Friday, May 10, 2019

DePaul Professor’s Pro-Israel, Anti-Palestinian Views Condemned by Faculty

Unmentioned reason why they censured him rather than fire him:  He is black.  He has what might be called "skin protection"

Opinions expressed by DePaul University Prof. Jason Hill that Israel has the right to annex the West Bank and the United States should pay Israel “financial reparations,” were condemned in a 21-10 vote by the DePaul Faculty Council on May 1.

As reported in the student-run newspaper The DePaulia, “The resolution passed by the Faculty Council does not specifically condemn Jason Hill, it condemns the contents of his article in The @FDRLST.”

In an April 16 commentary for The Federalist, Prof. Hill said Israel has a right to annex the entire West Bank; that America should pay Israel “political and financial reparations” because of U.S. support over the years for the Palestinian Authority; and that America should fund “Israel’s military defense in any manner Israel deems necessary for its survival and unrivaled military status in the Middle East.” 

The vote by the Faculty Council followed two weeks of complaints by some students at the university who launched a petition demanding that Hill be censured. The students described Hill’s views as “racist, anti-Palestinian, xenophobic, sexist, and Islamophobic.”

The Faculty Council’s resolution against Prof. Hill partly states,  

“That DePaul University’s Faculty Council affirms Professor Hill’s right to publish and express his opinions consistent with the Faculty Handbook, the AAUP Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and the Guiding Principles on Speech and Expression.

“That the Faculty Council nevertheless affirms that Professor Hill’s article failed to exercise adequate concern for accuracy, restraint, or respect for the opinions of others, as per the AAUP guidelines. As such, this article represents an abuse of his academic freedom.

“That Faculty Council condemns in the strongest possible terms both the tone and content of Professor Hill’s article, and affirms the claims that it expresses positions that are factually inaccurate, advocate war crimes and ethnic cleansing, and give voice to racism with respect to the Palestinian populations of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Arabs generally.”

In the evening after the vote, Hill was interviewed on FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight. “Aside from defending Israel, I made the point that Israel was the only democracy amidst a bunch of illiberal and primitive regimes that do not respect the inalienability of human rights and individual rights," he said.

"And I think students took offense and, individual faculty and people at large took offense at me defending Israel,” said Hill, “and defending my right to defend Israel's right to defend itself against the war that was launched against it in 1967 by Jordan.”

In a previous interview with, Dr. Hill stated, “I’m not apologizing. … In a case like this, you don’t yield one inch.”

Jason Hill is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University and the author of several books, including Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Identity: When We Should Not Get Along.

In a 2014 interview, Hill described himself as both liberal and conservative but added, “I voted for Obama, I voted for John Kerry, and I voted for Al Gore, so I’ve always voted for the liberal party.”


SPME Statement on DePaul Faculty Council’s Censure of Jason Hill’s Article

SPME condemns the recent Faculty Council of DePaul University’s vote to censure an article by Prof. Jason Hill, advocating the Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Regardless of how one feels about Hill’s policy recommendations, his treatment at the hands of his colleagues was at once deeply unfair, counterproductive, and anti-intellectual. The censure, despite its insistence on respecting academic freedom, surrendered to demands of the public-shaming squads that increasingly dominate campus politics, especially when it concerns discussion of Israel and the Palestinians. Far from a blow for academic freedom and decency, this Faculty-Council initiative represents one more brick in a cognitive edifice that systematically excludes a wide range of both opinion and fact by branding it hate speech, or merely “views not representative of the student body… not valuable contribution to the University.” Worse, the move was done at the demand of student groups who practice some of the most virulent hate speech, and advocate for groups who regularly deploy genocidal hate speech. For progressive forces that treasure tolerance and inclusion, this censure was a massive own-goal.

SPME critiques:

* The Abuse of Procedures in order to force the censure through. The chair of the Faculty Council, Scott Paeth, wrote and proposed the censure. Rather than therefore recusing himself, he violated the parliamentary rules to rush it through with minimal discussion. Since one of the avowed goals of the censure motion was to advance “conversations that advance social justice,” it hardly seems fitting for a democratic, academic institution to set such a poor example for how to act fairly.

* The designation of an opinion as unacceptable because it offends some people’s sensibilities. The resolution invokes AAUP Principles about “respect for the opinon of others,” and censures Hill for his “the real harm his words have caused to students and other members of our community.” The word “real” here is most problematic, since the “harm” spoken of was the hurt feelings of students who claim the article “made it difficult for Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims and other marginalized groups to feel safe on campus and freely register for classes,” and that “his comments create unsafe and uncomfortable spaces.” Anyone who treasures freedom, like the scholar, has learned to have a thick skin.

* The failure to educate the student body about the rules and manners of academia (i.e., the place of free speech). Actors with intellectual integrity would have responded student complaints about their hurt feelings from their outraged reading of text, a lesson in 1) how to read carefully without imposing meaning on the text (exegesis not eisegesis), and b) how to deal constructively and with dignity to criticism, even harsh criticism. That would have shown the commitment to academic freedom and worthy conversations the faculty council’s statement claims to hold dear. That would have been the lesson learned from the Andrew Pessin case at Connecticut College in 2015 – were there a learning curve among today’s “woke” faculty.

* The invocation of factual inaccuracy and poor scholarship to attack this opinion piece. The Faculty Council resolution characterized Hill’s work as “factually incorrect,” “shoddy research,” that does “liv up to his responsibilities as member of the academic community.” Scott Paeth’s blogpost claims Hill had abandoned even “any pretense of allegiance to the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its history, the status of international law, principles of human rights, or even principles of sound argumentation.” As far as he, and apparently other signers of the letter, are concerned, Hill’s piece is not just nasty, it was wrong, intellectually deficient, deserving censure. This approach, also leveled at Amy Wax at University Pennsylvania law school colleagues, confuses a paradigmatic take (post-colonial analysis) for reality; and rejects even thinking about, much less discussing the importance of the (abundant) anomalous evidence and alternative approaches. Indeed, people who contributed to the substitution of advocacy for scholarship in the first place, then accuse their critics of bad scholarship.

Behind Hill’s assertions about Palestinian political culture, including its “abysmal and inferior” standing by any progressive standards, lies a mountain of deeply disturbing “hard” evidence, most often ignored by the news media. Hill’s opponents seem to have adopted a post-colonial, Palestinian narrative, as a depiction of factual reality and those who disagree, as dishonest reprobates. This confusion of a paradigmatic “take” as “objective reality”, of “opinion as facts,” not only makes it impossible to think clearly about the real world, but such an anti-intellectual approach can only survive where authoritarians marginalize those who insist on paying attention to the anomalies.

* The final call for repentance. The petition ends with a call to Prof. Hill to repent of his ways and undergo reeducation:

That Faculty Council urges Professor Hill to seriously reconsider his positions on these issues, to take cognizance of the perspectives of other scholars on these issues, as well as the real harm his words have caused to students and other members of our community, and to refrain from abusing his freedom as a scholar in writing on controversial issues in the future

Given outrage of students, here affirmed by the faculty, Prof. Hill, like many before him, has been stigmatized, publicly shamed – “Jason Hill, you can’t hide, we know you want genocide!” – and effectively banished from polite academic company. Their career trajectories are cut off, their audience of colleagues drastically reduced. The censure resolution assumes the moral superiority of its own side (those good faculty who do worry about students’ feelings), and considers Hill a miscreant in need of re-education before the scholarly community will let him back in their good graces. Few statements better illustrate how hollow the much-protested concern for freedom of speech.

