Tuesday, December 31, 2019

California School Children Won't Be Suspended for Disobeying Teachers

A new California law that takes effect in 2020 will make it illegal to suspend a student in grades 1-5 for disobeying teachers or administrators. Starting next year, the rule will be applied to students in grades 6-8 and will include charter schools.

There's a very good reason for this change, according to supporters. It's because of racism, you see. More little black kids are punished for disobeying teachers than little white kids. Naturally, there's only one possible explanation, to the exclusion of all others.

Whitey has it in for black children.


Yes, a study by San Diego State and UCLA called “ Get Out! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools,” found that “the statewide suspension rate for Black males is 3.6 times greater than that of the statewide rate for all students.”

Aside from the very scholarly name of the study, this is apparently not a rule that targets "people of color" since Asian kids and Hispanic kids don't have as many problems with authority.

What's the alternative to dealing with a disruptive child?

Educators like Jessie Ryan, president of the Sacramento City School Board, believe there is a better way to discipline students. It’s called restorative justice.

“The wonderful thing about restorative justice is that students quite often are given a minute to reset and be mindful of their actions,” Ryan said. “There is an opportunity to calm the classroom. It’s not just taking a route where you’re going directly from 0 to 100 by suspending a student, which we know doesn’t work.”

So we should be telling a 9-year-old kid (going on 21) to take a minute and think about what he's doing. This will give the teacher an opportunity to "calm the classroom," which you can't do because no one will get suspended for giving the teacher the finger. Presumably, after thinking about it, a light bulb will go off over the kid's head and he will immediately become docile and apologize for his "willful defiance."

Voila! "Restorative Justice!"

Naturally, there are those with a little perspective and a lot more knowledge of kids than many California educators.

Marcia Greenlaw, a parent of two students, said, “Sometimes children do need to be suspended from school. Sometimes they need a time out, maybe from school, other kids.”

Olivia Aragon, a school grandparent, said, “There should be something to discipline the kids because some kids are out of control.”

Aragon added she had some reservations about suspensions, but, “At the same time, they are missing school."

It's not permitted to bring up racist subjects like cultural differences leading to a lack of respect for authority by some students of a certain color, so I won't even mention it.

Presumably, kids can still be suspended for committing violence against teachers and other students. Or perhaps we should really give "restorative justice" a chance and try to work it out.

If the teacher is still in one piece.


Australia: A new voice for class teachers

Australian education could benefit from a shake-up of teachers’ unions, many of which oppose NAPLAN testing, reject the idea of merit pay for the best and brightest teachers, embrace fads such as critical literacy in English teaching and support students’ climate change boycotts of classes. Teachers’ unions are also highly politicised, backing Labor’s push to pour billions of dollars extra into the education system, despite classroom standards declining amid vast spending increases.

But the unions have baulked at efforts to promote phonics in early reading teaching, despite overwhelming evidence that it is the most efficient way to redress Australia’s poor performance in literacy.

Against that background, an interesting, fledgling development is under way in Queensland. Craig Johnstone reports on Monday that moves to break the stranglehold of political and industrial influence by Labor-leaning unions have taken another step. A new body, the Teachers Professional Association of Queensland, is promising lower fees and a ban on political donations to attract members.

The TPAQ has signed up about 100 members since its launch earlier this month. At this stage, it is no threat to the 47,000-strong Queensland Teachers Union. But it is modelled on the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, which was formed six years ago as a rival to the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union. It has grown to 5000 members. The QTU insists it is not affiliated with any political party. But it is affiliated with the Queensland Council of Unions, a major donor to the ALP.

If the new group is to succeed it must offer teachers better services and value, for which it is planning to charge a flat fee. Conscientious teachers would also appreciate their professional body taking a more constructive approach to the chronic problems in education.

As reported on Saturday, more than half the students offered building apprenticeships do not complete their courses because they lack basic skills in key subjects, such as maths. A teachers’ union with a better focus should be part of the solution, not the problem.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Most Americans Would Fail a Citizenship Test

When Americans don't know what it means to be American, we will lose Liberty.

Why are Millennials embracing socialism as an acceptable philosophical approach to markets? Why is the public at large not just laughing when the political Left attempts to tie the anti-Semitism and perversion of Christianity practiced by Nazis to the political Right? Why are we seeing a growing embrace of victimhood and weakness as honorable instead of achievement and deliberate pursuits of distinguished goals? Why do individuals who refuse to value citizenship but want socialism fail to see that those coming into America illegally do so either with nefarious intent or because they are fleeing big, socialist government?

Better yet, how’d we get here to this mess and how can we make an urgent, existential correction? Believing Thomas Jefferson’s statement to be true, Americans need to think through and understand the implications: “A nation has never been ignorant and free; that has never been and will never be.”

The Wall Street Journal opined last fall over the “embarrassing” number of Americans who failed the same civics test administered to those working through the naturalization process to become a U.S. Citizens. Writing about the abysmal 19% of individuals 45 years of age or younger who successfully answered enough questions about America’s history and government to pass, the editorial board blared that this “reflects the declining state of American public schools. None of this augurs well for the future of self-government.”

No, criticism of so many of America’s public schools and our government-run education is not excessively harsh.

On Feb. 15, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, housed at Princeton University, issued a damning press release publishing results of a 50-state survey asking 41,000 Americans the same 20 questions testing civic knowledge that are part of the naturalization process. The questions ranged from inquiring how many amendments are enjoined to the U.S. Constitution to identifying one of the rights enumerated in the First Amendment to which war former President Dwight D. Eisenhower served in prior to his election.

The results were truly shameful. Only one state, Vermont, saw the majority of its participants pass — and even then, 47% failed. Had 70% or higher been deemed the passing threshold, not one state would have had a majority of individuals pass. The worst-performing state was Louisiana, with 73% who failed. That percentage climbed to 82% if you include those correctly answering as few as 12 of the 20 questions.

Simply put, the facts of history have been rewritten, the roles of history have been recast, and the value of exceptionalism has been substituted with warmed-up mediocrity as the new normal to equalize the masses. Call it indoctrination, propaganda, or some other moniker attempting to capture the breadth, width, and reach of our current chaotic conundrum, but understand one thing: The great nation of America is being destroyed by Americans, not some foreign enemy. Those rewriting history and recasting the roles, good and bad, to fit today’s culture and political agendas are truly deconstructing our nation, most knowing they must create an ignorance of just how America became great through its unique constitutional republic and individualism that breeds self-reliance and exceptionalism, ingredients that do not coexist with socialism, communism, or all the other -isms that create a permanent underclass dependent upon big government.

Americans young, old, learned, and ignorant, love and herald the demand for Liberty. Yet, most live as if the prospects of freedom are made possible by obtaining some freeze-dried packet that comes with the instructions to just add water and, voila, the benefits of living in a constitutional republic abound. The expectation of free speech exists as an ever-safe constant without an understanding of the requirement to foster, protect and ensure our enumerated rights through a free and independent people.

If generation after generation of students are told and accept as truth the myth that the government has the jurisdiction and even the duty to provide a wage without work, free health insurance, free tuition, free food, price-controlled housing, and a host of other goodies for dependents living off of other people’s money, America dies — as does every aspect of freedom enjoyed by our citizens.

As the WSJ noted, “The real threat to American freedom is the failure of current citizens to learn even the most basic facts about U.S. history and government.”

Every state needs to pass its own legislation to address the lack of history taught and the horrific proficiency of critical information about America’s truly exceptional history. Equally important, every single adult who has a child, a grandchild or some other mind malleable within reach must serve as a First Teacher to ensure our children learn and grow into citizens who are capable of what James Madison spoke of as a permanently free people who serve as guardians of true Liberty.

As The Patriot Post’s motto says, “Veritas Vos Liberabit”


Australia: Parents outraged as Hillsong megachurch caught recruiting in Queensland public high schools

Constant Leftist preaching of sexual perversion in the schools is OK but Christian preaching is not?

Controversial megachurch Hillsong has pulled a page on its website detailing plans to recruit teenagers in state schools across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory in 2020.

The information was pulled on Wednesday, three days after a group of angry parents in Melbourne began a change.org petition calling on federal and state education ministers to ban the evangelical movement from proselytising in public high schools.

The petition has attracted more than 13,000 signatures since it was launched on Monday.

Information retrieved by 7NEWS.com.au through Google Cache shows the Hillsong Youth Schools Tour has already provided "life-giving messages about our lord" to 34,000 school students, including teenagers in at least three government schools in Queensland.

Until the site was disabled on Wednesday, it was running testimonials from the three schools' chaplains, who are funded under the federal government's National School Chaplaincy Program.

The program, which was recently expanded to $247 million over four years (2019-2022), stipulates that chaplains must not proselytise and must "respect, accept and be sensitive to other people’s views, values and beliefs".

Melbourne mother Fiona Newton, co-author of the petition to stop evangelising in public schools, said Hillsong's well-known hostility towards the LGBTI community had no place in the public education system.

The church campaigned against the same sex marriage bill and has been embroiled in the past with discredited gay conversion therapy.

"I grew up in a Pentecostal church, I know how they operate," Newton told 7NEWS.com.au.

"I'm now in a same sex relationship myself and I want my son to feel safe at his public school, that he won't be exposed to a religion that is anti-LGBTI."

"When you enrol your child in a secular public school you expect it to be free of any sort of religion.

"But Hillsong's mission is a clear and obvious mission of recruitment."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has credited Hillsong's founder, Brian Houston, as his spiritual mentor.

Morrison is not a member of Hillsong, which was founded in Sydney's north west and now has about 80 megachurches in more than 19 countries.

