Friday, July 19, 2019

Noah Carl fights back after dismissal from Cambridge

Dr. Noah Carl is a young, conservative academic whose existence was relatively anonymous before he became the target of the illiberal intelligentsia and later lost his research position at Cambridge University. Now, he’s over halfway to his crowdfunding target to take the university to task for its cowardly dismissal.

Last November, Carl was chosen out of 943 candidates for the prestigious Toby Jackman Newton Trust Research Fellowship at St Edmunds College, part of Cambridge University. Carl, who grew up in idyllic Cambridge in an academic family—both his parents are architectural scholars—lost his position in May, after 1,400 academics denounced his views and his work in a letter published a few months ago: “A careful consideration of Carl’s published work and public stance on various issues, particularly on the claimed relationship between ‘race,’ ‘criminality’ and ‘genetic intelligence’, leads us to conclude that his work is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed.”

And further:

    We are deeply concerned that racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge. This fellowship was awarded to Carl despite his attendance at, and public defence of, the discredited ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where racist and pseudoscientific work has been regularly presented. Carl’s work has already been used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric. In a context where the far-right is on the rise across the world, this kind of pseudoscientific racism runs the serious risk of being used to justify policies that directly harm vulnerable populations.

These alarmist claims could easily be refuted, and were, both by Carl in this FAQ and by several notable academics, like Cass R. Sunstein and Jonathan Haidt, who wrote in a piece by Quillette that  “the “open letter” denouncing Carl is just a list of vague assertions and charges of guilt by association. If the signers think we should condemn anyone who gives ammunition to “extremist and far right media,” they should write a new letter condemning themselves.”

Reading the letter, you would be forgiven to think that Carl must hold suspect views on race and that his work furthers a racist agenda. But his “crimes” weren’t nearly as sinister, although he has studied links between population groups and crime, as in this paper on how British stereotypes of different groups of immigrants correlate to the types of crimes they commit. He has also defended the right of academics to research the correlation between IQ and different population groups, but not partaken in this type of research himself.

After an investigation by the college and months of protests, Carl, who has a PhD in Sociology, was dismissed on May 1:

    The poor scholarship of this problematic body of Dr Carl’s work, among other things, meant that it fell outside any protection that might otherwise be claimed for academic freedom of speech. The panel found that, in the course of pursuing this problematic work, Dr Carl had collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views. 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.

This cowardly stance, full of virtue-signalling buzzwords and accusations of guilt by association, shows how the protection of the perceived status of the college takes precedence over what a university is meant to foster, namely knowledge and truth. Knowledge isn’t racist; it’s neutral. It’s not up to the academic to decide how that knowledge will be used, but simply to offer his or her research. If there is a correlation between crime and different population groups, surely that knowledge deserves to be taken seriously, rather than swept under the carpet? Ignoring facts doesn’t solve anything. Just look to Sweden, where a crime wave—including numerous explosions, no less – among certain parts of the immigrant population has become an open secret, yet is still dismissed by the left, to see where going down that road will take us.

How did thought control and condemnation of wrongthinkers, rather than open inquiry and respect for different viewpoints, become an obsession for academics in the humanities departments? By now, we’re almost becoming used to countless deplatformings of speakers and rescindments of scholars, such as the appalling treatment of Dr Jordan B. Peterson only a few months ago. The left wing types dominate the social sciences, a trend which started in the 1960s, as Carl himself has pointed out—less than 12% of academics lean right in British universities, compared with 50% of the population— and with the increasingly polarized public debate, their authoritarian streak is becoming more obvious. “There is no such thing as free speech” is the excuse they espouse, but they forget conveniently that THEY are very free to hound whomever THEY disagree with, and THEIR views—those of the liberal elite, who preach for open borders, endless genders, and all the other politically correct causes—are usually met with acclaim. Whereas conservative views – such as being a Brexiter, like Carl—are mocked and vilified.

“This isn’t about whether you agree with my research or my political views,'” Carl told Toby Young in an interview for the Spectator. “This is about protecting freedom of speech, and standing up to the activists who are trying to control our universities. (…) Let’s show St Edmund’s College that they can’t get away with this.’

Carl told me in an email that he hopes to continue to publish scientific articles and will continue to read around in the literature. His advice to young academics is to apply to an institution that has a reputation for upholding free speech and open inquiry. “So far as the UK is concerned, Oxford has shown itself to be much better in this regard than Cambridge. In the US, I understand that Chicago has a good track-record,” says Carl. His best advice? “Never apologize for anything unless you genuinely believe you did wrong.”

Carl says a possible way forward to increase viewpoint diversity may involve online universities, which Jordan Peterson has advocated, or withholding public funding for universities that refuse to comply with free speech. It could also involve collective defense agreements to preempt attacks by activists, he added.

I don’t think that even as recent as five or ten years ago we could have predicted, with any gravitas, that freedom of speech would come under attack in our liberal democracies. In Britain, as in the rest of the modern world, free thought and the expression of it has resulted in countless advances in science and culture, and ever since John Stuart Mill defended freedom of speech in On Liberty in 1859:

    In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.

This has echoed in every generation since. We have all tended to agree that silencing opinion is wrong, regardless of the opinion’s truthfulness, because when truth collides with error, knowledge arises. This “marketplace of ideas” has been a long standing pillar on which our society is built. When it crumbles, we’re in trouble. And more and more evidence is piling up pointing to this fundamental value being eroded, bit by bit. It is dissidents like Carl who are the heroes in this climate of coercion. I, for one, support Carl in his quest for justice and wish him a fulfilling and interesting career in the years to come.


Educate the Educators!

North Carolina schools have a serious literacy problem; most likely, that means it has a teacher education problem. The University of North Carolina system is exploring ways to correct the situation—yet questions remain whether they can effect much improvement.

The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that less than 40 percent of the state’s fourth graders are reading at grade level. Furthermore, despite having the highest graduation rate in the state’s history, only 41 percent of graduates meet minimum college-readiness standards.

And despite costly statewide efforts to boost K-12 public school students’ learning outcomes, little, if any, progress has been made. For instance, the $150 million initiative “Read to Achieve” has produced few positive results since its launch in 2012.

Since the UNC system is the single largest source of teachers in the state, some UNC system policymakers view these trends as due, in part, to a failure of teacher preparation. During a recent policy meeting, Anna Nelson, UNC Board of Governors member and chair of the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs, commented:

I think one of the most important things we do in service to the state of North Carolina is to prepare excellent teachers. We are the number one resource for teachers in the state of North Carolina…We do this well, but we need to do it better.

Actually, the university system was already on the case. In February 2018, it released a report on teacher education entitled Leading on Literacy. Although the report sought ways to improve teacher preparation in general, it had a particular focus on improving literacy instruction. It also noted that the content teachers learn often does not match up with what K-12 students are expected to know. To address this and other related issues, the report recommended that an advisory group be created to head a system-wide effort in teacher education reform. As a result, the Educator Preparation Advisory Group was formed and first convened in late 2018.

On May 21 of this year, associate vice president of PreK-12 strategy and policy, Julie Kowal, gave an update of the Advisory Group’s goals and strategies to a committee meeting of the UNC Board of Governors. Kowal reported that, in February, the Advisory Group defined and approved a set of goals and strategies.

Kowal then explained that each strategy would be addressed in depth by its own “community of practice,” a committee of education professionals and representatives from select UNC institutions. The first community of practice, the Coalition for Early Learning and Literacy in Teacher Preparation, was launched in March 2019 with the aim of analyzing the latest research in early childhood learning and seeing how well UNC programs incorporate that research into their teaching methods. The Coalition will meet over a course of six months. The Advisory Group plans to launch another community of practice in 2019, with others to follow in 2020.

Terry Stoops, education analyst at the John Locke Foundation, told the Martin Center that he hopes the Advisory Group’s efforts to reform teacher education are successful, but has some doubts as to whether they will lead to significant changes in student learning.

Stoops noted that it is difficult to ensure changes that happen at the UNC system level trickle down into actual K-12 classroom practice. “There’s this multi-layer issue of having to take any recommendations at the UNC system level and making sure that they persist through multiple layers of teacher preparation and practice,” he said.

But the opposite problem might also be true. Current trends in educational outcomes are almost assuredly due, in part, to programs created from prior research produced by schools of education. Looking toward more recent research by the same sources that caused the situation in the first place may mean a continuation of the problem, rather than a cure.

Two of the Advisory Group’s key proposed solutions are to “recruit, select, and support a highly-qualified pool of teacher candidates” and ensure that, once admitted, they “attain essential pedagogical content knowledge.”

