Friday, February 28, 2020

Justice Department: 45% of Blacks at Harvard Admitted Through Illegal Race Preferences

Almost half of all blacks and Hispanics who attend Harvard were admitted because of illegal racial preferences in admissions according to a brief just filed by the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice filed the brief in a federal lawsuit filed by Students For Fair Admissions. It says Harvard's race-based admissions process violates federal law. This filing marks an extreme departure from the Obama Civil Rights Division that spent significant time and resources seeking to expand the use of race in decision making.

The brief says Harvard "considers applicants’ race at virtually every step, from rating applicants to winnowing the field of applicants when attempting to avoid an oversubscribed class." It notes that forty-five percent of African-Americans and Hispanics at Harvard are there because of racial preferences given to them during the admissions process.

The Justice Department notes that providing blacks racial preferences has created a large class of victim applicants: Asians. The brief:

Harvard’s process imposes a racial penalty by systematically disfavoring Asian-American applicants. It does so in part through the subjective personal rating that admissions officers apply with minimal guidance or supervision. That rating produces consistently poorer scores for Asian Americans.
The Justice Department brief also noted that Harvard employs a consistent racial quota to admit applicants to the class in essentially the same percentages, year after year. "The racial breakdown of Harvard’s admitted classes over time reflects that they are the product of deliberate racial balancing," the brief notes.

“Race discrimination hurts people and is never benign,” said Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Unconstitutionally partitioning Americans into racial and ethnic blocs harms all involved by fostering stereotypes, bitterness, and division among the American people. The Department of Justice will continue to fight against illegal race discrimination.”

The brief portrays the Harvard admissions process as wholly race-obsessed, seeking to produce outcomes based on race as a primary concern:

The school considers race at virtually every step of its admission process. And its officials constantly monitor and continually reshape the racial makeup of each admitted class as it emerges. Those mechanisms confirm that Harvard’s racial balancing is no accident; it is engineered.

Federal law, Title VI, forbids schools that receive federal assistance from discriminating based on race. Harvard expressly agreed to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive any federal financial assistance.

Harvard's obsession with race continues even after students are admitted. The school offers over 300 courses dedicated to race, including “Caste, Race, and Democracy,” “Interracial Intimacy: Sex, Race, and Romance in the U.S.,” “Coloniality, Race and Catastrophe,” and without any hint of irony, “Understanding Educational Inequality through the Lens of Economics and Race,” “Diversity and Dispute Resolution,” and “The Role of Public Policy in U.S. Racial Inequality.”

Those denied admission are not the only victims of illegal racial preferences. Even those admitted suffer from higher dropout rates through the mismatch between admissions scores and the curriculum.


Trump vs. Democrats on Higher Education

“With malice toward none, with charity for all...let us strive to...achieve...a just and lasting peace among ourselves....” So said Abraham Lincoln in his magnificent second inaugural address just weeks before his assassination nearly 155 years ago.

Today’s harsh divisions between the Republicans and Democrats make Lincoln’s plea relevant today, and the Trump Administration budget for fiscal year 2021 demonstrates the extent of the ideological warfare between the major political parties with respect to higher education.

The Trump budget is viewed by the denizens of the D.C. swamp as austere, but it maintains the trillion dollar deficits amidst under four percent unemployment that characterize the current era, and despite exceedingly rosy economic assumptions, does not foresee balanced budgets anytime soon. But it has a distinct austerity vibe to it when applied to education. For example, the recommended budget for the U.S. Department of Education is down $5.6 billion (7.8%) over current spending levels.

The Administration must be reading this blog. To deal with dysfunctional federal student financial assistance programs, it proposes putting more stringent limits on PLUS loans to parents, ending student loan forgiveness for those with public sector jobs, restricting somewhat the amount graduate students can borrow, ending the Stafford subsidized loan program, reducing the federal Work Study program, etc. Needed reforms in my opinion. Additionally, the Trump budget proposes reductions in research funding for agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health.

Contrast this with Democrats’ proposals. Rather than restricting federal student financial assistance, they wish to expand it significantly, including big increases in Pell Grants. Some Democratic leaders want to move towards “free college,” where the federal government makes college tuition free for at least community college if not four-year college students. And expand research funding. Some are advocating complete federal student loan forgiveness.

It is the equivalent of Democrats saying the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, while Republicans say that it will rise in the west. Completely opposing views. I once wrote a column called “Three Cheers for Gridlock,” suggesting that when radically different ideas are in play, failure to reach agreement keeps extreme positions from being adopted. That certainly is going to be the case in 2020—absolutely nothing radical is going to happen in higher education policy. Radical Trump budget cuts are dead on arrival, and given the complete lack of fiscal discipline in both parties (one unfortunate area of bipartisan agreement), I suspect the final budget will at least modestly increase total education spending.

