Friday, November 22, 2019

How Colleges Have Made Students Poorer and Undereducated

There is general agreement among higher education observers and reformers that tuition and fees at public universities have increased at an unsustainable pace. It’s equally uncontroversial to note that financial aid hasn’t kept up with unrelenting tuition increases, leaving students in the lurch.

In his new book, “The Impoverishment of the American College Student,” James V. Koch lays out exactly how bad it has been—and how we got to this point. The book is extremely detailed and heavy on data. Koch brings together the latest and most relevant academic research on college costs. It’s a welcome new tool to help make informed policy decisions that address the real problem of college costs.

Koch starts by describing the dismal landscape of college costs. He cites some alarming statistics. Published tuition and fees for in-state students increased from $7,470 in 1997-1998 to $20,770 in 2017-2018. From June 2000 to June 2016, the increase was 184 percent—almost double the increase in the cost of medical care.

Those increases in tuition and fees have far outpaced increases in wages, making it more difficult for low-income and middle-income families to afford college. (I think “impoverishment” is perhaps too strong a word, but the problem is certainly a serious one.)

Koch uses the sad mismatch between the cost of college and families’ resources to segue into an examination of price discrimination, how student loans work, and universities’ reliance on out-of-state students to bolster their revenues. His analysis underlines the point that while university finances are messy (and vary considerably between institutions) current trends are not sustainable.

Koch meticulously catalogs the many hypothesized explanations for ever-increasing tuition, including those that are often cited by university administrators and higher ed “insiders.” Higher education is labor-intensive, they say. States have divested of public colleges and universities. Higher education can’t increase productivity with technology in the same way that other businesses do. What those explanations have in common is that they excuse colleges themselves from addressing the problem. Ever-increasing tuition is beyond their control.

Koch gives these explanations the attention they merit, examines the evidence, and admits there is some truth to these familiar justifications for ever-increasing costs. But he is quick to note that they account for only a small part of the story. And he isn’t afraid to lay blame where it belongs: primarily at the feet of the institutions themselves.

He says, forthrightly, that “[t]oo many institutions of higher education have become grasping enterprises that operate primarily to further the interests of faculty and administrators…rather than those of students and citizens.” Tuition increases, for example, are a choice. Faculty and administrators keep demanding larger budgets, trustees vote for them, and students pay the price.

Some of the ways in which universities enrich themselves are easy to see and Koch highlights them in his analysis: an amenities “arms race,” rapid administrative growth, curricular bloat, and almost ubiquitous mission creep.

He dedicates an entire chapter to illustrating how universities use price discrimination to produce net revenues in excess of what they need for student aid. The availability of generous federal financial aid, although well-intentioned, makes this enrichment easier to accomplish.

His chapter on the competing theories of William Baumol and Howard Bowen is particularly enlightening. Put succinctly, Bowen’s law posits that, in the pursuit of prestige, universities raise as much money as they can from as many sources as they can—including tuition—and then have an incentive to spend it all. Baumol’s cost disease explains that in professions where there are no (or low) increases in labor productivity (like teaching), salaries will increase in response to rising salaries elsewhere in the labor market. In the end, he concludes that Bowen’s law explains more than Baumol’s cost disease.

Koch’s insistence that universities shoulder considerable blame for soaring prices might come as a surprise since Koch himself was a college president for many years. He is the Board of Visitors Professor of Economics emeritus and president emeritus of Old Dominion University in Virginia. He also served as president of the University of Montana for four years.

But he is also part of a new effort to make college more affordable, especially for undergraduate students. He is the chairman of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, which wants to make “high-quality, affordable college education a reality for all Americans.” They worked in Virginia to promote a tuition freeze at public universities.

And in the last chapter of his book, Koch offers some other modest solutions to the problem of increasing costs, but warns, “it is not clear that many viable, politically acceptable solutions exist.” There are a few ideas he thinks show promise. He suggests that governing boards be restructured and strengthened and that board members be well-trained. Like other reformers, Koch recommends more transparency in university spending. And he wants the actions of public university foundations to be transparent and easily accessible.

He is skeptical of using the legislature to rein in costs, saying, “new laws and rules can work, but in most cases only if boards, presidents, and administrators want them to work.” He warns that wily administrators will surely subvert any new laws they don’t like.

Because of this sober and practical view of higher education, Koch’s new book and the work he’s doing with Partners are valuable additions to the higher education policy discussion. More former college presidents should follow Koch’s example.


Leftist Activism Is A Requirement Of New Elementary School Curriculum

Last week we discussed the dangers of the new elementary school "Racial Literacy Curriculum" that is being instituted in Grades K-8 in various schools spanning eight states. This week, we will examine the activism requirements of this curriculum.

Beginning in Grade 3, the Pollyanna "Racial Literacy Curriculum" asks students to become activists in order to achieve leftist goals. The 3rd Grade chapter is entitled "Stories of Activism – How One Voice Can Change a Community." The expected result is for students to understand "how we can be agents of communal, social, political, and environmental change."

Does an 8-year-old need to decide on activism at such a young age? What if a student doesn't agree with being an "agent" of "communal, social, political, and environmental change"? Does the student fail? Does a conservative or capitalist or individualist student learn that his/her ideas are inherently wrong because the curriculum says so? What kind of negligent school puts such pressure on young children?

Most importantly, what is the opportunity cost of this curriculum? Instead of bettering the individual student through mathematics or science lessons, precious time is wasted on leftist conditioning.

We are already seeing the results of older students conditioned by leftist politics. Oregon students walked out of class to protest the right of a Chick-fil-A food truck to sell on campus. These students felt "unsafe" by the Christian politics of the company behind the food truck. School officials indulged them and stated that they will consider "all potential safety concerns. That includes bullying or cyberbullying" — as if Christian political positions are a type of unsafe harassment or bullying.

But Pollyanna takes leftist activism to new heights, fabricating an image of a racist America that children are taught to rebel against.

In Grade 4, students are programmed with "the ability to critique and dispel Eurocentric perspectives that favor a myopic appearance of race." In translation, the indisputable fact that European countries contributed most to the development of civilization as we know it — from engineering to medicine to architecture to law — is taught as racist history because Europeans had white skin. The activism learned in Grade 3 is used to critique the exceptional accomplishments of Europeans in Grade 4. Quite honestly, this is indeed the most racist chapter of the curriculum, teaching students to minimize the achievements of whites based on their skin color.

By Grade 8, after nine years of acute indoctrination, the children are ready to fight on behalf of leftists in America. "[S]tudents will set commitments for rectifying current social ills, such as learning and planning how to carry out anti-racist activism and/or social advocacy in their communities and/or to improve their everyday lives." The 8th Grade chapter is entitled "Racism as a Primary 'Institution' of the U.S. – How We May Combat Systemic Inequality."

Recall the history surrounding the cessation of the horrors of slavery, segregation, and racism in the United States. Who stopped it? White Americans, the same people who this curriculum colors as evil. The Civil War was primarily fought by white Americans, and they fought side-by-side with black Americans. White Americans observed the evils of slavery and couldn't bear the inequity of segregation. White people, the largest demographic at the time, chose to live in equality with countrymen of all colors. But their sacrifice for freedom is effaced by the "Racism as a Primary 'Institution' of the U.S." lesson plans.

More enraging, "social advocacy" of the leftist politics shoved down these children's throats is a scholastic goal of this curriculum. "Anti-racist activism" of this made-up "systematic American racism" is what our children must work towards. An academic goal! Take a moment to pause and ponder on the meaning of this end-goal.

