Friday, December 06, 2019

Washington Voters Say No to Campus Racial Discrimination

One of the least publicized but still highly significant results from this year’s elections came last week in Washington state, where voters rejected a move promoted by the state’s progressive establishment, allowing state universities to pursue affirmative action policies that favored some racial groups over others.

In November 1996, the voters of California approved the California Civil Rights Initiative, making it unconstitutional to discriminate in favor or against someone on the basis of sex, ethnicity or race in governmental hiring, contracting or public education, including admissions at state universities. Successful in California, the promoters (led largely by African-American entrepreneur Ward Connerly) successfully had similar legislation (not always constitutional amendments) approved in several other rather large states, including Washington and ultimately (2006) Michigan. The Washington Initiative 200 passed with more than 58% voter support in 1998.

Fast forward to 2019. Progressives in the university community and in the legislature do not like the restraints the civil rights initiative imposes, especially the legal difficulty it creates for race-conscious admissions decisions. As the continuing Harvard legal action clearly attests, race is importantly considered in admissions at most of the nation’s top universities, and from university rhetoric “diversity and inclusion” seems to trump learning as a primary objective at some schools.

The Washington legislature, dominated by progressive Democrats and supported by the governor and other political heavyweights, decided to enact legislation effectively negating Initiative 200, which was not an amendment to the Washington constitution. But they did not reckon on the fierce and ultimately successful opposition of a growing political force: the state’s large population of Asian ancestry. They mobilized to put on the ballot the pro-affirmative action proposition approved by the legislature. They were effectively outspent, as they had to devote considerable resources merely to get petitions signed to get the issue put before the voters. Nonetheless, they narrowly prevailed.

Washington is a pretty left-leaning state. Nine of its 12 Members of Congress are Democrats, as is its governor. Democrats solidly control both the House of Representatives and Senate. Yet the voters sided with the Asian-Americans arguing that race (and other biological attributes) should not be a factor in making decisions about who to admit to colleges and universities. The nearly religious devotion of college administrators and faculty to making hiring, contracting and college admissions decisions partly on racial considerations does not comport with the wishes of the people.

Again, I observe: in a democracy, there are limits to the extent to which universities, heavily supported by governments, can pursue policies that the American people mostly disagree with. Ultimately universities, even so-called private ones, are wards of the state, receiving large direct government subsides (state university appropriations), or indirect subsidies, such as tax deductions for university gifts.

The American people do not like the fact that loud protesters can disrupt individuals from expressing their opinions on campus; they don’t like the racism arising from universities picking a student for admission over another more academically qualified student because some racial designations are considered better than others. They don’t like the excessive costs of schools either. Hence, opinion polls have shown public support for universities is trending downward.

Add to all of this some disquieting fiscal reality. Our nation is heavily debt-ridden, with the federal government currently borrowing $3 billion a day to pay its bills at a time of near-record low unemployment. Talk of expensive new government programs like “free college” or student loan forgiveness simply is not fiscally responsible, unless we increased taxes by, say, 20% at the federal level.

To be sure, not all higher education is created equal. Harvard will be a major institution 50 years from now unless American capitalism itself dies, if for no other reason than it has an endowment approaching $40 billion. But, using a Washington state example, will Evergreen State College survive? A school with a far left reputation, Evergreen’s enrollment has trended sharply downward, particularly since the infamous 2017 incident where white students and faculty were asked to stay away from campus for a day. Citizen tolerance for seemingly outlandish behavior is very limited. Universities are not “islands unto themselves.”


Why Do We Have Business or Education Schools in Universities?

Walk into the Faculty Club at a major university and ask the occupants, “What do you think of your business school?” In a large percentage of instances, the reaction likely will be negative. The perceived intellectual content of business courses is vacuous, with low standards of rigor. Often there is anger because business schools pay their faculty more, and have luxurious office and classroom facilities. The general reaction is, “They teach less for more money in fancier facilities.”

Yet the disdain for the business school is often exceeded by that for the school of education. At the top schools such as those in the Ivy League, there is typically either no education school or it is limited to those already having undergraduate degrees in a respectable subject (that is true with respect to business schools too at most top universities). To the rest of the university, the education school is often viewed as the intellectual bottom of the heap, teaching pablum and applying ludicrously non-rigorous standards to evaluate students, who often are perceived as being less qualified than those majoring in the liberal arts, fine arts, or engineering.

These perceptions have had an impact on enrollments. While business school enrollments soared for several decades, there is some souring on business degrees. The M.B.A., previously the ne plus ultra of executive education, has fallen into some disfavor, with a number of respected universities (e.g., the University of Illinois, University of Iowa) essentially abandoning their full-time programs. There has also been a precipitous decline in the education schools’ market share of undergraduate enrollment over time, although talk of teacher shortages may be changing that.

My profession of economics is at the core of business education, but economists often feel more comfortable in liberal arts colleges, rebelling against the narrow materialistic mindset and perceived modest academic standards prevailing in business schools. My own department voted to move from the business school to the arts and sciences college decades ago, despite some trepidation it may cost it resources (it has).

Steven Conn, a historian at Miami University, has written a provocative new book, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools, arguing that the case for collegiate business schools was weak from the beginning. Some late 19th and early 20th century writers argued the growing complexity and scale of American business necessitated collegiate training in running commercial enterprises. Conn argues in reality business leaders wanted college degrees in order to elevate their social status, helping them, for example, attain admission to the best clubs. Some private clubs (full disclosure: I belong to one) formed in the early 20th century required members to have a college degree.

The broader question is: should universities be sophisticated trade schools, preparing students for specific vocations? Few today, I think, question the value of collegiate training of engineers or those studying the hard sciences. Why is business or education training any different? One answer: those trained as teachers often do no better or even worse than those with a college degree in a subject matter instead of education, and some prominent business leaders did fine with degrees in history, philosophy, or perhaps a liberal arts-oriented economics degree.

Many, most notably Bryan Caplan (The Case Against Education) note, I think correctly, that a college diploma is primarily a signaling device, not any indication of vast and productive “human capital formation” arising from collegiate learning of practical things. My read of the data on worker earnings suggests that a very large portion of the nation’s stock of human capital is created on the job, not in school. To learn on the job, one needs to be able to reason critically and have a knowledge base aligning worker perceptions with real world realities. I think that a broad liberal arts education may be better in achieving that than one centered on courses in management and marketing. While some accounting and finance training probably is vocationally useful and even necessary for success in those areas of business, I find that less true in other business areas. Maybe Conn is right, and the history of business schools is indeed “sad.”


Fraud in Higher Education

This year’s education scandal saw parents shelling out megabucks to gain college admittance for their children.

Federal prosecutors have charged more than 50 people with participating in a scheme to get their children into colleges by cheating on entrance exams or bribing athletic coaches. They paid William Singer, a college-prep professional, more than $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators and to change test scores on college admittance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

As disgusting as this grossly dishonest behavior is, it is only the tiny tip of fraud in higher education.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, only 37% of white high school graduates tested as college-ready, but colleges admitted 70% of them. Roughly 17% of black high school graduates tested as college-ready, but colleges admitted 58% of them.

A 2018 Hechinger Report found, “More than four in 10 college students end up in developmental math and English classes at an annual cost of approximately $7 billion, and many of them have a worse chance of eventually graduating than if they went straight into college-level classes.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “when considering all first-time undergraduates, studies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one remedial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent.”

Only 25% of students who took the ACT in 2012 met the test’s readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math, and science).

It’s clear that high schools confer diplomas that attest that a student can read, write, and do math at a 12th-grade level when, in fact, most cannot. That means most high school diplomas represent fraudulent documents.