Economists are lousy at economic forecasting, much less political prognostication. Nonetheless, as an aging tenured professor with little to lose, I think it is highly unlikely that one political party will control all of government next year. The presidency is clearly up for grabs and could go either way, although, as Democratic guru “Ragin’ Cajun” James Carville says, Trump will win if the Democrats nominate one of the radicals like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren (who now appears all but dead politically). Otherwise, it could go either way. The odds are 80% the Dems will control the House but also 75% that the GOP will control the Senate. The probability of 100% control of government by either party is small, meaning incremental change in higher education policy is more likely than truly substantive revisions until at least 2023.

One reason why a cost-sensitive policy closer to the GOP position may prevail ultimately is that decades of fiscally irresponsible behavior by both parties might lead to an economic crisis forcing the U.S. into fiscal austerity—a gentler version of what happened to Greece several years ago. Taxes may go up some and spending increases will cease for a time.

If that happens, higher education will be a big loser. Maintaining popular but fiscally shaky Social Security/Medical Care entitlements is politically vastly more popular than maintaining a bloated budget for the U.S. Department of Education or even costly student loan and grant subsidies. Declining public support for higher education, pronounced among Republicans but also surprisingly strong among Democrats, will prompt some fiscal brakes, slowing the fueling of bloated university bureaucracies and their enablers.


Some Australian Private schools may see government funding boost

Billions in extra funding could flow to private schools favoured by less well-off parents under changes by the federal government.

Private schools chosen by less well-off parents could receive a multi-billion dollar funding boost under changes proposed by the federal government.

New legislation introduced to parliament on Wednesday would change the way the government calculates the income of parents to measure of how much taxpayer money a school is entitled to.

"(This) will ensure more funding flows to the schools that need it most," Education Minister Dan Tehan told parliament.

The government estimates the change will open up an extra $3.4 billion for non-government school funding over the next decade.

"The new methodology will use the best available data to estimate the capacity of parents and guardians to contribute to the cost of schooling," Mr Tehan said.

It follows recommendations by the National School Resourcing Board to change the way the government calculated the incomes of student's parents and guardians.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Classics and the Culture War

By Sean Gabb, a teacher of Latin and classical Greek

The Classics Faculty at the University of Oxford is considering whether to remove from its undergraduate courses the compulsory study in their original languages of Homer and Vergil. The reasons given are that students from independent schools, where some classical teaching is kept up, tend at the moment to do better in examinations than students from state schools, and that men do better than women. I regard this as the most important news of the week. I do so partly because I make some of my living from these languages, and so have a financial interest in their survival. I do so mainly because I see the proposal as a further enemy advance in the Culture War through which we have been living for at least the past two generations.

I could make this essay into another attack on the cultural leftists. I will come to these, as they are among the villains. They are not, however, the main villains. These are people who sometimes regard themselves, and are generally regarded by others, as conservatives. They once looked to Margaret Thatcher as their political champion, and then to Tony Blair. They were some of the most committed advocates of our departure from the European Union. They now look to the Johnson Government for the final triumph of their agenda. For these people, a nation is barely more than a giant economic enterprise – Great Britain plc. For them, the main, or perhaps the sole, purpose of education is to provide sets of skills that have measurable value in a corporatised market.

These people have been around for a long time. They were satirised by Charles Dickens in Hard Times, where Thomas Gradgrind explains his philosophy of education:

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.  Facts alone are wanted in life.  Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.  You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which to bring up these children.  Stick to Facts, sir!”

In my own lifetime, they have risen to a position of shared dominance in education with the cultural leftists. Sometimes, like Gradgrind, they worship simply at the altar of “Facts.” Often they join this with an analysis, taken at first or second hand, from the writings of men like Martin Wiener and Corelli Barnett. Briefly summarised, their view of English history is one of avoidable decline since our mid-Victorian peak because of a ruling class obsession with the humanities in general and with the classics in particular. They look at American business schools and German science departments, and contrast these with a public school system focussed on the ancient languages. Looking at the Colonial Service examination for 1870, Barnett is outraged that

[P]ossible marks for Greek or Roman studies were twice the totals for French or German studies or political economy – and taken together, a third more than allotted to the entire field of science.

Their chance came in the 1980s, when the Thatcher Government tried to remake education as a kind of factory for the production of skills. Because they had to share dominance with the cultural leftists, they got less than they wanted – far less, indeed, than their leftist competitors whine that they did. Even so, they got a National Curriculum heavy with science and business teaching, and a new culture of inspections and testing and ranking. There was no room in this for the classics, and a gentle decline in the teaching of Greek and Latin since the Great War became a sudden collapse. I once knew a very decent Latin teacher who was made redundant in 1986 and ended his career as a court usher.

I agree that state education had become a joke where almost nothing of any kind was taught. As continued by Tony Blair, the Thatcher reforms did eventually drive up standards of literacy and numeracy. But this has been at a terrible cost. Any modern school that wants to be thought desirable must focus on its place in the league tables. This involves working the children like slaves – stuffing them in class with facts that can be regurgitated in tests and therefore graded, then handing out reams of homework that leaves no time for personal development.

