Friday, January 31, 2020

The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research

I fully agree with the comments below by Edward Archer.  In my own research career, I constantly came across published research that was essentially worthless. Doing survey research with your own students as survey respondents was ubiquitous, for instance. That the population at large might think differently from young students never seems to have been considered on most occasions.

I made sure that in my own research I used rerpresentative general population samples -- and I routinely got results very much at variance with the accepted wisdom

That did however have a benefit.  I found it easy to get my articles published.  The editors had seen so few articles based on proper sampling that they almost had to publish my findings.

As well as  technical problems in research that I read, I often found severe intellectual problems.  Most articles I read were at best arid intellectual exercises -- exercises that routinely failed to consider explanations for findings that were outside the norm.  I was able to point out such deficits so clearly that I got a lot of pure critique articles published.  The editors could see my point. 

Editors actually hate to publish critiques as it shows their review processes to be inadequate.  But around 50% of my critiques were strong enough to overcome that resistance and appeared in print. See list here

From what I saw, I would have to say that most published scientific research is worthless.

For most of the past century, the United States was the pre-eminent nation in science and technology. The evidence for that is beyond dispute: Since 1901, American researchers have won more Nobel prizes in medicine, chemistry, and physics than any other nation. Given our history of discovery, innovation, and success, it is not surprising that across the political landscape Americans consider the funding of scientific research to be both a source of pride and a worthy investment.

Nevertheless, in his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the pursuit of government grants would have a corrupting influence on the scientific community. He feared that while American universities were “historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery,” the pursuit of taxpayer monies would become “a substitute for intellectual curiosity” and lead to “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment…and the power of money.”

Eisenhower’s fears were well-founded and prescient.

My experiences at four research universities and as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research fellow taught me that the relentless pursuit of taxpayer funding has eliminated curiosity, basic competence, and scientific integrity in many fields.

Yet, more importantly, training in “science” is now tantamount to grant-writing and learning how to obtain funding. Organized skepticism, critical thinking, and methodological rigor, if present at all, are afterthoughts. Thus, our nation’s institutions no longer perform their role as Eisenhower’s fountainhead of free ideas and discovery. Instead, American universities often produce corrupt, incompetent, or scientifically meaningless research that endangers the public, confounds public policy, and diminishes our nation’s preparedness to meet future challenges.

Nowhere is the intellectual and moral decline more evident than in public health research. From 1970 to 2010, as taxpayer funding for public health research increased 700 percent, the number of retractions of biomedical research articles increased more than 900 percent, with most due to misconduct. Fraud and retractions increased so precipitously from 2010 to 2015 that private foundations created the Center for Scientific Integrity and “Retraction Watch” to alert the public.

One reason non-government organizations lead the battle to improve science is that universities and federal funding agencies lack accountability and often ignore fraud and misconduct. There are numerous examples in which universities refused to hold their faculty accountable until elected officials intervened, and even when found guilty, faculty researchers continued to receive tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Those facts are an open secret: When anonymously surveyed, over 14 percent of researchers report that their colleagues commit fraud and 72 percent report other questionable practices. The problem goes well beyond the known frauds.

The list of elite institutions at which high-profile faculty commit misconduct is growing rapidly.

In 2018, Duke University was the eighth-largest recipient of NIH funding with $475 million, and in 2019, Duke acquired over $570 million. Yet, in 2014, a whistleblower at Duke alleged that $200 million in grants were obtained using falsified data. Despite the retraction of nearly 50 papers, Duke refused to take responsibility and mounted a legal battle. The result was a $112.5 million penalty in which Duke did not have to admit culpability. That was Duke’s second major misconduct debacle in a decade. In each instance, Duke fought to keep the details confidential while continuing to receive hundreds of millions in public funds.

Harvard is the wealthiest university in the world and, despite being a private institution, received almost $600 million in public funds from the NIH and other agencies in 2018. In fact, some faculty received more NIH funding than many states, and these funds are sufficient to pay for tuition, room, board, and books of every undergrad at Harvard. Nevertheless, Harvard’s faculty has an ever-increasing number of retractions due to misconduct or incompetence. In one case, Harvard’s teaching hospital was forced to pay $10 million because its faculty had fraudulently obtained NIH funding. The penalty was only a fraction of the NIH funds acquired by the guilty faculty.

More recently, Cornell opened its third investigation of a researcher who received more than $4.6 million from the United States Department of Agriculture and $3.3 million from the NIH. As is typical, Cornell exonerated its faculty member in the initial investigation and only reinvestigated after intense media scrutiny.

Ubiquitous sexual harassment is also emblematic of the moral decline in academic science. The number of academics found responsible for sexual harassment has skyrocketed. Yet most universities simply “pass the harasser” so that faculty can transfer their grants to another institution. A 2019 headline in The Chronicle of Higher Education read: “‘Pass the Harasser’ Is Higher Ed’s Worst-Kept Secret.” The NIH has been slow to respond and “apologizes for lack of action on sexual harassers.”

Retractions, misconduct, and harassment are only part of the decline. Incompetence is another. An article in The Economist suggested, “[f]raud is very likely second to incompetence in generating erroneous results.”

The widespread inability of publicly funded researchers to generate valid, reproducible findings is a testament to the failure of universities to properly train scientists and instill intellectual and methodologic rigor. That failure means taxpayers are being misled by results that are non-reproducible or demonstrably false.

The widespread inability of publicly funded researchers to generate valid, reproducible findings is a testament to the failure of universities to properly train scientists.
A number of critics, including John Ioannidis of Stanford University, contend that academic research is often “conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure.” In other words, taxpayers fund studies that are conducted for non-scientific reasons such as career advancement and “policy-based evidence-making.”

Incompetence in concert with a lack of accountability and political or personal agendas has grave consequences: The Economist stated that from 2000 to 2010, nearly 80,000 patients were involved in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted.

Beginning in 2013, my colleagues and I published a series of empirical refutations in top medical and scientific journals showing that no human could survive on the diets used by the U.S. government to create the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To be precise, we demonstrated that the methods used by government and academic researchers produced data that were physiologically implausible and inadmissible as scientific evidence.

Yet, rather than address the consequences of our refutations, academic researchers simply ignored the evidence. That lack of scientific integrity leads to evermore faculty and students using demonstrably implausible dietary data every year. Given that taxpayers fund thousands of meaningless studies that generate erroneous and often ridiculous conclusions (e.g., eggs cause heart disease or coffee causes cancer), it is unsurprising that policy architects and the public are confused about “healthy eating.”

As Eisenhower feared, the pursuit of government grants corrupted our nation’s scholars and money has now become a substitute for intellectual integrity and curiosity. Nevertheless, reform is possible.

Currently, universities take 52 percent of each NIH grant as “indirect costs” to cover administrative expenses. That revenue incentivizes both a lack of accountability and misconduct while allowing the wealthiest 10 percent of universities to receive 90 percent of NIH funding. Ending the “indirect cost” legerdemain and instituting mandatory penalties against universities for faculty misconduct would effectively double research funding while disincentivizing fraud and harassment.

Second, the NIH should limit the number of projects an investigator can simultaneously control and institute a mandatory age limit for grant recipients.  Currently, the NIH gives more money to investigators aged 56-75 than aged 24-40. Since innovation and discovery occur early in a scientist’s career, that policy would stop elderly but well-connected researchers from impeding progress.

Finally, disallow the use of taxpayer monies for publicity. Currently, investigators have free rein to “hype” their research with taxpayer funds. Misleading or exaggerated claims in press releases has contributed significantly to the public’s confusion on nutrition and many other health issues.


Northeastern expected to launch graduate program in Maine

At a time when many of Maine’s colleges and universities are struggling to attract students, a technology entrepreneur is making a $100 million bet that the state needs a new graduate school, one focused on preparing students for a digital economy and jump-starting a start-up culture in Northern New England.

Northeastern University will announce on Monday that it is launching a satellite graduate campus in Portland with a $100 million investment from Dave Roux, a Silicon Valley investor and Maine native. The graduate school and research center, is scheduled to accept its first batch of students this fall, and will be named after Roux and his wife. It will be called the Roux Institute at Northeastern University.

More rural parts of the country are losing out to innovation epicenters, such as Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, because they don’t always have the talent and resources to compete, Roux said. He wanted to create a program to train more data scientists and computer programmers in Maine to focus on the applications of artificial intelligence on health sciences. The hope is the research done at the institute will help spinoff companies into the region and draw other business to the Portland area, Roux said.

“Does the world need another university?” said Roux, who is currently chairman of BayPine, a Boston-based investment firm. “The world doesn’t need an average university doing average stuff. This is so rare, so valuable. I think it as an opportunity machine, disguised as an academic institution.”

Roux said he spoke with 14 universities across the country over the past two years in search of an institutional partner and found Northeastern’s entrepreneurial attitude, its employment-focused programs and its experience operating satellite campuses, appealing.

Northeastern has in the past decade expanded beyond its Huntington Avenue campus in Boston and opened graduate-level programs in Charlotte, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto and is in the process of launching in Vancouver. Those campuses enroll 2,500 graduate students.

