelor’s degree shouldn’t be consigned to a lifetime of minimum-wage jobs or miss out on a chance to be a part of the middle class.

There’s an added concern: Not everyone has equal access to the jobs we’re talking about. White workers have the largest share of good jobs that pay without a B.A., but the number is declining. Latino workers have a smaller share, but have seen the most growth, and black workers have the smallest share with only slight growth. Men hold the largest share of these good jobs, 70 percent, a proportion that has been consistent for 25 years. Women, lamentably, have not gained ground in the non-B.A. job market.

We can do better.

The best way to promote Americans’ access to good jobs at the sub-baccalaureate level is through policies that strengthen the connections between school and work. Policy-makers should ensure that students are being exposed to career possibilities as early as middle school, and that high school students have greater access to career and technical education, work-based learning programs such as internships and youth apprenticeships, and effective career counseling that helps them get on pathways to good careers.

Across the country, we see states and cities developing innovative new approaches to prepare students for careers in in-demand fields. Colorado has started paid apprenticeships for high school students to gain real-world experience in growing sectors such as advanced manufacturing and technology. New Orleans is developing paid internship opportunities aligned with credentials that have value in the labor market. And 34 states have said they will consider some measure of career readiness in how they hold schools and districts accountable under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal K-12 law.

In postsecondary education and training, leaders should use three strategies to promote the labor market value of such programs. First, they should ensure the transparency of non-B.A. college programs’ economic value by investing in consumer information tools — students should know what college will be worth. Second, governments should encourage the use of outcome-based funding models, such as the Department of Education’s gainful employment rule, so that programs are awarded public and private funding based on how their graduates are doing in the workplace. Finally, policy-makers, educators and employers need to better align skills training with the needs of hiring companies. Tax incentives — such as the tax credits for employer-provided training used by Kentucky, Virginia and several other states — have helped to improve collaboration.

A college degree will always be an important path to work. But it’s not the only path, or even the best one. The more schools, businesses and governments do to make that clear, the better off we’ll be.


Racial Discrimination at Harvard and America's 'Elite' Universities
The Justice Department made news on Thursday when it filed a “statement of interest” in a long-running lawsuit against Harvard University that supported claims of Asian-American students that the university is discriminating in its admission process.

In fact, the evidence uncovered during the discovery process of the pending lawsuit seems overwhelming that Harvard is violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has imposed a racial quota system, including a ceiling on the number of Asian-American students accepted, no matter how outstanding their qualifications.

The Justice Department’s filing is in opposition to a motion recently filed by Harvard asking a federal court in Boston to throw out the lawsuit without a trial.

In 2014, Students for Fair Admission filed its lawsuit under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of “race, color, or national origin.” Although Harvard is a private university, Title VI applies because the university receives federal funds. The lawsuit claims Harvard is using its admissions policy to keep out Asian-American students in the same way it infamously discriminated against Jewish students in the 1920s and 1930s.

Harvard has fought a four-year battle during the discovery process to keep its admissions process and records secret. But the records that Harvard has been forced to produce show the university has been engaging in blatant discrimination. The evidence includes several internal reports prepared by Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research in 2013 that concluded Harvard was discriminating against Asian-American students.

The university took steps to bury the reports and hide their findings after it became aware of the conclusions.

Asian-Americans have been only about 19 percent of the freshman class at Harvard, although that number has increased slightly since this lawsuit was filed. But that number has remained consistently the same for years despite the increasing numbers of Asian-American students applying to colleges.

Harvard’s own reports showed that Asian-Americans would comprise 43.4 percent of the class based on academics alone, and their share would be 31.4 percent even if you included the university’s preferences for athletes and legacy admissions.

Harvard admissions officers keep down the numbers of highly qualified, highly credentialed Asian-Americans by unswervingly giving them low ratings on “personal” factors—the same type of low “character” and “fitness” ratings Harvard used to prevent qualified Jewish students from getting in 100 years ago.

Harvard’s expert witness in the case claimed this was not discrimination because he accepted the assumption that white applicants have better personalities than Asian-American students. This is the type of odious and offensive ethnic stereotyping Harvard has used to justify its discrimination.

Sadly, Harvard is not alone in what it is doing. Evidence brought to light in the litigation revealed that twice a year, admissions officers from Harvard and 15 other schools, including Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and Stanford get together to secretly compare their racial admission numbers to ensure they all have approximately the same racial percentages of admissions.

Another shameful example of this discrimination is M.I.T., my alma mater, which, when I was there, prided itself on being a place where applicants were accepted based on merit regardless of race. But, it seems, M.I.T. began engaging in similar discrimination in the mid-1990s. The number of Asian-American students there has been stalled at about 26 percent since then.

Caltech, M.I.T.‘s big rival as a science and technology institution, has always rejected racial preferences and quotas in its admissions — and Asian-Americans now account for 43 percent of its undergraduates.

That so many other so-called “elite” universities have taken Harvard’s side by filing briefs on behalf of Harvard shows that such blatant, unlawful, and abhorrent discrimination is an accepted policy throughout higher education. It really is nothing less than a modern, politically correct version of Jim Crow in education.

Harvard and these other schools long ago abandoned Martin Luther King’s objective of achieving an America where our children are not “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Everyone who abhors discrimination and believes in equal treatment should cheer the Justice Department’s intervention in this lawsuit — a lawsuit the Obama administration did its best to ignore. The brief filed by the Justice Department makes the point that Harvard has failed to meet the legal standards outlined by the Supreme Court that allow race to be a consideration in college admissions but only under limited circumstances. Instead, the university is engaging in racial bias and racial balancing, none of which is allowed under the law.

This case is set for trial on Oct. 15 before Judge Allison Burroughs, an Obama appointee, in Boston’s federal district court. Unfortunately, this gives Harvard the home court advantage with its $37 billion endowment and the influence it wields with its alumni throughout the upper echelons of power in the city.

We will have to wait and see whether justice will prevail and whether Asian-American students finally will get what they are entitled to: the ability to apply to colleges knowing that the color of their skin won’t be used against them.


Education Waste Leaves Taxpayers No Choice

By government standards $62,500 is not a lot of money, but there’s more to learn for taxpayers, parents and students in this San Diego Union-Tribune story. A lawsuit by the California Taxpayers Action Network charged that San Diego County superintendent Randy Ward, with collaboration from chief financial officer Lora Duzyk, gave himself unauthorized raises totaling $70,000 to $100,000 over eight years. The means, the network charged, was the “me too” clause giving administrators a raise whenever teachers got one. The county board launched an audit, at a cost of $70,000, which it failed to complete. The board released no report and would not comment on the Union-Tribune story.

Ward said he did nothing wrong, but the San Diego County Office of Education settled with the Taxpayers Action Network for $62,500. By law, the county office is required to represent Ward and Duzyk. So taxpayers are on the hook, not the bureaucrats their own selves. That also applies in settlements for sexual harassment and such.

