Friday, November 09, 2018

Male teacher ordered to observe teen girl in shower

A male physical-education teacher in a Florida school district has been told he will be transferred to another school as discipline for not doing his job.

His job? “Walk into and supervise the locker room.”

And why didn’t he? There possibly was a teen girl showering there with the boys in her class.

Chasco Middle School in Land O’ Lakes, Florida, has drawn the attention of the non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel for adopting the transgender activist agenda.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the Pasco County School Board must “reign in these rogue school employees and administrators and reject their unauthorized LGBT policies and practices that violate parental and employee rights and the privacy rights of students.”

Liberty Counsel has written a letter to Cynthia Armstrong, chairman of the Pasco County School District Board, in response to an unwritten “policy” that allowed a girl to use the boys bathroom and required “others to refer to her with false gender pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him.’

Liberty Counsel said the school’s two P.E. teachers, identified as Robert O. and Stephanie C., objected to administrators’ orders “to allow the girl into the bathroom, with no forewarning of the boys, or their parents, so that the boys could take steps to protect their privacy.”

“Administrators told them that informing the boys so they could take steps to protect their privacy would be ‘discriminatory,’ and subject them to discipline,” Liberty Counsel said.

“Robert also objected to administrators’ orders that he continue to walk into and supervise the locker room, despite a girl potentially being nude or undressed in that area. The administrators told him that the girl in question had ‘every right to use the locker room,’ including the right to disrobe in the open locker area, and shower in its open showers, where Robert is required to periodically walk in and supervise.”

Liberty Counsel declared to the district that Robert “will not knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress.”

“Now, Robert has been told by administrators that he will be transferred to another school as discipline for ‘not doing your job in the locker room.'”

The legal group said the girl “was admitted to the boys locker room for the first time, and walked in, catching boys (literally) with their pants down, causing them embarrassment and concern by the fact that they had been observed changing by an obvious girl.”

“Boys immediately came out of the locker room, and approached Stephanie and Robert, seeking assistance. The P.E. teachers were powerless to respond, because administrators had placed a gag order on them, and told them that they could not answer the boys on these questions.”

A WND call to the district Wednesday afternoon got a message saying the office was closed. The call then was disconnected.

Liberty Counsel explained to the district that there is no law requiring that girls be allowed in boys’ restrooms. The group asserted “objective biological sex – male and female – is (and should remain) the determining factor for access to gender-appropriate public school facilities.”

Allowing otherwise is “violating male students’ and teachers’ rights.”

Liberty Counsel pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court “has acknowledged the lawfulness of sex-based standards that flow from legitimate biological differences between the sexes.

“Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has stated, ‘Separate places to disrobe, sleep, perform personal bodily functions are permitted, in some situations required, by regard for individual privacy.'”

Liberty Counsel said it is prepared to help the school board if it returns to a gender-appropriate policy.

The actions apparently stem from a “Gender Support Plan” created by Jackie Jackson-Dean, a school psychologist.

Her plan, Liberty Counsel said, encourages “improper locker and bathroom access, the use of false gender pronouns, and withholding of information from parents.”

It was President Obama who instructed public schools to allow access to restrooms and showers based on gender identity. However, the Trump administration rescinded the guideline.


How Affirmative Action Backfires on Minority Students, and Why Colleges Do It Anyway

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas once recounted the time when his Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School was dismissed from nearly every law firm he considered.

The interviewers, believing him to be a beneficiary of Yale’s aggressive affirmative action policies, which de-emphasized LSAT scores and grades for black students, questioned him pointedly about his qualifications and “doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated,” Thomas wrote in his memoir.

According to Thomas, Yale’s affirmative action quotas had relaxed the standards for his race so much that his achievements were stigmatized and not acknowledged by high society.

After this experience, Thomas pasted a 15-cent sticker he got from a pack of cigarettes next to his Yale Law School degree, as an indication of the mistake he made going to Yale.

Perhaps he may have somewhat understated the value of his elite law school education. But he did not understate the underlying problem facing gifted young minority students like him, and which remains to this day: that our educational culture values surface-level diversity to the extent that it actually undermines the well-being of those who are supposed to benefit from it.

Stuart Taylor, author of “The Mismatch Effect,” writes that these racial balancing policies implemented at Harvard and other elite schools, while perhaps well-intentioned, can actually produce negative side effects on entire racial communities.

According to Taylor’s research, black students who are “mismatched,” i.e. admitted into schools where they would not be considered had the school adopted a race-blind policy, are more than twice as likely to be found in the bottom 20 percent of the school as whites.

Black law school graduates are four times as likely to fail bar exams as whites. They are less socially integrated on campus, and graduate at a lower rate than their white counterparts.

The bad news gets worse after graduation. A 2013 study by economist Doug Williams found that black law school graduates with similar credentials to their white counterparts nevertheless perform worse on the bar exam.

Even after limiting his study to only those law school graduates who actually took the bar exam, he discovered that black graduates were 31 percent less likely to pass the bar exam on the first try than white peers.

What happens when these students are matched into universities more concordant with their objective academic aptitudes? The science isn’t yet completely settled, but the initial evidence based on studies conducted in California (where racial preferences were outlawed in 1996) have been positive.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, while the number of black and Hispanic applicants admitted to UCLA went down overall after 1996, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to black and Hispanic students remained the same, suggesting a higher graduation rate.

The evidence, at the very least, doesn’t seem to suggest the destruction of black achievement in higher education prophesied by those who oppose California’s system.

If blacks and Hispanics do not benefit from racial preferences, then why do universities like Harvard continue to fiercely resist eliminating them from the way they conduct admissions?

Part of the reason is that diversity sells. Colleges care deeply about their brand and image, and one of the most effective ways to reach socially conscious prospective students’ (and their parents’) hearts and wallets is tout the surface-level diversity of their class.

Furthermore, many large grants — ever-more necessary to pad the lining of university endowments — take strong consideration of a university’s “commitment to diversity.” The most prestigious, such as the Mellon Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, specifically ask how universities “support its underrepresented populations.”

Surface-level diversity has become a money-making industry. Perhaps the greatest proof of this is the sharp increase in the hiring of diversity officers at major colleges across the United States. Diversity officers, responsible for maintaining certain diversity protocols on campus, are being hired in droves.

As just one example, the University of California, Berkeley’s diversity bureaucracy is already at 175 employees. Many of these diversity bureaucrats are paid like kings — the head diversity officer at the University of Michigan is paid $375,000 per year, according to The Economist.

There appears to be no limit to the amount that colleges are willing to spend to boost their surface-level diversity credentials.

At the same time, however, many of these administrators sincerely believe that what they are doing is right. It is necessary to racially balance the composition of our student body, so the logic goes, because a diverse class is a healthy one.

But these good intentions do not automatically translate into real-world success for minority students. In fact, they can stunt their careers, force them into less rigorous majors, and negatively impact their self-esteem.

When students are admitted to college for reasons other than their own merit, they will soon find themselves struggling to cope with expectations they were not prepared for. The school may score its diversity points, but minority students will often be ill-served.

Every college wants to brag about diversity. Until we reckon with the consequences of affirmative action, however, those boasts will ring hollow.

Minority students deserve to be served according to their merit rather than used as currency in the diversity game.


Professor Arrested After Being Caught on Camera Stealing Republican Yard Signs

Political campaigns have always been a rough-and-tumble business, and there is nothing new about supporters of one candidate seeking to sabotage or undermine the efforts of an opposing candidate in various ways.

One of the most common methods of sabotage is destroying or stealing yard signs of an opponent to express their opposition and to stifle displays of public support from other voters.

But doing so is a crime in many parts of the country, and one liberal professor in New York just learned that lesson the hard way after being caught on camera stealing yard signs for Republican candidates from a random supporter’s yard.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that economics lecturer Laura Ebert, who currently works at the State University of New York at New Paltz, was arrested by police and charged with misdemeanor larceny after she removed yard signs for Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro and Rep. John Faso.