But doing so will not be easy. For the first solution, if UNC schools only admit high-achieving students into teacher education programs, they will have far fewer students and not produce enough teachers to satisfy the state’s demand.

So far, UNC officials have only paid lip service to setting high standards. They’ve done so by stating that they will evaluate “candidates’ mean scores on college entrance exams” and “pass rates on pre-professional skills tests.” However, they have not yet defined what test scores students will need in order to be considered “highly qualified.”

As they discuss what the minimum standards should be, UNC officials should take into account recommendations made by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

The NCTQ recommends that North Carolina’s teacher education programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 or limit admission to “those who have scored in the top half of all college-going students on tests of academic proficiency.” Right now, none of UNC’s schools of education require a 3.0 GPA, and the required testing scores often are not specified.

As important as high admissions standards for teachers are, even more pressing is what they learn once admitted. It might seem obvious that, in order to really be effective, teachers need to have a solid basic understanding of American history, literature, science, and mathematics.

But, according to E.D. Hirsch, Jr., the founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation and professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia, many schools of education do a poor job of teaching those subjects. “It is true that many American teachers are ill-informed about the subjects they teach, and it is also true that this reduces their productivity in the classroom,” says Hirsch. He explains:

So-called low teacher quality is not an innate characteristic of American teachers; it is the consequence of the training they have received and of the vague, incoherent curricula they are given to teach, both of which result from an ed school de-emphasis on specific, cumulative content.

Hirsch has long written on how the lack of cultural knowledge passed on by teachers to students hurts low-income students more than their more affluent peers. Higher learning often builds upon a student’s base of cultural knowledge, and students with well-educated parents start with a much greater share than their less-fortunate peers. If low-income students don’t gain the requisite background knowledge in the classroom, they are quickly left behind.

According to Hirsch, many education schools are more preoccupied with instilling teachers with “naturalistic and formalist ideologies” than instructing them in concrete knowledge:

Teaching subject-matter knowledge in history, science, literature, and the arts (to the extent that it is considered to be needed at all) is an imprecisely defined task that education schools assign (without guidance) to the other departments of the college or university.

As a result, teachers have a weak handle on key subject matter. This knowledge deficit, according to Hirsch, impacts their students’ abilities to master reading comprehension. In his book Cultural Literacy, Hirsch argues that knowledge of specific and cumulative content— such as history or literature— is directly tied to “literacy itself.”

Given North Carolina’s dismal fourth-grade literacy levels—and the direct correlation between student literacy and the content knowledge they learn—it’s not surprising that UNC system teachers are themselves poorly educated in content knowledge. In its 2018 Teacher Prep Review, the NCTQ graded education programs according to how they measured up to their content knowledge standards. Based on NCTQ’s criteria, the following UNC system schools’ undergraduate elementary teacher programs received an “F” grade in how they teach content knowledge:

UNC Greensboro
UNC Wilmington
UNC Pembroke
Winston-Salem State University
Western Carolina University
Appalachian State University
North Carolina State University
And the following schools received a “D” grade:

East Carolina University
North Carolina Central
UNC Charlotte

That means, according to NCTQ, 10 of 12 schools of education in the UNC system that teach elementary education at the undergraduate level are extremely deficient. Clearly, UNC officials need to take a close look at their education programs’ curricular requirements.

There is some possibility that they will do so. According to a UNC system press release, the Advisory Group will consult research by a national education non-profit organization, Deans for Impact, when making its policy decisions. In the report entitled The Science of Early Learning, Deans for Impact noted the importance of content knowledge:

Children should read texts that are rich in content, not just about familiar, daily life contexts. Even young children benefit from learning about science, history, geography, and other cultures, and from reading classic stories that may be referenced in other works…reading comprehension strategies alone cannot compensate for lack of vocabulary or content knowledge.

Of course, children won’t be able to learn “rich content” unless their teachers are immersed in it first—which is why UNC’s policymakers, if they are serious about the state’s illiteracy epidemic, will have to address their own teachers’ deficits in knowledge. That will likely require a thorough revamping of the curriculum to ensure that teachers graduate with a deep understanding of the liberal arts.

Only time will tell whether UNC’s efforts will only result in bureaucratic platitudes or if those involved in the reform process will actually implement meaningful changes. The political fight to effect change may very well be more difficult than the pedagogical one; education schools used to acting independently may not be eager to take lots of direction from above. And, even if the education schools can change, the K-12 establishment may not be happy about UNC taking the lead on its own turf. Resistance is to be expected.


The Diversity Distortion

Crap courses are designed to be taught by minority faculty

In 1996, Alan Sokal, a professor of physics, submitted a hoax article to Social Text, a journal of postmodern cultural studies, which published it. Last year, in what became known as the Sokal Squared hoax, James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian created 20 fake papers that they submitted to several cultural studies journals. Seven of them had been selected for publication at the time the hoax became public.

The point of the Sokal Squared hoax was to highlight the lack of rigor in what the authors of the hoax called “grievance studies,” academic programs addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and identity. But in the uproar over the hoax, a more fundamental question has been overlooked. Why are there so many such programs? What accounts for the rapid proliferation of university departments devoted to the study of minority cultural identity?

Raising this question is not a disguised criticism of the existence of such departments. The cultural changes of the past four decades make African American, feminist, and LGBTQ studies legitimate and important fields of inquiry. The advent of such departments is a natural reaction to interesting new questions that need to be addressed to advance the university’s mission to seek truth and generate understanding. Whether the current programs are doing a good job of addressing these questions may be debated, but the study of cultural identity is a legitimate field of academic inquiry.

Nevertheless, in a time when academic resources are stretched thin and many traditional academic departments are facing retrenchment, it is reasonable to ask whether the continued expansion of these departments is justified. Is there something beyond their inherent academic value that is driving the growth of cultural studies programs at the expense of other departments and, perhaps, the overall health of the university?

The answer is yes. It is the contemporary university’s quest for a diverse faculty.

Almost all elite universities make it a top priority to increase the number of minorities and women on their faculty. Yale is pursuing a $50 million initiative to enhance faculty diversity; Brown has committed $100 million to hiring 60 additional faculty members from historically under-represented groups; Princeton committed funds to support 15 to 20 diversity hires.

The problem is that universities cannot simply go out and hire the desired minority and women faculty. Doing so would be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, something that is not well understood by many advocates of faculty diversity.

Stimulated by the Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, the past fifteen years have seen much discussion of the legality of pursuing student diversity in higher education. Grutter held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permits public universities to consider an applicant’s race in their admission decisions for the purpose of promoting a diverse student body.

Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in programs that receive federal assistance, applies the same standard to (almost all) private universities. Thus, institutions of higher education in the United States may consider sex and minority status in order to increase the diversity of their student bodies. But none of that is relevant to the question of faculty diversity.

Grutter and Title VI are concerned with the admission of students, but this has nothing to do with whether universities can consider race and sex in deciding whom to hire. Faculty hiring is an employment decision and employment decisions are governed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII does not permit employers to make any hiring, promotion, termination, or other employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It applies to public and private universities alike.

Under Title VII, universities may undertake strenuous affirmative action efforts to assemble the most diverse pool of applicants possible. They may specifically recruit African Americans, women, and other minorities to apply for faculty positions. Once the selection process has begun, however, Title VII prohibits any consideration of a candidate’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This limitation on the use of race and sex in the selection process is reflected in the typical ads for academic positions that state that the university or college is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and that women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

These legal restrictions mean that to diversify their faculties, universities must create new positions that would appeal only to women or minority scholars or for which women and minority scholars are likely to be the most qualified candidates. The surest way to do this is to increase the number of positions in women’s studies, critical race theory, LGBTQ studies, and other cultural identity-based programs. To a significant extent, the growth of what the Sokal Squared authors derisively refer to as grievance studies is a by-product of universities’ efforts to obtain a more diverse faculty.

This would not be not harmful if, in fact, the university’s most urgent academic need is in the cultural studies area. But it can be quite damaging to a university if this is not the case.

Diversity, both in the student body and the faculty, is a means, not an end in itself. It is usually justified on the ground that it improves the quality of higher education. Advocates of diversity claim that studying with people of differing backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives enhances the learning experience of all and generates greater understanding of the material under discussion.

This is an empirical claim that is open to challenge, but let’s assume for now that it is correct. If so, then a diverse learning environment would help the university attain its end of generating and transmitting knowledge.

