Friday, November 30, 2018

Israel-hatred at a Massachusetts school

And the parents support it.  Leftists have been antisemitic since Karl Marx 

Newton teachers say they’ve never taught students anti-Semitic material, despite years-long criticism from outside groups that have accused the school system of anti-Israel bias in its high school world-history curriculum.

On Tuesday night, the dispute erupted anew, as hundreds of teachers came out to support the administration and its curriculum during a hearing at Newton South High School that was called to consider a petition to overhaul the curriculum and oust Superintendent David Fleishman.

The committee voted 9-0 to reject the request to fire Fleishman. On the curriculum-related requests, the board either cast unanimous votes against the proposals, or voted to take no action on the grounds that the issues were outside the panel’s authority.

Committee members said the history curriculum was developed from guidelines set by the state, and the learning program isn’t biased.

David Bedar, a history teacher at Newton North High School who has been singled out for criticism, said the campaign against the curriculum is “an attack on free thought.”

“The allegations of anti-Semitism — they are a personal affront to me as a professional educator, as a Newton resident, and as a Jewish person myself, and a lot of people feel this way,” he said.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Bedar asked people who supported the teachers to rise. A majority of the crowd rose and then left the auditorium, drawing jeers from people on the other side of the dispute.

Education Without Indoctrination, a nonprofit group led by residents of Brookline and Concord, said on its website that it organized the petition.

The hearing lasted four hours as the School Committee heard testimony from people on both sides of the debate and then deliberated.

Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which backed the petition, said his group isn’t backing down.

“It’s bureaucrats circling the wagons,” he said. “I think they don’t get it. I think they really don’t get that when you treat Israel differently than you would treat any other state, that’s the new anti-Semitism.”

The School Committee scheduled the public hearing after about 200 city residents signed the petition. Such hearings are triggered by petitions signed by at least 50 certified voters, the city said.

Teachers and their supporters wore red stickers that read “Support Newton Values.” On the other side of the debate, demonstrators displayed signs that read “Educate Yes. Indoctrinate No.”

Margot Einstein, a Newton resident who signed the petition, said she became concerned seven years ago when she learned a student received a pamphlet that claimed Israelis were jailing and killing Palestinian women.

The student’s father brought his concerns to school officials, she said, but he was rebuffed.

“There’s propaganda and bias in the schools. It’s anti-Christian, anti-American. It whitewashes Islam. It’s anti-Semitic material,” she said.

The curriculum dispute goes back to 2011 and has been marked by a series of actions by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a nonprofit in Watertown, which has demonstrated against the district and placed ads accusing the system of using materials that “demonize Israel” and glorify Islam.

In August, one of the organization’s leaders, Ilya Feoktistov, wrote a story for “The Federalist,” a right-wing online magazine, in which he accused two Newton North High School history teachers of bias against President Trump.

The story relied on e-mails written by Bedar and another teacher, Isongesit Ibokette, after Trump’s inauguration last year and obtained by Feoktistov under a public records request. The Fox News program “Fox & Friends” later aired a segment about the story.

The petition asked the School Committee to fire both teachers, but the panel said it won’t address the request because it doesn’t have the authority to fire faculty members.

The teachers have been defended by the Newton Teachers Association and Fleishman, who assailed claims about the history curriculum as “misleading” and decried tactics that singled out individual educators.

“This is a wake-up call for people. It’s chilling when individual teachers are targeted and harassed for what they’re doing,” Fleishman said Tuesday evening. “Teachers have told me that they’re actually worried about what they’re doing now and thinking more about. I worry that they won’t teach controversial topics and they’ll shy away.”

More than 400 graduates of Newton North High School signed a letter signaling their support for the “curriculum that promotes critical thinking” and asserting their opposition to Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

The curriculum “has not taught us what to think, but how to think critically and cross-reference with independent sources,” the letter said. “In today’s increasingly polarized and sensationalized discourse, such skills are particularly empowering and simply necessary.”

In 2013, a Newton parent complained to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about Newton’s high school history curriculum. The parent alleged that the curriculum violated the separation of church and state by spending an “inordinate” amount of time on Islam, and at too high a level of detail.

It also alleged that class materials contained anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, racist, and false information, and pointed specifically to passages from “A Muslim Primer,” “The Arab World Studies Notebook,” and a website called Flashpoints.

State education officials disagreed. In a letter to the parent, the agency said it found that “no violation of education law, regulation or policy has occurred with regard to the specific concern(s) you have raised.”

Some revisions have been made to the history curriculum.

The “Arab World Studies Notebook” was removed from the curriculum in 2012 after a parent complained in 2011 of bias and the district decided the material was outdated, school officials said. Flashpoints had been linked to the Newton North High School library website and was removed after parents complained, officials said in 2013.

The district is in the process of revising its high school history curriculum to conform with state guidelines, which were recently updated, Fleishman said.

That effort has nothing to do with the concerns raised by the outside groups, he said.


UCB Professor accuses his students of bias

They may have more sense than him. He would not even consider  that blacks and females actually are on average worse teachers

A University of California, Berkeley professor suggested scrapping end-of-semester student evaluations for hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions after claiming that the grades and evaluations are biased against female instructors and people of color.

