Friday, October 26, 2018

Fabricating Hate Crimes Is a Byproduct of Victimhood Ideology on College Campuses

Anna Ayers, a student government leader at Ohio University, reported finding threatening messages in the drawer of her desk a few weeks ago.

Ayers, an LGBT student, said the three notes were “hateful, harassing,” according to The Post Athens, a student-run news outlet, and made specific attacks on her sexual identity.

“Senate will never be the same for me,” Ayers told The Post of the notes, the first of which she said appeared Sept. 27 in her desk at the Student Senate. “The friendships will continue to grow, and our successes will always evoke pride, but the memory of my time in senate and at OU will be marred by this experience. We will all have a memory of a time when this body failed one of its own.”

The incident caused a stir on campus. The problem was, that stir was based on a lie. Police quickly concluded that no hate crime had taken place, and that Ayers actually had written the notes to herself. The authorities charged Ayers with a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded not guilty. She is no longer a student at the university.

Incidents like this have become a strikingly common trend in the past few years, especially on college campuses.

While most alleged hate crimes on campus go unsolved, it is hard to ignore the fact that  so many hoaxes have occurred.

A variety of motivations may prompt a student to make up a hate crime, but one thing is for certain: The overwhelmingly dominant ideology on college campuses celebrates victimhood, even above achievement, and achievement itself is worthless without victimhood.

If one doesn’t maintain some kind of victimhood status, your opinion is worth less, your accomplishments are dismissed, and your success is written off as the product of privilege.

It’s no wonder Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continues to maintain that she has Native American heritage—which Harvard Law School once openly celebrated—despite the thinnest of evidence that she has any connection to the Cherokee tribe.

For students seeking attention and accolades from peers on a modern college campus, it may make sense to create the false impression that you have become the victim of a hate crime or some other kind of oppression.

This is especially true given how quickly the stories are exploited for political effect by social justice warriors and an eager media, regardless of whether the stories are actually true.

The infamous 2014 report by Rolling Stone magazine on an entirely made-up rape at the University of Virginia is a prime example. The media soaked up and ran with the story about a violent rape on campus that turned out to be a bizarre scenario created by a troubled student.

Portraying American college campuses as bastions of rape, misogyny, and homophobia is almost laughable, but that is the story activists wanted to run with.

Unfortunately, the number of prominent bogus incidents creates a “boy who cried wolf” effect where people begin to stop believing such stories out of hand because so many have been fake.

“I would say now 80 percent of the events that happen on campus are hoaxes or pranks,” Laird Wilcox, author of the book “Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America,” told Fox News. “It’s a place where consciousness of discrimination, sexism, and homophobia is at a peak, and when there’s nothing happening, and they need something to happen, they can make it happen.”

This makes it even worse when crimes really do take place.

We must consider what all of this means for American society, that those who attend our elite universities are so saturated with the victimhood ideology that it seems better to create stories of oppression to get attention rather than strive for excellence or individual accomplishment.

We’ve now told generations of young Americans that it’s better to be oppressed and fight oppression—real or fake–than develop oneself to do the great things we should expect from our nation’s “elite.”

Yet, in cases where it appears actual discrimination is taking place, such as in Harvard admission policies that critics allege are biased against Asian students, it is excused away as defending race-conscious “diversity.”

Why is this?

It’s because we’ve wrapped up identity politics and victimhood ideology into a toxic stew that both dehumanizes and leaves its adherents with little personal satisfaction.

Identity has overcome individual merit as the barometer for what we put on a pedestal.

Now, we are too busy knocking off their pedestals those who have actually accomplished great things to focus on what we will do to make ourselves and future generations better off than we are.

This monumentally destructive ethos is eating away at the integrity of our schools and the fabric of our country.

If we want fewer hate crime hoaxes on campus, perhaps we need to change what is openly valued in academia, to focus on achievement rather than knapsacks of privilege and ladders of oppression.

That’s not likely to happen any time soon.

No wonder Americans are in a populist mood.


Question at center of Harvard trial: What counts as discrimination?

The numbers are stark: For at least 18 years, through 2013, the admissions rate for Asian-American students at Harvard University was less than that of white applicants and most other minorities.

But is that actually proof of anti-Asian bias at one of the country’s premier universities?

That’s at the heart of a trial over Harvard’s admissions system that will continue Monday in Boston federal district court.

A string of top-level Harvard admissions officers and researchers took the stand last week to testify that the university does not discriminate against Asian-American applicants, and has never done so. This week, several others, including former president Drew Faust, are expected to be in the hot seat to defend Harvard’s use of race in admissions.

Students for Fair Admissions, which has sued Harvard, alleges that the university is limiting the number of Asian-Americans it admits every year. The university’s rating system and its inclusion of a personal score, which measures everything from applicants’ grit and “effervescence” to their blandness and immaturity, disadvantages Asian-American applicants, the group alleges.

E-mails show how donors are considered in Harvard admissions

When Harvard University admitted several applicants tied to influential donors to its Kennedy School, the school’s dean sent an e-mail calling the head of admissions “my hero.”

Students for Fair Admissions has pointed to Harvard’s own statistics as proof that Asian-American applicants, despite their grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, are hamstrung by the Ivy League school’s selection process.

According to Harvard’s data presented at the trial, in 2013 the university’s admissions rate for Asian-American students was 5.6 percent, lower than for whites (7 percent), blacks (6.8 percent), and Hispanics (6.1 percent). Only international students were admitted at a lower rate (3.3 percent). The overall admission rate for that year was 5.8 percent.

Asian-Americans were consistently admitted at lower rates than most other large racial groups dating back to 1996, according to court documents.

Harvard argues that while Asians make up about 6 percent of college-age residents in the United States, they make up a significantly larger share of the university’s applicant pool, about 20 percent, and a similar proportion of its admitted students.

The university also weighs a whole host of factors when admitting students that go beyond academics, extracurricular activities, athletics, and race, Harvard officials said.

When those 200-plus variables that are part of the admissions decision are considered — from whether applicants’ mothers or fathers are deceased, to their intended careers, how much they have worked, the average math SAT scores at their high school, and whether their parents attended Harvard — the difference in admissions rates between Asian-Americans and white students disappears, according to the university’s analysis.

“It’s never been test scores and grades alone” that will earn an applicant a seat at Harvard, said William Fitzsimmons, the university’s dean of admissions, who spent four days on the stand last week delving into the inner workings of the selection process.

While Harvard officials have been famously guarded about their admissions process, at one point arguing that their internal documents were the equivalent of trade secrets, the trial has forced thousands of pages into the public domain. Some are illuminating, others are embarrassing; many explain how Harvard whittles down an annual applicant pool of more than 42,000 students to just over 2,000 students admitted.

In an effort to convince federal district court Judge Allison Burroughs that the admissions process is comprehensive and free from racial bias, Harvard has also taken the unprecedented step during the trial of sharing charts and data about admissions, reading aloud portions of applications, and talking openly about what characteristics officials are looking for in applicants.

“We want you to know, because once you understand how the process works, what the information is, what the evaluations are, you can understand how the decisions get made,” said William Lee, a Boston attorney representing Harvard.

Students from certain geographic regions earn a “tip,” or a boost, in the admissions decision, including applicants from urban areas and specifically those from Boston and Cambridge.

A student’s future major can make a difference in admissions. Harvard is on the hunt for more humanities scholars, such as those who have studied Greek and Latin, because “we think they’ll be great educators for our engineers,” Fitzsimmons said on the stand.

A low-income child of a migrant worker can receive a lift in the admissions process. But it’s even more advantageous to be a top-ranked tennis player or skier. A child of a Harvard alumnus, especially one who is active in hosting events and promoting the institution, will get a closer look by the admissions office’s top staff. And giving $1 million or more to Harvard will likely earn interest from the university for the donor’s relative.