Greta Thunberg's personality is a model for such a curriculum. She skips school, foregoing the opportunity cost of self-betterment, for the betterment of a liberal lie. Indeed, a socialist, selfless act. This is a child that is hailed by leftists as ideal. This is a child that leftists seek to replicate. After ingraining emotional "America is Racist" propaganda into our children, we can expect more and more Greta-like kids to skip school and carry out leftist dirty work, simply concentrating on the subject of race after Pollyanna.

Questions must be asked of the ethical standard of schools that allow activism in lieu of education and leftist curriculum in place of regular social studies. Do the administrators favor political activism over scholarship? Do these educators drink the Kool-Aid and believe that a classic curriculum is racist?

Just a month ago, Seattle public schools declared math racist. The pure objectivity of mathematics, the curriculum that deals with figures, not people, was deemed inconceivably racist. Those schools are now teaching social justice instead of math.

Is the Scientific Revolution racist? Is the Industrial Revolution racist? How about the Agricultural Revolution? Those were all in Europe. Remember how evil "Eurocentric" studies can be.

What value will our children add to society after undergoing leftist brainwashing in elementary school, where they are most vulnerable to suggestion? Which medicines will they invent to save lives? Will they engineer? Will they build? No. You need math for that. But will they fight on behalf of the unoppressed oppressed? Oh, yes, that they will do. Will they shun white races and the gifts to humanity that European races have given us? Apparently. After all, they will need to — in order to pass the 4th Grade.

What will happen in 24 years, in 2043, when white races are officially a minority group in the United States?


Children who start school later gain advantage, new Australian study shows (?)

The paper underlying this report does not yet appear to be online but the Centre seems very Leftist so the research is unlikely to be very rigorous.

Even the report below does however reveal a lack of rigour.  It is apparently based on the nonsensical "all men are equal" dogma.  No attempt is made to take account of student IQ. High IQ students have often been shown to thrive when enrolled early and the usual squawk about their social fitness has been shown to be a snark.  Smart kids are in general better socially as well as academically

So the study tells us nothing certain.  There were presumably a number of low IQ students in the sample who would benefit from a late start.  So the finding of an overall benefit from a late start could be entirely a product of the low IQ element in the sample.  How students of around average IQ fare is simply not addressed

Children who are held back and start school later than their peers gain an advantage that is still felt up to six decades later, a new study shows.

They are more self-confident, resilient, competitive and trusting, which tends to be associated with economic success.

The analysis of 1007 adults aged between 24 and 60 illustrates the “potential adverse effect of school entry rules,” lead author Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney said.

“Our findings indicate that school entry rules influence the formation of behavioural traits, creating long-lasting disparities between individuals born on different sides of the cut-off date,” he said.

School starting ages vary between Australian states. In Victoria, children starting school must turn five by April 30 in the year they start school, whereas in Queensland and Western Australia the cut-off is June 30. In South Australia,, they must be five by May 1 and in Tasmania they must be five by January 1.

Dr Page said the study’s findings suggested the relative age at school had an impact on people’s success in adulthood.

“We find that participants who were relatively old in school exhibit higher self-confidence about their performance at an effort task compared to those who were relatively young,” he said.

“Moreover, they declare being more tolerant to risk in a range of real-life situations and trusting of other people in social interactions.

“Taken together, this set of results offers important insights on the long-term effects of relative age at school on behavioural traits.”

The new study was published by the Life Course Centre, a joint research project between the federal government and the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.

It involved adults from Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

The findings come as a UNSW study found a quarter of students are held back so they start school when turning six, not when they turn five.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Lawmaker Calls For Armed Teachers As TN Grants Millions For Officers

Guns save lives. This is a simple fact that we’ve seen play out countless times. More guns mean more lives saved. This, too, is a simple fact.

When it comes to school security, school resource officers serve an important role. However, as we learned in Parkland, they don’t do anything for school shootings if they won’t go in to confront the shooter.

While we need are more school resource officers, but we also something else. As Tennessee grants millions for new school resource officers, one lawmaker is calling for something more.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said Monday the state so far has awarded $7.2 million out of a $20 million pool to assist local school systems in hiring resource officers to protect students.

But despite hiring an additional 206 school resource officers across Tennessee, a state lawmaker called on colleagues to pass a law allowing interested teachers and coaches to carry firearms in schools, calling it a lower-cost alternative.

“There is in my opinion an answer to address school safety,” said Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, as the House Finance Committee kicked off hearings on next year’s state budget. “And that is allowing teachers and coaches to voluntarily go armed in schools.”

Holt said education officials can then “put up an abundance of signs around those schools saying that students on that campus are protected by teachers and coaches that are on that campus.

“This is not a foreign idea, this is not a new idea,” added Holt, a staunch gun rights advocate. “Other states have gone down this path and they’ve seen success. I would definitely say it’s time for us to look at that, especially in view of how much school safety’s costing.”

Following the hearing, Schwinn sidestepped reporters’ questions on arming educators, an issue that has previously failed to win legislative approval.

In fairness, Schwinn isn’t really the person to talk to there. She’s not a legislator, she’s more of an administrator. There are a lot of things she can do with Tennessee’s schools, but the one thing she can’t do is make a decision on something like that which is really the domain of the legislature. Her offering up her opinion isn’t particularly relevant.

However, I agree with Holt completely on this.

The truth is, we have educators who routinely carry a concealed firearm throughout the nation. They do so responsibly and without a single issue. There’s absolutely no reason they should be disarmed when they go to work. None. They’ve passed multiple background checks, not just for their jobs but also for their gun purchases and carry permits. They’re not a threat.

Arming teachers puts more guns into the schools in the hands of good people who are willing to step up and protect human life, even if it’s just their own. I’m fine with them saving their own skins with their firearms because they’ll end up saving more lives in the long run whether they mean to or not.

At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate way to not just prevent school shootings–after all, who wants to shoot up chemistry class when the chemistry teacher may be carrying a 9 mm–but also quickly end any that may happen anyway.

The question is, will the Tennessee legislature step up and make it happen?


Will the Courts Rein in Collegiate Race/Gender Pandering?

Heather Mac Donald last year created a brouhaha with her fabulous book The Diversity Delusion. She shows—correctly, in my view—“how race and gender pandering corrupt the university and undermine our culture.” If anything, things have gotten worse in the year-plus since that book appeared.

Take American University in Washington. In 2018 and 2019, it spent $121 million on “diversity” initiatives. That is a very substantial sum of money, about 17% the size of AU’s endowment and $16,000 (!!) for every undergraduate student—who probably at least indirectly paid for much of that. But what does “diversity” mean? It is measured by group characteristics of individuals—their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious preferences, birthplace (immigrant vs. native-born) on which American University is spending money to “improve” the diversity of its student body.

“Improving” diversity implies that some group characteristics are given preference over others. It implies that traditional criteria for student admission based on academic potential should receive less attention and racial or other nonacademic group characteristics considerations more. High school performance and academic promise as demonstrated by, say, high SAT scores should determine admission only if they fit into the politically correct perception of the optimal mix of students with respect to skin color, sexual proclivities and gender. If 60% of Americans are non-Hispanic whites, 12% black and another 17% Hispanic, than if a school like AU has 80% whites, 6% blacks and 8% Hispanics based on standard admission criteria, it needs to reduce the white proportion in order to sharply expand the black and Hispanic proportion. One way of doing that is by giving more financial aid to blacks and Hispanics and less to whites. A second way is to have materially differential academic standards for admission based on race. If differences already exist, those differentials should increase.

Many troubling questions arise. A vast majority of educated Americans believe that African Americans should not be denied admission to a school based on the color of their skin. They generally subscribe to the magisterial words of Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my . . . children will . . . live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Yet as color of skin has been gradually declining as a decisive consideration in American life (witness rising interracial marriages), universities want to reemphasize it, as well as other group identities, such as sexual orientation. I think this is a shame.