But to attain this end, universities must make complex decisions about how to allocate resources among many disciplines. They must decide how much to spend on STEM, how much on the social sciences, how much on languages, how much on the humanities, and how much on cultural studies. They must determine how many faculty positions are needed by each discipline to optimize the generation of knowledge and its transmission to the next generation of students.

To the extent that a university lets its desire to increase faculty diversity drive this decision, it converts the means into the end. The drive for diversity now diverts the development of the university’s curriculum away from the path dictated by its educational values, needs, and goals. In a classic example of the tail wagging the dog, the university’s academic mission becomes subservient to its drive for diversity.

Call this the diversity distortion. When the quest for diversity drives the proliferation of cultural studies programs beyond their academically justified level, it distorts universities’ curricula in ways that are detrimental to their educational missions.

Contrary to the contention of the Sokal Squared authors, the great danger in the growth of “grievance studies” programs is not the erosion of academic standards for scholarly publication. Instead, it is the destructive effects of the diversity distortion. Sadly, in their obsession with faculty diversity, many university administrators appear to have lost sight of the purposes their institutions were created to serve.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

The kingdom and the campus

Saudi Arabia has quietly directed tens of millions of dollars a year to American universities from MIT to Northern Kentucky. What are the nation's rulers getting out of it?  This is an excerpt from a VERY long-winded article in the NYT

M.I.T. DOES NOT need Saudi Arabia's money. Chartered on the eve of the Civil War (two days before the first shots were fired), it is one of those ultrawealthy universities whose finances are sometimes compared to the economies of small or midsize nations. M.I.T. spent about $3.6 billion on its operations last year, and its endowment, $16.5 billion, is the sixth- largest among American universities (and greater than the gross domestic product of nearly 70 countries, including Mongolia, Nicaragua and the Republic of Congo). The money it receives from Saudi sources is relatively modest, less than $10 million in many years, though the school has received individual gifts from Saudi billionaires of as much as $43 million.

Federal law requires universities in the United States to report revenue of more than $250,000 from outside the country, which is logged by the Education Department on what is known as the foreign gifts report. It shows that Saudi money flows to all sorts of American schools: M.I.T.'s elite peers, including Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Stanford and the California Institute of Technology; flagship public universities like Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley; institutions in oil- producing regions, like Texas A&M; and state schools like Eastern Washington University and Ball State University.

For that last category of schools, the Saudi money comes almost entirely in the form of tuition for its students - full tuition, at the out-ofstate rates, which are usually double what state residents pay. With a population of 34 million, Saudi Arabia is the 41st most populous nation in the world, but with 44,000 students in the United States, it is the fourth- largest source of foreign students, trailing only China, India and South Korea. Saudi students began coming to the United States in large numbers after a 2005 meeting between Crown Prince Abdullah (Mohammed bin Salman's uncle) and President George W. Bush at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. They were seeking ways to restore warmer relations between the two countries after the Sept. 11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi; the first pillar of a new "foundation of broad cooperation," as their joint statement put it, was for the Saudis to send greater numbers of students to the United States.

The Saudi government pays the tuitions directly, under individual contracts with many universities for undergraduate students. The contracts specify students' majors and state that the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Northern Virginia, which manages the college program, must be informed if a student seeks to switch concentrations. "This financial guarantee provides coverage only to the degree and major specified above" is the language I saw in one contract, for a student at the University of Kansas. Any changes to the major, it continued, would render the contract "null and void." No other nation pays for its American- based college students in the same systematic way. Most other foreign students, including the more than 300,000 from China, pay with family money and sometimes a combination of scholarships from their home countries and their American schools.

In 2018, the 411 Saudis at Eastern Washington University accounted for more than 12 percent of the school's total tuition revenue while making up only 3 percent of the student population. Northern Kentucky University has educated more than 700 Saudis over the last decade. According to Fran‡ois LeRoy, the university's director of global engagement, most of them have been men, tending to major in engineering technology. A substantial number are married and live off campus with their families. Their presence has served the additional benefit of helping the local economy. "The car dealerships have done wonderfully well," LeRoy says, "because most of them purchase a car as soon as they arrive."

Saudi high school graduates are not generally considered as strong academically as those coming from China or other nations sending students to the United States. A consultant who advises universities on issues related to international students told me he believes that the Saudis gravitate to less selective schools where they can easily gain admission.

M.I.T. does not educate a great many Saudis: Just six undergraduates and 27 graduate students (out of about 11,600 total students) were enrolled in 2018. Its relationships and transactions with Saudi Arabia are largely with the Saudi government and various state- owned entities. The same is true of other top-tier American universities.

At least 25 universities have contracts with Aramco; Sabic, the petrochemical company; or the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, a government research facility in Riyadh. M.I.T. works with all three. Many of the agreements focus on technical aspects of oil and natural gas extraction and processing. Economists at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government are working directly with the Saudi government to reconceive the kingdom's labor market for the day when it will be unable to rely as much on revenue from oil - and also to increase opportunities for women and younger workers. In all these instances, the universities' collaborations with the Saudis are akin to consulting, but academics do not call it that, unless it is work done on the side; they call it academic research.

The benefits to Saudi Arabia from these relationships are clear. The kingdom gets access to the brain trust of America's top academic institutions as it endeavors to modernize its economy, an effort Prince Mohammed has named Vision 2030. Perhaps as important, the entree to schools like M.I.T. serves to soften the kingdom's image. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, hostile to women's and L.G.B.T.Q. rights and without protections for a free press or open expression, but its associations beyond its borders can make it seem almost like an honorary Western nation. Another way to view the Saudi relationship with American universities is as a form of branding; its recent moves to sponsor prominent sporting events serve the same purpose. "It's a way of spreading soft power," says Jordan, the former ambassador, "in the same way the U.S. has done for years around the world."

On his trip to Cambridge last year, Prince Mohammed spent a full day along the two-mile corridor that is arguably America's most hallowed academic ground. After the morning at M.I.T., he made the short trip in his motorcade to Harvard, where he participated in what was called a faculty round table, followed by a reception with local college presidents.

No one asked him about Yemen or about much of anything else. An administrator at Harvard who helped arrange the crown prince's event there described it as "a show, a meet-andgreet - there was not a big give-and-take or an opportunity for questions." It was a repeat of how Prince Mohammed spent his time at M.I.T. "They asked to come, and we agreed to host them," says Richard Lester, the associate provost. I asked if he knew the reasons for the crown prince's visit. "I think one of them undoubtedly was that there was a P.R. value associated with the visit," he said. "And they may have also been genuinely curious about what we do here."

Administrators at universities with ties to Saudi Arabia emphasize their role as a liberalizing influence. The University of New Haven, a private school that has a criminal- justice program, helps educate Saudi law- enforcement officers. The program has come under scrutiny because of the kingdom's notoriously harsh and autocratic justice system. New Haven's president, Steven H. Kaplan, told me that his institution had created a curriculum based on American constitutional law that would make Saudi students less likely to be involved in any activities like rounding up, torturing or executing dissidents. "We are helping implement the kind of change that will instill in citizens there the kind of values that would cause them to resist and oppose such horrible acts," he said. He acknowledged that he had no way of knowing for sure what activities students were involved in once they graduated.

To critics, the universities are selling their good names. Sally Haslanger, an M.I.T. philosophy professor, refers to the university conferring "symbolic capital" on the Saudi regime. "M.I.T.'s name, integrity, credibility and scientific excellence have power," she told me, "and we have used it to burnish the reputation of Mohammed bin Salman and his regime."

The debate over Saudi involvement in American higher education echoes the movement a generation ago that pushed universities to divest from apartheid- era South Africa, and more recently, calls from some quarters for schools to disassociate from Israel in protest of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Faculty members and students - as well as the surrounding communities in urban centers like Cambridge - often want universities to reflect their own sense of moral clarity and outrage. University administrators, in almost all cases, resist.

Saudi Arabia directed about $650 million to American universities from 2012 to 2018 and ranks third on the list of foreign sources of money, one spot behind Britain, according to data contained in the foreign gifts report. The top spot is occupied by Qatar, another oil-rich Persian Gulf state and a bitter rival of Saudi Arabia. American strategic adversaries on the list, including Russia and China, reveal some other relationships - like M.I.T.'s partnership with a technology incubator outside Moscow. Its president is the billionaire oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who was also an M.I.T. trustee until the Treasury Department put him on a sanctions list.