In one e-mail shared in court, a Harvard dean congratulated Fitzsimmons for admitting several high-profile applicants into an incoming class, including one tied to a donor who had committed to a new building for the university.

Harvard officials defended their wooing of the rich and the connected, arguing that it helps ensure that the university can be accessible to students with scarce resources who need financial aid to come to Harvard.

Students for Fair Admissions said that Harvard was aware as early as 2013, because of its internal research, that some of these preferences — or as some university officials described them in a memo, a “thumb on the scale” — were hurting Asian-American applicants, who were being admitted at a lower rate. A draft report by Harvard’s researchers found that if students were accepted on academics alone, Asian-Americans would be admitted at more than twice the current rate.

Harvard argues that research was incomplete and that a more comprehensive analysis of the data done for the trial shows no bias.

Yet whether Harvard admissions officers are unconsciously providing preferences for some students while holding back others remains an open question.

“Are there times when you don’t realize that you’re tipping for something or, like, anti-tipping for something, and then you go to the data and it shows that there actually is a tip that you didn’t really intend or know about?” Burroughs asked a Harvard admissions official on the stand.

Economists for Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions will take the stand later this week and begin dissecting the data in the hope of answering that question.


Australian university will offer paid leave for transgender staff undergoing reassignment surgery

How is it part of an educational role tosupport mental illness?  Gender dysphoria is a mental illness if ever there was one.  And those who "transition" are rarely happy.  There is a high suicide rate among them. 

I doubt that this policy will be good for the reputation of the university.  Among normal people it could well become known as "the poofter university".  But only in private, of course. There is no free speech in what words you use in public for homosexuals

Aussies at a major university will get paid while undergoing gender reassignment surgery in an Australian first initiative.

The staff of Deakin University will be given just as many days of paid leave to change their gender as they would if their partner has a baby.

Aspiring to be the leading LGBTIQ+ inclusive educator and employer, Deakin is allowing the leave to be used at the staff members discretion.

Deakin University adopts the best practices for diversity and inclusion strategies for LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer plus) students and staff.

The 4,700 employees of the Victorian university will learn of the new entitlements on Tuesday.

Chief operating officer Kean Selway told the Geelong Advertiser: 'Under Deakin's existing leave provisions, all staff experiencing exceptionally difficult personal circumstances can, with the support of management, apply for 'special leave' directly to the Vice-Chancellor.'

Deakin launched its LGBTIQ+ 2017-2020 Plan in 2017 and has already started rolling out initiatives to support the inclusion and well being of it's LGBTIQ+ community members.

'The paid leave is backed by a new gender transition policy which provides security and clarity around the process for Deakin staff who are undergoing a gender transition,' Mr Selway said.

'Fostering a genuinely inclusive environment affords all our staff and students a sense of belonging and an equal chance of success whether it be through study or work.'

According to the institute's gender transition procedure, effective from October 19 2018, Deakin will also offer students wishing to undergo sex transition surgery a gender transition plan.

Transitioning students will be given communication assistance, alternative assessment arrangements, longer library loan periods and off-campus library services.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

UK: Excluding autistic pupils breaches human rights

Do only minorities have rights?  Normal students can have their education greatly disrupted by mentally abnormal students in their classes.  What about their right to a good education?

Britain is breaching the UN human rights convention with its high rate of school exclusions among children with autism and other special educational needs, the government has been warned.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission said that the number of exclusions, along with the growing proportion of special educational needs (SEN) children being taught in special schools, means that many are being denied the chance to make the most of their education. In a report to be released on Thursday it will say that this runs contrary to the UK’s commitment to achieve inclusive education under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In 2016-17 there were 381,865 fixed-period exclusions, or suspensions, in schools in England, up from 339,360 the year before. The rate for pupils with SEN being suspended was 60 per 1,000 compared with 21 per 1,000 among those without. There were 7,720 permanent exclusions, or expulsions, up from 6,685 in 2015-16. Pupils with SEN were seven times more likely to be expelled than those without.

The most common reason for pupils being expelled was persistent disruptive behaviour. A landmark legal ruling in August, in a case funded by the EHRC, highlighted the problem of children whose disability makes them behave aggressively. The court was considering the case of a 13-year-old boy with autism who was excluded for aggressive behaviour, including attacking his teacher. The judge ruled that schools should not treat such behaviour as criminal or antisocial when it was a result of a child’s condition and not a choice.

The EHRC is also concerned about the number of children in special schools. Many parents with SEN children prefer them to be taught in mainstream schools, to keep them integrated with their peers.

The percentage of children with SEN attending state-funded mainstream secondary schools has fallen from 28.8 to 20.9 in the past eight years; the percentage attending state-funded special schools rose from 38.2 to 44.2.

David Isaac, the chairman of EHRC, said that the two issues were setting children’s rights back by decades and “isolating SEN children from mainstream society and having a knock-on detrimental effect on other aspects of their lives”.

“If we want to have a fair and inclusive society which enables disabled people to participate fully in the community and workplace and to live independently, this must start in school,” he said. “We also want any child excluded from school to have the right to challenge to ensure they are not being unfairly denied access to education.”

The government is conducting a review into exclusions but ministers have already made clear that they intend to take action to cut the numbers. Last week Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said that he was considering making schools take on the exam results of those they permanently excluded for the purpose of league table rankings.

A separate study from Ambitious About Autism found that almost a third of parents with autistic children had given up their job because of school exclusions.


Harvard’s well-off outnumber low-income students 23 to 1

On Harvard University’s campus, the wealthy are well represented, with rich students outnumbering low-income ones, 23 to 1.

But how best to close that vast economic gulf was an issue of deep disagreement during Monday’s testimony in the trial over Harvard’s admissions practices.

The trial centers on whether Harvard’s use of affirmative action in admissions discriminates against Asian-American applicants.

But frequently it can seem as if Harvard’s vast wealth and privilege are also on trial.

“Let’s leave it at ‘Harvard is rich,’ ” said US District Judge Allison Burroughs on Monday, earning a laugh from the gallery during a discussion about the university’s $39 billion endowment, which rivals the gross domestic product of many nations.

High-achieving, low-income students, often the first in their families to attend college, struggle to feel they belong on elite campuses.

Harvard could adopt race-blind admissions and achieve racial and economic diversity if it scrapped the preferences it gives the wealthy and well-connected, said Richard Kahlenberg, an academic at the progressive Century Foundation think tank.

Kahlenberg, a longtime advocate of affirmative action based on socioeconomic factors instead of race, testified on Monday that Harvard could do much more to increase its representation of low-income students on campus.

When it comes to race, Harvard “is doing a very good job getting diversity,” Kahlenberg said. “The socioeconomic diversity at Harvard is deeply lacking.”

A 2017 report from Harvard professor Raj Chetty said that just 3 percent of students at Harvard came from the bottom fifth of the income ladder, while 70 percent came from families of the top fifth of income earners in the country.

Put differently, Harvard had 23 times as many high-income students as low-income students, according to Kahlenberg.

He argued that Harvard should adopt race-neutral admissions standards and give a significant weight to low-income students.

He also suggested that the university would need to ditch the advantage it gives students whose parents attended Harvard, those applicants tied to donors and staff members, and its early admissions program, which tends to benefit students who attend well-resourced high schools with counselors who know to guide some seniors to compete in that smaller pool.

The result, Kahlenberg said, would be that the share of disadvantaged students, defined as those whose family income is $80,000 or less, would increase at Harvard to 54 percent from 17 percent. Harvard would maintain its strong academic standards, he said.

This option would keep the percentage of white students level, while slightly increasing the number of Asian-American and Hispanic students on campus. However, the number of African-American students would drop from about 14 percent to 10 percent under Kahlenberg’s model.