The prime minister attends a different Pentecostal church called Horizon in Sydney's south, which shares with Hillsong an affiliation under the Australian Christian Churches banner.

Morrison's friendship with Houston has attracted considerable criticism because the wealthy pastor was adversely named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

That inquiry recommended Houston be investigated for failing to report to police his father Frank Houston, a self-confessed paedophile, for crimes committed while Frank Houston was an Assemblies of God minister.

NSW Police confirmed to 7NEWS.com.au on Wednesday that the Hills Police Area Command is still investigating Brian Houston.

Brisbane public relations operator Lyle Mercer, who handles media queries for Hillsong, would not say why the church pulled details of its 2020 schools tour plan from the website.

"Schools across Australia offer various optional activities to students," Mercer said in a statement provided to 7NEWS.com.au.

"Hillsong – like many other outside organisations – has for many years created programs that provide students with positive values and in many situations these don’t even mention Christianity.

"These are done in student time and are always optional.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

At Some Colleges, It’s OK to Be White Again

Inside Higher Ed reports that “It’s OK to Be White” posters have appeared on more campuses:

The posters, which also appeared a year ago at this time, are put up without permission [from college officials]. Posters have been seen this year at Christopher Newport University, East Tennessee State University, Oklahoma City University’s law school, Susquehanna University, and Western Connecticut State University.

The sentiment that “it’s OK to be white” is obviously protected by the First Amendment.

But at Western Connecticut State University,  university president John Clark has threatened the unknown persons who posted flyers saying “It’s OK to Be White.” He says if they are students or faculty, they will face the “severest disciplinary actions, including dismissal as well as possible civil and criminal actions.”

The university says its officials immediately reported the flyers to local and state police and the FBI office in New Haven, all of whom were investigating who made the flyers on Friday.

Law professor Eugene Volokh, whose writings have been cited by the Supreme Court, notes “that the flyers consisted solely of the messages ‘It’s OK to be white’ and ‘Islam is right about women,’” and that “such messages are of course fully protected by the First Amendment.”

Volokh is right. Even if these messages are viewed as racially or religiously inflammatory, they are still protected by the First Amendment. The federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Connecticut ruled in 1992 that a professor’s derogatory beliefs about black people were protected by the First Amendment. (See Levin v. Harleston, 966 F.2d 85 (2d Cir. 1992)). In 1990, it ruled that a professor had a First Amendment right to teach that Zionism is racism, even though that caused a “furor” on his campus.  (See Dube v. State University of New York, 900 F.2d 587 (2d Cir. 1990)).

It is unclear what possible basis the FBI would have for investigating here. Federal law doesn’t forbid flyers that people find racially or religiously offensive, and laws against things such as littering are state laws, not federal laws enforced by the FBI.

In any event, Federal officials such as FBI agents must comply with First Amendment limits on their investigations. In 2000, a federal appeals court ruled that federal officials had violated the First Amendment by investigating citizens for 8 months over flyers and speech about a housing project for disabled people that allegedly exhibited prejudice. (See White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2000)). The court ruled that even if their speech was prejudiced, it was still protected by the First Amendment because it did not incite imminent lawlessness. Thus, it violated the First Amendment to subject them to a prolonged, speech-chilling investigation, even if federal officials thought that their speech violated a federal civil-rights law. The FBI should heed such rulings by not investigating flyers that say “It’s OK to Be White.”

These flyers may well have been posted in unauthorized places — the way flyers often are on college campuses. Violating such rules seldom carries any serious penalty, much less the “severest disciplinary action” that the university president threatens for the “It’s OK to Be White” flyers. The university cannot discriminate against these flyers based on their viewpoint by expelling or dismissing people for posting them, when it obviously would never expel or dismiss someone for posting flyers with a different viewpoint the university likes better, such as “It’s OK to Be Black.”

Even valid school rules, such as against posting flyers in the wrong place, or against littering or harassment, cannot be enforced against someone based on their viewpoint. A federal appeals court ruled that a conservative student could not be punished for violating a college’s broad harassment rule by videotaping someone in their office when a liberal student would not have been punished for the same kind of videotaping. (See O’Brien v. Welty, 818 F.3d 920 (9th Cir. 2016)).


‘Social Justice’ Ideology Is Damaging American Values

By Heather Mac Donald

Social-justice ideology is turning higher education into an engine of progressive political advocacy, according to a new report by the National Association of Scholars.

Left-wing activists, masquerading as professors, are infiltrating traditional academic departments or creating new ones—departments such as “Solidarity and Social Justice”—to advance their cause. They are entering the highest rung of college administration, from which perch they require students to take social-justice courses, such as “Native Sexualities and Queer Discourse” or “Hip-hop Workshop,” and attend social-justice events—such as a Reparations, Repatriation, and Redress Symposium or a Power and Privilege Symposium—in order to graduate.

But social-justice education is merely a symptom of an even deeper perversion of academic values: the cult of race and gender victimology, otherwise known as “diversity.” The diversity cult is destroying the very foundations of our civilization. It is worth first exploring, however, why social-justice education is an oxymoron.

Why shouldn’t an academic aspire to correcting perceived social ills?

The nineteenth-century American land-grant universities and the European research universities were founded, after all, on the premise that knowledge helps society progress. But social justice is a different beast entirely. When a university pursues social justice, it puts aside its traditional claim to authority: the disinterested search for knowledge. We accord universities enormous privileges. Their denizens are sheltered from the hurly-burly of the marketplace on the assumption that they will pursue truth wherever it will take them, unaffected by political or economic pressures. The definition of social justice, however, is deeply political, entailing a large number of contestable claims about the causes of socioeconomic inequality. Social-justice proponents believe that those claims are settled, and woe to anyone who challenges them on a college campus. There are, however, alternative explanations—besides oppression and illegitimate power—for ongoing inequalities, taboo though they may be in academia.

A social-justice agenda, therefore, is a political commitment, and politics is not disinterested. Indeed, it is often tribal. Such tribalism caricatures political opponents and whitewashes political leaders, ignoring facts along the way, as shown both by the frenzied hostility to Donald Trump on the left and by his elevation to the status of wise statesman and paragon of truth-telling by his most enthusiastic supporters, including in the conservative intelligentsia.

Of course, many people on college campuses today are still “condemned to silence”—not out of any respect for faculty authority but because they disagree with the premises of victim politics. Conservative Harvard law students, a professor there recently told me, refrain from challenging the regnant dogmas in class, terrified that their remarks may end up on social media and thus jeopardize their careers. This unwillingness to air inconvenient facts—facts such as the connection between family breakdown and poverty—is precisely the shrinking of intellectual freedom against which Weber warned. And if a Harvard law student, occupying the closest position to riches, power, and prestige that a university can guarantee, nevertheless feels acutely vulnerable in his dissent from the orthodoxies, what is a lowly undergraduate or even post-doc to do?

How bad is academic politicization? It is overt and unapologetic.

At a recent law school seminar on race and the law, the teacher proudly announced at the beginning of the class session: “We are training social-justice warriors here.” Had the professor said: “We are training justice warriors here,” there would have been no problem. Justice warriors seek to realize one of the great aspirations of Western history: to be ruled by neutral principles, rather than tribal partisanship.

In the courtroom, justice warriors pursue this rule of law through the adversarial process, in which both sides are given equal opportunity to advance facts and arguments in their defense.

Social justice, however, is opposed to procedural justice. In a year of ever more strident victim rhetoric, one of the most disturbing auguries for the future was the protests at Harvard and Yale law schools against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Hundreds of students from our most influential legal academies marched under the #MeToo rallying cry: Believe Survivors, meaning: any self-professed victim of sexual assault is entitled to automatic belief before any evidence is presented to, and sifted by, a neutral tribunal.

A disproportionate number of these elite law students will end up as federal judges, including on the Supreme Court. If they carry their “Believe Survivors” commitment to the bench, due process is doomed.

Many criminal law professors have given up teaching rape law since female students claim to be traumatized by the very thought of criminal defense in a rape case. Moot court has been similarly constrained; many law students are no longer willing to take on the role of advocate for even an imaginary political incorrect defendant.

Harvard’s dean of students, meantime, fired law professor Ronald Sullivan from his job as an undergraduate dorm master this year because of Sullivan’s legal representation of accused sexual assailant Harvey Weinstein. Students and administrators alike deemed this representation an existential threat to the safety of female students in Sullivan’s dorm. We will pass over in silence the maudlin theatrics of such a claim. Its substance is a triumph for social justice, but it is a dagger in the heart of justice.

For Harvard’s dean to declare that representing a politically unpopular client renders someone unfit to supervise students betrays the university’s educational mission, which should be to teach students the preciousness of such cultural legacies as the presumption of innocence.

Social-justice pedagogy is driven by one overwhelming reality: the seemingly intractable achievement gap between whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other. Radical feminism, as well as gay and now trans advocacy, are also deeply intertwined with social-justice thinking on campus and off, as we have just seen. But race is the main impetus. Liberal whites are terrified that the achievement and behavior gaps will never close. So they have crafted a totalizing narrative about the racism that allegedly holds back black achievement.

The aforementioned race-and-the-law professor, after announcing the class’s social-justice commitments, added: “We engage in race talk here.” That was an understatement. “We talk about white fragility,” the professor explained. “What is the purpose of white fragility? What does it mean to live in white culture, with white norms and a white power structure? What does it mean that we are in a culture dominated by white folks?”