This incident is hardly isolated. Staged moral emergencies, in which students stampede faculties into taking their side, are a highly effective and widespread practice. At work here, as elsewhere on Western campuses, is a curious combination of a modern and post-modern discourse which ironically produces a pre-modern result, quite the opposite of the stated goal. On the one hand, faculty speaking a modern, objectivist, discourse (“facts” “accuracy” “scholarship”), and students wielding a post-modern discourse (“hurt feelings” “safe-spaces” “outrage”), both proclaiming profound commitment to stopping hate speech and promoting social justice, ends up undermining diversity: in the name of “inclusivity”, of “amplifying marginal voices,” a coalition of well-intentioned upholders of tolerance and mutual acceptance accept as moral guides and leaders, a pre-modern group that shows no concern or respect for those who disagree with them – indeed make them feel very unsafe – dedicated to a tribal (zero-sum) definition of justice in which the “evil enemy” is punished indeed eliminated). We end up with the tribal group accusing their designated enemies of the very things that the political movements they support openly espouse: hate speech, racism, genocidal rantings, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. And so, the very people who read hate speech into the work of a defender of Israel, promote a discourse radically rooted in a genocidal hatred of Israel and any Jew or non-Jew who supports her.

Given the above, SPME urges the faculty of DePaul to:

* Repeal this censure if only on procedural grounds.

* Make a statement about civility rather than rebarbarization, especially the importance of being able to take criticism with composure, and not giving in to social-media driven public shaming campaigns that seek to marginalize and exclude.

* Hold a serious discussion on the Middle East that excludes extreme voices from both sides, according to the same guidelines. Explore the substantive claims of Hill’s argument about the Palestinian leadership, and the difference between a legal approach to “occupation” (Paeth et al.) and an appreciation of the very troubling political issues (Hill et al.)


Teacher ‘forced’ to edit yearbook photos of students with Trump clothing

A high school yearbook adviser who was suspended after photos of two students were altered to remove President Donald Trump’s name from their clothing is suing the district, saying she was made a scapegoat.

Teacher Susan Parsons says in her legal case, filed on Monday, that officials in New Jersey’s Wall Township School District requested the changes in 2017 but then set her up to “take the blame”.

The district, according to Ms Parsons’ claim, created a hostile work environment that led to harassment and death threats against her and violated her rights by barring her from speaking to the media.

Ms Parsons is seeking unspecified damages and asking that the district policy that prevented her from telling her story in the media be struck down as unconstitutional.

“What happened to her is really just egregious,” said her lawyer Christopher Eibeler.

Superintendent Cheryl Dyer said on Tuesday she could not comment on specifics because neither the district nor its counsel had seen the civil claim.

But she said that at the time, she conducted a thorough investigation. If there is a hearing, she said, information on what took place will be made public.

US President Donald Trump's campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” has become a symbol of division. Picture: Butch Dill/AP Photo
US President Donald Trump's campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” has become a symbol of division. Picture: Butch Dill/AP PhotoSource:AP

“I’m confident that when the full facts come to light, all of the actions of this office and the board of education will be found to be wholly appropriate,” Ms Dyer said.

Ms Parsons claims she received hate mail and threatening phone calls and voicemails as the controversy turned into a national story.

In her claim, she says the district routinely forced her to edit yearbook photos to alter anything that could be controversial, including words on T-shirts, hand gestures and students not wearing shirts on a school trip.

One student wore a sweater vest with Mr Trump’s name on it. Another student wore a T-shirt carrying the words “Trump Make America Great Again.”

School officials have said one photo was altered even though the shirt the student was wearing didn’t violate the school’s dress code. The other photo was re-sized to match others and apparently wasn’t altered for the purpose of removing Mr Trump’s name.

A Trump quote submitted by a third student, the freshman class president, apparently was accidentally omitted by a student.

A school secretary who had final say over the pages as a proxy for the principal told her to edit the T-shirt photo, Ms Parsons says.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

Boston's Metco program will now bus random minority students into suburban schools

In the Metco program, Boston students are bussed to suburban schools. A limit of 100 students per school is observed so that the bussed students do not wreck the suburban schools.  So the number of minorities wanting to get their children on the program greatly exceeds its limits. Those who apply soonest are the ones who make the grade. 

This means that parents who are organized and think ahead get the available slots.  And that of course selects for brighter parents, who tend to have brighter and more organized children.  So such students cause minimal disruption to their host schools

And we can't have that!  The Leftist fixation on destroying anything they can has now invaded this program too.  Students will now be chosen randomly for the program, thus injecting a big dose of ghetto into otherwise orderly schools.  The talk is of fairness.  The glee is over how disruptive the new arrangements will be.  The old compulsory bussing program got knocked out by white flight so this revives at least a part of it

The days of Boston families signing up their children for the Metco program as soon as they are born are now history.

Massachusetts education officials have given the voluntary school integration program permission to choose students through a lottery instead of on a first-come first-serve basis, in an effort to bring more fairness to those who get in. Under the changes, announced Monday, parents will be able to submit applications only in the fall for the following school year.

“This is a very historic moment for Metco,” said Milly Arbaje-Thomas, chief executive of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, which runs the program. “We now will be able to meet all constituencies in all neighborhoods, whether they are long-term residents or newcomers. We want a student population that is more reflective of Boston’s demographics.”

The new system, which was originally proposed earlier this year, will be phased in over the next two admission cycles, starting with students seeking slots for the 2020-21 school year. Applications will also shift from paper to an online portal. Families, however, will still be able to apply in person at the program’s Roxbury office.

Metco, which enrolls 3,300 Boston students in 33 suburban districts annually, has often been held up by researchers and policy makers as a successful way to voluntarily integrate public schools. A Harvard University researcher this winter found that Metco students had higher high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates than their peers in traditional Boston Public Schools and charter schools.

The children are bused from Boston to the schools in the suburbs. The state spends about $20 million annually to fund Metco in Boston and another program in Springfield, although suburban districts spend their own money on the program, too.

The program’s success has fueled a fever-pitched frenzy to get in, resulting in a waiting list of 15,000 students, about half of whom were infants or toddlers. Program staff filed away paper applications in the order they were received and for the specified school year.

But the program also has been plagued with questions over the fairness of its application process and whether it is truly serving students with no other options. That’s because the program tends to enroll a student population that is more affluent than the one in the Boston Public Schools.

The program also has failed to keep pace with the changing diversity of Boston, enrolling mostly black students at a time when the city has seen a big infusion of Latinos and other ethnic and racial groups.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education formally approved the new application process on April 30. The program has largely purged its waiting list.

“We appreciate the thoughtful approach that Metco Inc. has taken, and we believe these changes will help bring clarity to the Metco enrollment process in Boston,” said Jacqueline Reis, a state education spokeswoman.

Families hoping to secure seats for their children for fall 2020 can apply between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31. The lottery will take place in January. Children who don’t win a seat will need to reapply for a subsequent school year.

More changes could be on the way. Arbaje-Thomas said the program will be drafting specific admission criteria. Currently, the program refers applicants to specific districts, which have some discretion in making admission offers.

“We are trying to keep the program viable and alive for another 50 years,” she said. “In order to do that you have to modernize.”


UK: Cambridge Capitulates to the Mob and Fires a Young Scholar

The vicious Left again

We live at a time where academic freedom is under threat from ideologues and activists of all persuasions. The latest threat comes from St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where administrators appear to have capitulated to a mob of activists (students and academics) who mounted a campaign to have a young scholar fired for “problematic” research. The back-story was covered by Quillette last December.

The latest victim of an academic mobbing is 28-year-old social scientist Noah Carl who has been awarded a Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmund’s College at the University of...

The norms of academia—which have been built up and preserved by institutions such as Cambridge for centuries—demand that academics engage with each other in a scholarly manner. That is, if one academic has a problem with the methods or conclusions of another’s research, he or she should address those concerns within journals, according to established procedures, which other scholars can then read and respond to, including the academic whose research is being challenged.

Today, due to the hyper-specialisation of academic fields, most academics will not be able to judge the quality of scholarship that is published in journals outside their field. That’s why when research is peer-reviewed it is done by experts in the specific field in which the research was carried out, not by a random selection of university professors. Just as a professor of English will not be able to judge a study conducted within chemical engineering, a chemical engineer will not be able to assess a scholarly essay on Shakespeare’s sonnets.