A surveillance camera at the home of the Republican voter caught the moment that Ebert stopped her truck on the side of the road and exited the vehicle to approach the yard signs. She then ripped them both out of the ground and tossed them into the open bed of the truck before leaving the scene.

A Twitter user by the name of Lisa McMerica posted the footage to social media last week and tweeted, “My lawn signs for #NY19 @JohnFasoNy and @marcmolinaro we’re just stolen from my front lawn,” followed by an angry face emoji.

In follow-up tweets in the comments of that post, the woman revealed that her husband had filed a police report and turned over the footage to law enforcement, who were able to obtain the license plate number of the truck and track down the thief to arrest her. She also noted that the yard signs had been tossed into a random ditch along the side of a road.

The arresting officer wrote in a police report obtained by the Free Beacon, “Based off my observation of the security footage, I patrolled to the residence and made contact with Ms. Ebert and she was subsequently taken into custody for petit larceny.”

“Ms. Ebert stated that she was ‘sorry’ and that she had disposed of the signs,” the report added.

Campus Reform made contact with the sign-stealing SUNY lecturer, who reiterated her apology for her criminal actions and sought to explain her motives, though she also utilized the opportunity to try and disparage Republicans for the reaction her criminal behavior had received.

“I did it in a moment of weakness and high emotion,” Ebert told Campus Reform of her decision to steal the campaign signs.

“I meant no personal harm, and don’t know the person whose lawn the sign was on. I have family I love that support Trump, so I was after the sign, not the person,” she added.

“I have apologized and feel bad, but clearly the GOP is putting a big deal (of) spin on this,” Ebert said, implying that the criticism she had received from Republicans for her actions were not merited.

“Many signs have been taken and disfigured, which, while no excuse for my bad behavior, doesn’t warrant the death threats I have received on my email about it. Nor the smear campaign after me, including notifying my supervisor,” she added.

Campus Reform also reached out to SUNY New Paltz for comment on Ebert’s behavior, but did not receive a response prior to the publication of the article.

The Free Beacon noted that this particular theft of political yard signs for Republican candidates was but one of many similar instances during this election cycle.

Though the punishment for misdemeanor larceny probably isn’t all that severe — and it is unlikely the professor will be fired over it — it nevertheless would be nice to see her held accountable for her ideologically motivated thievery.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

School Choice Expansion Defeated in AZ. More Students Confined to Questionable Schools

Arizona voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to vastly expand school choice for Arizona families.

The goal of Proposition 305 was to implement a Senate bill passed in 2017 to make all K-12 students in Arizona eligible to apply for Empowerment Scholarship Account, according to Ballotpedia. The ESA program was first created to target students with disabilities, but has broadened its eligibility rules over time to include more disadvantaged groups of students.

An Arizona ESA gives a family 90 percent of what it would cost for school, although Proposition 305 sought to make that 100 percent for families with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty level. Families can then use that money to support a child’s education.

The expansion would be phased in by grade levels over four years, then capped at .5 percent of all students enrolled in public and charter schools.

Approval of Proposition 305 would result in the existing program becoming about six times its current size, the Arizona Republic reported. The ESA efforts now serves about 5,600 students and costs $62 million per year.

The Center for Arizona Policy said Proposition 305 should be passed to give families their proper role in making decisions for their children.

“CAP supports a parent’s right to choose from a wide variety of school options, including district, charter, online, private, or homeschool. Parents are in the best position to make these choices, as they are most familiar with the educational needs, personalities, learning styles, and interests of their children,” it wrote on its website.

Before the election, a Suffolk University / Arizona Republic poll showed support for the program, but uncertainty about the actual ballot proposal.

According to the survey, 41 percent of respondents backed the program while 32 percent were opposed and 27 percent were still undecided.

The survey also found that not all voters understood the wording of the proposal, and that some who opposed vouchers supported it until the language was clarified for them.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has said that he supports passage of Proposition 305, KPNX reported. Ducey’s Democratic opponent David Garcia opposes the proposition.

Allegra Fullerton of the anti-Proposition 305 group Save our Schools, said that although the program is fine as it is, expanding eligibility to everyone is a mistake, according to the State Press.

“It’s important to understand that the current breakdown of families who use ESAs, 75 percent of them qualify as affluent whereas only 4 percent qualify as being lower income, so the word scholarship has created a lot of confusion,” Fullerton said. “For an average learner, it would be around $5,000, and when you look at private schools, the tuition (is) at least $18,000, so if you’re a family in need, it wouldn’t get you too far.”

Expanding ESAs to all potentially parents would be “devastating for our public schools,” she said.

“This is a 500 percent expansion, so what it would look like over the next four years is that anywhere from $100 to $130 million would leave our schools,” Fullerton said. “We need to work hard to keep all our public moneys in our public school.”


How School Choice Is Lifting Up Puerto Rico’s Children After Hurricane Maria

Thirteen months ago on Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria slammed the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, devastating homes and infrastructure and leading to loss of life across the island.

The storm greatly exacerbated the problems of a school system already in crisis: Puerto Rican fourth- and eighth-graders, for example, are roughly five grade levels behind their U.S. mainland peers in mathematics.

Out of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria came an opportunity to reform the ailing education system on the island.

Notably, the education reforms introduced by the territorial government and supported by Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher, along with Gov. Ricardo Rossello, include a pilot school-voucher option and the introduction of charter schools.

The introduction of education choice in Puerto Rico didn’t come without pushback from special-interest groups, however.

The Puerto Rican Superior Court initially sided with the teachers union, which had argued that school choice was unconstitutional. However, the Superior Court’s narrow reading of the Puerto Rican Constitution was overturned by the Puerto Rican Supreme Court in Asociacion de Maestros v. Departamento de Educacion, allowing the new charter school and voucher options to proceed.

The ability for the island to introduce parental school choice is a win for families.

The need for better educational opportunities is evidenced by low levels of academic performance. For example, the percentage of fourth-grade students in Puerto Rico who performed at or above the “Proficient” level in math rounded to 0 percent in 2017.

Among the population of Puerto Ricans ages 25 years and older in the year 2000, four out of 10 had not received a high school diploma—about double the rate of the mainland population.

With more than 40 percent of the Puerto Rican population below the federal poverty line, ZIP codes trap families in failing schools. The personal choice and freedom that the new voucher and charter options will afford to Puerto Rican families have the potential to disrupt the territory’s stagnant education monopoly.

Take Jennifer Gonzalez Muñoz, who works at a cafe and cannot afford the tuition to a private school that would treat her 6-year-old son Jacob’s speech disability. Even though Muñoz has repeatedly addressed the problem with school officials, Jacob continues to be bullied at school.

School choice options are designed to help children like Jacob, whose family cannot escape a school environment that isn’t the right fit for him.

As a result of the reforms, charter schools opened up on the island this fall. Proyecto Vimenti, Puerto Rico’s first charter school, illustrates the diverse roles charter schools play in a community.

The school was designed with the express purpose to “break the generational cycle of poverty.” Proyecto Vimenti’s curriculum was modeled after the island’s most prestigious private school to give low-income families access to better education.

Giving families a diverse array of school options is important, because no two children are alike, and each student has his or her own learning styles and preferences. Introducing innovative and diverse schools that cater to students’ various learning styles will help students find the education they need.

Tailoring education to each student prepares students for life after the classroom.

Puerto Rico also introduced the Free School Selection Program, a private school scholarship that helps families pay for tuition. The scholarship program will assist students with special needs, those who are from low-income families, and who have been victims of bullying or sexual harassment.

The voucher option, which will begin during the 2019-20 school year, will empower parents to use the funds to pay for private school tuition, enabling their children to receive an education that is the right fit for them.