But when high school graduates enter college, what happens? To get a hint, we can turn to an article by Craig E. Klafter, “Good Grieve! America’s Grade Inflation Culture,” published in the Fall 2019 edition of Academic Questions. In 1940, only 15% of all grades awarded were A’s.

By 2018, the average grade point average at some of the nation’s leading colleges was A-minus. For example, the average GPA at Brown University (3.75), Stanford (3.68), Harvard College (3.63), Yale University (3.63), Columbia University (3.6), University of California, Berkeley (3.59).

The falling standards witnessed at our primary and secondary levels are becoming increasingly the case at tertiary levels. “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses” is a study conducted by professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. They found that 45% of 2,300 students at 24 colleges showed no significant improvement in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”

An article in News Forum for Lawyers titled “Study Finds College Students Remarkably Incompetent” cites a study done by the American Institutes for Research that revealed that over 75% of two-year college students and 50% of four-year college students were incapable of completing everyday tasks.

About 20% of four-year college students demonstrated only basic mathematical ability, while a steeper 30% of two-year college students could not progress past elementary arithmetic. NBC News reported that Fortune 500 companies spend about $3 billion annually to train employees in “basic English.”

Here is a list of some other actual college courses that have been taught at U.S. colleges in recent years: “What If Harry Potter Is Real?,” “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame,” “Philosophy and Star Trek,” “Learning from YouTube,” “How To Watch Television,” and “Oh, Look, a Chicken!”

The questions that immediately come to mind are these: What kind of professor would teach such courses, and what kind of student would spend his time taking such courses? Most importantly, what kind of college president and board of trustees would permit classes in such nonsense?

The fact that unscrupulous parents paid millions for special favors from college administrators to enroll their children pales in comparison to the poor educational outcomes, not to mention the gross indoctrination of young people by leftist professors.


New report on antisemitism at Columbia University, Barnard points to a ‘Hotbed for Hate’

The American NGO Alums for Campus Fairness released a comprehensive report last week that documents what ACF describes as “systemic antisemitism and an ingrained delegitimization of Israel” at Columbia University and its sister school, Barnard College.

The 33-page dossier documents more than 100 incidents that have made Columbia and Barnard “a hotbed for hate” since the 2016-17 academic year.

The catalogue categorized each act into one of these categories: antisemitic expressions, meaning language, imagery or behavior that would be considered antisemitic according to the guidelines outlined by the US State Department’s definition of antisemitism; incidents targeting Jewish students and staff; or activity related to the anti-Israel BDS movement.

In one such incident, Students for Justice in Palestine held a “die-in” on the Columbia campus in May and released a statement that condoned terrorism, denied the right to Jewish self-determination, and accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

SJP also claimed that violence on the Israel-Gaza border was part of “a path which concretely spells out the racist objective of Zionism: to create an ethno-supremacist state with no place for the indigenous Palestinians.”

The report also reviewed “various bigoted and antisemitic statements, publications and actions” from Columbia and Barnard faculty and staff. ACF implemented sourcing and categorizing methods based on those used by the non-profit organization AMCHA Initiative.

Avi Gordon, executive director of ACF, told JNS, “This report reveals the disturbing truth about antisemitism at one of the highest-regarded universities in the United States. In this time of increasing hatred against Jews, Alums for Campus Fairness believes that it is paramount that the public, media and policymakers have the tools to address this climate of bigotry.”


Thursday, December 05, 2019

Universities have become padded cells for vulnerable inmates

Most university vice-chancellors, one suspects, if they subscribe to any paper read the Guardian by choice. But when that paper runs a story about their university, they are likely to suppress a groan: the news is unlikely to be good. Events three weeks ago at Birmingham University are a case in point.

Three years ago, a female student living off campus (we will anonymise her as Alice) took a boyfriend (call him Ben), also a Birmingham student, home to her digs after some heavy drinking. They had consensual sex and slept together. In the middle of the night he then allegedly had sex with her again while she was only semi-conscious. Both, it seems, then went back to sleep, before Alice had Ben bundled out of the house in the morning.

In April this year, worried about encountering Ben during her finals, Alice submitted a formal complaint, alleging rape by Ben two years earlier and asking the University to investigate and if necessary discipline or exclude him.

The University declined, citing the passage of time (well over two years) and the fact that the event had occurred on private premises outside the campus where it had neither jurisdiction nor the facilities to investigate. It did offer to have a word with Ben, but could not guarantee to keep Alice’s name secret if Ben asked what he was accused of.

This misfortune could have been avoided had Alice not chosen to bring home a man she did not know very well after a drunken party.

The result was a Twitter blitz and vortex of vitriol against the University, which stood accused of misogyny, breach of its duty of care, and condonation of sexual violence. This was predictable in a sense: Alice obviously deserves sympathy.

But here’s the problem. Viewed in the cold light of day, the only sensible conclusion is that the university here acted entirely correctly.

First, note that what was demanded was an investigation by a body not equipped to carry it out, concerning events over two years earlier, where it was one teenager’s word against another’s, both having been drunk at the time.

Birmingham, like all universities, is a charity primarily devoted to higher education, research and scholarship; every pound used to paying staff to conduct probes of this sort, and every hour spent on them, is money and time taken away from these aims. One might have thought that this was quintessentially a job for the police, whose function is deal with allegations of this sort.

Secondly, what about the interests of Ben, presumably also about to take his finals? Whatever Alice’s concerns, a demand to tax him then with unproved (and possibly anonymous) allegations about events during his first year is hardly fair on him.

Thirdly, the circumstances (which one suspects happen more often in student circles than one cares to admit) are relevant. Ben, presumably still half-drunk, may very possibly have believed that Alice would if fully awake have consented to further sex, and that her sleepy protests were not serious.

Now, this probably is rape according to the sea-green incorruptible criteria of the law. Nevertheless it is at the lower end of the spectrum of seriousness, some might even say at the technical end. It is by no means clear that a university should be expected to expend significant resources dealing with the fall-out from it.

Fourthly, it is relevant that this whole misfortune could have been avoided had Alice not chosen to bring home a man she did not know very well after a drunken party. It may be objected that this is victim-blaming: but it is not. No-one suggests that Ben’s culpability is any the less because Alice could have avoided being assaulted by him: rightly, no rapist can ever excuse himself by arguing that his victim was foolish.

University administrators see themselves not as servants of scholastic societies, but as sellers of skill-sets, lifestyle facilitators and corporate administrators.

But here demands were being made on the limited resources of a third party (i.e. the University); and in deciding how to spread such resources it must be legitimate to distinguish between those who could and could not reasonably have avoided their misfortune, with preference being given to the former.

There is, however, a bigger point here. A recurring theme in this affair is that Birmingham University broke its duty of care to Alice. On this account it had been obliged, and had failed, to look after her interests and welfare generally; to protect her from misconduct by other students wherever they were; and to that end to extend its regulatory and disciplinary tentacles to cover students’ conduct on and off campus.

But, apart from the fact that (as Birmingham’s critics repeat endlessly) the great and the good, including Universities UK, seem to think such extensive and intrusive regulation is a good idea, what rational grounds are there for imposing any such duty on it in the first place?

After all, we don’t treat other adult organisations that way. We demand that golf clubs keep their clubhouses and courses safe, but we don’t accuse them of breaking their duties of care if members indecently assault each other on their way home from the club dinner, or some member makes hurtful comments about the club caddy on a Saturday morning in town.

We do not ask churches to monitor extra-church behaviour and, for example, apply disciplinary measures or offer counselling if it turns out that one regular worshipper has been harasses a co-worshipper at home. Such behaviour is reprehensible: but it is not the responsibility of the club or the church.

Why so different with universities? The reason, one suspects, lies in people’s changing vision of a university. Once it was seen as a community of scholars whose students willingly choose, with their parents’ help, to become part of it in order to improve themselves.