To judge the quality of Dr Noah Carl’s work authoritatively, one would have to be an expert in at least one of the following fields: psychology, intelligence research (a sub-field of psychology), and/or economics. The campaign against him began with an ‘open letter’ that was signed by hundreds of academics, but they did not have expertise in these areas. (For the most part, they had qualifications in fields like anthropology, gender studies and critical race studies). This is a clear departure from the established norms that, until recently, were adhered to in academic debates, a point made in an editorial about this affair by the executive team at the Heterodox Academy:

Communal inquiry and debate are at the heart of the academy. As researchers, we put our ideas into the crucible of open inquiry and rely on debate and discussion to refine understanding and advance solutions to complex problems. The practice of issuing open letters attacking scholars for their contributions undermines this important goal by evicting academics and their ideas from the arena—often on flimsy evidentiary grounds. More constructive responses can and should be employed.

The administrators at St Edmund’s College who determined that Dr Noah Carl should be fired did not have qualifications in these areas, either. The Master of St. Edmunds is a former banker, and the administrator who led the investigation that decided Dr Carl is guilty of “poor scholarship” is a veterinary scientist.

Admittedly, one does not have to be an expert in a specific field to adjudicate on matters of academic misconduct such as fraud or data fabrication—and Dr Carl has been accused of “ethical breaches”. But the statement by the Master on the college website justifying Dr Carl’s dismissal stops short of alleging anything close to academic fraud. The sin he’s been found guilty of—his “ethical breach”—is carrying out “problematic” research, such as producing a paper on the accuracy of consensual stereotypes about the characteristics of different groups (e.g. sexes, races, nationalities). Here is the key passage in the Master’s statement:

There was a serious risk that Dr Carl’s appointment could lead, directly or indirectly, to the College being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the College into disrepute.

So Dr Carl has been dismissed not because his research is fraudulent or inaccurate, but because there’s a risk it could lead indirectly to bad actors promoting views that could incite racial or religious hatred. It matters not whether the scholarship is true; the critical thing is whether it upsets people.

Universities like Cambridge proudly resisted these assaults on intellectual freedom in the past—it was the home of such free thinkers as Erasmus, Charles Darwin and John Maynard Keynes. Indeed, protecting scholars from persecution by political and religious pressure became one of the defining purposes of the world’s great universities.

Imagine what would happen if the behaviour of St Edmund’s College become a new norm. Should philosophers who debate issues of euthanasia and abortion be fired because some Christian students might find their work offensive? Should novelists like Salman Rushdie be refused a platform because their work could incite religious hatred? Should geneticists who discover differences in populations emerging from genetic ancestry be fired because some students might be offended by these findings? Should biologists who operate on the assumption that sex is bimodal be defunded because some trans rights activists might find their work upsetting? The list of scholars who could be fired if the standard that has been applied to Dr Noah Carl is applied universally is endless.

The editors at Quillette steadfastly support the foundational principles of open inquiry and free thought. While we are not academics, we are gravely concerned that an injustice to a young scholar has occurred in this particular instance, and that more broadly, academic freedom is buckling under the political pressure as typified by the original open letter calling for his sacking. If the custodians of Cambridge are unable to protect its distinguished history and foundational principles, it is up to all of us to take a stand in support of them.


High School Mulls Removing George Washington Murals Because They 'Traumatize' Students

How come that they have just recently started "traumatizing" students?

A high school in Northern California — George Washington High School, to be specific — is mulling over a push to remove two 83-year-old murals from its hallways. Critics advocating for their removal say they are offensive to Native Americans and African-Americans. They say the pair of panels “traumatizes students and community members.”

A San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) working group says the murals should be removed and put in storage to protect the students.

"SFUSD convened a ‘Reflection and Action Working Group’ that was comprised of members of the local Native American community, students, school representatives, district representatives, local artists and historians," Laura Dudnick, spokeswoman for the district, wrote in an email to The College Fix. "At its conclusion the group voted and the majority recommended that the 'Life of Washington' mural be archived and removed because the mural does not represent SFUSD values," the letter continued.

"Two of the thirteen panels in the mural series have come under fire since the 1960’s for their controversial depictions of African-Americans and Native Americans," the Richmond District Blog writes.

In one mural, entitled “Mount Vernon”, George Washington appears to be in conversation with another Caucasian man who gestures towards a seated African-American man holding corn, presumably a slave. In other parts of the mural, African-Americans are engaged in acts of manual labor like hauling large bales of hay and picking cotton in the fields, while Caucasian men are also laboring at other tasks with tools. Washington’s servant, who is pictured holding his horse, is also African-American. The mural is a clear depiction of slavery in the United States, and of George Washington as a slave owner.

The second panel, entitled "Westward Vision," depicts Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers looking at George Washington as he points off in the distance, while he points with his other hand to a map. On the right side of the mural, as if carrying out Washington’s call for westward expansion, frontiersmen, depicted in greyscale unlike other figures in the mural, stand over the dead body of a Native American man, signifying the genocide of Native American life and culture.

In the bottom right of the “Westward Vision” panel, a frontiersman and Native American chief sit at a campfire smoking a peace pipe. On the ground at the chief’s feet is a tomahawk, symbolizing the disarming of Native tribes. Directly above the Chief’s headdress is a broken tree limb representing broken treaties made by the U.S. government with Native Americans, and broken promises made by settlers.

Here's the irony, though. The murals were painted in 1936 by artist Victor Arnautoff, who was a protégé of Diego Rivera and a communist. "He included those images not to glorify Washington, but rather to provoke a nuanced evaluation of his legacy. The scene with the dead Native American, for instance, calls attention to the price of 'manifest destiny.' Arnautoff’s murals also portray the slaves with humanity and the several live Indians as vigorous and manly," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Historian Fergus M. Bordewich told The Fix that it is "a deeply wrongheaded habit to project today’s norms, values, ideals backwards in time to find our ancestors inevitably falling short."

"It betrays a very troubling intolerance of art and the ambiguity of art and the aspirations of art," he said. "It’s incredibly stupid if we try to erase history. It still happened, and you should argue about its meanings."


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Senator Warren’s Student Debt Plan: The Worst Higher Education Proposal Ever Made

In the bidding war among progressive Democratic presidential aspirants to demonstrate their quasi-socialist bona fides, Elizabeth Warren is hard to top, the ne plus ultra of progressive chic, as her new proposal to wipe out most of the student loan debt in the U.S. demonstrates, to be largely financed by a wealth tax on affluent Americans.

This is probably the single worst higher education reform proposal I have seen in six decades of trolling American academic vineyards. It is mind-boggling in the potential harm it would pose to our nation. It is unfair to tens of millions of Americans who have faithfully repaid their student loans. Many with existing debt are living good lives, making minimal debt repayments, perhaps anticipating the successful enactment of a proposal such as Sen. Warren’s. It would create an enormous moral hazard problem, meaning future borrowers would simply not repay their debt. Sen. Warren’s response to that would probably be: we will make college free for all, except those deplorable Americans with high incomes (whose incomes are high precisely because they are highly productive members of society). One criticism of the Warren proposal is that some people with mid-sized incomes have fairly impressive amounts of wealth, and forgiving debt for them unfairly increases their already fairly sizable net worth.

At a time when highly progressive nations like Sweden are abandoning earlier efforts at wealth taxation, and consequently having higher rates of economic growth, Senator Warren wants to dampen the phenomenal American economic exceptionalism exhibited over the past two centuries by great entrepreneurs like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Sam Walton and Steve Jobs, who were motivated, at least in part, by the financial rewards of their hard work, exceptional ability to see future needs, and risk-taking. As I calculate it, her wealth tax would require both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to pay about $200 million annually to the government—money that these individuals currently plan to use not to build large yachts or mansions, but rather after their deaths to serve society through their charitable giving. A decent case can be made that that money would be better used by private foundations serving human needs than by a highly bureaucratic governmental allocation of funds.