Puerto Rico should build on these promising reforms and expand the vouchers’ scope and eligibility significantly in future years, especially in light of the remarkable support for universal vouchers among Hispanic families.

Expanding the voucher program to look more like Arizona’s education savings accounts would be a great boon to many of Puerto Rico’s families. Arizonans can use their accounts not only for tuition, but also for private tutoring, school supplies, education therapy, and much more.

Moreover, school choice options have the potential to save money for the territory, which is heavily in debt.

Puerto Rico has more debt than the top five municipal bankruptcies combined, including Detroit’s, due in part to unfunded pension liabilities.

Territorial debt is driven to a significant extent by the $49 billion in outstanding pension obligations, which include some $13 billion for retired teachers and school personnel. Such debt is untenable, particularly when large swaths of the working-age population leave the island.

States have shown increasing support for school choice and parental empowerment in the past two decades. Instead of government-controlled education, school choice policies provide neutral aid that places educational choice in the hands of parents who know their child’s needs, hopes, and aspirations better than anyone else.

The charter school and voucher program victories are a great start for school choice opportunities in Puerto Rico. School choice ensures that all children have the opportunity to learn, and puts education in the hands of parents, instead of the state.

Puerto Rico’s empowered parents can now find the education that is best for their children.


South Australia signs up to Fed offer on school funding

But no Federal funding is ever enough for Left-led States,/i>

South Australia is the first state to sign up to a controversial new national deal for school funding with the federal government hoping others will follow its lead.

The SA Liberal government on Monday signed up to the deal, which has been under negotiation with all the states since mid-2017.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is confident others will soon follow, despite complaints from some states that public schools won't get enough money.

"I continue to negotiate bilateral agreements with the other states and territories in good faith and hope to finalise them all soon," he said.

The federal government's deal with SA lays out concrete steps the state must take to improve outcomes for its students, Mr Tehan said.

"This agreement confirms that school reform must focus on driving individual student achievement and equipping teachers with the right tools in the classroom," he said.

In September, a $4.6 billion 10-year peace deal offered to Catholic and independent educators by the coalition threw a curve ball at negotiations with the states, with education ministers calling for an equal funding boost for government schools.

Labor education spokesman Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government has shown through the deal that looking after the "top end of town" is more important than funding public schooling.

"Mr Morrison has restored the money he cut from Catholic and independent schools, but he refuses to do the same for public schools that teach two in three Australian students," she said on Monday.

The coalition says it has delivered record funding for public schools, with $7.3 billion this year, rising to $8.6 billion in two years' time.

Dozens of education organisations penned an open letter to Mr Morrison last month calling for a $1.9 billion funding boost for public schools.

The Australian Education Union, Children and Young People with Disability, and numerous principals' associations were among the 26 signatories.

But SA Education Minister John Gardner said the federal funding boost in the deal, from $1.3 billion in 2018 to more than $2 billion in 2029, would deliver better outcomes for children in his state.

"By working with the Morrison government, we are providing funding certainty for schools across South Australia," he said.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Co-ed or single-sex schools? Are all-boys or all-girls schools still relevant?

Christopher Scanlon gives below a pretty good summary of the evidence that the social background of the pupils underlies the  degree of success that different schooling types have in getting pupils through their final exams.  And that is true because IQ underlies socio-economic status.  As Charles Murray showed decades ago to great outrage, the richer are smarter on average.

Scanlon does however treat social class very gingerly and thus overlooks the one thing that DOES give private schools of all types an advantage.  Particularly for boys, the friends they make at school will be the core of their friendship group for life.   And they will tend to marry their friends' sisters. So they will tend to have both bright friends and bright wives.  And that is gold for an easy progression through life.  They really will have class "privilege"

As a parent of a school-aged daughter it feels like I’ve engaged in, or overheard in playgrounds and kids’ parties, roughly a million conversations about the pros and cons of single sex schools vs co-ed schools.

The angst-ridden nature of these conversations would make you think that school choice is one of the most important decisions a parent is ever going to make for their child. Many of these conversations feature “facts” about the benefits of single-sex schooling.

But how well do these facts stand up to scrutiny? While single sex schools typically outperform co-educational schools in terms of academic results, it’s unclear whether this is due to the absence of the opposite sex or other factors, such as socio-economic status of parents.

Kids who attend well-resourced schools tend to do better academically than kids at poorer schools, unfair as that may be.

As most single-sex schools in Australia are private schools or select-entry schools, the benefits may have more to do with the socio-economic backgrounds of the kids, rather than the gender make-up.

Yet the results factor is most often brought up by parents in terms of gender exclusivity, fuelling anxiety about school choice.

One particularly entrenched view is that single-sex schools are good for girls’ science and maths education. Girls, it’s suggested, will “dumb down” to fit with persistent gender stereotypes about girls not being innately good at these subjects. But the evidence is hardly compelling.

Sociologist Dr Joanna Sikora from the Australian National University found that while girls at gender-segregated schools are slightly more likely to pursue science in their final years of schooling compared to their peers who attend co-ed schools, it’s unclear whether this has to do with the absence of boys.

Other factors, such as coming from a wealthier family and, in the case of physical sciences at least, being born overseas and speaking a language other than English at home, appear to be important factor in girls’ selection and performance in science subjects (not the gender of fellow students).

And even accepting that girls from single sex schools are more likely to opt for science subjects in their senior years, it doesn’t seem to have a lasting impact.

Dr Sikora found that while boys attending single-sex schools are likely to express an interest in careers in medicine or physiotherapy compared to boys at co-ed schools, girls attending single-sex schools don’t aspire to careers in science any more than girls who share classrooms with boys. How lasting the effects of single-sex schooling are is a theme that comes up in other research.

Dr Katherine Dix from the Australian Council of Education Research compared NAPLAN literacy and numeracy results for boys, girls and co-educational schools at years 3, 5 and 7 and found that while students attending single-sex schools start out strong, the benefits declined over time.

In Year 3, for example, students at all-girls schools start out 7.2 school terms ahead in reading compared to their peers at co-educational schools, while students at all-boy’s schools are 4.6 terms ahead of their co-ed peers.

But by Grade 7, girls at all-girls schools are only 1.9 terms ahead and boys at single-sex schools are than half a term ahead of their co-ed peers. Similar results apply to numeracy. Students in Grade 3 at an all-boys school start out 4.3 terms ahead of their peers at co-educational schools while girls start out 3.1 terms ahead.

But by Grade 7, the boys from single-sex schools are only 2.8 terms ahead and girls are less than a term ahead of their co-ed peers.

“The most important outcome of having single-sex schools in any educational system”, says Dr Dix, “is not that they may be better, but rather that they offer families choice.”

Schools, however, do more than provide academic outcomes. They also play a role in the development of children’s identity and socialisation. And when it comes to single sex schools, that includes a strong pitch to parents about how the school will inculcate gender identity.

Single sex school marketing often includes statements about the type of young men and young women schools will produce.

Forget “gender whisperers” as Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled strategies to support transgender students in schools, many single sex schools use a gender megaphone to tell the world how they will shape student’s gender identity.

While many parents might regard that as a plus, the ideal of gender they promote — sport-loving future male CEOs or community-minded, forthright yet agreeable, young woman leader —may not suit every student.

What about the artsy boy, with little interests in sports? Or the young woman who feels constrained by "traditional feminine" expectations of behaviour?

While the benefits or otherwise of single-sex schooling may be up for debate, what is clear is that single-sex education is in decline in Australia, and has been for some time.

According to Dr Katherine Dix’s work, data shows that that the proportion of students from independent schools attending single-sex schools fell from 31 per cent in 1985 to just 12 per cent of students in 2015.

If your head is spinning at the research results, a better approach might be to consult another kind of expert.

Rather than worrying about the advice of educational consultants, school marketing departments or, dare I say it, the academic researchers, my wife and I have decided when the time comes, we will consult the experts in our own house.