The totals on the foreign gifts report are incomplete, probably significantly so. Not all universities comply with the reporting rule in the same way, and some appear not to comply at all. The tuition payments alone from the Saudi government, which some schools report and others do not, could exceed $1 billion a year. (If the kingdom paid $20,000 in out-of-state tuition for every one of its students, the total would be $880 million, but some of them attend private schools that cost more.) The universities themselves are not clear about what they should report. "It's such an obscure corner of the Higher Education Act that some institutions overlook it," Terry Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, told me. M.I.T. officials say its annual revenue from its contracts with Aramco in recent years has usually been less than $10 million - a pittance to the oil company, which makes roughly $1 billion a day in revenues. Recent deals involve the research and development of methods to extract oil more efficiently and cleanly, as well as "computational modeling, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnologies," according to a university statement.

The agreements are part of a much larger picture: M.I.T.'s partnerships with big businesses in the United States and abroad. Aramco is a member of the university's Energy Initiative, along with Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP. Most other major research universities have similar consortiums, a concept M.I.T. helped pioneer. Companies pay a membership fee to sponsor research and benefit from the findings.

The Media Lab is another corporate consortium. Despite its name, the lab's focus is on computing and technology rather than the news media. Its director, Joi Ito, identifies as a hacker, and his motto for the lab - "deploy or die" - means that students should not be afraid to quickly test their ideas in the marketplace. (Ito is a board member at The New York Times Company.) "It's the classic model of leveraging private money at a very high level," says Jonathan King, a biology professor and chairman of the editorial board of M.I.T.'s faculty newsletter. "The Media Lab did not grow out of a national science priority or a desire to cure cancer or Alzheimer's. Its roots are entrepreneurial, not academic."

The Saudi associations raise another question, which is whether universities should take a political or moral stand. The kingdom's conduct has been extreme enough to inspire a rare instance of bipartisanship in Washington - a Senate vote in June to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its partner in the Yemen conflict. (The measure is unlikely to survive the expected presidential veto.) When I visited Shireen al- Adeimi at Michigan State, eight months after she spoke on the sidewalk in Cambridge, she was clear about what she thought M.I.T. should do. "Just disassociate from him," she said, referring to the crown prince. "If this was an African warlord from a poor country, would we even be having this conversation? Would they be so cautious about how they respond?"

M.I.T. has been alone in publicly grappling with what to do about its Saudi associations, which has won the university some grudging respect, even from its critics. "They are the only school th at's been willing to engage at all and give us anything to push back on," says Grif Peterson, the former fellow at the Berkman Klein Center. There are certainly reasons for those on campuses - or anywhere, really - to fear speaking out against the Saudi regime. Last August, Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, called for the release of two jailed Saudi human rights activists. It was a fairly diplomatic rebuke. In response, the Saudis criticized Canada's "negative and surprising attitude" and announced a long list of retaliatory measures, including recalling several thousand Saudi students.

One Saudi student in the United States whom I asked to interview said he would participate only if I shielded his identity. "Thanks for reaching out, please DO NOT use my name, affiliation or any descriptive information in any published work," he wrote me in an email. When we met, he said that in contrast to what he considered some forward economic reforms by the government, "freedom of expression has been going in the other direction. You can't risk even moderate criticisms. And if you're an explicit critic, I feel like you could end up in prison."

In Lester's office, I told him about a meeting I had the day before with a senior Harvard administrator. The official had said he would be happy to talk with me about Harvard's relationship with Saudi Arabia when I got to Cambridge. But when we settled into his office, he informed me, sheepishly, that I could not quote him by name. He apologized, saying that the directive came from someone higher up in the administration.

The Harvard administrator reached across his desk and handed me a two- paragraph written statement. It said that the university would no longer set aside 100 seats in its summer program for Saudi students who were sponsored by the crown prince's personal foundation, which is known as MiSK. The statement, which has not been publicly disclosed, was not signed - the letterhead was from the Office of the Provost - and it did not say exactly why the agreement was being discontinued, only that "it has not been renewed." There was no explicit reference to Khashoggi. "We are following recent events with concern and are assessing potential implications for existing programs," the statement said.


Illegal immigrant population to surge 10% this year, flood schools

The continued surge of Latin American illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border will lead to hundreds of thousands being released into the country, increasing the already massive population of migrants by some 10%, according to a new analysis.

“We anticipate more than 700,000 migrants will successfully enter the country, increasing the unauthorized Hispanic population by nearly 10%,” said the influential Princeton Policy Advisors.

What’s more, wrote the group’s president Steve Kopits in a memo provided to Secrets, “By year end, nearly 300,000 migrant children are expected to enter the U.S. Over time, these will show up in the U.S. public school system.”

While apprehensions slowed last month, Kopits said that over 1 million illegal immigrants will be caught at the border, with most getting a pass into the United States while awaiting a court hearing on their status.

An estimated 7 million to 9 million illegal immigrants are in the U.S., and are the focus of new federal efforts to find and deport those with criminal records and orders to leave.

Looking ahead, he said:

“Forecasting in the current environment is all but impossible, but at the moment it appears we are past the year's peak and anticipate slightly lower, but still elevated, apprehensions levels going forward. This yields 937,000 apprehensions for FY 2019. Of these, we anticipate 538,000 will be adults traveling alone or in family units, and 354,000 will be minors. Given that we are three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year now, these numbers may be considered indicative.

“Because apprehensions have been growing over time, forecasts for calendar year 2019 are higher than for the fiscal year. For the calendar year, we anticipate 1,040,000 apprehensions (v. 1,072,000 last month), with more than 400,000 of these children.”


Australia: Anti-Israel Year 12 assessment task angers Jewish community

A sample exam paper for Year 12 students claimed as fact that ­Israel has persecuted Arabs by demolishing their homes ­because “they don’t follow the Jewish religion”.

The contents of the paper provided to Victorian schools has angered the Jewish community, which has criticised the “false” and “libellous’’ claim for potentially fuelling anti-Israel sentiments through the community.

The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation last night agreed to recall all copies of the practice ­assessment task meant for Health and Human Development students, following a complaint from a prominent Jewish school in Melbourne.

The paper, part of the council’s 2019 package of school-­assessed coursework tasks, known as SACs, that are provided to schools for a fee, contains questions and answers, including one asking students to demonstrate how religious discrimination affects mental health and wellbeing.

According to the sample ­answer provided: “An example of an individual being persecuted for their religion could be the Arab families living in Israel who practise the Islam religion rather than the Jewish religion. Including unlawful demolition of homes and forced displacement and detainment of these families.” It claims that “when a person is discriminated against … it could push a person to become more dogmatic in following their ­religion, possibly leading to ­extremism”.

Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard said he was “naturally disturbed” when the contents of the paper were brought to his ­attention and immediately lodged a complaint.

“I didn’t expect to find something very political, very biased and inaccurate in a Year 12 sample assessment paper,” Rabbi Kennard told The Australian. “It’s an utter falsehood. It creates a negative impression of Israel, which is actually a centre of ­religious tolerance … and the only democratic country in the Middle East.” He said it was a “libellous” to suggest “Israel is to blame for extremism”.

The council, a professional body representing health and physical education teachers, initially defended the document.

“We make sure that for the ­answers we provided, there would be evidence for them,” said professional learning manager Bernie Holland, adding SACs were written by four expert teachers and reviewed by two others.

Mr Holland said the subject matter dealt with in the unit ­required students to consider inequality and discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, which could prove “controversial” at some schools. As a result, teachers were encouraged to cater sample questions to their own circumstances, he said.

However, it is understood that council chief executive Hilary Shelton contacted Rabbi Kennard last night to advise that “it was not anticipated nor intended that the example … would offend any individual or group”. She said the council had requested a recall of all issued copies of the sample SAC and reissued a new sample assessment addressing the key knowledge area.

However, Rabbi Kennard said he wasn’t concerned about only Jewish students. “I will be explaining to my students that this not something they should pay any attention to but I’m also concerned about students at other schools,” he said. “What is the effect on these students reading this stuff?”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said it was absurd that the publishers elected to single out Israel, “a country where Arab citizens have full equal rights” to highlight ­religious discrimination.

“We should all be concerned that ACHPER have hijacked an important educational issue in the curriculum,” he said.

Mount Scopus student Ramona Chrapot, a “proud Jewish student”, said she was concerned that “innocent and unsuspecting” students were being misled. “It’s instilling in them something that just isn’t right,’’ she said.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

College students deserve transparency to determine salaries and debt loads of graduates of particular majors

By Richard McCarty

With student loan debt soaring past $1.5 trillion, Democratic candidates for president are proposing “free” college; beyond criticizing this plan, Republicans need to formulate a plan that it can sell to voters. That plan has to consist of more than just “pay back your loans.” If it were that simple, there would not be so many graduates drowning in debt, delaying home purchases, putting off marriage, foregoing children, etc. Part of the solution is requiring colleges to be more transparent with students. College is a big investment for young people, and they deserve to know how well graduates of their alma mater are faring financially.