All of this flows from Senator Sanders’ free college proposal, on which I have previously written. We have too many, not too few, persons going to college. Two out of five full time students fail to graduate in six years. Of those who do graduate, the New York Federal Reserve tells us that another two out of five end up taking jobs traditionally filled by those with high school diplomas. Do the math: out of every 100 students who enter college, only about 60 graduate, and 40% of them, or 24, end up doing jobs for which a college diploma was clearly unnecessary. Put differently, only 36 out of every 100 kids who enter college both graduate and get relatively high-skilled jobs. Investing in college students is both risky and costly. I think we are over-invested, not under-invested, in college education.

There is more to the Warren proposal. She wants to give large amounts to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Why? I suspect it has more to do with identity politics than sound resource allocation. Only about 12% of African-American college students today actually attend these schools, many of them have enrollments seriously in decline, and their average success rate as measured by such standard measures as graduation rates and post-attendance earnings are extremely modest. News reports say she wishes to give these schools, with well under 300,000 students enrolled, some $50 billion—over $167,000 per student.

For whatever it is worth (probably not much), I think this ever more unrealistic bidding war is doing two things. Within the Democratic Party, it is enhancing the prospects of candidates like Joe Biden (still unannounced but expected), Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg who are in the more traditionally liberal but not socialist Democratic tradition. Second, it is enhancing President Trump’s reelection odds by appearing too far out of the American political mainstream. But then again, I am an economist, and economists cannot even accurately predict economic performance, much less politics.


Kim Kardashian Proves You Don’t Need Grad School

Kim Kardashian West has announced that she is becoming a lawyer without going to law school—and she’s really on to something.

Like Kardashian West, growing numbers of Millennials are launching into graduate studies. According to a Council of Economic Advisors report, Millennial graduate school enrollment in recent years has grown at a much faster rate (35%) than even college enrollment (15%).

Unfortunately, while graduate school can be the ticket to a new and more satisfying career, it comes with an enormous price tag. Credible, a loan financing company, reports that students accumulate $66,300 in debt on average when paying for an MBA, $72,800 when paying for a Master of Arts, and $145,500 when paying for law school.

Fortunately, there are other options. Here are a few to consider:

1) Law Reader Program

The American Bar Association predicts that within 10 years Millennials will have taken over American law firms. But according to Gallup, less than a quarter of recent law graduates (23%) said their law degree was worth the cost.

Kardashian West is using the Law Reader program to realize her legal aspirations without incurring the cost of law school, and anyone with a college degree and good moral standing in California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington can follow her lead. Although program requirements vary by state, students generally pay a small fee to study legal subjects such as jurisprudence, professional responsibility and ethics, civil procedure, torts, contracts, criminal law, and constitutional law with a practicing attorney at a state-based law office. As long as students spend the requisite time and pass examinations at the conclusion of each course, they can take the bar exam and become attorneys in the state.

While most of us do not have the luxury of attorney friends who will fly to our homes to teach us the law—as Kardashian West does—we can still benefit from the lower cost and law office experience that reader programs offer.

2) Specialty Online Training Programs

Interested in a niche career? An online training program could be a better option than graduate school.

The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, a highly-respect art school, offers a Masters’ Degree in Animation & Visual Effects. The program includes required classes on drawing, modeling, storyboarding, rigging, history, and animation. The program costs approximately $37,541.

But online programs offer comparable, even superior opportunities, for less. Animation Mentor, for example, also trains animators. But instead of taking courses in modeling, storyboarding, rigging, and animation—which are distinct careers themselves—Animation Mentor students take only animation classes, giving them more time and opportunities to develop the skill sets and portfolio they need to succeed in animation-specific careers.

Like the Academy of Art University, Animation Mentor is led by industry professionals at top animation studios, and graduates secure jobs at top animation studios including Sony Interactive Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Disney Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and more. But unlike Academy of Art University’s Master’s program, Animation Mentor costs only $14,994.

While online programs like Animation Mentor may not be for everyone, the low cost and high quality it affords should encourage those looking for new career opportunities that don’t break the bank.

3) Apprenticeships

New paths to employment are also available through apprenticeships. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that plumbing, pipe fitting, and steamfitting jobs will increase by 16% between 2016-26.

Mike Taylor is apprenticing to become one of these plumbers. He graduated from college with $75,000 in debt and told CNN that he waited tables until he realized he couldn’t pay off his loans. Then he joined a 5-year apprentice program at Plumbers Local 1 in Queens, N.Y. Every two weeks Taylor spends one day in class and nine days at work, and is paid $28 per hour. After another year of training, he’ll be paid $42 per hour. Taylor made $117,000 during his first year of apprenticeship, which he said he spent paying down debt, buying a home, and preparing with his wife for their first child.

While construction jobs like Taylor’s have the most apprenticed workers, new apprenticeship programs in other areas are popping up across the country. The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture recently launched the state’s first farming apprenticeship program, Norton Healthcare in Kentucky founded the first nursing apprenticeship program, and Techtonic, a software development company, launched the first software development apprenticeship program. These jobs offer respective, median annual salaries of $67,950, $71,730, and $105,590.

The immense costs of graduate school need not deter those in search of a fulfilling career. By identifying career goals and thinking creatively about paths to achieve them, we, like Kardashian West, can achieve career aspirations without sacrificing financial wellbeing.


Pa. Muslim Schoolchildren: ‘Crush the Treacherous Ones,’ ‘Chop Off Their Heads,’ ‘Subject Them to External Torture’

On Saturday, a research organization released video of Muslim children calling for beheading, torture and martyrdom at a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The video, including translation, shows Muslim children at the Muslim American Society Islamic Center singing and reading incendiary poetry at an event on April 22, 2019, MEMRI reports:

On April 22, 2019, the Muslim American Society Islamic Center in Philadelphia (MAS Philly) uploaded a video of an "Ummah Day" celebration to its Facebook page in which young children wearing Palestinian scarves sang: "Glorious steeds call us and lead us [to] the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The blood of martyrs protects us… Take us, oh ships, until we liberate our lands… until we reach our shores and crush the treacherous ones… Flow, oh rivers of martyrs!"

The video also shows a young girl reciting a poem advocating decapitation and torture:

“We will sacrifice our souls without hesitation. We will chop off their heads, and we will liberate the sorrowful and exalted Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will lead the army of Allah fulfilling His promise, and we will subject them to eternal torture."

On Sunday, the Muslim American Society issued a statement disavowing both the video and the content of the school’s event:

Our investigation revealed that the school that organized the event on April 17, 2019 is a separate entity renting space from MAS Philadelphia. The school board has informed us that it has taken immediate actions and dismissed the person in charge of the program. In addition, they will form a local commission to aid in sensitivity training and proper supervision for future programs.


Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Student Loan Forgiveness Is Not the Solution

The latest benefit scheme making the rounds in time for the elections is student loan forgiveness. Given the great debt burden on graduates, candidates are piling on the bandwagon to find a platform from which to show how benevolent they can be with taxpayers’ money.

Student debt now stands at $1.46 trillion with an additional $79 billion registered in 2018. This debt hits young people right at the time when they need money to get started. Thus, many claim that college loans delay adulthood decisions, diminishes home ownership and stifles small business creation.

The liberal solution is to erase the debt. Some proposals now circulating will forgive up to $50,000 of loan obligations affecting tens of millions of Americans. 

There are three reasons why loan forgiveness schemes are wrong and should not be implemented.

Not a Matter of Injustice

First, inside the broken logic of the schemes is the idea that the loans are somehow an injustice that imposes itself upon poor students.  It is not fair that young people, especially poor young people are burdened with such debts. The loans also seem to target poor minorities while the rich are not affected. Big government needs to right this “great wrong.”

This is a Marxist interpretation of student loans. Marxists turn the loans into instruments used by financial institutions to oppress the poor who need education to get ahead. It is a fatalistic vision that equates failure to obtain a loan with poverty and failure. The poor are forced into a situation beyond their control.

The reality is that no one forces students to take out these loans. When the student signs the agreement, they know that they are committing themselves to repayment. There is also a wide world of alternative options (including scholarships and online courses) open to all high school graduates that can minimize the expenses that a college education entails. Students have an obligation to choose the options they can afford without jeopardizing their future.