I’m talking about our children. Involving them the question about school choice is about empowering them to think about the kind of learning environment they want.

It’s about finding out who’s in their friendship network. If you daughter has many friendships with boys or your son socialises with girls, then these friendships may well be key to their engagement with schooling — and their academic success.

Ask them about what subjects they like best, and about what they do. Do they take opportunities to show leadership, or do they work best when they’re supporting and following?

If nothing else, including your child in this discussion and really listening to and observing them during it, show them you take their views seriously, and help them to begin a lifetime of making important decisions for themselves.

After all, they’re the ones who are going to be most affected by your decision.


Higher Education — Part of the Battle for America’s Soul

There is a battle raging for the soul of America, pitting the forces of progressivism, with its clamor for an ever more intrusive and costly government, against those of us who believe in classical liberalism and limited government. A major front in that battle is our higher education system.

Last week, Roger Ream, president of The Fund for American Studies, gave an address for the Martin Center in which he explained how that battle is playing out, and today’s article condenses his talk.

Ream writes, “Today, the American experiment in liberty is threatened, perhaps as never before, because the dangers lie within our once-respected institutions. Furthermore, an ever-growing, powerful state with unsustainable financial obligations, called “entitlements,” coupled with a dangerous and widening cultural divide, has put the future of our Republic at risk. The ideas and institutions that provided Americans with the space to invent, innovate, invest, create, and build the most prosperous nation in human history are in serious danger.”

The great principles of personal freedom, individual responsibility, and free enterprise that allowed our nation to prosper are threatened. Ream poses the question of how we can reclaim those principles. His answer: “Reform and renewal of our universities is vital,” adding that “when those who despise America and disparage our nation’s founders and founding ideas control our schools, we have little hope of preserving our fragile experiment of liberty.”

Among the ways concerned Americans can act to counter the trends in higher education is to be more careful with their money. Don’t just automatically write a check to your college or university, since it’s apt to be put to no good. Target your giving.

Ream also suggests that concerned Americans challenge “progressive” notions that so dominate many of our campuses. And we need to up our game. He writes, “If we believe that free men and women can accomplish remarkable things when left free, we must be more persuasive in making our case. Those of us who favor the use of ‘persuasion over force in human relationships’ (Ben Rogge) must present our case in such a way that we will attract others.”

That’s absolutely right. The case for progressivism/socialism/statism is weak and thanks to the enlightening but tragic case-study of Venezuela, getting weaker by the day. We need a counterattack against the deceptive allure of leftism where it’s most entrenched — our colleges and universities.


How Progressive Elite Control of Education Embitters Americans

Does the educational establishment give students a fair chance to succeed?

Let me share two seemingly disconnected items. The first comes from the New York Times. Yesterday it profiled five Harvard College freshmen as they discussed how they gained admission into one of the nation’s most selective universities. It was striking how keenly aware they were of the admissions committee’s quirks and biases. It was as if they knew the stew the committee was trying to create, and their challenge was to market themselves as the right kind of ingredient.

There was the Asian-American student who joined the Air Force ROTC in part because she didn’t want to be seen as the “typical Asian.” There was another Asian composer from London who says she wouldn’t have “ticked the Asian box” if she had been a STEM student. Another student, a white man, believes he gained admission in part because he was from the Midwest and his family was low-income.

If you’ve ever served on an elite university’s admissions committee, you can see that the students are keenly aware of the game. They highlight their quirks, downplay their privileges, and exaggerate the adversity they had to overcome. (I’ll never forget the young woman who described herself as “formerly homeless” when her wealthy family had merely decided to travel the country in an RV for a year.) Heavily ideological institutions have decided how they want to socially engineer the American elite, and ambitious young Americans must bend to their will.

The second item is a bit strange. This spring we moved from our beloved home in Columbia, Tenn., to Franklin, a Nashville suburb. We were going through boxes as we packed and came across some schoolbooks from my wife’s early elementary-school education. It looked like they were written in a foreign language. You could decipher the words with some difficulty, but they clearly weren’t written in English.

“That’s ITA,” my wife said. “It stands for initial teaching alphabet.” It looks like this:

It turns out that for a time, some American schools initially taught reading through a 45-character alphabet invented by a British man named James Pitman. After learning reading through ITA, students would transition into standard English. It was never that popular. It’s now virtually extinct — just another education-reform idea that’s relegated to the dustbin of history.

Modern America is characterized by an intense grassroots distrust of American elites — with red America especially disdainful of progressive elite institutions. Much ink has been spilled explaining the reasons for this distrust, and I don’t intend for a single short piece to encompass the whole of the argument, but I do think we underestimate the extent to which prolonged exposure to a flawed and biased elite-ordered and elite-controlled education system is profoundly dispiriting and embittering for millions of Americans.

Public education has been marked by diminished local control, top-down reform driven by ideological and educational fads, and failed experiment after failed experiment. For example, the intense opposition to the Common Core in the recent past was driven in part by the too-fresh memory of other grand ideas and technocratic national movements.

As for higher education, its gatekeepers are often explicit ideological radicals. At their worst, they attempt to micromanage a freshman class’s racial and socioeconomic background (and sometimes its political composition) based on theories about privilege that are utterly at odds with the lived experience of the American families at their mercy.

Let’s put it this way: Especially in elite higher education, highly privileged (mainly white) administrators are quite often rejecting less privileged (mainly white and Asian) applicants in part because even that lesser privilege is too much. They deny students’ dreams in the fixed belief that their particular brand of mixing by race, class, and quirk is best for their institutions and best for their students.

Of course, education by its very nature will be considerably elitist — involving the transmission of knowledge from the better-educated to those who know less — but it becomes particularly difficult to swallow that elitism when it is so often distant, ideologically hostile, and (in so many areas) clearly unsuccessful.

And that frustration is magnified when you understand that the broken dreams and manifest failures impact the people most precious to all parents — their own children. Time and again, you see the frustration. These people, parents say, are messing with my kids.

Yes, there are countless good schools in the United States — and parents will pay immense housing premiums to attend those schools — but all too many parents have felt helpless in the face of decisions that directly affect their children and that sometimes seem arbitrary, misguided, or even heartless. In secondary education, “local control” isn’t just a political slogan, it’s an act of civic reform and shared civic responsibility that can decrease that sense of alienation and helplessness.

In higher education, true racial nondiscrimination and actual intellectual diversity can decrease the sense that kids are mere ingredients in someone else’s diversity stew. Of course higher-education admissions decisions have to be made on some basis, but must it always be true that the deciders will come from largely from a highly specific, highly privileged slice of progressive American life? Must it always be true that these admissions decisions are so highly dependent on factors that are completely out of the applicants’ control?

As with any system of immense size and complexity, there is no easy fix, and even the best-laid plans would require perhaps decades of implementation before a culture is changed. You can’t diversify a college administration overnight. Conservative academics will not come springing from the woodwork even if hiring committees remove their ideological blinders. But it’s still important to identify the cost of the status quo. And that cost is clear — embittered Americans who can often rightly feel as if their presumed “betters” never gave their children a truly fair chance to succeed.


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Harvard admissions dean William Fitzsimmons on trial

He goes fishing for blacks and  seems to think it is just coincidence that Asians get a raw deal

It was early 2013 and William Fitzsimmons, the legendary admissions dean at Harvard, was agitated. In fact, he was furious.

The reason? A New York Times column by David Brooks highlighting the implication by conservative Ron Unz that Harvard sets a quota for the number of Asian-American students it admits each year.

Fitzsimmons, 74, had spent his entire career pushing Harvard to become more diverse by every measure possible. The suggestion that he was purposely limiting the number of Asian-Americans hit him like an insult. So in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, Fitzsimmons fired off not one but four possible rebuttals to Brooks’s column to his staff for review.