A more pertinent question would be: What does any of this have to do with legal training? Living in a Western culture dominated by whites simply means that, if one is not white, one is in a minority; conversely, in Uganda, say, someone who is not black is in a minority. If being in a racial minority in a majority-white country is so inimical to one’s flourishing, plenty of places exist where a nonwhite person would be in the racial majority.

Non-whites the world over are beating down the doors to get into Western countries, however, with no comparable corresponding traffic moving in the other direction. The very politicians and academics who in the morning denounce America’s lethal white supremacy in the afternoon demand that the country open its borders to every intending Third World immigrant, with no penalty for illegal entry. These two positions are contradictory: The U.S. cannot be at the same time the graveyard for nonwhite people and an essential beacon of freedom and a life-preserving haven from oppression for these same people.

What are the “white norms” and “culture” that “race talk” seeks to deconstruct? Objectivity, a strong work ethic, individualism, a respect for the written word, perfectionism, and promptness, according to legions of diversity trainers and many humanities, social sciences, and even STEM faculty. Any act of self-discipline or deferred gratification that contributes to individual and generational success is now simply a manifestation of white supremacy. The New York Times recently singled out parents who had queued up hours early to visit a sought-after public school in New York City. “Why were white parents at the front of the line for the school tour?” asked the Times headline. The article answered: their white privilege, not their dedication to their children’s schooling.

The test for whether a norm is white and thus illegitimate is whether it has a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics. Given the behavioral and academic skills gaps, every colorblind standard of achievement will have a disparate impact. The average black 12th-grader currently reads at the level of the average white eighth-grader. Math levels are similarly skewed. Truancy rates for black students are often four times as high as for white students. Inner-city teachers, if they are being honest, will describe the barely controlled anarchy in their classrooms—anarchy exacerbated by the phony conceit that school discipline is racist.

In light of such disparities, it is absurd to attribute the absence of proportional representation in the STEM fields, say, to bias. And yet, STEM deans, faculty, and Silicon Valley tech firms claim that only implicit bias explains why 13 percent of engineering professors are not black. The solution to this lack of proportional representation is no greater effort on the part of students, according to social justice and diversity proponents. Instead, it is watering down meritocratic standards. Professors are now taught about “inclusive grading” and how to assess writing without judging its quality since such quality judgments maintain white language supremacy.

It is impossible to overstate how fierce and sweeping the attack on meritocracy is: every mainstream institution is either furiously revising its standards or finds itself in the crosshairs for failing to do so. STEM professional organizations decry traditional means of testing knowledge. Diverse students should be able to get credit for participation in a group project or for putting together a presentation for their family and friends on a scientific concept, say these STEM professionals.

Faculty hiring criteria are also under pressure. A decade or so ago, the demand was to give credit toward tenure for editing an anthology. Substitutes for scholarship have only gotten more creative. At Bucknell University, a minority faculty member suggested that participating in an expletive-filled faculty list-serve discussion denouncing Amy Wax, an embattled University of Pennsylvania law professor, should count toward the “intellectual labor” of minority faculty and be included in the faculty merit review.

The most sweeping solution to the lack of racial diversity on the faculty is to get rid of departmental gatekeepers entirely, some of whom remain stubbornly wedded to traditional notions of accomplishment. The University of California at Davis has handed hiring decisions in several STEM fields over to a committee dominated by the university’s head diversity official and other bureaucrats. These bureaucrats have no idea how to assess scientific research. They are good, however, at diversity bean-counting.

The social-justice diversity bureaucracy has constructed a perpetual-motion machine that guarantees it eternal life. Minority students who have been catapulted by racial preferences into schools for which they are not academically prepared frequently struggle in their classes. The cause of those struggles, according to the social-justice diversity bureaucracy, is not academic mismatch; it is the lack of a critical mass of other minority students and faculty to provide refuge from the school’s overwhelming bigotry. And so, the school admits more minority students to create such a critical mass. Rather than raising minority performance, however, this new influx of diverse students lowers it, since the school has had to dig deeper into the applicant pool. The academic struggles and alienation of minority students will increase, along with the demand for more diversity bureaucrats, more segregated safe spaces, more victimology courses, more mental health workers, more diverse faculty, more lowered standards, and of course, more diversity student admits. And the cycle will start all over again.

Due to the diversity imperative, medical schools admit black students with MCAT scores that would be automatically disqualifying if presented by a white or Asian student. Their academic performance is just what one would expect. Time to lower standards further. An oncology professor at an Ivy League medical school was berated by a supervisor for giving an exam in pharmacology that was too “fact-based.” A cancer patient presumably wants his doctor to know the facts about drug interactions, however.

This same process of de-norming is happening in law enforcement. Across the country, district attorneys are refusing to enforce misdemeanor laws and judges are releasing convicted felons early because virtually every criminal-justice practice has a disparate impact on blacks. That disparate impact is due not to criminal-justice racism, but to blacks’ exponentially higher crime rates. This ongoing push for decriminalization and deincarceration will result in more black lives being lost to violent street crime. The liberal elites seemingly don’t give a damn, however, since black street-crime victims are killed overwhelmingly by other blacks, not by racist cops or white supremacists.

The ultimate social-justice solution to the skills and behavior gap is to remove the competition entirely. From the moment children enter school, they are berated for their white heteronormative patriarchal privilege if they fall outside a favored victim group. Any success that they enjoy is not due to their own efforts, they are told; it is due, rather, to the unfair advantages of a system deliberately designed to handicap minorities. Teachers are now advised to ignore white male students since asking or answering questions in class is another mark of male supremacy.

The pariahs are getting the message. A mother in Connecticut recently asked her son why he was not making more of an effort in college. He answered that doing so would be a function of white privilege. Such an answer can simply be an excuse for laziness. But the relentless attack on any achievement that is not proportionally distributed among different identity groups cannot help but dampen some students’ willingness to compete. Journalist George Packer recently wrote a controversial article in The Atlantic agonizing over the racial-justice crusade that has engulfed the New York City school system. Packer family politics are such that his fourth-grade son “sobbed inconsolably” when Trump was elected president, and Packer sympathizes with the broad goals of the school system’s racial-justice crusade. But even he worries about the fanatical leveling of academic excellence in the name of racial equity.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Our Hopes for Higher Ed Reform in 2020

As priorities shift in the minds of higher education leaders and students, it’s important to take stock of recent changes on the local and national levels. At the Martin Center, we have our eyes on some reforms at the top of our list for 2020:

Jenna A. Robinson, President

More Colleges Experimenting with Income Share Agreements

Student debt poses a problem for many young people, especially those who are underemployed or unemployed after leaving college. A better alternative is Income Share Agreements (ISA). ISAs are contracts between students and their schools. The university pays for the student’s education and the student, after graduation, agrees to repay the university with a certain percentage of his or her income for a pre-determined number of years after graduation.

ISAs have several advantages over traditional debt. First, students know exactly how long it will take to “pay off” their debt since that’s part of the agreement from the beginning. Also, students who don’t earn very much money in their first jobs won’t be crushed by sky-high loan repayments. And there’s also no interest, which means that the balance won’t grow over time.

Most importantly, ISAs align the interests of students and schools because the school recoups more of its investment from students who graduate and find lucrative employment. Universities and students both have a financial stake in student success.

Purdue University was the first four-year school to offer ISAs. It began its “Back a Boiler” plan in 2016. Other schools that offer ISAs include Colorado Mountain College, Allan Hancock College in California, Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, Clarkson University in New York, Norwich University in Vermont, and Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

In 2020, I’d like to see that list grow. ISAs are a powerful tool to prevent the worst consequences of excessive student borrowing.

More Due Process Protections for Students

Most students who face disciplinary actions on college campuses are treated as guilty until proven innocent. And the process for determining guilt is fraught with problems. Campus hearings often lack the kinds of procedural safeguards and basic fact-finding mechanisms that exist elsewhere in society.

In 2017, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) graded universities’ disciplinary proceedings. They found, “49 out of the 53 universities reviewed receive a grade of D or F from FIRE for at least one disciplinary policy, meaning that they fully provide no more than 4 of the 10 elements that FIRE considers critical to a fair procedure.”

Late last year, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights proposed new federal regulations that would require schools to provide many important procedural safeguards. But those regulations haven’t been finalized—and could be changed by future administrations. States should act to enshrine due process on public university campuses.

I hoped to see legislative action on this topic in 2019, but there has been little activity. Last year at this time, I wrote:

States should remedy this problem—at least at public colleges and universities—by adopting legislation that guarantees student defendants the right to counsel, requires parties to make good-faith efforts to exchange evidence, and allows students and their advocates to make opening and closing statements, and to present and question witnesses.

States should also ensure that accused students are given adequate notice of adjudication processes, including details of the allegations. Most importantly, states should demand that universities use “clear and convincing evidence” as the standard of proof of responsibility for proving sexual misconduct.

For the many students facing university disciplinary proceedings, the Education Department has been too slow to act. States should move forward on this issue.

Jay Schalin, Director of Policy Analysis

Leaders Should Start to Lead

One thing I’d like to see for the New Year is for the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to grow a spine and become a serious force for reform. I’m not holding my breath on this one; the cluelessness exhibited by that body over the last year or so has been breath-taking.

This lack of awareness was on full display in the Silent Sam debacle, in which they tried to avoid criticism and please all the various factions when no such compromise position existed.

There was clearly only one appropriate move: to keep the statue on the campus and to come down hard on anybody who committed an illegal act (meaning expulsion for students, firing for staff, and full prosecution for outsiders).

Instead of facing up to the actual problem of mob rule, the board sought some sort of sweet spot that would appease the radicals on both the left and right while ignoring the 65 percent of the population who wanted the statue restored. So how is that working out for them? Apparently not so well; their critics are more intense than ever and the credibility of the board is at a low.