Thus, there is no injustice committed since students freely agree to repay the loan. The money is due to the lender as a matter of justice. To defraud the lender of repayment–often the taxpayer—is an act of injustice on the part of the student.

A second reason why student loan forgiveness is wrong involves the nature of education. The object of education should not only be the acquisition of knowledge, career advancement or good test results.

Real education forms character and teaches the student about the reality of life with all its limitations, vicissitudes and foibles. The student should develop adult skills to survive in a world that is often cruel and unforgiving.  They should cultivate their God-given talents to help sanctify themselves and those around them.

When students take out loans, they make adult decisions that have serious consequences. When all loans can be forgiven, the loans cease to become loans. They become play-loans made to children who do not wish to assume responsibility. Loan forgiveness is financial divorce that sends a message to borrowers that if they do not like the loans, they can simply walk away from them.

Education fails when students do not become mature adults. It fails when students abandon reality and do not face life’s crosses. To what purpose do students get a diploma if they cannot exercise the responsibilities that it entails?

A Wrong-Headed Vision

Finally, student loan forgiveness perpetuates a wrong-headed vision of government as a provider. Forgiveness advocates claim it will supercharge the economy by freeing up money for home purchases, family projects and small business creation. They forget that the same loans supposedly stimulate the university system in much the same way.

Student loan forgiveness sends a message to all high school graduates that they must attend college to get ahead—and expect government aid in the end. It discourages anyone who pursues more technical or manual skills more suited to their proclivities.

This mistaken concept of an eventually “free” college education encourages students to spend without restraint in anticipation of future relief. It encourages universities to spend at will and build new facilities for expanding enrollments thus increasing tuition costs. At the same time, many universities lower their standards to accommodate the one-size-fits-all education for everyone—even those, now financially enabled, who are not suited for such studies.

Debt forgiveness is not the foundation for better education but a socialistic system of mediocrity. It will not stimulate the economy since real economic growth presupposes responsibility, duty and planning. Above all, student loan forgiveness teaches graduates a wrong vision of life.  


Unions Keep Deducting Dues Without Consent, Teachers Say

Just a few weeks before school let out last May, unexpected visitors showed up in Bethany Mendez’s classroom.

They didn’t come to discuss the nuts and bolts of education or the work the teacher was doing to assist young students with learning disabilities.

Instead, the visitors wanted to know why she was leaving the teachers union, and if she fully understood the ramifications of resigning her membership.

“This made me very angry and upset to actually have them come to my classroom during instructional time during the day,” Mendez told The Daily Signal in an interview. “I thought the meeting was regarding a student who might have to go into one of my classes. But these were union representatives who showed up in my classroom to question me as to why I was leaving the union.”

Mendez teaches elementary school students with learning disabilities in California’s Fremont Unified School District.

Since she had her own bouts with dyslexia when she was roughly the same age as her students, Mendez explains, she became motivated to become a teacher and devote herself to assisting children who require specialized instruction.

For union officials to interrupt her instructional time, Mendez thought, was inappropriate and overly intrusive.

“I struggled with dyslexia when I was little, and that was due to a vision problem,” Mendez, 35, said. “But I was able to have surgery to fix it. For a lot of these kids, it’s a brain-wiring issue and it involves how their brain interprets visual information. My goal is to help children learn and to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to read in the third and fourth grades. I’m passionate about helping kids to bridge that gap.”

“It would be fine to have a friendly conversation outside of class, but to actually have two people come to my class while I was teaching and ask these questions I thought was a little offensive,” she said. “They asked if I knew what I was doing and if I knew what I would be giving up. My answer is I think everyone should have a choice to either opt in or opt out of joining the union.”

Suit Claims Unions Circumvent High Court

Last June, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory union dues and fees for public sector workers.

In their decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the justices said “agency shop” laws requiring nonunion government workers to pay union fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers who object to the political agenda of public employee unions.

In March, Mendez, joined with four other teachers to file a class-action lawsuit in federal court against the California Teachers Association and several local affiliates, alleging that the teachers unions continued to deduct dues from their paychecks in violation of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

The lawsuit also names the National Education Association, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, local school districts, and local unions as defendants.

Contrary to what union officials have argued, the teachers who signed union membership cards last year did not provide the California Teachers Association or local affiliates with “affirmative consent” to deduct dues, Mariah Gondeiro, a lawyer with the Freedom Foundation who represents the suing teachers, told The Daily Signal.

“These membership forms don’t include sufficient waiver language as required under Janus,” Gondeiro said, adding:

The unions are arguing they can lock people into these contracts because they signed these forms. But they don’t tell employees that they have an option to not fund the union. They don’t tell people that they are leaving out important facts. The teachers can’t consent to something they didn’t know about, and they did not know their rights.

More HERE 

UK: 'Oliver Twist' school criticised for bread and butter lunches if parents fall behind on payments

Seems reasonable to me

A school has been compared to "something out of a Charles Dickens novel" over a policy of feeding children bread and butter if parents fall behind on lunch payments.

Ravensdale Junior School in Mickleover, Derbyshire, has been criticised by mother Katrina Dakin after her two sons were left hungry.

The 31-year-old mother of six said it was wrong to punish children whose parents owed money.

The care home worker said: ""It's disgusting making them sit in front of their friends and eat bread and butter.

"If I sent my children to school with bread and butter I'd have social services knocking at my door. It's child neglect."

She only discovered she was behind on payments when she woke up from a night shift to a text message from the school. She likened the situation to Oliver Twist begging for more gruel in the Charles Dickens book, adding: "I owed the school £8.80 per child but they know I always pay it. "If the school had confronted me at the start of the day when I took them to school, I would have paid it."

A spokesperson for the school, which has nearly 360 pupils aged seven to 11, said it was policy that once a family owe £10 or over, the children are not given dinners. They said: "At Ravensdale, we pride ourselves on the quality of our freshly-cooked lunches, providing three choices each day for pupils, as well as a salad bar and a piece of fruit with dessert.

"However, we cannot afford to let a child have a free dinner if they are not entitled to one and nor is this fair to our other parents.

"On these occasions (which are rare) governors decided that children would be given bread and butter/jam and a drink instead. This was deemed to be the kindest option, whilst still being fair to all parents.

"Schools receive no extra funding for meals and the food, staffing costs and the running of the kitchen all have to be financed through dinner money payments.

"Parents are always sent a text on the day they go into debt and this will happen on a daily basis when the school is in session, until the debt is paid.

"Any parents who were in debt before the Easter holidays received text messages and our office manager even sent out texts on Sunday morning before we came back to school for the new term.

"If a child is due to be given bread and butter that day, their parents are contacted by phone to give them every opportunity to either pay, or provide a packed lunch. Most parents use our online payment system, making it easy to pay at any time."


Monday, May 06, 2019

High School Student Suspended for Posing With Pro-Trump MAGA Flag and Sweatshirt

Last Friday, Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz., suspended student Logan Jones after a security officer reprimanded her as she posed for photos in a "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) sweater while holding a pro-Trump "Make America Great Again" flag. On Wednesday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a demand letter warning of legal action unless the school dropped the suspension. The school agreed to allow Jones to return to school that day but it refused to remove the suspension from her record.

"Public schools have a duty to respect the legitimate free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them," Tyson Langhofer, ADF senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom, wrote in a statement Thursday. "While it’s good that the school is allowing Logan to return to school, it isn’t acceptable that this unjust suspension will remain on her record."

ADF will not accept this state of affairs. "As we continue discussions with the school, we are also consulting with Logan and her mother to determine what our next steps will be if the school doesn’t do the right thing and remove the suspension," Langhofer added.

According to the demand letter, Jones and her friends had dressed in patriotic and USA-themed clothing for a "Party in the USA Day" on Friday of Spirit Week.

"Immediately after school was dismissed at 2:14 p.m., [Jones] and a few of her friends went to one of the outdoor common areas of campus to take pictures together before they went home," the letter reads. "This is a common practice for [Jones] and many other students and it happens virtually every day after school without any interference by school officials.