It is noteworthy that the efforts by a university to promote diversity has been rather lucrative for some who collect large amounts of what economists call “economic rent” (payments in excess of that necessary for them to provide labor services). For example, the Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan (same person) makes a princely $407,653 annually. Additionally, his wife hauls in another $181,404 as “Program Director of the LSA National Center for Institutional Diversity.” The diversity police make a lot of money.

These positions did not exist 50 years ago. Michigan professor Mark Perry notes that the salaries of the diversity bureaucracy of the university would fund over 700 full-tuition scholarships.

The American people, while over time becoming far more tolerant of others based on gender, race and other personal characteristics, generally are skeptical of affirmative action programs, as voters have indicated in several populous states (e.g., California and Michigan). The political environment on campuses is far different from the real world that supports universities. Courts appear to share the diversity/affirmative action skepticism to some extent as well. Harvard appears to under-admit Asian American students in order to provide places in its fixed-size entering class for students rejected under standard admissions criteria, especially members of other racial minorities. As indicated here previously, despite Harvard’s victory at the district court level, it is far from certain it will ultimately prevail at the Supreme Court, and meanwhile there is another suit winding its way through the courts involving the University of North Carolina. Will the courts rein in Excessive Diversity Syndrome? Stay tuned.


Australia: Taxpayers fleeced, betrayed as unis ponder why Christ born a man

Australian universities are abandoning their role as custodians of Western civilisation in favour of a seemingly endless obsession with identity politics.

I wrote recently about the University of Sydney’s Resurgent Racism project, a flagship program that provides taxpayer funds to academics so they can berate Australians for supposedly being racist.

But it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taxpayer-funded identity politics research.

A new report by the Institute of Public Affairs has confirmed the extent to which our universities are fixated on class, race and gender — and just how much Australians are paying for it.

The Humanities in Crisis: An Audit of Taxpayer-funded ARC Grants found the Australian Research Council’s national competitive grants program has distributed $1.34bn in funding to humanities research since 2002.

These projects cover historical studies, linguistics, cultural studies, human geography, and communication and media studies.

According to the ARC, its purpose is “to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community”. It also claims “the outcomes of ARC-funded research deliver cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians”.

So, has the research of the past 17 years done that and helped ensure our success as a prosperous, peaceful and stable nation?

Not quite. What the audit reveals is academics spending millions on projects that are narrow, incomprehensible and reflect the obsession with identity politics, cultural studies, critical theory and radical feminism.

At Macquarie University academics received $391,000 for a historical studies project called Sexing Scholasticism: Gender in Medieval Thought, which explored “medieval theological debates about why it was necessary that Christ was born as a man”.

Academics at the University of Sydney were awarded $735,000 for a cultural studies research project called Reconceiving the Queer Public Sphere: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Same-Sex Couple Domesticity. By “critically analysing queer home life” the project would “transform current understandings of the relation between homosexuality, private life and the public sphere”.

The ARC awarded the University of Melbourne $100,000 for a cultural studies project examining Female Stardom and Gay Subcultural Reception. And James Cook University was given a bumper $2.7m for a cultural studies proposal, How Gender Shapes the World: A Linguistic Perspective, the authors claimed would “enhance our nation’s capacity to interpret and manage gender roles in multicultural contexts”.

The preoccupation with identity politics is especially notable in historical studies.

There have been 616 such research proposals to have received funding since 2002 — with the total cost amounting to $192m.

The most common theme is “identity politics”, with 112 of the proposals focusing on the leitmotivs of class, race and gender.

The second most common theme is “indigenous history and studies”, with 99 projects, while the third most common, “war and conflict” attracted 88 proposals. In contrast, there are only three research projects that talk about the rule of law and a solitary proposal examining free speech.

This shows our universities are not interested in the history or values of institutions that are essential to understanding Australia’s present and shaping its future.

As curators of Western civilisation, academics have a duty to look after some of society’s most valuable material. But two decades of ARC funding shows they are neglecting their duties.

Having bought into the postmodernist notion that Western civilisation is a white patriarchy, they have released themselves from the obligation to study the Western canon. Aristotle’s thoughts on the meaning of tragedy are apparently irrelevant, as are Shakespeare’s observations of human nature and John Stuart Mill’s views on democracy. There is a great deal that universities could pick up from Machiavelli when it comes to the problem of free speech on campus.

Today’s academics mostly believe there is nothing we can learn from the 2500 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge passed down to us by those who have lived before us. This arrogance was articulated by academics at the University of Sydney when they rejected the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s proposed curriculum, which at the time was derided as “structurally, institutionally, morally and epistemically violent to other knowledges” and summarily dismissed as “white supremacy writ large”.

By rejecting the Western canon, academics not only are depriving university students of their dues but they also are depriving us all of the intellectual and moral nourishment that only the humanities can provide. Academics are no longer interested in properly feeding the society that ultimately feeds them.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Conservatives Are Now Getting Expelled From the Scientific Community Over LGBT Issues

LGBT activists have weaponized two scientific societies to cut off a major Mormon university from their international community of scientists. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Washington, D.C., and the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Colorado pulled job ads from Brigham Young University (BYU) after facing complaints over BYU's Honor Code, which prohibits homosexual conduct among students and staff. This is unlikely to stop with the AGU and GSA and is likely to lead to blacklisting far more schools than just BYU.

LGBT activists complained that the geological societies had listed a job posting from BYU on their job boards. While the societies originally stood up to pressure, they eventually caved as the activists went public. The job ads for a BYU tenure-track position were posed online in mid-September. The societies took them down two weeks later, on October 1, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. GSA, which has 27,000 members worldwide, refunded BYU the $800 it paid to post the job. AGU has 62,000 members in 144 countries.

"AGU has always encouraged and fostered a diverse geoscience community throughout its history because we believe—and repeatedly see—that diversity and inclusion are essential to advancing science," Billy Williams, the union's vice president of ethics, diversity, and inclusion, wrote in a statement. "Since the job posting from BYU referenced its Honor Code as a requirement of employment, which conflicts with our policy, we removed the job posting from our website."

AGU's own Code of Conduct prohibits members from "engaging in discrimination, harassment, bullying," and more. "As a statement of principle, AGU rejects discrimination and harassment by any means, based on factors such as ethnic or national origin, race, religion, ... gender identity, sexual orientation," and more.

In other words, Williams effectively accused BYU of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But the BYU Honor Code does not so discriminate. The Honor Code merely forbids homosexual behavior — explicitly distinguished from homosexual feelings or attraction. "One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue," the code states. "However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity." Prohibited conduct "includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings."

This nuanced position would allow openly homosexual people to attend and work for BYU, but it would still prevent them from homosexual activity, which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers a sin.

Ellen Alexander, a doctoral candidate in geology at UCLA who describes herself as an LGBTQ scientist, condemned the job postings as "inherently discriminatory." A member of both AGU and GSA, she told the Tribune that she was using their job boards to find employment.

"It really hurts me as a member of those organizations and as a young scientist to see the BYU ads," Alexander said, suggesting that the job posts victimized her. "Science is already unrepresentative of racial and ethnic minorities and gender and sexual minorities. It’s important that we not make it even harder for those folks to get jobs."

Alexander and her partner, Peter Martin, complained about the job postings to the societies. "I don't see why someone's sexual preference should have any bearing on their employment," Martin told the Tribune. After AGU and GSA refused to take down the posting, Alexander and Martin look to social media, mobilizing like-minded members to ramp up the pressure.

"If the Honor Code included the phrase 'blacks need not apply,' would the ad stay up? What about 'Jews are not allowed on the BYU campus'? Is that acceptable?" Martin posted on Facebook. While he acknowledged that LGBTQ people are not excluded from the campus or from applying, he insisted that faculty members would not be able to act on their attractions and keep their jobs. He claimed that it effectively stops any same-sex married couples from applying.