Today, university administrators see themselves not as servants of scholastic societies, but as sellers of skill-sets, lifestyle facilitators and corporate administrators.

Parents for their part see universities not as nurseries for scholarship, but as the organisations they pay to take their children off their hands for three years after school, look after them and prepare them for white-collar jobs.

Faced with such beliefs, it is unsurprising that students should now be regarded not as autonomous beings expected to find themselves through self-education, but as vulnerable inmates needing protection and regulation at all times.

Or, to put it another way, university is today seen as simply a continuation of school. And just as in schools pupils are coddled, ordered about and at all costs – even educational costs – protected from anything seen as physical or mental harm, so they are similarly infantilised at university.

There is increasingly a worrying similarity between what happens in the sixth form at a neighbourhood comprehensive school, and events in the seventh at the local university.


Conservatives Need Not Apply for Prestigious Scholarships

Or, if they do, they (unlike progressives) better keep quiet about their political beliefs.

When British businessman Cecil Rhodes passed away in 1902, he couldn’t possibly have imagined what the world would be like in 2019. Over 117 years ago, his brain couldn’t have conceived of commercial air travel or the Internet or how great Jennifer Aniston would still look.

Further, Rhodes also would not recognize what has become of the prestigious scholarship he founded in the year of his death. For one, he would be confused that the Rhodes Scholarship was being granted to women and minorities — he was an avowed white supremacist and specifically excluded women from winning the award. (Women didn’t become eligible until 1977.)

But Rhodes would also be perplexed about the academic paths chosen by Rhodes winners and by the criteria applied to the applicants.

Last week, the Rhodes Foundation announced its 32 American scholarship recipients. The third paragraph of the statement accompanying the selections reveals the foundation’s true goals:

For the third consecutive year, the class overall is majority-minority, and approximately half are first-generation Americans. One is the first transgender woman elected to a Rhodes Scholarship; two other Scholars-elect are non-binary.

If Rhodes were to rise from the grave in 2019, he might die all over again.

Once the ultimate academic award for American students, the Rhodes Scholarship has morphed into an identity contest, where racial and sexual classifications appear to have trumped academic rigor.

Take, for instance, 2020 award-winner Eileen Z. Ying, of the University of Virginia: Her undergraduate scholarship “examines Asian diasporic speculative fiction and its intersections with queerness and biopolitics.”

University of Oklahoma senior Leanne K. M. Ho, who uses the plural pronoun “they,” boasts of academic research analyzing “the impact of storytelling on social distancing from LGBTQ people.” Ho’s biography reads,

They are a campus leader in incorporating transgender, intersex, and non-binary people into conversations about reproductive health and have advocated for increased resources and opportunities for transgender and gender non-conforming students.

Of course, the star of the 2020 class is University of Tennessee graduate Hera Jay Brown, the first transgender woman to win the award. Among Brown’s academic bona fides is authoring a white paper on the global state of LGBTQ+ affairs for the Biden Foundation. Brown’s biography notes that she graduated summa cum laude “in a major she designed in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and Migration Studies.”

Of course, given the decades during which white men were the sole recipients of the scholarship, it’s understandable that the Rhodes Foundation might overcorrect to rectify the years of racial and gender injustice.

But while the award now celebrates ethnic diversity, academic and ideological diversity are nowhere to be found among the recent crop of award-winners. The Foundation claims to reward “character, commitment to others and to the common good,” but those characteristics apparently apply only to progressives publicly dedicated to social-justice causes.

Of the 32 scholars chosen for 2020, only 13 fail to list involvement with progressive causes on their résumés. Of those 13, none lists interest in or experience with a conservative cause — they have chosen to present themselves as politically neutral. (Most of these “neutral” students are involved in the physical sciences, where there is no liberal or conservative way of curing leukemia.)

In other words, students on the left feel free to assert their progressivism, while students on the right know that if they want a scholarship, they better keep their politics a secret.

This bias is well established in the case of other prestigious academic awards for American students. In 2018, not one of the 59 winners of the $30,000 Truman Scholarship reported being involved with Republican or conservative politics in any way, while 64 percent of winners espoused traditionally liberal causes. In 2019, progressive students held a ten-to-one advantage over right-leaning students for Truman awards.

Obviously, these are smart students, and the lesson is clear: Especially in the Trump era, overtly conservative students need not apply. Diversity is great until you think differently. And the right kind of “diversity” matters far more than academic rigor.

And this is why, if there is ever a scientific discovery that allows Cecil Rhodes to return, it most likely won’t be from a student with a Rhodes Scholarship.


Britain jumps up international maths rankings following Chinese-style teaching

Britain has jumped up international rankings for maths following Government efforts to import Chinese-style teaching into the classroom.

The UK came 18th, up from 27th three years ago, in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) league table.

The Pisa tests, which are administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, were taken by 79 countries last year.

The assessment is carried out every three years and involves more than half a million 15-year-olds across the globe taking two-hour tests.

Last year the UK scored an average of 502 points in mathematics, up from 492 in 2015.

Within the UK, the average score for maths among English pupils (504) was “significantly higher” than scores for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Department for Education said.

Experts have said that ministers’ attempts to emulate Chinese teaching methods are likely to have driven up the UK’s test results.  Countries in the Far East - including China, Singapore and Hong Kong – have long come at the top of the league tables for maths.

Prof Valsa Koshy, an expert in maths education at Brunel University, said: “Importing maths teaching from Far Eastern countries means there has been an emphasis on children needing to master the basic facts and traditional skills such as times tables. This used to be laughed at as too old fashioned.”

In 2014, the DfE set up an exchange programme between English and Shanghai schools, so that maths teachers could learn about Chinese teaching methods.

The programme was followed two years later by a £41 million pound project to train thousands of primary schools to adopt the “Shanghai-style”, also known as the “maths mastery approach”.

Maths mastery involves children being taught as a whole class, building depth of understanding of the structure of the subject, and is supported by the use of high-quality textbooks. A series of maths “hubs” were set up around the country to train teachers in the new methods.

Ben Durbin, head of international at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) which administered the Pisa tests in the UK, said it was “encouraging” to see that the boost in score for maths was driven by improvements among boys and lower achieving students.

The UK also ranked higher for reading and science than it did three years ago, coming 14th place in the international rankings for both in the most recent Pisa test up from 22nd and 15th respectively.

As well as coming below countries in the Far East, the UK also ranked below other European countries such as Estonia, Slovenia and Poland for all three subjects.

Teenagers who took the test were also asked about a range of other issues such as their wellbeing and happiness.

According to the rankings, 53 per cent of British students said they felt satisfied with their lives, which is well below the OECD average of 67 per cent.

School leaders welcomed the improvements in maths but voiced concern about the results for children’s wellbeing.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is clear that many young people feel under great pressure in a society in which the stakes often seem very high to them in terms of achieving their goals.

“We must do more to understand the complex factors which affect wellbeing and ensure schools and colleges are sufficiently funded to be able to provide appropriate pastoral support.”


Campaign group Stonewall says children as young as five should be taught about lesbian, gay and transgender issues in every school subject with the rainbow flag used to help youngsters learn colours

An LGBT campaign group has issued guidance to primary schools stating that children should be taught about lesbian, gay and transgender issues in every subject from the age of five.

Stonewall issued the guidance to coincide with the launch of new relationships and sex education (RSE) lessons that begin next September.

Parents are allowed to remove their children from sex lessons but ones covering relationships are compulsory.

Stonewall has suggested that teachers use the LGBT rainbow flag to help children understand the meaning of colours.

The group adds that teaching about LGBT people should be 'embedded' throughout school timetables.

The campaign group suggested maths questions such as: 'How many biscuits are left at Fatima and Shanika's wedding?'

One example lesson plan suggests that pupils aged seven and eight study and Aids memorial quilt in design and technology lessons.

