Friday, October 18, 2019

Intolerance in Academia

Walter E. Williams
If you need an accurate update on some of the madness at the nation’s institutions of higher learning, check out Minding the Campus, a nonprofit independent organization. John Leo, its editor in chief, says that the organization’s prime mission is dedicated to the revival of intellectual pluralism and the best traditions of liberal education at America’s colleges and universities. Leo’s most recent compilation of campus madness leaves one nearly breathless.

In a USA Today op-ed, Emily Walton, a sociology professor at Dartmouth University, said that all college students should take a mandatory course on black history and white privilege. She says that by taking her class, white students “come to understand that being a good person does not make them innocent but rather they, too, are implicated in a system of racial dominance.” Walton adds, “After spending their young lives in a condition of ‘white blindness,’ that is, the inability to see their own racial privilege, they begin to awaken to the notion that racism has systematically kept others down while benefiting them and other white people.”

This is inculcating guilt based on skin color. These young white kids had nothing to do with slavery, Jim Crow or other horrible racial discriminatory acts. If one believes in individual responsibility, he should find the indoctrination by Walton offensive. To top it off, she equates the meritocratic system of hard work with white discrimination against minorities.

If you thought integration was in, check out the University of Nevada. Based on a report in the College Fix, John Leo describes how integration on that campus is actively discouraged — and at taxpayer expense. The university provides separate dorms for different identities including Howell Town for black students, Stonewall Suites for LGBTQ students, the women-only housing of Tonopah community, the Healthy Living Floor for tofu and kale lovers and study-intensive floors for those who want to graduate.

According to a New York Post report, New York City school administrators have been taught that pillars of Western Civilization such as objectivity, individualism and belief in the written word all are examples of white supremacy. All school principals, district office administrators and superintendent teams were required to attend the anti-white supremacy training put on by the city Department of Education’s Office of Equity and Access. They learn that a belief in an “ultimate truth” (objectivity) leads to a dismissal of “alternate viewpoints or emotions” as “bad” and that an emphasis on the written word overlooks the “ability to relate to others” and leads to “teaching that there is only ‘one right way’ to do something.”

Administrators learn that other “hallmarks” of white supremacy include a “sense of urgency,” “quantity over quality” and “perfectionism.” Richard Carranza, New York City school superintendent, says the workshops are just about “what are our biases and how we work with them.”

Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, says that political rage and increasingly polarized discourse are endangering our nation. Americans used to move forward productively after elections regardless of which side won. Now, we seem paralyzed by absolute schism and intolerance. Bloomberg pointed to colleges as a prime example of a rising level of intolerance for different ideas and free speech.

Steven Gerrard, a professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, serves as an example of campus intolerance. Students declared Gerrard “an enemy of the people” after he suggested that Williams College join other schools in signing onto what’s called the Chicago Principles. The statement, published by the Committee of Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago, calls for free speech to be central to college and university culture.

Williams college students said free speech is a part of a right-wing agenda as a “cover for racism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and classism.” Bloomberg pointed out that fewer than 70 of America’s 4,000 colleges and universities have endorsed or adopted the Chicago statement.

State governors and legislators can learn something from their Alaskan counterparts, who slashed public spending on the University of Alaska by 41%. There’s nothing better than the sounds of pocketbooks snapping shut to bring a bit of sanity to college administrators


Free speech must be protected inside and outside the college classroom

Samuel J. Abrams

A 2019 report by the Knight Foundation on the state of collegiate student expression made the troubling conclusion that “students largely agree that the political and social climate on college campuses prevents some students from saying what they really believe because they’re afraid of offending their classmates.” The data revealed that 68% felt silenced because “their campus climate precludes students from expressing their true opinions because their classmates might find them offensive.”

Given my own research regarding bullying and silencing of dissent on our nation’s college and university campuses, I have every reason to think that this finding is correct. But, this finding is incomplete and somewhere misleading because speech is regularly silenced well outside the classroom, and the viewpoint diversity crisis regrettably extends into all facets of collegiate life.

Years of personal observations suggest that many students are not just afraid of speaking their minds in front of their peers inside the classroom  – many are frightened to express their views outside of the classroom as residence halls, student unions, and dining halls are the very places where students spend most of their social time while on campus. These spaces are not only where powerful, hyper-progressive college administrators loom large and set the speech agenda, but are also the spaces where students develop their own reputations and social standing within various groups. If a student “offends” another student by disagreeing with the social justice mandates on campus, the social consequences could have a chilling effect on discourse and debate.

As an example, I am currently teaching a First-Year Study at Sarah Lawrence College called American Dreams. The class is a deep dive into our nation’s difficult history and addresses the question of what it means to be an American today and how that has changed over time.

In creating the class, I was deeply concerned with promoting intellectual and ideological balance, along with creating a space where students could freely question and discuss questions ranging from identity politics to social policy. As such, the reading list is as a mix of social science works, historical pieces, and memoirs, which range from Charles Murray’s Coming Apart to Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me and is intended to offer a wide range of perspectives on the American Dream and truly promote viewpoint diversity.

I even included specific provisions in the syllabus to promote balance, such as reminding students of the 1967 Chicago Kalven Committee Report about the import of higher education as an “institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.”

Moreover, the class operates  under Chatham House rules along with the College’s Principles of Mutual Respect which not only asserts that those in the school’s community seek to “embrace our diversity in all its dimensions” but also that we work to “foster honest inquiry, free speech, and open discourse.”

This course was recently featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education because the class explicitly attempts to help students understand other points of view beyond the fairly narrow, progressive monoculture that afflicts so many campuses.

I share this background because my course’s content and ideological balance are hardly objectionable. However, many of my students are being bullied outside of the classroom – in their dorms, in the student center, in the dining halls – by other students for simply taking the course with me. The course content cannot possibly be the source of the bullying. Rather, the intimidation is presumably a result of a 2018 op-ed that I wrote in the New York Times which questioned the partisan and ideological nature of the programming coming out of some administrative offices on campus and resulting storm of protests and demands, which included the usual host of meritless slanderous and defamatory claims.

It now appears that by remaining in my course or by not explicitly and publicly condemning me in some capacity, the students risk reputational damage and the stress of being viewed as  pariahs or being labeled a complicit supporter of me or my “objectionable views.” I truly do not envy my students here and completely empathize with the position my students find themselves in.

I am grateful that my students come to class ready to engage, question, and debate topics and questions across the ideological spectrum, but it is completely unacceptable that they must censor themselves or feel the slightest bit of discomfort over attending my class.

Sadly, the Sarah Lawrence College story here is not an isolated problem. I have heard similar stories from scores of students at other schools around the country. Students are regularly silencing themselves in social and private settings as much as in their classrooms because they are well aware of the consequences of speaking out against the progressive waves on our campuses. Self-censorship and being afraid to ask questions is the antithesis of higher education’s very mission and simply has to stop; being aware of what happens to students beyond the classroom is a first step to taking action to address the speech problems.

Accordingly, future research and thinking about how to address questions of free speech and its protection must consider what happens in both the classroom along with the bigger picture of student life going forward. It is critical that we recognize that many more speech flare-ups happen in residential and social settings, and addressing those areas of collegiate life is key. The Sarah Lawrence community saw a mob come for me. I could hold the line as a tenured professor; students know that a social justice mob could come for them, too, and may understandably not have the capital or fortitude to do the same. Broadening our scope to the many places outside the classroom and the academe is an absolute must if viewpoint diversity is to thrive on our collegiate campuses.


Australia: UNSW media release: Year 12 creates too much stress and ATAR scoring ‘unfair'

I have long seen how poor is ideologically motivated research and it is well known that the Left dislike formal examinations so I expected immediately that the research underlying the claims below would be suspect.  It was more than suspect.  It was moronic.  I used to teach research methods and statistics at the Uni of NSW and I would have failed any student who presented anything like that to me as a research proposal.

It is just dishonest.  The answers they wanted were transparent and the respondents duly gave the researchers what was expected.  There were just 3 questions in the survey and all were worded in a way hostile to the existing arrangements.  There was not the slightest attempt at balance or to ask more subtly worded questions.  There were no questions expressing approval of the existing arrangements

In my research career  I had a lot published on the desirability of balanced wording -- wording designed to avoid acquiescent response bias.  And I repeatedly found that many people would agree with both a statement and its opposite.  They tended, in other words, to say Yes to anything in answering a survey.  But you cannot detect that unless you have from the beginning in your survey oppositely worded questions.  The present survey did not.  It is moron stuff that should be ignored.

 I could very easily design another survey with different questions that would come to the opposite conclusions.

On the first day of the 2019 Higher School Certificate exams, UNSW Sydney’s Gonski Institute for Education is releasing new survey findings that show most people want student ability and talents outside of end-of-school exam results to be factors used in determining their university entry ranking.

And two thirds feel the reliance on the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for university entry creates unnecessary pressure on Year 12 students.

These results from a new national survey undertaken by UNSW Sydney’s Gonski Institute for Education come as high school students in most states are about to sit their final exams.

Institute Director, Professor Adrian Piccoli, a former NSW Education Minister, said the UNSW survey results support academic research that suggests relying on an end-of-school series of exams as the primary means to gain entry to a university is not the best predictor of a student’s overall ability, nor are they the most equitable.

Professor Piccoli said: “There is a growing body of work that shows one off exams, which are supposedly meant to measure a student’s whole of school experience, often do not accurately measure their skills, potential or overall ability”.

“Like NAPLAN, the HSC scores are used to measure a very narrow range of student abilities which, under the current ATAR system, creates an enormous amount of pressure for all those involved.”

A total of 80 per cent of all respondents to the Gonski Institute survey agreed university requirements should also consider a student’s ability and talents outside the classroom.

While over 57 per cent say ATAR scores create unnecessary pressure on Year 12 students, that number rises to 75 per cent for people who finished high school but did not do any tertiary study.