“There will never be limits on excellence at Harvard,” he wrote in one draft. “We will continue to seek the nation’s and the world’s most promising students from all ethnic, cultural and religious heritages.”

Brooks anticipated the blowback. “You’re going to want to argue with Unz’s article all the way along,” his column said. “But it’s potentially ground-shifting.”

The column was prophetic; the ground has shifted. Six years later, Harvard finds itself defending its admissions practices against a group claiming Harvard illegally discriminates against qualified Asian-American applicants. The trial has become one of the most closely followed events in higher education this decade. The case will likely reach the US Supreme Court, and the outcome could influence admissions and affirmative action policies nationwide.

In many ways, it is Fitzsimmons’ own legacy that is on trial, for he has run the Harvard undergraduate admissions operation for 32 years. He graduated from the school in 1967, in an era when it largely catered to the children of the East Coast elite. Today Harvard awards free tuition to all low-income families and scours small towns in middle America for new talent. Fitzsimmons himself has become something of an institution, the personification of the modern philosophy that determines which lucky 2,000 students each year receive acceptance letters.

“I’m proud that Harvard over time . . . has really opened the gates of Harvard in all kinds of ways to a much larger range of talent,” Fitzsimmons said from the stand in federal district court last week, in a scene that would likely have felt unfathomable to him just a few years ago.

Four days in a row, Fitzsimmons took the stand to explain, in granular detail, the techniques he has honed over the years to pick a freshman class from thousands of sterling applicants. And how all of it is intertwined with his own blue-collar upbringing.

“Diversity adds an essential ingredient,” Fitzsimmons told the court. Race is just one factor among many considered, he said. He called the Harvard of today a “profoundly better place” than it was during his time, because of the diversity his admissions team has brought to campus.

As the son of a Weymouth gas station owner, Fitzsimmons is living testament to the power of a Harvard education to change a person’s lot in life.

Growing up just 20 miles from Cambridge, he had never heard about Harvard until he read about it in an encyclopedia. Now he golfs with millionaires. The summer after he graduated, he had to get a bank loan to travel to Europe with classmates. Now he jets around the world on Harvard’s dime.

Growing up, Fitzsimmons hung out with his parents’ friends at the gas station, and with the boys at Archbishop Williams, the Catholic high school he attended. He recently celebrated his 50th Harvard reunion with friends at the Kennebunkport home of Craig Stapleton, the former US ambassador to France.

But talk to people who have known Fitz, as everyone calls him, since he was an 18-year-old with a severe crew cut, and they’ll tell you he’s still the same man. He has traded the buzzed hair for graying temples and wire-framed spectacles, but he has managed to guard the humility, fairness, and boyish sense of humor that have been his since childhood. He has no children of his own, but he is the grandfather of nearly 40 classes of Harvard freshmen.

The trial has also shown him to be a savvy operator, balancing his dedication to equal access, even as Harvard grants an extra boost to athletes and the children of donors and alumni.

Fitzsimmons often enlists friends to help with admissions recruiting, and his 1967 classmate Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor, calls him “an egalitarian soul.” Ridge said they joke about the “Erie quota,” meaning whether the school will accept any students from the small town where Ridge grew up in public housing.

Last year Fitzsimmons called him excitedly, Ridge said, because a Somali student from Erie had been admitted. Fitzsimmons wanted Ridge to call and welcome him to the class. “I thought, that is very reflective of how he views his responsibility to build as diverse a class as possible,” Ridge said.

Fitzsimmons is the rare 74-year-old admissions dean who still takes recruiting trips. Every year he goes to West Virginia with his counterpart from Yale.

“I just remember myself feeling tired . . . and watching Bill’s energy and being truly amazed at Bill’s ability to do that,” said the Yale dean, Jeremiah Quinlan. The pair always stop at Weaver’s, a diner on the Maryland border, for pie. Quinlan said he admires Fitzsimmons’ encyclopedic memory and knowledge about the country.

“He connects the larger demographic and socioeconomic issues of the country to the admissions work that we do,” he said.

Fitzsimmons is also aware of the sway his post gives him over the admissions industry. In the early 2000s, he was part of an effort to reduce the influence of standardized tests. Before that, he was known to rail against expensive SAT tutors and academic coaching.

“We want to get the word out more clearly that tests should not be used in a rigid way,” Fitzsimmons said in 2008 at a conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which had asked him to lead a panel examining testing issues. Many colleges, though not Harvard, today are test-optional, and the role of such assessments is indeed diminished.

“There’s no other way to say it, but if Fitz is on something, or leads something, people pay attention,” said Joyce Smith, who is now chief executive officer of that association.

Fitzsimmons’ pioneering efforts have not always been successful. In 2006, Harvard did away with a policy known as “early action,” which allowed students to apply early to one school and commit to it, if admitted. Fitzsimmons said it was his attempt to quell the “college admissions frenzy,” which was particularly bad for low-income students because it lessened their chance of receiving financial aid.

But when few other elite schools followed suit, Harvard reinstated the policy after Fitzsimmons said he was losing diverse applicants to other schools, who were locking them in.

When the international recruitment market was just beginning in the 2000s, he traveled to China to tout Harvard as a place for scholars of math and science, not just humanities.

“There are no quotas, no limits on the number of Chinese students we might take,” he told a group of students at Beijing No. 4 High School in 2008. “We know there are very good students from China not applying now. I hope to get them in the pool to compete.”

He was something of a diplomat at the time as well, meeting with Chinese officials to persuade them to offer the SAT in mainland China instead of just Hong Kong or Taiwan so students who couldn’t afford that trip could apply.

That sort of international hob-nobbing is a long way from where he started. When Fitzsimmons was a junior admissions officer at Harvard, he was assigned to recruit from the Boston Public Schools. Michael Contompasis, the longtime headmaster at Boston Latin School, met Fitzsimmons back then. Over the years, they negotiated over hundreds of BLS students who applied to Harvard.

Recently, when Contompasis was back at BLS as interim headmaster, he pushed for a student who had grown up in the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments housing project in Jamaica Plain and overcome major obstacles in his academic rise. Harvard was hesitant, but Contompasis won.

“Fitz, over the years, obviously has developed an inner sense of ‘Is this kid going to make it here, does he or she have the wherewithal to go through four years at Harvard?’ ”

Fitz was not the only Harvard admissions employee to take the stand during the trial, but he was the most fluent, speaking with the ease that comes from decades of experience. But even as he fends off the charges of unfairness — charges he considers manifestly unfair — he admits there is always more to do.

“It’s a work in progress, we always feel we can do better,” he said. Soon applications will begin to flood in for the class of 2023.


A Florida State University student who allegedly threw chocolate milk on people at an FSU College Republicans tabling event Tuesday was charged with battery

“FSU expects each member of the community to embrace the values of civility and ethical conduct and obey the law,” the school tweeted Friday. “Regarding Tuesday’s incident, the individual was identified, arrested and charged with battery.”

Police records obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation identified the student who allegedly threw the drink as Shelby Shoup and stated she turned herself in Thursday.

“[Kathryn] Judge [the complainant] advised that she was volunteering at a Republican party table on Landis Green when she was approached by a female who began yelling at her and then pouring chocolate milk on her on two separate occasions,” police records said. “Judge had a large chocolate milk stain on her shirt.”

“Her given name is Kathryn but she goes by Daisy,” FSU College Republicans told TheDCNF.

The record added that chocolate milk was also thrown on a male individual.

A video captured by Courtland Culver and shared by FSU College Republicans on Thursday captured an individual throwing her drink on a person off-camera.

“You are supporting Nazis,” she said.

Another person asked whether she was supporting communism.

“Yeah, I fucking am. Fuck you, man,” the woman responded to the student before throwing her drink.

Toward the end of the video, the individual kicked a Ron DeSantis sign.