“Over the next few weeks, students will get the chance to evaluate their professors and TAs. They’re going to get it wrong,” UC Berkeley history professor Brian DeLay tweeted on Sunday. “They’ll be harder on women and people of color than on white men. Tenured white male faculty, in particular, should help their students understand this.”

He goes on to reference a study conducted by UC Berkeley statistics professor Philip B. Stark.

The study, first published in January of 2016, addressed the effectiveness of student evaluations of teaching (SETs). DeLay asserted in his tweet that the study revealed a bias toward gender and grade expectations, such as how quickly an assignment is graded and returned with feedback, rather than a review of the professor’s educational effectiveness.

“Instructor race is also associated with SET…” DeLay said in a follow-up tweet, referencing the study’s finding that minority professors tend to receive, on average, “significantly lower” scores than their white, male counterparts. He goes on to mention the study’s claim that “age, charisma, and physical attractiveness” also factor into evaluations.

DeLay suggests that student evaluations should not be used as a standard for promotion or tenure decisions, or for hiring practices.

"[G]iven the well-documented shortcomings of SETs, we shouldn't be using them for hiring, tenure, or promotion decisions," DeLay tweeted. “In the meantime, tenured faculty - especially tenured white men - should explain this stuff to our students before each evaluation season."

"Help them understand why evals matter to peoples’ careers, & how implicit bias affects the results. They’ll listen," he added.


Australia: Where you live is determining your school's final achievement score

Rubbish! Where you live is just another effect of the real cause of educational success. The real cause is that rich people tend to have smarter kids and also tend to live in more salubrious suburbs.  And there's nothing you can do about that

If you live in Sydney's west or south-west, your child's school is almost certain to be scoring below the national average on NAPLAN.

But if you live on the north shore, northern beaches, eastern suburbs or inner-west almost every school is achieving above the national average, whether it is public or private.

In a new analysis, Macquarie University researchers have found that the area in which a student goes to school is one of the clearest predictors of year 5 NAPLAN reading scores, painting a stark picture of Australia's socioeducational divide.

"The results are confronting," said Crichton Smith, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate at Macquarie University.

"Virtually no schools in any city's advantaged suburbs are below the national average, and almost no schools in disadvantaged areas are above average."

In Sydney "you can literally draw a line” between schools with above-average results and below-average results, Smith said.

North of Sydney's "latte line", 173 schools achieved above the national average in year 5 reading, 13 were close to average and only seven schools achieved below average.

But in the city's south-west, 104 schools were below average, while only 10 were ranked above average and 32 were at average.

And the polarisation is getting worse. The study found the disparity between results in Sydney’s north and east compared to those in the city's west and south-west became more pronounced between 2008 and 2016.

“If you look at the 2008 maps you can see there were some schools below average in the North Shore and Eastern Suburbs but they have basically disappeared," said Smith.

“It is a very stark map,” he said. “In Sydney we don’t have many schools close to the national average - most are either above or below.”

Also, the "spatial polarisation" in Sydney was worse that other big cities. Smith said it had the “clearest delineation” of above average and below average NAPLAN results of all the state capitals.

“I would have thought that would be a concern for anyone involved in education,” he said.

The study found a clear divide in educational achievement based on a school's location within every major city in Australia and between regional and metropolitan areas.

"The fact that socioeconomic disadvantage plays out in such a geographic way shows how socially stratified our cities, and particularly Sydney, are," the Grattan Institute's schools expert Peter Goss said.

"It could be to do with schools and teaching practices or it could be to do with changes in the make-up of the city where house prices are meaning it's very difficult to trade up as it were, and that dynamic may be reinforcing the divide.

"This geographic comparison will be picking up both disadvantage at the family level and at the peer group level. If your peer group is educationally advantaged, you'll typically do better."

The Macquarie University study also suggests that school choice does not make a difference to NAPLAN scores, with both public and private schools performing according to the location-based trend.

"Unfortunately the location-based divide has increased since NAPLAN began," said Smith.

"With 10 years of NAPLAN results now available, it is difficult to see a policy solution to bridge a gap that is so wide, and growing."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said it is working to improve achievement through its literacy and numeracy strategy, which includes targeted support for "low performing and low SES students".

"All NSW schools receive needs-based funding [and] schools with low socio-economic rankings receive greater resources and more funding to support students," the spokesman said.

However, Dr Goss said that disadvantaged schools in Australia remain relatively underfunded according to the target set by the needs-based school resourcing standard.

"Despite the rhetoric, disadvantaged schools are underfunded relative to targets whereas most advantaged schools typically are close to their target," Dr Goss said.