Professor Piccoli said: “Schools are also under pressure to ensure their students achieve high ATAR scores. School ranking tables created from Year 12 exam results effect a school’s reputation and this measure doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of education available at schools but rather how their students performed in various tests.”

There are strong connections between achievement in the ATAR and the socioeconomic background of the high school, with higher achievement generally being associated with a higher socioeconomic status (SES).

Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Equity Diversity and Inclusion UNSW says: “This inequity associated with ATAR scores and disadvantaged schools poses significant problems for universities in offering places to the most talented students across the country if we just use the ATAR results.

Those with high capability but who come from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly low SES, Indigenous and regional, rural and remote students, are less likely to achieve high ATARs, not because they are not talented but because the ATAR is not a fair measure of their talent and capacity to success at university.

UNSW, like other universities, already has and is working towards further alternative pathways into university that take into account a range of student talent and capability outside of ATAR.”

The release last month of another academic report, ‘Beyond ATAR: a proposal for change’, published by the Australian Learning Lecture supports the Gonski Institute’s findings and urged tertiary education providers to design entry pathways that better align candidates’ interests, capabilities and aspirations with the educational opportunities on offer, and better reflect evidence about the progress and potential of learners.

Press release. Media contact:  Stuart Snell, UNSW External Communications, 0416 650 906

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Teachers Who Quit to Create Schooling Alternatives

It’s not uncommon for public school teachers to experience burnout or feel demoralized by the weight of their work. Many leave the classroom and the education profession behind to pursue other careers. In fact, U.S. Labor Department data reveal that public school educators are quitting their jobs at record-breaking rates.

But some public school teachers wonder if conventional schooling may be the root of their discontent, not education itself. They are frustrated by standardized curriculum expectations, more testing, an emphasis on classroom compliance and the antagonistic relationships between teachers and students that a rigid schooling environment can cultivate. Rather than abandoning their passion for education, some of these teachers are building alternatives to school outside of the dominant system that nurture authentic teaching and learning relationships.

Learning Is Natural, School Is Optional

One of the pioneers of schooling alternatives is Kenneth Danford, a former public middle school social studies teacher who left the classroom in 1996 to launch a completely new learning model. Along with a teacher colleague, Danford opened North Star, a self-directed learning center in western Massachusetts. They sought to create a space for young people, ages 11 and up, that prioritized learner freedom and autonomy, while rejecting the coercion and control they witnessed in the conventional classroom. This involved building the learning center as a resource for peer interaction, optional classes, workshops, and adult mentoring while providing teenagers with the opportunity to come and go whenever they chose.

Using homeschooling as the legal mechanism to provide this educational freedom and flexibility, North Star members attend when they want, frequently using the center to supplement community college classes, extracurricular activities and apprenticeships. Full-time, annual membership up to four days per week is $8,200, but no family has ever been turned away for an inability to pay these fees. Some families choose part-time enrollment options that start at $3,250 per year for one day a week at North Star.

In his new book, Learning Is Natural, School Is Optional, Danford reflects on his more than 20 years of running North Star and the hundreds of young people who have gone through his program, often gaining admission to selective colleges or pursuing work in fulfilling careers. He told me in a recent interview:

I feel like I’m making an important difference in teens’ lives, perhaps the most important difference. And all this loveliness has social implications and can be shared.

Liberated Learners

Sharing this model with others was the next step for Danford. After receiving many calls and emails from educators across the country and around the world who wanted to launch centers similar to North Star, in 2013 Danford helped to establish Liberated Learners, an organization that supports entrepreneurial educators in opening their own alternatives to school.

One of the centers that sprouted from Liberated Learners is BigFish Learning Community in Dover, New Hampshire. Founded by Diane Murphy, a public school teacher for 30 years, BigFish allows young people to be in charge of their own learning. Murphy opened the center in January 2018 with five students; today, she has over 30. Full-time tuition at the center (up to four days a week) is $9,000 per year, with part-time options also available.

An English teacher, she never expected to be the founder of a schooling alternative. “I loved my job,” she says, but she quit to create something better. “The main reason I left is because the kids began showing up more and more miserable,” Murphy continues.

In my last few years, I was meeting dozens of students who were depressed, anxious and burned out at just 13 years old. More and more rules, more tests, and more competition had sucked the fun out of learning and truly broken many kids.

Granted more freedom and less coercion, young people at BigFish thrive—and so do the teachers. “Real teachers understand that our role is to support and lead young people to discover and uncover their talents, most especially to find their passions and their voice,” says Murphy. Working outside of the conventional school system may be a way forward for more teachers who want to help young people to drive their own education, in pursuit of their own passions and potential.

Entrepreneurial Teachers

According to Kevin Currie-Knight, an education professor at East Carolina University, it’s rare for teachers to recognize that their dissatisfaction as an educator may be a schooling problem, not a personal one. Currie-Knight, who studies self-directed education and alternative learning models, says that the tendency is for teachers to internalize the problems they encounter in the classroom. If children aren’t engaged or are acting out, teachers typically assume that it must be their poor teaching and that they must not be cut out for the job, rather than seeing it as a problem with coercive schooling more broadly.

“School isn’t challengeable,” says Currie-Knight of its entrenched position in our culture.

The teachers who leave to create alternatives have a really amazing ability to separate learning from schooling. It takes a higher level of thought and an amazing ability to detach.

Currie-Knight explains that most teachers go into education either because they really like a certain subject area or they really like kids, or both. “In the conventional environment,” he says,

teachers are going to be in rooms where the vast majority of students just really don’t care about that subject at that point.

Many of these teachers conclude that it’s their teaching that is the problem, rather than the underlying dynamics of conventional schooling that compel young people to learn certain content, in certain ways and at certain times.

Teachers who leave the classroom to create schooling alternatives can be an inspiration to other teachers who may feel frustrated or powerless. Rather than blaming themselves, entrepreneurial teachers are the ones who imagine, design, and implement new models of education. As BigFish’s Murphy proposes:

We need to flip schools to become community learning centers filled with mentors, classes, programs and materials, and we need to trust young people and let them lead.


The Strongest Support for School Vouchers Comes from Lower-Income Families

When it comes to education, the word voucher tends to elicit strong reactions in three broad public opinion camps. First, there are those who feel strongly that vouchers can expand education options for families by allowing children to attend a private school using some or all of the per-pupil spending amount allocated to the local district school.

In other words, if a school district spends around $13,000 per student (the national average), then families would be able to use some or all of that tax money toward private school tuition instead. Second, there are those who feel that vouchers and other education choice mechanisms threaten conventional mass schooling by expanding private options. Finally, there are those who believe that no tax dollars should be allocated toward education, either public or private.

Vermont's Voucher Program

As political fodder, voucher programs are sometimes used to pit people against each other. Yet, school voucher programs have been around for a long time, serving myriad purposes, often with wide support. In Vermont, for instance, the nation’s oldest school voucher program flourishes.

Created in 1869, Vermont’s voucher program allows students in towns without public schools to attend any public or non-religious private school, including elite prep schools and boarding schools, in Vermont or out-of-state—with the home district footing the bill. As of 2016, 95 Vermont towns offered a town tuition voucher for one or more grades.

Vermont also recently enacted a preschool voucher program, allowing parents to take advantage of up to 10 hours per week of publicly funded preschool services through either a public or private preschool provider. For a state with such a strong voucher legacy, it’s ironic that longtime Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, opposes vouchers, asserting that he is

strongly opposed to any voucher system that would re-direct public education dollars to private schools, including through the use of tax credits.

Other school districts around the country pay for out-of-district placements for students, typically with special needs, who require services or settings that the district cannot provide. This also works like a voucher, with the home district paying the tuition to the receiving school. Then there are Federal Pell Grants in higher education that allocate needs-based public money to college students, also acting as a voucher.

In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren advocated expanding these Pell Grant vouchers, which go to students at both public and private colleges and universities, while stating that she is opposed to private school vouchers at the K-12 level. Finally, vouchers are widely accepted outside of education in everything from housing vouchers for low-income families to food stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The Attack on Vouchers

Given the vast use and acceptance of vouchers in many areas of our society, including education, the targeted attack on K-12 school voucher programs is misguided. Calling them aid, subsidies, grants, tuition programs, or any other euphemism doesn’t dismiss the fact that these tax money allocations are, indeed, vouchers. While school voucher programs have long been criticized by those who want to retain the mass schooling status quo and limit a family’s education choices, particularly for low-income families, the tide may be turning. Public opinion appears to be shifting toward more choice for more families through school vouchers.

According to recent findings from the “2019 Welfare, Work, and Wealth National Survey,” conducted by the Cato Institute, the majority of Americans (58 percent) support taxpayer-funded K-12 private school vouchers. Some groups are particularly favorable toward vouchers. Responding to the survey question, which asked how respondents feel about a proposal “that would give all families with children in public school a wider choice by allowing them to use a voucher to enroll their children in private schools instead, with government helping to pay the tuition,” African Americans responded most enthusiastically, with 69 percent support.

Low-income Americans and those with only a high school diploma were also highly supportive of K-12 private school vouchers, but that support dwindled among those with higher incomes and college degrees. Poorer and less well-educated Americans demand more choice beyond an assigned district school, even as more privileged citizens oppose granting it. The survey also found some political nuances to voucher preferences, as well. While Republicans and independents are most favorable toward vouchers, 60 percent of moderate Democrats also support them, as do 39 percent of liberal Democrats.

The majority of Americans, according to the Cato survey, would rather send their children to a private school, while 59 percent of Democrats prefer public school. Let parents decide where and how to educate their children. If parents prefer public school for their kids, then they should send their kids to public school; but they shouldn’t limit other parents’ choices because of their own personal preferences or political leanings.

American taxpayers spend over $700 billion each year on K-12 public schooling. Vouchers give families more choice over how that money is spent, allowing them to select the best educational fit for their children beyond a mandatory local school assignment. Parents are increasingly dissatisfied with a one-size-fits-all mass schooling model and want access to expanded educational options for their kids. Vouchers expand access and options. It’s good to see that more Americans agree.