DeSantis is the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Florida.

“We are glad that no serious physical harm came to our Vice-Membership Chair, and will always stand up for the basic rights and respect that every one of members is endowed,” FSU College Republicans said in a statement Thursday.


Why students feel so vulnerable

Encouraging the young to see themselves as fragile has had dire consequences.


I wasn’t at all surprised to read reports this week about more and more university students seeking mental-health support. Apparently the number has increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years in the UK. My research suggests that young people’s quest for identity has become entwined with ideas of emotional fragility and vulnerability. They are encouraged by contemporary culture to interpret their problems through the prism of mental health. This is how it works.

The new language of harm

In the summer I gave a lecture to a lively audience of student counsellors in Galway, Ireland. After my talk, a counsellor from Dublin asked me if I had a solution to the problem of students who cut themselves and then flaunt their scars and compete with one another about who has experienced the greatest pain. That self-inflicted scars are now a kind of identity surprised me. What didn’t surprise me, however, was the fact that the quest for identity has become so destructive.

I had no solution to offer the counsellor. But one thing I know for sure, as a result of having worked in higher education for almost 50 years, is that to understand the destructive turn of the quest for identity, we have to look at society’s obsession with the supposed vulnerability of young people.

It was in the late 1990s, as I was carrying out research for my book The Culture of Fear, that I first noted the dread surrounding the state of mind of students and young people in general. A new discourse was emerging – one that focused on ‘student fragility’ and which suggested that many undergraduates lack the capacity to deal with the uncertainties of campus life.

This new discourse spoke to an expansion of the meaning of ‘harm’. The fairly routine challenges involved in becoming an undergraduate – whether it’s making the transition from school life to college life or dealing with homesickness – came to be reframed as threats to students’ wellbeing. The presumption that students were unable to cope with life on campus led to calls for the provision of more and more mental-health support from university authorities. The term ‘vulnerable student’ started to be used. It gave an impression of students not only as vulnerable, but as being at greater risk from everyday life than their peers who went into the world of work rather than to university.

Because the idea of the fragile student is now so widely accepted, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is a relatively recent development. Today, the term ‘vulnerable student’ is used in everyday conversation, both within and without the university. And yet a search of the LexisNexis database of English-language newspapers failed to return any references to ‘vulnerable students’ during the 1960s and the 70s. There were 13 references in the 1980s, of which seven referred to children in schools. The first reference to vulnerable university students appeared in The Times (London) in 1986, the New York Times in 1991, and the Guardian in 1995. There was then a huge increase in references to vulnerable students in the latter part of the 1990s, and a veritable explosion in the first decade of the 21st century.

In the year 2015 to 2016, there were 1,407 references to vulnerable students. Even taking into account the likelihood that LexisNexis has expanded the sources in its database, the increase in allusions to vulnerable students is still remarkable. It is a striking illustration of how university students are conceived of today – as weak and lacking in traditional coping mechanisms.

The discovery of the ‘vulnerable student’ has played a significant role in the transformation of once unexceptional aspects of campus life into terrifying experiences. The new consensus that students must be protected from feeling uncomfortable in classrooms, or from being offended by gestures and words, is founded upon the idea of student vulnerability. So, Neil Howe and William Strauss, in their report Millennials Go To College (2003), argued that, unlike previous generations, the current cohort of students find it difficult to flourish in the often unstructured environment of higher education.

This belief that millennials find it more difficult than previous generations to make the transition to independent living is widely held by educators on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK’s 2018 Student Academic Experience Survey observed that undergraduates are ‘significantly more unhappy and anxious on average than other young people the same age’.

The self-fulfilling prophecy

By all accounts, student vulnerability appears to be a fact of life. A survey published in the Harvard Crimson says that among the class of 2018, 41 per cent have at some point sought mental-health support from Harvard’s health services; another 15 per cent have sought support off campus. Reports of students presenting for mental illness have expanded at a disquieting rate. Frequently, the term ‘epidemic’ is used to describe the emotional crisis afflicting campuses today.

How should we make sense of this apparent epidemic? The first thing we must note is that this talk of a mental-health crisis on campus is a result of the ever-expanding trend for medicalising human experience. When a student’s ups and downs are interpreted through medicalised ideas and language, then things like pressure and stress come to be seen as pathological. Feelings and emotions that were once considered normal seem more threatening in our medicalised culture. This is why even affluent Ivy League undergraduates, who face minimal physical threats or threats of any kind, can claim to feel threatened and insecure.

Increasingly, the socialisation of young people has become reliant on ideas normally associated with therapy. The young are encouraged to interpret their problems in psychological terms. As the political scientist, Mark Neocleous observes, ‘“That was really traumatic!” is now thought to be an appropriate response to any event that would once have been described as “rather unpleasant” or “quite difficult”’.

From time to time, sceptical commentators argue that students’ claims to fragility are contrived and the growth of mental-health problems is not real. But just because the new identity of the vulnerable student is a culturally created phenomenon, that doesn’t mean undergraduates do not genuinely feel pain. Because once students have been encouraged to identify as vulnerable they can easily develop a disposition to interpret every problem they face through the prism of mental health. And in such circumstances they can come to think of themselves as actually ill, and to see student life as a minefield.

The discovery of the vulnerable student is a striking example of society’s loss of faith in the ability of young people to deal with life’s challenges. Worse, it turns students into potential – and in some cases, actual – patients. It is time that society stopped talking up the vulnerability of the young and instead celebrated their capacity for independence and freedom.


Monday, November 05, 2018

UK: The National Union of Students is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy

Hard left union that condemned austerity as a “political choice” runs up huge debts and is forced to introduce austerity measures to avoid bankruptcy. It’s almost poetic.

The National Union of Students is in crisis and teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, an explosive letter obtained by Guido has revealed. In recent years SU disaffiliation, along with other services that provide student discounts without the NUS’ baggage of dubious geopolitical stances, anti-Semitism scandals, and hatred of clapping have put the organisation under serious strain.

NUS President Shakira Martin and NUS Acting Chief Executive Peter Robertson have sent a letter to all affiliated Students’ Unions, setting out their dire financial straits.

“The NUS Group is facing financial difficulty. We are projected to post a significant deficit this year without enough resource to cover the loss.”

“We’re looking at a £3m deficit for the group in this and future financial years.”

“We have taken immediate advice on the options available to us to ensure we remain solvent. It looks likely this will include a combination of borrowing against the building we own, making cuts to staff, and turning off some of the activity we deliver.”

The NUS will try to stay afloat by implementing harsh austerity, making sweeping cuts to staff as well as cuts to services. But Guido was told that austerity was just a “political choice”?

It’s clear some big disaffiliations in 2016 have further squeezed the NUS’ finances. There has never been a better time to leave this disaster of an organisation…


Sarah Lawrence Professor's Office Door Vandalized After He Criticized Leftist Bias

Professor Samuel Abrams executed a brilliant strategy, knowing that all he had to do was state his thesis and the institution at which he teaches (Sarah Lawrence) would react in such a way as to verify it

After penning an op-ed for The New York Times decrying the ideological homogeneity of his campus administration, a conservative-leaning professor at Sarah Lawrence College discovered intimidating messages—including demands that he quit his job—on the door of his office. The perpetrators had torn down the door's decorations, which had included pictures of the professor's family.

In the two weeks since the incident, Samuel Abrams, a tenured professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence, has repeatedly asked the college's president, Cristle Collins Judd, to condemn the perpetrators' actions and reiterate her support for free speech. But after sending a tepid campus-wide email that mentioned the importance of free expression, but mostly stressed her "commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence," Judd spoke with Abrams over the phone; according to him, she accused him of "attacking" members of the community.

"She said I had created a hostile work environment," Abrams said in an interview with Reason. "If [the op-ed] constitutes hate speech, then this is not a world that I want to be a part of."