Harvard officials questioned that trade-off. “The racial group that bore the burden of your race-neutral alternatives . . . is African-American students,” said William Lee, a lawyer representing Harvard.

Lee argued that Harvard has investigated race-neutral alternatives but said they fail to meet Harvard’s educational goals of attracting top-level and diverse students.

About a decade ago, Harvard did away with its early-action program — a nonbinding option in which students apply in November and are offered admissions in mid-December. But few other universities followed suit.

And Harvard was losing high-academic performers, including well-prepared black and Latino applicants, to other colleges, university officials said. Harvard eventually brought the program back.

Harvard officials on Monday defended the university’s record of attracting students of low and modest means.

The university does offer a tip, or advantage, to students of modest means, including Asian-American applicants, Lee said. And, he noted, Harvard doesn’t require families who make less than $65,000 annually to contribute any money to tuition and the cost of room and board.

However, Harvard’s own data show that the advantage for low-income students is dwarfed by what the university gives to athletes and children of graduates.

Throughout the trial, which began last week, Harvard has defended its preferences for the relatives of alumni and donors, arguing that they create a vibrant community and ensure that the university has enough money to offer financial aid to lower-income students.

The movement behind a socioeconomic affirmative action plan has gained traction in the United States as race-conscious admissions have come under increased attack and dropped in popularity among the public.

Several states, including California, Michigan, and Washington, have adopted outright bans on race-conscious admissions in public higher education. That has forced them to use other factors to achieve diversity, including economic variables.

In California, which has barred race-conscious admissions since 1996, the results have been mixed.

The most competitive schools in the public system, the University of California Berkeley and the University of California Los Angeles, experienced the most profound drops in black and Latino students and have not returned to their pre-ban levels.

Less-selective colleges in the system have returned to pre-ban levels but have failed to keep up with the state’s soaring Latino population during that time, according to a study by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

The gap between the percentage of Latino students who graduate from California’s public high schools and those who enroll as freshmen in public universities grew wider, from 14 points to 24 points between 1995 and 2014, according to the study.

Still, Kahlenberg questioned on Monday whether Harvard has fully explored race-neutral alternatives to admissions. Over the years, the Supreme Court has narrowed the use of race in college admissions. Institutions are still allowed to use race as one factor in determining whom to select, but they must also show that there are no other alternatives to achieving diversity.


Using Diversity to Preserve Mediocrity

It's not just Harvard's admission policies. It's the entire dumbing down of public education.

“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.” —George Orwell, 1984

“A Harvard University dean testified that the school has different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex — but insisted that the practice isn’t discriminatory.” —New York Post, reporting on the lawsuit alleging Harvard University discriminates against Asian Americans

In a nation uncontaminated by identity politics, both of the above statements would be seen as essentially the same. In this one, the “logic” of the American Left demands that a dean at ostensibly one of the foremost citadels of higher education support a race-based admissions policy, one where rank injustice is justified by a single word: diversity.

Thus, Harvard sends recruitment letters to black, Native American, and Hispanic high schoolers with SAT scores around 1100-plus, and Caucasian students from states with low representation at the university with SAT scores of 1310-plus. Asians Americans? To receive the same letter, they not only need higher SAT scores than both other groups, but are further divided by gender: Asian American females need an SAT score of 1350-plus, while males require a score of 1380-plus.

And like many Ivy League schools whose chief attraction has as much to do with elitist social connections as academic rigor, emails indicate Harvard is equally committed to favoring applicants with ties to large donors.

How does Harvard get away with it? “While scores and grades may provide a general measure of cognitive ability and motivation, no universal metric can exactly gauge applicants’ intellect or their value to an institution,” asserts Asian American Harvard alumnus and current UC Berkeley associate professor Robert Rhew. “I would flip the question: Does the racial and ethnic diversity at Harvard enhance the quality of the education there? My answer is a resounding yes.”

Nonsense. If there is no universal metric, then diversity is no more or less likely to enhance the quality of education than anything else.

Nonetheless, Harvard takes a “holistic” approach to admissions that includes “personal ratings.” After analyzing more than 160,000 student records, plaintiffs discovered that Harvard consistently rated Asian American applicants lower than every other race with regard to having “positive” personality traits. They were rated as less likable, less courageous, less kind, and less “widely respected.”

In the real world, such “consistency” is called “prejudice.”

Harvard countered that those reports were incomplete and failed to capture the “nuances” of its admissions process. The university also asserted that weaker recommendations from high-school teachers and guidance counselors may have precipitated the lower personal ratings.

For those with less acumen than Ivy League elites, this is known as grasping at ideologically bankrupt straws.

Moreover, Rhew’s assertions regarding diversity are conspicuously lacking. If it is essential to a good education, why has one critical aspect of it been systematically excluded from the ivory towers of academia? As a study by the National Association of Scholars reveals, 39% of the colleges surveyed did not have a single Republican faculty member. Moreover, among the 8,688 full-time professors with Ph.D.‘s from a sample of 51 of the 60 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 10 to one.

Again, logic that can’t compete in the arena of ideas “demands” such one-sidedness.

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely that this case will end up before the Supreme Court. And despite plaintiff attorney Adam Mortara’s assertion that “the future of affirmative action in college admissions is not on trial,” it’s impossible to see how the issue can be avoided.

And nothing complicates it more than the reality that Asians are a minority group. In the series of discrimination cases that have ended up before the Court, Caucasians were invariably part of the equation, and thus, the “historical reparations” that engendered the ostensible need for affirmative action afforded the Court leeway to “redress” historical wrongs.

Asian Americans were never part of that legacy. In fact, considering that Japanese Americans were interned by FDR during WWII, a substantial number of Asian Americans also have legitimate grievances regarding historical reparations. Yet because they generally eschew victimization dogma, they remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the racial spoils system.

If SCOTUS can justify favoring one minority group over another — in service to diversity, no less — the notion that the content of one’s character matters more than the color of one’s skin will be tossed on the ash heap of history.

Yet even as this case plays out, no one asks the essential question: Why are such machinations necessary? The answer is as simple as it is damning: Despite decades of leftist promises of reform, there is still a racial achievement gap at the elementary and high-school level — one that has existed for over half a century. And it exists primarily because leftists protect union-controlled, Democrat-supporting failure factories otherwise known as public schools.

Most Americans might be shocked to discover that, a little over a century ago, 99% of U.S. students were literate. And they were literate until the Education Establishment abolished phonics and made children identify sight words.

This dumbing down was no accident. “If professors of education could justify claiming that non-reading is reading, then they could use Whole Word to make children into functional illiterates,” explains columnist Bruce Deitrick Price. “If they could claim that garbled, nearly useless arithmetic is as good as real arithmetic, they could make kids learn Common Core Math. If they could create bogus research to prove that Constructivism is a superior way to teach content, they could make sure everyone knew almost nothing.”

And if everyone knows almost nothing, the “fundamental transformation” of America is more easily attained.

If SCOTUS eliminates discrimination at the college level, the American Left would be forced to confront this contemptible dynamic — and the politics that drive it — where it matters most. “Back in the 1940s, before the vast expansion of the welfare state and the ideology of victimhood used to justify it, there was no such gap on test scores between black schools in Harlem and white, working class schools on New York’s lower east side,” Thomas Sowell explained in 2013.

Today, in New York City’s Success Academies, minority kids far outperform their public-school peers throughout the entire state, proving, as founder Eva Moskowitz explains, there “is something wrong with a system, a monopolistic system that is not allowing kids to succeed.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response? He cut charter-school accommodations in city buildings from 150 between 2009 and 2013, to just 54 between 2014 and this year. “Why would you play politics with education when the results are clear as day?” asked Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.