The guidance, sponsored by publisher Pearson and the Government Equalities Office from a £1million grant given to LGBT organisations, also suggests that students in religious education lessons be taught about naming ceremonies for those who change gender.

Chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, told the Times that Stonewall's inclusive guidance was disguising a 'manipulative agenda aimed brazenly at our youngest and most impressionable'. She added: 'This curriculum is deeply subversive. It should be scrapped.'

The campaign group include quotes from children who have been left disappointed in their schools for not teaching about LGBT issues.

Alexandra, 11, said: 'The school did one assembly once. It kind of hurts that the school doesn't want to talk about it.'

According to Stonewall, a whopping 45 per cent of LGBT pupils are bullied - something the campaign group believes is less likely to happen if other children are taught about issues they face.    

Stonewall said: 'Our new guide, Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Primary Curriculum, is a free voluntary resource for primary school teachers who want to make their classrooms inclusive and accepting of all young people.'


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

'Educational Equity' — Fairness to Students or Bureaucracy?

Leftists have coined a new term to justify their federal meddling in public schools.  

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education that the segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. It also just wasn’t right. While cultural norms dictate a great deal of accepted behavior and, sadly, the racial divide in America was still accepted until the mid-1950s, race-based policy never has been right under our constitutional law or moral standing. Simply, we’re either created equal as the Bible teaches and as our Founding documents declare or we’re not.

Yet a term that’s emerged in recent years — educational equity — implies that, despite decades of school district configurations and pouring over data to create integrated public schools, neighborhood schools are segregated with a climate that produces inequitable results and an environment of unfairness. Never mind the reality that public schools become a reflection of students within a zone or geographic perimeter, often from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.

Students don’t control the professional careers, choices, or educational attainment of their parents. For that matter, neither do teachers, school boards, boards of education, or any other entity of governance.

In Maryland’s Howard County, the efforts to construct educational equity are causing a stir, though not because the individuals opposed are racists, as some might argue. Instead, families want their children to attend a neighborhood school that is within a reasonable distance from home without a great deal of disruption to the daily commute and their peer groups.

Three years ago, Superintendent Michael Martirano offered a plan that would redistrict all 8,000 of the district’s students. But over the last couple of weeks, the Howard County Board of Education voted to approve a redistricting plan for the 2020-2021 school year that will instead reassign about 1,000 of the system’s students.

In response, one parent, Xueying Ni, argued in a WAMU radio interview, “The reason we oppose this is because we are a community-based school. We’re all tied to this school. There is no connection to outside neighbors. All of our daily routines are here.”

That doesn’t sound racist or illogical.

A high-school freshman, Vedant Patel, was quoted in the same piece, “It’s going to increase my commute severely. I’m already having to go around half an hour each day going to school and now it’s going to be at least an hour.”

Again, nothing hateful or racially motivated, right?

But to address overcrowding of some of the 76 schools in the district — where the highest concentration of students who receive free or reduced meals (FARM) are found in 10 schools — a sweeping plan has been presented, debated, and approved by the school board. According to Superintendent Martirano, the new zoning plan is “undoing nearly a decade worth of crowding at many of our schools and advancing socio-economic equity across all schools.”

Fueling the plans proposed as well as the one approved is data illustrating opportunity and performance gaps along with lower graduation rates and poor attendance among Hispanic and black students, in addition to the high rates of FARM entitlements characteristic of the 10 schools. So, the proposed answer is to redistribute students via zoning and busing by demographic data points to equalize, or attempt to standardize, the socioeconomic status of each school.

What has worked before and what exactly is educational equity?

First, the definition. Educational equity implies that fairness will be guaranteed through actions and policies that remove barriers to resources, instruction, and engagement in a school for all children. That sounds terrific and is truly the goal of most school districts, individual schools, teachers, and administrators.

Yet attempts to influence this “fairness” have not fared so well.

Efforts of the Barack Obama administration through the Every Student Succeeds Act increased the access to billions of additional funds and grants designated only for schools where larger numbers of students were underperforming, lagging in their graduation or struggling to keep teachers. Title I funding along with programs like Ladders of Opportunity and Promise Zones were deemed a failure, even by the educational experts.

The move to adopt federal standards, Common Core, was rejected in many states as overreaching and taking away local control of schools. While standards are needed to ensure the value of a student’s diploma from state to state, the idea of a one-size-fits-all approach to education was problematic in light of statements from Obama’s Equity and Excellence Commission.

From its report in February 2013 to then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the commission opined, “Historically, our approach to local control has often made it difficult to achieve funding adequacy and educational equity.” The suggestion? “Develop policies that give states and school districts incentives to pursue legal and feasible means to promote racially and socioeconomically diverse schools. … The federal government should also continue to support racial diversity as part of a broader equity agenda.”

Hmm. Maybe we overlooked the references to being better prepared academically or even equipped to be gainfully employed due to career readiness and critical learning skills. Nope.

So, the suggestion was to “Establish a process for replacing chronically ineffective school boards with oversight boards or special masters when weak governance is clearly contributing to a district’s persistent underperformance,” ignoring any local elections.

Let’s see, more money poured into education for the last 60 years hasn’t generated a level of greater academic preparation. As a matter of fact, if “equity” of funding was the measured metric, many of these underperforming schools would need to refund the taxpayers for the additional money, resources, and energy allocated to compensate for factors that, in reality, begin in the home.

Suggestions to increase federal control and negate local school districts haven’t been the secret to this fairness, either. But in the WAMU interview, an African-American resident running for the Howard County school board seemed to be onto something. Larry Pretlow noted that students should be able to attend neighborhoods schools of their choosing. “I don’t agree that you should ever make any attempt to balance poverty,” he stated. “[The county] should be working to reduce it.”

What a novel idea! The School Board should focus on the students and schools while the city, county, and state governments should work to improve the infrastructure, get government out of the way of growing jobs and other important aspects of improving a family’s socioeconomic standing.

And, one other parting thought. The same individuals who want socioeconomic equity to ensure educational equity are also the ones who oppose school choice that empowers parents to rescue their kids from underperforming schools.

But, that’s just not fair … to the bureaucracy at expense to the student.


China exploiting U.S. schools to steal research, Senate report finds

China has built its economy in part on research funded by taxpayers in the U.S., then siphoned across the Pacific Ocean by academics recruited by Beijing to act as double agents, stealing intellectual property from their American universities, a bipartisan Senate report revealed Monday.

The academics signed contracts that in some cases committed them to hiding their dual research status from their U.S. employers while giving China a first look at their work, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations found.

Beijing’s interest in stealing U.S. military and economic secrets has long been known, but the federal government was slow to act, the report says.

“American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s economy and military over the last two decades,” said Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and chairman of the investigative subcommittee, adding that “our own federal agencies have done little to stop their actions despite being aware of China’s talent plans.”

One China-backed researcher downloaded more than 30,000 files from an Energy Department lab and then fled back to China. In another instance, the report detailed how a professor at an American university working in a science field with both civilian and military applications found a way to circumvent U.S. export rules and get his findings back to China.

Investigators said he was paid by federal agencies to perform research while running a China-based lab, and he sponsored visiting Chinese students in the U.S. He then used the students to transfer his research back to China without having to travel himself.

The federal agency that investigated the case said many of the visiting students were “directly affiliated with research and development organizations involved in China’s military modernization efforts.”

Senate investigators said China has more than 200 programs to recruit research talent at home and abroad. The Senate report looks at one of them, the Thousand Talents Plan, which is directly run by the Communist Party Central Committee.

Investigators obtained some of the contracts that Thousand Talents Plan recruits sign with China and found researchers were pledging to hide their ties from U.S. institutions, all while promising to share their findings with their Chinese overseers.