Some of the state's most advantaged private schools were overfunded by $160 million in state allocations this year, while NSW public schools got $470 million less from the state government than their entitlement under the needs-based formula, a recent report found.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Overruled: Despite Clear Student Preferences, NJ University Bans Chick-fil-A From Campus Dining Survey

Chick-fil-A, according to customer satisfaction surveys, is the top-rated fast food chain in America --winning the crown for three consecutive years.  It seems as though consumers enjoy the company's delicious fried chicken offerings and their renowned, high quality service.  According to multiple reports, Chick-fil-A's fan base includes quite a few students at Rider University, a private institution in New Jersey.  When school officials distributed a survey about on-campus dining options this past spring, Chick-fil-A emerged as the top choice.  Such an injustice could not stand, administrators decided, so they've stripped the restaurant from the questionnaire's list of options -- because "values:"

Rider University removed the restaurant from a survey of dining options "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community." The fast-food chain was included in previous surveys. Chick-fil-A has supported Christian values. Its corporate purpose is "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us." ... Rider says it understands some may view the decision as a "form of exclusion" and called the decision "imperfect." But the school says it wanted to be "faithful to our values of inclusion." "We understand that some may view the decision as being just another form of exclusion," University President Dr. Gregory G. Dell’Omo and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Leanna Fenneberg said in a joint statement. "We want to be clear that this was not the spirit in which the decision was made. We fully acknowledge an organization’s right to hold these beliefs, just as we acknowledge the right for individuals in our community and elsewhere to also personally hold the same beliefs."

How very magnanimous of the university to acknowledge that individuals in their community have the right to "personally" adhere to traditional Christian teachings. But if those community members would like to eat crave-able food from a popular company whose top leadership has incorporated orthodox religious teaching into their corporate value structure, they'll have to go elsewhere. In fact, these individuals will not even be permitted to vote for their (and many others') primary preference, as it's been banished from the roster of options by the powers that be.  "Inclusive" values are just too important, you see, even if that means excluding the values (or tastebuds) of many Rider students.  Inclusion requires exclusion, and some are more worthy of inclusion than others.  Many of the Left's hangups over Chick-fil-A stem from 2012 statements from corporate executives in support of the traditional family unit, and in opposition to same-sex marriage.  Agree or disagree, these beliefs were -- and are -- part of a mainstream worldview that should not be automatically treated as synonymous with bigotry or discrimination.  In a statement to the media, Chick-fil-A reiterated its commitment to serving chicken lovers from all walks of life:

The chain pushed back against the university's characterization, saying the restaurant is merely providing food and doesn't have any agenda. "Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda," the restaurant's spokesperson told CBS News.

In our book End of Discussion, Mary Katharine Ham and I decried what conservative writer and social critic Sonny Bunch has termed 'the politicized life,' wherein politics and ideology consume all aspects of society and culture. It's unhealthy and soul-crushing. We add that the rejection of hyper-political life choices should run both ways. For instance, as a conservative who strongly opposes socialism, I have all sorts of issues with various corporate values espoused by Ben & Jerry's ice cream, to pick one example.  But I'd be furious if my school barred me from buying their products on campus because of their founders' aggressive leftism.  I'd be even more furious if my university actively prevented me from even registering my interest in Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  I don't really care that Ben and Jerry are left-wingers from Vermont; I care that they make a wonderful product (Pistachio Pistachio, Americone Dream, and Cherry Garcia are among my favorites, for the record).  In the book, we urged Americans who aren't interested in allowing hardcore partisans to pollute apolitical elements of life to band together into a "coalition to chill the hell out" and eat delicious chicken.  It looks like many Rider students were happy to sign up for that club, but the supposed adults in charge chose to impose their personal values onto everyone else. 

Remember, exclusion is bad unless the "bad" are being excluded, and the imposition of morals is theocracy, unless the morals are "good."  Just ask any number of liberal politicians.  I'll leave you with a follow-up to yesterday's item concerning recent developments out of Twitter -- which has announced that the platform will not permit the "misgendering" or "dead-naming" of trans people.  The social media company says that it does not discriminate against any viewpoint, but I'm not sure that claim remains tenable:

 Yup, this is a move that will echo beyond Twitter. Each major corporate move in this direction reinforces the notion that there is nothing left to discuss and that enraged activists can and should exercise veto power over public debate.

I happen to believe that trans individuals should be treated with respect, in accordance with the Golden Rule, which entails calling people by their preferred names and pronouns.  I also don't see eye-to-eye with every belief held by the top leadership of Chick-fil-A.  But I don't think attempts to enforce beliefs through bans or boycotts are usually wise, persuasive, effective, or conducive to an free-thinking and pluralistic society.  I'll leave you with a common sense quote from a Rider student: "If people didn't want to buy their food, then they don't have to."  Well, people at Rider do want to buy their food.  They just won't be allowed to, or even register their desire to do so.


The Case for Dropping Out of College

by Samuel Knoche

During the summer, my father asked me whether the money he’d spent to finance my first few years at Fordham University in New York City, one of the more expensive private colleges in the United States, had been well spent. I said yes, which was a lie.

I majored in computer science, a field with good career prospects, and involved myself in several extracurricular clubs. Since I managed to test out of some introductory classes, I might even have been able to graduate a year early—thereby producing a substantial cost savings for my family. But the more I learned about the relationship between formal education and actual learning, the more I wondered why I’d come to Fordham in the first place.

* * *

According to the not-for-profit College Board, the average cost of a school year at a private American university was almost $35,000 in 2017—a figure I will use for purposes of rough cost-benefit analysis. (While public universities are less expensive thanks to government subsidies, the total economic cost per student-year, including the cost borne by taxpayers, typically is similar.) The average student takes about 32 credits worth of classes per year (with a bachelor’s degree typically requiring at least 120 credits in total). So a 3-credit class costs just above $3,000, and a 4-credit class costs a little more than $4,000.