Alexander and Martin suggested that such a policy is beyond the pale and that religious freedom and intellectual diversity do not justify working with an organization with such a policy. "That ideology does not deserve an equal seat at the table. It’s not a belief. It’s discrimination," Alexander said.

Jennifer Glass, an associate professor at Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, wrote that keeping the ads online equates to "endorsing homophobia."

AGU caved to these attacks, but the union published a statement from three BYU professors pushing back on the removal of the job posting. Benjamin Abbott and Jamie Jensen, who work in the College of Life Sciences, and Jani Radebaugh in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, argued that pulling the job posting quashes intellectual diversity.

These BYU professors — who are also members of AGU — did not defend the Honor Code or hiring policies but they did warn that excluding institutions like BYU can do real damage to the scientific community.

"Liberals and conservatives alike have been shown to dismiss scientific evidence based on political allegiance, meaning that our public credibility depends on good science from diverse scientists," they wrote. "However, diversity is more than just looking different or even being different. ... Ideological diversity requires a willingness to be challenged and the intellectual humility to admit that the other side may have something to offer."

The professors lamented that "some academic fields have lost most of their ideological diversity over the past 50 years because of a combination of self-selection, hostile atmosphere, and discrimination. ... Though it is difficult to find unbiased data, there is strong evidence that conservatives are substantially underrepresented in the geosciences and academia generally compared with the overall population."

"A lack of ideological diversity not only hurts those who are excluded; it decreases opportunity to improve arguments and examine blind spots in the majority," the professors warned. "If our largely liberal community decides not to rub shoulders with conservatives, we will be poorly prepared to translate our science to the public, lobby legislators to increase research funding, and effectively inform the creation and application of policy."

Ideological discrimination can also prop up other forms of discrimination, they warned. "Independent of party affiliation, ideology correlates with socioeconomic status and racial and ethnic identity. Working-class, rural, black, Hispanic, and Muslim populations are more religious or socially conservative on average than whites in the United States. Intentional or unintentional exclusion of conservatives will disproportionately disadvantage those groups."

"If we require progressive policies of all participating institutions, we would exclude many religious schools that have restrictive honor codes, including Baylor and most Jewish and Islamic universities," the professors explained.

One of the professors, Benjamin Abbott, told The Tribune that the decision to pull the job posting was made without any dialogue with BYU. Rather, it came after activists spoke out on Twitter, a platform that very poorly represents the American public. "This decision to cut off a group because of their beliefs on social issues is counterproductive to social and scientific progress," he warned.

Indeed, the decision is bad for science, as it cuts off diverse perspectives that might lead to research in new directions following different paradigms. Yet this move from geological societies is terrifying for millions of socially conservative Americans — and the dozens of religious institutions with policies similar to that of BYU.

This is far from the first time LGBT activists have targeted BYU. In 2016, LGBT groups including Athlete Ally and the National Center for Lesbian Rights pushed for the Big 12 athletic conference to exclude BYU. In April 2018, a political science group apologized for holding its conference at BYU. That organization later claimed its decision to let BYU host the conference had a chilling effect on the LGBT scholars who participated.

The Salvation Army has also suffered from this kind of blacklisting. Just this week, singer Ellie Goulding threatened to pull out of the halftime show for a Dallas Cowboys game because the game supports the Salvation Army, which she condemned as "anti-LGBTQ." Activists have also demonized Chick-fil-A for funding the Salvation Army. LGBT activists convinced a property manager to close the first Chick-fil-A in Britain, declaring the whole country off-limits to the fast-food chain because it supports the Salvation Army.

Why such animus against the Salvation Army? The famous charity is also a church, and it abides by Christian doctrine on sexuality, prohibiting sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. In other words, it holds its members to the same sexual ethics as the BYU Honor Code.

BYU and the Salvation Army do not advocate politically for marriage to be defined as between one man and one woman, they merely require their own members and employees to follow their religious teachings. They should be able to do this, and it should not be considered beyond the pale.

Yet thanks to LGBT activist groups and organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which accuses mainstream conservative and Christian organizations of being "hate groups" like the Ku Klux Klan, there is a growing movement to demonize anyone who dares uphold traditional sexual morality.

The removal of BYU's job posting shows that this demonization has spread to scientific societies — a kind of organization that should be most open to affiliating with all types of colleges and universities pursuing scientific research.

If scientific societies exclude BYU over its Honor Code, they will have to exclude all other conservative religious colleges and universities. How long before any graduate from these schools is blacklisted, prevented from getting a job in the scientific community?

In fact, earlier this year, Yale University decided to yank all funding from Yale students and graduates who chose to work for organizations that "discriminate" against LGBT people.

Academia exists to promote free inquiry, and scientific societies exist to pursue scientific discovery. Yet it appears that some universities and scientific societies are putting identity politics ahead of the pursuit of truth. This is grotesque and tragic, but also terrifying to the millions of Americans who disagree. When did science become part of the Church of Inclusivity?


The Arithmetic of Emotional and Social Education
When a few close friends told me what happened at their back-to-school night in suburban Maryland, I almost didn’t believe them.

Parents gathered in their first-graders’ classroom, excited to figure out which artwork on the wall belonged to their child. Instead, they received a lecture. They were curtly notified that math and English would be taking a back seat this year.

The school’s new top priority: social and emotional learning.

I was floored. Since when are math and English considered “second-tier priorities”? Since when did parents begin delegating the development of their children’s personalities and values to the public school system?

We send children to school to prepare them for success in real life. We expose them to a variety of subjects — like math, English, art, and science — to help children explore possible career paths while learning practical life skills.

We teach children history and civics to help them understand freedom and the American story, where we have come from, and where we are going. At least we used to.

This was my experience in elementary school. But as my husband and I eagerly await the arrival of our first baby in December, I shudder to think about what the school experience will look like five years from now. I worry my children won’t receive the same quality education that I did.

The truth is, this elementary school in Maryland is rather normal compared to the left-wing agendas pushed by public school districts in other parts of the country. The Seattle public school district is planning to add ethnic studies into its K-12 math curriculum in an effort to “rehumanize” math. What does that even mean?

If this radical proposal is approved, teachers would have to ask students questions like, “How have math and science been used to oppress and marginalize people of color?” and “Who holds power in a math classroom?”

Teaching addition and subtraction would likely be second-tier priorities during these indoctrination sessions. To think — we were already worried about Common Core math.

In some California school districts, students are required to write manifestos to school officials listing reform demands, write “breakup letters” with toxic masculinity, perform social-justice campaigns and protests, and teach younger students about white privilege, systematic oppression, and implicit bias.

Parents have filed complaints with North Carolina schools for handing out white-privilege flyers and making young students fill out “diversity inventory” worksheets. Good luck trying to explain heteronormativity to an eight-year-old.

No wonder teachers are having a hard time squeezing math and English lessons into the school day. Our public schools are not preparing America’s rising generation of professionals and innovators. Instead, they are grooming the next generation of Democratic voters.

These taxpayer-funded initiatives are almost too absurd to believe. However, they are real, and they present a serious threat to our children’s education. Parents must take them seriously and fight back with everything we have.

Parents need to take an active role in PTA, PTO, and school-board activities to prevent our public school curriculums from being designed around progressive talking points rather than textbooks. I know my husband and I will.

Teachers are tasked with preparing our children for the future, but parents are responsible to hold these school districts accountable and keep them honest and transparent. We need to take a stand. Public schools are beholden to the taxpayers who fund them, not the other way around.


