Friday, April 19, 2019

College Wouldn’t Cost So Much if Students and Faculty Worked Harder


One reason college is so costly and so little real learning occurs is that collegiate resources are vastly underused. Students don’t study much, professors teach little, few people read most of the obscure papers the professors write, and even the buildings are empty most of the time.

The New York Federal Reserve says more than 40% of recent college graduates are “underemployed,” but many already are while in school. Surveys of student work habits find that the average amount of time spent in class and otherwise studying is about 27 hours a week. The typical student takes classes only 32 weeks a year, so he spends fewer than 900 hours annually on academics—less time than a typical eighth-grader, and perhaps half the time their parents work to help finance college.

It wasn’t always this way. As economists Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks have demonstrated, students in the middle of the 20th century spent nearly 50% more time—around 40 hours weekly—studying. They now lack incentives to work very hard, since the average grade today—a B or B-plus—is much higher than in 1960 when the average grade-point average of around 2.5 implied a typical grade of B-minus or C-plus.

I’m part of the problem: I’ve been teaching for 55 years, and I assign far less reading, demand less writing, and give higher grades than I did two generations ago.

Learning takes time, so the diminution of effort surely means students are learning less. Snippets of data confirm that suspicion. Sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa have demonstrated, using the Collegiate Learning Assessment, that the typical college senior has only marginally better critical reasoning and writing skills than a freshman. Federal Adult Literacy Survey data, admittedly somewhat outdated, shows declining literacy among college grads in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A civic literacy test administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows appalling gaps in knowledge, with seniors knowing very little more than freshmen. Only 24% of graduates know that the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of an official church.

As for the faculty, the Education Department doesn’t publish annual data on teaching loads, but some hard data plus considerable anecdotal evidence suggests the typical professor is in class around one-third fewer hours than his 1965 counterpart. At my mid-quality state university (Ohio University), I taught three courses a week for nine hours in 1965; my colleagues today teach only two courses for six hours. At some top-flight research universities, senior professors may teach only one course.

The excuse is that professors today are publishing more research. True, but why? Mark Bauerlein at Emory has documented that in English (literary criticism), the volume of research is immense—but little of it is often cited or even read. Why should professors reduce their teaching loads to write papers for the Journal of Last Resort? Diminishing returns have long since set in.

The litany of underused resources goes on. In 1970 at a typical university there were perhaps two professors for each administrator. Today, there are usually more nonteaching administrators than professors. Even the buildings don’t work very hard. Most classrooms and faculty offices are deserted in June, July and August, and often for much of May and December. Even in peak academic months, classrooms are typically seldom used in late afternoons and often not on Fridays.

To be sure, there are many exceptions. On some campuses, students study much more. Engineering majors probably work much harder than communications or gender-studies majors. And there are professors who are in their offices more than a few hours a week. Students in law and medical schools often work very long hours. Many hard-science researchers spend much time in their labs.

Still, Time Use Survey data from the Labor Department suggest that students spend more time on recreation and partying than on academics, and most professors are not often found during daytime hours in the office, classroom, laboratory or the library. Where are they? What are they doing? Why can’t students and faculty show the same work ethic that made our market-disciplined nation the wealthiest place in history?


First Generation Universities, the New CCNY: Florida International


Nearly a century ago, large numbers of kids from poor immigrant families flocked into the City College of New York (CCNY), now City University of New York (CUNY). Many went on to become intellectual and business giants. I was talking to Mark Rosenberg, the president of Miami’s Florida International University (FIU) the other day, and realized that FIU is somewhat the CCNY for a new era. It did not even have students 50 years ago, but now has an extraordinary 57,000 enrolled, mostly members of minority groups, including probably the largest single collegiate concentration of Hispanic students.

Like CCNY, FIU is a commuter school with students who are either immigrants or, more often, children or grandchildren of immigrants to America. A lot of them have day jobs and go to school in the evenings or on weekends. President Rosenberg tells me FIU parking lots are as full on Saturday or at nights as during weekday primetime academic hours. He believes the mission of his school is to provide access to large numbers, giving educational opportunities opening the door to occupational opportunities. Himself the son of a Holocaust survivor (whom I knew), Rosenberg accepts that fulfilling his mission means his school’s reputation may take a hit. In the latest Forbes Best Colleges rankings, FIU is a fairly respectable but not outstanding 459th, well below such other Sunshine State rivals such as the University of Florida (68th), Florida State (163rd), private nearby rival the University of Miami (100th), and even below another even more fast growing competitor, the University of Central Florida (271st).

Still, the school does pretty well by contemporary American collegiate standards, with both four and six-year graduation rates approximating the American average, and students, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, averaging more than $46,000 in annual earnings after leaving. Tuition fees have been frozen for years, which Rosenberg views as a challenge, not a calamity. Indeed static fees have enabled enrollments to grow (although he thinks the school’s enrollment surge is about over). Capital costs are lower than at most schools because buildings are used so intensely, meaning fewer square feet to air condition. Heavy use of tutors helps keep retention and graduation rates respectable and saves money compared to higher priced faculty alternatives (although the faculty has continued to grow). A large portion of students do some of their work online, which President Rosenberg reminds me, in the long run, lowers capital costs.

Florida has no income tax, and being relatively new FIU has a very modest endowment. Many state university presidents grouse about inadequate state support, claiming their ability to offer a quality education is suffering owing to perverse priorities of state politicians. Rosenberg surprised me, however. He said low taxes has helped attract large numbers of persons to move to Florida, so the Sunshine State is not worried about the birth dearth starting to severely impact schools in northern states, states now sending many of their citizens to low tax Florida. He said the state has been innovative in encouraging coordination between the various universities, for example, nudging state schools into using the same course numbers at all institutions, making the transfer of credit between schools much easier.

I ponder whether there is an optimal size university, whether growth beyond, say, 50,000 students affords no economies of scale but leads to a lack of a sense of community and excessive campus congestion. Rosenberg is no longer pursuing an expansionist enrollment growth strategy, perhaps tacitly acknowledging that diminishing returns to growth exist. Will technology ultimately reduce the need for physical campuses? Time will tell, but I doubt they will die anytime soon.

America is a land of immigrants. Within a generation of the landing of the Mayflower in 1620, early immigrants started Harvard. Immigrants on average are hard working, save copiously, assimilate well, and their children and grandchildren are highly successful. Colleges are a vehicle to help make that happen. America needs Florida International-type universities as much as—arguably more than—it needs elite gated academic communities. For some, the preferred academic vehicle may be on-line institutions like Western Governors University or the University of Southern New Hampshire. But there still is a need for face to face instruction, and schools like FIU provide an important service.


There's a far bigger scandal on campus than parent bribes


A much bigger and wider scandal rages on college campuses these days than rich parents’ bribing schools to admit their kids: grade inflation, which overstates academic achievement and misleads employers when these kids graduate. G. K. Chesterton once observed that something can be so big that many do not see it. Getting into college unfairly through bribes and getting a job unfairly through grade inflation both are immoral and unjust.

A March 30 article by Thomas Lindsay in "Forbes" cites data that should alarm us, “A 5-plus year nationwide study of the history of college grading finds that, in the early l960s, an A grade was awarded in colleges nationwide 15 percent of the time. But today, an A is the most common grade; the percentage of A grades has tripled, to 45 percent nationwide. Seventy-five percent of all grades awarded now are either A’s or B’s. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in 2013 that 66 percent of employers screen candidates by grade point average.’”