Less than five minutes after they arrived, while [Jones] and her friend were taking a picture in their MAGA sweatshirts and holding a flag that said 'Trump' and 'Make America Great Again,' a School Resource Officer approached and ordered [Jones] and her friends to leave."

Jones immediately obeyed and started packing up to leave. The officer took photos of her and her friends with his phone, began following her as she left campus, and then ordered her to give him her name. Jones asked why he needed her name, as she was complying with his order. At that point, the officer told her to speak with Vice Principal Heather Patterson.

Jones called her mother and told her about the situation. Her mother said she would come to the school herself and told Jones not to speak with anyone until she arrived. At the office, Jones was again asked to give her name. She "politely replied that her mother was on her way to the office and that her mother had instructed her not to answer any questions until she arrived."

Once the mother arrived, a brief discussion ensued between the mother, Principal Dan Serrano, Vice Principal Patterson, and the officer. Principal Serrano left, saying, "I am tired of hearing this. Logan Jones, you are suspended for 10 days. Get off of school property."

Jones was allegedly suspended for failing to identify herself to school officials, yet ADF argued that "this reason was mere pretext."

"Contrary to the stated reason, there is ample evidence to establish that you imposed the suspension against [Jones] based on a disagreement with the viewpoint of [Jones's] message," the letter states. "Multiple videos demonstrate the hostility that School officials displayed towards the messages expressing support for President Trump and his MAGA slogan. And it is our understanding that other students have been punished as well for expressing similar viewpoints."

"This blatant censorship of [Jones's] speech violates the First Amendment," the letter declares.

In dropping the suspension, the school seems to have recognized that punishing Jones for her pro-Trump and MAGA demonstration was a violation of her free speech. Even so, the school reportedly is refusing to drop the suspension from the girl's record.

No school should suspend a student for expressing a political viewpoint. Sadly, many liberals have stigmatized Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan as hateful, and it appears these school officials consider MAGA unacceptable. This school should have learned from the backlash and lawsuits after the media ran with the story that the MAGA hat-wearing Covington High School boys were haters.

The school's action violates the First Amendment. Students have the right to wear MAGA sweaters and hold Trump flags. This is outrageous.


New California Bill Would Turn College Health Centers Into Abortion Clinics

The California state Senate Education Committee recently approved Senate Bill 24, known as the College Student Right to Access Act.

The bill would add a new chapter to state education code to require student health care clinics at all 34 California public colleges and universities to “offer abortion by medication techniques”—aka “the abortion pill”—starting on Jan. 1, 2023.

A similar bill, SB 320, was put forward last year by the same state senator, Connie Leyva, D-Chino. Thankfully, it was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat, who saw the mandate as “unnecessary” since “the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus.”

In his veto statement, Brown said that “according to a study sponsored by supporters of this legislation, the average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance.”

The study he was referring to was commissioned by the University of California at San Francisco, which supports the campus abortion mandate. That only shows how college campuses are targeted by the abortion industry.

SB 24 and last year’s SB 320 are similar, but SB 24 includes new grant amounts and deadlines for implementation, as well as language that would allow “contracted external agency” personnel to administer chemical abortions in student health centers.

In other words, the public university system in California could begin contracting with Planned Parenthood to send its abortionists into student health centers to administer chemical abortions.

That means Leyva and the other sponsors of the bill made no effort to address serious flaws with this type of mandate, raised by both sides of the debate. Even the universities themselves are apprehensive. Putting the abortion business on campus does not meet a need, but places considerable liabilities on the colleges.

To bring this bill up a second time without addressing its many serious flaws shows a reckless disregard for the 400,000 young women on those 34 public campuses.

You can imagine what potential risks and liabilities would come with forcing colleges to dispense the abortion pill.

Foremost among the many concerns about SB 24 is its vague funding language.

Like its failed predecessor, SB 24 would allow the $10.2 million in private funds to cover costs associated with the purchase of new equipment, facility upgrades, staff training, and other costs associated with making student health clinics ready to administer chemical abortions.

Also, as with SB 320, SB 24’s funding mechanism is vague and leaves open the possibility of taxpayer-funded abortion after 2023.

It provides no safeguards to prohibit state funds or student fees from paying for the ongoing support of the program. Public funding of abortion is something we know that a majority of Americans strongly oppose, yet SB 24 takes no precautions to prevent that. Not saying “no” is effectively saying “yes.”

Furthermore, the legislation offers no maternal assistance for women who choose not to abort. It supports abortions only. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that more than one-quarter of all undergraduate students are raising dependent children—yet no assistance is offered for them.

Parenthood and education are compatible, and there are plenty of women who can prove that. A bill that purposely goes out of its way to take away women’s children, rather than help them raise their babies and continue their education, is a slap in the face to “women’s empowerment.”

“Abortion by medication techniques,” as the legislation calls it, involves early-stage chemical abortions via the abortion pill, but it can still be quite traumatic. What makes chemical abortions different from surgical abortions is that the mother has to see and dispose of the remains of the aborted child herself.

One can imagine the mental trauma that would occur to a young woman whose abortion takes place in her college dorm room or in a student health center bathroom. Is that really a good thing for a young college woman?

But legislation like SB 24 couldn’t care less about women. It only cares about expanding the business of abortion.

Abortion proponents, however, view such a mandate as model legislation for other states to follow, and California is vying to be the first state to implement it.

The California state Senate Health Committee first passed the bill on a 7-3 vote, and it has now passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The next stop is the Committee on Appropriations, which is set to meet next week.

Brown’s successor, Gov. Gavin Newsom, has already insinuated his support for the bill, and that has only encouraged supporters of SB 24. However, it’s still not known how much support will actually come from the public universities themselves, which remain apprehensive of the considerable liability that they would have to assume.


Australia: Public education fiasco can be fixed by restoring power to parents

Public schooling has become an arena of mischief and failure, in which parents are powerless to influence what their children are taught.

The system cries out for reform. It is a policy issue of the first order, yet even on the verge of an election it receives no mention.

When children leave the classroom en masse to promote unproven views in the streets, the schools betray their educational commitment. And when those children return to their classroom, it is one of ideology (such as the notorious, Marx-inspired Safe Schools program), interrupted teaching and disorder instead of true instruction and objectivity — with pockets of excellence all too rare.

Evidence shows our public schools lag behind most of the advanced nations in promoting students’ skills and knowledge, while disruptive behaviour is common. The OECD remarks on findings from the Program for International Student Assessment that “Australia has a ‘problematic situation’ in terms of classroom discipline”.

Despite more and more money for schools, the Productivity Commission, in its National Education Evidence Base report, observes that student achievement shows “little improvement and in some areas standards have dropped”.

The loss is not just educational; it is also moral failure when the reasonable expectations of parents for their children’s education may be ignored.

Appropriate conduct under legitimate authority and discipline in the classroom have substantially disappeared, and the children’s loss is shared by their parents, who lack any serious capacity to intervene and help stem the decline.

Given that successful education of a child requires peace, discipline, commitment and respectful and responsible conduct by child and teacher, does the public schooling system provide the motivations and the management system that will achieve those ends?

If appropriate learning ought to be the supreme objective, the answer to that question must be a negative. Control and power in public schools are being directed to supporting the ideological interests and teachings of their staff, to the impotent dismay of parents. They may complain, but they lack any formal powers of intervention and control.

The public schools increasingly are concerning themselves with gender issues and political ideology, contrary to the wishes of many, if not most, parents. Public schooling has become answerable only to itself. For several generations such schooling has steadily evolved to this condition with relatively little challenge.

The most far-reaching institutional and systematic abridgement of the power of families to shape the education, moralisation and socialisation of their children followed the introduction of universal and compulsory free education in the last third of the 19th century. Before then, providing for the education of children — like the provision of the no less important essentials of food and clothing — was in the hands of parents. They were assisted by subsidies, or what amounted to subsidies, from the state and the churches.

The state helped pay for education but did not provide it itself.