Because nothing threatens the Left’s race-baiting, grievance-mongering, identity-politics, social-justice agenda more than an educated electorate. An educated electorate that would ultimately see diversity for what it truly is:

The opposite of meritocracy.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Report: Half of All Women in Engineering Schools Experience Sexual Harassment

A report!  How gorgeous! But what is it based on? I could do a report that said the opposite.  So what would that prove?  For the "report" to be any evidence of anything, we would need to know such things as how does the study define sexual harassment and how was the sample collected? The "report" seems to be unpublished so we have no means of finding that out. 

After nearly 50 years of reading Leftist "research" I am pretty sure what I would find if I had full information:  garbage that ignored almost all scientific protocols -- like random sampling

Half of women faculty and staff in academia experience sexual harassment and almost half of all engineering students experience sexual harassment from faculty or staff, according to a report covered today at WE18 in Minneapolis, the Society of Women Engineers conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine produced the report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine this year, reviewing research on the extent to which women in these fields experience sexual harassment and the extent to which sexual harassment in academia negatively impacts the recruitment, retention and advancement of women pursuing these fields. Alice M. Agogino, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, shared the findings today among a panel of researchers at The State of Women in Engineering session during the conference.

The data reveals that 50 percent of women faculty and staff in academia experience sexual harassment. Additionally, 20-50 percent of students pursuing these fields experience sexual harassment from faculty or staff. Data analyzed included instances of reported sexist hostility, crude behavior, sexual attention and sexual coercion.

The data review also found that women of color experience more harassment (sexual, racial/ethnic, or a combination of the two) than white women, white men and men of color.

“Leaders in academic institutions and research and training sites must pay increased attention to and enact policies that cover gender and racial harassment as a means of addressing the most common form of sexual harassment and of preventing other types of sexually harassing behavior,” said Dr. Agogino.

Dr. Agogino pointed out that organizational climate is, by far, the greatest predictor of the occurrence of sexual harassment. The two characteristics most associated with higher rates of sexual harassment are male-dominated gender ratios and leadership, and an organizational climate that communicates tolerance of sexual harassment.

Aside from undermining women’s professional and educational attainment while destroying mental and physical health, sexual harassment has adverse effects on bystanders, co-workers, workgroups and entire organizations.

“The cumulative effect of sexual harassment is significant damage to research integrity and a costly loss of talent in academic sciences, engineering and medicine,” Dr. Agogino said.

Agogino provided four recommendations for institutions to prevent harassment:

1. Integrate values of diversity, inclusion and respect into the policies and procedures. 2. Change the power dynamics in advisor-trainee relationships. 3. Support targets of sexual harassment by providing alternative ways to access support services, record information about an incident, and report an incident without fear of retaliation. 4. Improve transparency and accountability to demonstrate that institutions are investigating and holding people accountable.

During the panel presentation and discussion, Roberta Rincon, Ph.D., senior manager of research at SWE, introduced SWE’s newest study which identifies the gender bias experiences of Indian women and men working for Western engineering companies in India. Findings from the study reveal that both genders experience bias, however in different forms. The study was conducted in conjunction with the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (WLL), and dovetails a 2015 study of bias experiences of engineers across the United States.

“The findings in this study indicate that bias in the engineering workplace is a problem in India, and companies that strive for a more diverse, inclusive, and engaging environment for their employees must address these biases if they want to retain talent,” Dr. Rincon said.

Dr. Agogino and Dr. Rincon were joined at the session by Peggy Layne, P.E., Assistant Provost for Faculty Development at Virginia Tech; Peter Meiksins, Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Professor of Sociology, Cleveland State University; and Laura Ettinger, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Clarkson University, who each covered further reviews of women’s prevalence in engineering. Currently, just 13 percent of working engineers are women, and approximately 20 percent of engineering degrees are awarded to women.

“As a diversity organization, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and address research available that affects women and minorities in engineering,” said Karen Horting, executive director and CEO of SWE. “Gender bias on campus and in the workplace is a global issue, and we will continue to find solutions that allow women and minorities to comfortably have their deserved seat at the table.”


How a Professor Who Lost His Job for Being Conservative Fought Back and Won

A longtime conservative professor on a liberal college campus didn’t expect to face harassment claims, lose his job over his political beliefs, and then win a $120,000 settlement.

Mark McIntire, 74, taught philosophy as an adjunct professor at Santa Barbara City College in California for 23 years.

An old friend of Charlton Heston, the late actor and National Rifle Association president, McIntire is no stranger to controversy.

In an email to The Daily Signal, he recalled being elected to the national Screen Actors Guild Board of Directors in 1983 and leading a “successful … coup d’etat against [then-Guild] President Ed Asner to the outrage of Hollywood liberal-progressives.”

But until the election of President Donald Trump, McIntire, a faculty member in Santa Barbara City College’s  philosophy department since 1996, says he was just the school’s “token” conservative.

“For 22 years … it was a standing joke that we had one person on campus willing to speak his mind and contradict the reigning campus orthodoxy,” McIntire told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

“In 2016, in the run-up to the election, every single campus lecture I attended … turned into a Hillary Clinton pep rally and a Donald Trump hate-fest,” he said, noting that was the case even when the lectures had nothing to do with politics.

Then, earlier this year, he suddenly found himself embroiled in the college’s free speech and #MeToo movements.

‘Oversharing’ Political Beliefs

When McIntire invited prominent atheist Michael Shermer to campus in March to speak about debunking beliefs in the afterlife and utopian societies, one female educator at the college sent out a mass email to faculty.

In the email, the chairwoman of the chemistry department, Raeanne Napoleon, cited a Buzzfeed article reporting on past allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Shermer, including attempted groping and lewd behavior at scientific conferences, along with one public accusation of rape.

Even though Napoleon wrote that Shermer “still has the right to free speech,” she recommended that female faculty members and students avoid being alone with him.

Napoleon told Inside Higher Ed that she was inspired by the #MeToo movement to warn fellow faculty members about Shermer. She also wasn’t a fan of McIntire’s politics.

Napoleon said McIntire was well-known for “oversharing” his political beliefs through campus email, admitting to automatically marking his emails as trash in the past.

In response, McIntire came to Shermer’s defense in a series of private emails he sent to fellow educators, as well as in an article he wrote for the student newspaper.

Of Napoleon’s all-campus email, McIntire wrote in the student newspaper’s online comments section: “She succeeded only in fingering herself as a calumniator of the very worst stamp.”

McIntire also referred to a conciliatory e-mail sent to him by Napoleon as a “morning-after regret” of an email to another faculty member.

Complaints, Evaluations

 Those comments—among others—got McIntire into trouble. Napoleon told Inside Higher Ed that his language was suspect in the context of the sexual assault allegations against Shermer.

Soon thereafter, four of McIntire’s female colleagues, including Napoleon, brought  harassment complaints against McIntire under Title IX, the federal law protecting individuals from discrimination based on sex at institutions that receive federal funds.

In May, the college sent McIntire a termination notice, owing to three negative teaching evaluations from philosophy department Chairman Marc Bobro.

In the teaching evaluations, Bobro wrote that the topics McIntire chose for term papers and exams were too “highly charged and politicized,” that his Facebook posts were inappropriate, and that he failed to grasp “basic philosophical concepts.”

“I never assigned topics,” McIntire wrote in an email to The Daily Signal. “I let the students assign the topics.”

Often, McIntire’s students would pick politically charged topics such as abortion, homosexual marriage, Black Lives Matter, extraterrestrial life, and transgenderism.

“In all my 23 years teaching at SBCC, I never had a student paper defending conservatism,” he said.

McIntire said it took several meetings with administrators for Bobro to acknowledge he was incorrect on that point.