The Forbes article continues: “The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation also has studied college grading. The foundation confirms the alarming findings cited above. It found that in l969, only 7 percent of students at two- and four-year colleges reported that their grade point average was A or higher. Yet in 2009, 41 percent of students reported as same. During the same period, the percentage of C grades given dropped from 25 to five percent.”

Now here’s the problem by way of my own experience: when I was a vice president at Hillsdale College a parent asked if the college “had grade inflation.” I said no — to which he responded: “That’s unfair. My kid goes to your school and gets B’s; he goes to the college down the road and gets A’s. Which kid do you think employers will hire — the A student or the B one?” My college, he argued, should impose grade inflation to keep student competition for employment on equal grounds.

He had a point. The prospective employer will not know which schools inflate grades and which do not. And the ones that do are not about to stop. From 2004-2014 Princeton capped the number of A’s in each academic department while the other Ivy League schools did not. Princeton then found that its students suffered in job competition with their still-grade-inflated peers.

So is there any solution to this double standard of grading? Yes, there is. Colleges are beginning to police themselves. Columbia, Dartmouth, Indiana, and Eastern Kentucky now “contextualize” grades on transcripts. “They provide the number of students in each class as well as the average grade of the class on the students’ transcripts. Indiana University places on transcripts the grade distribution for each course, the class grade point average, and the average student grade point average for each course," according to Forbes.

This transcript transparency better informs students, parents, and prospective employers.

Moving to contextualized grades on transcripts will take time but would more accurately reflect students’ actual academic achievement—for the sake of both the students and prospective employers. That’s why at bottom this scandal is a moral one far more insidious than parent bribes.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Why Do Progressives Support Elite Universities?


For several years, something has puzzled me: the most elite, selective, expensive American universities are hotbeds of liberal activism. Liberal faculty outnumber conservatives at least five to one in the policy-related social science and humanities fields. Also, as Joshua Distel helps me document in a forthcoming book, the more elite schools often bring in outside speakers mostly decidedly left of center—far more so than at less selective public universities. Whereas high income residential areas on average tend to be relatively conservative, that does not hold for high income academic communities.

I have found that odd because liberals fancy themselves as champions of the poor and downtrodden, in contrast to conservatives who, wanting greater economic growth, are allegedly tolerant and even supportive of massive concentrations of income and wealth. Yet the top selective schools are effectively academic gated communities, training and nurturing an affluent American aristocracy not centered around land, as in the Middle Ages, but rather around the accumulation of human capital.

Data from Harvard’s Raj Chetty and his small army of associates demonstrate that the top colleges are dominated by rich kids. The median family income of students at most Ivy League schools is around a very hefty $200,000, but the average income is closer to $500,000 because of a sizable sprinkling of truly uber-rich kids. At some elite schools, more kids come from the top one percent of the income distribution than the bottom 60 percent. Poor kids are very considerably underrepresented. Yet progressives themselves disproportionately attend and work at these schools, try to get their own kids into them and donate to them.

I think that a significant part of the reason for the enthusiasm of liberals for elite universities despite their “finishing school for rich kids” orientation is that these institutions depend in large part on government provided money, directly or indirectly. Schools like Harvard often get over $500 million annually in federal research money, a significant hunk of it being in the form of so-called “overhead” compensation, funds that often in large part supports researchers generating grants or bureaucrats administrating them. The schools likewise have found their endowments swollen by favorable tax treatment. So-called “private” Harvard receives vastly more government money (federal and state combined) per student than, say, nearby Bridgewater State University or even the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Employees of the elite universities give their political contributions mostly to liberal Democrat politicians who in turn help them by expanding governmental spending for higher education, among other things.

The recent Varsity Blues college admissions scandal is really a continuation of favoritism towards wealthy kids that has existed for decades (centuries?), but it has received heightened attention because of its size. the tactics used, and the celebrity status of some of the parents. This is the latest of some early signs that progressives are finally becoming a bit disenchanted with colleges. Democratic members of Congress are talking of various attacks on such practices as legacy admissions, or are starting to favor requiring significant endowment payout rates to increase aid to lower income students. Research Justin Strehle and I report in my new book suggests that actually only modest amounts of endowment income actually go towards reducing costs for lower income students. I have been wondering when the drumbeat of protests over legacy admissions would get louder—that seems to be starting. The 2017 Republican-promoted excise tax on massive endowments is not being attacked by progressives as much now as shortly after it was enacted. The left is showing a bit less support for colleges in general and rich private schools in particular.

The Trump executive order on colleges was signed last week, and the left’s attack on it has been quite muted, because increasingly progressives recognize that attacking universities is becoming good politics. Americans don’t like suppressing free speech, which has happened on some campuses. They don’t like favoring students on the basis of personal biological or other characteristics, such as skin color, gender or sexual preferences. They don’t like favoring the rich, or using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the practice of giving alumni children preference over others.


Racial bigotry in "broke" Sacramento High School

During the 1970s, the University of California, Davis, twice rejected Allan Bakke for admission to medical school, but not on the basis of his academic qualifications, which were excellent. Bakke is a person of pale skin shade, and UC Davis had reserved a quota of admissions to minority students whose qualifications did not measure up to Bakke’s. Something similar is now taking place at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento.

A number of students were accepted to the school’s rigorous Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP). The students’ parents then got a call from district officials informing them that the acceptance notice had been an error. As Katy Grimes explained in the California Globe, it soon emerged that a group of qualified Asians and students of no color had been excluded up-front, and that Sacramento Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar considered the HISP “too white.”

There is no law or regulation against “too many” students of any group in any program. There is, however, a state law forbidding discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity in state education, employment and contracting. That law is the California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, approved by voters in 1996. Superintendent Aguilar seems unaware of the measure, but legal action by parents could bring it to his attention. As parents already know, the superintendent also has difficulties on the financial side.

The Sacramento school district faces insolvency and is under threat of state takeover with a budget deficit of $35 million. As deficits mounted, Aguilar and seven other administrators spent more than $35,000 to attend a conference at Harvard Business School. As Marcos Breton noted in the Sacramento Bee, the district devotes 91 percent of its budget to salary and benefits, and in 2006 “state auditors warned the district of the danger in having salaries and benefits to eat up 91 percent of their total general fund.”

The district pays superintendent Aguilar a salary of $295,000, plus the usual ruling-class package of gold-plated benefits. The mounting deficits prompted no salary cut for Aguilar, who can’t make the district solvent despite a steady stream of money from the state, not tied to any improvements in student achievement. And when students do achieve at a high level, the superintendent claims the HISP program is “too white.” To prefer prejudice violates state law. Somebody from the attorney general’s office needs to look into it.


A gusher of money for education promised during Australian Federal election campaign

Mostly wrong-headed.  Expanding pre-school education, for instance, has no lasting benefit.  And both sides want "Enquiries" to find out what works.  But there is already a mountain of evidence on that.  It is just a way of kicking the can down the road

A rare breakout of peace between public and private school has changed the election outlook and shifted the campaign focus from schools to skills and training, where the choice will be between a business-based system or one focused on public TAFEs.

The spectacular $4.6 billion funding injection by the government into Catholic schools in September silenced the education sector's most powerful lobby group, and defused a long running conflict between state and independent schools.