One contract urged a researcher to run “shadow labs” in China, and other contracts required researchers to recruit others into the program. One Senate investigator compared it to a pyramid scheme and said it was no wonder the Thousand Talents Plan exceeded Beijing’s goals for growth.

“Chinese talent recruitment plan members misappropriated U.S. government funding, provided early basic research ideas to their Chinese employers, stole intellectual capital from U.S. basic research before it was published, and engaged in intellectual property theft,” the report concluded.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray in July told Congress that the bureau is increasingly concerned about China’s talent recruitment strategy and pointed out that the U.S. taxpayer is often providing the money for the research that is advancing China’s “economic dominance over us.”

But the FBI was slow on the draw, the Senate report says.

The bureau had a list of China-backed researchers in 2016 but didn’t share the information for two years.

The senators who ran the investigation said the government needs a better strategy. The State Department could do more to try to screen out potential double-agent researchers applying for visas to visit the U.S., federal law enforcement needs to share more data with universities, and the schools should do more to vet whom they are hiring.

The report also suggested that the administration slap restrictions on research funded by American taxpayers.

After public scrutiny last year, China moved to delete references to the Thousand Talents Plan, investigators said. A list of participating scientists was scrubbed from the internet, and a Chinese news outlet reported that a directive came from on high ordering media to suspend reporting on the program out of concern for researchers’ safety.

Mr. Portman’s subcommittee will draw even more scrutiny Tuesday with a hearing on the report.


Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably

During World War I, seven of the medical schools attached to the University of London decided to start admitting female students, as did Oxford and Edinburgh University. But by 1928, five of these London colleges had decided to stop admitting women, with the other two heavily restricting female numbers. Oxford voted for a ratio of no more than one female for every six males. Male academics and students were concerned that the presence of female students, let alone staff, would “alter the character of the teaching” and lead to “feminine government” of universities [Discussed in Education, by Carol Dyhouse, in Women in Twentieth Century Britain, 2014.]

In other words, the “masculine” dimension to academia—rigorously, unemotionally and coldly examining facts and arguments—would be wrecked by the increasing presence of emotional and over-empathetic girls. As females increasingly take over Western universities, now constituting the majority of students in the USA [Why Do Women Outnumber Men in College?, NBER Working Paper No. 12139, January 2007 ], it is becoming clear that these skeptics were right.

A recent column by Christopher DeGroot looked how feminization is destroying academia. [The University of Narcissism, October 25, 2019] A recent video by British independent scientist “The Jolly Heretic”—Dr Edward Dutton—has gone even further, claiming that female dominance of universities is destroying the “genius” type that is critical to the generation of original ideas (This idea is developed further in The Genius Famine, by Edward Dutton & Bruce Charlton).

DeGroot highlighted the appalling case of Eric Thompson of Moreno Valley College in California, who was ultimately fired for being what, in less female-dominated times, would have been described as good academic. Three complaints were made against Thompson by his, naturally Woke and mainly female, students. Each was upheld.

In 2014, Thompson was naïve enough to chair a seminar on the “Nature vs Nurture” debate with regard to same-sex attraction. This is indeed very much a “debate,” because 60% of the variance in male sexuality is to do with environment, in contrast to 80% of the variance in female sexuality [The evolution of human female sexual orientation, by A. Jeffrey et al., Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2019]. But Thompson’s presenting both sides of the argument mortified some of his students, who hold to the Politically Correct dogma that everything is caused by environment except sexual orientation, which is supposedly 100% genetic.

In 2015, DeGroot reports, Thompson, still foolishly believing he should teach students to explore the evidence, chaired a seminar on the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, again presenting both sides of the argument. In this case, the complainant maintained that, simply by presenting the other side of the argument, Thompson was effectively “targeting” LGBTQ students and even “placing them at risk” of abuse or psychological damage. Their “precious feelings,” to quote de Groot, far outweighed students’ rights to have an in-depth understanding of an important debate.

Finally, Thompson gave a D-grade to lesbian. She complained that he’d done this because she was a lesbian. He emailed her, explaining the situation calmly, after she’d complained. But in doing so, he violated a bureaucratic “no contact order,” reached his “third strike” and was dismissed.(This was so obviously unjust that he has actually been reinstated by a court (twice) but the college is still appealing the reinstatement—College furious after non-woke professor reinstated, by Bob Kellogg, OneNewsNow, August 6, 2019.

DeGroot presents a reasonable argument about how this fundamental change in the university environment—from a place where all ideas are freely debated, to a “safe space” for the feelings of irrational people—occurred. In order to calmly debate all ideas, you need to put emotion aside. But females are simply less able to do that than males because they are higher in Neuroticism—feeling negative feelings strongly. Thus, they more easily become overwhelmed by negative feelings, precluding them from logical thought. (Data on personality traits is drawn from Personality, By Daniel Nettle, 2007).

Similarly, new ideas, or being contradicted, will likely upset some people. But, in the pursuit of academic debate, you have to ignore this and calmly present both sides. However, this is more difficult for females, because they are more sympathetic, meaning that “not hurting people’s feelings” can become their highest ideal. Higher in Conscientiousness (“rule-following”) and lower in intellectual curiosity than males, females are also more conformist. This means they are less able to understand that, in academia, the truth is ever more closely reached by being non-conformist—by questioning the current “truth.”

Thus, argues DeGroot, female domination of academia will seriously damage academia as a place where ideas can be seriously debated.

Ed Dutton, in a video entitled “Do Female Reduce Male Per Capita Genius?” takes this critique of feminism even further. He argues that geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness. This means they are clever enough to solve a difficult problem, but being low in rule-following, can also “think outside the box,”. And, being low in Agreeableness, they don’t care about offending people, which original ideas always do.

An aspect of Agreeableness is empathy—being concerned with the feelings of others and being able to guess what they might be. Dutton shows that people who are high in “systematizing” (which males typically are compared to females, with systematizing being vital to problem solving) tend to be low in empathy. Thus, Dutton argues, you don’t get many women geniuses because their IQ range is more bunched towards the mean; and also because they are too high in Agreeableness and Consciousness.

Universities, traditionally dominated by males, have in essence been about giving geniuses a place in which they can attempt to solve their problems, working at their chosen problems for years on end. But Dutton argues that female academics tend to be the “Head Girl Type” (chief prefect at all-girls schools in the UK) with “normal range” high IQ and high in Conscientiousness and Agreeableness—the exact opposite of a typical genius. Accordingly, once you allow females into academia, they will be promoted over genius males because they come across as better people to work with—more conscientious, easier to be around and more socially skilled. But this will tend to deny geniuses the place of nurture they need.

As females come to dominate, the culture of academia will feminize. High in Conscientiousness, women will create a rule-governed bureaucracy where research occurs through incremental steps and a certain number of publications must be presented every few years, rather than through genius breakthroughs. But geniuses typically work on huge problems for years. So this bureaucracy will make it impossible for them to do this and keep their jobs.

Women will also create a culture of co-operative “research groups,” anathema to the kind of anti-social loners who tend towards genius. And females will, of course, tend to create an atmosphere of emotion and empathy, the enemy of the unemotional, coldly systematic style of the genius—and, traditionally, of academia.

In this atmosphere, “not causing offence” will become much more important. But genius breakthroughs are only made, ultimately, by causing offence.

Dutton argues that universities began as religious institutions and geniuses believed that their aim was to uncover the nature of God’s creation. To lie was, therefore, “blasphemy” and nothing was more important than “Truth.”

This focus on “Truth” carried over into the twentieth century, consistent with the male focus on “systematizing” which research by Simon Baron-Cohen has highlighted [The extreme male brain theory of autism, by Simon Baron-Cohen. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2002]. But the female focus on “empathy over truth” has subverted this.