Australia: The campus fight over Beijing’s influence

Clashes between pro- and anti-Hong Kong demonstrators have renewed scrutiny over China’s role in western universities

Drew Pavlou is an unlikely threat to the Chinese Communist party. The 20-year-old arts student at Australia’s University of Queensland has never even been to the country. But his decision to organise a campus demonstration in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters has sparked a diplomatic incident between Canberra and Beijing and put him on a collision course with the Chinese authorities.

The July 24 protest turned violent, with clashes between pro- and anti-Beijing students. The organisers were subsequently accused by China’s consul-general in Brisbane, Xu Jie, of being “separatists” and “anti-China activists”.

Mr Pavlou has lodged a police complaint against Mr Xu alleging that the consul-general’s statement exposed the young student to death threats. It claims that the statement is evidence of efforts by Beijing and its network of foreign representatives to silence critics and limit freedom of speech on campuses.

The arts student is also urging the university to close its Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and cultural centre on campus funded by Beijing, and reverse its decision to appoint Mr Xu as an adjunct professor.

A separate legal action lodged by Mr Pavlou against Mr Xu will be heard on November 22 at Brisbane Magistrates Court. The student has asked the court to issue a form of restraining order against Mr Xu that would require him to stop any activity that threatens to cause harm to Mr Pavlou. But the senior Chinese official has not yet said whether he will attend court or defend the action.

The spillover of tensions generated by the Hong Kong protests at colleges in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and elsewhere has intensified a global debate about Beijing’s influence at western universities where annual enrolment of Chinese students doubled to 869,000 in the decade to 2017, according to the Centre for Independent Studies, a Sydney-based think-tank. It is a concern that extends beyond Beijing’s monitoring of its own citizens on overseas campuses: bleeding into areas such as research and development and cyber security.

“Australian academic independence is being bought by the Chinese government,” says Mr Pavlou. “Beijing exercises so much financial leverage over our universities that it can stifle all criticism of the Chinese government on campus.”

The university strongly rejects Mr Pavlou’s criticisms, saying it is committed to free speech and insists its ties with Mr Xu and the Confucius Institute are entirely appropriate. But the violent scenes have alarmed Australia’s conservative government, which rebuked Mr Xu for his comments and has created a foreign interference task force staffed by security service personnel and academics to monitor the university sector.

It is expected to issue guidelines by the end of November on how to strengthen cyber security on campuses, reduce the risk of sensitive military and dual-use intellectual property being obtained by the Chinese government or military, and safeguard academic freedom at colleges.

Canberra’s focus on rooting out foreign influence, first in politics and now universities, has angered Beijing and alarmed some Australian academics, who warn it risks labelling all Chinese students as spies, promoting xenophobia and causing irreparable damage to bilateral relations, with two-way trade worth A$213bn last year. But critics counter that universities are turning a blind eye to Beijing’s alleged interference on campus because the sector has become dependent on Chinese money.

“This is a wake-up call for all of us, whether it be government, the university sector or business,” says Dan Tehan, Australia’s education minister. “We need to understand the best way we can deal with the threat [of foreign interference].”


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Campus censorship: a tyranny of the minority

Most students are weary of the excesses of the social-justice movement.

A new study by the Policy Exchange think-tank has revealed that fewer than half of university students in the UK consistently support freedom of speech. According to the findings, 41 per cent agreed with Cambridge University’s decision to rescind Jordan Peterson’s fellowship, as opposed to 31 per cent who disagreed. A similar result emerged when they were asked whether Cardiff University was right to overrule the activists who sought to have Germaine Greer disinvited for her supposedly transphobic views. Forty-four per cent opposed the university’s intervention whereas 35 per cent supported it. The study is being taken as evidence that intolerance of diverse opinions is a growing concern in our higher-education institutions.

The study also focuses on the political discrimination faced by those with unfashionable opinions. Students who support Brexit, the study finds, are unlikely to express their views openly. Both students and academics seem to be prone to what the economist Timur Kuran has called ‘preference falsification’, whereby one’s true opinion is withheld in favour of a more socially acceptable declaration. This is why the authors of the Policy Exchange report emphasise the dangers of a ‘culture of conformity’.

Although this would seem to corroborate the general perception that free speech is under threat on university campuses, the authors emphasise that there remains ‘a noteworthy constituency of students who support free speech’. This has certainly been my own experience of speaking on campuses. Recently, a student-run politics society invited me to give a talk on the relationship between contemporary politics and satire and, in the subsequent Q&A, the issue of No Platforming was raised. Some had reservations about the idea of unfettered free speech, and one or two argued that there was a sound case for this kind of censorship. But on the whole I found the students to be open-minded and eager for debate.

The same cannot be said for the academic staff of the politics department, not one of whom turned up. I later discovered that they had refused even to publicise the event on the grounds that a talk which was likely to be ‘antagonistic to woke culture’ would be a violation of their ‘departmental ethos of promoting diversity’. Quite how a discussion about satire would in any way represent a threat to diversity is difficult to fathom. But it was clear enough that they were unwilling to have their ideological worldview challenged.

My experiences have persuaded me that in order to combat the culture of conformity in universities, we need to take a top-down approach. With faculty members so blind to the need for alternative voices, is it any wonder that some students are beginning to follow suit? Free speech is increasingly perceived as the domain of the right, so it is hardly surprising that academics are failing to defend what should be a non-partisan principle. A recent study by the Adam Smith Institute found that fewer than 12 per cent of UK academics consider themselves to be conservative. This lack of diversity should trouble all of us, irrespective of our political leanings.

As for the students, it is now undeniable that on most campuses there exists a small body of activists – most notably those who seek positions in students’ unions – who are hostile to alternative ways of thinking and who like to conflate speech with violence. However, there is every reason to believe that most young people are weary of the excesses of the social-justice movement. And as I have argued previously, it is unwise to dismiss an entire generation as ‘snowflakes’ on the basis of the illiberal antics of the minority.

The problem lies with the rise of a new kind of identity politics, one in which one’s sense of self-worth is inextricably bound up with a particular worldview. In such circumstances, a political disagreement can represent an acute threat to one’s emotional wellbeing. To be disabused of a long-held conviction can prompt what is known as an ‘identity quake’, by which one’s core beliefs are suddenly destabilised. Some students, in other words, perceive the very process of education as carrying with it the possibility of a traumatic disruption of the certainties that are key to their identity. This explains the hysterical response of one Yale undergraduate who berated her professor in a now famous viral video. ‘It is not about creating an intellectual space!’, she is heard to scream. ‘It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here.’

It should go without saying that the university experience is not about reinforcing existing beliefs, but subjecting them to scrutiny. In spite of the more alarmist headlines that this recent Policy Exchange report has generated, most students are still keen to be challenged. At the same time, they are living through a time in which they are repeatedly assured that their emotional needs must take precedence over all other considerations. It is important that faculty and students alike feel able to discuss unpopular ideas and to question the status quo. In order to achieve this we need to break down this culture of conformity and initiate practical policies to defend academic freedom, and that means reaffirming the purpose of higher education itself.


College Newspaper That Apologized for Covering News Won’t Print Another Point of View

A signed editorial in The Daily Northwestern apologizing for the student newspaper's coverage of protests surrounding an appearance by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been widely criticized by journalists across the nation. Pictured: The campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo: Getty Images)

A student newspaper that apologized to readers for “retraumatizing” them through its coverage of a disrupted campus appearance by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also declined to publish a different take on the incident in a letter from a College Republicans chapter.

Dominic Bayer, vice president of the College Republicans chapter at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., told The Daily Signal on Tuesday that The Daily Northwestern refused to publish a statement submitted Nov.  6 by the club as a letter to the editor or op-ed about protesters’ treatment of Sessions the night before.

The College Republicans club hosted the appearance by Sessions, which protesters loudly disrupted both inside and outside the hall.