As the Union-Tribune learned, the county paid Randy Ward more than $300,000 in 2016 and he retired that year with a pension of $181,000. In government monopoly education, the big bucks and lavish benefits flow to non-teachers who add no value in the classroom. As with teachers, bureaucratic pay is not linked to any gains in student achievement or accountability. So merit and results play no role.

For their part, the county offices of education are another layer of absorbent bureaucratic sediment though which taxpayer dollars must trickle down before reaching the classroom. These offices tend to be holding tanks for bureaucrats between jobs. Like school districts, they tend to get active when education spending is on the ballot, the Proposition 30 tax hikes of 2012, for example.

In this collective farm of mediocrity and failure, more money is always the answer. If parents opt for independent schools, their tax dollars still go directly to the government system. Like veterans on the G.I. Bill, parents and students deserve full educational choice, with the dollar following the scholar, as a matter of basic civil rights. If politicians at any level support educational choice, they sure are keeping quiet about it.


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Communities Push Back On 'Drag Queen Story Hour' For Children

As the "Drag Queen Story Hour" for children holds more events at public-funded libraries across the country, it's beginning to experience growing pushback from communities, particularly in the South.

The reading sessions at public libraries feature men dressed as women presenting "gender fluidity"-focused stories and commentary for the express purpose of providing "positive and unabashedly queer role models" to children.

"Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores," the organization's website explains. "DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real."

While the Associated Press suggests the story hours have been generally accepted in big cities, including LA, Chicago, New York and New Orleans, in "smaller communities," the gender fluidity children's programs have "sparked protests from conservative and religious groups."

AP reports that the president of the local public library board in Lafayette, Louisiana recently resigned amid the debates over the planned October 6 drag queen children's hour, while the Lafayette mayor has signaled that he might cancel the event. In Columbus, Georgia, protesters gathered outside the library to express their disapproval of the event.

A group based in Mobile, Alabama is also pushing back, planning protests over a September 8 children's event. AP notes that at that event "drag queen Khloe Kash is scheduled to read 'Rainbow Fish,' a 1992 story about the value of sharing, and 'Stella Brings the Family,' about a little girl fretting over what to do about her school's upcoming Mother's Day celebration because she has two fathers."

"The program is designed to purposely target children so as to make sexual perversion acceptable through repeated exposure," Mobile-based Common Sense Campaign Tea Party wrote on its Facebook page. has also reported on the growing pushback from religious leaders


Court Declares Cheerleaders' Bible Verse Banners Are Legal
There are two hard-and-fast rules in life: Don’t mess with Texas, and don’t mess with Texas cheerleaders. The Kountze Independent School District learned that lesson the hard way.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear the school district’s appeal of a case involving Bible verses written on run-through banners — all but ending a more than five-year legal battle that garnered support from U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

“Our clients are relieved that the Texas Supreme Court has brought an end to the school district’s scorched earth litigation tactics,” First Liberty Institute’s Hiram Sasser told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.”

First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent religious liberty law firms, took on the case back in 2012 along with co-counsel David Starnes (no relation) and Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.

“As the football season kicks off across Texas, it’s good to be reminded that these cheerleaders have a right to religious speech on their run-through banners — banners on which the cheerleaders painted messages they chose, with paint they paid for, on paper they purchased,” Sasser told me.

Sasser said school districts across the nation should pay close attention to the Texas Supreme Court’s decision. “Stop harassing cheerleaders and accept that they are free to have religious speech on their run-through banners,” Sasser warned.

In 2012, seven cheerleaders sued the school district after they were banned from using Bible verses on banners that players would run through at football games. The verses, like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” were mean to be inspirational and encouraging.

The state’s Ninth Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the cheerleaders in January — declaring the signs are “pure private speech. We find the cheerleaders’ speech on the pregame banners cannot be characterized as government speech,” the court wrote.

However, the school district argued that a cheerleader who cheers at a game engages in government speech, and therefore cannot write religious messages on banners.

The “banners were held by public school cheerleaders while they were cheering for the school’s football team, while they were in uniform at a school-sponsored event, and while they were on the school’s football field to which access was limited by the school,” school district attorney Thomas Brandt wrote in the Beaumont Enterprise.

The school district had no comment on the supreme court ruling.

“This is a total victory that protects the religious liberty of students everywhere,” attorney Allyson Ho, the lead appellate counsel, said. “This decision by the Supreme Court of Texas should be the final word on this issue for students and schools across Texas.”

One question remains unanswered — why did the school district spend thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to try and stop the cheerleaders from expressing their constitutional rights? Perhaps the citizens of Kountze might get an answer when school board members face reelection.

I reckon the Kountze cheerleaders have learned a very important lesson about perseverance over the past five years. You really can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there is no need for “gender whisperers” in schools as news emerges of teachers being taught to spot potential transgender students­

Experts claim the move has contributed to a 236 per cent surge in the number of kids wanting to change sex in the past three years.

The training has been conducted by gender identity experts in public and private primary and secondary schools under the guise of professional standards development.

It involves teachers learning to identify key phrases such as “I feel different”, “I’m androgynous” and “I’m born with two spirits”, indicating transgender leanings in students­ as young as five.

Mr Morrison tweeted this morning that we do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.

A 236 per cent surge in the number of kids wanting to change their gender has partly been attributed to new teacher training.

Exclusive figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph show already this year hospitals have referred 74 kids aged 6-16 to gender dysphoria clinics geared to help children and adolescents transition.

In 2015, the number was 22 and in 2013 there were just two.

The figures have sparked a heated debate among health experts, with the huge increase denounced as a “tragic” and “dangerous” fad” fuelled by gender support experts in schools and celebrity trans cases. Gender counsellor ­Dr Elizabeth Riley, who has advised 40 private, public and Catholic schools in the past three years, said it was important to educate teachers given 1 per cent of students were transgender.

“I only go into schools I’m invited into. I teach the school how to deal with these children with special needs and to treat them like any other child,” she said.

“Trans children are in every school, they’ve been around since the 1800s … If a school has 1000 students, 10 of them will be trans, whether they go on to transition or not. It’s important we support them so they get the right advice­ early so they are not bullied or go into hiding.”

Western Sydney University Professor of Paediatrics John Whitehall said gender identity support experts in schools were creating more problems and more confused children. “They’re part of the problem as they mess with the kids by giving them a platform to believe they have a genuine problem,” Prof Whitehall said.

“It’s a sad, tragic and very dangerous fad, especially when medical treatment can involve hormones that interfere with the brain as well as the body, and progress to irreversible­ surgery and loss of fertility.”

He said mental illness such as ADHD and depression were often associated with gender dysphoria and should be treated first while the child was allowed to mature.

Sydney-based Gender Centre says it has provided transgender training to schools including Hamilton Public, Winmalee High, Menai High, Stanhope Gardens­ ­Catholic School and Toronto High. It attributes the rise in younger children transitioning to better educated parents­ spotting the signs early. “It’s not necessarily an explosion, it’s that people now identify earlier and parents­ are more open to what for years was a taboo subject,” spokeswoman Eloise Brook said.

Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, The Children’s Hospital Westmead and John Hunter Children’s Hospital­ report increases in children believing they are the wrong sex or diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Children are assessed­ and, as early as six, can undergo stage one gender affirmation sessions including swapping names and clothes. Stage two of treatment, from age 11, can involve the use of puberty blocking drugs. Stage three is irreversible cross-sex hormone treatment and surgery — of which the youngest patients­ have been 15.

Professor Whitehall said children should not even be allowed to undergo stage one treatment before age 18.

Under Education Department guidelines, schools operate their own professional development budgets. A spokesman said Dr Riley was not an employee of the department.

“Students who need support for whatever reason will receive it in NSW public schools,” he said.


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

How Our Education System Fails Most Students

An attitude of college-or-bust is producing too few college graduates and too many busts.

Watching students move through it, America’s education system can seem to be functioning passably well. Most students complete high school on time. Most high school graduates go on to college. Most college enrollees will complete a degree. Most college graduates find their degrees useful in the labor market.

But gazing back along the pipeline’s length yields a starkly different, distressing picture. The share of students falling by the wayside accumulates higher at each juncture. As I show in a new report published by the Manhattan Institute, How the Other Half Learns, fewer than one-in-five manage to smoothly travel the high school-to-college-to-career pipeline that we take to be the system’s goal.

Nor, despite a generation of intensive reform efforts and spending increases, is the situation getting much better. In 1970, 79% of public school students were graduating from high school within four years. In 2010, that figure was 78%. The past several years have seen increases in the rate, but also troubling evidence that those increases are driven by declining standards, data manipulation, and outright fraud. Standardized test scores have not improved since the 1970s, and SAT scores have declined.

High school graduates enroll in college at higher rates than they used to, but that has not translated to a surge in college graduates. The vast majority of community college enrollees drop out. Four-year schools perform better, but still fewer than 60% of students complete degrees within even six years at the schools where they first enroll. As Harvard University’s David Deming observed in a 2017 report for the Brooking Institution’s Hamilton Project, “Although college attendance rates have risen steadily, bachelor’s degree attainment by age 25 has been relatively flat for the past two decades.”

Finally, even for college completers, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports a consistent trend of labor market frustration going back decades. Every month since 1990, between 37 and 47% of recent graduates report working in jobs that do not require a college degree.

At some point, we have to stop faulting the system for its failure to produce more graduates, and stop expecting the next policy intervention or funding increase to solve the “problem.” The reality is that most students are not going to complete the college pathway as we have defined it, and the actual problem we need to solve is that the education system provides few attractive pathways for the non-college student to travel.

High schools oriented entirely toward college preparation, for instance, fail to engage students lacking the aptitude or interest to pursue that course. Those who continue through graduation find themselves ill-equipped to enter and succeed in the labor market, or in life in general. They watch society lavish resources on their peers headed for college but find no support available to them. The largest segment of the population—those who start college but don’t finish—are perhaps the worst served of all. They have little to show for their efforts except for lost years and enormous debts. An attitude of college-or-bust is producing too few college graduates and too many busts.

If college were truly the necessary and sufficient “ticket to the middle class,” then perhaps we might justify a system that pushes as hard as possible in that direction, even at the expense of those who fall short. But the reality of our labor market is quite different. Yes, the most successful college graduates are the economy’s top earners. But the bottom half of the earnings distribution for college grads—not just enrollees, but graduates—sits lower than the top half of the earnings distribution for those with only a high school education. And that’s before we even invest in helping to set that high school graduate on a successful path.

Good vocational programs exist in the United States that use the teenage years to prepare students for productive work and then launch them into careers after high school graduation. In other developed economies, such programs are the norm. But here, they are few and far between, underfunded and deprioritized, and too many Americans consider such pathways to be only “for other people’s kids.” Those kids are most people’s kids, including some of your kids, and it is long past time to design our education system for serving them too.


School Discipline Policy Belongs at the Local Level, Not Washington

Teacher unions and progressive special-interest groups cried foul earlier this year when the White House suggested that federal directives on school safety could be rescinded.

But if a recent hearing held by the Federal Commission on School Safety is any indication, state and local policymakers don’t need Washington to micromanage student discipline policies. These state and community leaders’ testimonies indicate they are acting on their own to try and make students and schools safer.

In 2014, the Obama administration’s departments of Education and Justice issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to public schools that contained specific instructions on how schools should deal with school safety and student discipline. The letter says schools should limit student engagement with law enforcement and says suspensions and expulsions (exclusionary discipline) should only be used as a last resort.

The agencies also said school personnel should sign a memorandum of agreement with local law enforcement indicating that all involved will try to limit exclusionary discipline.

The letter has attracted public attention after the tragic events of Feb. 14 in Broward County, Florida. The gunman that took the lives of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had been subject to disciplinary rules that mirror the federal letter.

In fact, Broward County’s so-called PROMISE program predated and inspired the federal Dear Colleague letter. The gunman had been referred to the PROMISE program, but officials have no record of what was done to help the troubled youth.

Experts from The Heritage Foundation and Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty explained the issues surrounding the legality of the letter, issues that warrant rescinding the letter on their own. Namely, the letter violates provisions of the Congressional Review Act and the Administrative Procedure Act pertaining to the review of federal regulations.

But there are also surveys and other empirical evidence that questions the efficacy of limiting suspensions and expulsions.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Max Eden reports that teacher surveys find instructors feel less safe when school personnel limit exclusionary discipline. A nationally representative survey from 2015 found that 50 percent of respondents opposed school district policies that limit exclusionary discipline. Just 19 percent were in favor of such approaches.

The responses were similar in the 2018 version of the same poll. Respondents opposed these policies at both the school district and federal levels.

Those in favor of limiting exclusionary discipline cite evidence that minority students are suspended at higher rates than their peers. They argue that teachers and school personnel may be discriminating against minority students.

Yet researchers say “the evidence is inconclusive as to whether or not these disparate practices involve racial bias and discrimination.”

In a summary of the research, Matthew Steinberg of the University of Pennsylvania told Education Next:

Particularly in urban schooling contexts, we know that residential location, particularly for minority students, means that these students are coming from neighborhoods with higher crime rates, higher poverty … and what we are doing is sorting these students into the same schools and really concentrating disadvantage and therefore likely concentrating behavioral issues within the same school, and, as a result we may be seeing higher rates of school discipline.

Steinberg also says the research suggests “we really need to think about targeted responses [regarding school discipline] at the school level.”

Still, large school districts around the U.S. are following the provisions in the federal letter, including Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told the safety commission this week that “each school has unique security needs and local districts must be given an opportunity to assess their own security requirements.” Experts on information technology, mental health, school counseling, and school resource officers testified about the decisions being made at the state and local levels to make schools safer.

State and community leaders should be making such decisions. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the federal commission should put student safety first, restore local school authority, and keep Washington out of school discipline policy.