Northeastern expects the Portland campus to start with about 100 students and expand to 1,000 students in five years and 2,600 students in a decade. Ten organizations, including L.L. Bean, MaineHealth, and the Jackson Laboratory, have agreed to become founding corporate partners and agreed to send their workers to the institute and offer students employment training as part of their education, according to Northeastern officials.

“The impact of the Roux Institute will reverberate across the region for generations to come,” said Joseph E. Aoun, the Northeastern president in a statement. “It will serve as a national model for expanding growth and innovation, and reducing inequality.”

But entering the Maine higher education market could present numerous challenges.

Maine’s aging and slow-growing population means that many of the state’s colleges and universities are struggling to enroll students. Throughout New England small, private colleges are facing increased financial pressures in part due to demographic shifts, and several have been forced to shut down or find larger partners.

For the past several years, the University of Maine has advertised on billboards throughout New England for students, promising them financial aid to help lower out-of-state tuition costs and lure them to Maine.

Roux said he and Northeastern officials have spoken to other Maine colleges and universities about creating a pathway for undergraduate students to complete their graduate education at the institute in less time and for less money.

Northeastern plans to offer Maine students scholarships to attend. Despite the demographic challenges in the state, Roux said he expects the campus will have no trouble attracting students.  “I am super confident that we are going to have a ton of learners,” he said.

A new university will likely bring some competition, but Roux and his team have met with higher education officials throughout Maine in recent years and expressed a desire to find ways of collaborating, said James Page, who was the chancellor of the University of Maine system until last summer.

Roux did not approach the Maine public university system about leading this graduate program, because he was looking for a partner with a marquee name and a national reputation with experience operating such a graduate research campus, Page said.

Maine’s public university system is trying to expand its research capabilities, and this Northeastern campus could offer opportunities for students and for faculties to work together, he said.

“Any program that can bring new young people, who are talented, who are educated . . . will be a very good thing for the state,” Page said. “This is seen as a real opportunity for higher education in Maine.”

James Herbert, president of the University of New England, said he has been assured that Northeastern has no plans to expand into undergraduate programs on its Portland campus, so there is likely to be more opportunity for collaboration instead of competition. “We’re excited about it,” Herbert said.

The Northeastern Portland campus will still need regulatory approval, said Barbara Brittingham, the president of the New England Commission of Higher Education.  Northeastern has already started initial conversations with the commission, she said.


Joe Biden doesn’t want lower-income families to have the same school choice he and Hunter had

The pandering political class will eagerly tell you that lower-income children shouldn’t be allowed to go to the schools of their choice — even while sending their own children to private schools.

Why? To woo the deep-pocketed national teachers unions. In doing so, they betray lower-income families and their children, who are largely assigned to poor schools based on a five-digit ZIP code.

This week, Joe Biden announced his full-throated opposition to the notion that all families should get the opportunity to choose the best school for their children.

Meanwhile, the Bidens are big believers in private schools for themselves. Like his brother and father, Hunter Biden attended Archmere Academy in Delaware. This is likely why, at least in 1997, then-Sen. Joe Biden spoke movingly about the plight of lower-income families and opened the door to the notion of school vouchers.

On the Senate floor, Joe Biden said:

"When you have an area of the country, and most often here we are talking about inner cities, where the public schools are abysmal or dysfunctional or not working and where most of the children have no way out, it is legitimate to ask what would happen to the public schools with increased competition from private schools. Is it not possible that giving poor kids a way out will force the public schools to improve and result in more people coming back?"

A poll recently released by Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm, shows that the vast majority of voters, particularly black, Latino, and millennial voters, deeply support school choice policies.

The poll, commissioned by the American Federation for Children, shows massive popularity for the federal Education Freedom Scholarship legislation sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Bradley Byrne and championed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. In total, 78% support the legislation, including 83% of black respondents, 83% of Latinos, 78% of millennials, 67% of Democratic primary voters, and 77% of Republican primary voters.

Does pizza even poll that well?

According to federal data, 82% of school-age children attend district public schools. In our poll, 41% of parents said they would prefer to send their child or grandchild to a private school.

Despite our reputation as a nation of freedom and opportunity for all, America is very much an outlier in how we school our children. The government simply assigns you to schools by ZIP code unless you are lucky enough to have school choice programs in your state — or have the financial means to move to a different school district, pay for private school tuition, or home-school. Meanwhile, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Belgium, Denmark, Israel, and France have far more open and pluralistic systems of education, allowing families the freedom to choose the best elementary and secondary education for their child. In the Netherlands alone, families can choose 36 different types of schools!

Given America’s poor academic standing worldwide and anemic performance on national assessments, where 66% of eighth graders perform below level in reading and math, we desperately need to expand educational opportunities for families. A poor child living in a ZIP code plagued by schools that have failed to educate children for decades deserves the same opportunities exercised by the Biden family.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Massachusetts eyes plan to improve diversity among teachers

Does Boston really want dummy teachers just because they are brown?

The fact remains that IQ and related tests give the best prediction of subsequent educational performance.  So to hire as teachers people whom the test identifies as academically deficient is to ignore a very old warning indeed:

"If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit" — Matthew 15:13-14

Asking teachers who have failed a literacy test to teach literacy is a very good example of what that scripture warned against

For more than two decades, the exams Massachusetts teachers and administrators must take to secure their professional licenses have been marred by gaping racial disparities in pass rates, driving a disproportionate share of educators of color out of the profession while raising questions about potential racial bias in the exams.

But on Tuesday, education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley will formally propose a potential fix: He is seeking to allow teachers who repeatedly fail their exams to receive a license based on their actual work experience — vetted by an expert — instead of their test scores. His proposal would also allow educators in some instances to take another licensing test offered in 26 other states.

The changes, if approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in the coming months, would be in place on a trial basis for three years.

“We are trying to see if there is a better way to identify potentially great teachers,” said Riley in an interview Monday.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure has been the communication and literacy skills test, which most aspiring teachers must pass before the state will even review their licensing application. While 83 percent of white candidates passed that test in the 2017-18 school year, a little more than 60 percent of Black and Latino candidates did, according to the most recent data.

Riley is proposing the changes as many districts statewide have been struggling to build a workforce that reflects their student populations. In Boston, for instance, people of color account for 85 percent of student enrollment, but only 42 percent of the teaching force, and in Springfield, students of color represent 90 percent of school enrollment, but teachers of color make up only 19 percent of the workforce, according to state data.

Many educators have long argued the testing requirements for a license further restrict an already narrow pipeline for recruitment — one fed by teaching colleges that are overwhelmingly filled with white students.

Under the state’s 22-year-old licensing system, most educators must pass two exams — a communication test and another tied to their area of expertise — to gain a license. However, the state allows a limited number of unlicensed educators to teach under waivers for a year or longer if the school district can prove difficulty finding a better-suited licensed candidate.

So far, Riley’s proposal, which will be subject to a 60-day public comment period, has received mixed responses.

In Boston, where 128 educators have been terminated over the last five years because they were unable to secure professional licenses, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius viewed Riley’s proposal as a positive step forward. About half those let go were Black or Latino.

“Knowing that a single standardized test doesn’t always guarantee quality, I support strategies that remove barriers and help us meet our goal of recruiting and retaining an excellent and diverse teaching corps,” Cassellius said in a statement.

But Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank, said the proposal could ultimately weaken teacher quality.

“The state’s MTEL teacher test and licensure guidelines have long been a model that led to historic gains on virtually every national and international measure of academic achievement,” Gass said in a statement. “It’s disgraceful that Massachusetts policy makers would even consider dumbing down expectations for teachers, which will only further accelerate the state’s now decade-long academic decline on the nation’s report card, not to mention widen achievement gaps.”

Across the country, many states have been re-examining their licensing systems in response to evidence suggesting testing requirements might be keeping too many educators of color out of classrooms. The issue has taken on more urgency in recent years as a growing body of research has shown that achievement can rise in classrooms when students of color are taught by teachers of similar demographics.

In California, for instance, the Legislature is weighing a bill that would replace its communications skills educator licensing exam amid concerns of racial bias.

Riley’s proposal is part of a broader effort to help districts diversify their workforces, which includes creating grant opportunities for recruitment initiatives and programs to entice high school students to pursue teaching careers. State higher education officials also are working on efforts to increase the diversity of teacher-training programs.

Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said he supports Riley’s efforts to temporarily loosen the educator testing requirements. “We know there are a lot of bright kids who don’t do well on standardized tests,” he said.

Tyler Fox, an attorney who represented a group of minority Boston teachers who unsuccessfully sued the state a decade ago after they could not pass the licensing exams, said it was good to see the state finally acknowledging a problem with the tests, but that the proposal doesn’t go far enough. Permanent change is needed now. “It seems like they are being tepid about it and trying to read the political waters,” he said.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, also faulted the proposal for being too limited. She would like to see reliance on the licensing exams permanently scaled back or eliminated, noting that supervised classroom experience is more informative, especially in determining whether a teacher can handle disruptive students. “A test is the wrong way to measure the quality of an educator’s work and their competency to become a successful teacher,” Najimy said.