We Teach Nothing, We Know Nothing—and That Could Cost the United States Everything

A couple of years ago, a retired teacher who stays in close touch with history teachers across Texas told me something disturbing. Like most states, Texas has standardized testing. Unlike most states, Texas requires public school students to study Texas history in the 4th and 7th grades. Texas history is red in tooth and claw and full of big personalities and big ideas. Standardized testing is forcing teachers to drop about half of the second semester of Texas history to focus on U.S. history -- not to deepen students' understanding of American history, but to teach to the standardized tests.

This, according to my friend, shortchanges students from learning about key parts of Texas history. Teaching to the test is shallow. Add in that history teaching is being watered down overall across our public education system, and we have a problem.

That problem was exposed, unintentionally, by an Obama administration official.

Far be it from me to agree with an Obama acolyte, but Ben Rhodes infamously said, "They literally know nothing" about the journalists he manipulated to sell the awful Iran nuclear deal. This, he said, made it easy to sell that deal. He was a liberal, most journalists are default liberal, so they believed whatever he told them. Lack of knowledge makes a whole lot of things easier for crafty people.

He wasn't wrong. And he wasn't just talking about journalists. Most people literally know nothing about history. And along with losing foundations in history, public schools no longer teach rhetoric or critical thinking. So people don't know what they don't know, and don't know what that means.

Cracking foundations

If Americans had solid foundations in our history, things like what's happened to Thomas Jefferson wouldn't happen. When museums such as Monticello turn away from much of Thomas Jefferson's life and his ideas to focus on slavery, this distorts history. Soon enough, the city he lived in and founded a major university in votes to stop acknowledging his birthday. They're erasing him from history. The fact that Jefferson is among those responsible for their even having the right to vote is entirely lost on them. Jefferson was like everyone else in that he was a man of his times, and he was imperfect. But today, he must be denounced as irredeemable based entirely on the flawed thinking of our times.

Just in the past few months we have seen the political landscape shift dramatically. The Democrats now have a spiritual if not electoral leader, Bernie Sanders. Sanders won't win the nomination but he has dragged his party hard to the left, to the point that their entire presidential field is endorsing some version of the following platform.

"Free" education. Again, meaning redistributive and taxpayer-funded.
Some version of nationalizing energy policy, either a fracking ban or something along the lines of national policy. Think about the economic and national security implications of that, with a war brewing in the Middle East (again).

Andrew Yang is promising to pay millions of Americans a "universal wage" -- create dependence, via confiscation and redistribution.

Beto O'Rourke is a special case. He's promising to disarm Americans, destroy our churches and force wealthy Americans out of their homes. You may think "I'm not wealthy, so why should I care?" The definition of "wealthy" being elastic, this could mean a whole lot of people would get shoved around at gunpoint under a Beto regime. Including you. Like Sanders, O'Rourke won't win. But he is shifting issues left in that his fellow Democrats will not condemn him.

Ban all fossil fuels. How? And what would this do to our economy?

Open borders.

They're gathering around these proposals under the guise of "ending income inequality."
Ending income inequality is literally impossible. It cannot be done, ever, under any human circumstance. Some people will always make more money than some other people. You have rich and poor people in capitalist countries, and you have rich and poor people in communist and socialist countries. The main difference is, the rich in the communist and socialist countries are more likely to have openly killed and stolen from large numbers of people to acquire their wealth. They're less likely to create something of value and profit from that, because socialist and communist systems either strongly curb or outright ban private property and profit. There's more blood in the treasure chests of rich communists and socialists.

And there are more billionaires, millionaires and thousandaires in capitalist countries. Everything gets democratized under capitalism. Everything gets centralized into the hands of the powerful few under socialism/communism. It's just common sense. That's how the different systems literally work.

Power corrupts

Fidel Castro died a very rich man -- almost a billionaire. Cuba is an extremely poor country thanks to him. Hugo Chavez died a very rich man -- half a billionaire. Chavez destroyed Venezuela, which as recently as the 1990s was the third-richest country in the Americas. It's not anymore. These aren't faraway places. They're in our neighborhood. Cuba is closer to Florida than Austin is to Dallas.

China's communist rulers are getting filthy rich right now.

How. Does. This. Happen. under regimes that bill themselves as offering economic equality and ending "income inequality"?

Once you seize power in a centralist system you're free to take whatever you want from whoever has it. Who's to stop you? You "nationalize" industries, meaning you grab them and treat them as piggy banks. You kick everyone who speaks out against you square in the face, mock and ostracize them, run them out of the country, de-platform them by controlling the media, imprison and torture them, or line them up and shoot them.

That's exactly what Castro did, and he had henchmen like Che Guevara to help him. It's what Chavez did and Maduro is still doing in Venezuela. This is less history than current events, but absent context and the means to process, it's too easy to ignore or distort.

Red platform

The Democrats' emerging platform appears to be a mix of two recent, modern regimes -- that of Venezuela, and that of the Khmer Rouge. Both regimes are modern horrors. The former has been publicly praised by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Robert Kennedy Jr. The latter sounds like a makeup line pitched by the Kardashians and probably 95% of Americans have never even heard of it. Johnny Depp and other Hollywood derps run around wearing Che shirts. Probably 99% of Americans have no idea who Pol Pot was or what evil things he did, or the influence of Chinese communism on him. He's not a brand of legalized Colorado cannabis. He forcibly relocated people, stole their property and killed them -- killing about 25% of his country in about three years. If you've ever met a Cambodian living in the United States, you have probably met someone Pol Pot was trying to kill.

Hugo Chavez ran on a platform pretty much identical to Sanders' and now most Democrats'. Chavez's platform was:

End income inequality
Make education free
Make electricity free (by nationalizing it)
Get rid of privately owned guns to "improve security"

He promised free stuff -- safety and security. He won. And He proceeded to enrich himself, disarm the people, crush dissent and destroy his country. Every single one of these newly minted Democratic socialists in the United States is wealthy. Sanders is a millionaire who owns three houses. Even former bartender AOC now gets $300 haircuts and wants a raise on top of her very high congressional salary. Sanders isn't sharing his wealth. None of these Democrats are. But they'll happily confiscate and "share" yours.

The price of knowing nothing

Texas fought a whole revolution over just this idea -- centralist government or federalist (republican) government. Thankfully the latter won. But hardly anyone is aware of this, and the left will rewrite that story the first chance they get and turn it into a war over race and class -- not ideas. The left won't forget the Alamo, they'll just remember it incorrectly. Or do we think the same forces denouncing Jefferson now don't have designs on the Alamo, Gettysburg, Mount Vernon, Yorktown... wherever the American story can be destroyed? Of course they do. They've already attacked the national anthem and the Betsy Ross flag.

Because millions know nothing, warnings about what's happened in the past or now don't work. Thomas Jefferson is worse than that Cambodian dictator they've never heard of. The National Basketball Association should've been more specific with the "national" part of its branding. Which nation do they belong to now? This past week they've enforced speech codes on behalf of Maoist communist China. Golden State (social justice) Warriors coach Steve Kerr, an outspoken critic of the United States, refused to criticize China's abysmal human rights record. They've been joined by Apple and Blizzard. Right now, Hong Kong may be the most important city in the world. But too many Americans who know nothing don't understand that, and are happily selling it out for Chinese money.

History is not dusty books and broken swords and statues without arms and noses. History is how we got where we are -- and it's often a foreboding warning. In modern times it's a stream of events from the bloody French Revolution through Marx and Engels to the Cold War and the Killing Fields to Havana and Caracas to prisons full of Chinese dissidents being harvested for organs, to statements coming out of the mouths of people who, without irony, refer to themselves as social justice warriors and "Democrats."

Socialism should be exposed for what it is and will always be: a mix of greed, lust, envy and slavery. If you are not allowed to own property, if you are not allowed to keep the fruit of your ideas and labors -- you are enslaved. That is the ultimate promise of socialism.

But because we teach nothing, we know nothing. And that stands a strong chance of costing us everything.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ex-Prof Used Federal Grant Money on Strip Clubs. Now Drexel University Has to Pay the $190,000 Bill

No need to guess which continent Chikaodinaka Nwankpa came from.  No guessing that it was because of that that his expenses claims were not looked at closely.  A competent bursar should have picked up the very first such fraudulent claim, not let it go for 10 years

For 10 years, Chikaodinaka Nwankpa allegedly took government money for engineering research and spent it on clubs offering “the area’s most beautiful women dancing on five stages.”

An engineering professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University allegedly spent a decade using federal grant money on the city’s strip clubs and sports bars, and the school has agreed to cover his $189,062 tab to the government in order to avoid a lawsuit, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The alleged misuse of funds was discovered in 2017 when Drexel conducted an internal audit, purportedly finding that Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, who headed the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, had—from 2007 through 2017—submitted receipts for personal iTunes purchases and “goods and services” provided by local establishments such as Cheerleaders, Club Risque, and the Tacony Club.

The 56-year-old was supposed to have used the money on energy, science, and naval research—not “the area’s most beautiful women dancing on five stages.” After the discovery, Nwankpa resigned from his position and paid back $53,328 to Drexel. He has been banned from federal government contracting for six months, according to a DOJ press release.

The Department of Justice said the university agreed to pay the nearly $190,000 settlement in lieu of a lawsuit over its violation of the False Claims Act.

“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds.” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain. “The agencies providing these grant funds expect them to be used toward advancements in energy and naval technology for public benefit, not for personal entertainment.”

The university voluntarily reported its findings to the federal government and implemented changes intended to prevent similar misconduct in the future, including greater oversight for charge approval and improved auditing policies.

“Drexel takes allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of any members of the university community very seriously and remains committed to being in full compliance with all billing regulations and requirements,” university spokesperson Niki Gianakaris told The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Lawsuit looked like trouble for Harvard — so how did it win so decisively?