Indonesian businesses want Australian education

Australia's geographical proximity to Asia and its use of English have made it a strong attractant to Asian parents seeking a Western education for their children.  There is a huge population of Chinese and Indian students in Australia already and now Indonesia wants in

Indonesian businesses are crying out for Australian universities to get involved in skilling up its huge workforce.

Indonesian business leaders are desperate to get Australian universities in to dramatically lift the number of workers in higher education.

They praised the decision to conclude a free trade deal between the two countries, with plans to get it signed before Christmas.

Indonesia has a work force of about 132 million people, but half of them only have a primary school education, and just 13 per cent have a university qualification.

"We want to open up for education, and also the focus on training. We need it very badly," Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chair Rosan Roeslani told reporters in Jakarta on Saturday. "This is I think the key element for our agreement."

Business leader Shinta Kamdani said the deal was more of a partnership, and it wasn't all about trade liberalisation.  "Services is a big part of this agreement, it's not just about trading goods," Ms Kamdani said. "The fact we can skill exchange, vocational training, I think that's a big thing for Indonesia."

The agreement will free up Indonesia's university sector for Australian investors, allowing up to 67 per cent foreign ownership. Foreign investors are currently barred from majority ownership in an Indonesian university.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding committing the countries to signing the deal this year.

Australia and Indonesia are two of the world's 20 largest economies and close neighbours, but neither are in each other's top 10 trading partners.

"This is one of the earliest bilateral (deals) that we're doing," Ms Kamdani said. "So our government is still trying to work it out. I have to say this is a big achievement for our government."

Both leaders urged Australian businesses to look at how they can get involved in Indonesia's surging economy. "I think this is the best time to come in and invest in Indonesia, because we are simplifying a lot of policy and regulation," Mr Roeslani said.

"We want to encourage more players, not just the same that are the existing ones, but new players," Ms Kamdani said.


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Professor Who Worked On Common Core Tests: Math Education Needs To Downplay ‘Objects, Truth, And Knowledge’

A U.S. professor who teaches future public school teachers will “argue for a movement against objects, truths, and knowledge” in a keynote to the Mathematics Education and Society conference this coming January, says her talk description.

“The relationship between humans, mathematics, and the planet has been one steeped too long in domination and destruction,” the talk summary says. “What are appropriate responses to reverse such a relationship?” We can already guess University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Rochelle Gutierrez’s answer, from reviewing her published writings and comments. Her plans for “an insurgency by the people” to subvert public institutions and American self-rule through “ethnomathematics” will knock your eyebrows off your face. Let’s take a look.

Her bio says Gutierrez specializes in teaching future K-12 teachers “forms of creative insubordination” and the importance of infusing math with politics. Because, apparently, American kids are already so good at math they have extra time to spend on indoctrination. Oh, wait.

More Proof Ed Schools Routinely Promote Failed Ideas
Gutierrez is an education professor who also teaches in Urbana-Champaign’s “Latino studies” program, of course. Her CV says she helped write federally funded Common Core math tests and has been on a host of taxpayer-funded committees, including several of the National Science Foundation.

She’s also affiliated with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which wrote notoriously terrible curriculum rules that destroyed math instruction in many states before helping form Common Core. She’s helped decide which education professors to grant tenure at more than a dozen public universities, and been given visiting lecture position at Vanderbilt University, which is reputed to have one of the most pre-eminent teaching degree programs.

The most recent “academic” publication listed on Gutierrez’s CV is paywalled, but the second most recent listed is a December 2017 article in the Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, a publication of Georgia State University. Yes, taxpayer-funded institutions are fomenting “research” published under titles like “Separate and Unequal: Students with HIV/AIDS and Mathematics Education,” “Beyond White Privilege: Toward White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism in Mathematics Education,” “Absence of Diversity in Collegiate Upper-Level Mathematics Classrooms: Perpetuating the “White Male Math Myth,” and “Striving Toward Transformational Resistance: Youth Participatory Action Research in the Mathematics Classroom.”

One suspects this may be a collection of people who can’t do math, so they teach people how to make sure nobody else learns how to do math either. I’m not just saying that to be mean. The United States has plenty of experience with attempts to social justice up the math classroom, and it always results in more mathematically inept kids.

If we don’t preference competence over political correctness, kids lose big. An understanding of basic mathematics is crucial to competence in many lucrative jobs, plus an introduction to one of the great mysteries of the universe, as well as centuries of human inquiry. These are kids’ lives and minds we’re talking about here, which don’t deserve to be pawns in somebody’s ideological war for social engineering. But far too often, that’s what they are, and it’s American education’s many interlocking monopolies and cartels that are chiefly to blame, because cartels inherently prioritize tribalism over excellence.

This Is the ‘Mathematics Operates as Whiteness’ Lady
Gutierrez’s December article is, perhaps not surprisingly, more of a blog post that quotes sources such as and activist websites. Rather than being scholarship worthy of the name, it is essentially a political game plan for using math classes and teachers to follow the Marxist political playbook in “[d]ismantling White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

In it, she details how “Alt-Right” institutions such as Fox News and Campus Reform publicized and simplified some of her previous “scholarship” that made, she says, “two key points: (a) mathematics operates as whiteness when we do not acknowledge the contributions of all cultures, and (b) mathematics operates as whiteness when it is used as a standard by which we judge others.”

This assumes, of course, that whiteness is inherently evil, which rather undercuts Gutierrez’s other attempts to present herself as anti-racism. This also assumes, oddly, that using objective standards is somehow a “white” thing, an assumption I don’t understand at all, given that some of the earliest and most profound mathematical discoveries we know of, which are all based on observing objective and testable relationships, were produced by ancient Egyptians and Greeks. But it seems neither objectivity nor knowledge are Gutierrez’s strong suits.

After right-wing media publicized her writings, Gutierrez, her university, and colleagues received rude emails and voice mails. Of course that’s a genuine shame. Not positively contributing to society should result in people being redirected to more productive employment, not being harangued. And I can see how the experience would warp one’s perception, like highly emotional experiences tend to do.

Nevertheless, this is an utterly reality-detached response: “Some of the email messages sent to me were carbon copied to random students and faculty, thereby inflicting violence upon them, for no apparent reason other than to instill fear or have them question my scholarship.”

Ma’am, get some perspective. Mean emails don’t inflict violence. Not only do numbers have concrete meaning, words do too, although they are more flexible. “Violence” means inflicting tangible physical harm. While hurting people’s feelings can arouse chemical responses, that’s not what violent means. To describe things inaccurately empties words of meaning. That makes them worse at doing their job, which is clear communication.

‘Revolution Should Be the Goal’

Social manipulation rather than clear, objective communication seems to be Gutierrez’s aim, however, starting with her premise that there can be no truth or objectivity, and ending with the inevitable power struggles that follow: “Within mathematics education, we have convinced ourselves that ‘equity’ is a strong enough agenda when maybe revolution should be the goal,” she writes in her “paper.”

Her takeaway from experiencing opposition to her ideas is essentially that she and her fellow professors are not ideologically leftist enough. Gutierrez says the real problem this incident exposed was that too many professors and math teachers falsely believe “our scholarship was neutral or absent from politics.” Instead, she calls not only for “a broadened view of ethnomathematics [sic], but a radical shift in how we do mathematics.”