Dutton argues that feminization will drive genius-types out of universities, perhaps taking us back to the situation in the early nineteenth century, when such people were often independent scholars who had patrons or who were independently wealthy.

Actually Ultimately, Dutton concludes, there should be far fewer women at universities, though he suggests that “religious women”—who will believe that lying about God’s creation is blasphemy—should be permitted in small numbers to carry out the kind of incremental science in which those who are high in Conscientiousness excel.

In other words, just as Oxford University decreed in 1927, females should be a select minority of students.

I have written previously of the possibility of the higher education bubble bursting—indirectly because of the increasing “Wokeness,” and thus practical uselessness, of universities Female dominance is part of the reason for this possibility.

Perhaps we need separate universities for males and females. They could socialize on campus, but they shouldn’t be the same seminars or even academic departments. Of course, this was actually the case in the nineteenth century, with Harvard and Radcliffe and Columbia and Barnard College.

This divide is currently enforced—without the socializing—in some Islamic countries.

Could be that, even when it comes to academia, “Islam is right about women”?


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Student sets himself on fire, highlighting broader distress in France

His main problem seemed to be in getting a job.  Restrictions on firing in France make employers reluctant to create new jobs. A common result of that is that young French graduates head for the Gare du Nord and take a train ride to London for their first job, which is a rather gross failing of the French system

PARIS — Early this month, Anas K., 22, sat in front of the student center at a university in Lyon and posted what he believed would be his final Facebook status. “I accuse Macron, Hollande, Sarkozy and the European Union of having killed me by creating uncertainties for the future of all,” he wrote.

Shortly after clicking the post button, he set himself on fire.

Today, the young man, whose family has asked that his full name not be published to protect his privacy, has burns over 90 percent of his body. As of Nov. 18, Anas K.’s condition is stable, though he remains in an artificial coma.

Although little is known publicly of Anas K.’s psychological state before his suicide attempt Nov. 8, the act touched a nerve with students across France. It quickly became another indication, like the Yellow Vest protests, of the precariousness that many French feel has come to define their lives.

The incident has inspired protests in various cities against student financial insecurity. Student unions have demanded a reevaluation of university tuition and changes to scholarships. They also want more student housing and better health services on university campuses.

Thousands of students have blocked the entrances of universities in recent weeks, and they have demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Higher Education. On Twitter, some have posted using the hashtag #LaPrécaritéTue, or “Precariousness kills.”

Such an outpouring of anger over economic uncertainty among students may seem out of place in France. The price of higher education, even at some of the country’s best schools, is nowhere near comparable to that in the United States, where the average yearly costs for both public and private four-year schools are in the five-figure range.

In France, a bachelor’s program at a public university costs 170 euros, or about $187 a year. Many of the “Grandes Écoles,” the elite universities in France, charge students based on their parents’ income.

Students can receive money from the state to subsidize their living expenses. In 2017, 39 percent of students qualified for financial assistance.

Yet many French students still struggle to get by. One in five French students lived below the poverty line in 2017, according to a report by the National Union of Students of France. Almost half worked during the school year to finance their studies.

For the last 10 years, the cost of living for students in France has increased, further compounding their financial instability. And for some students, that insecurity continues after they finish their studies.

In his Facebook post, Anas K. expressed anxiety about his future, wondering whether he would be able to find work at a time of “mass unemployment” in a country where, despite recent improvements, 20.77 percent of young people remained unemployed in 2018.

Anas K. was repeating his second year at university for the third time, and his academic troubles had resulted in the rescinding of his scholarship at University Lumière Lyon 2.

In the post, which has since been taken down, Anas K. explicitly attributed his suicide attempt to the financial insecurity he faced as a student, writing that his “last wish is that my peers continue to fight so we can be finished with this, once and for all.”

At first, the government was slow to respond to the incident, which received widespread media attention in France, and was initially dismissive of students’ concerns, denouncing “the political instrumentalization” of the event.

Amélie de Montchalin, the secretary of European affairs, said she found it “dangerous” that activist associations were “using the situation.”

The student protests have now become yet another obstacle for the government of President Emmanuel Macron to navigate in an increasingly tumultuous political landscape.

Though Macron’s government is still vowing to change France, a proliferation of protests on a number of fronts is threatening to upend his agenda.

This month alone, hospital workers protested poor working conditions, and 28,000 Yellow Vest protesters turned out to mark the anniversary of their movement. Tens of thousands marched in Paris and across France to protest high rates of domestic violence in the country, where more than 100 women have been killed so far this year by a partner or former partner. And protests against Macron’s proposed retirement overhaul are scheduled for Dec. 5.

As a result, and as student anger remains unabated, the government has begun to tread more carefully. Frédérique Vidal, the French minister of education, met with student associations in recent days, promising to create a help line for students by the end of the year.

To the protesters’ dismay, however, she did not increase the budget for student financial assistance, saying the current budget of 5.7 billion euros was underutilized. Instead, the government promised measures to make students more aware of existing financial resources.

Now, Macron himself has weighed in. “Such acts are always unfathomable and inexplicable,” he said of Anas K.’s self-immolation. “His suffering reminds us, though it does not make us discover, the difficulties of student life.”

He also reminded students of the things he had already done for them, like decreasing the cost of a driver’s license and simplifying the scholarship system. “Right now, our country is too negative about itself,” he said.

But many students have found the government response unsatisfying. “We are living in a time of economic uncertainty, we are constantly passing reforms that make work and retirement more precarious,” said Sophie La Toix, 25, a friend of Anas K. and a member of his student union.

“We don’t know if all the hardship and hard work we put into our studies will be rewarded because we know more and more people who have several diplomas and master’s that find themselves without work” she added. “On top of that, there is uncertainty about the climate.”

Such financial stresses contribute to the fact that students are more likely to have “suicidal ideas” than the general French population, according to data from the French Observatory of Student Life.

Still, the students have not persuaded everyone of their distress, and some consider their demands overblown. “I do not think financial insecurity or poverty is a massive phenomenon among students,” said Olivier Galland, a French sociologist and a director at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

He pointed out that most students are supported by their parents or the state. But that does not mean that Macron’s government could risk ignoring their complaints, either.  “I think governments, no matter who they are, are always scared of young people,” Galland said. “Young people are unpredictable.”


Elizabeth Warren Rally Derailed By Pro-Charter School Protesters

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign rally in Atlanta on Thursday was derailed by parents protesting the Massachusetts senator’s opposition to charter schools.

The group of parents interrupted Warren’s event, which was aimed at courting black female voters, with chants of “Our children, our choice!” and “We want to be heard!”

A group wearing “powerful parent network” shirts, a group who opposes Warren’s stance on charter schools started chanting “our children our choice” and “we want to be heard!” during the start of Warren’s speech.

The protesters promoted their disruption on Twitter using the hashtag #PowerfulParentNetwork. Warren has pledged to crack down on school choice if elected, despite the fact that publicly available records show she sent her own son to an elite private school, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

The protesters were eventually escorted out of the event by security


UK: Half of university students accepted on lower grades as institutions take into account poor backgrounds, study finds

That's a very high proportion of unqualified students

Around half of school-leavers were accepted on to degree courses this year with A-level grades lower than the advertised entry requirements, new data shows.

Students from the poorest backgrounds were more likely to take up places with lower grades than advertised compared to all undergraduates nationally, according to figures published by Ucas.

This may be due to "contextualised offers" - in which an institution takes into account a student's schooling and background when deciding whether to make an offer, and what grades are needed to secure the place, the admission service said.

The latest data shows that 49% of 18-year-olds in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, sitting at least three A-levels, were accepted on to courses with actual exam grades that were below the requirements advertised by the university for the course.

Universities and colleges typically advertise standard grade requirements, for example on their own website, for students to view when applying for courses.