The Mess That Is Science Publishing

Researchers have been grumbling about the state of scientific publishing for years. Now, rumor has it that the Trump administration (yes, those science-haters!) may be trying to fix at least one problem: access to reports of government-funded research.

The rumored proposal will require free, immediate access to all reports of government-funded scientific research. The rumor is credible enough that an association of 210 academic and research libraries has written to the president in support of the idea. The research-publication system is a mess, and open access would be one small step toward a fix.


But first, a little history. When scientific publishing began, scientists were few, many were amateurs, being a scientist was not a career, and publishing costs—copyediting, printing, distribution—were high. In 1800, only about thirty scientific and medical journals existed; by 1900, the number had grown to 700. Now, there are estimated to be more than twenty thousand. And they cost! Not the $100 or so per annum you can expect to pay for People magazine or Scientific American, but sometimes thousands of dollars. Although the most prestigious science journals, the weeklies Science (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science) and Nature (published by Macmillan) cost less than $100, more obscure journals can cost much, much more. The Taylor & Francis Journal of Co-ordination Chemistry (just what is that, one wonders?), for 24 issues, costs $18,041 per year. That is an institutional rate. Many Elsevier journals do not even advertise rates for individuals and their website makes it pretty clear that the institutional rate often involves negotiation.

Examples may help. For more than two decades, I edited the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal Behavioural Processes. The audience for the journal is small: experimental psychologists and behavioral biologists. The annual subscription is a hefty $4,479. Any institution will think twice before subscribing to Behavioural Processes. (Duke University no longer does). Yet, presumably, enough of them do to make it profitable for Elsevier. Partly in response to costs like those, the University of California in 2019 ended its subscriptions with Elsevier because the publisher was unwilling to go to free open access. (Elsevier, and some other commercial publishers, have many peer-reviewed—but pay-to-publish—open-access journals.)

The Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior is another small, but relatively prestigious, journal devoted to learning (“operant conditioning”), mostly in animals. Founded in 1958 by a group of researchers at Harvard and Columbia all trained in the single-subject (no statistics!) methods of B.F. Skinner, the project was self-funded, aided by seed money from pharmaceutical firms interested in this type of research. Now it is published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and retains its original modest subscription rate (< $50 annually).

Both those journals target similar audiences; they have similar production costs. JEAB has a larger subscription list because of its history and its price. Indeed, I doubt whether BP has any personal subscribers at all. If it cost as little as JEAB, it might acquire a few. But, presumably, it has hooked enough academic libraries to allow it to continue.

The spread in subscription rates, the vast and still growing number of journals and the natural reluctance of commercial publishers to go to open-access without a pay-to-publish fee, point to several factors that have changed since the days when there were just a handful of scientific journals and a modest number of mostly vocation-oriented scientists:

The enormous growth in the number of career scientists since World War II.

The rise of quantification spurred by bureaucracies that need numbers to evaluate employees: Number of publications helps administrators evaluate career scientists, even though it is a corrupted measure (doesn’t adequately reflect differences in the size of the field or order of authorship, not to mention the quality of the work).

Hence, there is huge pressure on researchers to publish in peer-reviewed journals.

The influence of external research grants, which provide funds to pay for publication, allowing the creation of numerous pop-up journals[1]which offer easy pay-to-publish.

The rise of the internet, allowing researchers to self-publish at almost no cost. There are several publication sites, such as ArXiv, which is completely free, and others that allow free posting but charge for premium services (who is reading your papers, citation counts, etc.), such as Academia and ResearchGate. Researchers can also post their work on their own institutional sites.

Those changes leave us with the $64 billion question: Who needs those expensive print journals? Why do we have them at all?

Vetting and Search Cost

The answer is search, vetting—and history. Researchers need some way to narrow down their search for relevant papers, papers they need to consult and cite as part of their own research. The internet by itself just provides unfiltered, unsorted access. And science bosses, from academic deans to industry executives, almost always lack sufficient detailed knowledge to evaluate accurately the science done by their employees. They need some way to judge the importance of published work.

The cry goes up: Is it peer-reviewed? The big science publishers—Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Springer, Macmillan, etc.—publish journals with respectable lists of editors, associate editors, and (presumably, since these names are usually not revealed) the peer reviewers the editors choose. Hence, they retain their position and are able to charge swingeing costs for journals on niche topics. The cost and open-access problems persist.

It’s not clear that there is a top-down solution to those problems. Nature and Science will retain their historical eminence as “positional goods”—like elites in other spheres. Whether they can be coerced to allow open access remains to be seen. Many other prestigious journals are also pretty secure.

New Journals: Barriers to Entry?

Professional associations usually publish journals and make a nod or two toward open access. The American Psychological Association, for example, allows authors to post their own work on personal websites. A wider distribution is possible for a fee of $3,000; the parallel Association for Psychological Science offers similar arrangements. (Some readers may feel that $3,000 is an excessive if not greedy amount to ask in return for rights for which the original owner was paid nothing, but such are the ways of the publishing industry.) Other scientific associations are making cautious steps toward open access.

Perhaps university presses will create online, open-access journals, a mission that may counterbalance their current tendency to favor otherwise unprofitable, and sometimes unreadable, race and gender “studies.”[2]

The production costs for setting up a new journal are much lower than they would have been thirty years ago. Peer reviewers and editorial board members have rarely been paid, and even editors receive only modest stipends. And now authors can do digital typesetting and copyediting—once the responsibility of the publisher—with a little help from their home institutions. Cost is not an obstacle to online publishing.

It would also help if institutions themselves followed the hoped-for government-funding lead and only recognized publications in open-access journals. Promotion and tenure would be based on articles meeting these criteria and no others. If a group of elite institutions (the AAU membership, for example) proposed such a policy, many others would surely follow.

The scientific community has taken a few baby steps toward open publishing. Whether the baby will grow up remains to be seen.


Foreign students flock to some Australian university courses

FOREIGN students have filled at least three quarters of places in key university courses, after international student numbers soared 12 per cent in a year.

As Queensland school leavers sweat on university offers, The Courier-Mail can reveal that overseas students have taken 82.4 per cent of places in information technology courses at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and nearly two-thirds of IT places at James Cook University (JCU) and the University of Southern Queensland.

At the prestigious University of Queensland, which pockets $250 million a year selling places to Chinese students, foreigners outnumber local students in IT and management and commerce courses.

Cash-hungry universities are offering more places to fee-paying foreigners than to local students in 64 courses nationally, data obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail reveals.

Nationally, the number of foreign students in Australian universities soared 12 per cent to 427,610 in 2018 — with nearly 10 per cent studying in Brisbane. At Central Queensland University, the proportion of foreign students studying management and commerce soared from 54 per cent in 2013 to 70.2 per cent in 2018, the latest Education Department data for 2018 reveals.

CQ University acting vice-chancellor Alastair Dawson said 40 per cent of students come from other countries. "Due to the successive decline in funding from government to universities, in order to build our programs and ensure a sustainable academic offering we've realised the opportunity to pick up our international market," he said. We don't cut domestic places to suit the international market — you would take as many domestic students as you can."

In agriculture and environmental studies, 61.3 per cent of students at JCU are from overseas. "Domestic students are not missing out on places in these courses because of international student enrolments," a JCU spokesman said. "All students — international and domestic have to meet strict entry requirements and academic standards to be enrolled."

International education is a $22 billion business for Australian universities. Australian universities have enrolled 152,591 students from China, 71,857 from India and 28,233 from Nepal.

Foreigners, who are charged $15,000 to $33,000 for a basic bachelor degree, make up a third of the 1.5 million students enrolled in Australian universities.

The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) has warned that some universities, including UQ — where Chinese students clashed with Hong Kong protesters last year — are too reliant on Chinese revenue.

CIS Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz, a former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney and Murdoch University in Perth, said foreign students flock to courses likely to lead to jobs and permanent residency, such as IT and management

"Permanent residency is one of the main motivations to study in Australia," he said. "If suddenly permanent residency was given to people who study poetry, it's likely they'd all be doing poetry."

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 27 January, 2020

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Social Justice Revisionism Comes for Washington and Lee

In the fall of 2018, the trustees of Washington and Lee University voted to paper over parts of the university’s history.

On the recommendations of Washington and Lee’s “Commission on Institutional History and Community,” the board voted to close off the Recumbent Statue of Robert E. Lee in the university chapel that bears his name and to remove the name of John Robinson from an important campus building.

A group of alumni were concerned by those decisions and started to dig deeper. They discovered that those weren’t the only attempts to de-emphasize their school’s history. Over the preceding year, the school ended prayer at public ceremonies, temporarily removed a stop in the interior of Lee Chapel from campus tours for prospective students, and even briefly banned a children’s book on Lee’s horse, Traveller.