In so doing, she also exposes the corruption deep inside contemporary American K-12 and higher education. Just check out the things she says are endemic within U.S. academia at all levels (emphasis and bracketed comments added).

When we look to other disciplines, we see that their goals are not simply to have historically oppressed people viewed as legitimate participants in the discipline as defined. They are seeking to radically change the discipline itself, partly through putting the needs, views, and contributions of historically oppressed people first [equality is not the goal, a racial hierarchy with whites at the bottom is] …

For decades, ethnic studies programs, departments of English, and even literacy professionals in K–12 schools have been: questioning what counts as the ‘canon;’ expecting to see different kinds of authors/perspectives on the discipline; choosing to teach ‘controversial’ texts; recognizing there is no one ‘truth’ but only interpretations; and rethinking literacies and knowledge.

Perhaps as a result, there is greater infrastructure for such disciplines to deal with backlash [i.e. refuse to change when parents and taxpayers voice their opposition to this kind of education]. See, for example, the National Council of Teachers of English’s Intellectual Freedom Center that supports English teachers under attack for the texts they choose to use. [NCTE also helped write Common Core and was a big Common Core supporter and promoter.]

Encouraging Teachers to ‘Betray Their Institution’
Gutierrez goes on to positively cite instances going back to the 1960s of taxpayer-paid teachers in public institutions using their public positions to deliberately and deceptively disregard the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives and civic institutions. She presents as examples of “revolution” Mexican-American studies teachers continuing to teach these Marxist, anti-American classes in public schools after state legislators banned the course.

This is far beyond mathematics competence now. This is a war for what kind of philosophy gets to control the country.
She notes students chaining themselves to their desks and organizing school walkouts, of the kind we’ve seen recently when high schoolers protested to retain a more Marxist Advanced Placement curriculum. She says more teachers need to use their taxpayer-provided forums and access to students to foment political “backlash” that promotes her preferred curriculum and politics.

Then, to top it all off, Gutierrez quotes approvingly from what appears to be an Antifa organizing group to call mathematicians and other academics to mimic their behavior to foment this kind of education “revolution.” More academics, she says leading up to this quote, should “seek ways to leverage resources and material support and/or betray their institution to further liberation struggles. An intellectual accomplice would strategize with, not for, and not be afraid to pick up a hammer” (emphasis added).

Um, excuse me, ya’ll, but this is straight up Marxism. Right outta the book. Remember, Marxists are the people who declare they are at war with family, religion, and America. This is far beyond mathematics competence now. This is a war for what kind of philosophy gets to control the country: totalitarianism or self-government.

This is a woman on the public payroll in a public institution encouraging other people on the public payroll to “betray” the public, and quoting groups affiliated with people who start riots to tell teachers they also should “not be afraid to pick up a hammer.” Hm, I wonder why so many Republicans no longer trust higher education. Maybe we don’t want to be forced to pay for people to subvert our God-given rights to choose the rules we have to live under, and want to actually control the institutions we’re forced to fund that shape how our children and future voters think.

That’s not even all. Gutierrez then goes on to say that mathematics has already turned in the direction of being willing to subordinate the field to political concerns.

Many of the mathematicians I know did not shy away from the ‘politics’ [sic] or ask me not to use words like White supremacy when naming the relationship between mathematics and power. I saw a different relationship between mathematicians and mathematics education researchers than what happened over a decade ago to Jo Boaler (Boaler, 2012), whose main opposition came from mathematicians.

[From an earlier part in the paper]: I am not alone in making these connections to mathematics. There is a robust domain of scholarship dedicated to chronicling the relationship between mathematics and power/domination in society stemming back more than 50 years. Moreover, a growing number of scholars have written eloquently about the connections between whiteness or White supremacy and mathematics education.

In the final section of this lengthy blog post masquerading as CV-worthy scholarship, Gutierrez considers ways to control the people who become teachers and mathematicians. “What would a mathematics education scholar look like that serves not the university [paying his salary and ostensibly defining the work he should do in return] but the most vulnerable/dehumanized?”

She suggested developing a list of readings for “decolonizing” math education, then making people read the list who are pursuing math PhDs, getting federal science grants and employment, running math departments, school boards, book clubs for students and parents, reporters, and lawmakers. People pursuing her Marxist project for math education need to think about how to make math graduate students “see the relationship between White supremacist capitalist patriarchy and mathematics.”

It is beyond time for all Americans to understand that, as Gutierrez says, the people running U.S. public education at all levels are at the very least influenced by the overt desire to overturn American-style governance and institutions. She’s not even hinting that here, she’s straight up saying it, and saying that academics as a whole agree.

Polls showing almost uniformly leftist professorships reinforce that assertion. They are already using their control of taxpayer-funded institutions to undermine and overthrow the very country that gave them this power in the first place. That’s chutzpah. It’s also Marxism 101. Neutrality is a facade that provides cover for genuinely sinister ideologies.

Rochelle Gutierrez and her “allies” get that education is not just political, but existential. The Right needs to get this too. And fast.


New campus sexual misconduct rules may be proposed to bolster rights of accused

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing new policies on campus sexual misconduct that would bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment, or rape, lessen liability for institutions of higher education, and encourage schools to provide more support for victims.

The proposed rules, obtained by The New York Times, narrow the definition of sexual harassment, holding schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses.

They would also establish a higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints.

The new rules would come at a particularly sensitive time, as major institutions such as Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and Michigan State University deal with explosive charges that faculty and staff have engaged in serious sexual misconduct. But for several years, higher education administrators have maintained that sexual misconduct rules pressed by the Obama administration unnecessarily burdened them with bureaucratic mandates that had little to do with assault or harassment, and men’s rights groups have said the accused have had little recourse.

Unlike the Obama administration’s guidance documents, the Trump administration’s new rules would have the force of law and could take effect without an act of Congress, after a public comment period.

Liz Hill, an Education Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the department was “in the midst of a deliberative process.” She added that any information obtained by The Times “is premature and speculative, and therefore, we have no comment.”

Last fall, DeVos rescinded a 2011 letter prepared by the Obama administration that outlined the responsibilities of schools and colleges that receive federal funding to address sexual misconduct. Victims rights groups praised the Obama-era guidelines for aggressively holding schools accountable for complaints of sexual harassment, assault, and rape that they said had often been downplayed or ignored. But critics contended they that too often trampled due process rights for accused students.

In announcing the rescission of the letter, DeVos assailed the guidelines as federal overreach that coerced schools into setting up quasi-judicial systems fraught with inconsistencies.

“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students,” DeVos said in September 2017. “Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.”

DeVos has also criticized the Obama administration for imposing rules without following the legal processes, which would allow for a public comment period.