The board may try to excuse their sorry solution by claiming it “allows the University to move forward and focus on its core mission of educating students.” But they cast aside the real opportunity for education. Long after the classroom quotations and equations are forgotten, the real lessons offered by the sad saga of Silent Sam will remain, including:

When you don’t get your way through ordinary processes, resort to mob violence.

Authorities are essentially cowards who will back down when threatened with adverse publicity.

Respectful negotiation, compromise, and trying to understand other perspectives are for losers. The loudest voices get their way.

So, it would be nice if the board were to regard Silent Sam as a teachable moment for themselves, realize that appeasement is no way to govern, and take a proactive approach to reform a system that is losing its way.

Institution-Building May Be the Last Resort

My other wish is predicated upon the unlikelihood that we will see any serious reform in higher education. Given that unfortunate state of affairs, I would like to see a flowering of alternative institutions that will uphold standards and teach the best-known truths rather than what is fashionable or politically expedient. They can be entirely new colleges, or they can be centers, institutes, and programs that maintain some degree of independence as part of existing campuses.

Over the last 20 years, there has been an explosion of such centers. Many of them continue to thrive and influence their campuses. However, others are starting to suffer from attempts to subvert them, limit their ability to disrupt the academic zeitgeist, and drive them off-campus. One pernicious development is the “UnKoch my Campus” campaign, which attempts to destroy any centers that take money from the Koch Foundation.

(Although, maybe that’s not the worst idea ever. Maybe there should be a new organization called “UnSoros My Campus.”)

On the other hand, new college start-ups with traditional, Christian, conservative or unique emphases have been few and far between. A couple of them were founded in North Carolina recently, but they are the exceptions. One reason is the lack of awareness of the need to for alternate institutions. Prosperous people continue to give big donations to their alma maters that are then used to undo everything these same donors hold dear. Talented students still want to attend the most prestigious schools rather than seek alternatives that may provide a better education.

And, even when donors do look for alternative ways to give, their money goes to well-funded schools such as Hillsdale College or Liberty University.

I’m hoping these established patterns will change and we will start to see more start-ups of both colleges and centers. It may be that the only way to have intellectual diversity is to have institutional diversity.

George Leef, Director of Research

How About a National Conversation on Diversity?

As president, Bill Clinton declared that America needed a “national conversation” on race. We never had much of a real conversation, however, but rather we suffered a one-sided, divisive harangue from progressives.

Although that “conversation” didn’t work out, we could use a true conversation in the coming year on the related subject of diversity.

Ever since the mania for diversity, especially in academia, arose in the 1970s, we have had a torrent of pro-diversity claims from advocates of group balancing to achieve greater “fairness.” We have heard over and over that diversity creates vital educational benefits, heals racial misunderstandings, prepares Americans for a diverse world, and so forth. Occasionally, those assertions are questioned, but those who dare to do so are shouted down (figurative, and sometimes literally) by diversity advocates who never doubt their own beliefs.

A true national conversation on diversity would mean that Americans get the chance to hear the arguments that diversity doesn’t bring educational benefits (consider, e.g., Professor Charles Geshekter’s rebuttal to a so-typical book entitled An Inclusive Academy) and that the obsession with hiring people from “underrepresented” groups is a serious impediment to academic excellence (as Heather Mac Donald demonstrates in her recent book The Diversity Delusion.).

In short, America needs a conversation in which the purported benefits of choosing people based on their ancestry are weighed against the costs of doing so. No claim should be accepted or rejected out of hand but evaluated based on evidence.

There is a huge obstacle to such a conversation, however. The pro-diversity people have gotten their way and don’t care for challenges. Almost no higher education leader has come forth to say, “While I have supported diversity efforts, there are sound reasons to doubt that they’ve had the rosy effects I envisioned. People who criticize diversity admissions and programs are not evil, and they make some strong arguments.”

Evidence against the diversity obsession is mounting. What we need now is for a prominent academic leader to say that it’s time to consider stopping it.


How Medical Schools Are Polarizing Tomorrow’s Doctors

To be a successful doctor, it is no longer enough to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend an effective treatment. Today’s medical schools want their students to be well-versed in politics—and not just any politics, but issues embraced by the left. Left-leaning issues are weaving their way into the curriculum and woe to those who speak out, including faculty members.

Climate change is the newest charge. A coalition of nearly 200 health professional schools supports an initiative, backed by the American Medical Association (AMA), to instruct students on how the changing planet is impacting health and altering the course of illness and disease.

One could argue all the hysteria surrounding climate change is creating a medical issue, anxiety, especially among children. That is not, however, what the proponents of “climate medicine” have in mind. The movement is aimed at influencing world view—to train tomorrow’s doctors to look at disease and illness through a political lens of doom and gloom.

A sampling of some of the courses being offered in medical school paints a fuller picture of the inroads that climate alarmism has made.

The University of Colorado School of Medicine offers a course, Climate Medicine, that not only includes field trips to Rocky Mountain National Park but also teaches students how to write op-eds on the subject of climate change. The school also offers a fellowship focused on “climate change and health policy” for physicians.

A “Brain and Behavior” lecture at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel explores how fossil-fuels are related to neurodegenerative conditions.

Stanford University School of Medicine student Anna Goshua told the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that she and other students are actively working on making climate change a regular part of her school’s curriculum. An elective will be offered starting in winter 2020.

“We’re the ones who are going to find ourselves on the frontlines of climate change. It’s important to be able to deal with these evolving threats and meet the needs of the people we’re going to be serving,” Goshua said.

Other “environmentally friendly” issues working their way into medical schools include gun control, gender identity, immigration, racism, social justice, and income inequality. No longer are these topics relegated to the off-campus settings of political activism. Now, they’re finding “safe spaces” in lecture halls, student conferences, and seminars.

Learning how to treat the effects of gun violence concerns those who will work in an emergency room, but instruction on gun violence is increasingly morphing into promotion of gun control. With the support of activist organizations, such as Scrubs Addressing the Firearms Epidemic (SAFE), students and faculty are lobbying deans to bring firearm injury prevention into medical school classrooms.

Curriculum advisors, like Stanford University School of Medicine’s Dr. Neil Gesundheit, are already on board. Gesundheit told WAMU radio he believed gun violence deserved the same attention as colon cancer and the way to get it into more medical school curriculums is to work more closely with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The idea is to get future doctors comfortable asking patients about gun ownership. The AMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Academy of Family Practitioners have publicly weighed in on gun control policies.

SAFE holds rallies on medical school campuses, distributing free scrubs with SAFE’s bright red logo. “As future health professionals, especially physicians, we have huge amounts of power in our society,” Columbia University medical school student Mattie Renn told CNN. A political agenda is thus seeping into what should be purely medical instruction.

Medical schools are also trying to “move the needle” on social justice. The Yale School of Medicine (YSM), for example, makes no secret of its objective as it describes on its website the “concerted effort” by faculty, students, and staff to address “the marginalization of members of our society due to race, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual identity, education, or other factors.”

YSM offers a “U.S. Health Justice” elective. First-year medical students are required to take a course entitled “Making the Invisible Visible: Art, Identity & Hierarchies of Power.” But that is just the beginning of this initiative, as “there remains a need” to incorporate social justice even more broadly into the curriculum, according to the website.

Faculty have spoken out about this politicization of the medical school curriculum but have done so at their own peril. In an op-ed, Dr. Stanley Goldfarb described how he was “chastised” for not including climate change in the curriculum when he was an associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Dr. Goldfarb explains how all of these political perspectives are finding their way into our medical schools: “As concerns about social justice have taken over undergraduate education, graduate schools have raced to develop curricula that will steep future educators in the same ideology. Today, a master’s degree in education is often what it takes to qualify for key administrative roles on medical school faculties.”

He fears that medical education will become more and more politicized, writing, “Curricula will increasingly focus on climate change, social inequities, gun violence, bias and other progressive causes only tangentially related to treating illness.”

Furthermore, medical students looking for at least open debate on highly charged topics such as climate change, gun control, and social justice are finding their graduate programs no different from the left-leaning echo chambers of undergraduate institutions.

“In many cases, there is a strong bias in the selection of speakers and guests the school chooses to invite,” Anthony Fappiano, a third-year medical student at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, told the author. “In a class of 180 students and your professors, it can be challenging to speak up and discuss a more conservative or libertarian point of view.”

Frappiano says some of his fellow students stopped speaking to him after learning his viewpoint. “There were many times students would tell me I wanted poor people to die,” he said.

“There is an implicit understanding in medical schools that it is, for some reason, taboo that physicians should discuss or have any expectation of compensation,” said Chad Savage, M.D and owner of YourChoice Direct Care, a direct primary care practice in medicine. “It is somehow unseemly to expect compensation, and this engenders the belief that the only way to partake of medical care is via governmental transaction.”

Finally, who gets admitted to medical school is becoming more a matter of attitude and less a matter of academic ability. That is facilitated by the inclusion of more subjective questions on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The new MCAT, introduced in 2015, now takes nearly eight hours to complete and has a new section called “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.” It also renamed the “Verbal Reasoning” section to “Critical Analysis and Reasoning.” These sections ask test takers to consider an author’s point of view.

Behind this “holistic” approach is a man who has made no secret of his politics: AAMC’s president emeritus, Darrell Kirch, M.D., president and CEO of AAMC from 2006 to 2019. In a 2011 speech, Kirch referred to himself as a man on a mission to transform health care.