What do students get for that price? I asked myself this question on a class by class basis, and have found an enormous mismatch between price and product in almost all cases. Take the two 4-credit calculus classes I took during freshman year. The professor had an unusual teaching style that suited me well, basing his lectures directly on lectures posted online by MIT. Half the class, including me, usually skipped the lectures and learned the content by watching the original material on MIT’s website. When the material was straightforward, I sped up the video. When it was more difficult, I hit pause, re-watched it, or opened a new tab on my browser so I could find a source that covered the same material in a more accessible way. From the perspective of my own convenience and education, it was probably one of the best classes I’ve taken in college. But I was left wondering: Why should anyone pay more than $8,000 to watch a series of YouTube videos, available online for free, and occasionally take an exam?

Another class I took, Philosophical Ethics, involved a fair bit of writing. The term paper, which had an assigned minimum length of 5,000 words, had to be written in two steps—first a full draft and then a revised version that incorporated feedback from the professor. Is $3,250 an appropriate cost for feedback on 10,000 words? That’s hard to say. But consider that the going rate on the web for editing this amount of text is just a few hundred dollars. Even assuming that my professor is several times more skilled and knowledgeable, it’s not clear that this is a good value proposition.

“But what about the lectures?” you ask. The truth is that many students, including me, don’t find the lectures valuable. As noted above, equivalent material usually can be found online for free, or at low cost. In some cases, a student will find that his or her own professor has posted video of his or her own lectures. And the best educators, assisted with the magic of video editing, often put out content that puts even the most renowned college lecturers to shame. If you have questions about the material, there’s a good chance you will find the answer on Quora or Reddit.

Last semester, I took a 4-credit class called Computer Organization. There was a total of 23 lectures, each of 75 minutes length—or about 29 hours of lectures. I liked the professor and enjoyed the class. Yet, once the semester was over, I noticed that almost all of the core material was contained in a series of YouTube videos that was just three hours long.

Like many of my fellow students, I spend most of my time in class on my laptop: Twitter, online chess, reading random articles. From the back of the class, I can see that other students are doing likewise. One might think that all of these folks will be in trouble when test time comes around. But watching a few salient online videos generally is all it takes to master the required material. You see the pattern here: The degrees these people get say “Fordham,” but the actual education often comes courtesy of YouTube.

The issue I am discussing is not new, and predates the era of on-demand web video. As far back as 1984, American educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom discovered that an average student who gets individual tutoring will outperform the vast majority of peers taught in a regular classroom setting. Even the best tutors cost no more than $80 an hour—which means you could buy 50 hours of their service for the pro-rated cost of a 4-credit college class that supplies 30 hours of (far less effective) lectures.

All of these calculations are necessarily imprecise, of course. But for the most part, I would argue, the numbers I have presented here underestimate the true economic cost of bricks-and-mortar college education, since I have not imputed the substantial effective subsidies that come through government tax breaks, endowments and support programs run by all levels of government.

So given all this, why are we told that, far from being a rip-off, college is a great deal? “In 2014, the median full-time, full-year worker over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree earned nearly 70% more than a similar worker with just a high school degree,” read one typical online report from 2016. The occasion was Jason Furman, then head of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, tweeting out data showing that the ratio of an average college graduate’s earnings to a similarly situated high-school graduate’s earnings had grown from 1.1 in 1975 to more than 1.6 four decades later.

To ask my question another way: What accounts for the disparity between the apparently poor value proposition of college at a micro level with the statistically observed college premium at the macro level? A clear set of answers appears in The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money, a newly published book by George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan.

One explanation lies in what Caplan calls “ability bias”: From the outset, the average college student is different from the average American who does not go to college. The competitive college admissions process winnows the applicant pool in such a way as to guarantee that those who make it into college are more intelligent, conscientious and conformist than other members of his or her high-school graduating cohort. In other words, when colleges boast about the “70% income premium” they supposedly provide students, they are taking credit for abilities that those students already had before they set foot on campus, and which they likely could retain and commercially exploit even if they never got a college diploma. By Caplan’s estimate, ability bias accounts for about 45% of the vaunted college premium. Which would means that a college degree actually boosts income by about 40 points, not the oft-cited 70.

Of course, 40% is still a huge premium. But Caplan digs deeper by asking how that premium is earned. And in his view, the extra income doesn’t come from substantive skills learned in college classrooms, but rather from what he called the “signaling” function of a diploma: Because employers lack any quick and reliable objective way to evaluate a job candidate’s potential worth, they fall back on the vetting work done by third parties—namely, colleges. A job candidate who also happens to be someone who managed to get through the college admissions process, followed by four years of near constant testing, likely is someone who is also intelligent and conscientious, and who can be relied on to conform to institutional norms. It doesn’t matter what the applicant was tested on, since it is common knowledge that most of what one learns in college will never be applied later in life. What matters is that these applicants were tested on something. Caplan estimates that signaling accounts for around 80% of the 40-point residual college premium described above, which, if true, would leave less than ten percentage points—from the original 70—left to be accounted for.