The department’s proposal would preserve much of the law that protects against sex discrimination, called Title IX, which for the past two decades has extended beyond gender-specific discrimination to include sexual misconduct as a form of denying students an access to an education. But for the first time, the federal government would go beyond guidance and recommendations to codify how it defines sexual harassment in the nation’s schools and the steps institutions are legally required to take to address it.

They could also be revised before they are formally published.

There is still dissension among staff within the Education and Justice departments about whether more of the standards from the 2001 guidance should be codified in the new regulations, and whether some of the provisions should apply only to higher education, according to sources familiar with the administration’s deliberations.

While the issue has centered on allegations against students on college campuses, it also applies to elementary and secondary schools and allegations against teachers, professors, and other staff.

“The Department recognizes that despite well-intentioned efforts by school districts, colleges and universities, advocacy organizations and the Department itself, sexual harassment and assault continue to present serious problems across the nation’s campuses,” the department wrote in the draft rule. “The lack of clear regulatory standards has contributed to processes that have not been fair to all parties involved, that have lacked appropriate procedural protections, and that have undermined confidence in the reliability of the outcomes of investigations of sexual harassment allegations.”

After the department rescinded the Obama letter and a subsequent question-and-answer document, it reinstated temporary guidelines, which drew from guidance issued in 2001 and a subsequent letter issued in 2006. The Obama administration built upon that guidance but had notable differences.

The new regulations cement some of the most debated policy positions in the interim guidance, such as allowing schools to choose the evidentiary standard — “preponderance of evidence” or “clear and convincing” evidence — to apply in determining whether accused students are responsible for alleged misconduct. They also leave it to schools to decide whether to have an appeals process.

The most protested part of the Obama administration guidance was the mandate that schools use the preponderance-of-evidence standard, the lower standard of the two, in determining whether those accused should be disciplined or expelled. The Trump administration rules propose that a school’s choice of evidentiary standard must apply to any investigation of civil rights violations.

The new rules would require that institutions only be held legally responsible for investigating formal complaints and responding to reports that school officials have “actual knowledge” of happening. A formal complaint is one made to “an official who has the authority to institute corrective measures,” not, for instance, a residential adviser in a dormitory.

The regulation contrasts with the standard, dating back to 2001, that a “school knows, or reasonably should know, about possible harassment.” College leaders have long complained that was too broad and held them accountable for allegations of which they were not aware.


Chairman Leaves After School Board Votes To Open Each Meeting with the Pledge

A Democratic school board chairman in Connecticut has walked away from the board rather than begin each meeting by saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

New Hartford School Board Chairman Josh Adams resigned last week after the board voted to begin each meeting with the Pledge, Patch reported.

Adams was the only board member opposing the Pledge, the Waterbury Republican-American reported.

Board member Tom Buzzi, a Republican, had promoted the new policy because he felt that the board had become divided over issues related to closing a school, and he wanted to do something to create a sense of unity as each meeting began.

Buzzi said he wanted everyone to be “on the same page” and never expected the proposal would be controversial.

After Buzzi made his proposal, Adams tried to shut it down by saying that as board chairman, he was the only one to determine the agenda. The rest of the board did not see things that way, and went ahead with its vote, prompting Adams to quit.

Adams later said he does not pledge allegiance to anything and supports the “principles on which the country was founded.”


Monday, September 03, 2018

College Pressures Students To Not Post 9/11 Posters Because May Hurt Muslims’ Feelings

Honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is an admirable cause, but one university says no matter how honorable the intent, such a memorial shouldn’t be done with images of the World Trade Center attacks.

Administrators at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, have ruled that posters created for Young America’s Foundation’s “9/11: Never Forget Project” create an “environment” in which “students from a Muslim background would feel singled out and/or harassed.”

YAF undertakes its 9/11 memorial project at campuses around the country every year. The posters created for last year’s 9/11 remembrance also sparked complaints.

There is no direct reference to Muslims in the text of the poster.

The posters displayed at Ripon sparked complaints to the school’s “bias incident team” over the posters’ perceived anti-Muslim tone.

According to YAF, administrators claimed objections were “raised to the administration and the bias incident team about the environment that that (the poster) creates … That because of the focus, in this case relentlessly on one religious organization, one religious group, one religious identity — in associating that one religious identity with terrorist attacks which go back far before 9/11 and after 9/11 — creates for some students here an environment which they feel like they are not able to learn.”

A member of Ripon College’s Bias Protocol Board seemed to be looking for ways to ban the posters beyond the fact some students claim they were uncomfortable with them, YAF said.

“There is nothing that this poster, in particular, adds to the conversation about 9/11, or about the politics of terrorism, or about national security or responses to it that couldn’t be done easily and more constructively without it,” one member of the board told YAF.

School administrators also questioned some of the other images used on the poster beyond the World Trade Center photo.

“Some things (on the poster) don’t have anything to do with 9/11 — ISIS, for example,” claimed one administrator.


Send campus sexual assault to court

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has a plan to overhaul Title IX policy on campus sexual assault and harassment. It's a clear improvement over Obama-era policies that traduced due process. Reports say the new rules would oblige campus authorities to respect due process rights, including cross-examination of witnesses, and mandates both that accusers be treated as innocent until proven guilty and that clear legal standards be adopted.

Sexual assault is a serious crime, a felony in every state, and it should be treated as such with accuser and accused receiving the full benefit of all protections offered under law.

Unfortunately, in part because of the Obama-era guidelines, in part because of public demands, and perhaps mostly because university administrators have increasingly involved themselves in the nonacademic side of higher education, sexual assault adjudication often occurs in campus administrative offices rather than in court.

DeVos' proposal may just be a first step, but the problem is that it continues to allow colleges and universities to conduct quasi-judicial proceedings. DeVos wants the overhaul to be more than just threatening guidelines, but to carry the full force of law. This could allow an unfair, unequally enforced, and unprepared parallel judicial system for college students to be codified by law.

In most campus sexual assault cases, where the lines between conviction and consent are often blurred by alcohol, drugs, and newfound freedom, campus bureaucrats cannot be the beginning and the end of the pursuit of justice. Such a system would still deny rights to the accused, who deserve protections denied under the Obama guidelines, but also to the accuser, who should be able to see their attacker, if proven guilty, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the criminal law.

No amount of reform by the Education Department will make a campus proceeding the equivalent of a court of law. Some campus proceedings are necessary to determine whether a student should be suspended or expelled. Campuses also have to adjudicate offenses that violate campus rules but are not illegal, such as sexual harassment or student-professor relationships. But when formal legal action can be taken, administrators and counselors should encourage victims to file police reports, and campus proceedings should not be the beginning, middle, and end of the judicial process.

Having a separate system for college students and the world beyond campus is inherently unfair.

A legal case means legal consequences for violent crime. But colleges and universities have no authority to convict anyone. Administrators may find someone guilty, but they cannot send that person to prison. Even if he or she is expelled, enrollment elsewhere is an option, and further crimes an obvious possibility.

A legal proceeding also offers the accused full, transparent, and appealable justice. Investigation of an alleged crime, and its prosecution, defense, and judgment would be undertaken by professionals, not by campus administrators who often have little training and no legal background.