The figures also show that this year (2019) 60% of applicants from the fifth most disadvantaged backgrounds were accepted on to courses with A-level grades below the advertised requirements.

These figures are based on acceptances on to courses for which A-level entry requirements were supplied to Ucas.

"Findings from the 2019 cycle suggest that applicants should not be deterred from applying to courses with challenging entry requirements," Ucas said.

"Universities and colleges frequently accept applicants who perform below their entry requirements. Encouragingly, this is most often experienced by disadvantaged applicants."

Ucas's report also says that around one in six (17%) of the most disadvantaged students say they received a contextual offer.

But many are unaware that universities make these types of offers, it adds. Three in five (60%) of the most disadvantaged applicants were less likely to be aware of contextual offers than the most advantaged (68%).

"These responses were collected at the end of the cycle, when many applicants would have been in receipt of these offers," Ucas said.

"Awareness may have been even lower when it was most needed - at the point of application."

There have been concerns raised previously that students from poorer backgrounds are less likely to apply to courses with high entry requirements as they are worried they will not get the required grades.


Monday, December 02, 2019

Pete Buttigieg's Big Mistake: Telling the Truth about black education
This week, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has risen to the top of the heap in early Democratic presidential primary polling in Iowa and New Hampshire, came under serious sustained attack for the first time in his candidacy. Buttigieg’s early candidacy gained credibility thanks to the moderation he displayed compared with other Democrats. He quickly lost steam when he tacked to the left. Now Buttigieg has swiveled back toward the center, launching a series of assaults on the radical plans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and stealing her momentum in the largely white early primary states.

Normally, such political rises are attended by a spate of negative reactionary coverage, and Buttigieg’s story is no different. The most effective attack on Buttigieg has centered around his complete lack of black support — a crucial problem for a candidate whose party sees black voters as a near supermajority of primary voters in states like South Carolina. Some of those attacks have focused on Buttigieg’s less-than-stellar governance in South Bend, where crime rates have remained critically high and relations between the local population and police have been strained throughout his tenure.

But the latest attack is on Buttigieg’s entire political mentality. This week, an article from Michael Harriot at The Root, titled “Pete Buttigieg Is a Lying MF,” trended on Twitter. What, exactly, was Buttigieg’s lie? He suggested back in 2011 that not all educational outcome disparities between blacks and whites are attributable to systemic racism. “The kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them,” Buttigieg stated (“whitely,” in Harriot’s adjective). “(Y)ou’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your educational process, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids, especially the lower-income, minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t somebody they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”

According to Harriot, this statement makes Buttigieg a “lying motherf—.” Why? Because majority-minority schools are underfunded compared with majority-white schools; because black students are “disciplined more harshly than white students,” as Harriot says; because black college graduates don’t have as successful an employment record as white college graduates. “Get-along moderates would rather make s— up out of whole cloth than wade into the waters of reality,” Harriot wrote. “Pete Buttigieg doesn’t want to change anything. He just wants to be something.”

But none of these three factors should explain the bulk of racial educational disparities. The black dropout rate from high school is far higher than that of white students, which has nothing to do with underfunded schools. Black students, by best available data, misbehave in school more often than white students. Black students drop out of college far more often than white students, which has nothing to do with institutional discrimination. Adjusting for household income, black women actually overperform white women in terms of college attendance and income. Something else is going on.

What is going on? According to a 2018 study from researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, young black men do best in areas with high levels of fatherhood. Lack of school mobility, largely due to entrenched interests preventing such mobility, doesn’t help either. Harvard’s Roland Fryer formalized “a particular peer effect, ‘acting white,’ which potentially contributes to the ongoing puzzle of black underachievement.” Former President Barack Obama similarly suggested an “element of truth” in the accusation that education is undervalued in many black homes, lamenting the attitude “OK, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly?” A study from the Brookings Institution found that black students spend less time on homework than other racial groups — by a long shot.

So, is Buttigieg a “lying motherf—” for pointing out that not all disparities can be attributed to institutional discrimination? Of course not. But in the Democratic Party, such common sense represents political suicide.


Boy hides microphone in his backpack and goes to school. two teachers are fired the next day

Even if your child is perfectly behaved and healthy, it can still be a struggle to ensure that they know right from wrong and grow up to be successful, confident and mature adults. When the children also have behavioral issues or developmental disabilities, those struggles become that much harder to overcome.

Milissa Davis knows the struggle. Her autistic son Camden struggles with many tasks we take for granted, so as a child she took the extra time to ensure that he was able to succeed.
As he got older, she began to explore schooling options that she felt would give Camden the best chance to succeed later in life. She discovered the Hope Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was instantly impressed with what they had to offer.

A quick meet and greet later and soon Camden was enrolled in the academy, which primarily serves the disabled community. They primarily work with students that have autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, learning disabilities, dyslexia, Down Syndrome, and minor learning challenges.

These teachers are hired due to their ability to teach and be responsible for a large number of disabled or struggling students, so Milissa felt that her son would be in good hands there. But soon he started coming home and acting out to his mother in anger. He also began having accidents at bedtime, and both scenarios were very unusual for the typically well-behaved boy.

Milissa had a hunch that something may have happened at school, so she sent him in with a concealed audio recorder in his backpack. What those tapes revealed at the end of the day shocked Milissa to her core.

“I just wanted to cry, scream and do everything I could because it was so bad,” she told WBRZ. “To think that I had sent my son there every day, and what had happened before, that I didn’t know about.”

The recordings included various instances of one particular teacher and assistant mocking the young boy and insulting him openly in class.

“Let’s see what they do with him in f****** public school,” the teacher said on the recording. “He was going to go to Live Oak Middle> He wouldn’t make it for a minute.”

“Camden, why don’t you have anything written down? That’s why you can’t sit with everyone. Tell your momma that,” she said to the 12-year-old.

Linda Stone, principal of Hope Academy released a statement, saying that the “recording contains regretful conversations between these adults.” Stone said that Milissa refused to meet with Hope Academy to discuss the changes they have made to “address the issue,” and goes on to say that both of the teachers involved were let go after an internal investigation.

“We ask that the community not let the actions of two persons reflect on the reputation and the mission of our school – a mission that we have tried so hard to build. We again extend an invitation to meet with the parent involved to discuss this incident further.”


University of Western Australia partnership with fossil fuel companies

The University of Western Australia is facing criticism over a partnership with fossil fuel companies that promises to help the gas industry expand into remote fields that have so far been too costly to develop.

Western Australian premier Mark McGowan praised the creation of what is known as the Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks, a partnership between the university and Chevron and Woodside, which are contributing $600,000 a year.

A statement posted on the state government and the university’s websites says the centre will focus on how to improve “tiebacks” – connections between new oil and gas fields and existing production facilities – in hostile deep-sea conditions.

It follows the establishment of other recent university-industry partnerships designed to help the state’s liquified natural gas (LNG) operations, which have grown rapidly over the past five years to be a significant employer and major export industry.

Launching the centre, McGowan said bringing more oil and gas projects online would position the state as a global energy leader. It would also mean more jobs for Western Australians. “That’s my government’s number one priority,” he said.

Alex Gardner, a professor and environmental lawyer at the University of Western Australia, said the centre was just part of what was broad backing from the university sector for the petroleum industry. He said he acknowledged universities and academics should be free to research and teach according to their choices.

But he said there did not seem to be a discussion about how the continuing expansion of the LNG industry fit within Australia’s emissions budget if it was to play its part in meeting the goals set at the UN Paris conference in 2015.

The announcement of the centre comes as Woodside leads plans to develop the long mooted Scarborough and Browse gas projects in northern WA.

Announcing the centre, Dawn Freshwater, the university’s vice-chancellor, said it fulfilled the institution’s aim of serving the community and improving people’s lives. “Not only will it enhance Perth and WA as a centre of offshore engineering excellence, it aligns with [the university’s] plans to expand and strengthen global partnerships,” she said.