It's no mystery.  They had a very "friendly" judge. SCOTUS will be a different story

On paper, Harvard University looked like it was headed for trouble last year in a lawsuit aimed at dismantling the use of race in college admissions.

Harvard’s admissions staff consistently gave low scores to Asian-American applicants on personal traits, such as kindness and leadership, a discomfiting fact documented by pages of statistical data released in discovery. And that, said Students for Fair Admissions, the group that sued Harvard, pointed plainly to discrimination.

The drum beat of revelations didn’t stop there. Harvard’s cause wasn’t helped by its own 2013 internal report that suggested Asian-Americans could have accounted for a larger share of the class but might have been hurt by the admissions process.

And the stable percentage of Asian-Americans admitted for years before the lawsuit raised questions about whether Harvard deployed some form of racial quota, barred by the law.

“There were several key obstacles that Harvard faced not only in the district court, but in the court of public opinion,” said Rachel Moran, a law professor and former dean of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

And yet Harvard won handily. Federal District Court Judge Allison Burroughs in her 130-page ruling found that Harvard did not discriminate against Asian-Americans, that its use of race in admissions was narrow and met legal standards, and that its admissions process was “very fine.”

So, how did the university pull off a clear-cut win in such a consequential case?

William Lee, an attorney for WilmerHale and Harvard’s lead trial attorney, said the university pursued an unusual legal strategy for these types of affirmative action cases: It pushed for the case to go to trial, risking the public airing of potentially embarrassing details.

“The reason we have a trial is to bring to life what on paper you may not be able to communicate,” said Lee who is closely tied to the university as a member of its governing corporation.

Lee, an experienced intellectual property rights lawyer who previously represented Apple Inc. in its lawsuit against Samsung over the patent for the smartphone, said there were hazards in the aggressive path the Harvard legal team chose.

A trial would spotlight embarrassing details about Harvard’s admissions process, including the college’s fawning over the children of donors and alumni and its aggressive pursuit of athletes.

But Harvard, Lee believed, could weather those public relations hits in order to show that its admissions process was racially unbiased and legal.

“If we’re going to demonstrate our admissions process is constitutionally permissible . . . we needed to pull back the curtain and let people see how the process works,” Lee said.

Past college affirmative action cases have relied on a judge’s review of documents and depositions rather than live court testimony. Only one other landmark affirmative action case — against the University of Michigan Law School in 2001 — started with a trial before it was eventually decided by the Supreme Court.

But during the three-week trial last October over Harvard’s admissions practices, the usually secretive university and some of its most tight-lipped administrators went into detail about how they sifted through a pool of more than 40,000 applicants to build a class of about 1,600 students. Ultimately, 13 Harvard officials testified, including the former university president, three current and former deans, and a parade of admissions staff.

To combat the statistically heavy case presented by two experts from Students for Fair Admissions, eight black, Latino, and Asian-American Harvard students and alumni took the stand to share their personal stories of making it to Harvard and the benefits of using race in admissions. Students for Fair Admissions did not call any students or present any cases of applicants who were specifically disadvantaged by Harvard’s admissions process.

Harvard’s strategy was effective, said Mishell B. Kneeland, a former Texas assistant attorney general now in private practice who helped the University of Texas system win an affirmative action lawsuit brought several years ago by Abigail Fisher, a student who alleged she faced discrimination as a white applicant. The Fisher case was also backed by Edward Blum, the leader of Students for Fair Admissions.

Kneeland and other legal experts said Harvard’s witnesses were able to diminish the effect of the revelations from the university’s 2013 internal report and allay fears that admissions officers were purposefully discriminating against Asian-Americans.

“Witnesses are the ones who have the hands-on knowledge of the day-to-day stuff, not the drier statistics — the ‘story’ of how they do what they do,” Kneeland said.

The lopsided count of witnesses in Harvard’s favor was likely also an advantage, she said.

“It’s kind of like in a criminal case,” Kneeland said. “People tend to believe the side that shows up.”

Even as it fought the case in court, Harvard also sought, in some ways, to accommodate critics, making adjustments to its admissions process to address potential problems unearthed by the lawsuit. For example, after Students for Fair Admissions questioned whether race was entering into decisions on the personal scores, leading to low evaluations for Asian-Americans, Harvard issued new guidelines to its admissions officials. Harvard now explicitly warns its screeners against considering race in that category.

This past year, Harvard also admitted a larger share of Asian-American students — to more than 25 percent of the accepted class, up from about 23 percent the previous year.

While Burroughs found Harvard’s process was lawful, her decision may eventually be overturned by the US Supreme Court, whose conservative majority is often hostile to affirmative action.

Students for Fair Admissions has already filed an appeal. And both sides have built their legal teams in preparation for a drawn-out fight.

Harvard’s other WilmerHale attorneys include both a former clerk for Chief Justice John G. Roberts and a former US solicitor general experienced in making oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

The team of four attorneys representing Students for Fair Admissions all clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, a stern critic of affirmative action.

Adam Mortara, the lead trial attorney for Students for Fair Admissions, told a Harvard Law School gathering last week that Burroughs made a “bad ruling,” according to the Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper.

Mortara predicted that either the Supreme Court will strike down the use of race in college admissions, or that the details of Harvard’s admissions policies, including the advantages and privileges given to some students, will lead to a backlash against affirmative action, according to the Crimson.

“Historians are going to say that Harvard itself struck the mortal blow,” Mortara said at the event.

For the moment, however, Harvard has prevailed.

The university’s strategy to show that it stayed within the boundaries of the current law and demonstrate the importance of race-conscious admissions to diversity in education seems to have swayed Burroughs.

During the trial in October 2018, for instance, Harvard called former Brown University president Ruth Simmons as a witness. Simmons had no involvement in Harvard’s admissions policies, but she testified about growing up as the child of Texas sharecroppers whose education and opportunities were limited. Simmons testified about how going to college broadened her perspective — she received her doctorate from Harvard — and eventually helped her rise to become the first African-American president of an Ivy League university.

Lee said he has known Simmons for years and thought her personal story and academic experience would bring to life Harvard’s perspective and goals on race and education.

“In a trial you always try to tell a narrative,” Lee said. “Who better to bring this to life?”

The testimony seems to have stuck with Burroughs.

In the final paragraphs of her decision arguing that the consideration of race in admissions remains a necessity, Burroughs quoted passages from Simmons’ testimony.

“That eloquent testimony captures what is important about diversity in education,” Burroughs wrote. “For purposes of this case, at least for now, ensuring diversity at Harvard relies, in part, on race conscious admissions.”


Abortion opponents abused and harassed at George Washington university

Nothing is more self-evident: Every innocent human person – born or preborn – has the right to life.  However, our culture has strayed so far from God and reason that what used to be self-evident is no longer so, particularly on left-wing college campuses where procured abortion is considered more than a right – it has been elevated and granted the status of a secular virtue.

This dark pro-abortion reality hit TFP Student Action volunteers in the face like a brick when they visited George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on September 30, 2019.

“I’m in favor of slaughtering 1,000 babies if that helps already born babies have a better life,” said a female student coldly, without showing a scintilla of remorse.

What unfolded that cloudy afternoon was eye opening.

At Kogan Plaza stood fifteen TFP volunteers. After reciting a short prayer, they fanned out on the sidewalks and got to work for moral values.  “Here – take a flier, 10 Reasons to Protect the Unborn,” offered one, politely.  Others unfurled the banner, displayed signs or played the bagpipes to attract attention to the noble cause.

“I was in class and my professor recognized the tune you were playing on the bagpipes,” said a student, adding, “Do you realize how liberal this campus is?”

Liberal campus or not, the truth does not hide.  And TFP volunteers do not want safe spaces and  are not known for being timid in their crusade to win souls for the Truth.  At this point, each volunteer was engaged in conversation or debate.  Yet their courteous tone was apparent and appreciated by many students.

“Oh, thank you!  I’m Catholic too,” offered one.

Word got out quickly: TFP is on campus.  Abortion advocates used social media to sound the alarm and organize a counter-protest.  Soon, protesters started gathering in Kogan Plaza where they set-up a large electric speaker that blasted vulgar “music.”  Holding pro-abortion signs, dozens of students danced in chaotic disorder to pulsating beats that emphasized the F-word.

More arrived with makeshift pro-abortion signs extoling the imagined “right” to abortion.  Very few cared about having a civil discussion.  Frantic dancing took over as the pro-abortion students got louder and louder.  The scene looked like a tribal riot more than a gathering of students who spend $55,230 in yearly tuition to receive a higher education.

“My body, my choice!” yelled one student. “It’s a sin to tell a woman what to do with her body.”

A male student screamed: “I eat baby lungs for breakfast.”

“Hail Satan!” blurted another.

On several occasions, pro-abortion students waved contraceptives in front of TFP member’s faces. One aggressive student tried to stuff a contraceptive inside the lens of the TFP camera.  Another attempted to push a contraceptive inside my pocket.

The pro-abortion mob did what mobs do.  It became unruly.  The chaos increased as did the chants of “my body, my choice.”  The mob of about 100 students then attempted to surround the 15 TFP volunteers.

“I just got spit on,” said TFP member Matthew Miller.

A little while later, a pro-abortion student poured soda on TFP volunteer Joseph Jordan then took off running.  And TFP volunteer Luis Solorzano was kicked in the back of the leg from behind.  “I think the attacker wanted to kick the TFP standard pole out of my hands,” he said.

One of the youngest TFP volunteers wore a wrist brace because of recent sports injury. When pro-abortion students noticed the brace, they asked him about it.  He politely explained that he was recovering from an injury.  With malice, a pro-abortion activist struck his injured arm to cause pain and harm.

While these assaults unfolded, campus police officers stood observing at a distance.  But they refused to take any measures.  When their help was requested, they replied, “We already called the city police.  They will be arriving shortly.”