Accusers can opt to move a case to a real courtroom by filing a police report, but they rarely do so. If the accuser wants to proceed with a campus trial, the accused will be subjected to that process, however flawed it is. Universities also have an interest in keeping proceedings on campus because they can limit bad publicity. Universities have used this authority to protect those accused of sexual assault and to deny students due process to claim support for victims. In one case, highlighting the inability of campuses to arrive at impartial findings, administrators collaborated inappropriately with campus police and failed to reveal this when the case went to trial.

Universities should not be serving as judge, jury, and executioner. DeVos’ proposal shows that she has identified a grave wrong that was encouraged by the Obama administration. For this, she deserves credit. But university administrators have a conflict of interest, and should not be allowed to compromise justice. Students would be better served with sexual assault cases adjudicated in a proper, impartial courtroom.


Australia: Christians are turning to home-schooling amid a massive rise in religious bullying – with some kids targeted for opposing same-sex marriage

Families with deeply religious values are resorting to home schooling their children more frequently, as schools report an increase in religious bullying.

Disgruntled parents cited incidents in which their children were taunted and targeted for opposing same-sex marriage.

New figures reveal the number of pupils being educated by their parents has soared 50 per cent in just four years to 4,479, The Saturday Telegraph reported.

A shift in school values, showing a more general hostility toward Christian and Islamic ideals and beliefs are allegedly at the root of the problem, according to Accelerate Christian Home Schooling co-ordinator Stuart Chapman.

'In our celebration of a diversity, Christians are now the ones who are the target of bullying and in the minority,' he said.

'[Parents are] feeling their children are being targeted because they believe in the traditional family.'

He said in one case students who opposed same sex marriage were forced to stand at the back of their classrooms.

After the vote in favour of same-sex marriage, Mr Chapman and the families of students who are suffering fear the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, resulting in a need to pull children from school to avoid nasty attacks.

With religious schooling considered a luxury some families can't afford, home schooling as a more convenient and price-conscious option may also have contributed to the 50 per cent rise.

A spokesperson from the New South Wales Department of Education said a parent's decision should be respected when it comes to home schooling children. 

Geoff Brailey, a McCrindle Social Researcher, said the challenges the religion as a whole is currently facing is a multifaceted concern. 'I think there is a lot of challenges the Christian religion has faced, ranging from the royal commission through to some responses from the same-sex marriage plebiscite.' 


Sunday, September 02, 2018

CT School Board Chairman Resigns After Vote to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

The chairman of a Connecticut school district's board of education resigned after the board voted to begin each meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

He said he should not be forced to publicly voice support for the ideals of the pledge, The Associated Press reported.

Adams later said that he had not planned to resign but felt it was appropriate after the board took the vote.

The Pledge of Allegiance has been a hot-button issue in other places as well.

Last month, an Atlanta charter school sought to move the pledge from its morning schoolwide assembly into a classroom-only part of the day, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge. There are many emotions around this and we want everyone in our school family to start their day in a positive manner. After all, that is the whole purpose of our morning meeting,” principal Lara Zelski said.

Zelski said the school wanted a schoolwide pledge that reflected its demographics.

The concept ran into headwinds and was abandoned almost immediately.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, for example, said, “I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students.”


At many small colleges, administrative spending is surging

At private colleges across New England, spending on administrative salaries and wages has grown more than twice as fast as student enrollment over the past decade, federal data show, as schools meet demand for more services and strive to compete for an increasingly small pool of high school graduates.

The overall student population increased by 11 percent in the decade between 2007 and 2016, the most recent data available. But during that same period, spending on administrators grew by about 30 percent.

In an era where many small private schools are increasingly unable to keep up with costs as a result of slowing tuition revenue growth, this disconnect between the rising payroll expenses and sluggish enrollment gains raises questions about the sustainability of their business model.

“In general, spending even on the noninstructional parts of higher education tends to improve student outcomes, but it’s also to a point where the cost of educating a student is going up much faster than family income,” said Robert Kelchen, a Seton Hall professor who is an expert in higher education finance.

The Globe reviewed data from 132 private four-year, nonprofit colleges and universities in New England. The list includes elite schools like Harvard with rich endowments, as well as smaller, more tuition-dependent colleges and specialty schools. The amply endowed schools aren’t in the same squeeze because they can partially fund operations with investment earnings.

Expenses are outpacing revenue at smallest N.E. colleges
A Globe review of federal data shows that many small, private colleges in the region are struggling to meet expenses as their tuition revenue has declined.

Spending on midlevel, nonacademic staff positions described as “academic support” and “student services” grew most dramatically: by 34 and 36 percent respectively. In some cases that growth represents pay increases and in other cases more staff.

Meanwhile, many schools are experiencing enrollment decline or sluggish growth — a particular problem at the smallest schools because they depend heavily on tuition revenue and are under pressure not to raise prices too sharply.

At some schools the increases in administrative spending have been substantial. At Worcester Polytechnic Institute, student enrollment grew by about 57 percent while spending on administrative salaries grew by about 151 percent, data show. At Regis College, enrollment grew by about 47 percent while spending on administrative salaries rose 115 percent. At Wentworth Institute of Technology, enrollment grew by about 26 percent while spending on administrative salaries grew by about 109 percent, according to the data.

Colleges say the increased spending is largely in response to students who expect them to provide more services than they did 10 years ago. Indeed, the business of educating young people is vastly different today. Many small colleges, in particular, enroll a population that needs more individual attention — academic support and career services — often because they are the first in their family to attend college.

“The students in this generation and their families, they come to all of us with significantly higher expectations for services,” said David Ellis, the chief financial officer at Becker College in Worcester.

Students expect the latest technology, for example, Ellis said. The school had about three technology staffers a decade ago and 10 now.

At Becker, which has about 1,800 students and an annual sticker price of $53,000 per year, enrollment grew by about 32 percent over a decade when spending on administrative salaries and wages grew by about 86 percent, data show.

That growth could be a good thing, according to several higher education experts. “The real question is whether students are getting an additional value which is commensurate with this type of increased administrative spending,” said Douglas Webber, an associate economics professor at Temple University who studies higher education.

If schools beef up their academic advising, career services, counseling, and other programs that help students stay healthy, graduate, and get jobs, that can be a wise investment, experts said. The problem is that no matter how valuable the services, the cost of a college education is becoming prohibitively expensive.

Kelchen, the Seton Hall professor, said that in some cases these new employees do jobs that used to be tacked on to professors’ responsibilities, like helping students choose which classes to take and majors to choose. Meanwhile, other types of jobs have gone away, he said. For instance, some administrative support roles have been replaced by technology.

But while these new employees and services are likely adding value to students’ experience, the cost is passed on. These days many students’ parents take out supplementary loans to help cover the cost of their child’s schooling — leaving both students and parents with substantial debt.

Much attention is paid these days to the high pay of college presidents and top administrators. The president of Becker, for example, made $534,000 in the most recent data available.