But, as the state steadily took over the provision of the free education, children and their parents fell into the hands of a single supplier and escape into the private system became very costly.

The public system therefore ­neutered the power of the parents’ purse to monitor, judge and influence what was happening to the education of their children. Reform would be possible if this power could be restored to parents.

Some would argue that education should be “value free”. Nevertheless, issues of value and virtue may arise in many school situations and it is vital that parents should be well informed and enabled to exercise power in deciding what is to be done.

The only effective source of that power is control of school fin­ancing. Governments are ostensibly the agents of parents’ school interests, but in practice governments have a conflicting interest as the producer or provider of schooling. The history of public education records that this conflict has usually been resolved in favour of producer interests to which the interests of parents and children have been sacrificed.

Teacher unions are the most powerful of these interests and they are frequently inimical to the interests of children and parents.

If progress is to be made, the present unhappy state of public education as a key institution should be prominent in public debate and subsequent action. A crucial object should be to endow parents with the power to control the financing of the public education of their children.


Sunday, May 05, 2019

Harvard condoned sexual harassment of students for many years

Morality conspicuously lacking, in keeping with its amoral Leftist ethos.  It's only publicity that they fear

For decades, Harvard government students warned each other to wear heavy clothing and avoid late-afternoon appointments with the university’s renowned Cuba expert and one-time vice provost Jorge Dominguez to fend off his inappropriate behavior. But little was done, in what an internal report now calls a “deplorable situation” and a “prolonged institutional failure.”

Dominguez’s behavior was a “open secret” until he suddenly retired last year following a published report alleging that he sexually harassed, touched, and attempted to kiss several women.

After a yearlong review of the school’s government department — of which Dominguez was a member — a committee of Harvard faculty, staff, and students have demanded an outside investigation. Committee members sent their letter and recommendations for change to Harvard president Lawrence Bacow and other top leaders this week.

Dominguez’s climb up the ranks of Harvard and inaction by administrators “created the impression that the university knew about this behavior but did not care,” the committee wrote in its letter. “Hundreds of students, staff, and junior faculty felt the consequences of this failure. We must analyze what went wrong.”

Jonathan Swain, a spokesman for Harvard said university leaders are still reviewing the letter and report but that Bacow has expressed a willingness to consider an external review. But he wants the separate Title IX investigation of the sexual harassment allegations against Dominguez to be complete first, Swain said.

Dominguez did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The allegations against Dominguez surfaced in the spring of 2018 as part of the #MeToo movement. Several women detailed their experiences with Dominguez that stretched three decades, from 1979 to 2015, in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The women alleged that Dominguez grabbed their knees, pressed his crotch into them, and touched their buttocks when he hugged them. Two women said they complained formally about Dominguez’s behavior, and he was disciplined by Harvard in 1983.

But Harvard continued to promote Dominguez, even while the concerns about inappropriate behavior persisted.

Dominguez announced his retirement about a week after the Chronicle of Higher Education article.

The Dominguez allegations also opened rifts and heightened tensions between government faculty and students, said Steven Levitsky, who led the committee that reviewed the learning environment in the department.

Many students and junior faculty have questioned how longtime professors could have missed the questionable behavior, he said.

“There’s a major trust deficit between students and faculty,” said Levitsky, a government professor who has been at Harvard since 2000. “Either we didn’t know and were incompetent or knew and covered it up. . . . This weighs heavily on all of us.”

Levitsky’s committee also recommended a series of other reforms, from harassment training to improvements to reporting of sexual harassment complaints. Starting on July 1, Harvard will be piloting a university-wide anonymous reporting system, officials said.

The committee also found that only two women in the government department in the past 25 years have been recommended for tenure, compared to 14 men. The reasons varied, from women moving because of a spouse’s job to younger female professors feeling uncertain about their chances of tenure at Harvard and leaving for positions at other universities.

“It continues to look and feel like a male-dominated department,” Levitsky said.

The committee recommended better mentoring of young faculty, the hiring of professors to teach race and gender politics classes, which are in high demand but scarce on campus, and more robust recruiting of diverse faculty.

The committee also found that many students, including women, minorities, members of the gay and lesbian community, and political conservatives feel less welcomed in the government department. In fact, while the climate survey was focused on the gender and race divisions in the department, it found that nearly half of conservative students struggled to speak up in class and felt they could not be their “authentic self,” according to the report.

For the past year, Harvard’s students have been demanding changes in the wake of the Dominguez case. Hundreds have signed on to open letters and asked for stronger protections against sexual harassment. Earlier this year, many protested over how long it has taken to investigate the allegations highlighted by the Chronicle of Higher Education articles. Members of the graduate student workers union, who are in the midst of contract negotiation with Harvard, are also asking for changes to how the university deals with grievances related to sexual harassment and discrimination.

Levitsky said he understands that students want to see proof that the university is addressing their concerns.

Sophie Hill, a third-year doctoral student in the government department, said students are worried that if the Title IX investigation drags on it may be years before the university launches an outside review of how these problems festered.

“I think the recommendations are encouraging, but this was the easy part,” Hill, 28, said. “Implementing the recommendations and changing the culture is the hard part.”


Why Is Fox News Using Left-Wing Talking Points to Take Cheap Shots at Homeschoolers?

Fox News has apparently decided to pick a fight with homeschoolers—the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens who love their children and are providing a stellar education for them. In an article with the salacious headline "'House of Horrors' child abuse cases reveal how offenders nationwide use homeschooling to hide their crime," Elizabeth Llorente makes the claim that "homeschooling unwittingly also provides a convenient and legal cover for families where children are living in squalor or are being neglected and abused." Even while admitting that most homeschooled children are "properly educated and cared for by their parents or guardians," she goes on to describe harrowing tales of children who were abused, neglected, and killed by parents who kept them isolated at home, ostensibly using homeschooling as a cover.

This happens every few years—someone trots out a collection of child abuse horror stories and blames the abuse on the fact that parents were permitted to keep their own children in their own homes without government surveillance. We expect this kind of rhetoric from left-wing/MSM outlets—it's been going on for decades—but I was surprised to see the tired line of attack coming from Fox News. As is typical of these hit pieces, Llorente employs the "no one knows" logical fallacy: "Because of the lack of oversight in much of the country, experts say, the scope of abuse and neglect among children who are listed as homeschooled is unknown," she writes. In other words, no one knows what's going on in these homes. No one knows if these parents are beating and starving their children. No one knows if the family is keeping vicious man-eating tigers in their homes. No one knows if the children are at risk of being abducted by aliens. (We could go on ad nauseam, getting more absurd as we go, but you get the idea.) The number of homeschooled children who are being abused by their parents may be zero or it may be four million—no one knows, so we are expected to assume the worst — with no data whatsoever to back up the scurrilous allegations.

Until homeschooling parents can prove that they're not abusing their children, it must be assumed, according to these busybodies, that there is something dark and nefarious going on in their homes. But a lack of evidence is just that—a lack of evidence. That doesn't stop critics from employing this silly tactic to make the point that the government needs to step in to monitor families who choose to educate their kids at home.

Fifteen years ago the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio published a shocking series on homeschooling called "Homeschooling: Whose Business Is It?" I agreed, along with several other homeschooling parents, to be interviewed for the series and it became clear almost immediately that the "journalist" assigned to the story was gunning for homeschoolers—he was looking for dirt ("Why don't you people vaccinate your children?" "Why don't you teach your children about sex?"). So homeschoolers were not surprised when the first article dropped and the answer to the question "Whose business is it" appeared to be: "It's the government's business."

With the "no one knows" smear as their premise, for five days the paper was packed with photos of dead and abused children, all of them allegedly connected to homeschooling in some way, however tenuously. Andrea Yates, the mentally ill mother who drowned her five children in a bathtub, was prominently featured as a poster child for child abuse in the homeschooling community, even though only one of her children, 7-year-old Noah, was of compulsory school age. Many, if not most of the families were categorized as "homeschoolers" simply by virtue of the fact that their children were truant from school. Most of the families had flouted the homeschooling laws in their state and simply removed their kids from school with no intention of homeschooling them. And almost without exception, the children featured in that series were known to authorities, with case files revealing multiple contacts with children's services workers who dropped the ball by not removing children from abusive homes.