The Daily Northwestern covered the protests surrounding Sessions’ speech. Later, the outlet deleted some photo coverage of the Sessions protest along with the names of some interviewed protesters after individual students voiced concerns.

In an editorial Sunday, The Daily Northwestern stated that its coverage “harmed many students,” including by publishing photos that some protesters found “retraumatizing and invasive.”

Via email Nov. 6, the College Republicans’ Bayer asked the newspaper to publish its statement on the protests against the former attorney general.

“Thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately we do not accept LTEs [letters to the editor] from student political organizations as contributions,” The Daily Northwestern’s opinion editor, Pryanshi Katare, replied to Bayer in a Nov. 7 email. “We hope you understand.”

The Daily Northwestern calls itself “the paper of record” for Northwestern University, home to the celebrated Medill School of Journalism, which now has a longer official name.

In a response to Katare less than two hours later, Bayer, 21, a senior from Manizales, Colombia, suggested as a compromise that the College Republicans statement be submitted on behalf of either an individual member or members.

The Daily Northwestern has yet to respond to that email, Bayer said.

“They wouldn’t publish it, no matter what,” Bayer, who is studying political science and economics, told The Daily Signal.

“We followed up and they just ghosted us. They just wouldn’t respond,” Bayer said. “They just used ‘We don’t publish letters from groups’ as an excuse to deny it. And then, when we asked them for an alternative, they just ignored us.”

The editor in chief of The Daily Northwestern, however, says he was not aware that the College Republicans affiliate was told that the newspaper doesn’t publish letters from campus clubs.

Troy Closson told The Daily Signal on Wednesday that the student newspaper in fact does publish letters to the editor or op-eds from “student organizations.”

Closson, a senior, was one of eight Daily Northwestern editors who signed the editorial apologizing to fellow students for its reporting on the protests of Sessions’ speech.

The editorial of apology by Closson and seven other editors has been widely criticized by journalists across the nation, including fellow student journalists. It reads in part:

We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry. …

As a campus newspaper covering a student body that can be very easily and directly hurt by the University, we must operate differently than a professional publication in these circumstances.

Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions. We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups.

The Daily Northwestern editorial explained that the student newspaper deleted some photo coverage of the Sessions protest along with the names of some interviewed protesters after individual students voiced concerns.

The College Republicans’ proposed letter to the editor reads in part:

Picture President Obama giving a speech at the University of Alabama [and being] welcomed to campus by protesters, who interrupt his speech by screaming, pounding the hall’s doors, and shouting the most obscene vulgarities in an attempt to silence him. There’s really no need to imagine: With the exception of the public figure and locale, this set of events happened this very week.

The letter says that although College Republicans valued free speech, the disruptive actions of protesters at the Sessions event were “unbecoming to members of the Northwestern community” and robbed the school of a chance to engage with and learn from a public policy expert.

Sessions is a former prosecutor and attorney general of Alabama who served as a Republican senator from that state for 20 years before becoming President Donald Trump’s first attorney general.

The Daily Northwestern’s FAQ page lists several reasons why a letter to the editor may not be published, but doesn’t mention a policy against publishing submissions from campus clubs.

In 2017, the student newspaper published a letter to the editor from College Democrats that encouraged students to call their representatives, and in 2016 published a letter from College Democrats’ two presidents that encouraged students to vote for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.


At BU, right-wing commentator draws a crowd and protests

A large number of Boston University students turned out Wednesday evening to protest a speech on campus by conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.

His lecture, entitled “America Wasn’t Built On Slavery, It Was Built On Freedom” was hosted by the BU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization.

Shapiro, 35, a Los Angeles-based lawyer and editor of the Daily Wire website, addressed more than 1,500 students, some of whom wore red Make America Great Again caps popularized by President Trump.

As he approached the podium, some students stood and cheered, while around 100 others sat and did not clap. “Good for them,” Shapiro said of the protestors. “That’s Boston strong, I’ll tell you.”

Grace Naquin, who is part of a student group supporting Democrat Pete Buttigieg for president, was among those who sat quietly.

“There are definitely people like me here who are not going to clap or react,” Naquin said. Still, she said Shapiro is “dangerous” because he is “intelligent and charismatic, but supports white nationalist agenda.”

Speaking in a rapid-fire cadence, Shapiro read from prepared remarks. “Was America founded on freedom or slavery?” Shapiro asked, a question that framed his speech that lasted about 45 minutes.

“American slavery was an evil institution,” he said. “But, you are here today because of freedom. You are speaking today because of freedom. You’re American because of freedom.”

Shapiro, who has been heavily criticized for his views on race, said America today “is the least racist it’s ever been.” He urged attendees to “stop conflating the past” history of slavery “with the present.”

Shapiro, a Harvard Law School grad, was frequently heckled. At one point, he asked a student seated near the front of the audience to sit down and be courteous to the “1,500 other people in the room.”

At another point, about 10 students stood up and walked out while blowing whistles and chanting. About half-way through, a student shouted out mulitple times. He was escorted from the building by security officers, and some people stood and cheered as he left.

A question-and-answer period followed, with more than 50 people lining up at microphones. A few people in the back of the audience shouted “You’re a liar,” after some of Shapiro’s answers.

Shapiro’s appearance stirred controversy on BU’s campus days before he took the podium around 6 p.m. at the university’s Track & Tennis Center.

On Tuesday, a student group known as “Black BU” issued a statement condemning Shapiro’s visit.

“Abandoned, triggered, frustrated, disheartened, devalued, infuriated, overwhelmed, ignored, and embarrassed [by] BU,” the group wrote, said the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. “This is how we feel. This is how BU has made us feel.”

Before the event, the group organized a protest that drew over 50 people dressed in black who marched in frigid cold to the event.

Prior to the speech, the campus chapter of Young Americans defended Shapiro’s appearance. “Ben Shapiro has repeatedly and vehemently condemned racism, and he is by no means denying the historical existence and significance of slavery,” the group said in an e-mail.

The appearance drew a heavy police presence, with Alcorn and Babcock streets closed to traffic almost two hours before the event.

There were no arrests, according to a police officer on the scene. Colin Riley, a university spokesman, said campus police are investigating several incidents of vandalism on campus related to Shapiro’s appearance, Riley said.

He said vandals used black magic markers to draw on the upper lip of Shapiro’s face what “would be a Hitler mustache” on advertisements posted at Warren Towers dormitory in the days leading up to event.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Academies (British charters) beating private schools for university places

But probably not for Oxbridge places

Private schools are less successful at getting students into university than academies, an analysis of Ucas data reveals.

Of the 91,485 school-leavers from academies who applied for British last year, 87.81 per cent were successful, compared to 87.14 per cent of the 34,630 private school students according to figures from the university admissions service.

Pupils from academies were more likely than their peers from all other types of school - including grammars and sixth form colleges - to get a place at the university they applied to.

Academies were originally pioneered by New Labour in the 1990s as a way of driving up standards at schools in deprived inner city areas. They were subsequently rolled out on a much larger scale under the coalition Government in 2010 and, along with free schools, now make up the majority of state schools in England.

Academies are not under local authority control and instead are funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Education.

Leora Cruddas, chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts which represents academies, told the Times Education Supplement magazine that the results demonstrated "the power of a group of schools working together in the interest of children and young people”.

The Ucas data does not show which universities pupils from different types of schools are applying to, and it could be the case that private school pupils are trying for places at more competitive institutions.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the figures are a “testament to the fantastic commitment that many academies show towards their pupils”.

He said: “In the past, people have not lacked aspiration but they have sometimes lacked the wherewithal to realise their aspirations. Now that academies have some of the freedoms that come with independence, it has become easier for people from a range of school types to reach higher education. 

“Some schools serving middle-class pupils may be coasting and doing what they’ve always done while other schools serving more diverse communities have been making bigger strides.”