To help solve the problem of crippling student debt, it might be helpful to understand how we arrived at this point. Some want to solely blame college students for acquiring huge amounts of debt, but that is as absurd as solely blaming subprime borrowers for the housing market crash. Just as the government and banks played central roles in the housing debacle, so the government and colleges have played central roles in the student loan debt crisis. Government policies have made it easy to borrow money for college; and colleges have worked to collect as much of this money as possible by admitting students who struggle academically, spending lavishly on buildings and salaries, and replacing rigorous, but boring, courses with trendy, pointless classes. Despite the outcry over student debt, colleges do not seem to be making any serious efforts to try to restrain costs. In fact, the cost of tuition and fees is increasing at more than twice the overall rate of inflation.

Many others have also contributed often unwittingly to the crisis. These include well-meaning relatives and educators who drilled into students’ heads that college is a good investment, that skipping college threatens their future, or that they would disappointed if a student chose not to go to college. Unemployment rates are significantly lower for college graduates. For these and other reasons, many students have dutifully trudged off to college.  Some of these students probably are better off having a college degree, but not all. Of course, by herding as many students as possible into liberal academia, we have subsidized leftist professors and helped them spread their failed ideas. As if that were not bad enough, by pressuring more students to get college degrees, we have devalued bachelor’s degrees leading more people to pursue advanced degrees, costing them even more time and money.

So what can be done to address this sorry state of affairs? The Department of Education should require colleges that accept federal funds to survey their graduates on their salary and debt levels and report this information to students so that they can make informed choices. This information should be posted online and be publicly available. Specifically, students should be provided with information about the average student debt loads and the median salaries of graduates by major at the one-year, five-year, and ten-year post-graduation marks. Colleges should also be required to disclose what percentage of students in each major went on to graduate school. After all, publicly-traded companies are required to disclose relevant information to potential investors, why should not federally-funded colleges be held to a similar standard?

On this issue, Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, stated, “The publicly subsidized higher education system with its dependence upon federal loans has no excuse to not provide full transparency to its customers about the financial value of the intellectual improvement that student indebtedness is going toward. Americans for Limited Government is against needless federal regulation. However, our nation is suffering from a crisis of ignorance about the true cost of higher education, and it is incumbent upon this industry to provide the information necessary for its potential customers to make an informed choice about the product they are selling.”

Times have changed; college is no longer the ticket to the good life that it once was. Today’s college students deserve to know just what sort of return on their investment they can expect. A simple regulation requiring colleges that take federal funding to disclose graduate debt and salary information to students could make a huge difference for many students in choosing whether to go to college, where to go to college, and what to study while there.


California Implements Extreme New Sex Ed Curriculum

The California Board of Education implemented progressive sex and gender education curriculum in public schools across the state, regardless, in some cases, of parental knowledge or consent.

Progressive groups, including Planned Parenthood, collaborated on AB-329 in 2016 and the recently introduced Health Education Framework in May as highlighted by a video created by the conservative group Our Watch.

Both these pieces of education legislation mandate that school districts require sex ed and encourage students to question their parents on sexual topics—topics explored in the kindergarten through 12th grade sex education curricula implemented in California schools.

Lawmakers Create the California Healthy Youth Act, a Bill Mandating K-12 Sex Ed

AB-329, otherwise known as the California Healthy Youth Act, was created in 2016 and has several aimed purposes.

The bill aims to teach K-12 students how to ward off HIV and other STDs; to teach “healthy attitudes” toward sexual orientation, gender, and relationships; and to “promote understanding of sexuality as a normal part of human development.”

The bill also promises to “provide educators with clear tools and guidance to accomplish that end.”

AB-329 allows for parents to opt their children out of sexual education. However, the bill prohibits parents from opting their children out of materials that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

The law also prohibits abstinence-only education and prohibits any discussion of religious doctrine, according to an ACLU handout.

The handout adds that beginning in seventh grade, children must be taught “all FDA-approved methods preventing pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (including condoms, contraceptives, and antiretroviral treatment) and abstinence.”

Educators Must ‘Affirmatively Recognize Different Sexual Orientations and Be Inclusive’

The California Board of Education introduced the Health Education Framework in May—a curriculum on sex education that some California parents found troubling, as the Christian Post reported in May.

The Health Education Framework affirms language in AB-329 and included books and supplemental materials such as the Amazon bestseller “S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties,” a book that describes sexual activity and gender theory.

The California Board of Education removed this book and several others from the curriculum after outrage from Californian families, as reported by the Christian Post and reflected in the Health Education Framework.

The Health Education Framework notes that as AB-329 orders, teachers must “affirmatively recognize different sexual orientations and be inclusive of same-sex relationships in discussions,” and “teach about gender, gender expression, gender identity, and the harm of negative gender stereotypes.”

Board members for the Health Education Framework included school district representatives, teachers, and academics from across California as well as a school nurse.

The director of community education and outreach at Planned Parenthood, Amy Streavel, was also on the board, according to the California Department of Education.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Education referred The Daily Caller News Foundation to the sections of the California Education code on a parents’ right to opt their child out of sex ed and the primary purposes of the California Healthy Youth Act when asked to comment. She did not respond when pressed for further comment.

Planned Parenthood did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Parents React to Positive Prevention Plus

California parent John Andrews of the Murrieta School District said that schools in his district are using Positive Prevention Plus Sex Ed Curriculum, a curriculum that contains explicit photos and drawings of sexual activity.

“They talk about anal and oral sex as an alternative to regular sex because you can’t get pregnant,” Andrews said in a June video posted June 26 by the conservative group Our Watch. The video generated no local or national media coverage until a tipster alerted The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“They talk about mutual masturbation,” he added.

“They discuss gender roles, the gender spectrum, and in the support materials … they take it even further. They discuss everything, topics like roleplaying for different genders, blood play, dental dams … fisting is mentioned. I mean, they mention it all.”

“If I were to show that material to a child, I would be brought up on charges,” Andrew said. “But somehow our public schools are allowed to teach this to junior high and high school kids.”

The curriculum describes itself as “California’s best source for evidence-based instruction in Comprehensive Sexual Health Education and Teen Pregnancy Prevention.”

It also boasts full compliance with California and National Health Education Standards and California Education Code, including the “California Healthy Youth Act.”

Positive Prevention Plus was begun as early as 1993, according to the curriculum’s website, in order to develop an HIV and AIDS prevention curriculum.

But California Education codes instituted in 2004 began specifying “the content of teen pregnancy prevention education.”

Research findings included in the curriculum show that use of Positive Prevention Plus results in students’ higher use of “reproductive health care services,” more use of contraceptive services, and significant improvements in “the delay in the onset of sexual activity.”

The June Our Watch video shows a variety of factors involved in California’s progressive sex ed programs.

Pastor Tim Thompson told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he published the video through Our Watch to help make parents more aware of how progressive the California sex educational programs are.

“We knew parents had to see for themselves or else they weren’t going to believe it,” Thompson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The video depicts ACLU staff attorney Ruth Dawson instructing teachers on how to help students obtain abortions without parental knowledge or consent.

“Regardless of how old a student is, they can walk into a doctor’s office and consent to these services without parental consent,” says Dawson, according to footage from the video, referring to abortion when she said “these services.” She was initially misidentified in the video.

The ACLU attorney notes that these services include pregnancy and prenatal care, contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion. “And for these there is no parental notification.”

“I think a good way to think about all these services that California has decided are so important that we are going to allow minors to go into a doctor’s office and consent to these services,” Dawson added. “Because they are just that important and students need to be able to access them.”

The ACLU said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation that all statements made by ACLU representatives during the meeting are “in accord with California law” and claims the video was doctored.

However, when pressed on the matter, the ACLU did not comment on what aspects of the video were doctored.

Activists and Experts Weigh In

“Get Out Now: Why You Should Pull Your Child from Public School Before It’s Too Late” author, attorney, and Director of the Catholic Women’s Forum Mary Rice Hasson believes that most parents do not understand what their children are being exposed to—and often being exposed to without parental permission.

“The California sex and gender “health” curriculum shows kids explicit images, normalizes kinky and perverse sexual activity, and teaches kids that their basic identity—as male or female—is something fluid or changeable,” Hasson told The Daily Caller News Foundation, saying that schools see parents as “obstacles or barriers to their efforts to indoctrinate an entire generation.”