From those concerns, The Generals Redoubt was born. The mission of this group of alumni, friends, parents, and students is “the preservation of the history, values, and traditions of Washington and Lee University.” The group’s July 2019 newsletter explains that “A redoubt is a military term designating a temporary defensive position from which offensive operations can be launched. We thought the term aptly described what our group was trying to do.”

In particular, they want to make sure that the men who established and sustained the university are not erased from its history: George Washington, John Robinson, and Robert E. Lee.

The school now bears Washington’s name because he saved what was then Liberty Hall Academy by giving the school its first major endowment in 1796. In 1826, the school was once again struggling. It had only 65 students and little money. That year, trustee John Robinson died and left his estate to the school. Robinson’s generous gift, which included a 400-acre farm, livestock, a whiskey distillery, and 73 slaves, helped save the school from bankruptcy. Robert E. Lee became president of the school, by then called Washington College, in 1865. Lee proved an able and innovative president. Trustees voted to change the school’s name to Washington and Lee University after Lee’s death in 1870. Members of the Generals Redoubt want that history to be acknowledged and preserved, despite its complications.

Tom Rideout, president of the Generals Redoubt, is particularly concerned about the effect of recent changes on Washington and Lee’s students. “Students are disadvantaged in their educational preparation for the world at large,” Rideout said. “And the focus on diversity, inclusion, and identity bloats the staff and payrolls and divides the students.”

Data from the Department of Education corroborate Rideout’s claims of administrative bloat. The number of full-time non-instructional staff per 1,000 Washington and Lee students grew from 241 in 2012-2013 to 291 in 2018-2019. That’s an increase of 21 percent in fewer than 10 years. The largest increase was in “Community, Social Service, Legal, Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations,” which often includes diversity and inclusion personnel. In 2013-2014, there were just 48 employees in those categories. Now there are 113, despite the fact that enrollment has not grown. Washington and Lee spends nearly $9,000 per student on “day-to-day executive operations of the institution, not including student services or academic management” according to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

Members of the Generals Redoubt are also concerned about changes in the curriculum, including a proliferation of courses related to identity-driven political agendas focused on race, class, sex, and gender. Neely Young, vice president of the Generals Redoubt, cataloged some of those courses here. A few notable examples are “Queering Colonialism” in the history department and “Post-modernism: Power, Difference, and Disruption” in the philosophy department. “Many of these courses seem to exist to meet the ever-narrowing and increasingly politicized specializations of the professoriate,” Young wrote.

Rideout blames “presentism” for the recent attempts to sanitize Washington and Lee’s history and change its curriculum. The FAQ section of the Generals Redoubt website explains:

During the late ’50s and very early ’60s of the last century, Professor Thomas P. Hughes taught W&L students of the rewriting of Russian history by Lenin and Stalin, both true authoritarians to their core. Today, this dubious academic practice is known as Presentism. Essentially it seeks to apply today’s cultural and moral values [to] the people and events of prior periods. If it finds the two in conflict, the modern view prevails and the well-established history of that era is at risk of significant modification.

The actions recommended by the administration and adopted by the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2018 are clear signs that Presentism is alive and well at Washington and Lee. The Report of the Commission on Institutional History and Community clearly left open the option to remove the names of George Washington and Robert E. Lee from that of the University, which would be the ultimate triumph of Presentism.

Yale dean Anthony Kronman addresses the same issue in his recent book, The Assault on American Excellence, which includes a chapter on memory. In it, he makes the case for living with monuments to the past, even if they do not meet our present standards:

[Dismissing preservationists as] racists in disguise…draws attention away from the special responsibility of our colleges and universities to cultivate the capacity for enduring the moral ambiguities of life. This includes—indeed it is often first aroused by—the need to acknowledge the complexities of a checkered and sometimes discreditable past. The ability to do this is moral strength. It is a species of moral imagination as valuable as it is rare, and as vital to the health of our democracy as to that of our colleges and universities themselves. Its neglect, or suppression, is an educational disgrace.

The zeitgeist at many universities calls for completely erasing the sins of the past from every campus building, quad, and sign, taking with them the university’s place in history. Washington and Lee, with direction from the Generals Redoubt, can show that there is another way. It can set an example of how to live with the ambiguity of the past. Although Washington and Lee is unique, lessons from its experience can inform all of our historic universities as they learn to acknowledge and understand the past.


Free Expression at Duke: What Do Freshmen Blue Devils Think?

As director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Campus Free Expression Project, I am always eager to get beyond the DC beltway to learn how students understand free expression on their particular campus. So, to return to Duke University, my alma mater, was particularly welcome.

Duke has a legacy of defending the expression of controversial views. In 1903, the school set a new standard in defending faculty academic freedom when the trustees voted to reject history professor John Bassett’s offer to resign after his praise of Booker T. Washington sparked controversy for the school—this only three years after Leland Stanford’s widow was able to have Edward Ross dismissed from the faculty of Stanford for arguments contrary to Mrs. Stanford’s business interests.

It was Duke political scientist John H. Hallowell who arranged to have Martin Luther King, Jr. address the 1964 annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association when it was held in Durham, at a time when not all in attendance were keen on King’s Civil Rights message.

But that is Duke’s past—what about today?

Just before my visit last fall, the Duke Student Government refused to recognize a Christian group, Young Life, that would not allow LBGTQ+ leaders. (A federal judge twice this year ruled that the University of Iowa violated the free speech, free association, and free exercise of religion rights with refusals to recognize Christian groups for parallel reasons). Also, Duke declined to renew the contract of an instructor who had taught at Duke for two decades apparently because, as he described at this site, he encouraged classroom discussions of polarizing and controversial topics.

Is support among Duke students for free expression and the First Amendment eroding?

Back in October, I had my chance to find out. Sixty freshmen students came for a conversation on those topics. Leading the conversation were Duke Professor of Law H. Jefferson Powell, Duke First Amendment Clinic Supervising Attorney Nicole Ligon, and me. The students probed the ways in which free speech and the First Amendment shaped their lives. Topics included the role of social media, whether the protections of the First Amendment should apply to private universities as much as public ones, and the importance of viewpoint diversity.

The conversation became especially intense when one student asked, shouldn’t we restrict free speech when we’re seeing hate-driven violence? That question reaches the core of today’s debates about campus free expression. Across American higher education, many today doubt that campuses can be safe, diverse, and inclusive while also remaining wide open to speech and expression.

First Amendment experts Powell and Ligon made the case that attempts to regulate speech frequently do more harm than good. Campus provocateurs often arrive with the intention of generating a spectacle rather than articulating a defensible argument. Silencing them lends credence to their claim of being targeted by crazed protesters for the truth they might speak. But allowing the most outrageous speaker to face questions—or an empty room—shows their claims of being conspired against to be meritless and denies them a propaganda victory. The most effective response to the vilest speech, they argued, is not to give such speakers the spectacle they desire.

On the other hand, speech codes meant to exclude hateful speech often end up ruling as out of bounds speech that merits thoughtful engagement. Ms. Ligon described how she and Duke Law students had filed an amicus brief on behalf of University of South Carolina students who had been investigated for actions they took as leaders of a pro-free speech campus protest. The freshmen present appreciated the irony of students facing investigations for protesting in favor of free speech and the chilling effect this would have on campus discourse.

I offered the example of the University of Maryland Statement on Free Speech Values, which asserts that one reason the university does not have a speech code is that such codes have been deployed to quell efforts of marginalized communities to advance their interests. I pointed out that controversial speech was essential to the Civil Rights Movement—Civil Rights leader and now eminent Congressman John Lewis was arrested for picketing with a sign that read, “One Man, One Vote.” Likewise, I pointed out, the movements for access to contraceptives and women’s suffrage were carried forward by the use of highly controversial speech.

Greeting that argument with skepticism, someone posed a question about whether free speech that furthered the interests of marginalized communities was an approach rendered obsolete by social media. In an age where social media fuels attacks such as those seen in Christchurch, New Zealand, Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the questioner asked, shouldn’t more be done to make sure that hateful speech is not translated into violence?

That was the most contested question of the evening. Some noted that speech on social media had been used to advance causes with which students sympathized, such as #MeToo; some thought that social media could be used to engage others and change their minds; some thought that ignoring hateful speech—just like not giving campus provocateurs an audience—could be effective in shutting them down; and others favored regulation of online (and perhaps other) speech to prevent violence.

Students who learn during their college years to sustain civil and respectful discussions are empowered to assess and counter hateful speech wherever they encounter it.
Perhaps the most important part of the conversation was not about the First Amendment per se, but why the First Amendment should not be the only standard for campus discourse. As Powell and Ligon pointed, out, the First Amendment protects “the marketplace of ideas.” However, a free-wheeling marketplace may not be the best analogy for campus discourse. Whatever consumers favor wins in the marketplace; “because I like it” fully justifies a consumer’s choice.