Anyone should be allowed to 'identify' as black regardless of the colour of their skin or background, say university leaders

The Universities and Colleges Union has set out its stance in a report on the ongoing row about whether men should be able to self-identify as women and be treated as female regardless of their anatomy.

The UCU’s ‘position statement’ did not just stand by its support for self-identification of gender, but also insisted people can choose their own race, saying: ‘Our rules commit us to ending all forms of discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping. UCU has a long history of enabling members to self-identify whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT+ or women.’

Recognising ‘self-defined’ women as fully female is deeply controversial among many feminists and others. Theresa May’s Government considered changing the law to allow people to choose their own gender, but Ministers have put those plans on hold after a backlash from female voters.

Many female academics say they have faced harassment from students and activists for questioning trans-inclusive policies, and several high-profile female speakers including Germaine Greer and Dame Jenni Murray have been ‘no platformed’ from university debates for their refusal to accept that anyone who says they are a woman must be accepted as female.

But the union’s position on race was last night mocked as the latest ‘nonsensical’ demonstration of ‘woke’ thinking imported from US campuses. The self-identification of race has proved highly controversial in the US: in 2015, Rachel Dolezal resigned as an official with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People after her white parents disputed her claim to be black.

The British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen also came under fire in the US over his character Ali G, a white man from Staines who asks critics: ‘Is it because I is black?’

In Britain, the actor Anthony Lennon – born in London to Irish parents – faced criticism last year when it emerged he had won funding from an Arts Council scheme to help ethnic minority actors develop their stage careers, because he ‘identifies’ as a ‘born-again African’.

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at Sussex University and UCU member, last night questioned the union’s position on race, saying it was ‘nonsensical, anti-intellectual propaganda’.

The UCU is led by Jo Grady, a lecturer at Sheffield University Management School. A union spokesman confirmed that the UCU considers it is up to individuals to choose if they wish to be recognised as black.


Australia: Why Catholic teachers’ copycat cash grab is wrong

If the Premier wants to throw a $1250 stimulus payment at public servants, including teachers, the correct response is not for private enterprise to do the same. Reckless spending for the promise of votes should not encourage enterprise to abandon fiscal prudence. I get that Catholic school teachers would like more money, but stooping to stop-work action for a copycat cash grab is wrong.

More than 7000 teachers at almost 200 schools across Queensland have been refusing to perform certain tasks this week. Come Tuesday, they'll be walking out of classrooms at 9am in a dummy spit that kids - and their fee-paying parents - don't deserve.

All this for a one-off payment that is not a genuine pay rise. And, in the big scheme of things, it's not going to go very far. I appreciate that private school teachers have an understanding with their employers that they will not make less than their state counterparts, but let's be clear about something. Church schools are run like private companies. Bonuses have to be earned, not bestowed because some bright spark in another sector entirely decided it was a cracker idea to burn through taxpayer dollars.

In September, the Palaszczuk Government announced that an eye-watering quarter of a billion dollars would be doled out, in individual $1250 lots, to more than 200,000 public servants. The unprecedented move was explained as a bid to drive economic growth and coincided with a commitment to maintain future public service wage increases of up to 2.5 per cent, despite Brisbane's most recent inflation rate being a more modest 1.7 per cent.

You don't have to be an academic giant to see that the figures don't add up. Taxpayers have a right to be unhappy about what is yet another sign that our Government is out of touch with almost everyone except the unions.

As for the many Catholic school teachers taking industrial action, they too seem to have lost sight of the bigger picture. The Independent Education Union of Australia has convinced them that they deserve the random public service sweetener. No matter that it could cost employers up to $25 million collectively to deliver it.

 Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Terry Burke claims the payment is "fundamental" to maintain wage parity with state school teachers. Anything less spells the end of "professional respect". What about respect for employers?

Contrary to what some people think - particularly those who mistakenly consider Catholic schools as elite - these schools are generally not wealthy. They don't have buckets of cash lying around. My son was educated in the Catholic system and the fees I paid saved the Government money by not having him schooled by the state.

If Catholic schools are forced to splash $1250 on their teachers, it won't be the Government coughing up but parents, by way of fee hikes.

What the Independent Education Union of Australia also won't tell you is that this ill-founded industrial action is creating division within the schools themselves. Sensible teachers - who either don't belong to the union or who are members but disagree with the union's stance - are picking up the slack of their colleagues and they're not happy about it. Small schools with a stretched staff are struggling the most. It's all very unnecessary.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 16/11/2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

UK: Tribunal awards gay primary school teacher, 42, nearly £700,000 after he was wrongly sacked for threesome with two 17-year-olds he met on dating app Grindr

Homosexual activity is no longer illegal

A gay primary school head, 42, who was wrongly sacked after he hooked up with two 17-year-old boys he met on Grindr has been awarded nearly £700,000 by a tribunal.

Matthew Aplin, 42, had a threesome with the two teens at his home in August 2015 after meeting them on Grindr - the gay dating app aimed at adults aged 17 and above.

Mr Aplin, who was a teacher for 19 years, had been the head of Tywyn Primary School in Sandfields, West Glamorgan and made no secret of his sexuality.

But while police and local authority bosses decided no criminal offence had been committed, the school governors decided to sack him.

Mr Aplin challenged their decision before resigning, eventually mounting an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination.

He argued that his relationship with the two 17-year-olds was lawful and part of his private life, and that the management of the case had been 'biased and homophobic'.

He won but the decision was appealed by the school at the Employment Appeals Tribunal who upheld the original decision in March this year.

They found that he would have been treated differently if he was a heterosexual male having sex with two teenage girls, or a woman with two teenage boys.

The tribunal has now ordered the Governing Body of Tywyn Primary School to pay the sacked headteacher more than £696,000, following a hearing in Cardiff last month.

The ruling stated that Mr Aplin was 'dedicated to working in the education sector and someone who was not only ambitious but effectively so.'

However he was unable to return to work after being sacked, because all the appropriate jobs advertised were administered by the same Local Education Authority (LEA) that was overseeing his discrimination claim.

The tribunal therefore concluded that Mr Aplin had been unable to mitigate the loss he suffered as a result of his sacking, ruling that he 'should be compensated for all losses to date less the sums earned and benefits received.'

Despite forcing the school to pay nearly £700,000, the tribunal knocked at least 20 per cent off the bill - because Mr Aplin could have been fairly dismissed without any discrimination.

He had claimed the right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He was awarded £696,255.65 including tax which before a 20 per cent reduction included £20,000 injury to feelings, £286,424.37 pension loss and £208,029.33 in past and future loss of earnings.

The panel concluded: 'Headteachers have authority over children. If headteachers have sexual relationships with children it cannot be seen, without exploration of evidence, whether that authority is misused.

'It is necessary therefore to restrict the occasions when such sexual relationships arise so that confidence that headteachers will not exploit that authority can be maintained.

'Therefore, we consider that it is possible to conclude that in the circumstances of this case the claimant could have been disciplined for his admitted conduct.

'However, a fair process would require the respondent to consider whether the claimant was aware that the individuals were 17 years of age.

'Further it would have to consider what the real risk of the issues becoming public were and therefore what the real potential for reputational damage was.'

When it first sat in September 2017, the tribunal heavily criticised the school's investigating officer - who worked for Neath Port Talbot Council - for discriminating against Mr Aplin, on the basis that he was gay.

The officer was found to have approached the case on the basis that Mr Aplin could be a danger to children, and that he produced a report 'laden with judgements and conclusions which were hostile to Mr Aplin', rather than being objective and factual.       


Would you be better off enrolling at pharmacy school or Harvard University?