Jennifer Buckingham said the country is at a point where there is no sector war between private and public schools. Lauren Shay

"We've reached a point where this no sector war going on," said senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent studies, Jennifer Buckingham.

"At this point we haven't got public schools squaring off against the catholic and private. That's been a feature of past campaigns. It's light-on this time."

In this election the major parties actually agree on two priorities for school education: lifting teacher performance and using evidence to change classroom practice. They’ve been out bidding each other to establish an evidence institute.

Last week’s surprise NAPLAN improvement in reading standards among year 3 and 5 students was attributed to the feedback teachers are getting in the classroom.

Businessman David Gonski, in his second review of schools, recommended an evidence institute be established and the Coalition made an extra $20 billion it was offering conditional on schools agreeing to ‘‘to drive improvements in teaching practice’’.

Labor said it will spend $280 million on an evidence institute.

In one policy difference on improving teacher performance Labor is planning to restrict entry to university teaching courses to the top 30 per cent of students. [Which will get it precisely Zero aplicants.  Smart people would not be seen dead in an Australian State school] It said it will use caps on funding if the sector does not take action quickly enough.

It will also rejuvenate the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher program and fund extra professional development for teachers. ‘‘Teacher education is really important and it’s the one area where the federal government can act,’’ said Dr Buckingham. ‘‘I’d like to see what the Coalition has in mind. They have talked about boosting teachers in remote locations.

‘‘We want rigour in terms of teaching courses and in the quality of teaching candidates. We want people going into schools to teach who are bright and able to keep up with research on effective teaching standards."

The Grattan Institute, which will publish a comparison of school education policy this week, said raising teacher standards and an evidence institute are two of its top three priorities.

Its third priority is getting all schools to a consistent level of funding under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). This is a reference to state government funding of public schools. Economist and school education fellow at the institute, Julie Sonnemann, said the Commonwealth needs to push state governments to lift their side of the bargain.

The Coalition said under its ‘‘Quality Schools Program’’ which consolidates the reforms of businessman David Gonski’s second review, recurrent funding for schools will grow from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $32.4 billion in 2029. That will take total funding over a decade to $307 billion, which Labor said it will beat with $322 billion.

Labor said overall in this election it will outspend the government by $10 billion, as it reinstates the ‘‘lost Gonski money’’ from the first Gonski review.

Not only has the sector reached a rare state of peace funding has reached eye-watering levels.

Labor's big education pitch is a review of the entire post-secondary education sector. The review announcement by education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek more than a year ago allowed the party to sidestep awkward questions about what it would do with trouble-plagued state-based TAFE systems.

Meanwhile the coalition struggled on for 12 months fighting criticism of falling TAFE enrolments, bad publicity about training providers and the overhang of the VET-Fee Help debacle, until it rushed out the Joyce review late last year.

Labor's Tanya Plibersek committed the party to a review of post-secondary education if it wins government. Eamon Gallagher

Labor's proposed review is meant to reset the balance between universities and TAFE which is heavily biased to universities through fee assistance for students; stabilise the erratic contribution of the states to skills training, and turn around enrolments which have been falling since 2012.

In the budget the Coalition promised more than half a billion dollars on skills and 80,000 new apprentices. "There hasn't been new investment in the vocational education and training sector for 10 years," the chief executive of TAFE directors Australia, Craig Robertson, said.

"We've had major population growth and a restructuring of the economy but we haven't had a big investment in skilling."

Labor is promising to inject $1.73 billion into skills, TAFE and apprentices. This would include $200 million to refurbish TAFE campuses plus money for 150,000 apprenticeships and 100,000 free places for TAFE students. The cost would be spread out with $1 billion in the medium term and $730 million over the forward estimates.

Ms Plibersek said she wants TAFE to be an independent system, distinct from the university sector. This disappointed some education reformers who argue the future of the tertiary sector is to bring skills the skills sector and universities closer together especially on funding for students.

Labor's post-secondary review plans have very little to say about private TAFE providers, which have taken an increasingly important role in service delivery. Private providers are not mentioned once in the review's terms of reference, although they do more 60 per cent of the teaching.

Labor's $1.73 billion goes almost entirely on the public providers. It will rely on the TAFE system to do the lifting whereas the Joyce review of training, released by the Coalition on budget night, relies on industry to take the lead.

Mr Joyce said training development and qualifications should be reshaped with input from business and a new National Skills Commission should co-ordinate the different interests of Canberra and the states.

Apart from $525 million to finance new apprenticeships the Coalition has not put money on the table for the skills sector.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training said only $54 million of the $525 million is actually new money, which it found "very disappointing". The rest is re purposed from the Skilling Australians Fund.

Chairman of the Council Alexis Watt said Mr Joyce had a "better vision" for the sector and said Labor's 100,000 free TAFE places spread over four years was not a lot given 4 million people were enrolled in a training course last year.

On universities Labor is promising to outspend the Coalition. Tanya Plibersek has made an explicit promise to reinstate the demand-driven system to the value of $10 billion over 10 years.

The Coalition froze funding for new students in 2017 to save more than $2 billion for the federal budget. It said when the freeze ended new funding would be based on a performance driven system.

The probable new mechanism (it was due to be announced in June) would measure student attrition rates, graduate outcomes and socio-economic enrolments to set a new rate for commonwealth support. But the baseline for increases would be population growth which is running at just over 1 per cent.

Labor would return the demand-driven system to inflation indexation which the higher education program director at the Grattan Institute, Andrew Norton, predicted would give the universities 4 or 5 per cent more money for students than the coalition's performance-related cap.

There was no fundamental disagreement on the demand driven system, only on the rate of increase and how it was achieved.

"Under the Coalition the unis will get the lower of what they would get under Labor, but they will get something. The Coalition is putting fiscal concerns ahead of higher education. Labor puts higher education ahead."

"Higher education has had a good run in the last decade.  Total revenues have been strong,"

He said income from overseas students was an important contributor.

"I think any spending priorities will be around TAFE. Universities are in a stable period after a good run."

Universities' biggest criticism of the Coalition is on cuts to research funding. On budget night the Coalition finally killed the promise of a $3.9 billion research infrastructure fund which has been dangling in front of the universities since 2013.

Universities say that's on top of a Coalition cut of more than $328 million in Research Block Grants last year and falling government spending on R&D, which is now just 0.5 per cent of GDP.

Labor has promised a review of research funding and a prime minister's science and innovation council, although Leader Bill Shorten did not put a cost on these.

Labor will spend $300 million on a university infrastructure fund.

Mr Norton said both major parties are relying  on the fact research funding from the private sector is going up.

Apart from differences on the skills the big election difference is in early education.

The Australian Early Childhood Development census 2018 reported that one in five children is starting school developmentally behind their peers.

The Labor Party said it will introduce preschool education for three and four-year-olds and will fund it with $1.75 billion over four years. By contrast, the Coalition renewed funding for four-year-olds only, for one year, at a cost of $453 million.

In the weeks before the election the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia initiated a campaign to lobby for 15 hours a week of education for three and four-year-olds, fully subsidised.

The campaign was launched by the director of the Gonski Institute for Education at the University of New South Wales, Adrian Piccoli, a former education minister and National Party deputy leader.

Mr Piccoli told The Australian Financial Review two years of early childhood education should be on the election agenda.

"It's an issue of cost. It's significant for families in the 25 to 40-year age group."