“Parents—especially religious parents—are portrayed as ignorant or untrustworthy when it comes to issues of sexual identity or activity—as if only the schools can be trusted to ‘protect’ kids and teach them all about,” Hasson said.

Parental Rights in Education Executive Director Suzanne Gallagher told The Daily Caller News Foundation that public schools in America are facilitating a national cultural crisis.

Gallagher’s organization seeks to keep families up to date on infringements of parental rights in public schools across the nation.

“There is a clear political agenda to destroy the traditional family in America,” Gallagher told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Until now, the American family was considered to be the foundation of civic life; the smallest form of government, where children are taught responsibility, respect for authority, and national pride.”


The truth about bussing? It failed

US schools are as segregated today as they ever have been.

The Democratic presidential race has so far been a damp squib. Perhaps the most politically interesting moment of the Democratic debates so far – at least, as measured in column inches – was Kamala Harris’s attack on Joe Biden for having opposed federally mandated bussing in the 1970s.

Two weeks back, at the second Democratic primary debate in Miami, Florida, Harris put Biden, the current front-runner and former vice-president, on the spot about bussing – a strategy to integrate schools by bussing children from black and minority areas to predominantly white schools, and vice versa.

Harris – who won the debate if post-debate polling is to be believed – dramatically personalised her attack. She reminded Biden of earlier comments he had made, reminiscing about his working relationships with Southern segregationists. She said ‘it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations’ of senators ‘who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country’.

She then moved on to bussing: ‘And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me… Vice-president Biden, do you agree today – do you agree today – that you were wrong to oppose bussing in America, then? Do you agree?’

Biden, though he must have seen it coming, was unnerved. After the debate, Harris stressed it was ‘just wrong’ that Biden is yet to apologise for opposing court-ordered bussing in the 1970s. But, interestingly, she refused to endorse its use today. While school segregation is still an issue in America, getting the government to order bussing again is generally not the top priority for activists. Biden was not wrong when he commented: ‘Bussing is something 99 per cent of the American people don’t even know what we’re talking about.’

In America, buses made the modern public-school system possible, enabling the one-room schoolhouse to be replaced with large elementary and high schools. But buses were long used in the South – as well as in New York, Boston, and many other northern cities – to maintain segregation.

School segregation did not just occur in the South, where it was mandated by law. African-Americans lived in segregated neighbourhoods in northern and western cities, and the schools they attended reflected their isolation. Moreover, Southerners resisted the order by the Supreme Court in the Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954 to desegregate schools, creating ‘freedom of choice’ and other plans to thwart desegregation.

Some areas began their own bussing schemes, including the programme Kamala Harris was part of in Berkeley, California in 1969. (To be fair, the fact that Harris’s parents were a Stanford economist and Berkeley cancer researcher might have helped her educationally in any case.) But Berkeley’s system had been operating for several years and Martin Luther King Jr wrote that when he heard about Berkeley’s bold integration plan, ‘hope returned to my soul and spirit’.

The resistance and lack of progress made elsewhere, however, encouraged the courts to take a harder line. In 1968, the Supreme Court’s Green v County School Board of New Kent County ruling ordered school boards to eliminate segregation ‘root and branch’. Then, the 1971 decision, Swann v Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, declared that bussing could be mandated by federal courts to achieve racial balance. Such efforts did ensure that schools desegregated; on Richard Nixon’s watch, more schools were desegregated than under the previous three presidencies.

Bussing schemes were always met with resistance. But federally mandated bussing created a huge groundswell of resistance by 1972, when Biden first became a Senator for Delaware. Grassroots organisations of parents protested that their children were taken away from their friends and sent miles from home; meanwhile, wealthier whites could send their kids to private school. But as noted in the NAACP’s 1972 pamphlet, provocatively titled It’s Not the Distance, ‘It’s the Niggers’: Comments on the Controversy over School Bussing, racist sentiments were a big part of the backlash.

Biden waded into the issue in 1975: ‘The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with. What it says is, “In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son”. That’s racist!’

Given that school quotas for students in those days did characterise them by the colour of their skin, Biden’s accusation stands. But the key question in all this is: were these programmes successful? Not surprisingly, they failed. Without other comprehensive measures to integrate African-Americans, they had no chance.

According to a 2013 report by the Economic Policy Institute, African-American students ‘are now more isolated than they were 40 years ago’. A debate about what some have called ‘resegregation’ of schools rumbles on. But few dispute that a shocking degree of segregation continues in America’s K-12 education.

One researcher’s analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that the number of segregated schools (defined as those in which less than 40 percent of students are white), approximately doubled between 1996 and 2016. And according to a UCLA report, Brown at 62, between 1988 and 2013 the percentage of ‘intensely segregated’ public schools, in which 90 per cent or more of students are minorities, rose from 5.7 per cent to 18.6 per cent.

Circular firing squad

So why bring up a failed policy that, as the Washington Post commented, is surely an anachronism in 2019? Because of identity politics. Biden is vulnerable on issues like race, despite his nearly impeccable record on civil rights. His defensive responses to Harris’s challenges have boosted her standing. This is despite her record as a keen incarcerator of African-Americans when she was attorney general of California, which is surely worse than anything Biden is directly responsible for.

It is now America’s racial past that is on trial, and Biden – though he has probably played as progressive a role as anyone – is tainted. Bussing rises from the policy graveyard not because it is any solution to the problems of 2020, but because it is a way for Harris to establish that she was a victim and Biden a victimiser.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why Military Families Overwhelmingly Support Education Choice

While protecting American freedom, the active-duty men and women of our armed forces want education freedom as well.

That’s the general finding of a new report by EdChoice, a nonprofit organization that promotes educational choice through research and advocacy.

The report includes results of a survey of nearly 1,300 current members of the U.S. military and their spouses, noting their impressions of military life and their preferences related to K-12 education.

According to the report, service members encounter frequent stress and separation, and concerns about educating their children amid so much change can weigh on them.

Education choice can help to reduce the uncertainty and apprehension associated with frequent moves and deployments. Having options other than an assigned district school in an appointed location can put military families more at ease.

Indeed, the education of their children is of utmost importance to military families. The report notes that a majority of military parents say that they “significantly changed their routine” because of their child’s education, at a rate 18 percentage points higher than the national average.

Education is a big deal for military parents, and they want education options that offer more freedom and flexibility.

One of the EdChoice report’s lead authors, Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told me:

Military families overwhelmingly support education choice.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) support education savings accounts (ESAs); two-thirds (66%) support vouchers; and over two-thirds (67%) support charter schools.

The strongest support was for education savings accounts, which makes sense, considering the type of flexibility ESAs would provide military families, who face unique challenges—not the least of which are frequent moves.

Education savings accounts may be particularly appealing to military families because they enable parents to access a portion of a student’s education tax dollars from a government-authorized savings account with an array of education options, ranging from classes and tutoring to special-needs services and school tuition or future college fees, and books and supplies.

Education savings accounts provide more choice and flexibility to families than standard voucher programs, which target only school tuition.

Additionally, more military families are choosing to bypass outside schooling altogether in favor of homeschooling, which can offer a consistent, family-centered approach to learning.

As PBS reported: “For active-duty military families juggling frequent moves and long deployments that may take a parent away for more than a year at a time, home schooling appears to be growing in popularity as a means of providing stability in their children’s education.”

In the EdChoice survey results, the researchers also found homeschooling to be a big draw for military families, citing data indicating that service members homeschool their children at roughly double the rate of nonmilitary personnel.

In this survey, safety was a primary motivator for military parents who chose to homeschool their children.

As Burke told me:

One of the things that really stood out to us in this study was that some 40% of military parents ranked a safe learning environment in their top three factors when looking for a school.

And notably, among military families choosing to homeschool, safety was their top reason for doing so.

Beyond safety, homeschooling provides the flexibility and customization military families need, as they move from assignment to assignment.

Military parents, like all other parents, want what is best for their children. They want to be empowered to make the best choices for their kids’ education and to ensure their safety and well-being.

Expanding education choice options to all parents frees them of unsatisfactory school assignments and broadens learning possibilities for all children.


Coming to a school near you:  Teachers who can't spell and can't add up

In England

Standard maths and English tests for trainee teachers are set to be scrapped.

The move is aimed at boosting recruitment – but seems certain to spark fears of dumbing down.

At present, trainees must pass national tests in literacy and numeracy before being awarded Qualified Teacher Status. At least 3,500 applicants – or about 10 per cent – have failed them every year since 2012.

Schools minister Nick Gibb wrote last year that the exams ‘reassure parents and schools leaders’ that teachers ‘can demonstrate a high standard of numeracy and literacy when they enter the classroom’.