‘Tribal Feminism’

In his second evaluation, Bobro wrote that he recommended that McIntire delete Facebook posts critical of other faculty members and transgender individuals, and “go to a diversity workshop on campus this school year.”

“My political ideas and expressions should never have been included in the teaching evaluations,” McIntire said.  “I teach philosophy, which is all about the examination of opposing views, dispassionate, in a civil environment.”

McIntire said he believes the negative teaching evaluations and harassment claims were rooted in a bias against his political beliefs:

I was fired because of a disease. The clinical name for this disease is ‘Acute Social Justice Warrior Campusitis.’

The particular pathogen on the SBCC campus is the #MeToo tribal feminism that fired me because I was the only faculty member with the grit to [publicly] defend opposing views of conservatives, Trump voters, religious, libertarian, and home-schooled individuals.

Bobro did not return calls or emails from The Daily Signal seeking comment.

After months of legal wrangling, McIntire and the college agreed to a $120,000 settlement. According to the student newspaper, The Channels, the decision was unanimous on the part of the college’s board of trustees, with  internal deliberations ending in a 6-0 vote Aug. 9.

McIntire said college documents will list him as having resigned Aug. 3, rather than not rehired or terminated.

He told the student newspaper that the college expunged the three negative evaluations.

‘A Good Judge’

In an email to The Daily Signal, he said he has been “fully exonerated” in the four Title IX complaints.

Judge Elinor Reiner, hired by the college to investigate the complaints against McIntire, determined in her final report that the statements McIntire made to the female instructors did not rise to the level of violating Title IX law.

But Reiner wrote that she did “find that a small number of the comments made by McIntire in his e-mails were gender-based in a purposefully disparaging fashion,” adding:

While those comments reasonably could give rise to a belief among some female faculty that at times he was ‘anti-feminist,’ especially since they believed (erroneously) he never directed negative comments toward male faculty members, patently they were not ‘severe’ or ‘pervasive’ enough to demonstrate actionable harassment or bullying took place.

McIntire said he is satisfied.

“I’m grateful that my name was cleared,” he said, adding that Reiner “clearly didn’t like the language I used … but she’s a good judge, and she came down on the side of the law, Constitution and Bill of Rights.”


Australia: Vic students tested on literacy, numeracy

Every high school student in Victoria will be tested against new literacy and numeracy standards, in the biggest shake up of VCE in decades.

The new standards will be reported as part of VCE or VCAL results from 2021, the Labor state government announced on Monday in a bid to ensure school leavers meet minimum literacy and numeracy standards.

"This is a change that has been called for by employers for some time, and with this additional support we will give every student the opportunity to be job ready," Education Minister James Merlino said.

The Liberal-Nationals opposition doesn't support the new testing system.

"It's a bit late. If kids have got a problem with numeracy and literacy they need to be identified very early," Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said, instead pointing to the need for phonics checks earlier in school years.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

European Universities Growing in Popularity among Chinese Students, Says Host of Beijing International Schools' University Fair

Harrow Beijing, an affiliation of Harrow School London (est. 1572), successfully hosted the Beijing International Schools' University Fair this week. Welcoming over 100 universities from 14 countries, the event held a series of insightful workshops in support of prospective university students and discussions on trends within the higher education industry.

Out of the universities in attendance, over 20 institutions were from continental Europe. The rise has been attributed to an increase in the popularity of European universities as a destination for Chinese students coupled with a growing number of continental European schools offering degree programs taught in English.

"The variety of majors are always growing. We still have the traditional courses such as Law and Medicine, although business degrees are probably the most popular," said Paul Rispin, Director of 6th Form and Careers at Harrow School Beijing.

"Many of our students still choose the traditional destinations of the US or the UK, but the trend for students to head to other countries is growing particularly owing to an increase in degree programs being taught in English. Today we have 14 countries represented at the fair, including many from continental European universities. We have nine universities from the Netherlands alone." He continued, "One of our seminar topics was on Studying in the Netherlands. This session lead by a representative of Leiden University was new this year and proved to be very insightful."

The number of Chinese students enrolling on international university courses has been growing steadily year-on-year, hitting a record high of 608,400 students in 2017 according to the Ministry of Education for the People's Republic of China. With a majority heading to European and North American Universities.

China remains the world's largest supplier of international students. This year all of the students graduating from Harrow Beijing and taking up degree programs have done so outside of China. The UK and US are still popular but others are catching up fast. This year the breadth of university destinations is expected to continue to grow.

For more information, please visit:

Media release

AU Students Plan Protests And Safe Space For Daily Caller Editor’s Speech

An upcoming speech at American University by The Daily Caller’s breaking news and media editor, Amber Athey, is facing backlash from some progressive students and organizations on campus who are reportedly planning to protest the event and are offer counseling services to students who are traumatized.

The speech—at first entitled “No, Don’t Believe All Women”—is being hosted by AU’s chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and will explore the importance of due process in the age of #MeToo.

In Facebook posts and messages obtained by The Daily Caller, some AU students have expressed a desire to “f***ing crash this bulls**t,” and to report YAL as a “campus hate group.”

One student accused the event of “[dismissing] our society’s deeply embedded roots of both misogyny and terror, in which women, men, and gender nonconforming bodies are in constant conflict with institutional beliefs that permit for abusers to get away with abuse.”

“It is to dismiss how capitalism profits off of hierarchical social structures that permit for a cycle of violence to repeat itself viciously,” the student continued, and promised that “we will tear this down.”

The AU Student Government Women’s Initiative also denounced the event. The student-run organization, which describes itself as “responsible for creating and delivering responsive and educational programming that addresses issues through the lens of gender and sexuality,” issued a statement that read, in part:

In light of an event taking place on campus on Tuesday, October 23rd that is promoting the disempowerment and invalidation of survivors in sharing their stories, AUSG WI will be opening our office as a safe space from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

The statement also encouraged students to “unplug from social media” and news which might be triggering, and expressed support for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, as well as all survivors of sexual assault.

The AU Student Government did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment at the time of publishing.

Amber Athey said of the controversy, “The idea that these college students need a special ‘safe space’ to shield themselves from opposing viewpoints is just pathetic. Sadly, the students who need to learn about due process the most are completely unwilling to listen to anything that challenges them.”

AUYAL amended the name of the event to “Your Due Process: #MeToo” for the sake of clarification and maintaining a constructive dialogue, according to a statement released by the group Friday. AUYAL maintains that “the content of the event shall not be edited, changed, or otherwise amended.”

“We welcome all students who wish to participate in a diverse and constructive manner to join us in our conversation with Amber Athey on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at 8pm.”


Australia. 'A change was needed': Principal at exclusive $17,000-a-year Christian school BANS girls from wearing skirts or dresses - replacing them with shorts and pants

Incredible feminist rubbish. Girls behave differently from boys because they ARE different, not because of the clothes they wear.  As a general rule, boys are naturally more active and outdoorsy

A $17,000-a-year Melbourne private school has decided to ban young girls from wearing skirts or dresses. Teachers at the exclusive school claim the change will lead girls to participate more in school life.

The move by Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School came after they conducted an 18-month audit and found the uniform its female pupils were asked to wear was not 'fit for purpose'.

It is believed to be the first policy of its kind in Victoria.

The traditional school uniform for girls will be replaced with pants for pupils in kindergarten, prep and year one. 

A choice including shorts, jumpers, shirts and dresses will be available for girls from year two and upwards, according to The Herald Sun.

Principal Elisabeth Rhodes said: 'We know research that points to the fact young girls are not as active as their male counterparts and we looked at things that might inhibit them.'

'We wanted to encourage them if they wanted to hang upside down on the monkey bars or run around outside. 'A change was needed.'

The new pants have been custom-designed for girls, according to Ms Rhodes, and a year-round wardrobe has been designed for pupils to reflect the school's contemporary values.