"Pre-school is subsidised for children from disadvantaged families. But not for middle-income families. I would have thought there were some marginal seats in Sydney and Melbourne where cost is an issue, especially for women swinging voters."


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Millenials Know Almost Nothing About the Holocaust

They are not taught it

A survey conducted by Schoen Consulting in Canada for the Azrieli Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference revealed some disturbing data about Holocaust awareness.

75 years after the end of World War II, 54 percent of those surveyed did not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

62% of millennials, people born in the 1980s and ’90s, did not know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

22% of millennials haven’t heard or are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust.

An alarming 52% of millennials cannot name even one of the over 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust.

Nearly one-quarter of all Canadians (23 percent) believe that substantially less than six million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust, while another near-quarter (24 percent) were unsure of how many were killed.

Nearly half (48 percent) say something like the Holocaust could happen in other Western democracies today.

32 percent of respondents believed that Canada had an open immigration policy for any Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. In reality, Canada had one of the worst records of any democracy, allowing only 5,000 Jewish refugees into the country while allowing nearly 2,000 Nazi war criminals to immigrate to Canada after World War II.

The study reveals 68% believe there is anti-Semitism in the US and 37% say neo-Nazi’s exist in large numbers.

Nearly half (48 percent) say something like the Holocaust could happen in other Western democracies today.


Enraged Students at Christian Taylor University Left 'Physically Shaking' after Mike Pence Chosen for Graduation Speech

On Thursday, the evangelical Christian school Taylor University announced it had invited Vice President Mike Pence to give its 2019 graduation speech. A tremendous uproar ensued, with students and alumni reporting that the decision made them "sick" and expressed support for "hate" and "harmful bullish*t." The school told PJ Media it would not yield to pressure and was still proud to have Pence speak at graduation.

"The invitation stands. We are looking forward to hosting Mr. Pence on our campus next month," James Garringer, director of media relations at Taylor University, told PJ Media on Friday.

Yet the pressure is mounting. As of Friday afternoon, 2,393 people have signed a petition on protesting the decision to invite Pence.

"Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear," Alex Hoekstra, a former staffer for President Barack Obama and a 2007 Taylor University graduate, said in the petition.

Others proved more angry and visceral.

"I have never been made to feel so physically ill by an email before. Taylor University, you should be ashamed of yourselves," Claire Hadley, who graduated from Taylor in 2015, began in a long Facebook post. "I am physically shaking. The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it's [sic] students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year??"

"VP Pence is no friend of mine. He does not support me. He does not support equality," Hadley declared. "He does not uphold the values that are at the very core of the church, my own faith, and I would hope, of this University. He is rooted in hate. To stand beside President Trump would have been enough to put him on my watch list." She argued that Mike Pence "only values you if you fit in his very narrow, white, straight, box."

"Taylor University, I feel personally attacked," she concluded. "Please, I'm begging you. Don't do this."

Lindsey Snyder, a 2014 graduate, said she emailed Taylor University President Lowell Haines. "This invitation gravely concerns me, because whether intentional or not, it is politicizing Taylor University, aligning the school with the current administration," she reported writing. "Many current and former Taylor students are adamantly against some of Pence’s stances and will no doubt feel unsafe at their own graduation. Even if it was someone less controversial than Pence, having a political figure speak at commencement alights unnecessary and grievous conflict."

"As a Taylor alum, I am severely disappointed," Abi Perdue Moore wrote on Facebook. "For this and other policies marginalizing members of the lgbtq+ community (not to mention students of color), you do not have my support. Do not invite this speaker to campus; do not burden the university with the cost of security and transportation; do not send the message that Taylor is a place where only straight/cis/white men are valued as leaders and disciples."

"I'm a husband of a Taylor alum and suggest that if Taylor is looking for a Hoosier Christian politician for the commencement they might consider inviting Pete Buttigieg," Justin Alexander posted on the petition.

"The fact that Taylor would invite Pence as a speaker honestly kills me a little bit," Austin Linder wrote on the petition. "I can’t imagine what it must feel like for lgbt students to have to see this man’s harmful bullsh*t be honored on the Taylor stage. Really disgusting stuff, Taylor. Really ashamed to be an alum right now."

Not all Taylor University alumni opposed the Pence invitation, of course.

Many responded to Claire Hadley's post, saying they were "thrilled to see a godly man like Vice President Pence speaking." "Pence is merely espousing Biblical values and standards!!" another added. Another congratulated Taylor University for upholding traditional Christian values against liberal complaints.

"Inviting the sitting vice president of the United States, and former Indiana governor and congressman, to speak at commencement is not an attack on students, faculty or alumni with differing political views or opinions about Mike Pence," Kevin Holtsberry, a 1994 Taylor alumnus and a former policy advisor at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, told PJ Media.

"In a time when free speech and intellectual diversity is under attack, particularly on college campuses, I hope Taylor sticks to its commitment in the face of what I am sure will be unrelenting hostility from a vocal minority," Holtsberry concluded.

Indeed, Taylor University is not relenting. In response to PJ Media's request, Garringer sent the press release announcing Pence's graduation speech.

"Taylor University is pleased and honored to welcome to our campus and its 2019 Commencement exercises, Vice President Mike Pence," Haines, Taylor's president, said in the statement. "Mr. Pence has been a good friend to the University over many years, and is a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates. We welcome the Vice President and his wife, Karen Pence, to this 173-year-old premier institution of Christian higher education, and thank them for their love and service for our nation, our state, and our institution."

Indeed, Vice President Pence stands for traditional Christian morality and upholds people's religious freedom to abide by such values. This means he believes marriage is between one man and one woman, and that biological sex is more real than gender identity. He disagrees with LGBT activism, but that does not mean he disrespects — much less "hates" — LGBT people.

Yet LBGT activists have conflated disagreement with violence. When bakers, florists, and photographers gladly serve LGBT people but refuse to use their creative talents to celebrate a same-sex wedding or a transgender identity, activists accuse them of discrimination and violating LGBT people's civil rights. Activists demand that Christian schools and charities should have to hire employees who identify as LGBT, and celebrate their identities. When they heard that Mike Pence's wife was teaching at a Christian school, outrage ensued.

Americans have the freedom to live by their beliefs, however. Christian organizations should not be forced to violate their beliefs by endorsing LGBT identities and relationships. They should treat everyone with respect, but respect does not involve the endorsement of a person's ideas.

Disagreeing with a person does not entail "hate" or violence against him or her, and Taylor University graduates should understand that. They should also know that the Bible's position on sexuality is at odds with that of LGBT activism.

Taylor University would have been right to invite Mike Pence, even if the university did not agree with his Christian views on sexuality. Pence is a vice president, a former governor of Indiana, and a former leader in the House of Representatives. Students should be glad to hear him speak at graduation.

Sadly, this incident illustrates yet again the trend of liberals demonizing dissent from their ideas. Conservative speech is not violence, and Mike Pence is not "rooted in hate."

Update April 13 9:40 a.m.: More than 700 people have signed another petition supporting Mike Pence's speech at Taylor University's graduation.

"As students and active community members of Taylor University, we believe that the the University's decision to host VP Mike Pence as commencement speaker should be supported," the petition reads. "By Pence speaking at this upcoming graduation, Taylor is by no means aligning themselves with the alleged controversial views of the Trump administration, they are simply giving a voice to all opinions and planes of thought."