However, training providers have long called for the tests to be scrapped. They say they already work with trainees to fill in any gaps in knowledge.

Initially, anyone who failed the tests three times was locked out of training for two years before he or she could retake them – but this limit was removed last February. The Government is now expected to scrap the tests, with training providers allowed to use their own methods to measure skills. This could involve coursework or practical assessments.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘They’re taking away a very important safety check. A national test is different from that led by providers who, to survive financially, are having to fill their places... they will be less likely to test as thoroughly.’

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘We expect graduates entering the profession to have the literacy and numeracy skills that parents and pupils rightly expect... but we’ve heard from both training providers and applicants that the skills tests could be improved upon.

‘That’s why we are working with universities, schools and school leaders to analyse... the most effective way to assess the skills required.’


Bring back bankruptcy for college debt

For generations, the Republican Party has struggled with the youth vote and much time has been devoted to hand-wringing over this fact. One thing that does not help is when conservatives are unable to empathize with college graduates staggering under the weight of student debt. Some solely blame these students for their debt, ignoring the roles that other people and the government have played. One way that conservatives might begin to make some appreciable progress with Millennials and now Generation Z would be to advocate for reforming bankruptcy laws to make it easier for students to discharge college debt — legal changes over the past few decades have made it very difficult to do so.

After all, why should college debt be treated any differently than credit card debt? In the past, credit card companies received substantial criticism for luring young people into applying for credit cards with high interest rates. But which is worse, giving students a high-interest credit card with a $500 limit or selling them on a four-to-six-year education at a third-rate school that costs $35,000 a year?

While making it easier to discharge college debt, other policy changes should be made as well. Of course, there should be limits on bankruptcy to discourage students from acting in bad faith; but when graduates cannot find decent jobs seven to ten years after leaving college, then maybe the college either made a mistake in admitting the students or failed to adequately educate them. Furthermore, college loans should be reprivatized, and colleges should be forced to share losses with lenders when a former student discharges debt.

By making these changes, colleges and lenders would be incentivized to change their behavior. Colleges would likely rein in unnecessary expenditures, offer fewer frivolous majors, and raise admissions standards. Lenders would likely take a greater interest in students’ academic backgrounds, college selections, and choices of college majors. Rather than wave as many students through the campus gates as possible, colleges and lenders would suddenly have a reason to make sure that students are a good fit for the school and are pursuing a degree that will likely enable them to repay their loans.

To be sure, students do deserve some responsibility for their poor choices, and even if college debts were dischargeable under bankruptcy law and lenders were privatized, they would be. The choice of what to study, whether they completed their degree program are all decisions that employers will hold them accountable for later when they apply for a job.

But there is plenty of blame to go around. Students do not make their unwise decisions in a vacuum. Too often, these students have been ill-advised by parents, grandparents, peers, teachers, guidance counselors, academic advisors, politicians, etc.

Beyond changes in government policies, society should change the way it treats young people.

Schools should stop assuming that virtually all students should go to college and pressuring them to do so. For example, when you talk to high schoolers, ask them about their plans for the future — not which college they plan to attend.

Students should be given time to make college and career decisions. If they are unsure of what they want to do, students should be encouraged to get a job, acquire some experience, figure out where their talents lie, and then, perhaps, further their education.

High school graduates who start their own businesses, take apprenticeships, or pursue vocational educations should be applauded too, not just those rushing off to college.

Employers should be more willing to consider non-college graduates for entry-level jobs. This is critical to changing the culture pushes young people into colleges. The unemployment rate for those with college degrees 25 years old or older in June was 2.1 percent, 3.0 percent for those with some college and 3.9 percent for those with no college. Yet many of the jobs being applied for do not require a college education.

College is a major decision for young people, and we should not be surprised when they sometimes make a mistake. Just as the law allows people to discharge credit card debt after foolish spending binges or business debt after a business fails, the law should allow graduates to discharge college debt if they are unable to find a decent job years after graduation. Advocating for such reform just might help conservatives win Millennial votes — and keep them from embracing the socialist promises of “free college.”


Monday, July 15, 2019

Fed Chair: Wealth Gap Stems From 'Stagnation in Educational Attainment'

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday that the nation's education system is contributing to the growing wealth gap.

Powell was asked how the top one percent of American families came to own 40 percent of the wealth in this country.

Powell agreed that lower incomes have "stagnated" compared to higher incomes, and he said the gap between those two has never been this large.

He also said upward mobility in the U.S. is less likely than it is in other countries.

"It comes down to the education system needs to produce people who can take advantage of advancing technology and globalization," Powell said.

"And what you've seen is a stagnation in educational attainment in the United States relative to other countries, beginning about 40 years ago and that has been I think the--an underlying force that is driving this phenomenon."

Powell said the Federal Reserve doesn't "have the tools" to directly address income inequality:

My underlying model of the problem is that there is no shortage in the world of good jobs. We just--we just have to produce qualified people--qualified workers who--who can live at the standard of--of a wealthy country and do the work they can do.

And that means better education. It's easy to say. It's very hard to do.

But we need workers who can compete with the other advanced economies for the good jobs. It's manufacturing jobs. It's a lot of service economy jobs. And you know, it's not easy to do. Fixing the educational system and improving it is a very challenging thing. I spent no small amount of time on that earlier in my life.

But I think that's ultimately -- that is it. At the end of the day, the country is its educational system and the people who, you know, the people who are in the country they are a product of that system, and we need to--we need to get ours producing people who can compete in the global economy and--and I think that's at the bottom of the pile, that's an important driver.


Holocaust 'Neutrality' Equals Educational Bankruptcy

"We have let our public education fall into the hands of people with frightening agendas."

Apparently some well-deserved light and heat was too much for the Palm Beach County School District to resist. The firestorm generated by Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson’s refusal to acknowledge that the Holocaust actually happened — because being a school employee requires him to remain “politically neutral” — could no longer be swept under the rug. On Monday, the school district announced that Latson is being reassigned “out of an abundance of concern and respect for the students and staff of Spanish River Community High School.”

Sounds good, but the timeline reveals otherwise. That’s because the email exchange on the subject between a concerned parent and Latson took place more than a year ago. As the Palm Beach Post explains, a concerned mother wanted “to make sure that her child’s school was making Holocaust education a ‘priority.’ The response she received five days later, in April 2018, was anything but routine.”

That’s because while Latson assured her that the school had “a variety of activities” for Holocaust education, those lessons are “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”

The mother, who didn’t want to be named to protect her child’s identity, was taken aback. But she gave Latson the benefit of the doubt, hoping he had expressed himself poorly. She wrote another email asking him to clarify his position. “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” she wrote. “It is not a right or a belief.”

Much to her shock, Latson dug himself a deeper hole in an email dated April 18, 2018:

The clarification is that the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently, my thoughts or beliefs have nothing to do with this because I am a public servant… I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual history event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee… I do the same with information about slavery…

Ordinarily, the astounding admission that reality itself is being held hostage to political sensibilities would been seen as the wholesale corruption of a public school’s core mission it truly is. But as Latson reveals, we are not living in ordinary times. Much of the American Left embraces “my truth,” as well as the “tailoring” of history, most of which is about making sure students understand that America is an inherently flawed nation requiring fundamental transformation.

This has been going on for decades, yet somehow people remain surprised. “It would be shocking anywhere in the United States for a public high school principal to embrace Holocaust denial, but for it to happen in a majority-Jewish city in the most heavily-Jewish county in the country defies belief,” writes columnist Thomas Lifson. “Yet, it not only happened in Boca Raton, Florida, and it took over a year of discussion for the principal to back down and apologize for embracing a crackpot belief that is favored by Jew-haters of all stripes, from the mullahs of Iran to the neo-Nazis of Europe and America.”

The principal? If anyone thinks Latson was acting alone, think again. After the email exchange, the mother pushed for a face-to-face meeting. In May of 2018 Latson obliged, and she, along with a second concerned mother, met with Latson and a group of school-district administrators who supervise him. Latson presented them with a list of educational efforts undertaken at Spanish River HS with regard to Holocaust. Yet the mother told Latson her child had informed her many of those efforts never reached the classroom. And yet again during the meeting, Latson refused to state the Holocaust was an actual event.

His position angered the second mother. “I came out of there feeling so much worse,” she said. “How do you pick and choose history?”

One PC-filtered choice after another, while hiding from accountability for more than a year, that’s how.