But Kelchen said that while these costs are real, they are not the biggest driver of high tuition prices. Also, he said, the job of a president has become more difficult because the decline in the high school population has forced schools to compete more aggressively for students. And the 24-hour news cycle can amplify the smallest negative incident on campus into a public relations nightmare.

Spending on wages for teaching also increased at about the same rate as administrators, the data show. Several schools said that is because they have raised the salaries of their professors to attract higher-quality candidates.

A Wentworth spokesperson said the school added new undergraduate programs that required new faculty and administrative support staff. It also hired 20 technology services employees to replace a contracted service provider it used.

WPI said it has also launched new programs and departments as well as nonacademic programs to support students and faculty.

A Regis College spokesman said the school expanded its four schools, launched online programs, grew its graduate programs, and invested in academic and nonacademic tutoring, coaching, and mental health counseling.

Providence College, a Catholic school of about 4,900 students, increased salaries to be able to recruit more competitively, according to the school’s chief financial officer, John Sweeney. In the past the school relied on unpaid friars who have been replaced with paid faculty, he said. But the college is also competing for students, which means traveling farther afield to recruit.

Many colleges have also increased their spending on “enrollment management,” the complex game of calculating what it will take to attract students and how to get them to stay.

Providence College also just completed a $185 million capital campaign, and Sweeney said it hired more fund-raisers. But he said his college is financially healthy and can support such growth. “We’ve spent money and it’s attracted more students who pay a much larger share,” he said.

Providence College enrollment declined slightly during the 10-year period through 2016, whereas spending on administrative salaries grew by about 60 percent.

Such federal data comes with caveats. Each school inputs its numbers differently and some count jobs in different categories. Inconsistencies can also arise when the employee who enters the data each year leaves and someone else takes over. For these reasons, schools caution against a close comparison of one college to another, but at a high level, trends emerge.

“We’re meeting student need in very important ways, and that of course comes with cost,” said Steven Kaplan, the president of the University of New Haven, where the price for tuition plus room and board is around $55,000. Enrollment grew about 60 percent over 10 years while institutional support grew 164 percent, data show.

Kaplan said the school has doubled its enrollment during his 15 years as president and dramatically increased salaries to attract better people. The school had one part-time career services employee back then and seven now, he said. “You’ve got to consider the value,” he said.


Harvard admissions ‘may be infected with racial bias,’ DOJ says

The US Justice Department on Thursday said that Harvard University’s admissions process “may be infected with racial bias,” weighing in on a case that could dismantle decades-long affirmative action policies in higher education.

Harvard has failed to show that its use of race in admissions decisions is narrowly tailored as required by law, the Justice Department said in documents it filed in support of a federal lawsuit brought by a group representing Asian-American students.

Harvard’s reliance on personal traits — such as kindness, leadership, and courage — in evaluating applicants hurts Asian-American students, who often receive lower scores from admissions officers than other applicants, the Justice Department said in its filing.

The government’s intervention in the Harvard lawsuit had been expected, but is nonetheless significant and reflects the Trump administration’s aggressive push to end race-based admissions policies, experts said. The Justice Department has also launched its own investigation into Harvard’s admissions policies and whether they discriminate against Asian-American applicants.

“No American should be denied admission to school because of their race,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “As a recipient of taxpayer dollars, Harvard has a responsibility to conduct its admissions policy without racial discrimination by using meaningful admissions criteria that meet lawful requirements. . . . The admissions policies at our colleges and universities are important and must be conducted lawfully.”

Harvard University’s own internal research raised alarms about how Asian-American applicants are treated by the college’s admissions process.

In recent months, the department rescinded Obama-era guidelines encouraging schools to take a student’s race into account in admissions when trying to promote diversity.

The Justice Department adopted many of the positions of Students for Fair Admissions, which brought the lawsuit against Harvard, and asked US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs to allow the case to proceed.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in October in Boston and will probably ultimately be decided in the US Supreme Court in the coming years.

Harvard has denied it discriminates against Asian-American applicants and said that its use of race in admissions meets legal requirements and ensures that all students learn on a campus that is diverse.

Harvard is “deeply disappointed” in the Justice Department’s intervention and alliance with Students for Fair Admissions, said Anna Cowenhoven, a spokeswoman for the college.

The Justice Department is “recycling the same misleading and hollow arguments that prove nothing more than the emptiness of the case against Harvard,” Cowenhoven said.

Yet few deny that when the Justice Department speaks, judges do listen.

Under the Obama administration, Justice Department officials used so-called statements of interest to weigh in on civil rights debates, from prisoner and disability rights to policing.

The previous administration often stepped in at the appellate court level to offer its interpretation of the law, said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under the Obama administration. “It matters when the United States opines on an issue,” Gupta said. “Courts take notice.”

Still, on Thursday the Justice Department went even further by offering its perspective on a case that has yet to go to trial and where the facts aren’t settled, she said. “They are being aggressive and not afraid of taking unprecedented action,” Gupta said.

That’s welcome news to supporters of race-blind policies.

Edward Blum, who leads Students for Fair Admissions and backed earlier unsuccessful efforts to end affirmative action in higher education, said the organization was “gratified that, after careful analysis of the evidence submitted in this case, the US Department of Justice has concluded Harvard’s admissions policies are in violation of our nation’s civil rights laws.”

The Trump administration seems more determined than even the George W. Bush administration to end race-conscious practices, said Linda Chavez, chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank, and a former Reagan administration official.

“There should be a sell-by date and expiration date,” for affirmative action policies, Chavez said. “I think we are moving to that. I am more hopeful than I’ve been.”

The Supreme Court has narrowly preserved affirmative action, and colleges and universities are currently allowed to consider race as one of many factors in admissions. But the composition of the court is likely to change by the time the Harvard case gets there.

This high-stakes case is being closely watched by university leaders, legal scholars, and conservative and liberal interest groups. A host of other elite colleges have also filed briefs in support of Harvard in recent weeks. And the case has divided many in the Asian-American community.

On Thursday, an army of interested parties — including several economists, a group of about 530 social scientists and scholars, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union — filed briefs supporting Harvard.

Race-blind advocacy groups, including Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Center for Equal Opportunity, and the Reason Foundation, submitted court documents opposing Harvard.

This case isn’t simply about Harvard, but represents a threat to the broader issues of race and equity in higher education, said Dennis Parker, the director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU.

Affirmative action policies were designed to remedy centuries of discrimination and are still needed, Parker said. “The argument that you should be colorblind doesn’t reflect the fact that there are still barriers for people of color,” Parker said.

While the Justice Department is not specifically arguing for an end to affirmative action in its filing, officials haven’t ruled out that position as this Harvard case progresses. Justice officials have pointed to states such as California and Michigan that ban the use of race in admissions to public colleges and universities, and contend that institutions can achieve diversity by considering other factors, such as income.

Yet the results of these state bans are mixed. In California, for example, which banned the use of race in 1996, the number of African-American and Hispanic students at the most elite public universities dropped drastically and has only begun to recover to pre-ban levels more recently.