What's more, when the two met in person, Judd implied that Abrams was on the market for a new job, he said. "I am not on the job market," he said. "I am tenured, I live in New York. Why would I go on the job market?"

Abrams interpreted Judd's remarks as a suggestion that he might be better off leaving the school. Judd did not respond to a request for comment.

Abram's op-ed criticized the "politically lopsided" events hosted by the college's Office of Student Affairs, including seminars on microaggressions, understanding white privilege, and "staying woke." It also included original research: a nationally representative survey of 900 administrators. According to this data, liberal administrators outnumber conservatives 12 to 1. This would mean the ranks of the administration are even more uniformly liberal than the faculty.

"While considerable focus has been placed in recent decades on the impact of the ideological bent of college professors, when it comes to collegiate life—living in dorms, participating in extracurricular organizations—the ever growing ranks of administrators have the biggest influence on students and campus life across the country," wrote Abrams.

Many Sarah Lawrence students and alumni did not appreciate Abrams calling attention to this issue.

"There was an emergency student senate meeting, to my knowledge," said Abrams. It was his understanding that the meeting produced a declaration calling for him to be stripped of tenure and dismissed from the college. Judd sent a campus-wide email about the meeting, which she described as "not only thoughtful, but thought-provoking."

"The Senate asked me to publicly affirm that Black Lives Matter, that LBGT+ Lives matter, and that Women's Justice matters," wrote Judd in the email. "I emphatically did."

The student senate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abrams' office door was vandalized on October 16, hours after the op-ed's publication. The perpetrators posted a sign on the door that read, "Our right to exist is not 'ideological,' asshole," and was signed "transsexual fag." Another flyer demanded that he apologize to residence life staff and the director of campus diversity, students of color, queer students, trans students, and other marginalized persons. Multiple messages instructed Abrams to "quit," and one told him to "go teach somewhere else, maybe Charlottesville."

Abrams believes the perpetrators tried to break into his office; some of his books had fallen off their shelves as if the sign-posters had slammed the door and the walls. "I'm really shaken," he said.

Abrams' dealings with Judd have further unnerved him. During their conversation, she implied that he should have cleared his public writings with her before submitting them, something he described as unacceptable.

Several of Abrams' colleagues met with Judd to discuss the vandalism and express their view that such acts could not be tolerated. Judd agreed, but did not pledge to take any further actions. These professors thought she seemed scared that the students might hold more protests, creating a public relations disaster, according to Abrams.

This incident is an example of a concerning phenomenon: college administrators going soft on free speech in an effort to appease a handful of extremely aggressive students. Administrators should take greater care to avoid explicit ideological bias, and they must defend the free speech rights of professors who speak out against it. A college that attempts to muzzle, discourage, or rid itself of speech that offends the far left is failing its mission.


High school vice principal is dragged and kicked in an attack by students as he tried to break up fight, and bystanders laugh and clap while filming the brawl for Snapchat

A Missouri high school assistant principal was tackled to the ground and beaten up by students when he tried to break up a fight.

In a video obtained by DailyMailTV's affiliate Fox 2 in St Louis, shocking footage shows students laughing and clapping while teenagers repeatedly kicked Oakville High School Vice Principal Brian Brennan on the floor after he got pulled into the brawl.

Teenagers filmed the scuffle in the cafeteria of the St. Louis school and posted it on Snapchat instead of getting help or calling 911. 

Three students - one aged 15 and two aged 16 - were arrested as a result of the confrontation.

Vice Principal Brian Brennan at Oakville High School attempted to split up three fighting children in a cafeteria Monday but got pulled into the altercation

'Administrators and a school resource officer intervened to break the fight up. All students and staff are okay,' Assistant Superintendent, Dr Jeff Bressler told Fox 2.

'Obviously we take all fighting serious. We would love to see fighting stop in all high schools.

'Safety is our priority and we're always looking into how we can support students so they don't resort to violence.'

Police say Brennan was taken to Urgent Care, reports KGNS.

The three students were taken into custody after the incident however they won't be charged as they are juveniles.

The case has been taken to St. Louis County Family Court.

Principal Jan Kellerman sent a letter to parents to reassure them their children were safe attending the school after they received a string of calls from those anxious about students and staff.

The students involved may be expelled from school.

'We are investigating the matter and discipline will be rendered as detailed in our district disciplinary policy,' she wrote before thanking mothers and fathers for their concern.

She added to KGNS that all administrators are trained in restraint.

'It’s the most important thing we do here and all our students are safe,' she said, adding that they are looking at their current policy for handling physical altercations.

'After any kind of altercation we always discuss things like is there something else we need to be doing.'

Brennan appeared to be in high spirits at the school in the days following the incident as a post he retweeted from Oakville showed him smiling in a selfie with students.


Sunday, November 04, 2018

Men of Notre Dame University Request Porn Filter: Three Reasons for Concern

At first glance, it seems to be a very positive initiative on the part of those at Notre Dame University. Over one thousand male students, faculty and staff have signed a petition asking that “the University implement a filter to make pornography inaccessible on the Notre Dame Wi-Fi networks.” Finally, some sanity seems to be taking hold in Catholic higher education.

An even more positive fact is that the majority of the signers are young male students who are requesting this censorship. They are demanding that moral standards be enforced. This is a refreshing counter-cultural move that runs so contrary to what everyone is saying about youth. Indeed, these youth desire something of order and dignity. Nothing could be more positive.

However, a closer look at the text of the petition reveals three reasons for disappointment and concern. 

The Cries of the Victims

The first disappointment is directed toward the administration to whom the petition is addressed. Faithful Catholics expect more from an institution of higher learning than to have a porn-accessible network in the first place. The Notre Dame Internet Compliance Policy already prohibits the access of pornographic material, but the University has not enforced the ban. Surveys show that nearly two-thirds of male students have accessed pornography through the university’s Wi-Fi network.

Catholic universities exist for the intellectual and moral development of students. The fact that students have to take the initiative to ask the administration to enforce its policies indicates that the university has lost something of its Catholic identity and mission.

Indeed, priests and religious should take the lead and even direct a crusade to rid the institution (and society in general) of this scourge that ruins the lives (and eternities) of so many men. It is afflictive to see the victims must cry out for help.

A Secular Document with Omissions

The second concern is the language of the petition itself. This criticism is directed toward the petitioners. The text of the petition is well-written and documented. It correctly outlines the social harm associated with pornography addiction. It highlights the abuse of women and minors that are associated with this plague. Pornography offends human dignity and rights.

“This filter would send the unequivocal message that pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships,” reads the petition. “We are calling for this action in order to stand up for the dignity of all people, especially women.”

However laudable these goals may seem, they should not be the main reasons why pornography must be opposed on a Catholic campus. There are grave omissions in the text. There is no mention of God, morals, purity or sin. It reads like a United Nations document outside of any moral context. It is not Catholic or even Christian.

Why Pornography is Wrong

That leads to the third and gravest concern about the petition that is directed toward both the petitioned and petitioners. The petition, praiseworthy though it may be, reflects a secular vision of a society where a traditional notion of God and personal salvation are no longer officially relevant.

Church teaching is very clear. Pornography is wrong because it offends God. This is the most important reason why it must be opposed. The love of God calls for all to oppose those things that offend Him and violate the natural order He put in society.

Thus, pornography is wrong because it is sinful. Those who willfully engage and view it commit mortal sins that expose them to the danger of going to Hell for all eternity. No university networks should facilitate the damnation of souls. Everything must be done to prevent this.

A truly Catholic institution should be concerned about the salvation of all souls under its care—even those who are not Catholic.

The Spirit of the World

However, sin appears to be a remote or no concern for all involved. In an attempt to be inclusive, the petitioners left out these issues, focusing on the harms to individuals. By omitting any reference to the Faith, they leave out the most powerful reason for opposing pornography—and for signing the petition.  