"Mike Pence is also known for his personal beliefs in Christianity. If disagreements arise concerning the personal views of Pence, that does not justify calls to restrict Pence's speaking as a whole," the petition added.


UK: LGBT lessons row: More Birmingham schools stop classes

Four more schools in Birmingham have stopped teaching about LGBT rights following complaints by parents.

Leigh Trust said it was suspending the No Outsiders programme until an agreement with parents was reached.

Earlier this month the city's Parkfield Community School suspended the lessons after protests were held.

Campaigner Amir Ahmed said some Muslims felt "victimised" but an LGBT group leader said No Outsiders helped pupils understand it is OK to be different.

In a letter seen by the BBC, Leigh Trust said it was halting the lessons until after Ramadan, which finishes in June.

The schools involved are Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior and Infants School and Wyndcliff Primary School.

Leigh Trust - which is yet to comment publicly - said it wanted to discuss the programme with parents to find "a positive way" of teaching about the Equalities Act.

Some parents at Parkfield, and the other four schools, claim the classes are inappropriate for young children and the schools' LGBT message contradicts Islam.

The No Outsiders project was created and piloted at Parkfield in 2014 by assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat, who was made an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education in 2017.

Ofsted has deemed the lessons as "age-appropriate".

Mr Ahmed, one of the leaders of the Parkfield protests, said he had seen a presentation about the programme that was to be shown to the government as part of the school's Prevent strategy - which is aimed at reducing radicalisation.

A spokesperson for Parkfield Community School said: "The powerpoint was written four years ago in line with Prevent duty at that time.

"No Outsiders is all about tolerance, accepting difference and respect, which are all key aspects of community cohesion and our fundamental British values."

Mr Ahmed said his community was "respectful and tolerant" of British values but now felt victimised. He claimed parents who had protested were "effectively seen as homophobes in the wider community".

"Fundamentally the issue we have with No Outsiders is that it is changing our children's moral position on family values on sexuality and we are a traditional community.

"Morally we do not accept homosexuality as a valid sexual relationship to have. It's not about being homophobic... that's like saying, if you don't believe in Islam, you're Islamophobic."

But Khakan Qureshi, a gay Muslim activist who runs Birmingham South Asian LGBT and was invited to visit Parkfield School last week, said he supported the need for the lessons.

"Myself and many others knew from a young age that we were different and we wish we had this sort of education," he said.

He feels the Muslim community as a whole is not homophobic, but believes a minority within the protesters are "agitating".

"The attitudes of the protesters towards the No Outsiders programme is completely homophobic," he said. "No matter how they package it, it still comes across as homophobic."

He said given the existing legislation to stop discrimination, "I don't understand why certain communities here in the UK are not adhering to those laws".


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Texas Tech Health Sciences Center agrees to stop considering race in admissions, ending federal inquiry

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has agreed to stop considering race in its admissions decisions, part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that may be a bellwether for how the agency approaches colleges' affirmative action practices going forward.

The voluntary agreement, entered into in February, concludes a 14-year investigation into the Lubbock-based school, which operates independently of Texas Tech University within the Texas Tech University System. The center's programs include pharmacy, nursing and medical schools, the last of which was the focus of the investigation.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights initiated the case in 2005, after two landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases found universities could use race as a factor in their admissions processes under certain circumstances.

The Tech System’s governing board announced around that time that the four-school system would begin considering race and ethnicity as part of a holistic review of its applicants. The decision prompted Roger Clegg, from the anti-affirmative action group Center for Equal Opportunity, to file a complaint.

In a February 2019 letter sent to the Education Department, a Tech System official said the federal investigation had been triggered by a complainant who never tried to gain entrance to the medical school and would not have been “impacted in any way” by its admissions process.

The Tech official, Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Eric Bentley, said in his letter that the system believes it can show its admissions process complies with the standard laid out in a recent Supreme Court case. But Tech officials, he wrote, were "willing to sign the Resolution Agreement in an effort to resolve this matter and focus on educating future health care providers.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Health Sciences Center is required to issue a memorandum instructing medical school staff to no longer consider applicants’ race or national origin in its admissions process. The college will also need to revise its catalogs and website to strike mention of race and national origin from factors in admissions.

A Tech official confirmed the memorandum has been sent and that the school opted to end the use of race in admissions entirely. In a letter sent to Clegg, the Education Department had faulted the school for not conducting periodic reviews of its race-based admissions decisions to determine if student-body diversity could be maintained using alternate means.

Still, Bentley, the Tech official, wrote that the medical school is “committed to exploring race-neutral alternatives to enhancing diversity,” and would monitor whether they yielded results that meet the school’s "diversity and educational goals.”

“If a determination is made in the future that using race as a factor in admissions is necessary to achieve this compelling interest,” he wrote, the system will notify the Education Department, in accordance with the agreement.

The resolution, which is not a concession of wrongdoing, comes as the Education Department has opened investigations into the admissions policies in place at Yale and Harvard universities. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the agency has appeared to urge race-neutral admissions policies and has rescinded Obama-era guidance encouraging the use of affirmative action in higher education institutions.

The complaint was filed against every school within the Health Sciences Center, but the medical school is the only one to have recently considered race or national origin in admissions decisions. The pharmacy school, within the Center, used race as a factor in admissions between 2005 and 2009, and the system’s flagship campus, Texas Tech University, stopped considering it in 2013.

Clegg, the initial complainant, said the agreement reflects a sea-change in how the Education Department has approached affirmative action under the stewardship of different leaders.

"Today is another instance where the Trump Administration has made it clear that, unlike the Obama Administration, it's going to enforce the civil rights laws in a way that protects all Americans,” he said. “As America becomes increasingly multiethnic and multiracial, it becomes more and more untenable for the government to encourage different Americans to be treated differently based on their skin color and what country their ancestors came from.”

"I think schools are being put on notice that if they insist on continuing to treat students differently,” he said, "they better be able to show that they have met the strict requirements that the Supreme Court has set out.”


Michigan Education Board to mess with history

In the same week we heard incredibly hopeful and uplifting news from Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti as he delivered the district's first State of the Schools address, we also heard on my radio show and read in the newspaper some very disconcerting and unacceptable news regarding the direction the State Board of Education wants to take with our students.

The bearer of the bad news regarding the current direction of public school education was Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren, who served as a focus group and task member for the revision of the social studies standards for our public schools.

As Judge Warren put it: “If you are under the impression that Socrates, Plato, Julius Caesar (or any other Caesar), Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Alexander The Great, Columbus, James Madison, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, FDR , or Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are important historical figures that should be taught to every child, the Michigan Department of Education begs to differ.”

Judge Warren continued:

“In an astounding draft set of K-12 social studies standards that were received by the State Board of Education, these key individuals are not required content. Other key concepts and events such as taxation without representation, constitutional amendments and conventions, the Russian and Chinese Revolutions are also omitted. Although some of the individuals or events might be suggested as examples, or there may be a hope that some might be taught even if not mandated, the cold hard reality is that if the standards are adopted, a student could attend 13 years of public schooling in Michigan and never hear of any of them.”


Thinker Mark Bauerlein:  An academic who approves of Western Civilization

Where to start with Mark Bauerlein? He is a thinker whose time has come. He recently wrote that the boxing gym is the most civil and courteous place he has been. The 60-year-old professor of English plays Fortnite with his son, the game Prince Harry wants banned. And he is in Australia this week as a guest of the Institute of Public Affairs, to tell us why the great books of Western civilisation matter. And why the Left won’t cede an inch of control over campus.