Finally, police officers created a buffer zone with their bodies between the mob and the TFP volunteers.  But the mob showed neither respect for the police officers nor obeyed their orders.  The screaming continued: “My body, my choice.”

Later in the day, GW Voices for Choices issued a statement claiming that the TFP’s peaceful action constituted “dangerous discourse” and expressed “outrage” against the police department for not expelling the TFP volunteers.  “White supremacy underpins anti-abortion beliefs, and it is both insulting and dangerous that GWPD is protecting those beliefs, while not keeping students of all races, religions, sexualities, and creeds, and students who have had abortion safe.”

The “Queer Radicals” jumped on the police-bashing bandwagon too. 

“The George Washington University Police Department came to the protest and proceeded to stand in between GW students and the [TFP] men, facing the students and protecting the men.” According to the pro-homosexual group, “students felt unsafe” because the police “failed to remove a nuisance from campus.”

While the mob yelled profanities, a nurse in scrubs approached the TFP banner. “I love that you’re here,” she said cheerfully.  “It takes a lot of courage and I’m grateful.” 

Then pointing to the pro-abortion mob, she added: “That’s what Hell looks like.  I want to go over there and spray them with Holy Water.”  She was right.  It did look and sound hellish because the Culture of Death is united under the same master – Lucifer – in its hatred against God, order, virtue and innocent life.

The mob followed the TFP volunteers to their vehicles where they screamed, “never come back” and spit on the windows of their van.  They also covered the windshield with a pro-abortion sign.

Nevertheless, many students who saw or heard about the campaign were encouraged to continue fighting the good fight for God’s law.  “I just wanted to lend my support for all of the volunteers that went out yesterday afternoon and to let you all know that there are people out there that genuinely believe that the Culture of Death can be extinguished,” wrote a GWU student.

Yes, with God’s grace all things are possible – even the end of abortion.

After cleaning the spittle off the van windows, TFP volunteers are ready to visit the next campus.

May God inspire more young Americans to stand up and fight the good fight.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Woke segregationism

Since when is banning white people from meetings anti-racist?

In a stunning act of cognitive dissonance, Sheffield University Students’ Union has banned white students from attending anti-racist meetings, according to a report in the Tab.

The union says this is part of its shift from ‘a non-racist to an actively anti-racist’ stance. It is hosting two focus groups on ‘how we can create an anti-racist students’ union’, and has told students on the sign-up form that it ‘really values hearing your experiences and ideas’.

But just a few paragraphs under that commitment, it says: ‘Please note that these sessions are only open to black and minority ethnic (BME) students.’ Apparently, being actively anti-racist means banning certain racial groups from getting involved in anti-racism. Who knew?

The Sheffield white-student ban comes after students at Edinburgh University caused outrage for hosting an anti-racism event called ‘Resisting Whiteness’. The promotional material for the gathering said: ‘We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don’t think white people have anything to offer to the discussion but because we want to amplify the voices of people of colour.’

I have had the great displeasure of encountering these sorts before during my four years of service in opposition to student lunacy at Edinburgh University. So I can have a guess as to the motivations for this ‘ban a race to solve racism’ move.

Today, some anti-racists reject the common definition of racism as prejudice or discrimination aimed at someone on the basis of their race. This understanding of racism – held by ordinary people and anti-racists worldwide – is far too simple, sensible and accurate for these enlightened souls. Instead, they delve deep into their intersectional lexicons to claim that racism is based on the combination of ‘prejudice and power’.

Consequently, they argue, certain people cannot be racist to other people if they have ‘less power’ than them. Asking for a clear hierarchy of racial groups according to their ‘power’ (sounds a bit racist, doesn’t it?) always proves fruitless, so we’re left in the dark to work out who exactly can be discriminatory to who on the basis of their race. But generally speaking, it is okay to be nasty to white people (not racism), but not okay to be nasty to every other racial group (racism).

With that brief explainer out of the way, let’s dive into why it is a reprehensible stance that makes a mockery of anti-racism and serves no purpose other than to divide racial groups and hinder progress.

Tackling racism is best solved through a diversity of voices. More speech is always better than less, even if the speaker doesn’t belong to a typically targeted racial group.

These petty commissars at Sheffield are essentially arguing that if you are white, you are incapable of being ‘actively anti-racist’ because you have not experienced racism. If you haven’t felt the pain, you can’t administer the cure. This is as stupid as refusing to be treated by a doctor unless he himself has had the same illness that afflicts you.

It is a misanthropic view that suggests humans cannot relate to one another or understand the plight of their fellow man and are therefore in no position to offer up solutions. Racism is a scourge in our society. To defeat it, we need to expand the dialogue and hear from more people, regardless of their race.

Moreover, arguing that the presence of ‘white voices’ belittles or silences ethnic minorities is as patronising as it is untrue. These activists claim to be anti-racist. But their policy of racial exclusion is not only racist by definition – it also suggests that ethnic minorities are so incapable that they need extra protection to be heard in a students’ union. That minorities need to be coddled or kept away from white people in order to succeed is a common aspect of woke thinking, and the logic behind it is the same as that used by the old racists to justify segregation. They might dress it up as progressive, but it is nothing of the sort.

White people do not have a monopoly on talking over people or using the heckler’s veto. This behaviour is not unique to one group. To promote healthier discussion, organisers should hold all people, regardless of their race, to the same basic standards of mutual respect. If they manage that, Sheffield students might benefit from more useful anti-racist suggestions. Their censorship and racialist thinking will only make it harder for them to achieve their aims.


Grade inflation fears prompt new voluntary code for UK degrees

Students will need to “consistently demonstrate” exceptional initiative and problem-solving skills to be awarded first-class honours in their undergraduate degrees, according to a new framework to be adopted by UK universities.

The framework is part of a new voluntary code on degree classifications, designed to address fears that universities have been guilty of inflating grades. The code also calls for universities to display detailed figures on the degree classes awarded, and explain any changes in the proportions awarded.

While students awarded first-class degrees will need “advanced knowledge” and “exceptional” performances, those awarded 2.1s will need to be “thorough” and those with a 2.2 will merely be “strong”. Those students who achieve a third will only “demonstrate” skills without adjectives.

University leaders said the effort would assure graduates and employers that the recent surge in the proportion of degrees awarded first-class and upper second-class (2.1) honours was justified, while still protecting institutional autonomy.

Prof Julia Buckingham, the vice-chancellor of Brunel University and president of the Universities UK group, said: “Universities are listening to concerns about grade inflation and these initiatives show our determination to ensuring transparency and consistency in the way degrees are awarded.”

Buckingham said the public statements would detail each university’s degree results as well as their criteria for achieving different grades, allowing them to explain increases “in the context of improvements in teaching and students’ performances”.

Earlier this year the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, sounded the alarm after its figures showed the proportion of students awarded first-class degrees shooting up from 16% in 2010-11 to 29% by 2017-18. The watchdog’s analysis also found what it described as “unexplained” but statistically significant increases in the rate of first-class degrees awarded by almost all English universities.

Surrey University increased the proportion of first-class degrees awarded to undergraduates from 23% in 2010-11 to 50% in 2016-17, falling back to 45% last year after the controversy over grade inflation broke.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, has been a stern critic of the increase in good degrees, accusing universities of having “entrenched” grade inflation, and claiming that when he graduated in 1997, “you could count the number of students on my course who got firsts on one hand”.

He attended the University of Bradford, where the rate of first-class degrees awarded nearly tripled in seven years, from 11% in 2010-11 to 31% in 2016-17.

Williamson said: “I am clear that universities must end grade inflation and I will be watching closely to see if these initiatives do help to tackle the issue. I expect the Office for Students to challenge institutions which continue to record unexplained rises in top degrees awarded.”

The new code drawn up by the UK standing committee for quality assessment would only be voluntary, with no penalties for universities that refuse to take part. But Buckingham said Universities UK would be encouraging its members in England to publish the degree outcomes statements on their websites.

David Kernohan, an analyst for the Wonkhe higher education thinktank, said the effort to boil down a complex set of algorithms and classifications into a brief text, as the code requires, was unrealistic. He said: “If you are setting out such broadly applicable descriptions you are in danger of not adding anything tangible to the subject specific learning goals and outcomes that already exist.

“What exactly do these non-exhaustive generic descriptors actually add? The idea of consistency in measures of learning is attractive, if unlikely. A mention of a provider’s adherence to these descriptions in their degree outcomes statements seems to be the likely endpoint. And I’m not sure who benefits from that.”


Woke History Is Making Big Inroads in America’s High Schools

Like growing numbers of public high school students across the country, many California kids are receiving classroom instruction in how race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship status are tools of oppression, power, and privilege. They are taught about colonialism, state violence, racism, intergenerational trauma, heteropatriarchy, and the common thread that links them: “whiteness.”

Students are then graded on how well they apply these concepts in writing assignments, performances, and community organizing projects.

At Santa Monica High School, for example, students organize and carry out “a systematized campaign” for social justice that can take the form of a protest, a leaflet, a workshop, play, or research project. They demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter by teaching about social justice to middle school students.

Students at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale are assigned to write a “breakup letter with a form of oppression,” such as toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, the Eurocentric curriculum, or the Dakota Access Pipeline. Students are asked to “persuade their audience of the dehumanizing and damaging effects of their chosen topic.”

Students at schools in Anaheim, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco are taught how to write a manifesto to school administrators listing “demands” for reforms.

Some conduct a grand jury investigation to determine who was responsible for the genocide of the state’s Native Americans. And one class holds a mock trial to determine which party is most responsible for the deaths of millions of native Tainos: Christopher Columbus, the soldiers, the king and queen of Spain, or the entire European system of colonialism.

These are just a few examples of the ethnic studies courses taught at 253 California schools, nearly 20% of the state’s high schools, according to 2017-18 data.

California is now looking at expanding this approach in a proposed statewide curriculum. The expansion could affect up to 1.7 million high school students if a second bill, making ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement, is approved.