Unfortunately, language like that in the petition reflects the secularization of Catholic higher education. Through this warped vision of things, Catholic education has joined the spirit of the world and its follies. They favor a naturalistic and individualistic mindset outside of the supernatural sphere. Instead of strengthening the Faith in souls, these universities have become places where students lose it.

Because of this wrongheaded mindset, Catholic universities erroneously believe they must accommodate all viewpoints, behaviors and religions. Religion becomes relegated to a personal experience without real moral consequences. Everything must be permitted because individual gratification and fulfillment are the criteria by which things are judged. However, when an action hurts another, like pornography, it is permissible to oppose it.

Relativism with a Capital R

This mentality is tragic because it means that many modern Catholic universities no longer have sanctity as their guiding light. They no longer seek after Truth with a capital T. Rather, they run after the tyranny of Relativism with a capital R. By abandoning their mission, administrators may think they are benefiting students by allowing them to compete in the marketplace with the skills that they may learn at their secularized institutes.

However, they do not realize that by remaining true to their missions they can fulfill both goals. Sanctification does not hinder the pursuit of knowledge but helps it. Sanctification leads to the perfection of individuals and therefore toward their full intellectual and moral development.

Sin, on the contrary, destroys lives. It offends God and deprives souls of the life of grace. It leads to their condemnation.

Concern over the petition is not tantamount to saying that all signatories agree with this secular outlook. There are surely young Catholics on the list that value purity, grace and the love of God before all else. These young men would be attracted to a bold “Catholic petition” that would give full expression to their desires. As the present Culture War has demonstrated over the decades, moral issues are powerful. They should be expressed unequivocally, in terms of right and wrong.

Bland secular petitions, however worthy the cause, do not have the power to solve grave moral problems like pornography. Real solutions come from a true love of God that changes lives and denounces sin.


DeVos rewrite of Title IX sex-assault rules will allow cross-examination of accusers, report says

Education secretary considers reversing campus rape guidance
The new people in charge want to look more closely at the rights of the accused under Title IX; Kristen Fisher has more for 'Special Report'

Students accused of sexual assault will be allowed to cross-examine their accusers, according to new federal rules governing how campus sexual assault cases will be handled.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will likely publish the rules this month, with a public comment period to follow, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Courts have recognized that cross-examination is an essential part of the process of figuring out the truth in cases where credibility is a factor,” said Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for more due process for those accused of campus sexual assault.

The provisions fall under Title IX and will restrict eligible cases to those that occur on campus.

DeVos scrapped Title IX guidance in 2017, preferring to issue her own on the matter.

But a lawsuit against the Trump administration claims DeVos' decision to lower the standard of evidence used in campus sexual assault cases is motivated in part by sexism.

“What you see is that this administration is buying into the sex stereotype that women and girls lie about these types of things, and they’re making policy based on that view,” Karianne Jones, counsel for Democracy Forward Foundation, told the Huffington Post.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education called the suit baseless and politically motivated.

“She [Secretary DeVos] and OCR staff met with a number of people on this important issue -- including survivors, falsely accused students, college presidents and university GCs -- and the message was very clear from all of them: We have to get this right on behalf of students and the current process isn’t serving students well," the spokesperson said.

"[Secretary DeVos] and OCR staff met with a number of people on this important issue ... and the message was very clear from all of them: We have to get this right on behalf of students and the current process isn’t serving students well."

— Education Department spokesperson

The cross-examination rule reflects concerns voiced by some who believe students accused of sexual assault should be given more opportunities to defend themselves.

In a speech last year, DeVos likened the campus process used to adjudicate sexual assault cases to "kangaroo courts."

— Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

An Education Department spokesperson declined to comment on the rules before they are published.

According to the provision, cross-examination would be mandatory, but questions could be asked through a neutral party and the students could be seated in separate rooms.

Questions about the accuser's sexual history would not be allowed.

However, some worry the new rules could discourage victims from coming forward.

“If someone tells their story and then they need to be questioned on it, that can be an incredibly invasive and traumatizing experience,” said Anurima Bhargava, an Obama-era Justice Department official who oversaw civil rights enforcement in educational settings.

President Trump has voiced concerns about young men accused of sexual misconduct being presumed guilty and subjected to an unfair process.

He suggested the #MeToo movement targeted young men, calling it a "very scary time for young men in America" when "you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of."

University officials said the Obama-era rules put a hardship on their ability to handle sexual assault cases, with many schools fearing any mistake could result in a federal investigation.

The new rules will not contain a definition of gender. The Trump administration is looking at issuing a legal opinion stating its belief that gender under Title IX is determined by a person's genitals at birth.


Student Cancels Petition Seeking Removal of Clarence Thomas’ Name From Campus Building

An alumna of a Georgia college has canceled her petition demanding that the college remove Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ name from a campus building.

More than 2,400 people had signed an online petition calling on the Savannah College of Art and Design to rename its Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation.

The petition webpage at was still up Wednesday afternoon, when The Daily Signal spoke with Sage Lucero, creator of the petition, in a telephone interview. But by Thursday evening, the petition had been taken down.

“I am disappointed to say that I am going to have to cancel my petition,” Lucero, a 2018 graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design who listed herself as “S Anonymous” on the petition webpage, wrote in an Oct. 16 post that is no longer available. She added:

Threats have been made against me and I no longer feel safe moving forward with this.

Although the building’s name won’t change, I am satisfied with how many of you support women’s rights to feel safe and speak out.

No matter what our political backgrounds are, women’s rights are something we should all agree on. Equality of women will be a never ending fight. And I plan to keep supporting women’s rights in the best way I can moving forward. I hope you do too.

Lucero’s petition sparked a competing petition Oct. 17. Lamar Bowman, a native of Brooks, Georgia, and parent of two graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD, published the petition to preserve Thomas’ name on the building.

“I am proud to know that there is a building on that campus that recognizes one of the most accomplished African-Americans of our time,” Bowman’s petition reads.

Lucero’s original petition, which she told The Daily Signal she started around Oct. 1, was titled “Take A Sexual Predator’s Name Off of SCAD’s Building.”

It called on the Savannah, Georgia, college and its president, Paula S. Wallace, to rename the building after Anita Hill, “a woman who stood up for herself despite being denied of true justice.”

Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, accused Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991 and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the days leading to Thomas’ confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Thomas denied Hill’s allegations and at one point referred to the hearings as “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Thomas, who was vehement he had not harassed Hill, also said during a hearing, “I would like to start by saying unequivocally, uncategorically, that I deny each and every single allegation against me today that suggested in any way that I had conversations of a sexual nature or about pornographic material with Anita Hill, that I ever attempted to date her, that I ever had any personal sexual interest in her, or that I in any way ever harassed her.”

Lucero, 22, said in her petition that she was unaware that a building on campus was named after Thomas until the Senate committee convened confirmation hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. 

Research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teens in the early 1980s.

Kavanaugh called Ford’s accusation, as well as other uncorroborated allegations from two other women, an “orchestrated political hit.”

Lucero, who studied advertising at the college and now works for an advertising company based in New York City, said in the petition that the college should remove Thomas’ name because he is a “sexual predator.”

Hill’s accusations, however, never resulted in criminal proceedings, much less a conviction. The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Thomas.

Lucero told The Daily Signal that in light of the Kavanaugh hearings, she thought the fact that the building still bears Thomas’ name is particularly troubling.

“It’s really telling women they’re not welcome here … having someone’s name [on] that building who did those things to another woman is offensive and not welcoming to other women,” Lucero said.

The Savannah College of Art and Design apparently has not issued a public statement regarding changing the name of the building.

“We hope that the board of directors will do the right thing and keep Justice Thomas’ name on the building,” Zack of Nations in Action said.

The college did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls from The Daily Signal requesting comment.