Woodside’s chief executive, Peter Coleman, said: “We believe this partnership will play a crucial role in unlocking new gas resources off Western Australia’s north coast in support of our growth activities.”

Chevron’s managing director, Al Williams, said the company was proud to partner with the university on the centre.

In August, Williams announced that a carbon capture and storage project at Chevron’s Gorgon LNG development had begun operating after repeated delays stretching back to 2016. The company has previously estimated between 3.4m and 4m tonnes of carbon dioxide, about 40% of the emissions at Gorgon, could be buried each year.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Should States Subsidize Universities?


Politicians have historically favored funding state universities, arguing they are investments in human capital, sources of innovation, and engines for promoting economic opportunity by equalizing educational qualifications that help explain income differentials. We tax used car dealers but subsidize universities because they allegedly have what economists call “positive externalities”—good spillover effects.

Big state appropriations for colleges should lead to a high proportion of the population attaining degrees. Yet the evidence seemingly does not support that. I think it curious that the two states with the highest proportion of college graduates (bachelor’s degrees or more) among their population, Massachusetts and Colorado, are among the bottom half dozen states in terms of the proportion of personal income generated going for state university appropriations.

I decided to take the 10 states devoting the highest proportion of personal income to public higher education according to the Illinois State University Grapevine annual survey of appropriations for 2018-19, and compare them to the 10 states devoting the smallest proportion. Do states spending more of their income funding schools have a large proportion of college graduates? No. Au contraire, the 10 states spending the largest proportion of personal income on state university appropriations averaged slightly over 27% of their adult population with bachelor degrees or more, compared with nearly 34% for the 10 states spending the lowest proportion of incomes.

It could be, of course, that causation runs the other direction. States spending a lot on colleges are trying to catch up with respect to college attainment, but, if so, they are not proving very successful. Low spending, highly educated states like Massachusetts and New Hampshire have a tradition of heavy emphasis on private schools, suggesting that governmental support of schools is not critical to having an educated population.

I have earlier noted that the empirical evidence suggests that, controlling for other factors, higher spending on state universities has no positive association with economic growth, and indeed may have a negative one. When resources are confiscated by taxation from highly efficient private enterprises disciplined by markets and competition and given via a monopolistic political process to an inefficient non-profit higher education sector, output sometimes falls.

University officials rhapsodize that high quality colleges and universities promote a higher quality of life, attracting more human and capital resources. But is that true? I compared the three states with the largest amount of domestic in-migration of population in 2017-18, Florida, Arizona and Texas, with the three states with the largest amount of domestic out-migration, New York, California and Illinois. Looking at the top 20 schools on the most recent Forbes Best Colleges list, none of them were located in the high in-migration states, while eight came from the three high out-migration states (four from California, two each from New York and Illinois).

This selective evidence does not control adequately for non-educational determinants of such things as migration. Nonetheless, it helps me understand why popular support, and thus political approval, of appropriations is waning for higher education. The rhetoric of educrats is not supported by results. Instead of promoting better, more prosperous lives, perhaps public higher education is justifiably viewed as more an exercise in rent-seeking, providing income to university staff whose zeitgeist seems increasingly out of sync with the electorate.

This saddens me. I am in my 55th year of teaching at a state university, earned two degrees from another state school, and have been visiting professor or guest lecturer at many more. I think they do many good things, and a world with no college-educated individuals I think would be rather bleak. That said, two laws apply: the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Law of Unintended Consequences. We may have pushed college too hard for some students. And some well-intended government programs, notably the federal student loan program, have made colleges more costly and overpopulated with high priced bureaucrats with little interest in educating students at an affordable price. An email Milton Friedman sent me in 2003 seems prescient: “A full analysis...might lead you to conclude that higher education should be taxed to offset its negative externalities.”


Will the Courts Rein In Collegiate Race/Gender Pandering?

By Richard Vedder

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.


Australian Education Minister will tell universities to stop adjudicating rape

Bettina Arndt

Red letter day! Our Education Minister Dan Tehan will today tell TEQSA, the university regulator, that universities need to stop adjudicating rape on campuses.

He’s set to speak at  the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency annual conference in Melbourne where he will announce that the criminal justice system, not a university discipline process, is the right place to deal with ­alleged crimes that take place on campus or in the student commun­ity.

“Universities have a duty of care to their students and that ­includes ensuring processes around the enforcement of any codes of conduct are legal, fair and transparent," he will tell the conference.

“If a student alleges they are the victim of a crime then our criminal justice system is the ­appropriate authority to deal with it," Mr Tehan says.

Tim Dodd, the Higher Education editor for The Australian who has been given access to Tehan’s planned TEQSA speech, writes today that Tehan’s speech follows a decision by a Queensland Supreme Court judge last week that barred the University of Queensland from holding a discip­linary hearing into allegations that a final-year male ­medical student sexually ­assault­ed a female student last year.

Dodd summarised that ruling as follows: “Justice Ann Lyons ruled last week that the university was ­restrained from going ahead with the hearing on the basis that the allegations against the ­student “were in fact allegations of crim­inal offences of a sexual nature". “This is not just an action by the university about breaches of its rules, policies and procedures," Justice Lyons said. “It would indeed­ be a startling result if a committee comprised of academics and students who are not required to have any legal training could decide allegations of a most serious kind without any of the protections of the criminal law."

Dan Tehan will announce that education providers “need to take great care when considering disciplinary action in relation to allegations of criminal conduct, to ensure that the protections afforded to indiv­iduals responding to those allegations are not infringed. These are complex matters and there is substantia­l legislation, case law and legal precedent available to anyone accused of a crime."

Isn’t this wonderful? Finally we have an education minister willing to take on the small but noisy group of activists who managed to bully the entire higher education sector into pursuing this path, which has had such disastrous consequences for colleges in America, with over 200 successful legal cases of young men suing over the universities' failure to protect their legal rights, and thousands of accused young men being thrown out of colleges after biased, “believe-the victim" judgements by college tribunals.

Let's see if university administrators will now come to their senses. Not much sign  of that from USyd’s Vice Chancellor Michael Spence. His letter on the matter below. How does this man, who received a salary package of 1.53 million last year, get away with being so blinkered and inept?  Why are the University's academic lawyers silent about this dangerous nonsense?

We need to put pressure on universities to get real and realise feminist activists need to relinquish control of the sector and allow universities to get on with providing education rather than controlling people’s private lives. Please talk to any academics and administrators you know, or write letters to your local university. The activists are bound to be fighting fiercely against this advice from Tehan. Universities need to know the silent majority demands they get their act together. And Tehan needs your support. 

That’s  it for now. I’m off on two weeks’ holiday so I would be grateful if you saved up any correspondence until I return mid-December. I’ll check emails occasionally but will only deal with urgent matters.

Email from Bettina Arndt:

Police take the lead in investigating campus allegations

Weaselly letter from Michael Spence, vice-chancellor, University of Sydney, NSW. He apologises for nothing and gives no undertakings

Attending university is not a right, it’s a privilege that can be forfeited (“It’s time we culled kangaroo courts", 27/11). Some behaviour appropriately deprives people of this privilege.

Universities do not try to determine criminal culpability in sexual assault cases.

The University of Sydney reports information about serious indictable offences to the NSW Police, and co-ordinates with them before commencing our own processes or investigations. A police investigation always takes precedence.

Our investigations seek to determine breaches of our own codes of conduct or policies, and we apply the “balance of probabilities" test, which is the standard of proof to be satisfied in civil proceedings.

We always take into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations when deciding whether the standard of proof is met. Always, our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and broader community, and we take great care to ensure a fair process for all involved.