The ethnic studies movement has been underway for years and is now poised to enter the mainstream, raising tough questions for educators and policymakers about how to present such material to teenagers. Teachers around the country are already offering ethnic studies classes, units, or lessons on their own initiative, citing a growing urgency to confront racism, sexism, homophobia, and other entrenched social inequalities.

Two years ago, the Indiana Legislature mandated that high schools offer an ethnic studies elective. As approved by the state’s Education Department, the class teaches about the contributions of ethnic and racial groups, various cultural practices, as well as such concepts as privilege, systematic oppression, and implicit bias. And now three states—California, Oregon, and Vermont—are trying to create authoritative statewide templates that, advocates hope, will make it easier for schools to adopt ethnic studies.

Advocates believe they are within striking distance of making ethnic studies a graduation requirement in high schools across the country, making it a prerequisite for preparing students to navigate the world, much as learning about the Western tradition had once been.

They say the shift to ethnic studies appears inevitable because of the nation’s changing demographics, the growing awareness of white supremacy and other forms of systemic discrimination, and a newfound political clout for the ethnic studies movement.

“We don’t want students to have the option not to take ethnic studies,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and a board member of the national Association for Ethnic Studies. “It is as important as taking a lab science.”

But the spread of ethnic studies from college campuses to K-12 education is raising alarm among those who find the field one-sided, ideological, and frightening. They note, for example, that college students generally take such courses voluntarily, whereas as high schoolers and middle schoolers may not have a choice. 

“It comes dangerously close to turning the American exceptionalism on its head: Yes, we’re exceptional—exceptionally evil,” said Will Swaim, president of the California Policy Center, a free market think tank. “It is remindful of reeducation camps in Vietnam or China. It is indoctrination rather than education.”

Advocates say that the field of ethnic studies has a special mission, distinct from other academic subjects.

“I oftentimes think of ethnic studies as radical social action,” said Julia Jordan-Zachery, a professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and president of the Association for Ethnic Studies.

“It is education and knowledge that’s produced to influence social change,” she said, “which makes it different in part from other types of disciplines whose primary concerns are quote-unquote to simply produce knowledge.”

Ethnic studies programs are already established at many of the nation’s universities and focus on the experiences of people of color: Blacks, Latinos (Hispanics, Chicanos), Native Americans, Asians, and Arabs/Muslims.

Expanding to the K-12 level is a bold step that has met with some resistance.

The statewide California ethnic studies curriculum was proposed in June by an advisory committee, composed of ethnic studies teachers and professors, and met with public outcry that such classes are designed to recruit students into political activism, indoctrinate them with ideological jargon, and promote the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Jewish, Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenic, and other ethnic groups left out of the proposal are demanding their narratives be included as part of the curriculum. And critics also wonder why many ethnic groups are left out, but the LGBTQ community is included even though it is technically not an ethnicity.

California education officials will work on revisions that could take at least until next year to complete. The state’s Instructional Quality Commission, which advises the State Board of Education, is set to meet Sept. 20 to begin discussing changes.

Arizona and Texas have fought political battles over the issue, and the Arizona clash is credited with galvanizing the movement. Indeed, one of the assigned readings in an ethnic studies class offered at the Camino Nuevo High School in Los Angeles is an op-ed titled “Arizona’s Curriculum Battles: A 500-Year Civilizational War.” The casus belli was a 2010 legislative ban of a voluntary Mexican American studies class that was being taught in eight high schools and middle schools in the Tucson Unified School District.

Conservative critics said the course content constituted a form of hate speech and fomented racial resentment. The ban was challenged in court.

At the trial, then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne denounced the class as “extremely anti-American” and “destructive ethnic chauvinism,” alleging it promoted “essentially revolution against the American government, that the borders were artificial, [and] that the bronze continent was for the bronze people.”

A federal judge overturned the ban in 2017, ruling that it was discriminatory and fueled by race-based fears. 

Likewise, the Texas State Board of Education rejected a Mexican American studies course in 2014 as a statewide elective, triggering a political standoff that was resolved last year with an approval.

Advocates in Texas say that even before the state approved the elective, about 40 ethnic studies courses and programs were offered in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as after-school programs.

“Part of our rationale was that a statewide curriculum would make it easier for local districts and schools to adopt it,” said advocate Juan Tejeda, a retired professor of Mexican American studies and music at Palo Alto College in San Antonio.

Oregon and Vermont are next in the queue, both developing statewide ethnic studies standards. Oregon’s proposed standards, which have not received final approval, would introduce first-graders to such concepts as racism, gender identity, and systems of power.

Under Vermont’s law, adopted earlier this year, an advisory working group will recommend rules, standards, or legal changes for teaching ethnic studies and social equity studies from prekindergarten through the 12th grade. The state’s Board of Education will consider the group’s proposals by mid-2022.

There is no single approach to teaching ethnic studies, and teachers are encouraged to adapt the materials to the needs of their communities. A common feature of the classes is discussing how oppression and privilege shape one’s group identity, whether white or black, straight or gay, male or female, binary or nonbinary, among the identity categories commonly recognized in the discipline.

This self-discovery exercise can be a sensitive issue, and not just for straight white male students.

At a high school in North Carolina’s Wake County, 10th-graders were asked at the beginning of the school year to answer a “Diversity Inventory” worksheet, asking them to identify the gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, ability, religion, and socio-economic status for themselves as well as about their friends, neighbors, teachers, and others.

The school system forced the teacher to stop administering the “Diversity Inventory” following complaints. One former school board member who is gay expressed dismay on his Facebook page that LGBTQ students were being asked to announce their sexual orientation and to out others in the community.

Last year a North Carolina mom, also in Wake County, complained to school officials when her 8-year-old son brought home a handout explaining white privilege. The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the mom, who is of black and Hispanic ancestry, said her son was confused and thought the handout was saying that whites are superior.

Still, ethnic studies programs now enjoy a reach that was unimaginable when the movement was launched by a student coalition calling itself the Third World Liberation Front at San Francisco State University in 1968 with a five-month campus strike and demands to change the Eurocentric curriculum.

“One of the advances in the last 40-50 years is we are in the professoriate, administrative, faculty, superintendents of schools, we’re now in the legislature,” said Kenneth Monteiro, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and former dean of the College of Ethnic Studies. “We’re just in a resurgence now.”

Ethnic studies have been defined in various ways, but the movement emphasizes teaching about European conquest and domination from the perspectives of those who were subjugated and colonized, often contrasting the greed and brutality of the conquerors with the resistance and resilience of the conquered. It deals with historical figures, writers, activists, and resistance movements that are often absent from standard presentations of American history.

“It asks all students to think about structural inequality and the ways in which people have historically and in the present empowered themselves, to make change, to eradicate inequality and injustice,” said Amy Sueyoshi, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, professor of race and resistance studies, and professor of sexuality studies at San Francisco State University. “The ethnic studies curriculum actually asks for transformative change. It asks for people to make the world a better place.”

The hundreds of existing ethnic studies courses taught in California are outlined in detail in 831 pages of course descriptions submitted by the schools to the University of California to qualify for high school credit in college admissions.

The courses come in different flavors, some emphasizing oppression, resistance, and activism, while others are structured like traditional courses in history, culture, and social studies. Some class descriptions state that students are taught multiple perspectives and are expected to weigh the evidence to independently reach their own conclusions.

From the outset, ethnic studies have been marked by a tension between the activists and the scholars, creating two factions within the movement, said Fabio Rojas, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, and author of “From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline” (2007, The Johns Hopkins University Press).

In many universities the activists are held in check by academic standards, but some campuses have gone “completely activist,” said Rojas, who favors scholarship over political agitation. This tension is now playing out in California and has sparked clashes in other states, he said.

“They come to a view where there is a permanent state of warfare,” Rojas said of the activists. “It’s a Manichaean struggle between good and evil. But instead of demons and angels, we have capitalists and the workers.”

California’s proposed curriculum, now undergoing revisions, opted for an activist approach, describing ethnic studies as a moral debt to be paid to students of color, “owed after centuries of educational trauma, dehumanization, and enforced sociopolitical, cultural-historical, economic, and moral constraints via the education system.”

It says ethnic studies classes can start with “community-unity chants” and encourages students “to decolonize their diets by reintroducing traditional and ancestral foods.”

The California curriculum proposal, based on university-level courses, is awash in academic terminology, such as hybridities, nepantlas, praxis, hxrstory, womxn, xdisciplinary, countergemonic, misogynoir, and femmes of color—coinages lifted from gender theory, feminist theory, and other academic specialties.

The classes don’t use a standard textbook, but a commonly assigned text is Howard Zinn’s leftist classic, “A People’s History of the United States.” There are many other assigned readings, from “A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present” to “Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization.” Some classes also assign novels, drama, and poetry by Chicano and African American writers such as Julia Alvarez and Ralph Ellison.

The proposal generated more than 20,000 public comments, only 365 of which favored the draft as submitted. The vast majority of criticisms involved concerns that the BDS movement against Israel was included in the proposed curriculum and anti-Semitism was not. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined the California Legislative Jewish Caucus in publicly urging an overhaul.

The California proposal was off-putting even to some progressives, such as California Assembly member José Medina, who had introduced the legislation to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement. A former high school teacher who taught ethnic studies and Chicano studies, Medina said he was mystified by some of the jargon and concerned by the course content.

As a result, Medina, a Democrat, is delaying his graduation requirement legislation by a year to give the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission time to revise the curriculum.

“I probably would say there were some lessons that didn’t have the students thinking for themselves as much as I would like them to,” Medina said. “I want students to draw their own conclusions.”

One objection is the strong language linking the United States and capitalism to oppression and genocide, while omitting mention of the cruelty of non-European empires.

“It is not about the study of ethnic groups, but a political statement masquerading as education,” the American Jewish Committee wrote to the chair of California’s Instructional Quality Commission. “This myopic worldview explains as well the absence of any discussion of anti-Semitism, a form of hatred emanating from both the political right and left. In short, the curriculum adopts politically tendentious views on race and identity which should not be taught as unchallenged truths in our state’s public schools.”