Much more HERE 

Foreign postgraduates now outnumber Australians at Sydney University - as fears grow over Chinese influence

This is a very good sign for relations with China.  The students will go back to China with a firm impression of Australia as a relaxed non-threatening country.  Would there be so many of them if they experienced Australia as a racist place?

International postgraduate students now outnumber Australian postgraduates at Sydney's oldest university, as fears rise over foreign influence in student politics.

Questions have been raised over whether Australia's universities are too dependent on revenue generated by international fee-paying students, or if their primary role is still to educate the next generation of Australians.

Sydney University, Australia's most prestigious sandstone university, now has more foreign postgraduate students enrolled than Australian citizens.

As of November 15, Sydney University had 15,082 international postgraduate students compared with 13,891 Australian citizens.

Almost a third of the university's undergrad student body is now made up of international fee-paying students with 11,622 foreign students compared with 25,075 Australian citizens, according to university figures.

Of the combined student body of 70,412 enrolled students, 38 per cent or 26,704 are international fee-paying students.

In 2017, the university made $752.2 million from overseas fee-paying students.

The issue has become controversial after organised Chinese international student factions have come to dominate university politics.

For the first time this year, Sydney University's postgraduate student body SUPRA had an executive elected composed entirely of foreign fee-paying students, according to a report by student newspaper Honi Soit.

Recent Sydney University Students Representative Council elections resulted in increased representation for Chinese international student group Panda which won 11 out of the 33 council seats, up from eight the previous year under the 'Panda Warriors' banner. 

Panda worked together with moderate liberal group Shake Up in the election, whose members included Gabi Stricker-Phelps, the daughter of recently elected Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps.

Together the two groups control 15 out of the 33 council seats, while Advance, another Chinese international student faction, holds another 3 seats.

Incoming SRC President Jacky He (Panda) strongly denied that the China Development Society had anything to do with the Chinese Communist Party in an interview with Honi Soit.

He, a permanent resident who moved from China to Australia as a child, said he has been unfairly asked by several people whether he had links to the Chinese Communist Party. 'I feel like it's quite unjust for people to say 'Hey look, because there's a lot of Chinese students, they must be Chinese spies',' he told Fairfax Media.   

Sydney University would not reveal how many Australian citizens won the right to sit on the student council in the elections, citing privacy reasons.

Sydney University told Daily Mail Australia it is proud of the contribution international students make to the university.

'We welcome any attempt to ensure that representative bodies at the University of Sydney are as diverse as our student population and would encourage more of our students to get involved,' a Sydney University spokesperson said in an emailed statement.  

The Sydney University Students Representative Council is known as a training ground for future political leaders, with Joe Hockey, Anthony Albanese, and Tony Abbott all having served.

Australia's security agencies including spy agency ASIO have warned about the threat of foreign interference in Australia's society.

In October last year, ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis warned in the ASIO Annual Report that foreign powers were clandestinely seeking to shape the opinions of the public, media organisations and government officials to advance their objectives.

'Espionage and foreign interference are insidious threats,' he said. 'Activities that may appear relatively harmless today can have significant future consequences. The harm may not manifest until many years, even decades, after the activity has occurred.'

According to Australian government figures, as of August there were 640,342 international students enrolled in Australia, an 11 percent increase on the previous corresponding period.

Chinese nationals make up 30 percent of the national total, or just over 189,000. The majority of foreign students - more than 380,000 - were enrolled in tertiary education. 


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fruits of College Indoctrination
Much of today’s incivility and contempt for personal liberty has its roots on college campuses, and most of the uncivil and contemptuous are people with college backgrounds. Let’s look at a few highly publicized recent examples of incivility and attacks on free speech.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were accosted and harassed by a deranged left-wing mob as they were leaving a dinner at Georgetown University. Sen. McConnell was harassed by protesters at Reagan National Airport, as well as at several venues in Kentucky. Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife were harassed at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Afterward, a group called Smash Racism DC wrote: “No — you can’t eat in peace — your politics are an attack on all of us. You’re (sic) votes are a death wish. Your votes are hate crimes.” Other members of Congress — such as Andy Harris, Susan Collins and Rand Paul — have been physically attacked or harassed by leftists. Most recent is the case of Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson. A leftist group showed up at his house at night, damaging his front door and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” “Racist scumbag, leave town!”

Mayhem against people with different points of view is excused as just deserts for what is seen as hate speech. Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discovered this when he was shouted down at Middlebury College and the professor escorting him was sent to the hospital with injuries. Students at the University of California, Berkeley shut down a controversial speaker and caused riot damage estimated at $100,000. Protesters at both UCLA and Claremont McKenna College disrupted scheduled lectures by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has discovered so-called bias response teams on hundreds of American college campuses. Bias response teams report to campus officials — and sometimes to law enforcement officers — speech that may cause “alarm, anger, or fear” or that might otherwise offend. Drawing pictures or cartoons that belittle people because of their beliefs or political affiliation can be reported as hate speech. Universities expressly set their sights on prohibiting constitutionally protected speech ( As FIRE reported in 2017, hundreds of universities nationwide now maintain Orwellian systems that ask students to report — often anonymously — their neighbors, friends and professors for any instances of supposed biased speech and expression.