In 2015, Kirch praised the White Coats for Black Lives Movement, stating, “as community healers and leaders, we must do our part to address the systemic issues relating to inequality, social exclusion, racism, and bias that all too often are linked to the problem of violence in our society.”

Choosing a class that reflects the nation’s demographics is a respectable goal, but not if it comes at the expense of rejecting more qualified candidates.


Friday, December 27, 2019

Political mathematics leading to disastrous outcomes

Following a growing trend in education called critical mathematics, the Seattle Public School system recently released a framework incorporating ethnic studies into their K-12 mathematics curriculum. It has a noble objective: To reduce the disparity in mathematics achievement between white students and students of color by teaching how different cultures have developed and employed mathematics through time.

But instead of equipping students to understand mathematics better so they can succeed, the new framework will leave students less prepared and teaches them a new dangerous lesson: mathematics is a tool of oppression.

At least, we think that is the gist of what Seattle’s new standards are saying. Sometimes, they seem to state concepts we agree with—for example, where they assert that learning math is ultimately empowering. At other points, however, they claim that the accepted way of doing mathematics is tainted by the Western intellectual tradition.

The standards are full of jargon and incomplete thoughts. For example, “student action, as defined by ethnic studies, is fostering a sense of advocacy, empowerment, and action in the students that creates intea rnal motivation to engage in and contribute to their identities as mathematician.” Sometimes the framework has apparent contradictions like when it asks, “How do we derive mathematical truth?” in one section and then in another section, “Who gets to say if an answer is right?”

We think it suffices to say that the last thing students in America need, to distract them from learning what mathematics is truly about, is to inject decidedly non-mathematical, social-agenda-driven content into the curriculum.

In our more cynical moments, we find ourselves thinking that much of our work as college mathematics and economics professors consists of trying to undo the damage done to students in their previous mathematics education. In America, many people come into college with a completely misguided idea of what mathematics is, and along with that an inability to do very basic mathematics (algebra, arithmetic, etc.).

Without a solid foundation in those basics, students quickly become frustrated and disillusioned, often believing they are just “not good at mathematics.” That frustration prevents students from engaging and excelling in a wide range of disciplines outside of mathematics: economics, finance, physics, and computer science to name a few. For students in those fields, mathematics is a liberator, not an oppressor.

In college math classes, it is crucial for students to focus their mental energy appropriately. Coming into college, many students have a lot of baggage that works against this. For example, “math anxiety” is a well-documented phenomenon. Students with math anxiety have a learned negative self-assessment of their own ability to do math. It can be crippling.

These students struggle in math class not because they lack the ability to understand the content, but because they are preoccupied with non-mathematical thoughts, many of them emotionally driven, that take away their focus on the content of the math. Introducing a social analysis component to math education adds fuel to this fire by giving students another thing other than the math itself to think about.

Students are already skeptical of math, eager to question its usefulness and protest whether we should be learning it at all. Things will be worse if they are trained to do this, receive approval for it, and are provided with a conceptual framework that legitimizes such protest.

We fear that the Seattle math framework will foster those ends, leaving the students subject to it ill-prepared for what they will experience in college-level math. Besides being a distraction to students, those new preoccupations could change the incentives for educators as well.

First, research suggests that when social justice concepts are taught in mathematics curriculum, teachers redirected their scarce class time toward social justice rather than math.  Second, educators may change the way they teach and grade if they come to fear accusations of bias. Grading may become more subjective.

When students subject to this arrive at college, they will be in for a shock as they discover their professors have completely different expectations for what good work is. It is already a problem that the reliance on student evaluations has encouraged grade inflation.

All this is assuming that the notions driving the Seattle framework, or other ideas akin to them, don’t find their way into the university. We have not seen this at our own institution, and we believe that real mathematicians, and others in STEM fields, at least for now, will have none of it. (Politically correct concepts do, sadly, appear to be surfacing in medical education.) If those ideas catch on in higher education, however, it remains to be seen what the pressure from administrators and those outside of STEM fields will be like.

Assuming that math and STEM fields go the way of humanities and many social sciences—politicized and seen by many as biased leftwards—future parents may view higher education more negatively than they do now. American higher education could also lose its prestige as the best university system in the world to other countries (as of 2019, seven of the top ten universities worldwide are in America and it is reasonable to say the top three in the United States are all STEM-focused).

As far as the notion that mathematics is a tool of oppression goes, we really can’t think of a more misguided idea—if it is an idea at all. The development of mathematics is one of the few things that is a truly global accomplishment: human beings from all cultures, times, places, and economic conditions have contributed crucially to its development.

A classic example is Srinivasa Ramanujan, a poor man from India who lived during British colonial rule. He had no formal training in mathematics but somehow had inexplicable, deep insights into many areas of mathematics. He is universally recognized as one of the most brilliant mathematical minds in history.

Ramanujan managed to catch the attention of British mathematician G.H. Hardy, and they engaged in a brief but extremely fruitful collaboration. Hardy, a brilliant and influential mathematician, was completely amazed by Ramanujan. He wrote:

I still say to myself when I am depressed and find myself forced to listen to pompous and tiresome people, ‘Well, I have done one thing you could never have done, and that is to have collaborated with Littlewood and Ramanujan on something like equal terms.’

The very fact that Ramanujan, a poor man from India, treated Hardy as a mathematical equal, was deeply meaningful to Hardy. This is inspiring and illustrates the universality of mathematics.

Ironically, students of privilege (racial, economic, or otherwise) may be at a disadvantage with mathematics because one of the major obstacles holding people back in mathematics is misunderstanding what mathematics is and what it takes to succeed. That setback is more likely for a person of privilege because you cannot solve your mathematics problems with a checkbook or social connections.

Those students expect the hard work to be done for them. When they fail, they often see it as someone else’s fault rather than their own failure due to their lack of work or focus. Mathematics has no respect at all for cultural or social privilege. Mathematics is the great equalizer.

Fundamentally, mathematics is humbling. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, you can excel or be terrible in mathematics. You don’t need any special equipment, or special experiences—just a pencil, paper, and an imagination. In mathematics, if you have the skills, it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make it. And if not…well, no amount of privilege is going to compensate.

Including stories of how people of different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds have advanced mathematics is noteworthy. However, if Seattle, or any other school system, does this inclusion at the expense of teaching its students mathematical concepts, and if they teach that mathematics oppresses rather than liberates, they will fail their students, being ironic the whole time.


Derailing Australia’s Campus Rape Panic

by Bettina Arndt

As 2019 draws to a close, the manufactured rape crisis on Australian university campuses has suffered an important setback. Last month, a Queensland Supreme Court ruled that universities have no jurisdiction to adjudicate sexual assault. This prompted a major speech by the Federal Education Minister in which he affirmed that “If a student alleges they are the victim of a crime then our criminal justice system is the appropriate authority to deal with it.” This is hugely significant, but the media has been noticeably reluctant to report on this development.

Late last year, new regulations were introduced by a number of universities to establish committees and secretive processes to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault. These reversed the burden of proof, denied the accused normal legal rights, and required only a “balance of probabilities” to secure conviction. Many other universities have apparently made plans to proceed down the same path.

This followed a campaign orchestrated by activists who have spent the last decade successfully convincing the media that young women are unsafe on our campuses. As a result of their lobbying, the Australian Human Rights Commission spent a million dollars on a survey intended to uncover evidence of this alleged rape crisis. However, the survey found that only tiny numbers experienced sexual assault (an average of 0.8 percent over each of the two years studied), even when a broad definition of sexual assault was applied that included touching by a stranger on public transport to campus. The main finding was low-grade sexual harassment (mainly unwanted staring) which the universities then promoted as alarming levels of “sexual violence.”

Despite this setback, the higher education sector continued to toe the feminist line, setting up new measures to respond to the perceived crisis. Our university regulator—the Tertiary Education, Quality, and Standards Agency (TEQSA)—swiftly issued a “guidance note” advising universities to provide evidence of how they respond to sexual assault. This was widely interpreted by universities as a requirement to get involved in the criminal law business.

The kowtowing of key players to activist demands has been extraordinary. Prior to the recent Federal election, lobby groups almost succeeded in establishing a government task-force aimed at further bullying universities in this direction. “We were so close,” lamented Darren Brown, the former higher education officer working for the Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, before Birmingham’s successor shelved the proposal.

Former barrister, now Queensland Senator, Amanda Stoker used a parliamentary committee to grill TEQSA officials about the impact of that “guidance note.” A video shows bureaucrats squirming as Stoker points out that the resulting university regulations contain barely a word about ensuring proper legal rights for accused young men. The accused, Stoker explained, had no access to evidence against them, there was no effort to ensure the reliability of that evidence, no power to call evidence in their own defence, no legal representation, no presumption of innocence, and no right of appeal.

A secretive, unsupervised committee would determine guilt on the balance of probabilities with power to impose serious penalties including expulsion from the university. As Stoker observed, this means that any student so punished will have wasted money and time invested in their degrees and are likely to be excluded from chosen professions—all penalties absent from the criminal justice code.

I’ve spent the last year touring Australian university campuses speaking about what’s happening, and Stoker played a pivotal role in our first major achievement. When the riot squad had to be called to remove violent protesters blocking my audience from accessing the venue at which I was speaking at Sydney University, Stoker used a similar Senate Estimate committee to question TEQSA about Sydney University’s failure to protect free speech. This led to the Federal government setting up an inquiry which ultimately led to our universities imposing new free speech codes.