But in academic discourse, justifying preferences with “that’s just my opinion” shouldn’t be good enough. Assertions and theories must be backed by evidence and arguments; the judgments of experts receive additional weight; and disciplinary standards determine what constitutes a valid case. All of us on the panel made the argument that the First Amendment should be a minimum bar for campus discourse, protecting speech and expression but leaving it necessary for students, guided by professors, to engage in thoughtful, rigorous, and wide-ranging academic debate.

In fact, as we panelists observed, the level of conversation in the room showed that these students were sophisticated enough to see through sophomoric tropes. But the conversation also reminded me that many 18-year-olds are just starting to hone their skills of conversation and to learn that they can trust that dialogue about difficult and controversial subjects advances our common good, even when it does not result in agreement.

Students who learn during their college years to sustain civil and respectful discussions are empowered to assess and counter hateful speech wherever they encounter it—but more, they are able to engage in conversations about the pursuit of truth. College leaders, from professors to college presidents, must explain to them how campuses can welcome all students while protecting free speech. If more students absorb that lesson, students might find they were more able to tolerate student groups with unpopular views and classroom conversations on polarizing topics.

Helping students grow in their ability to engage in campus conversations is part of our work at the Bipartisan Policy Center Campus Free Expression Project. In today’s highly polarized society, we must ensure that students learn the skills of respectful discourse that will help them graduate as thoughtful citizens.

The conversation with those lively and engaged Duke freshmen was a terrific example of the kind of work to be done with freshmen as they arrive on campus to ready them to be engaged citizens and leaders in our democracy.


Yale Drops Introductory Art History Course as ‘Overwhelmingly White’

In a victory for the forces of political correctness, Yale University’s undergraduate school will stop teaching a widely acclaimed introductory survey course in art history because the artists studied are “overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male.”

The move goes against the longstanding advice of the National Association of Scholars, a group that challenges political correctness in the academy.

“All who care about the life of the mind should study the history of Western civilization, its achievements and failures, and its artistic and cultural legacy. State and federal policy should encourage K-12 and college students to study the West, including how its ideals of liberty underpin the structure of our republic.”

Under pressure from activists in 2017, Yale dropped its requirement that English majors study the works of William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer, two longtime staples of English literature, The College Fix reported at the time. The move came after a petition circulated calling on Yale to “decolonize the English department” by moving away from the study of white male writers.

The course now headed to the chopping block, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” which at one time was taught by the legendary American art historian Vincent Scully, was regarded as “one of Yale College’s quintessential classes,” The Yale Daily News reports.

But student unease “over an idealized Western ‘canon’ — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists,” forced the cancellation of the course. Maria Bass, the director of undergraduate studies at Yale University, said introductory survey courses should be “designed in recognition of an essential truth: that there has never been just one story of the history of art,” according to The Daily Wire.

Similarly, Art History department chairman and the course’s instructor, Tim Barringer, said there is more to the history of art than Western art. When there are so many other regions, traditions, and genres to look at, all of which are “equally deserving of study,” placing European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [the course] … is of profound cultural value,” Barringer told the student newspaper. “I want all Yale students … to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the Western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

In the future, emphasis will be placed on “questions of gender, class and ‘race’” and art’s connection to Western capitalism and climate change, Barringer wrote in a syllabus online.

Barringer’s department plans to replace the course with a multitude of other course offerings that de-emphasize the contributions of Western civilization, including “Art and Politics,” “Global Craft,” “The Silk Road,” and “Sacred Places.”

In two or three years, he told the student newspaper, the department will offer a new “Introduction to Art History” course, but it “will be a course equal in status to the other 100-level courses, not the introduction to our discipline claiming to be the mainstream with everything else pushed to the margins.”

Not all Yale students are keen on the change.

“My biggest critique of the decision is that it’s a disservice to undergrads,” the school newspaper quoted undergraduate student Mahlon Sorensen as saying.

“If you get rid of that one, all-encompassing course, then to understand the Western canon of art, students are going to have to take multiple art history courses. Which is all well and good for the art history major, but it sucks for the rest of us, which, I would say, make up the vast majority of the people who are taking [the course].”


Did You Know? Confucius Institutes Disappearing from American Campuses

After years of expansion, Communist Party-funded Confucius Institutes have seen the tide turn against them at American colleges.

The Institutes, controlled by the Chinese government, were created to teach Chinese language, culture, and history. Colleges quickly embraced them because they were cheap, easy sources of pride to claim that the school educated its students for “global citizenship.” As Politico noted in 2018, however, the Chinese government funded them for different reasons:

A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,” Li Changchun said. “It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”

Universities became less gung-ho about Confucius Institutes in 2018 after Senator Marco Rubio and others urged colleges to sever ties. The National Association of Scholars has been outspoken in explaining the threat the institutes pose to academic freedom and national security. They have kept a list of colleges that have closed their institutes, which were on campus as early as 2004 and peaked at more than 90 across the United States, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Colleges have shuttered the institutes since 2018 for national security concerns and to avoid visa issues. The University of Chicago was the first to close its institute in 2014; since then, 31 colleges have closed their Confucius Institutes, according to the National Association of Scholars and Inside Higher Ed.

Despite that progress, dozens of public and private universities still host a Confucius Institute. At a time when Chinese Universities have moved closer to the Communist Party and further away from academic freedom, university leaders and governance boards need to consider the implications of hosting an institute funded by the Party.


Dad Confronts Warren On Student Loan Forgiveness: ‘Can I Have My Money Back?’

The father of a college student was seen confronting Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren about her plan to cancel student loan debt in a video that went viral earlier this week.

The dad chastised Warren over her plan, and got especially heated after the senator and 2020 presidential candidate told him he could not get the money back that he saved to pay for his daughter’s school.

“My daughter is in school. I saved all my money. Am I gonna get my money back?” the dad asked. “Of course not,” Warren replied.

“So you’re gonna pay for people who didn’t save any money, but those of us who did the right thing get screwed?” the man asked.

The man mentioned that he worked a “double shift” to pay for his daughter’s education, and accused Warren of mocking his life story. “You’re laughing at me!” the man said.

Warren denied that she was laughing, but the dad was not buying her explanation. “That’s exactly what you’re doing!” he said. “We did the right thing and we get screwed!”

Warren unveiled a $640 billion plan last year to eliminate student loan debt, a plan that would be funded by a tax on the ultra wealthy.


Supreme Court must keep states from robbing parents of school choice

The nation’s 10th annual celebration of educational opportunity comes on the heels of a landmark case that could permanently shake up the school landscape.

The U.S. Supreme Court today is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The court session comes just days before National School Choice Week kicks off a host of festivities that recognize families’ access to different learning options.

Single mother Kendra Espinoza was seeking a new option. She wanted to use a tax credit-funded scholarship to free her daughters from school bullies, lackluster academics and a school culture with values that contradicted her own. But a Montana state agency, and ultimately the Montana Supreme Court, said she couldn’t use that scholarship at the Christian school that was serving her children well. With help from the Institute for Justice, she persuaded the nation’s highest court to hear her challenge.

At issue is whether timeworn relics of bigotry in many state constitutions can limit parents’ ability to choose the right school for their children. Most of these constitutional relics, present in 37 states, are known as Blaine amendments, birthed in the late 1800s out of a movement of religious-based fearmongering. These amendments limited public aid for schooling to the Protestant-majority public schools, while denying it to “sectarian” (read: Catholic) alternatives.

Michigan owns the latest and most stringent of the anti-aid amendments, adopted by referendum in 1970. Its underlying bigotry is just as real as those with older provisions, though it’s harder to see in its carefully crafted language. For nearly 50 years, opponents of public aid — which they dub “parochiaid” to disparage Catholic schooling — have wielded this amendment to thwart attempts at giving parents greater educational choice.

The unfortunate irony is that no place in the United States needs quality educational options more than Michigan’s largest city. The Detroit school district has finished last among large cities on all math and reading tests on the nation’s report card five times running. Some charter public schools are making a real positive difference, but the need remains great. National surveys show far more parents want to pursue private education than currently are able to do so.

When families can get access to private schooling, they benefit. Dolores Perales, for example, grew up in southwest Detroit. Her father never completed high school and her mother never entered college. But they both believe in the power of education for Perales and her three younger brothers. All of them have been able to attend Detroit Cristo Rey High School, part of a national Catholic school network geared toward serving low-income families with a combination of rigorous college prep coursework and a corporate work-study program.

“Without Cristo Rey, I don't think I would have been able to succeed the way that I have,” Perales said. She finished at the top of her class, and with the caring support of faculty and staff, found the confidence to pursue higher education. Last year she received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in environmental science and moved on to graduate school. Her brother, Christian, is a sophomore at Cornell University. A friend of his missed out on Cristo Rey, dropped out of high school and ended up on a different path.

Many states, including some with Blaine amendments, have embraced scholarship programs that help eligible students enter a private school of their choice. Publicly funded scholarships helped both Ohio’s Walter Blanks and North Carolina’s Amoree Brown escape failing schools and thrive in new learning environments.