A recent Brookings Institution poll found that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. That’s nonsense; it is. Fifty-one percent of college students think they have a right to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. Nineteen percent of students think that it’s acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent agree that colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people ( One shouldn’t be surprised at all if these visions are taught and held by many of their professors. Colleges once taught and promoted an understanding of Western culture. Today many professors and the college bureaucracy teach students that they’re victims of Western culture and values.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.” Much later, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” From the Nazis to Stalinists to Maoists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, just as American leftists did during the 1960s. Their support for free speech is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. The right to say what they please is their tool for indoctrination, propagandizing and proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses. Much of the off-campus incivility we see today is the fruit of what a college education has done to our youth.


Moral Bankruptcy

People who follow politics, even casually, learn not to expect high moral standards from politicians. But there are some outrages that show a new low, even for politicians.

Among the consequences of Democrats' recent election victories, especially at the state and local levels, is the election of officials who have publicly announced their opposition to charter schools, and their determination to restrict or roll back the growth of those schools.

What have the charter schools done to provoke such opposition?

Often located in low-income, minority neighborhoods, these schools have in many cases produced educational outcomes far better than the traditional public schools in such neighborhoods.

A Success Academy charter elementary school in Harlem had a higher proportion of the children in one of its classes pass the statewide math exam than in any other class at the same grade level, anywhere in the state of New York.

As a result of the charter schools' educational achievements, it is not uncommon for thousands of children to be on waiting lists to get into such schools -- in New York City, tens of thousands.

This represents a huge opportunity for many low-income, minority youngsters who have very few other opportunities for a better life. But, to politicians dependent on teachers' unions for money and votes, charter schools are expendable.

In various communities around the country, charter schools are already being prevented from moving into empty school buildings, which would allow them to admit more children from waiting lists.

Denying these children what can be their one chance in life is a new low, even for politicians.

Political rhetoric can camouflage what is happening. But the arguments against charter schools are so phony that anyone with a decent education should be able to see right through them. Unfortunately, the very failure of many traditional public schools to provide a decent education enables their defenders to get away with arguments that could not survive any serious analysis.

Consider the incessantly repeated argument that charter schools are "taking money away from the public schools." Charter schools are themselves public schools, educating children who have a legal right to be educated with taxpayer money set aside for that purpose. When some fraction of children move from traditional public schools to charter schools, why should the same fraction of money not move with them?

What is the money for, if not to educate children? The amount of taxpayer money spent per child in charter schools is seldom, if ever, greater than the amount spent per child in traditional public schools. Often it is less.

Another argument used in attacking charter schools is that, despite particular charter schools with outstanding results, by and large charter school students' results on educational tests are no better than the results in traditional public schools. Even if we accept this claim, it leaves out one crucial fact.

White students and Asian students together constitute a majority of the students in traditional public schools. Black students and Hispanic students together constitute a majority of the students in charter schools.

On virtually all educational tests, black and Hispanic students score significantly lower than white and Asian students. If charter schools as a whole just produce educational results comparable to those in traditional public schools as a whole, that is a big improvement.

If you want to make a comparison of educational results with comparable students, you can look at results among children living in the same neighborhood, at the same grade levels -- and with both charter school children and children in a traditional school being educated in the very same building.

Such comparisons in New York City showed, almost every time, a majority of the students in the traditional public school scoring in the bottom half in both math and English, while the percentage of charter school students scoring in the top half was some multiple of the percentage of other students scoring that high.

This is what the teachers' unions and the politicians want to put a stop to. Who will speak up for those children?


Australia: Union turns on teacher over ‘don’t vote Liberal’ post

A public school teacher who pledged to ensure her students “don’t vote Liberal” when they graduated should be investigated by the Education Department, the teachers’ union says.

Regina Wilson, a South Australian teacher and union delegate, is at the centre of a firestorm over political interference in the classroom by union-affiliated teachers after her post on the Australian Education Union’s Facebook page was yesterday revealed by The Australian.

Amid a community backlash against Ms Wilson’s comments, AEU state president Howard Spreadbury conceded “the posting of her intent needs to be investigated”. He said there was “at this stage” no evidence Ms Wilson had carried through on her vow to ­“ensure that the next generation of voters in my classroom don’t vote Liberal”.

“She believes that part of developing students’ critical thinking is to talk to them about politics,” Mr Spreadbury said.

“It’s not for me to make the judgment about whether she’s right or wrong … I think that it does need to be followed through.”

Ms Wilson’s post was deleted on Tuesday night after inquiries by The Australian.

The AEU yesterday would not confirm whether Ms Wilson remained a delegate, as it prepares for likely strike action next week over stalled enterprise bargaining ­negotiations.

The 58-year-old former Fair Work inspector is an international student program manager who also teaches classes in Years 8, 9 and 11 at the 1000-student Woodville High School in northwestern Adelaide, located in safe Labor-held federal and state electorates.