Lowther Hall's policy change comes after Victoria implemented new laws last year mandating all state schools to give girls the choice of wearing either pants or shorts.

Private schools were exempted from the rules, however, and school councils are still responsible for deciding dress codes.

The laws were partly inspired by six-year-old Catholic school student Asha Cariss - who won the right to wear trousers at school in 2016 after her mother launched an online petition.


Monday, October 22, 2018

The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is About to Get Worse

The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay.

While Wall Street and U.S. President Donald Trump tout news of a booming stock market and low unemployment, college students may be quick to roll their eyes. The improved economy has yet to mean higher wages for graduates already struggling to pay down massive debt, let alone ease the minds of students staring down the barrel of six-digit loan obligations yet to come.

Federal student loans are the only consumer debt segment with continuous cumulative growth since the Great Recession. As the costs of tuition and borrowing continue to rise, the result is a widening default crisis that even Fed Chairman Jerome Powell labeled as a cause for concern.

Student loans have seen almost 157 percent in cumulative growth over the last 11 years. By comparison, auto loan debt has grown 52 percent while mortgage and credit-card debt actually fell by about 1 percent, according to a Bloomberg Global Data analysis of federal and private loans. All told, there’s a whopping $1.5 trillion in student loans out there (through the second quarter of 2018), marking the second-largest consumer debt segment in the country after mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve. And the number keeps growing.

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education. But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs, while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying. (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

“Students aren’t only facing increasing costs of college tuition; they’re facing increasing costs of borrowing to afford that degree,” said John Hupalo, founder and chief executive officer of Invite Education, an education financial planner. “That double whammy doesn’t bode well for students paying off loans.”

Student loan debt currently has the highest 90+ day delinquency rate of all household debt. More than 1 in 10 borrowers is at least 90 days delinquent, while mortgages and auto loans have a 1.1 percent and 4 percent delinquency rate, respectively, according to Bloomberg Global Data. While mortgages and auto loans have experienced an overall decrease in delinquencies since 2010, student loan delinquency rates remain within a percentage point of their all-time high in 2012.

Delinquencies escalated in the wake of the Great Recession as for-profit colleges pitched themselves as an end run around low-paying jobs, explained Judith Scott-Clayton, a Columbia University associate professor of economics and education. But many of those degrees ultimately proved useless, leaving graduates with debt they couldn’t pay back.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. “Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn’t ultimately obtain a degree,” she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who’ve incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace—such as post-graduate law or medical degrees—usually see a good return on their investment.

Hupalo agreed. “There’s a systemic problem in the student loan market that doesn’t exist in the other asset classes,” he said. “Students need to get a job that allows them to pay off their debt. The delinquency rate will rise as long as students aren’t graduating with degrees that pay back that cost.” Moreover, while college dropouts and for-profit graduates often struggle to find jobs with high enough wages to pay for their education, minority graduates are more likely to face discrimination in labor markets, making matters worse.

The cost of borrowing has also risen over the last two years. Undergraduates saw interest on direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans jump to 5 percent this year—the highest rate since 2009—while students seeking graduate and professional degrees now face a 6.6 percent interest rate, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (The federal government pays off interest on direct subsidized loans while borrowers remain students, or if they defer loans upon graduation, but it doesn’t cover interest payments on unsubsidized loans).

“If you’re in an interest-based plan, you see cost go up, which worries me for students who are in school and have seen debt go up before they’ve even finished,” Scott-Clayton said. She said borrowers with smaller amounts of debt—those most at risk of default—should take advantage of income-based repayment plans, if they can.

The deepening student debt crisis isn’t just bad news for students and recent graduates. The delinquencies that come with it may have a significant negative impact on the broader economy, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress earlier this year.

“You do stand to see longer-term negative effects on people who can’t pay off their student loans. It hurts their credit rating; it impacts the entire half of their economic life,” Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee in March. “As this goes on, and as student loans continue to grow and become larger and larger, then it absolutely could hold back growth.”

“Students shouldn’t assume their loan servicer has their best interest in mind.”

As young adults struggle to pay back their loans, they’re forced to make financial concessions that create a drag on the economy. Student debt has delayed household formation and led to a decline in homeownership. Sixteen percent of young workers aged 25 to 35 lived with their parents in 2017, up 4 percent from 10 years prior, shows Bloomberg Intelligence.

“You have a whole generation of people that have a significant amount of student loans and its crimping demand for other goods and services,” said Ira Jersey, the chief U.S. interest rate strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence. “As people live with their parents, or cohabit with a non-partner, millions of houses and apartments aren’t being purchased. Neither is Wi-Fi or that extra sofa. We think this is having a significant impact on the economy.”

Still, Jersey doesn’t think the student debt crisis is as severe as the subprime collapse of a decade ago. “It’s much different than mortgages,” Jersey said. “Even though it’s a crisis in that it increases the deficit, and taxpayers have to pay more over time, it doesn’t present a systemic financial sector risk like mortgages in 2007.”

However, that doesn’t offer much consolation to students, six in 10 of whom report frequent anxiety about their debt, according to a report from Chegg, an education technology company. To quell fears of delinquency, Scott-Clayton said students should be proactive in researching different repayment plans.

“You have to wonder if the lack of transparency surrounding [student] loans is intentional,” she said. “Students shouldn’t assume their loan servicer has their best interest in mind.”


University of Southern California to pay $215 million over sex abuse scandal

That's a lot for a not very rich private school

The University of Southern California has agreed to pay $215 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by hundreds of women who say that they were sexually abused by the former head gynecologist at the student health center and that school officials did not address their complaints.

The settlement, which still needs to be approved by the court, is among the largest to be reached by a university facing accusations of sexual misconduct. Still, it is unlikely to end the school’s legal battles over the issue. Nearly 500 women have sued USC claiming mistreatment by the gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall.

More than 90 of his former patients came forward for the first time this week, saying that he had molested them. One woman said that when she complained, she was told by officials from the health center, “We’ll look into it.” But there was no follow-up, she said.

Thousands of women who were patients of Tyndall during his three decades at USC will be eligible for $2,500 payments, whether or not they have alleged abuse. Women who allege the worse abuse and offer additional information will be eligible for up to $20,000, while those who are willing to be screened by a psychologist could receive a maximum of $250,000.

After an internal university investigation concluded that he had acted inappropriately and that his behavior had amounted to sexually harassing patients, Tyndall reached an agreement with the school and quietly resigned with a payout in 2017.

Although the report found that complaints had come in since at least 2000 and it was not clear why he was allowed to stay, USC officials did not report the findings to the state medical board or any of his former patients.

After a major outcry over the way school officials handled the issue, the president of the university, C.L. Max Nikias, stepped down earlier this year.

The interim president, Wanda Austin, sent a letter announcing the settlement Friday to students, faculty, and staff, calling it “an important step forward” that she hopes will “help our community move collectively toward reconciliation.”

Money for the settlement will come from reserve funds and the university’s insurance, not tuition or donor money, according to details outlined on a USC website.

In court documents and in interviews, former patients of Tyndall’s have accused him of a variety of abusive practices, including invasive and unnecessary pelvic exams, touching their vaginas, asking them to undress in front of him, and making sexually explicit remarks about women’s bodies.

He has denied all allegations of harassment and mistreatment.

The state medical board suspended his license to practice in August and the Los Angeles Police Department has said it is investigating possible criminal charges.

In June, the federal Education Department said it was beginning an investigation into how USC handled the complaints, which it did not disclose during another separate federal investigation over allegations against faculty and staff members, which was concluded in January.

The settlement is the latest multimillion-dollar financial payout from a university facing accusations of sexual misconduct.

Michigan State University agreed to a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, a sports doctor who worked there for decades.