Academic research on ethnic studies tells a different story. It can have a marked influence on students of color through improved class attendance, higher graduation rates, and overall better academic performance.

“These kinds of curriculum can promote feelings of belongingness in school and that school is a space for them, and that’s something that can catalyze that latent motivation to learn,” said Thomas Dee, an economist and a professor of education at Stanford University who has studied the issue.

Jordan-Zachery, the North Carolina professor, shared a commonly held suspicion among advocates about the backlash: “This notion that somehow kids are going to be harmed by being exposed to information is really a cover, it’s a proxy for something much deeper.”

Advocates say that California’s proposed curriculum, with its radical critique of capitalism and empire, represents ethnic studies in its unadulterated form. To strip out the calls for student action and social change, and to toss in a hodgepodge of perspectives that don’t reflect the experiences of communities of color, would dilute ethnic studies into a milquetoast multiculturalism.

“An attempt to uplift the voice of communities of color has been met with the all too familiar ‘But what about my oppression?’” Theresa Montaño, professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at California State University, Northridge, said in a statement issued by advocates in response to the objections.

“We recognize that edits can be made, but to eliminate the entire project we worked on is a highly political, undemocratic, and many would say, oppressive act,” wrote Montaño, who was a member of the advisory committee that created California’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum.

A number of advocates said that the conceptual starting point of ethnic studies is to “decenter” the dominant cultural perspective: whiteness.

“It’s not ethnic studies if it doesn’t challenge whiteness,” said Monteiro, who is also a board member of the Association for Ethnic Studies. He described “whiteness” as a 500-year-old artificial social construct that functions as a God, is perceived as all-powerful and never directly named, so that it can never be talked about and challenged.

Ethnic studies are all about smashing this manmade idol, he said, and that process can be painful.

“Are you asking me is there a way of doing this without making the powerful person uncomfortable? I don’t know if that can be done,” Monteiro said. “We actually prepare our teachers to know that on the first day of class, or in the first week, you may have students who are sobbing. This is the first time they’ve had to be this uncomfortable.”  


Monday, October 14, 2019

What student debt is doing to a generation of Americans

I inherited nothing but because I was a good saver and invested from early on, I was able to pay for all my son's  education fees without difficulty.  He entered the workforce with zero debt. 

But had I been poorer I would have advised him to learn deeply whatever he was interested in and get a diploma mill degree for documentation purposes.  If you know a field well and can demonstrate it, employers will have little interest in your documentation. 

He spent 8 years learning stuff that he enjoyed but which was no practical use to him but then took a short course in IT.

He entered the workforce in IT and he just had to show his work for lots of people to want to hire him. They hired him on the basis of what he could do rather than any qualifications.  And you can learn programming, which is the basis of IT, in a week.  I did.  Demonstrated ability and usefulness will get you jobs.  Qualifications often will not.

In my working life I several times got jobs that weren't even advertised. See here. I just presented my track record and was grabbed.

So I greatly deplore the poor guidance that most American college students receive.  Most could do well without incurring any debt

In April, 2011, the anthropologist Caitlin Zaloom was sitting in her office at New York University when one of her most promising students appeared at her door, crying. Kimberly had dreamed of life in New York City since she was eight years old. Growing up in a middle-class family just outside Philadelphia, she was regaled with stories about her mother’s short, glamorous-sounding stint waitressing in Times Square. Kimberly’s version of the big-city fantasy was also shaped by reruns of “Felicity,” a late-nineties drama set at a lightly fictionalized version of N.Y.U.

Her dream school did not disappoint. Kimberly was an intrepid, committed student, studying the effects of globalization on urban space; she worked with street vendors and saw their struggles to make ends meet. College opened up a new world to her. But her family had sacrificed to help finance her education, and she had taken out considerable loans. She had looked forward to putting her degree to good use, while chipping away at the debt behind it. But the job she was offered involved outsourcing labor to foreign contractors— exacerbating the inequalities she hoped a future career might help rectify.

Zaloom felt that there was something representative about Kimberly’s story, as more students find themselves struggling with the consequences of college debt. She wanted to learn about the trajectory that had brought Kimberly to her office that day. She visited her at home and listened as her mother, June, talked about how she, too, had fantasized about a life in New York.

But June’s family had needed her back home, in Pennsylvania, where she met Kimberly’s father. They eventually divorced, but they stayed in the same town, raising Kimberly together. June had wanted her daughter to have the experiences she had missed out on. When Kimberly was accepted at N.Y.U., her father urged her to attend a more affordable school in state. June implored him to change his mind, and he eventually agreed. The decision stretched their finances, but June told her daughter, “You’ve got to go.”

It’s easy to dismiss quandaries like Kimberly’s as the stuff of youth, when every question seems freighted with filmic significance. There’s a luxury to putting off practical concerns. But her story gave Zaloom insight into the evolving role of college debt in contemporary American life.

Kimberly’s predicament was put in motion when she first set her sights on attending a college where, today, the annual tuition is more than fifty thousand dollars, in one of the most expensive cities in the world. That her parents risked their financial stability to nurture this dream seemed meaningful. Previous generations might have pushed a college-bound child to fend for herself; Kimberly’s parents prized notions of “potential” and “promise.” Shielding her from the consequences of debt was an expression of love, and of their own forward-looking class identity.

Since 2012, Zaloom has spent a lot of time with families like Kimberly’s. They all fall into America’s middle class—an amorphous category, defined more by sensibility or aspirational identity than by a strict income threshold. (Households with an annual income of anywhere from forty thousand dollars to a quarter of a million dollars view themselves as middle class.)

In “Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost” (Princeton), Zaloom considers how the challenge of paying for college has become one of the organizing forces of middle-class family life. She and her team conducted interviews with a hundred and sixty families across the country, all of whom make too much to qualify for Pell Grants (reserved for households that earn below fifty thousand dollars) but too little to pay for tuition outright.

These families are committed to providing their children with an “open future,” in which passions can be pursued. They have done all the things you’re supposed to, like investing and saving, and not racking up too much debt. Some parents are almost neurotically responsible, passing down a sense of penny-pinching thrift as though it were an heirloom; others prize idealism, encouraging their children to follow their dreams.

What actually unites them, from a military family in Florida to a dual-Ph.D. household in Michigan, is that the children are part of a generation where debt— the financial and psychological state of being indebted—will shadow them for much of their adult lives.

A great deal has changed since Kimberly’s parents attended college. From the late nineteen-eighties to the present, college tuition has increased at a rate four times that of inflation, and eight times that of household income. It has been estimated that forty-five million people in the United States hold educational debt totalling roughly $1.5 trillion—more than what Americans owe on their credit cards and auto loans combined.

Some fear that the student-debt “bubble” will be the next to burst. Wide-scale student-debt forgiveness no longer seems radical. Meanwhile, skeptics question the very purpose of college and its degree system. Maybe what pundits dismiss as the impulsive rage of young college students is actually an expression of powerlessness, as they anticipate a future defined by indebtedness.

Middle-class families might not seem like the most sympathetic characters when we’re discussing the college-finance conundrum. Poor students, working-class students, and students of color face more pronounced disadvantages, from the difficulty of navigating financial-aid applications and loan packages to the lack of a safety net.

But part of Zaloom’s fascination with middle-class families is the larger cultural assumption that they ought to be able to afford higher education. A study conducted in the late nineteen-eighties by Elizabeth Warren, Teresa Sullivan, and Jay Westbrook illuminated the precarity of middle-class life. They found that the Americans filing for bankruptcy rarely lacked education or spent recklessly. Rather, they were often college-educated couples who were unable to recover from random crises along the way, like emergency medical bills.

These days, paying for college poses another potential for crisis. The families in “Indebted” are thoughtful and restrained, like the generically respectable characters conjured during a Presidential debate. Zaloom follows them as they contemplate savings plans, apply for financial aid, and then strategize about how to cover the difference.

Parents and children alike talk about how educational debt hangs over their futures, impinging on both daily choices and long-term ambitions. In the eighties, more than half of American twenty-somethings were financially independent. In the past decade, nearly seventy per cent of young adults in their twenties have received money from their parents. The risk is collective, and the consequences are shared across generations. At times, “Indebted” reads like an ethnography of a dwindling way of life, an elegy for families who still abide by the fantasy that thrift and hard work will be enough to secure the American Dream.

If you are a so-called responsible parent, you might begin stashing away money for college as soon as your child is born. You may want to take advantage of a 529 education-savings plan, a government-administered investment tool that provides tax relief to people who set money aside for a child’s educational expenses. Some states even provide a 529 option to prepay college tuition at today’s rates.

Zaloom writes of Patricia, a schoolteacher in Florida who managed to cover in-state fees for both of her children after five years of working and saving. Patricia resented the fact that preparing for her children’s future left her with so little time and energy to be with them in the present. Her daughter, Maya, was academically gifted and excelled in college. Then, when Patricia’s son, Zachary, was a high-school senior, her husband walked out on the family, leaving them four hundred thousand dollars in debt.

Patricia spent her retirement savings to keep them afloat. Zachary had difficulty coping, and he had never shown a strong inclination toward college, but the money was already earmarked. Zaloom writes, “Her investment in his tuition was an expression of faith in him.” He struggled in college and never graduated. “If I’d had a crystal ball,” Patricia says, “I wouldn’t have gotten in the program for Zachary.”

In Zaloom’s view, Patricia’s decisions all point to a core faith that college is fundamental to middle-class identity. Throughout “Indebted,” parents and children lament the feeling of burdening one another. Parents fear that their financial decisions might limit their children’s potential, even when those children are still in diapers. It’s a fear, Zaloom argues, that loan companies often exploit. “You couldn’t not hear about it,” Patricia recalled of the commercials for Florida’s college-savings account. The existence of 529 plans suggests that paying for college is just a matter of saving a bit of each monthly paycheck.