If you’re looking for a long-term return on investment, a new study suggests that attending the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Longwood-area pharmacy school, may be a better option. MCPHS ranked number three in a study of colleges based on the economic value they’re likely to provide their students over 40 years.

The report, by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, was released Thursday and included data on 4,500 colleges and universities across the country.

Students who attend MCPHS could on average see a net economic gain — after paying off their college debt — of $2.4 million after 40 years. Harvard ranked eighth, with an economic gain of nearly $2 million. Two other area colleges, MIT (fourth), with an economic gain of $2.3 million, and Babson College (seventh), with about $2 million in net income gain, helped round out the top 10 list.

In fact, many of the top 10 colleges on the list specialize in certain fields: The top three are pharmacy schools, and two maritime academies that help students prepare to work on ships rank among the best long-term financial investments.

“The variation is what stuns me,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, the study’s lead author and director. “It is the tip of the iceberg on real transparency in higher education.”

The study aims to shed light on the hotly debated question of whether college is worth the cost and rank how well institutions do in helping students improve their earning potential. The Georgetown study is based on data submitted by colleges to the federal government. The government, through the College Scorecard, reports earnings of graduates at individual colleges 10 years after they earn their degree. Using that data, the Georgetown study for the first time attempts to estimate future earnings 40 years out.

At a time when the rising cost of college and the ballooning amount of student loan debt has worried families, policy makers, and young students about whether college is worth the financial risk, the Georgetown report offers some positive news for higher education.

“I will probably share this report with one or two people,” said Stephen Spinelli, the president of Babson College. “People are questioning deeply the value position. This says the value proposition is robust.”

Babson, a business school that focuses on entrepreneurship, counts the cofounder of Home Depot and the former chief executive of PepsiCo among its graduates. The college attracts students who are interested in starting businesses and, after graduating, many land in leadership positions at their organizations, explaining Babson’s ranking at the top of Georgetown’s study.

But not all students want to become pharmacists, launch companies, become engineers, or spend their career at sea, working on a ship.

Earning a college degree is a “worthwhile investment,” according to the report, but how good an investment varies significantly depending on the type of institution, the training it offers, and the career choices of graduates.

“It is important to discuss this information with families when they embark on the college search and funding process,” said Todd Weaver, a private counselor with Strategies for College Inc., a Norwood-based company.

The study shows that “name brand” institutions aren’t always the best option for students, Weaver said.

In the short term, over a 10-year period, community colleges and certificate programs, particularly in nursing, provide the highest returns on investment, in part because students graduate with little debt and can move into the workforce.

Four-year institutions may initially cost more, but over a 40-year period their graduates also have higher economic gains, according to the report. Private four-year colleges on average have higher net returns, according to the report.

Over the course of 40 years, even after paying off higher amounts of debt, a private college graduate will reap a long-term net economic gain of $838,000, compared with $765,000 for graduates of public colleges, according to the report.

The best performing colleges in Georgetown’s ranking were four-year institutions with low student-debt levels that offered degrees that led to high paying jobs, including Harvard, Stanford University, and the Maine Maritime Academy.

Theological institutions, beauty schools, and colleges that focus on music and the arts ranked low in economic gains for their graduates.

In Massachusetts, Berklee College of Music graduates had an economic gain of $456,000 in a 40-year period, placing it below some of the state’s community colleges for long-term earning potential.

Still, education experts and Carnevale warn that families and students should look at more than this ranking to determine whether a college is right for them. Students should talk to guidance counselors and look at the institution’s graduation rates, how long it takes students to earn their degree, and how many students default on their loans.

In some cases, the schools that do well in Georgetown’s rankings are also drawing students who are likely to succeed, no matter what school they attend, said Phillip Levine, a Wellesley economics professor who focuses on college affordability.

Students who can get accepted by MIT are likely to earn more after graduation regardless of whether they attend MIT, Levine said.

“How do you know what the school is actually doing compared to the student’s individual attributes?” Levine said. “That’s a harder issue.”

There may be colleges that leave their graduates weighed down with debt and a degree that does them little economic good, but for the most part, a college education remains a good investment, Levine said.

“Yes, college is worth it. College is even more worth it for low-income kids,” he said. “Community colleges show positive returns, going to a lower-level state school shows a positive return, elite schools show a positive return.”


Admissions Lawsuit: Harvard’s Ahead, but It’s Not Over

Federal judge Allison D. Burroughs has issued a 120-page ruling saying that Harvard University did not discriminate against Asian-American students, as alleged by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), led by Edward Blum. Admitting that Harvard’s admission process is “not perfect,” she said that there is “no evidence of any racial animus whatsoever.”

From the beginning of this highly visible lawsuit, everyone expected this slugging contest to go several rounds, ending up in the Supreme Court. Harvard had a hometown advantage: the case was being held on home turf, led by a single liberal judge appointed by President Barack Obama who previously has butted heads with those on the right: she stopped a President Trump executive order designed to temporarily block the admission of immigrants and refugees from countries with predominantly Islamic populations. The odds are pretty good a liberal judge ruling a short distance from the Harvard campus would favor Harvard. Moreover, Judge Burroughs is a big fan of affirmative action, proclaiming, “race-conscious admissions programs … have an important place in society and help ensure…colleges and universities…offer a diverse atmosphere that fosters learning…”

Edward Blum was disappointed but, knowing him as I do (and I know him well: I once shared an office with him), I’m sure he is gearing up for Round Two in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. There is a lot of statistical evidence supportive of the SFFA position. For example, an internal Harvard study a few years ago suggested that if strictly academic criteria were used, some 43.04% of those admitted to Harvard would be Asian-Americans, over double the then-actual figure of 18.66%. The failure of the proportion to grow significantly over time also appears suspicious, since the Asian-American share of the population is growing. To me, Harvard’s admissions standards come close to saying, “Asian-Americans typically do well in the classroom, but they tend to be nerds, and we don’t want to be a university of nerds. Classroom learning is fine—but college is partly an excuse to bring kids together to socialize, a gap period before they begin life in the Real World.” Still, Judge Burroughs proclaims, ‘Harvard does not have any racial quotas.’

Edward Blum is indefatigable, but this decision is still a setback for SFFA. My own guess is that the odds of SFFA ultimately prevailing in whole or in part have fallen from 65% to 50%. It could go either way. Blum is also not confining the battle to one front. He is back at his reoccurring attacks on his alma mater, the University of Texas. But his major non-Harvard effort now is against the University of North Carolina. UNC is selective but not as selective as Harvard, and it is a public institution that by law can only take 18% of its undergraduate students from out of state. Legacy admissions, albeit a tangential factor in the Harvard case, is probably not as important at UNC.

Both Harvard and UNC use what they call “holistic” admissions. Objective, easily measurable factual evidence—SAT scores, high school grades and class ranks—play a role but are supplemented and sometimes trumped by personal opinions of admissions officers and committees. Thus athletes get preference over ace musicians on average, the president of the high school student council is considered a better applicant than a wunderkind member of the chess club and, yes, blacks are preferred over Asians. Some schools, notably Cal Tech, reportedly disdain the holistic approach in favor of evaluations based predominantly on quantitatively measurable variables emphasizing academic achievement and promise. It was the move away from the “holistic” approach of the first half of the 20th century that led to the ascendancy of the SAT and, later, ACT tests.

The sordidness of highly selective admissions came out in evidence revealed in the trial proceedings. Money does talk—Varsity Blues was far from the first admissions scandal. Multi-million-dollar actual or potential donor applications received special attention. Can you bribe your way into Harvard? As I read the evidence: Only rarely, if the bribe is big enough (six digit bribes don’t work). The less prestigious the school, the smaller the necessary bribe.

In the final analysis, the substitution of Supreme Court justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for Justices Scalia and Kennedy may have more to say about the final outcome than anything else.