He made a splash with his 2008 book, The Dumbest Generation, decrying the digital age for producing a society of know-nothings. During lunch on a warm autumn day in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, I suggest he’s too hard on millennials; mine at home don’t fit his thesis. Happily, he is more curious than querulous. And he laughs a lot. Bauerlein was a Left-liberal for most of his life; a secular, militant atheist, too. He grew up in California, after all.

Then he looked around at the people, the ideas, the predictability and grew bored. So he read other stuff, found the locus of freedom in conservative thought. Now he is a Catholic and writes for First Things, a leading American conservative magazine.

He defends Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump, and thinks Bernie Sanders is a much bigger threat than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He has worn a Make America Great Again T-shirt under his buttoned-up shirt on campus at Emory University where, for decades, he taught.

His English students learned the greats: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Hen­ry James, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens. And Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Heideg­ger, Derrida and Foucault featured in his philosophy lessons. He retired from teaching a few months ago and is back working in Washington, DC.

Outside the boxing ring, Bauerlein packs a punch, too. Here’s a snapshot from a two-hour rumination over why Western civilisation matters and why the Left is a place for misery guts.

The perfect segue, then, into the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. “Ramsay asked for this little tiny piece of ground in this big university, just a little sliver for us to do our Western civ thing. Uhhh. No, said the activists. We’ve got 100 acres and we’re not going to give you a square foot. We don’t want you around.

“They know where these kids are going if they have the choice between a course on queer theory and cross-dressing or a course on Macbeth or King Lear.

“Kids know they are entering into the adult world, into the monumental, the historic, the sublime, the great books. Here we have Lady Macbeth walking up and down the hallway rubbing her hands clean, saying: ‘Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?’

“They want moments like when Dido piles up all the furniture that she and Aeneas make love on, and Aeneas has taken off with his buddies in the night, and she has this moment of great rejection and kills herself.

“It’s flattering to be told: ‘We’re teaching you the epic, the grand, the momentous occasions.’ ”

Why identity politicians are uninspiring. “They have trans­lated the campus into their own strange therapeutic method. In the identity politics classroom, you can act on your resentment because your father was a jerk or life hasn’t turned out so good. They know they can’t compete with the colossus of civilisation, so they’re not gonna give you anything. These are not pluralistic souls, these are minor league totalitar­ians.”

But understand the temptation. “Identity politics produces a very emotionally satisfying moral drama. In a chaotic world, you know who the good guys and the bad guys are. You have a whole script about the past and the present, about politics. Everything lines up very nicely. It is a place to put resentment, disappointment, struggle, victimhood.”

Beware young revolutionaries: “They are much more dangerous than old revolutionaries. The strongest accusers in the Cambodian revolution were the young.

“Before I arrived in Sydney, I watched a YouTube clip of a panel on your (ABC) Q&A show. A young girl in the audience, about 21 years old, announces she is a young socialist, and she goes on this rant, first about Tony Abbott, she called him a toxic racist, or something, then she rails against Western civilisation for its col­onialism, its racism.

“All the panellists were passive. She had all the force in the room, the rage, the indigna­tion. Identity politics has given her power and confidence to berate them, unfettered by knowledge.”

The loss of humanities is a terrible thing. “History is a permanent instruction in original sin. But kids don’t get that instruction.

“A 21-year-old social justice warrior hasn’t read (those essays by ex-communists in) The God That Failed, or Whittaker Chambers’s Witness, they don’t know what Stalinists did in the Spanish civil war, they don’t know about the assassination of Trotsky or what happened in the French Revolution.

“That’s the advantage of being young, you haven’t seen this happen yet and that’s the advantage of not knowing any history. They don’t know the fate of Robes­pierre. One day you’re leading the charge, next day your head is in the guillotine.”

Why learn the classics? “The great books give you standards of judgment that enable you to filter the good from the bad, the relevant from the irrelevant, the significant from the insignificant.

“It’s really good to have read Plutarch or listen to Mark Antony’s speech over the death of Caesar, or to know the great orators of the past; they give you standards of how to judge the orators of the present, how bad they are. This is what humanistic learning does, it gives you a critical yardstick.”

Why identity politicians don’t believe in greatness: “They suffer from this condition that Nietzsche brilliantly identified as ressentiment, the French term for resentment. Not ‘I resent this or that’. Ressentiment is a general attitude towards the world. They resent great things. Greatness makes them feel their own mediocrity. They don’t believe in heroes because heroes remind them of their inferiority.”

Or heroes. “People with ressentiment want to tear down heroes and statues. They look at a hero like Thomas Jefferson and say: ‘He’s a slave owner.’ But if you don’t suffer from ressentiment, you look at Jefferson and say: ‘Don’t you understand, Jefferson grows up in a slave society, his family owned slaves, his plantation depends on slaves, his material wellbeing depends upon slaves, everything conditions him to be a full-on supporter of slavery.

“Jefferson, in spite of all his conditioning, was able to write the Declaration of Independence that becomes an inspiration for Frederick Douglass, the abolitionists, Martin Luther King, all these oppressed groups. In Europe, European revolutionaries in 1848 loved the Declaration of Independence. If you have ressentiment, you choose slavery guilt over giving Jefferson any credit.”

Why the Left hates Trump: “Guilt is the strongest sociopolitical weapon the Left has had for 50 years. And it didn’t work on Trump. He has no male guilt, no white guilt, no Christian guilt, no American guilt, he’s not going to apologise for anything because he doesn’t feel guilty.”

Why the Left hates Milo: “The Left has a long history of provocateurs, comedians, performers who trash the Right. That kind of ribald humour directed at conservatives did a lot of damage, making them out as old-fashioned curmudgeons. Milo did the same. Only he aimed at the Left. He made people laugh at the feminists, at Hillary (Clinton). He took their weapon and they couldn’t bear to lose it. Now they are the boring puritans.”

Bauerlein returns to where he started, with the Ramsay Centre and how to teach the big touchstones of Western civilisation.

“They are wasting their money,” he says. “I have seen efforts like this in the US for 20 years, trying to establish a beachhead on a college campus. These programs have done nothing to change the ideological climate or the wider curriculum of the campus. Political correctness is worse now than it has ever been.”

But there is hunger among students to learn about our colossus civilisation. Bauerlein mentions other platforms, podcasts, YouTube, new ways for teachers to reach kids about the strength of our great ideas.

Then a final lesson for the afternoon. “Freedom? This is an unusual idea,” he says slowly, with deliberate intonation. “Do you think it came out of thin air? Someone had to develop these ideas. Cultures had to say this is a good idea, and there weren’t many that did that. One of them was Athens. Another was Rome under the republic before the emperors took over. Someone did this. And it can be undone very easily.”

This is not academic chitchat. For years now, the Lowy Institute has polled attitudes to democracy in Australia, finding that about half of Australians aged 18 to 24 do not think democracy is the most preferable form of government. Those dismal numbers tell us that you are not likely to defend what you do not understand. That means we need many more Bauerleins teaching the epic history of liberal democracy.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Personalizing and Empowering Special Education

Across the nation, states are facing pressure to halt charter school growth. California’s Los Angeles school district requested a state moratorium on charter schools. Oakland officials implemented a local moratorium themselves. Kentucky lawmakers refuse to fund charters, and West Virginia delegates tabled legislation that would have made state charter schools possible.