Exactly one week after the Supreme Court hears the Espinoza case, students, parents and educators will gather, under the National School Choice Week banner, in state capitols and elsewhere. They will celebrate the opportunities they have had to benefit from home education, charter schools, virtual schools, district schools and nonpublic schools. But looming in the background will be the quiet hope for more scholarships, which could help families reach schools they desire, if only they had more money or could make extraordinary sacrifices.

A favorable ruling this summer would remove the last major legal obstacle used to try to rob parents such as Kendra Espinoza from exercising educational choice, which they desperately need. We can only hope she and millions of others will be able to join the Perales family in forging educational paths that give their children the best chance to succeed.


Monday, January 27, 2020

DeVos Hails Trump’s ‘Partnership’ With Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a pep talk Thursday to representatives and supporters of historically black colleges and universities gathered to discuss how to ensure they remain competitive in preparing students for a quickly changing job market.

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, defined in federal law, “are cultural institutions with storied legacies that are unique and remarkable,” DeVos said at The Heritage Foundation, which organized the forum. 

“Today, I encourage you to think about how your institutions will be known decades from now, in addition to being an HBCU,” she said at the event at the think tank’s Capitol Hill headquarters, called the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Forum.

DeVos cited Johnathan Holifield, executive director of President Donald Trump’s HBCU initiative and a forum participant, saying that Holifield likes to ask how each of the roughly 100 designated schools will stay competitive.

“A strong heritage, coupled with a strong vision for the future, can foster a competitive edge,” she said. “And I know that the question you are asking yourself every day is ‘How are we going to be relevant and distinctive five, 10, 20 years from now?’”

DeVos went on to say:

I know some HBCUs have opened public charter schools on their campuses, and others have forged partnerships elsewhere to improve the K-12 pipeline. Your competitiveness ultimately depends on your most valuable assets, your students. Helping them be better prepared before they walk your halls serves to strengthen their futures and your institutions. …

Educators, business leaders, community leaders, and, yes, even politicians must work in concert to put the success of students above everything else. After all, they are 100% of our future.

DeVos said the Trump administration’s work with historically black schools is a “valued partnership” and outlined what she called “a strong record of action for HBCUs and their students,” including:

—Trump’s signing of legislation, called the Future Act, designed to ensure consistent funding for HBCUs. Part of the new law simplifies the form for federal student aid, DeVos said, “making applying easier and reducing the compliance burden.”

“While others tried half measures or short-term fixes, we took the bold steps necessary to help students succeed in the long term,” she said.

—Resurrecting the HBCU Capital Financing Advisory Board and increasing spending for programs at black colleges, including those at faith-based schools that she said had been “unconstitutionally excluded.”

—Expanding Pell Grant eligibility so students may attend class year-round, as well as increasing the maximum a student may be awarded.

—“Reviewing, rewriting, or removing onerous regulations that are impediments to HBCUs and their missions.”

Among those scrapped was the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule, which DeVos said had given bureaucrats the “power to punish or even close colleges and programs that didn’t match the prior administration’s policies and preferences.”

—Modernizing student aid through initiatives such as the myStudentAid app, or software application, which she encouraged participants to download and try out.

—Updating the department’s College Scorecard so that information about higher education options is “way more useful for students to make informed decisions.”

DeVos took the opportunity to tout legislation to create Education Freedom Scholarships through a federal tax credit to support state-led efforts to expand choices for students and parents outside traditional K-12 public schools.

“We are very excited for the prospects of how this will provide rocket fuel to efforts that states already have engaged in and that some are on the verge of engaging in,” she said.

“Thank you for your commitment,” DeVos told her audience in closing. “President Trump and I value our continued collaboration.”


Religious-schools case heads to a Supreme Court skeptical of stark lines between church and state

KALISPELL, Mont. — It is a blessed time at Stillwater Christian School, where Scripture adorns the gymnasium wall, enrollment is climbing, and Head of School Jeremy Marsh awaits the four new classrooms that will be built in the spring.

It is a place that embraces the beliefs that sinners avoid eternal condemnation only through Jesus Christ, that a marriage consists of one man and one woman, and that ‘‘human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions . . . from conception through natural death.’’

‘‘The religious instruction isn’t just in little pockets of Bible class,’’ Marsh said. ‘‘It really comes out as we are learning in all classes.’’

If a family craves Stillwater’s academic rigor but not its evangelism, Marsh said he will gently advise that ‘‘this might not be the place for them.’’

Parents who believe religious schools such as Stillwater absolutely are the places for their children are at the center of what could be a landmark Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from government funding available to others. In this case, the issue rests on whether a scholarship fund supported by tax-deductible donations can help children attending the state’s private schools, most of which are religious.

A decision in their favor would ‘‘remove a major barrier to educational opportunity for children nationwide,’’ plaintiffs said in their brief to the Supreme Court. It is part of a movement by school-choice advocates such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow government support of students seeking what she recently called ‘‘faith-based education.’’

Said Erica Smith, a lawyer representing the parents: ‘‘If we win this case, it will be the US Supreme Court once again saying that school choice is fully constitutional and it’s a good thing and it’s something parents should have. And that will provide momentum to the entire country.’’

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said such a ruling would be a ‘‘virtual earthquake,’’ devastating to the way states fund public education.

And Montana told the court that, as in 37 other states, it is reasonable for its constitution to prohibit direct or indirect aid to religious organizations.

‘‘The No-Aid Clause does not prohibit any religious practice,’’ Montana said in its brief. ‘‘Nor does it authorize any discriminatory benefits program. It simply says that Montana will not financially aid religious schools.’’

But Montana is being called before a Supreme Court increasingly skeptical of such stark lines between church and state. A majority of justices in 2017 said Missouri could not ban a church school from requesting a grant from a state program that rehabilitated playgrounds. They have since been joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has signaled other such restrictions deserve the court’s attention.

The Montana case is prompted by a 2015 decision by the state’s legislature to create a tax-credit program for those who wanted to donate to a scholarship fund. The program allowed dollar-for-dollar tax credits to those who donated up to $150 to an organization that provides aid to parents who want to send their children to private school.

About 70 percent of qualifying private schools in Montana are affiliated with a religion.

And that conflicts with a section of the state constitution that prohibits public funds for ‘‘any sectarian purpose or to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.’’

Litigation followed, and the Montana Supreme Court ultimately struck down the program — for religious and nonreligious private schools — and said Montana’s provision did not violate religious protections in the US Constitution.


Putting Prayer Back in Schools

On January 15, known as National Religious Freedom Day, President Donald Trump announced that his administration would update federal guidance on prayer in public schools. “On Religious Freedom Day, we honor the foundational link between freedom and faith in our country and reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the religious liberty of all Americans,” he stated.

Such reaffirmation is a welcome sign. Three Supreme Court decisions — Engel v. Vitale (1962), Murray v. Curlett (1963), and Abington Township School District v. Schempp (1963) — fundamentally changed the way the First Amendment’s religious protections had been previously understood. In short, a Supreme Court that leaned decidedly left during the 1960s appeared more determined to endorse freedom from religion than freedom of religion.

In Engel, the Court ruled 6-1 that a prayer written by New York state’s Board of Regents and said before classes each day was “wholly inconsistent with the Establishment Clause,” according to Justice Hugo Black writing for the majority.

In Abington Township, which also involved the Murray ruling, the Court determined 8–1 that school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools was also unconstitutional. “The reading of the verses, even without comment, possesses a devotional and religious character and constitutes in effect a religious observance,” the Court insisted. Moreover, the Court also asserted the fact that “some pupils, or theoretically all pupils, might be excused from attendance at the exercises does not mitigate the obligatory nature of the ceremony.”

That the Board of Regents prayer was voluntary and that a religious observance with attendance of zero could still be construed as obligatory is indicative of a Court likely influenced by the tenor of the times. The American Left still reveres the social revolution of the ‘60s, and while there were welcome advances in personal freedom and proper challenges to the racial status quo, the rebellion against traditional views of sex and the wholesale advancement of Secular Humanism gave us a society in which sex became exponentially more hedonistic, morality became “relative,” and the societal bedrocks of marriage and the nuclear family began unraveling.

Ironically, in Torcaso v. Watkins, SCOTUS referred to Secular Humanism as a religion “which [does] not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God.” Justice Black stated, “We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person 'to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.’ Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.”

What about the other way around? Justice Potter Stewart, the lone dissenting vote in Abington Township, had a prescient take on exactly that. He asserted that the removal of prayer from schools “led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Was Stewart right? Over the ensuing decades, several states have passed laws either permanently enjoining parental notification, no law at all, or judicial bypass of parents with regard to a minor getting an abortion. If there is another surgical procedure that can be administered to a child absent parent notification, much less permission, one is hard-pressed to know what it is.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In American schools today, a fear-based global-warming agenda is disseminated with impunity, and math is taught from a “social justice” perspective. A radical leftist teacher-training program known as “Deep Equity” addresses the “dynamics of privilege and power [that] must be confronted to impact real change,” and indoctrination exemplified by a “privilege scorecard” given to students at at Saratoga Springs High School has become routine. Furthermore, several schools teach the transgender agenda to children beginning in kindergarten, and many of the states in which that agenda is disseminated have no opt-out clause.