In a follow-up meeting with district administrators, the mother proposed two changes. One was to have all 10th-grade English students read Night, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir. Second, she proposed convening assemblies about the Holocaust for every grade level. According to the mother, Latson agreed to the first request, and district administrators agreed to second — but failed to follow through. Deputy Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald said the assemblies weren’t put in place this past year due to time constraints, but they will take place in the upcoming one.

Regardless, Latson is out. “Mr. Latson made a grave error in judgment in the verbiage he wrote,” a school district spokesperson stated. “In addition to being offensive, the principal’s statement is not supported by either the School District Administration or the School Board.”

Really? As Oswald revealed, administrators counseled Latson about the impropriety of his emails, but he was not formally disciplined. And as revealed in the opening paragraph, Latson still hasn’t been fired, but rather reassigned, despite several petitions, including one that garnered more than 6,000 signatures, asking the School Board to fire him.

Oswald insisted Latson shouldn’t be judged solely by a couple of emails. “It was a hastily, poorly written email that he apologized for,” Oswald declared. “That’s some of the challenge that we face when we email back and forth instead of picking up the phone.”

How about the face-to-face meeting where he ostensibly remained steadfast, Mr. Oswald?

School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri Jr. was equally duplicitous, issuing a statement affirming the school district’s commitment to Holocaust education, while insisting school leaders are reviewing the incident. “As Board Chairman, I assure you that this situation is being investigated at the highest levels of the District Administration,” he wrote.

Since when? Has there been a 14-month investigation dating back to the original exchange, or a hastily convened one, now that the national spotlight has been turned on a county where a number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants reside?

“We have let our public education fall into the hands of people with frightening agendas,” Lifson asserts.

It is far, far worse than that. Decent Americans are standing by while the Left is corrupting our education system to the point where people like William Latson — and his enablers — can insulate themselves from genuine accountability, shielded by school unions and their bureaucratic and legislative collaborators.

Moreover, as the crackpot ideas now openly espoused by Democrat candidates for president reveal, at least one of our two major political parties believe the entire edifice of American exceptionalism can be swept aside — by an electoral majority. That is only possible if the leftist indoctrination that passes for education has reached critical mass.

Once again: The Senate should initiate nationally televised hearings on the state of American schooling. When a “Holocaust-neutral” principal in a large Jewish community can remain on the payroll, we are in uncharted waters — for a constitutional republic.

For a history-eliminating totalitarian gulag? Not so much.


School segregation has soared but has been ignored — until recently

The article below fails to recognize that busing was a gross abuse of civil liberties.  How is it just for governments to take your child and use him/her for the benefit of another?

Nearly 50 years have passed since Kamala Harris joined the legions of children bused to schools in distant neighborhoods as the United States attempted to integrate its racially segregated public schools.

Yet the consequences of racial and economic segregation remain a fact of daily life for millions of black and Latino children.

Harris’ attack on her Democratic rival Joe Biden over his opposition to federally mandated busing in the 1970s was a rare case of school segregation emerging as a flashpoint in a recent presidential race.

The emotionally raw clash on a Miami debate stage between a black U.S. senator and a white former vice president raised the question of what, if anything, the Democratic candidates would do to promote racial integration of America’s schools.

In the aftermath of the social upheaval wrought by the forced busing of the 1970s, the federal government all but walked away from school desegregation, with only lax enforcement of court-ordered integration and token programs to encourage voluntary desegregation.

“For more than a generation, little has been done to address the issue,” said Gary Orfield, the co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. “It is crucial that we act.”

In recent elections, candidates have been largely silent about segregation, a posture that experts say is not surprising given the unease of many Americans with discussions about race and inequity, particularly when it involves their children.

“The scars of the busing era are still pretty deep,” said Bruce Fuller, an education and public policy professor at UC Berkeley.

The effect of segregation is profound. Children in integrated schools are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and they get jobs with higher incomes, studies show. There is also a societal benefit when young people interact with peers of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, scholars say.

“It’s important to have public schools play a role in helping young people and the broader community develop the capacity and commitment to live together in productive ways,” said John Rogers, director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Education secretary, has chipped away at desegregation efforts, which were already a relatively low priority in the Obama administration.

“I would give myself a pretty low grade on that,” President Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the 74, a nonprofit education news outlet, after he left office in late 2015.

The largest current federal effort is a roughly $100-million competitive grant program for magnet schools that began under President Nixon. By drawing students from diverse neighborhoods, magnet schools play an important role in desegregation.

But civil rights advocates have long called for more action, starting with the repeal of a 1974 sectionof an education law that bars spending of federal dollars on transportation for the purpose of racial integration.

The federal government could also fund competitive grants for school districts that pursue voluntary desegregation and step up its enforcement of court orders to integrate, said Erica Frankenberg, director of Penn State’s Center for Education and Civil Rights.

“It’s a really important role the federal government can play to provide political support for local school districts who may want to do it but for various political reasons may find it’s a hard lift,” she said.

Even though more than 150 school districts across the country are subject to court-ordered desegregation, civil rights groups have not pressed the federal government to return more broadly to the mandatory busing that outraged many parents in the 1960s and ’70s.

Progress toward school integration stalled in the late 1980s. In the three decades since then, racial and economic segregation has steadily increased. In some parts of the country, including the South, it has returned to levels last seen in the 1960s.

But the nature of the segregation has changed dramatically, due to a surge in the Latino population driven by relatively high birthrates and immigration.

Between 1969 and 2016, enrollment of white students in the U.S. dropped by 11 million as that of Latinos increased by the same amount, according to a May report by UCLA and Penn State. Whites remain the largest racial group in public schools, but are no longer the majority.

Now, many black and Latino students attend schools segregated by both race and poverty, the report found. Black children are again increasingly isolated from white and middle-class students, but are also often a minority in majority-Latino schools.

In California, 58% of Latinos attend “intensely segregated schools,” the report found. Nationwide, “segregation of Latino students is now the most severe of any group and typically involves a very high concentration of poverty,” the report concluded.

Another fundamental change is the emergence of intense racial segregation in the suburbs. The mandatory busing of the ’70s was typically an exchange of students among segregated neighborhoods of large urban school districts.

Now, many suburban school districts are islands of segregation. To integrate those districts requires cooperation across school district lines, which the federal government can provide incentives to encourage, experts say.

“The idea that schools would be associated with a geographic area like a neighborhood is anachronistic,” said Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, an expert on school segregation at the University of North Carolina. “We can’t have a 20th century solution to a 21st century problem.”

Though education is largely a state and local matter, the federal government has led the nation’s advances on integration since 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that the segregation of public schools based solely on race was unconstitutional.

“The federal government is not the agency on the ground doing the hard work of making it happen, but the role of federal incentives is huge,” said Philip Tegeler, executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a civil rights group. Over the next few years, “the most important thing the federal government can do is provide funding incentives for school integration at the state and local level.”

Candidates in the 2020 presidential race — and many others before — were mostly silent about the issue until Harris raised it in the June 27 debate. The California senator spoke of being bused in the early 1970s from a mainly black neighborhood in Berkeley to an elementary school in a white section of the city as part of a voluntary program. She faulted Biden foropposing federally mandated busingin that era.

But few candidates have put desegregation on their campaign agenda. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has proposed higher spending on voluntary busing and magnet schools and vowed to name judges who would enforce desegregation orders.

He and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are cosponsors of legislation that would provide $120 million in grants for voluntary desegregation. Biden also supports such grants.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro says his housing policy would decrease segregation. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed giving $500 million to needy school districts for integration.

Harris’ education plan is focused on increasing teacher pay.

In the days since the debate, Harris and Biden have continued to spar over 1970s busing.

Harris says busing should be one of many tools to desegregate schools, but would not need to be federally mandated unless local officials were blocking integration. She has continued to criticize Biden for opposing federal busing requirements in the ’70s.

“He has yet to agree that his position on this, which was to work with segregationists and oppose busing, was wrong,” Harris told reporters Thursday in Iowa.

Biden says his position in the 1970s was more nuanced than what Harris has suggested. He says he supported court-ordered busing when districts refused to desegregate. He also says he backed voluntary integration, but not busing mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.

In the past, however, he has denounced racial integration of schools in general as “a racist concept.”

In the days following the debate, Biden repeatedly bristled at being questioned about views he held decades ago rather than his legacy of supporting civil rights and his plans for the future. But on Saturday, speaking to African American voters in South Carolina, Biden apologized for comments he made about working civilly with segregationists in the U.S. Senate.

“Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it,” he said. “And I’m sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody.”

The question now, experts say, is whether the sort of political will that advanced school integration in the ’70s will reemerge to address the new variations of segregation that affect millions of children today.