But few realize that these efforts cripple opportunity for the students who struggle most.

Today, only 69% of special education students graduate from high school on time, compared to 84% of all students. In reading, only 12% of high school seniors with disabilities test at or above proficiency on national assessments and in math only 6% test proficient.

Yet, special education experts suggest that up to 90 percent of special education students are capable of graduating from high school prepared for higher education or a career, if only they receive appropriate educational opportunities—the kind of opportunities charter schools provide.

Like public schools, charters do not discriminate against applicants and they do receive public funding. But unlike public schools, charters are free to develop the curricula that work best for each of their students.

“Charter schools are better positioned to serve the needs of special needs students and those with diverse learning needs primarily because we have the power of innovation,” said Andreya Sampy, former director of special populations at KIPP Houston Public Schools and now Director of Special Populations at the charter school, BakerRipley’s Promise Community School.

For a nation struggling to empower students with special needs, charter schools offer innovative and personalized solutions.

Thrive Public Schools, for example, a public charter school system in San Diego, California serves 640 students. Of those, 16% have disabilities and 33% are English Language Learners. For some schools, these demographics might prove challenging, but for Thrive, they are an opportunity.

Rather than providing only special education students with personalized learning plans—which are required by law—Thrive provides every student with a personalized plan. Plans are set with the help of teachers who use technology-based programs to assess students’ individual areas of struggle and achievement, and by students themselves who track their own literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional goals.

In addition, Thrive focuses on project-based learning. Students, special education and otherwise, collaborate to design and build projects like LED lanterns for refugees settling in San Diego from Syria, and work with real-world experts to design business plans and sell their products.

Thrive’s unique learning strategies are empowering their students to succeed. Although Thrive was founded only four years ago, the school is in the 96th percentile for academic growth, and they score in the top 1 percentile nationally for growth in reading.

Nor is Thrive alone. In New York, Mott Haven Academy, an independent public charter school focuses especially on meeting the unique needs of students in the child welfare system, where children are around three times as likely to qualify for special education compared to their peers.

To provide for this unique student-base, Mott Haven provides trauma-sensitivity training to all leaders and teachers, encourages evidence-based practices and collaboration among teachers to accommodate different learning styles, and works with child welfare and community-based organizations to provide families with the housing, medical, and mental health support they need to provide their student with a healthy learning environment.

And Mott Haven students are outperforming their peers in learning assessments. In 2018, 50% of Mott Haven students met state English standards, compared to 30% of comparable public school district students, and 57% of students met State Math standards, compared to 30% of comparable public school district students.

Parents nationwide are asking for their special-needs children to have the same enriching educational experience as those at Thrive and Mott Haven. In Philadelphia for example, charter schools received thousands of applications for a couple hundred openings. And in New York City, nearly 80,000 students applied to charter schools, surpassing the number of available seats by over 50,000.

Special education students face some of the worst odds of learning and graduating in our public education system. They should not have to struggle to gain access to the educational opportunities that truly do set them up for success. Instead of shutting the door on charter schools, lawmakers and the communities behind them should be looking for opportunities to help charters grow to serve the communities that need them most.


Dummy Maxine Waters Grills Big Bank CEOs About Student Loans — Which Were Nationalized in 2010

And this pea brain is the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee! How did America sink so low?

Rep. Maxine Waters seemed to demonstrate that she is in over her head Wednesday when she queried several bank executives about student loans even though they were nationalized under former president Obama nearly a decade ago.

Waters is the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee -- the committee that regulates the banks.

During a hearing examining the practices of some of the nation's biggest banks, Waters complained to a panel of seven bank CEOs that there are more than 44 million Americans that owe … $1.56 trillion in student loan debt."

She added, “Last year, one million student loan borrowers defaulted, which is on top of the one million borrowers who defaulted the year before.”

She then demanded to know what they intended to do about this massive problem. “What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan debt?" she asked. "Who would like to answer first? Mr. Monahan, big bank.”

Bank of America chairman and CEO Brian Monahan replied, “We stopped making student loans in 2007 or so.”

Ms. Waters replied, “Oh, so you don’t do it anymore. Mr. Corbat?”

Said Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat: “We exited student lending in 2009.”

James Dimon, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO, finally spilled the beans: “When the government took over student lending in 2010 or so, we stopped doing all student lending,” he said.

Waters then quickly changed the subject to small businesses.

The Obama administration put the federal government in charge of student lending in 2010, with the intention of saving taxpayer dollars by “cutting out the middleman,” as President Barack Obama put it.

According to the Washington Times, "student loan debt exploded from $154.9 billion in 2009 to $1.1 trillion at the end of 2017"  with current student debt "estimated at more than $1.5 trillion."

Earlier in the hearing, Waters grilled the bank execs about their interactions with Russia.


Illegal Aliens Get Democrat Money — Veterans, Not So Much

New York lawmakers reject a tuition-aid program to children of veterans killed in action.

Leftists and their policies have increasingly favored noncitizens over citizens, but Democrats in New York may well have set a new low. New York’s Higher Education Committee this week voted against advancing a bipartisan bill that would have provided free college tuition to the families of veterans killed in the line of duty. That’s bad enough, but this was after state lawmakers just last week passed a $175 billion budget that included $27 million in tuition aid to children of illegal aliens. By contrast, a few hundred thousand dollars will not be added to the existing program for 145 vets’ kids, which currently costs just $2.7 million — a mere tenth of the tuition aid that the state’s illegals will receive.

Several Republican lawmakers weren’t happy, and they blasted their Democrat counterparts. Assemblyman Gary Finch may have said it best: “It’s disgraceful. Soldiers who lay down their lives and make the ultimate sacrifice represent the best of us. The children they love so dearly deserve access to the opportunity and promise that is the hallmark of this country. I can’t imagine what’s in your heart when you vote ‘no’ on a bill like this.”

Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay, one of the bill’s cosponsors, surmised that partisanship was the real reason behind the Democrats’ “no” vote. “We get so caught up in majority and minority issues here, we can’t see the forest through the trees,” he said, adding, “I don’t know how they don’t justify this.”

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D), who chairs the committee and voted against the bill, claimed that concerns over the budget weighed against expanding the veteran tuition-aid program. But state Sen. Robert Ortt (R) wasn’t buying it: “Assemblywoman Glick should be ashamed of herself. We set aside $27 million for college for people that are here illegally. … Apparently $2.7 million is all that the families of soldiers who are killed get. If you’re a child of a fallen soldier, you do not rank as high and you know that by the money.”

Indeed, “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value” is a common refrain used by Joe Biden and other free-spending leftists, and it tells us all we need to know about “progressive” values. It would’ve been one thing if Democrats had refused to fund either program, as their fiscal concerns would’ve at least been believable. But giving handouts to those who aren’t even here legally while stiffing the children of Patriots who’ve given their lives for this great nation is simply despicable.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

College Students Push University to Cancel Class Taught by Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh has done nothing wrong.  He is the VICTIM of foul slanders

Students at George Mason University are advocating the termination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is scheduled to teach a George Mason law class in England this summer.

Kavanaugh is currently scheduled to teach the class “Creation of the Constitution” to George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School students in Runnymede, England, where the Magna Carta was signed over 804 years ago, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Students on George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus who say they are survivors of sexual assault are now banding together to protest Kavanaugh’s right to teach at George Mason.