Yesterday, she claimed she was being targeted because of her gender and insisted her post was meant to be “private … for my friends and family only”, even though she posted it publicly on the AEU’s Facebook forum.

“It (the post) did not identify me as a teacher at Woodville High School or an AEU member,” she told The Australian.

South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas raised the matter with union bosses last week but they took no action at the time.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan yesterday said parents would be concerned if their children were “being indoctrinated with the political ideologies of teachers”.

“Teachers hold a unique position in our society and we trust them to educate our kids — that trust should not be abused to further any political agenda,” he said.

“The classroom should be a place of learning, not a place where teachers recruit students to their political worldview.”

Mr Lucas yesterday maintained pressure on the teachers’ union, telling ABC radio that “we’re not going to accept this sort of behaviour or action or indications of an intent to involve students in politics in the ­classroom”.

“I think this sort of action or this sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Disciplinary proceedings were a matter for Education Department chief executive Rick Persse, he said.

An Education Department spokesman said: “The department has a clear process for dealing with alleged misconduct.”

South Australian Education Minister John Gardner said the public sector code of ethics also “makes it fairly clear that campaigning for partisan politics in the classroom isn’t appropriate”.

Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin ­Donnelly said the incident was not surprising as the teachers' union had a long history of left-wing ­activism.

Jennifer Buckingham, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, said left-wing political biases permeate all classrooms but “it’s just generally a bit more subtle”.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Law of Diminishing Returns: Much Academic Research Is Either Ignored or Fake

Most of the criticism of higher education revolves around teaching: fees are too high, too little learning is going on, viewpoint diversity is absent. Perhaps because it is less visible to the public, less emphasis is placed on research. Here the problems are similarly significant and growing. For years I thought the problem was mainly over-investment: too many professors were writing too many largely unread papers for mostly obscure journals on trivial topics. Increasingly, however,there is a second problem: a good bit of research cannot be replicated. Being able to reproduce results of others to demonstrate that a consistent relationship exists is the hallmark of the scientific method. Additionally, papers that are supposedly peer reviewed by fellow scholars to check for scientific validity and relevance often are not. And the problem is even worse: occasionally completely bogus research is published from fictitious authors on bizarre research topics.

The most recent scandal involved three scholars who submitted 20 totally fake papers to academic journals, writing under assumed names. Seven of the papers were accepted (four making it into print), seven more were under review, and only six clearly rejected for publication. The most notorious paper was published in a journal, Gender, Place & Culture, that apparently focuses on a topic of existential importance: “feminist geography.” The authors claimed that “Dog parks are Petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture.’” It argued that the rape of female dogs by their male counterparts provides insight into human issues of rape. The paper was a figment of the imagination of the authors, not the non-existent “Helen Wilson” who allegedly wrote it. The 20 papers all focused on an area of research called “grievance studies.”

The publishing of ridiculous, nonsensical papers goes back decades. NYU physicist Alan Sokal authored a paper in Social Text in 1996 full of gibberish and entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries; Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” He was showing how barren the ideologically laden, incomprehensible (to most highly literate human beings) postmodernist literature often is. In 2013, a journalist/scientist, John Bohannon, wrote a fake paper with deliberately laughably bad methodology (including no clinical trials) purporting to reveal a promising new cancer fighting drug. He submitted it to over 100 open-access journals, many of which offered to publish it--for a fee. According to the Economist, a scientist in Finland estimates over 400,000 articles in questionable journals are published annually--one every 79 seconds, day and night, 365 days a year. Even in reputable peer reviewed journals, examples of so-called scientific results that cannot be reproduced by others abound. The National Association of Scholars (of which I am a member) in a recent report argued this is a major problem.

Why are conventional standards of scholarship being abandoned? Several favors are at work. First, there are too many professors writing under the pressure of “publish or perish” for too many journals, most of which almost no one reads. The professors must publish to advance professionally, yet there are not enough truly reputable journals to assure that everyone gets published enough to meet minimal academic expectations. Second, the Law of Diminishing Returns is working: the first or fifth or maybe even the 20th paper on an interesting subject adds something to the stock of knowledge, but at some point, maybe the 100th paper, there is literally nothing left of significance worth saying.

Third, and perhaps more controversial, ideologically driven individuals are creating so-called academic disciplines in order to provide outlets for their views and to get tenure. The notion of a journal with a feminist geography orientation is an example. Does the Real World (outside of academia) recognize the need or validity of combining the study of places with issues relating to gender? In order to disguise the paucity of real content, many articles use incomprehensible jargon that sounds learned but which masks the paucity of scientific content and the ideological predilections of the author. College presidents more interested in job security and campus peace than academic truth and integrity have allowed creating pseudo disciplines and academic departments in a largely futile effort to bribe and appease leftest campus ideologues.

Is it no wonder Gallup poll data show a sharp declining public confidence in universities in just the last three years.


Detroit School Board Criticized for Effort to Strip Ben Carson's Name from High School

Members of the Project 21 black leadership network condemned an effort by the Detroit, Michigan school board to rename the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, saying the move “devalues black achievement” and “ignores hope and history.”

“This is another misguided effort by liberals to erase history,” said Gregory Parker of Project 21. “The Detroit school board had no problem with the name of the school before Dr. Carson became active in politics.”