And yet Patricia is an outlier. Only three per cent of Americans invest in a 529 account or the equivalent, and they have family assets that are, on average, twenty-five times those of the median household. Zaloom disputes the premise that “planning leads to financial stability.” Student debt didn’t become a problem because families refused to save. “In truth, it’s the other way around,” she writes. “Planning requires stability in a family’s fortunes, a stability in both family life and their finances that is uncommon for middle-class families today.”

As an anthropologist, Zaloom is particularly attuned to how institutions teach us to see ourselves. The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form, required of all students seeking assistance, consists of a hundred or so questions detailing the financial history of the applicant’s family. Zaloom hears about the difficulty of collecting this information, especially when parents are estranged, or unwilling to help. And the form presumes a lot about how the “family unit” works. One informational graphic poses the question “Who’s my parent when I fill out the FAFSA?”

More HERE 

A School Referred to This Dad’s Daughter as a Boy for Months…Without Telling Him

How would you feel if your school-aged child made a life-altering decision without your input and even without your knowledge?

Jay Keck felt helpless.

Jay’s daughter is on the autistic spectrum. She has difficulty making friends and uses a personalized education program for students with learning disabilities. Jay and his wife did everything they could to help her do well in school and to build a solid relationship with their daughter’s teachers.

That relationship went south one day in April of 2016. That’s when Jay’s daughter—who was then 14-years old—told her parents that she believed she was a boy trapped in the “wrong body.” This was a shock to Jay and his wife because their daughter had never shown any signs that she was uncomfortable as a girl.

But the real bombshell was yet to come.

Jay found out his daughter’s teachers had been affirming his daughter as a boy for months—calling her by male pronouns and a masculine name—all without his knowledge. They did this even though they were fully aware of her mental health history.

Jay and his wife met with school officials to make sure their daughter was called by her legal name. Not only was their request denied, but school officials treated them as if they were abusive parents because they didn’t want their daughter to reject her biological sex.

Jay’s story is angering and horrifying. But unfortunately, he’s not the only one.

Parents across the country are seeing their rights ignored
“Through all of this,” Jay wrote, “I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Many parents just like my wife and me are often afraid to speak out.”

Jay started the group Parents of ROGD Kids. ROGD stands for “Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria,” which is what Jay’s daughter and many other children and teenagers experience. The group is for parents whose children have been encouraged to reject their biological sex—and even given life-altering medical treatment—against their wishes.

Many public schools are already teaching children as young as kindergarteners that it is possible to change your sex. Make no mistake: this isn’t just about using someone’s preferred pronouns and allowing a child to dress as they wish. It’s about setting children on a path toward sex-reassignment surgery and taking cross-sex hormones, which are both dangerous and largely experimental. What’s more, the studies supporting such measures have been widely discredited.

And if parents are not supportive of their children going down such a dangerous path, some school officials treat them as if they are abusive. A social worker even told Jay’s daughter about a halfway house because Jay did not affirm his daughter as the opposite sex.


The Ministry of Love: Ongoing Gender Partisanship in the Department of Education

Orwell’s famous dystopia 1984 is often cited as a parable about the banality of administrative evil. The ever-vigilant bureaucrats of Oceania position themselves not only on the Left side of history, but also at its end. To err from their ideology is treason.

The citizens of Oceania live in a state of self-imposed hypnosis where they have to pretend that even the simplest of words signify their exact opposites. The government agency that specializes in espionage and torture is thus called The Ministry of Love. The Ministry views every sexual act as a potential crime unless proven otherwise via affirmative surveillance.

Imagine a federal agency that has invested itself with the authority to monitor the most private details of citizens to root out sexual heresy. Imagine a federal  agency which once contemplated installing security cameras in every classroom in order to monitor the facial and optical muscles of all students nationwide.

This agency was so devoted to its ideological mission that it never presented its unconstitutional rules to the American public to consult their opinion, considered itself to be a superior alternative to the criminal justice system, granted itself universal jurisdiction, threatened many colleges with financial death unless they punished constitutionally protected speech, sought to abolish the “reasonable person” standard, and created a class of imitative bureaucrats in academic institutions to perpetuate an industry of victimhood.

Impossible, you think? We have just objectively described the record of the Department of Education’s civil rights branch, the Office for Civil Rights.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received bipartisan and professional criticism for its unconstitutional actions during the Obama administration. Formal critics include the Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, National Association of Scholars, California Governor Jerry Brown, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  American College of Trial Lawyers, and Reason Foundation.

Moreover, courts that have heard cases involving OCR’s Title IX procedures have often strongly denounced them. Examples include condemnatory opinions from the Second Circuit of Appeals and the Sixth Circuit of Appeals. In a recent Seventh Circuit of Appeals opinion, Judge Barrett stated that “Purdue’s process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension.” Professor KC Johnson has covered the case in greater detail.

Obama’s OCR espoused a particular brand of radical feminism. According to this doctrine, taught across the nation in women’s studies departments, men have brutalized women since the beginning of history. Past oppression must be remedied through government intervention, eliminating the due process principles that are meant to protect every American.

The perils of government tyranny aside, the fundamental assumptions of the “patriarchy theory” cannot survive rational scrutiny. While it is true that women were historically denied various rights, they have also been sheltered from grievous harm (combat, for example). Also, analysis of federal aggregate data from the United States demonstrates that women are as likely to engage in sexual coercion against men as vice versa, which undermines the “patriarchy” narrative.

At any rate, past historical wrongs cannot be rectified by unfair treatment in the present, as the Eighth Circuit stated in this ruling.

OCR’s historical record speaks to its lack of fairness. The agency authored a total of 255 resolution letters (formal decisions in a case) from 2012 to 2019.

The analysis shows that whenever OCR wrote a resolution letter between 2012 and 2019 to adjudicate adversarial proceedings between female and male parties, they sided with the female 216 times but only 9 times with the male. Their extreme partisanship is clear in every aspect of Title IX.

Athletics. The Department’s athletics compliance tests have been rightfully criticized for imposing unconstitutional quotas. The agency sided with female athletes 63 times, but sided with the male only once between 2012 and 2019. The only resolution letter favorable for male athletes is the Temple University Letter.

Grading. The Department sided with female students who alleged discrimination in grading on multiple occasions, while dismissing very similar allegations by male students.

Retaliation. The Department sided with female complainants alleging retaliation on many occasions. There are at least 23 letters in this category, such as the Jacksonville State University Letter where the agency sided with a “falsely accused” woman. There is no clear example of the Department siding with a male student alleging retaliation on the basis of sex, but dismissal letters do exist.

Sexual Harassment. Male students who petitioned the agency to allege bias in sexual harassment disputes (either as the accused, or the accuser) had a success rate of 1.1 percent during 2012-2019 (6/532). The Department was very aggressive when it came to siding with female accusers while consistently dismissing the concerns of accused males. This is despite male students often suffering life-altering consequences, such as expulsion or a permanent notation on their transcript, in addition to severe emotional distress. Some have committed suicide.

Reasonableness. OCR urged schools to get rid of the “reasonable person” standard at least twice:  One letter involved a female student who accused a male teacher of staring at her breasts for 3-4 seconds. Another letter involved a costly systemic review because very young students were playing “National Grab Ass Day” during play time. The agency even sided with a female student whose claims of sexual violence were disproven via DNA evidence.

Due Process. While sending a dismissal letter to an accused male student, OCR argued that “due process” is not covered by Title IX. As long as the accused is a man, that is. Federal bureaucrats aggressively sided with women who were accused of various sexual infractions. On one occasion, the Department condemned a university for allowing a male to file a counter-claim of misconduct against a female student. Another time, the agency threatened a university with loss of federal funding for pressing fraud charges against a woman who made false accusations. There is also an example of OCR using defamation theory to side with a female complainant, even though the agency has never accepted any complaints concerning the damaged reputations of accused men.

Single-Sex Programs. Women are the majority of college students, but many colleges offer dozens of support programs for women only. Whenever male complainants challenge female-only programs, such as women’s centers or STEM camps for girls, the Department has dismissed their complaints on various pretexts. One popular pretext is that these female-only programs cannot be challenged unless men specifically apply to them and receive rejections, thus creating a putative victim. However, OCR has resolved procedural complaints in the absence of any victim on many occasions, as long as the objective was consistent with their agenda.

American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines. OCR dismissed a Title IX complaint challenging the APA guidelines, which sought to classify masculinity as a mental illness factor. This was despite serious public outcry against those guidelines. In the dismissal letter, officials argued that Title IX cannot be applied in a manner that would interfere with curricular materials. That was false. OCR has aggressively interfered with the training materials and the curricular materials of various colleges as long as doing so furthers their gender agenda.

Administrative Closure. OCR has a rule requiring the dismissal of pending complaints if similar allegations have been filed elsewhere. This rule is rigorously applied to male students to dismiss their Title IX complaints. However, when female students file complaints against their institutions, administrative closure is not applied to dismiss their allegations.

Some might assume that OCR has received few meritorious complaints from male students. According to a Freedom of Information Act request, however, the Department received 532 complaints from men in the sexual harassment category alone between 2011 and 2019.

The Department of Education became a hive of identity politics under Obama and there is little evidence of improvement. The modest reforms proposed by Secretary Betsy DeVos have not yet been implemented.

Resolution letters published under the Trump administration perpetuate the Obama doctrines. For example, the Stanford University letter tried to eliminate the reasonable person standard. The Butte-Glenn Community College letter involved a retroactive review of many old complaints, demanding the creation of a complex bureaucracy. The Buffalo State University letter wrongfully claimed that off-campus incidents fall under the jurisdiction of Title IX, despite case law to the contrary.

Unsurprisingly, some politicians want to abolish the entire Department of Education. Representative Thomas Massie has introduced a bill to do just that. While we cannot predict whether the Department will ever be abolished, we must never cease our vigilance against our very own Ministry of Love.