“As a survivor of sexual assault, this decision has really impacted me negatively,” one female student said at a board of visitors meeting on April 3, according to The College Fix. “It has affected my mental health knowing that an abuser will be part of our faculty.”

Another female student reportedly told the board: “We are fighting to eradicate sexual violence on this campus. But the hiring of Kavanaugh threatens the mental well-being of all survivors on this campus.”

Yet another female student said that Kavanaugh’s sexual assault allegations make her too uncomfortable with his presence on campus. “As someone who has survived sexual assault three times, I do not feel comfortable with someone who has sexual assault allegations like walking on campus,” she said, according to The College Fix.

A petition to “Support Mason 4 Survivors #CancelKavanaughGMU” has been circulating among students and has gained more than 3,500 signatures. George Mason Democrats, a college club, approved of the petition, the Washington Post reported.

The petition is directed to the George Mason University administration and accuses the administration of “a historic amount of institutional negligence on your part to support survivors of sexual assault and the student body as a whole, which has bred a sense of mistrust and suffering within the Mason community and allies.”

The petition calls on George Mason University to “Terminate AND void ALL contracts and affiliation with Brett Kavanaugh at George Mason University.”

Students delivered the petition to the George Mason administration during a protest on April 4. The students marched around campus, some wearing blue tape on their mouths, and defaced a monument, The College Fix reported.

George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera said in a March statement: I respect the views of people who disagreed with Justice Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation due to questions raised about his sexual conduct in high school. But he was confirmed and is now a sitting Justice. The law school has determined that the involvement of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice contributes to making our law program uniquely valuable for our students. And I accept their judgment.

Kavanaugh will also be joined in England by Jennifer Mascott, a George Mason assistant professor of law who formerly clerked for him and defended him when he was accused of sexual assault in 2018. “He has acted with the utmost character and integrity,” she told “PBS NewsHour.”


UK: New NUS president has said that she wanted to 'oppress white people' and have an 'Islamic takeover'

The incoming president of the National Union of Students has said that she wanted to “oppress  white people” and have an “Islamic takeover”.

Zamzam Ibrahim, 24, from Greater Manchester, also described the Government’s counter-extremism strategy as “disastrous” and “racist”.

Using the hastag #IfIWasPresident, she wrote on Twitter in 2012: “I’d oppress white people just to give them a taste of what they put us through!” She signed off the message by writing “LMFAO”, which in urban slang is short for “Laughing My F***ing Arse Off”.

Responding to questions online about what book everyone should read, she said: “The Quraan. We would have an Islamic takeover!”

In another question about friendship between men and women, she wrote: “I've had this debate with many friends! Maybe in some cases but Islamically it's incorrect for girls to be friends with a guy anyway! So I'm gonna say NO not the kind of friendship they can have with the same gender there is always boundaries.”

Ms Ibrahim, was elected as NUS president at their annual conference this week, said that her remarks should not be taken “out of context” and they were from a time when she was “struggling" with her view of the world.

She went on: “I was grappling with the deep injustices I could see around me and trying to figure out how I could make the world a better place. I said these things when I was young, impressionable and still developing my personality and opinions.”

Ms Ibrahim  will take over running the NUS from  Shakira Martin, 28,  a self-confessed former drug dealer who did not go to university and once claimed to be more radical than the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

“I have been fighting for liberation, equality and against injustice throughout my time both within and out of the student movement," Ms Ibrahim said.

“I have worked with interfaith, anti-racist and diversity organisations, bringing communities together to foster inclusivity and respect. This work will be at the heart of NUS going forward.”


Toxic American student culture of safetyism poses threats in Australia too

In 2017, a group of angry students at a liberal arts college on America’s west coast took over the school in protest, holding some administrators hostage and even denying them the freedom to use the toilet.

The students were mad about what they perceived as racism on behalf of some faculty staff. The protesters briefly occupied the president’s office to press their complaints.

In one recorded exchange, they demanded he didn’t use hand gestures when he spoke to them because they might be considered threatening. He quickly obliged.

When the story began trickling out, making national headlines, it was confirmation that something strange was taking hold on university campuses in parts of the country.

One professor at the college, Bret Weinstein, who called for open debate about the issues being raised by the students, had to stay away from campus for his own safety and move his family into hiding because they didn’t agree with that suggestion.

He has since left with a payout from the university, and has become the face of a group of educators (there is a growing list) who have been shouted down and forced out of their job by a small group of aggrieved students.

To some, as strange as it sounds, he is a martyr for reasoned debate in the face of aggressive identity politics which dictates ideas must be safe, and never harmful or offensive. This is the age of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and deplatforming those you disagree with.

Jonathan Haidt is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has had a front-row seat to what he views as a very problematic cultural shift happening on US university campuses.

“This took us all by surprise in 2014 and 2015, we could not understand what our students meant when they said they don’t feel safe, but now this is common language on our campuses,” he says.

It’s a trend he links to the use of social media among early teens, and the rise in anxiety and depression that it helps breed.

“As this more anxious generation began entering university … we found that many students were acting as though words, books and speakers were not just offensive to them but dangerous, physically dangerous. Leading to requests and demands that authorities protect them.”

Prof Haidt is heading to Australia for the first time in July, where he will be attending academic conferences and giving public talks in Sydney and Melbourne.

While few political cultures are as polarised as the United States, he suspects Australia is downwind of his country when it comes to this rise of so-called safetyism among a minority of Generation Z.

“I know these trends are beginning in Australia, although they’re not as severe as they are in the United States,” he says.

“In part I am coming as the ghost of Christmas future, warning Australians: Don’t end up like us, don’t make the mistakes that we made.

“Our democracy and our universities are in big trouble now. We have a new moral culture that gives us constant outrage and makes its much more difficult to talk openly or make jokes. I hope this doesn’t happen in Australia.”

He understands it as a combination of a new political idea often referred to as safetyism, higher rates of anxiety, and very weak leadership at the upper levels on universities.

“You put that together and you get these explosions,” he says.

Prof Haidt is well known for his work in psychology and morality as the author of popular books, The Happiness Hypothesis and The Righteous Mind.

When his friend and fellow academic Greg Lukianoff came to him about five years ago worried about student behaviour, it soon became clear there was something that needed exploring.

Lukianoff had used cognitive therapy to treat his depression, and saw this group of students engaging in a way of thinking that he believed would lead them to become increasingly unhappy.

“If students are learning to think in this distorted way, if students are doing catastrophising, overgeneralising, black and white thinking, then it’s going to make them depressed,” Prof Lukianoff warned his colleague.

The pair wrote an article in The Atlantic which struck a chord and became the title of their new book: The Coddling of the American Mind — a play on the title of a 1987 book by the philosopher Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind.

The subheading for the book gives you the thrust of the problem it hopes to address: “How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure”.

While it is only a small minority of students that engage in this type of political posturing, tactics of public shaming and “callout culture” means they are often successful in silencing dissenters.

“These new moral values have incentivised a young generation to link everybody’s words to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or islamaphobia,” he says. Those who don’t tow the party line are at risk of being called out.

“If 1 per cent of people in your town are muggers and they mug 10 people a day, then everyone is going to be careful, and that is the situation we have.”

When discussing the consequences of what he sees as the erosion of robust debate on sensitive topics in the name of student protection, Prof Haidt is fond of quoting John Stuart Mill: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”