Australia: Religious schools must retain hiring rights

In the hasty and overheated reaction to the leaked recommendations of the Ruddock review, pressure is building to remove the rights of religious schools to discriminate against teachers, not just students, on the grounds of questions of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

This pressure needs to be resisted.

Teachers and children are not the same. There is no justification for a continued right for a religious school to discriminate against a student. But there is a kind of religious school where certain aspects of a teacher’s life and relationships are significant enough to be justified grounds for discrimination.

Admittedly, some religious schools sit loosely to their religious affiliation. Other than for the chaplain, there is a low expectation for the staff to live that closely to the obligation of the relevant religion. For these schools the sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status of their teachers is pretty irrelevant.

For others it is different. Those schools, and more importantly the parents who send their children to such schools, seek to have their students educated in an intentional religious community. And so the personal life of the teachers and other staff members play an important part in providing models and mentors for the students in growing in their religion. Such schools and parents need teachers to walk the walk — not simply talk the talk — about the religion of the school.

To remove this right to discrimination in the selection of staff, as some are rashly proposing, would be removing the right of the school to function as a religious school. Further, it would be in effect the state removing the liberty of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions, which is contrary to our international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18.4.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

What makes a "good" school?

Before answering the question above, one has to define what a good school is.  And that's surprisingly easy.  The basic definition is that the pupils do well in the annual state-wide exams.  Many people, however, will poo-pooh that definition, and say that things like cultural awareness, personal development and social responsibility are the defining qualities.  But, as it happens, all those things tend to covary. 

A school with good exam results will tend also to facilitate more exposure to the arts and offer many options for activities that are not strictly academic, such as good sporting facilities being available, with  sport being seen as character building.  Charitable work will also usually be encouraged.  So it is clear why people speak as if there were schools which are simply "good" across the board.  There really are such schools.

But how do you arrive at that?  Having good teachers and fine buildings can help to a degree, as can extensive parental involvement.  But how do you arrange that? Do good teachers and fine buildings just drop out of the sky?  What is the starting point that brings all those things together?  It is something that really runs across the grain for Leftists, with their comical belief that all men are equal:  It is good students that make a good school. 

If the students are orderly and attentive they will get good exam results and most teachers would like to teach there -- so the school will have its pick of the best available teachers.  And the best teachers will be best at treating the students as individuals and encouraging them in their own particular interests and abilities. So the school will be a safe and rewarding place for all.

So the next question is:  How do you get good students for a school?  How do you find orderly and attentive students who reward the efforts made by teachers to develop them in various ways?

In the end there is only one way to arrange that.  You have to have selective admissions.  But selective admissions are seen as obnoxious by many.  All men are equal, don't you know?  So we need a system that delivers selective admissions without appearing to do so.

There is such a system:  You find a locality where the good students tend to congregate naturally and locate your school there. So where do you find such a locality?  Easy.  You find the localities where the rich live. 

There will of course be exceptions but much research has shown that the rich tend to be brighter.  Life has selected them for above average intelligence, and intelligence is mainly genetically transmitted, so their kids will be brighter too. And, again as all the research shows, an amazing range of advantageous characteristics tend to be associated with high IQ.  Your "good" students will almost all be students of above average IQ.  So a good "non-selective" school will in most cases be a school located in a high income suburb.

And that brings us to the article below in which the writer has got the cart totally before the horse. It says that having a good school in an area will make the suburb an expensive one.  It says, for instance, that the Sydney suburb of Woollahra, in Australia, has a good school and that has pushed up the price of real estate there. But Woollahra has been an expensive suburb for many years.  I once lived there so I have a good awareness of that. The big terrace house I once lived in is now worth millions. 

And most of the people who live there are beyond the childbearing and childrearing years.  Why?  Because it is mostly only they who can afford to live there.  But if they are living post-children lives, schools are not the reason they live there are they?  In fact there are many reasons people live in leafy Woollahra in Sydney's Eastern suburbs.  I could list them but just ask a real estate agent in the area.

There is of course such a thing as a virtuous circle.  Once a suburb has got a good school, that school will add to the attractiveness of the area and those who have more money will try to move there -- pushing up the price even further than it otherwise would be.  So the story below is not totally wrong.  It is just superficial. 

And it has to be.  When Leftists are asked what makes a good school, they are pretty stumped and tend to mutter vaguely about "privilege".  That is dangerous ground however as many of them send their own kids to such schools. So are they "privileged" too?  They usually don't want to think that so silence is the best option for them

For those who know a bit about the British scene, the video below shows the very upper class Jacob Rees-Mogg embarrassing a privileged Leftist over the highly selective school to which he sent his son, something that was not generally known

So if you are a Leftist, you have to pretend that good schools somehow magically drop out of thin air without any reference to what made them good.  And when you note that such schools tend to be located in expensive areas you have to pretend that it is only the "goodness" of the school that has bid up the price of living in that area.  The article below was published in a very Left-leaning paper

Photographer Jason Busch rarely has to worry about his five-year-old son being late for school. Living right opposite Woollahra Public School, in the eastern suburbs, he has only to glance at the clock and then it’s a 30-second walk.

“We’d heard how good the school was, so that’s a real advantage of living here,” says Busch, who has a daughter, three, who will also attend the school. “As well as being so convenient, getting involved with the school is a great way of becoming part of the community.”

The chance to live in the catchment area of a well-regarded school is a major driver of price in the property market and likely to become more so as private school fees rise, says Domain Group analyst Nicola Powell.

“We know that well-performing public schools certainly have an effect on an area’s price growth,” Dr Powell says. “Private school fees have increased quite significantly, so, if people are priced out of those, they’ll look for good public schools.

“We also tend to find that residents of those areas will stay in those homes for longer, which limits supply and puts even more upward pressure on prices.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint by how much prices may be inflated by the presence of a good school, but anecdotally experts say it can be as much as 5 or 10 per cent.

Real Estate Institute of NSW president Leanne Pilkington believes a school’s strong reputation can precede it. “It can create extra competition in the market, especially if there’s not a lot of property coming up in the area. It can add to the value quite considerably.”

Competition is now so fierce to enrol in some popular public schools that principals ask parents to sign statutory declarations about their living arrangements to make sure their children are eligible to attend. Even leases on investment properties have to be long-term, and false declarations can be punishable by fines of up to $22,000.

Ray White Double Bay agent Di Wilson, who’s selling Busch’s two-bedroom apartment on Edgecliff Road as he and his family look to upsize, believes the prospect of a home so close to an excellent eastern suburbs school will be attractive for a young family.

The garden residence is on the north corner of a 1890 Victorian manor converted into apartments. It has retained its original charm after a contemporary renovation.

“It has all the convenience of an apartment, but it feels much more like a house,” says Wilson, who leads it to a November 8 auction with a price guide of $1.45 million. She says the manor’s apartments were once inhabited by artists and writers.

“For me, arriving in Sydney, it felt like a real community here,” says Busch. “And it still does.”

It’s a similar story for catchments in the inner west, advises Chris Parsons, of McGrath Leichhardt. He says that most buyers ask about zonings for schools such as Leichhardt Public and Orange Grove in Lilyfield. “As well as adding to the price, those schools make all the difference between homes selling or not selling.”

In Baulkham Hills, the high-achieving Matthew Pearce Public is another lure for home-buyers.

“It’s a crucial consideration for a lot of parents,” says Declan Morris, of Manor Real Estate. “We receive a lot of inquiries … and, if they’re not in the right catchment, people often decide to look elsewhere.”


We Must Teach College Students Basic Economics

By some measures, this seems like a great time for the field of economics. Economists are hired at universities, in government, and increasingly in businesses, including at leading tech firms. We are well paid. Economists generally recommend little regulation, reduced taxes, and free trade, and the current administration has adopted two and a half of these policies, with substantial economic success.