But the major breakthrough came when the Queensland Supreme Court decision in November determined that universities have no jurisdiction to adjudicate sexual assault. This landmark case involved a University of Queensland medical student who was accused of sexual assault by another student. Wendy Mulcahy, the lawyer for the accused student, took the matter to the Supreme Court arguing that UQ did not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate such matters. In her judgement, Justice Ann Lyons concluded that universities are only entitled to make decisions in sexual assault cases which have been proved in criminal court.

Dan Tehan, our Federal Education Minister, used this legal decision to instruct TEQSA that the criminal justice system, not a university disciplinary process, is the right place to deal with alleged crimes that occur on campus or in the student commun­ity. “Universities have a duty of care to their students and that ­includes ensuring processes around the enforcement of any codes of conduct are legal, fair, and transparent,” he told a TEQSA conference in Melbourne later that month.

Earlier this year, a university administrator admitted in private correspondence with a student representative that his university had assumed they might still proceed with a misconduct hearing to determine the guilt of the perpetrator even if the accused had been found not guilty in criminal court. The reason? The university had a lower standard of proof, he said. That’s the point of this whole exercise—to use “victim-centred” justice to ensure more rape convictions. Feminists are angry that juries so rarely convict young men in he-said, she-said date rape situations, and “believe-the-victim” campus investigations make securing a conviction much easier.

That was widely acknowledged as the goal in 2011 when President Obama required all publicly funded universities to establish tribunals to adjudicate rape on campus. This led to over 200 successful lawsuits against universities for failing to protect the due process rights of the accused —rights the Trump administration is now seeking to restore. Given that recent history, it is extraordinary that our higher education sector has allowed itself to be led down the same path. Universities Australia has just commissioned a new survey on sexual assault intended to cook up more impressive rape statistics after the failure of the AHRC to produce the desired results.

It’s a relief to see a few shots finally fired across the bow of this misbegotten enterprise, and hopefully there are more to come. I’m about to launch a campaign to enlist alumni from all Australian universities to send Vice Chancellors a series of questions, drawn up by the legal team assisting me, asking about these institutions’ plans regarding the direction given by the Education Minister.* (Some universities have already written to the Minister stating they are discontinuing investigations.) I’ll be continuing my campus tour to educate male students about the risks presented by this manufactured crisis. I now have a list of cases of young men who have had their lives derailed by these courts and have made YouTube videos featuring two of these students, one in Adelaide and another in Perth.

One other minor development bears mention. In my previous Quillette article I mentioned I’d made a complaint to the university about key organisers of the Sydney protest, providing hours of video evidence and numerous witnesses to show they were breaching the university’s bullying and harassment regulations. After an investigation that lasted over 8 months, the university finally took action, suspending the key organiser, Maddy Ward, for a semester. Ward is a serial troublemaker who already had a strike against her following a notorious protest at which she exposed her breasts to an anti-abortion group. Ward proudly took ownership of the protest against me but was outraged that I had succeeded in “weaponising the university codes of conduct” against her. It was the authoritarian Left that insisted on regulating behaviour on campus, but they do not, it seems, like being held to the standards they impose on others.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Saying ‘No’ to College

As I finish the second calendar year of blogging regularly for Forbes, I realize I never have really seriously confronted an issue of fundamental importance regarding American higher education. Does the current generation or two of Americans, mostly born between, say, 1940 and 1980, the individuals who today run our nation’s business, professional and governmental enterprises and provide resources for America’s colleges and universities, realize that they are seriously botching arguably their most sacred responsibility, of caring for their progeny, the next generation? Don’t parents and grandparents consider it a prime goal in life to provide for their children by preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders and to do good works, making for a prosperous and just world decades into the future?

Everywhere I turn I see politically and economically powerful adults disadvantaging future generations. At the federal level, politicians see short term political gains in spending literally trillions of dollars of borrowed money, adding to the fiscal burden of their children and grandchildren. For many Americans, our primary and secondary educational preparation is woefully inadequate—inner city schools, for example, are mostly a disaster, yet we do little to radically change them.

While we expend a good amount of resources—three percent of total output—on colleges and universities, less and less of it actually goes towards instructing the next generation, and more and more goes to subsidize high price administrative bloat, entertainments (especially expensive intercollegiate athletic competitions) and research of little social utility. Resources are seized by university leaders—seasoned adults—in the form of economic rents—payments beyond what is necessary to procure their services—rather than utilized for the benefit of the next generation. Adults are ripping off the young.

Some, for example New York University anthropologist Caitlin Zaloom (author of Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost) argue the current generation of middle class adults are facing a depressing dilemma: how can they provide a good collegiate education to the children they love without sacrificing their own financial future? Zaloom thinks they are in a horrible bind.

An alternative interpretation is less charitable: the current generation of Americans running this country have pushed up the cost of higher education and lowered its quality, in part with borrowed money (from federal budget deficits that indirectly have helped finance our current $1.5 trillion student loan debt). In order to maintain their own high life style, today’s parents have effectively forced their kids to borrow to pay for their education, something they and their parents did not have to do—at a time when society was much poorer.

Returning to education, we have lost sight of the basics: are our young learning a lot about things that prepare them to be responsible and productive citizens in the future? Are we downplaying the dissemination of truth and beauty in favor of spending resources on other things? For example, do universities really need umpteen bureaucrats who neither teach nor do research that might help future generations?

The public love affair with universities is declining. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, at the beginning of this decade, there were over 20 million Americans attending college; this fall, there were fewer than 18 million, a decline of over 10%. This fall’s decline was 1.3%. All segments showed falling enrollment—for-profit, not-for-profit, two year and four year schools, private and public ones. The proportion of Americans in college has fallen even more than enrollments since 2010—around 17%—because of population growth. The retreat from higher education is substantial.

The excesses of the colleges were fueled largely by federal student assistance funds supplied by a national government that in turn borrowed much of the money from investors buying government bonds. This led to the tuition, staffing and perhaps even the athletic excesses that defining modern American higher education.

For years, the American public unflinchingly accepted the siren calls of the “college for all” crowd: you will not succeed in life unless you go to college. They increasingly are rejecting that. To be sure, demographic factors (falling birth rates) and tight labor markets (making the opportunity cost of attending school high) have contributed to the enrollment decline. But the trust in colleges being the path to opportunity in America has severely eroded.


Universities Welcome New Revenue Source: Retirees

Mary Warren received her sociology Ph.D. at Arizona State University in 1997—and enjoyed her time at the Tempe campus so much she has decided to go back and live there.

The 72-year-old recently paid around $500,000 for a two-bedroom apartment at Mirabella, a 252-unit high-rise project on ASU’s downtown campus aimed at seniors and developed by the university with a private real-estate firm.

Ms. Warren said she’s looking forward to moving in and auditing courses at the university when the development opens at the start of the 2020 fall semester.

“There’s so much out there to learn, you might as well take advantage of it,” said Ms. Warren, an early-childhood education professor.

With state government subsidies for higher education lagging behind prerecession levels after cuts, and with many traditional students struggling with college debt, some universities think they have found a promising new source of income in retired seniors.

More schools are building or planning senior-living facilities on or near campus to cater to baby boomers who view college as a stimulating alternative to bingo at an archetypal retirement home. Some savor the pursuit of academic and cultural interests. Others are lured by the promise of interaction with younger students, for whom many hope to act as mentors.

“There were a lot of things that I didn’t think I was good at in college that I know I am now,” said Elizabeth Ewing, 78, a retired fashion designer who recently put a deposit on a home with her husband at Broadview, a community planned for the State University of New York’s Purchase College. “Math, statistics, engineering.

I’d kind of like to see what all that’s about.” It is the latest way for universities to profit from one of their greatest assets, land. Colleges have already taken advantage of this privilege by developing hotels and high end student housing. Now, some see sales of upscale senior housing as the next step.

Some universities think they have found a new source of income in seniors.

Lasell University, just west of Boston, built one of the first on-campus senior communities two decades ago. It requires members to take 450 hours of coursework or activities each year. Other programs have since sprouted up in places like the University of Michigan and Oberlin College in Ohio. Some communities are on campus; others are situated nearby and may have only a loose affiliation with the school.

Many offer assisted living and nursing options. Anne Doyle, president of Lasell Village, isn’t surprised that schools are catching on to the concept. While the number of baby boomers settling into retirement is expected to keep rising for several years, the number of high-school graduates heading to college is projected to start decreasing during the same period, because of birthrates.

“Thinking about how you combine these two decidedly separate industries…provides enormous opportunity,” Ms. Doyle said. “One is in a growth industry and the other is serving a demographic that’s declining.”

Legacy Pointe, a community in the planning stages with the University of Central Florida, will have 296 retirement homes. Although located off campus, it will stay connected to the university by offering transportation to campus for courses and by bringing in medical students for research and rotations.

SUNY Purchase hopes to begin construction next year on a 40-acre on-campus senior- living development with 220 homes priced at up to $1.9 million for a two-bedroom villa, plus monthly charges that run between $3,300 and $10,000. As with many other senior-living arrangements, most of the original sale price is refunded when residents leave. The university plans to set aside 20% of the apartment homes for affordable housing. After launching sales in May, 25% of the units are in contract; the university has to reach 70% before construction can begin.

The project, less than 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester County, will include walking trails, a pub and a swimming pool. Seniors can also audit classes and attend campus concerts.

The centerpiece is the learning commons, where Purchase plans to offer a variety of programming meant to bring traditional students into the senior-living residence for cross-generational interaction.

That includes offering the community as a captive audience for students in the performing arts, and in the sciences, where working with an aging population can benefit research.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

After Temple student’s TikTok controversy, the university clashes with reality

Campus busybodies notched a win last week as Temple University came down hard on a student for posting an off-color joke about its surrounding neighborhood.