Thus, in stark contrast to the Supreme Court’s take on religion in schools, nothing is voluntary, the attendance will never be zero, and the ongoing dissemination of Secular Humanism, a.k.a. progressive ideology, in America’s classrooms leaves little doubt that Stewart was right on the money.

The Trump administration has released updated guidance on religious prayer in public elementary and secondary schools that will reaffirm the right that students are allowed to pray alone or in groups. Nine federal agencies, including the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, and the Department Education, will be involved in making the changes.

The original guidance on school prayer was issued in 2003. And while this order is similar, it establishes a state-mandated filing process for complaints against local schools and school districts. It requires those states to provide the federal government with an annual list of local public schools and districts with “a policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer.” States must also report local schools that fail to certify they don’t have unconstitutional prayer policies.

Trump pulled no punches with regard to the motivation behind the change. “You have things happening today that 10 or 15 years ago would have been unthinkable,” he stated in response to a question about his views on the culture wars. “Taking the word God down, taking the word Christmas out. I think we’ve turned that one around very good. I think we’ve turned both of them around very good.”

The order itself is equally straightforward. It explains that “teachers and other public school officials, acting in their official capacities, may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities,” while making it clear that “students and teachers do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Unsurprisingly, there was blowback from the usual precincts. “These rules undermine the civil rights and religious freedom of millions of our most vulnerable Americans who rely on social services — with particularly dire consequences for LGBTQ people and religious minorities,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Nonsense. What they do is provide students with something leftists fear the most: a counter-argument that cannot be silenced by judicial fiat. If leftists were truly convinced they own the franchise on “enlightened” thinking, they would welcome a robust debate between themselves and people of faith.

That they don’t speaks volumes.

Moreover, they have more to worry about. SCOTUS will soon rule on a case determining whether state laws excluding religious organizations from government funding available to others is constitutional. If not, school choice would also include funding for religious schools that many American prefer, especially when the alternative choice is a union-centric public school system with a 50-year track record of failure.

“If we win this case, it will be the U.S. Supreme Court once again saying that school choice is fully constitutional and it’s a good thing and it’s something parents should have,” said Erica Smith, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.

In an age where the totally bankrupt assertion of “my truth” resonates, it’s not a good thing — it’s a great thing.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

When It Comes to Preparing Our Kids for Careers, One Size Does Not Fit All

Time is running out for my teen-aged son.

He’s over halfway through his junior year in high school; we’re on a bullet train speeding toward graduation day — and the brakes aren’t working. He’s an Asperger’s kid, so the rigors of traditional schooling have been challenging. Every day he gets through school is a small win.

A bigger win for my son and countless other students would’ve been the school system preparing him for a post-high school life that doesn’t include a traditional four-year college. He’s plenty smart and a bright future awaits him in whatever field his amazing, complicated mind decides is the right one. The only problem is, his public school hasn’t helped him unlock his future.

And he’s not alone. This generation, as a whole, has been failed by our country’s school system and the “one size fits all” mindset. College is seen as inevitable.

What our kids need is post-secondary school options — innovative, outside-the-box and plentiful options.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently challenged the “one size fits all” mentality head-on in an address to the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board’s (CED) Fall Policy Conference, stating, “It is imperative that schools begin to think differently about how they are preparing for students in high school to be prepared for a variety of options.”

She continued, “There should be many education pathways because there are many types of students with many different interests, many types of opportunities with varying requirements.”

She’s exactly right, and it’s gratifying to know someone in Washington, D.C. gets it. She’s made plenty of enemies, however, with her forward-thinking approach. Congressional Democrats resent her efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations that unfairly target private, for-profit and non-profit colleges and universities – schools that are training students to meet the ever-increasing need for a skilled workforce.

Take, for instance, Keiser University, a private university in Florida. It is way ahead of the curve by offering its students a robust online education environment in which to gain the important skills and hands-on experience necessary to thrive in today’s workforce. Keiser gets high marks for its learning environment and is one of the top graduates of nursing students in the entire state of Florida.

And, with an ever-growing and aging population, we need all the qualified nurses we can get. Unfortunately, demand is outpacing supply, so we’re facing a nursing shortage that’s estimated to grow to the hundreds of thousands in 2020.

We have a new breed of university that prepares students to succeed in their chosen field and challenges the status quo, so liberal politicians, of course, are actively working to shut them down. Why support innovation in education and a skilled workforce when you can churn out four-year degrees in fields for which there is no demand?

A few examples of how Congressional Democrats hope to stifle the reach of private colleges and universities:

 *     The “Gainful Employment” rule, which arbitrarily defines how much debt a student can incur based on a chosen degree. If that degree doesn’t offer a high starting salary – a figure determined by government bureaucrats - the government can pursue legal action against the college. 

 *     The “State Authorization” regulation forces colleges offering online courses to obtain an operating license in every state where its students reside. While this regulation clearly was designed to drive private online universities out of business, the real victims are the single parents, veterans and career changers for whom an online degree is their only option.

 *     The “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule, which allows college students to demand a tuition refund or walk away from their student loans if they believe they have been misled by their institution’s advertising. The end result? Students who are more than happy to hand their student debt over to taxpayers.

Outrageous, right? Par for the course when it comes to the education agenda of the left.

Betsy DeVos is doing a superb job of standing strong against the regulation-loving, innovation-killing Democrats. She is also bringing to light the deficiencies in our outdated education system and she deserves the support of parents who want more opportunities for their children. Time isn’t just running out for my son, it’s running out for a generation of students.

Parents, we must insist the education system do better because our kids deserve better.


The Academic Truce Has Crumbled

In the late 1960s academia, and particularly the humanities, began to embrace a variety of political causes and incorporate them more overtly into their scholarship. This shift coincided with curricular and intellectual developments that re-envisioned the educator as an activist and tasked him with the pursuit of normative scholarship, typically in service of progressive causes or the ubiquitous concept of “social justice.”

While such emphases fell within the traditional protections and safeguards of academic freedom, they also provoked an intense backlash from conservatives who questioned the propriety of using publicly financed and operated institutions to advance radical political activism.

At its peak in the late 1960s, contentious events such as the firing of communist philosopher Angela Davis from UCLA under the pressure of then-governor Ronald Reagan suggested an imminent collision between faculty political beliefs and the public source of their finances, which were ultimately susceptible to public oversight.

Davis, who possessed only a slim body of scholarly work but was well known for radical Marxist activism, was fired, reinstated, and fired a second time by the university’s board of regents over speech that primarily arose from her political agitation.

For its own part, the political left in the academy responded to the conservatives’ backlash by rallying behind academic freedom and free speech. UCLA received numerous public censures for insufficiently safeguarding the academic freedom of a faculty member.

Interestingly enough, both contestants had intellectually consistent and defensible claims behind their positions – up to a point.

Academic freedom is a bulwark of unimpeded inquiry among faculty, yet as institutions drawing public support, universities also operate under the legitimate purview of public scrutiny and must exercise stewardship over the funds they receive.

We may see this tension in place by way of a thought experiment, using an extreme example. Suppose a specific department at a public university began offering a curriculum that espoused a noxious and discredited viewpoint such as eugenic racial theory, or Holocaust denial, and suppose the faculty members who designed it invoked the protections of academic freedom to pursue this viewpoint, even as it elicited a deserved condemnation from students, other scholars, and the public in general.

Depending on the circumstances, tenure might protect the continued employment of the culprit faculty. But would a state legislature be obliged to fund this program with public resources, knowing that it catered primarily to bigots and hate groups?

How about a somewhat related case where a biology department or medical school began spreading pseudoscientific misinformation that carried tangible threats to public health. Anti-vaccination conspiracy theories come to mind. Would the public be obliged to continue financing this program, knowing that it was instructing students with false information that exposed innocent people to dangerous diseases?

Both hypothetical episodes would necessarily invoke the question of the university’s uses of tax dollars, in addition to the concerning content provided in their respective courses. Protections for faculty speech and the constraints of tenure may limit what a university could do in terms of the employment contracts of the individuals involved.

At the same time though, a tax dollar-funded university – as a steward of public resources – would appear to have both a cause and a reasonable expectation to pull the plug on these particular offerings.

Most collisions between problematic content and the public nature of university finance are not as clear cut, and yet it is the murkier cases that test the reach of this tension. Economist James M. Buchanan explained as much in a little-studied essay on the public finance of higher education, written some four decades ago in the wake of the 1960s controversies.

Universities, Buchanan noted, turned heavily toward a public finance model of operation in the mid-20th century that persists to the present day. Wherever one might stand on the optimal level and extent of public funding for higher education, it cannot be denied that their extension invites public oversight into the many uses of the same appropriations – including asking the question of whether a university’s offerings are serving public priorities as expressed through democratically elected bodies.

Indeed, a major premise of publicly funded universities arises from their expected future returns to positive scientific knowledge, innovation, and general education. These scientific and social contributions ostensibly benefit society at large through both tangible advances in knowledge and a more learned populace – or so it is claimed.