And yet, we economists have failed in a very basic regard. We are not educating students about the merits of a capitalist free market system, and we are not educating them about the costs of a socialist system. Thus, students lack basic economic literacy. This is important in a democracy because students become voters and politicians, and they do not understand the basic system they are controlling.

By some measures, this is a great time for the field. And yet, economists have failed in a very basic regard.

Economists disagree on the optimal role of government in society. But virtually all mainstream economists agree that a socialist system, where government controls the means of production in most important segments of the economy, is vastly less efficient than a capitalist economy.

If theory were not enough to teach this lesson, we continually have real world examples, with Venezuela being the most recent. Although Venezuela has large petroleum supplies and was once the richest country in Latin America, socialist policies have reduced it to abject poverty. Food is in such short supply that people are eating zoo animals. Professional women are turning to prostitution to earn money. Seven percent of the population—2.3 million people—have left the country, and more are leaving every day. Similar economic dislocations caused the fall of the Soviet Union, which continually suffered from food shortages.

Despite the obvious and well-document failings of socialism, many Americans support it as an economic system. A recent poll found that 57% of Democrats prefer socialism to capitalism. In a recent election, an avowed socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, won her primary for a seat in Congress, and Bernie Sanders, a socialist, came close to winning the Democratic nomination for President.

Some of the most fervent supporters of socialism are college students—and at most universities, capitalism is a dirty word. The young people supporting socialism are our students, and we should teach them the problems with this fashionable but flawed economic system. But most students do not take economics, and those who do take an introductory economics class may not receive such an education.

There are many reasons for this. Economists respond to incentives, and the incentive system for economists puts little weight on teaching the benefits of capitalism. Most economists, like most academics, advance their careers by publishing articles in increasingly technical and mathematical professional journals. An important result of this is that the classes we teach are becoming increasingly technical and specialized, requiring high-level mathematics. This has the effect of reducing undergraduate demand for the economics major.

It is even worse at the graduate level. I am asked once or twice a year by students who support free markets but lack math skills what to study in graduate school, and I must tell these students that without a good bit of math, it is impossible to get a Ph.D. in economics.

I am not opposed to rigor in economics research and in policy advising. But it would be possible to teach undergraduate economics with a lower level of math. Very few of our students go on to become Ph.D. economists; most go to business or law schools, or directly to the job market. But we teach as if we are teaching future economics professors.

Ordinary citizens need a basic knowledge of economics in order to vote rationally: What will be the consequences of a tax cut or increase? What is the effect of international trade on the economy? What are the costs and benefits of occupational licensing laws?

Ordinary citizens need a basic knowledge of economics in order to vote rationally.

There are a few basic economic principles that are non-intuitive but do not require technical skills to understand. If these were more widely understood, then markets would be viewed more favorably, and socialism would lose its appeal. A very important distinction is the difference between the size of the pie—the amount of goods and services produced—and the division of the pie: who gets how much. Economics focuses on the size of the pie—how can society’s scarce resources be used to produce the most efficient bundle of goods and services.

Voters often focus on the division of the pie—who gets how much? This is because untrained people often view the world as zero-sum. Indeed, zero-sum thinking is probably the cause of most errors in economic thinking, including a belief in socialism. Economies can grow, and it is possible for the rich to get richer at the same time that the poor get richer. The common homily, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is neither certain nor sure; it is totally contrary to fact in a growing market economy

The most basic premise of economics is that hundreds of millions of people can interact with each other with no central direction and no coordination, and yet can reach a consistent outcome which itself has certain efficient properties. This is Adam Smith’s famous “invisible hand.” Because this is not widely understood, there are frequent calls for central direction and central planning, despite its massive failure in the Soviet Union, Venezuela, and wherever else it has been tried.

Economists also understand that selfish behavior can nonetheless lead to desirable outcomes. The uncoordinated behavior can be motivated by selfish ends, and yet the outcome will generally be efficient. Motives do not matter; outcomes do. In some sense, we are all out to maximize our incomes but the way to do this in a market economy is to provide something that others want to buy. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates became fantastically wealthy by creating the computer revolution, and their financial wealth was only a small part of the massive social wealth they created. In a socialist economy, the way to gain wealth is to gain power over others.

If we economists would make the effort to teach these points to as many students as possible, we could reduce the demand by voters for a socialistic economy. Perhaps donors or foundations supporting free markets could create a system of prizes for economists who advance the understanding of markets for ordinary citizens. This could reorder incentives and lead to more and better teaching.


Harvard’s history with Asian-American applicants in the spotlight

The trial over Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions policies may have put a spotlight on current allegations that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants, but the Ivy League school has been dogged by similar questions for nearly 30 years.

On Tuesday, Students for Fair Admissions, which has accused Harvard of racial discrimination, focused on the university’s history during the second day of the closely watched trial. The organization, which represents Asian-American applicants, questioned how much has changed at Harvard since a federal government investigation in 1990 and another inquiry in 2012, and what role race plays in how the university rates applicants.

Students for Fair Admissions alleges that Harvard has general limits on the share of Asian-American students on its campus. The university’s system for evaluating students, particularly on their personal qualities, disadvantages Asian-American applicants, who tend to score lower on that metric, hurting their chances of gaining entrance, the group says.

Harvard has known for a long time that the personal rating is a problem and that race influences that score by admissions officers, Adam Mortara, an attorney for Students for Fair Admissions, said in his opening statement of the trial.

Those personal ratings, which measure characteristics such as courage, kindness, and leadership, are gleaned from an applicant’s letters of recommendation, essays, interview, and other personal data, according to Harvard.

But they are also fairly subjective and drew scrutiny from the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in 1990.

The federal agency investigated complaints that Harvard discriminated against Asian-American applicants and were admitting them at a lower rate than white students. After a review of Harvard’s data, the department didn’t find evidence of racial discrimination but noted that white students were more likely to receive higher personal scores than Asian-Americans.

The report also found that admissions officers would sometime make stereotypical comments about Asian-American applicants.

“Quite often Asian American applicants were described as being quite/shy, science/math oriented, and hard workers,” according to the 1990 civil rights report presented in court on Tuesday. “OCR concluded that, while descriptions of Asian American applicants were found that could have implications for stereotyping of Asian American applicants, they could not be shown to have negatively impacted the ratings given to these applicants.”

William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions since 1986, said on the stand Tuesday that the Office of Civil Rights report remains an “important benchmark” for the university.

“We took the report, very, very seriously,” he said. “We abhor stereotypical comments. . . . It’s not who I am and not who our admissions committee members are.”

Fitzsimmons said Harvard officials discussed the findings of the report, but he did not say how admissions officials addressed the concerns raised in the report.

Harvard lawyers have yet to question Fitzsimmons. But William Lee, who is representing Harvard in the trial, said the university’s policies have been repeatedly found to be legal and have been cited by the Supreme Court in the past as an appropriate use of race in admissions.

“That was a finding from 1990, when people said in the midst of 110,000 files, they found a few comments,” Lee said. “You know that the ultimate finding was that there was no discrimination.”

According to documents presented in court, the Office of Civil Rights came back to question Harvard in 2012 after parents of an Asian-American student who had been denied admission complained.

Harvard again defended its admissions process and argued that while the unnamed student excelled academically, he did not demonstrate any stellar extracurricular participation or personal qualities.

“While an overwhelming number of applicants could handle Harvard’s academically rigorous undergraduate program, the Admissions Committee engages in a flexible and highly individualized review of all applicants, attempting to select students whose achievements and personal qualities make them most likely to contribute to and benefit from Harvard’s multi-faceted educational environment,” one of Harvard’s attorney’s wrote to the Office of Civil Rights in 2012. This “application simply was not as compelling as those of other candidates who applied.”