Administrators were tipped off to a short video by one male student labeling Temple’s environs a “ghetto” by a tattletale tweet accusing the student of spreading “hate” and “bigotry.” Instead of telling the tattler to deal with the problem herself — you know, as future adults must ostensibly do — the administration jumped in, announced that the student would be barred from helping to welcome incoming freshmen, and that they planned to discipline him with “education.”

While Temple spokesperson Raymond Betzner lamented the “deeply concerning” circumstances, he seemed bullish on the power of conversation: “When you sit down and you talk to students,” lo and behold, “their perspective changes.” It is indeed amazing how one’s perspective changes when faced with the prospect of having one’s future canceled by an incensed bureaucrat.

This all brings to mind a campus phenomenon that is now seeping into everyday life, best illustrated in Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s brilliant The Coddling of the American Mind.

An overprivileged kid expecting not to be offended tattled on her peer; a helicopter administration swept in to solve the problem — just like mommy and daddy do. Was this publicly funded response really beneficial to anybody?

It is possible to disagree with the student’s language and with the Orwellian reaction by Temple’s administration.


Colleges agree to allow increased competition for applicants

WASHINGTON — The financial aid stranglehold on students who commit to colleges may be broken.

In a proposed agreement announced this month to answer Justice Department antitrust accusations, the National Association for College Admission Counseling said it would allow its member college and university counselors to recruit students even after they have committed to another school and would permit members to encourage students to transfer after they have already enrolled.

Colleges and universities have been heavily criticized for encouraging potential students to enter into agreements, particularly for early admissions, with the understanding that an accepted applicant could not then turn to another school. That understanding, which was not legally binding but was widely followed, prevented universities from competing for applicants by offering more enticing financial aid packages.

Now colleges will be free to offer perks, like special scholarships or priority in course selection, to early-decision applicants — students who are less likely to need tuition assistance and use the process to secure a spot at their first-choice schools. For many selective colleges, more than half of an incoming freshman class will have been accepted through early admission.

Institutions will also be able to continue recruiting students beyond a widely applied May 1 deadline that is typically imposed for students who have applied through a regular decision process and are considering offers based, at least in part, on financial aid packages.

The changes stand to shake up the admissions process in the next year, affecting some colleges’ ability to predict the size of their freshman classes while allowing some students to benefit from competitive financial aid packages or even bargain for assistance right up until they walk onto a campus.

The agreement brings to a close a two-year investigation into the association’s code of ethics by the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which enforces laws governing fair consumer and competitive market practices. In a complaint, the Justice Department maintained that the organization’s recruitment standards violated antitrust laws because they “substantially reduced competition among colleges for college applicants and potential transfer students and deprived these consumers of the benefits.”

The department began investigating shortly after the National Association for College Admission Counseling adopted new recruitment rules in 2017, which sought to protect students and families from undue pressure and aggressive tactics that could be construed as coercive. The rules were part of a broad set of voluntary professional standards that the organization writes for its members, more than 15,000 high school and college admissions counselors.

The Justice Department took issue with three provisions: Schools should not offer incentives, like prime housing, to persuade students to apply early decision; colleges should not knowingly recruit or offer enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled, registered, or have submitted their deposits to other institutions; and members must not initiate contact with students to lure them into transferring.

In September, the organization preemptively voted to strike the provisions from its ethics code to avoid a costly legal fight with the Justice Department, saying such litigation would have “dire consequences on the association’s finances and ability to operate in the future.”

The association “continues to believe that the now deleted provisions provided substantial aid and protection to students in their process of choosing and moving from high school to college,” the organization said in a statement. “However, the association understands its obligations under the decree and intends to strictly implement and abide by its provisions.”

In a statement, Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general who leads the antitrust division, called the settlement “a victory for all college applicants and students across the United States who will benefit from vigorous competition among colleges for their enrollment.”

“While trade associations and standards-setting organizations can and often do promote rules and standards that benefit the market as a whole, they cannot do so at the cost of competition,” he said.

In the early 1990s, the antitrust division investigated the eight colleges and universities in the Ivy League, which used “overlap meetings” to share information and collaborate on financial aid offers.

Last year, the Justice Department began investigating whether colleges and universities were violating antitrust laws by exchanging information about prospective students who make early-decision commitments.

Higher education experts anticipate that the changes will be mostly felt by smaller or less-selective institutions, many of which are already forecasting enrollment losses because of a looming “demographic cliff” from falling birthrates and diminishing interest from foreign students. Institutions may also have a harder time predicting their fall enrollment, and that uncertainty could affect their ability to pull from waiting lists or project how many students they lose over the summer.

Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost of enrollment management at Oregon State University, anticipated that the changes would prompt colleges and universities to lower costs for some prospective students.

“If there is anything good that comes out of this, it might be that colleges looking to fill their last slots might go and find some low-income students who are extremely price sensitive and would be thrilled to take a slot for a discounted price,” he said.

Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minn., said he did not believe there would be enough slots for those students. Affluent students will still disproportionately apply for early decision, Rosenberg said, and with the increased competition, colleges will rush to recruit tuition-paying students to secure their revenue early.

“It results in more benefit to the people who already benefit,” Rosenberg said. “The problem that it creates, and the problem that’s most endemic in our higher education system, is the students that stand to be most harmed are the ones already disadvantaged.”


Hillsdale College receives $4.6M after it sues Mizzou for ignoring donor's wishes

Months before Sherlock Hibbs died in 2002 at the age of 98, he drafted his will, laying out his wish to invest in the economic principles that had shaped his life.

Hibbs’ success in finance had introduced him to the Austrian economists — and as his legacy, he hoped to leave new generations with the knowledge that had influenced him.

Prior to embarking on a business career in New York City, Hibbs graduated from the University of Missouri in 1926. He then joined the Navy in early 1942, and during World War II, he fought in North Africa, Italy, France and the Pacific. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

Hibbs didn’t have children, so in his will, he left millions to three Midwest colleges, including his alma mater, the University of Missouri, and Michigan’s Hillsdale College — a small liberal arts school that has achieved renown in part for eschewing government funding (Hillsdale is my alma mater).

Many years after Hibbs’ death, those two schools became entwined in a legal battle that found resolution this week. The case raises many questions about how a university — or any institution for that matter — honors (or doesn’t) the intent of a donor’s gift.

In Hibbs’ case, Mizzou accepted the $5 million gift from him, and then never honored the terms.

Here’s the background: In Hibbs’ will, he wanted his alma mater to create six endowed chairs and professorships in its business school with the express purpose of promoting a specific ideology. 

According to the lawsuit, “The Will also required that each appointee to a Chair and Distinguished Professorship be a dedicated and articulate disciple of the Ludwig von Mises Austrian School of Economics.”

There’s not much room for misunderstanding there.

Mises, who died in 1973, advocated for free markets and the central role of the entrepreneur — and he warned against socialism and government intervention. His message is more important today than ever. Friedrich Hayek was another famous proponent of the Austrian school.

But administrators at the university resented having to adhere to this “school of conservative economic thought” and while they filled the positions, the professors were by no means the disciples Hibbs’ envisioned.

This is where Hillsdale College comes in. Hibbs intended to give money to Hillsdale, and knew the college was a proponent of Austrian economics (Ludwig von Mises gifted his personal library to Hillsdale, and it’s located in a beautiful room in the campus library).

Hibbs, realizing that the University of Missouri may not follow through with his wishes, had stipulated the university check in with Hillsdale every four years as to how the money was being spent. If Mizzou wasn’t honoring the terms, the funding would revert to Hillsdale. Hillsdale didn’t really want to play watchdog, but President Larry Arnn respected Hibbs’ request and agreed.

When it became obvious to Hillsdale that Mizzou was neglecting Hibbs’ intent, the college sued. Administrators, including a university provost who said he didn’t want the university being “held hostage by a particular ideology,” were called out in the lawsuit:

“These same individuals, not one of whom was a trustee of any purported trust involving the bequest, then concealed their conduct from the University’s Board of Curators, from the professors they appointed to the positions funded by the bequest, and from Hillsdale. Worse still, they pressured those professors to falsely certify to the Board of Curators and to Hillsdale — repeatedly — that the University had complied with the condition of the Hibbs’ bequest.”

Several years later, the two institutions have reached a settlement.

The agreement calls for Hillsdale to receive $4.6 million — 50% of what remains in the Mizzou trust, and almost the full amount of the original grant.

“They aren’t very good at teaching Austrian economics, but they are pretty good at investing,” says Peter Herzog, St. Louis-based lead trial counsel for Hillsdale. “Mr. Hibbs’ legacy will be upheld at Hillsdale. Fortunately, Mr. Hibbs was wise to set up his own enforcement mechanism and found an institution ready, willing and committed to ensure that his donor intent was honored. It is imperative for institutions and donors to know and understand one another so that intent is very clear.”

Jay Nixon, a Democrat and former governor of Missouri, is also representing Hillsdale in the suit.

With its remaining funds, the University of Missouri has promised it will hold a symposium every two years dedicated to Austrian economics, for a total of $15,000 for each event. Other funds will go toward economists who support a free and open economy.

While Hibbs would no doubt be disappointed with how his alma mater treated his generosity, he would be pleased that Hillsdale stepped up to defend his legacy.

Ivan Pongracic, a professor of economics at Hillsdale, is also the William E. Hibbs/Ludwig von Mises chair of economics. His gratitude toward Hibbs, as well as the economic values they share, is evident.