Yet as Buchanan notes, these promises become murkier as the university’s offerings shift away from the hard sciences and into the liberal arts and humanities, where knowledge-generation and instruction often takes on deeply normative characteristics. In the areas where activist scholarship has taken root, he continues, it is not uncommon for faculty to behave as though the taxpaying public has “some sacred obligation to throw increasing amounts of revenues over the universities’ ivied walls without so much as a right to inquire what went on behind those walls.”

If left unattended, Buchanan anticipated an “emergent clash between ‘academic freedom,’ as this is defined by scholars behind the ivied walls, and ‘public finance’” of their institutions. If taken to its conclusion, the public legitimately might decide that tax-supported universities “are not fulfilling the objectives for which they are presumably funded” and vote to withdraw funding.

As a result of forcing the question, only two real options emerge. Universities could choose to forgo further public support, allowing “the precepts of academic freedom to be strictly observed” free from any expectation of a return on their previous stewardship of such funds. This would obviously yield a much smaller and less-well-funded university system, but one free from any obligations to voter expectations, whether we deem those expectations warranted or not. Alternatively, the academy could admit that greater public oversight is an unavoidable tradeoff of taking public appropriations.

Buchanan did not endorse either position, save to note that they were the logical ends of the tension between academic freedom and public finance if the two competing aims continued to be pressed against each other.

We are fortunate that the university funding and content disputes of the late 1960s deescalated over the next few decades. The paths they followed were not without fault and exceptions pitting the two objectives against each other continued to plague the debate, but in the 1970s and 1980s the tension largely gave way to something of an informal truce between its main political contestants.

The academic left acknowledged that the unimpeded content freedom it desired for itself also applied to the minority of faculty hailing from other perspectives, including conservatives and libertarians. And the political right largely backed off the strategy of pressuring trustees to rein in the activist excesses of their institutions and curriculum, lest universities face stricter oversight tied to appropriations. The university system settled into a relatively stable distribution of political content. A clear plurality of the faculty leaned left, to be sure, and openly identified as such in surveys. But faculty from the center and right sides of the spectrum also carved out stable minority stakes in most disciplines.

There are many signs today, however, that the truce is crumbling.

Right-leaning faculty (and libertarians are usually lumped into this category for counting, despite its imperfect description) have all but disappeared from the faculty ranks, dwindling to a mere 12% in the latest surveys. Faculty on the left now constitute a clear majority of some 60% of the university system, and much of this growth was driven by an explosion of professors who identify on the far left. The entirety of this observed shift took place after the early 2000s.

It is more difficult to measure the parallel degradation of the political climate on campus, a subject that will have to wait for another day. But suffice it to say that observations to this effect have intensified in the last few years.

Many faculty on the far left no longer extend the academic freedom norms of a few decades ago to their dwindling counterparts on the right, or really any other part of the political spectrum. They impose ideological litmus tests on new faculty hiring, with significant shares of faculty in several disciplines openly admitting to discriminating against candidates with non-left perspectives. They engage in petition campaigns to have disfavored articles withdrawn from publication. Faculty with disliked and minority political perspectives are impeded from hiring and promotion at elite institutions, even when they have comparable or stronger credentials and research records than their counterparts on the left.

Students with non-left political beliefs routinely report feeling pressures to censor their own beliefs on campus.  And far-left faculty now routinely launch political crusades against disliked funding sources, aiming to block or control their non-leftist colleagues from even accessing money that is necessary to conduct research, support programs, attract students, or hire new faculty to their departments. Instead, conservatives, libertarians, and really any faculty who hail from outside perspectives are often depicted as intruders on the academic domain who got there through “illegitimate” means and must be blocked or purged from academic life. The paranoid style has come full circle and taken refuge in the illiberal corners of the academic far-left.

Part of this purge mentality is also a response to the glutted academic job market in these same fields, which breeds a way of thinking about faculty jobs as a zero-sum game: if new faculty jobs are scarce relative to the number of job seekers, then we – as humanities faculty of the left – must proactively ensure that they all go to our fellow ideological travelers first.

In short, a growing subset of the academic left has effectively replaced traditional viewpoint liberalism – a perspective that valued free exchange and a diversity of perspectives, even as it maintained its own pluralities – with an echo chamber of hardline progressivism and the academically fashionable realm of Critical Theory.

Not to be outdone, the political right in the United States appears to be responding by turning against higher education itself. Its motives and causes vary, including a growing perception of bias against or persecution of non-left voices on campus. Some of this agitation has taken on a conspiratorial flavor, whereas other dimensions do seem to be grounded in empirical realities. But its cumulative effect is a resumption of pressures to take a closer look at the university’s purse strings.

So far this process has amounted to more talk than action, but we recently saw signs of it at the University of Alaska, which drastically cut back on its funding and degree offerings (although political compromise later softened their severity). Other proposals aim to tie funding restrictions to on-campus free speech policies, or to steer more students into STEM programs, which tend to exhibit a greater political balance among their faculty – or steer away from political content and activism as primary features of their instruction.

It is not my aim to endorse or oppose any of these propositions. Some faculty on the left have responded to them in furious rage, whereas an alarming number of conservative populists seem to relish in dismantling university funding even if done haphazardly and for reasons of ideological retribution. Rather, my point is to note that each response is a predictable reaction to the erosion of the previous truce between a diverse conception of academic freedom and the extension of public funding.

If faculty wish to forestall and reverse budgetary backlash against public investments in higher education, they should not scoff at concerns over the changing and increasingly one-sided ideological climate on campus. Neither should they dismiss the more responsible voices who raise concerns about exclusionary practices and epistemic closure in the most afflicted disciplines.

Forestalling these trends requires a proactive commitment to reestablishing the academic freedom truce of previous decades, as the alternative is a collision between the one-sided political activism of the faculty ranks and the public’s willingness to continue subsidizing careers in the same. Should that collision resume, both sides will likely emerge worse off.


The Collegiate War Against Men

While many have commented on the eight year decline in college enrollments in the United States, no one, to my knowledge, has noted that most of that fall in the number attending college in the past four years is concentrated among men. Between 2015 and 2019, according to the National College Clearinghouse, the number of men on campuses declined by 691,643, almost double the smaller fall among women, 348,955. In percentage terms, the male decline of 8.34 % was far more than double that among women, 3.18%.

Women have for decades outnumbered men in America’s colleges. In 2015, there were 32% more women than men, but now the differential is nearly 40%. For every five men, there are seven women. The fundamental question is why—not only do far more women attend college than men, but why is the differential growing noticeably in the past few years?

While several factors may be at work, I think at least part of the reason is a perception among males that colleges dislike them—or at least do not like them as much as women. There are several forms of discrimination against males that are increasingly turning men off to the collegiate experience. They don’t like being second class citizens.

Some forms of gender discrimination are seemingly rather mild and well intended. For example, noting male domination of enrollment in some of the STEM disciplines such as engineering and mathematics, some schools have created Women in Science scholarships, research grants, or the like to encourage more women to enter these fields. Curiously, though, I do not see attempts to right the gender imbalance favoring females in most other disciplines, including some relatively high paying fields like nursing (where roughly 90 % of graduates are female).

But the past decade has seen many examples of more blatant maltreatment of men on campus. The U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 “guidance” in sexual assault cases led to colleges pursuing brutal, and in my judgment, un-American, Spanish Inquisition type actions in sexual assault cases. Males accused of sexual assault were often denied opportunities to cross-examination accusers, were denied effective use of legal counsel, often denied the right to present exculpatory evidence, and sometimes judged by the very persons prosecuting them.

KC Johnson’s book with Stuart Taylor, The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, outlines scores of cases of injustices directed exclusively towards men. And the number of judicial decisions favoring males poorly treated in college Kangaroo Courts has soared in recently years.

Still other forms of discriminatory treatment exist caused by school administrators heavily influenced by progressive identity politics. Most notorious perhaps has been Harvard’s attack on “single-gender social organizations,” especially fraternities. The university president declared such organizations violated “our deeply rooted gender values.” Harvard once did have “deeply rooted gender values” when it would not let women attend. But that went by the wayside roughly a half century ago. As I noted last February, who decided these new “gender values” for Harvard and why are men discriminated against because they want to belong to a social club of guys?

To be sure, other factors are at work as well. Males are far more likely to be incarcerated than women, and thus denied access to higher education. I expect the rise of public assistance payments over the last 80 years has reduced the especially critical male economic role in families—now women can survive financially with their children without a male present, as the government will provide income. Who needs a man? The number of women workers soon will pass the number of men. College still confers some financial advantages on workers—and more and more, those workers are women.

The move by the Trump Administration’s Department of Education away from supporting dubious disciplinary procedures in sexual assault cases, along with the growing judicial backlash against unjust decisions, may trigger a reversal of the anti-male environment. But for now, some men increasingly feel they are treated like inferior members of the campus community. Thus more of them are going to work in private sector jobs where identity politics working through “diversity and inclusion” policies are less pervasive.