“Now that he does not conform to the ideal liberal plantation image of a black man and he plays a prominent role in the Trump Administration, he offends their hypersensitive, self-righteous and morally corrupt sensibilities,” said Parker.

According to The Detroit News, the school board of Detroit voted 6-1 on Nov. 13 to consider renaming “several buildings in the district.” The Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine was among them.

Ben Carson is the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the administration of President Donald Trump. He is also a former presidential candidate, a best selling author, and a pediatric neurosurgeon who famously separated twin babies who were born conjoined at the head.

Former President George W. Bush awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2008 for his “skills as a surgeon, high moral standards, and dedication to helping others.”

According to the school’s website, Carson, who grew up in inner-city Detroit, was chosen as “a role model for students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields” and as a reminder to students that “their career dreams are achievable.”

The school also highlights Carson’s “professional and personal formula for success,” which it says is “embedded” in its core beliefs and values.

Project 21 member Diante Johnson emphasized Carson’s message of encouragement to young people.

“Over the years, Dr. Carson has sent a message to youth that – regardless of skin color – the sky is the limit and everyone is free to aspire to be whatever they want to be,” Johnson said.

Marie Fischer-Wyrick of Project 21 said having Carson’s name on the school is “an inspiration to all of its students,” and added that removing it is “a sad example of the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality that still permeates much of the black community.”

According to outgoing Detroit school board member LaMar Lemmons, however, Carson has “disgraced himself” through his involvement with Trump. Lemmons told The Washington Post that he “regularly” receives letters from the Detroit community asking the board to rename the school, and that having Carson’s name on the school is “synonymous with having Trump’s name on our school in blackface.”

Lemmons added that Carson is “doing Trump’s bidding, and he has adversely affected the African American community in Detroit as well as the nation with his housing policies. And he’s allied himself with a president that says he is a white nationalist and sends dog whistles that even the deaf can hear.”

Parker argued that political associations are not a good reason to remove Carson’s name.

“Dr. Carson’s accomplishments and successes as a surgeon and advocate for getting a good education do not change because he works for this president,” Parker said.

Johnson echoed that view, pointing out that “accomplishments are permanent.”

“To want to remove an honor rooted in Dr. Carson’s accomplishments because of political differences or associations puts us at a sad time in history,” Johnson said.


Let’s Approve New Title IX Regulation, End Campus ‘Kangaroo Courts’

The Department of Education released its long-awaited Title IX regulation on November 16. The proposed regulation can be seen HERE. The draft regulation has a 60-day public comment period.


The proposed regulation isn’t perfect, of course. Below are the strengths and needed changes, based on SAVE’s initial analysis. SAVE discourages persons from sending these comments verbatim to the Department of Education. Instead, persons should submit comments based on their own experiences and perspectives.


1. Notice Requirements

– must publish and provide notice of their grievance procedures including how to report and how to respond to complaint.

– must provide notice of allegations to both parties including potential sanctions, standard of evidence, right to appeal, range of supportive measures, and date/time/location of hearings

– must inform parties they have right to request and inspect evidence

– must provide written decision detailing violation, procedural steps taken, findings of fact, sanctions imposed, and right to appeal. Must be provided to both parties simultaneously

2. Definitions

– provides a more narrow definition of sexual harassment:

Supreme Court’s Davis v. Monroe definition
Quid pro quo harassment
Any offense that meets the FBI definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape (34 CFR 668.46(a))
– schools are only obligated if they have actual knowledge. A school only has actual knowledge if allegations are made to a Title IX coordinator or any school official who has power to institute corrective measures

3. Equal Rights

– supportive measures can now be offered to both parties

– a school’s treatment of either party in response to a complaint can constitute sex discrimination

4. Grievance Procedures

– equitable resolution for respondent must include due process before any disciplinary sanctions are imposed

– requires objective evaluation of all relevant evidence including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence

– credibility determinations cannot be based on person’s status as complainant, respondent, or witness

– must be presumption of innocence until finding of guilt

– burden of proof is on school and not parties

– right to cross-examine through an advisor

– if party does not have advisor present, school must provide one who is aligned with the party

– informal resolutions are allowed at any time prior to determination

– school must maintain and provide record of investigation for 3 years

5. Conflict of Interest

– any investigator, coordinator, or decision-maker cannot have a conflict of interest against complainant or respondent

– training materials cannot rely on sex stereotypes and must promote impartial investigations

– decision-maker cannot be same person as the Title IX coordinators or investigators

6. Standard of Evidence

– same standard of evidence must be used for both students and faculty/employees

– preponderance of evidence can only be used if the school uses that standard for conduct code violations that do not involve sexual harassment but carry same sanction

Negatives — Changes that Need to be Made

1. Initiation of Grievance Procedure

– when school has actual knowledge of multiple reports against same respondent, the Title IX coordinator must file a complaint

2. Standard of Evidence

– may choose between preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing standard

3. Appeals

– school is not required to provide right to appeal

– if right to appeal is provided, school must allow both parties to appeal

4. Knowingly false accusations and false statements

– provision that addresses false accusations and false statements