“As far as I'm concerned, Mises was the greatest economist of the 20th century, and his ideas have had a profound influence on my own thinking,” Pongracic told me in an email. “I'm also confident that they will continue to rise in acceptance and impact in the wider profession. I'm grateful to Mr. Sherlock Hibbs for recognizing that and endowing this chair to promote educating our students about Mises' many insightful contributions to economic thought as well as achieving greater general economic literacy.”

I have a feeling that’s exactly what Sherlock Hibbs had in mind.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Privileged background is most important factor in whether a British child goes to university, study finds

Having privileged parents is the most important factor for determining whether a student will go to university, a study has found.

Academics from York University analysed data from 5,000 children born in the UK between 1994 and 1996 to see which factors were most important for predicting academic success.

They found that the most crucial factor was having parents who are both highly educated and wealthy. This outweighed all other factors, including whether children had a high genetic propensity for education.

Professor Sophie von Stumm, the lead author of the study, said: “Genetics and socio-economic status capture the effects of both nature and nurture, and their influence is particularly dramatic for children at the extreme ends of distribution.

“However, our study also highlights the potentially protective effect of a privileged background.

“Having a genetic makeup that makes you more inclined to education does make a child from a disadvantaged background more likely to go to university, but not as likely as a child with a lower genetic propensity from a more advantaged background.”

Researchers used genome-wide polygenic scoring - a statistical technique which adds up the effect of DNA variants - to test how inherited genetic differences predict children’s educational success.

The study, published in the journal Developmental Science, found that having the right genes for school success is not as beneficial as having parents who are highly educated and wealthy.

Only 47 per cent of children with a high genetic propensity for education but a poorer background made it to university. This compares with 62 per cent of those with a low genetic propensity but parents that are more affluent. Children with a high genetic propensity for education who were also from wealthy and well-educated family backgrounds had the greatest advantage with 77 per cent going to university.

Meanwhile, only one in five (21 per cent) of children from families with low socioeconomic status and low genetic propensity carried on into higher education.


Elite New York school is rocked by anti-Semitism claims after swastikas are daubed on walls

Jewish students at $53,000-a-year alma mater of Sofia Coppola and Jeffrey Katzenberg accuse staff of failing to call out hatred

An elite New York private school is facing anti-Semitism claims after Jewish students accused staff of failing to call out anti-Jewish hatred.

Jewish students at the $53,000-a-year Fieldston School in the Bronx, whose alumni include director Sofia Coppola and former Disney mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, say they are treated as 'white and privileged' by some of their fellow classmates and believe that discrimination against them is not taken seriously.

The school has also been accused of a lackluster response after swastikas were daubed around the building and a visiting speaker suggested that Holocaust survivors had turned into oppressors.

According to a detailed report by Tablet magazine, some parents have accused the school of having a 'problem calling out hate against this community'.

Matters reportedly came to a head last month after an invited speaker, Kayum Ahmed of Columbia University Law School, made provocative comments about the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ahmed apparently suggested that Holocaust survivors had turned into oppressors in a cycle of 'victims becoming perpetrators' at a lecture on November 21.

'Jews who suffered in the Holocaust and established the State of Israel today - they perpetuate violence against Palestinians that [is] unthinkable,' he said.

Furious Jewish students said that no-one had called out the remark and that the school's response had been insufficient.

One parent told the magazine: 'If someone was coming to Fieldston to talk about apartheid and went off on a rant about the pea-sized brains of women who belong in a kitchen, or repeated racist tropes, or ranted about any form of homophobia or racism or sexism, immediately teachers would have stood up and said that’s not how we feel, that’s not an idea we share.'

Instead, parents said they had received a vaguely-worded letter which said 'we will not accept anti-Semitism' while also listing a series of other prejudices.

The school's apparent refusal to single out anti-Semitism caused further fury and one father felt that the letter was 'worse than doing nothing'.

'It's part of the assumption at Fieldston that Jewish students are rich and white and thus privileged, so it doesn't matter,' one parent said.

The comments also earned a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organisation.

On another occasion, Fieldston students found swastikas appearing in halls and classrooms.

The school responded with a presentation highlighting the symbol's pre-Nazi history, it is claimed.

Only after an outcry did the school send out a second message which specifically described the swastika as a 'hateful symbol of the Nazi genocide' and the 'destruction of European Jewry'. 

In a further cause of anger, the school created 'affinity groups' to help students from different backgrounds discuss their identities, but blocked the creation of a Jewish group, it is claimed.

The school declined to provide any statement or clarification to the magazine. DailyMail.com has also reached out for comment.

Fieldston alumni include actress Sofia Coppola, composer Stephen Sondheim and journalist Barbara Walters.

Others include former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, ex-New York Times editor Jill Abramson and 'father of the atomic bomb' J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The school was originally founded by New York Jews in the late 19th century.

The Anti-Defamation League reported earlier this year that violent anti-Semitic episodes in the United States doubled in 2018.

Jewish leaders have warned that the receding memory of the Holocaust and rising far-right Muslim sentiment are fuelling a growing anti-Semitic climate.

Last month a Jewish professor at Syracuse University revealed an anonymous anti-Semitic email which told her to 'get in the oven where you belong'.

The message sent to Genevieve Garcia de Müeller had the subject line 'JEW' and included a racist term for Jewish people.  

Boycotts of Israeli products have also caused tensions, although supporters of the campaign say they are critical of the Israeli government, not Jewish people in general.


Will Christians Become Outcasts at Public Universities?

We are Christian women, mothers of college students and college-bound children, who have serious concerns about how the “gender fluidity” movement has taken root at public schools and universities.

The idea that gender is fluid and self-determined, as opposed to biologically determined, has been germinating for decades. But today it has grown into a multimillion-dollar political cause that threatens the privacy, safety, and religious freedom of all students, and especially women.

In a recent op-ed, one of us, Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), gave a firsthand account of how students, beginning at orientation, are being indoctrinated into this anti-Christian ideology at Virginia Tech (VT), the hard science school of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The response was overwhelming. CWA received emails from many VT students, parents, employees, professors, alumni, and state elected officials upset about the indoctrination. Many complained of coercive “diversity training” and policies. Some students reported fear of reprisal, and some school employees fear job loss. Many feel bullied into silence and believe their First Amendment rights are being infringed. The school is opening itself up to a variety of lawsuits.

VT’s response has been to post its mantra regarding civility, saying students were not forced to share their pronouns. But coercion comes in many forms, and the pressure is palpable. It is sad to say, but if you express traditional Christian beliefs at VT, you will be left outside of the community. Of course, VT is far from alone in this new woke trajectory.

Recently, the Christian student organization Young Life was denied recognition at Duke University because of its adherence to Biblical principles on LGBTQ issues. This is the culture being promoted at VT and other Virginia schools right now. It would surprise no one to see them follow the same anti-Christian discriminatory policy in the not-too-distant future.

Here is the key. President Timothy Sands was elected in 2014 after Gov. Terry McAuliffe stacked the VT Board of Visitors with liberals. He is a San Francisco, California, native and a graduate of the University of California, Berkley. His administration has ushered in diversity training that forces students and employees to submit to indoctrinating videos on “woke” orthodoxy, including microaggressions and gender fluidity. The training includes a quiz that forces people to choose the politically correct answer in order to move on to the next session. This environment separates students into perpetually offended identity groups instead of fostering school unity.

This is the issue Timothy Sands and others do not understand: To ask Christians to affirm this notion of gender fluidity is in direct contradiction of our Biblical beliefs in an everlasting, unchanging God who created humans male and female with intrinsic value and in His own image (Gen. 1:27).

Forcing all kids (and adults) to announce their pronouns, and to use false pronouns for others, is forcing them to declare a creed they do not affirm. In fact, this belief is not completely new. It is rooted in Gnosticism and sexual nihilism.

Forcing Christians to abide by this new version of the old heresy is not only asking them to deny God’s purposeful creation but to deny God Himself. It is every bit a sacrilege as being forced to bend the knee to a foreign god. We cannot do it (“we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” [Daniel 3:18b]). When government officials compel religious people to deny their God, it is tantamount to forced conversion, compelled by the government.

In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of students to refuse to salute the American flag. Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Yet this is what public schools and state universities are doing when they force students (explicitly or implicitly) to refer to another person as “they,” “ze,” “xe,” or whatever. This is government officials coercing people to say (and believe) words (or creeds) against their will and using our tax dollars to do it.

As former Justice Anthony Kennedy (the infamous moderate voice on the Court) wrote last year in his concurring opinion in NIFLA v. Becerra, “It is not forward thinking to force individuals to ‘be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] find unacceptable.’”

Labeling people bigots for not assenting to an anti-Christian view of the human person is not only offensive to religious freedom and free speech, it’s devastating for women.

In fact, the real-world result of removing all distinction between men and women is so pernicious that an unlikely alliance has developed between radical feminists at Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) and conservatives. Women of all political persuasions are joined by the idea that women are unique and should be celebrated — that women’s safety, privacy, and opportunities are at risk by these wrongheaded, unscientific policies.

The denial of women’s safe spaces are already happening on other campuses, as this sign sent to us by a parent from another school’s orientation event illustrates:

Should we expect this at the next VT student orientation? Students of faith, and especially female students, need strong advocates who will bravely help them fight this battle. Parents need to speak up! It is too much to ask students to stand up to the monumental pressure today’s universities are putting on them. We must stand with them and fight for justice.

The examples continue to pile on. Are women supposed to ignore this state-sponsored assault on womanhood?

Public universities should be a place for all members of the public, not just those willing to affirm an anti-Christian, anti-woman creed.

“Government must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions,” said Justice Kennedy last year. “Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief.”

Indeed. The cost of attending an American public university must never be your conscience, your safety, or your soul.