Several years after that series ran, a state lawmaker in Ohio introduced a bill that would give government social workers the right to veto a parent's decision to homeschool. They called it "Teddy's Law," after Teddy Foltz-Tedesco, who was tragically killed by his step-father in January 2013. Teddy and his 10-year-old twin brothers were abused by Zaryl Bush for at least five years while the boys' mother stood by and allowed the torture and beatings to continue.

The mother had withdrawn the boys from school—allegedly to teach them at home—after teachers began to suspect abuse. Relatives and neighbors say they reported the abuse to the children services board on repeated occasion but were rebuffed. “We called, multiple times we did,” a relative told a local news outlet. “They wouldn’t do anything. They told us we were lying.” Anytime you see one of these hit pieces claiming that homeschooling is somehow to blame for child abuse, once you look beyond the headlines, you'll see that in almost every case the state was already involved with the families—and failed to protect the children.

Democrat Capri Cafaro thought Teddy's tragic death would be a good opportunity to punish law-abiding homeschooling families by stripping them of their parental autonomy and handing education decisions over to agents of the state. I wrote at the time:

SB 248 is built on the faulty presumption that homeschooling parents are guilty until proven innocent of child abuse and that surveilling these families will prevent the abuse. Of course, I want all child abusers caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law, but this new law is not the answer to heart-wrenching cases like the terrible abuse of Teddy Foltz-Tedesco and his brothers. SB 248 would not have prevented the failures of the children services board that ignored repeated pleas for help from neighbors, teachers, and family members. A three-year study by the National Center on Child Abuse Prevention Research (NCCAPR) found that like Teddy, 39% of children who died from maltreatment had previously been involved with or were known to child protective services.

In the case of Teddy Foltz-Tedosco, authorities did not enforce the laws already in place that could have protected him. This was not a homeschooling problem, it was a crime against a child that was ignored by the people who had the power to stop it. New laws will not prevent abuse when the laws already on the books are not being enforced. And certainly, adding more than 100,000 children to the caseloads of already overburdened government social workers will exacerbate the problem of children who are genuinely being abused falling through the cracks.

The logic—if you can call it that—behind this law seems to be that parents cannot be trusted with their own children. Unless they are under the watchful eye of state officials, children face great peril and so there must be new laws enacted in order to mitigate the risk. This ignores the fact, of course, that children from birth to age six are the most likely to die from child abuse—they account for 76% of fatalities.

The government nannies who want to impose draconian regulations on homeschooling families can't seem to grasp the fact that child abusers are not law-abiding citizens. If you threaten them with home inspections, they'll figure out a way to go underground, further endangering at-risk children. A mother who beats and tortures her children and stuffs them in the freezer is not going to march her kids into the local social services office so they can submit to an interrogation. Instead, laws like the one proposed in Ohio (it was shot down after an enormous backlash from homeschooling parents) and those proposed in other states in recent years, will only harm law-abiding parents who will then have to beg government agents for approval to teach their own children in their own homes. In that same article, I wrote:

Will the next step be to subject all parents to interrogations by social workers from birth until the time they enroll their children in the safe bubble of the public school? And why stop there? After all, many children are abused at home and become experts at hiding and excusing the bumps and bruises. Shouldn't we hire armies of government agents to keep an eye on what's going on in the home after school? Not only that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, violent victimization rates at school were 34 per 1,000 students ages 12–14 and 14 per 1,000 students ages 15–18. Shouldn't the government just require semi-annual interrogations of all students to solve the school violence problem?

The answer that question is a resounding "yes." That's what they hope to do, whether they admit it or not.

Cafaro and her compatriots realize that every homeschooled child has enormous potential to escape the brainwashed group-think that is so prevalent in our society. If they must brand homeschooling parents as child abusers in order to further their progressive goals, we already know that in their minds, the ends justify the means. They cannot afford to let 110,000 Ohio children slip from their grasp and they will take extraordinary measures to find a way to criminalize behavior that doesn't conform to their vision.
The Supreme Court has ruled on more than one occasion that parents—not the state—have the right to direct the education and the upbringing of their children, but the "it takes a village" nannies want to change that. They know what's best for your child and God help you if you stand in their way.

After the Akron Beacon Journal series on homeschooling hit newsstands—and after the paper realized that homeschooling families weren't going to take the slander lying down—they invited me to debate one of the "journalists" who wrote the series at a meeting of the Akron Press Club. I'll never forget the leading opening statement by the moderator that day: "Critics say that homeschooling does not enable students to participate in open society," which is code for: "We can't control them."

Make no mistake: progressive lawmakers and liberal activists would like nothing more than to get all children in their clutches — to surveil them in their homes to ensure there are no thoughtcrimes going on. At the rate they're going, it won't be long until babies are sent home from the hospital with a telescreen so there are no gaps in the surveillance—Alexa, send a report to the county social worker about my child's activities today...

These folks are not going away. They hate our autonomy, they hate our religion, and they hate our rejection of their progressive values. Homeschoolers — and all parents, really — need to remain diligent or we'll see our rights systematically stripped away by those who want to deny us our the ability to raise our children in peace according to the dictates of our conscience and our God.

Shame on Fox News for perpetuating the myth that parents and children need to be surveilled by the state in order to ensure the kids aren't being harmed.


UK: Students going to university with EEE grades at A-levels is 'lunacy', education minister says

The "all men are equal" mania is degrading British education

Students going to university with EEE grades at A-levels is “lunacy”, an education minister has said as he warns it is “madness” but the Government has to “suck it up”. 

Lord Agnew, the minister for school systems, said that the voices “screaming for lowering standards” in higher education are “relentless”.

Speaking at an education conference at Brighton College, he said: “Why are we letting kids go to university with three E’s at A-levels? I mean, why? It’s lunacy.  

“But unfortunately there’s a body of people out there because they then never have to pick up the tab for the results of that kind of madness that’s the problem.  “And so, as a government you just have to suck it up basically and just keep plodding forward and that’s what we do.”

 His comments come amid growing concern that universities are admitting too many students who are not suited to the academic rigours of higher education. 

There is now fierce competition among universities to attract students, with top institutions prepared to drastically lower their entry grades to entice school-leavers. 

The lifting of student number controls in England in 2015 gave universities free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit.

But the move has led to accusations that they now act like businesses, seeking to maximise their revenue by recruiting as many students as possible. 

This week the universities watchdog said that pupils with one B and two Cs at A-Level should be considered for places at Oxbridge to increase diversity. 

The Office for Students (OfS) claimed so-called contextual offers give bright students from deprived areas a route into university, without risking a fall in academic standards.

Lord Agnew’s remarks were in response to a question from a conference delegate about medical schools lowering their admissions criteria to boost the number of doctors. 

“I don’t agree with the way….that we’ve solved the doctor crisis by bringing people in, I mean God help us, you know. I’m with you,” the minister responded.

Earlier this year it emerged that ministers are preparing to refuse student loans to pupils who are unable to attain even the lowest A-level grades.

Under plans discussed in Whitehall, students who fail to obtain three D grades at A-level would be denied traditional loans and instead directed towards vocational courses. 

The proposal forms part of a major review of higher education chaired by Philip Augar, a former investment banker, which is due to report later this year.

  Lord Agnew also said that private schools should “weaponise” themselves against the Bank of England to fight back against the teacher pensions row.

 The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that employer's contribution for teachers' pensions will rise by 43 per cent, following a valuation of public service pension schemes by the Treasury. 

Private school fees are expected to rise following the Treasury’s ruling on teacher pensions, which will  cost the sector an extra £110 million from 2019-20 and nearly £200 million the following year. 

Lord Agnew said the pension re-valuation is a “catastrophe”, adding: “It is appalling but [private schools] need as a group, in my opinion, to weaponise yourself and take it to the Bank of England and the Treasury because those are the people that are causing this to happen.”