The universities continue this conveyor belt approach. Around half of school leavers are pressured into “higher” education. Those who go into the “STEM” subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – follow a narrow and specialised curriculum that leaves them ignorant of nearly everything outside their own subject. The rest sign up for largely worthless subjects – anything with the words “business” or “studies” in the name. There, they are kept busy with three-hour lectures. I know the value of these, as I used to give them. I fell asleep in one of them, and the students were happy when my voice finally trailed off. Progress in these subjects is measured by coursework that is increasingly plagiarised or ghost-written, or through examinations where the grades are fiddled. At the end of this, graduates – and everyone does graduate – are qualified for nothing better than employment in one of those bureaucracies of management or control that fasten on the actually productive like mistletoe on a tree. The universities look at rising numbers and the fact that graduates do find paid employment, and call this a great success. No one thinks it a disgrace if students never take up a book not on their worthless reading list, or that, having graduated, they never open another book.

Or school leavers at the bottom end are herded into courses in plumbing or hairdressing. I was once invited to teach a module in a Parking Studies degree – this for the certification of traffic wardens. I suppose people are needed to keep the roads clear, and I suppose they should be given some idea of their legal rights and duties. I am not at all sure if they need to have degrees. I am sure that skilled trades of undoubted value are best taught, as they always used to be, through private apprenticeships or informally on the job.

The overall result has been the death of education was it was traditionally conceived. The cultivation of intellect and a heightened power of discrimination cannot be measured and listed in a spreadsheet. So they are laughed at. Students are seen as slacking if their names are not marked on a register for every hour of a working day. It is not, I grant, the sort of education that Thomas Gradgrind promoted. At least the “facts” he worshipped were of some use. Nor would Martin Weiner or Corelli Barnett see it as promoting any kind of national revival. But it is the kind of education they helped bring about. Education has become a business awash with our tax money. Those who run it and those who direct the flows of money are at one in their focus on the lowest common denominator in terms of measurable outcomes. They are at one in their contempt for the classics. Removing the study of the finest Greek and Roman literature in their original languages is a step towards the abolition of the despised subjects themselves.

I turn now to the cultural leftists. I could write a polemic here about their hatred of Western civilisation as the cause of all victimhood. But this has become a standard argument in my part of the political spectrum, and I see no reason for adding to the complaints. What I will say instead is that the cultural leftists are generally lazy or stupid or both. Even if they are sometimes capable of it, they avoid arguments that involve careful reasoning from evidence. Their preferred mode of argument is a kind of verbal trickery, based on words loosely defined and protected from criticism by accusations of racial or sexual prejudice. They employ and promote each other according to proficiency in these low skills, and, of course, on connections. Therefore, they must colonise a new subject rather as a spider injects venom into a trapped fly. Before they can absorb a subject, they must first dissolve everything hard in it. They have been largely kept out of the STEM subjects because these are irreducibly hard. They involve very elaborate processes of reasoning and memory. If you want to build a DNA computer, or land a probe on Mars, you need to give years of study to the relevant subjects. Calling the rules of arithmetic a colonialist discourse may get you a PhD from somewhere, but will not let you take over a genuine research project.

The humanities have been an easier target. The study of English Literature has become a notorious joke. It has been steadily taken over by semi-literate women and girlie-men churning out tracts on lesbian subtextuality in the works of Jane Austin. The first generation of these people found that old fiction is easy to read, and that selective reading can generate almost any meaning. The present generation largely confines itself to reading the tracts already written, and recycling the quotes already mined. No one who studies a degree in English Literature ends with any appreciation of the English classics, nor, it seems, with the ability to write coherent prose. The main skills acquired are a jealously of excellence and the ability to take offence without warning. Sadly, these are marketable skills in the world as it now is. But no aeroplanes crash on take-off. No computer hardware fails to work as anticipated. A subject is ruined. But there are no measurable consequences. Those running it continue to praise each other’s brilliance. Unless you try reading them, the ruin is not plain.

The civilisation of the Ancient World is an obvious target for colonisation. It has great prestige. Despite some contribution by traditional Marxists – contributions that, even when wrong, are based on a full reading of the sources – it remains largely untouched by the cultural leftists. Their problem so far has been that, if you want to write up Roman Britain as a multi-racial paradise, or to pontificate about gender fluidity in the works of Aeschylus, you will not be taken seriously before you have mastered things like the rules of secondary sequence or those wicked strong aorists. Greek and Latin are not that hard to learn if your native language is English. They are easier than languages like Arabic and Japanese. But they do require hard work – which, I repeat, is something unattractive to the average cultural leftist.

The answer is to reduce the number of classicists fluent in the classical languages, until they can be pushed into a ghetto of necessary but otherwise ignored specialists. The result will be a subject studied wholly through English translations. The result of that will be a vast flowering of the usual semi-literate drivel and “equal opportunities” nepotism.

And this is what makes the proposal by the Oxford Classics Faculty so dangerous. It is driven by a coalition of barbarians. Some of these want to ruin the classics. Others just want to shut them down. The proposal must be resisted.

So far, I have argued for a particular view of education in negative terms – sneering at the various tribes of barbarian who want to make it “useful,” or into a mass of sinecures for the evil-intentioned. For a positive argument, I can do no better than quote John Henry Newman, whose Idea of a University is of permanent value. For him, the purpose of education is to cultivate the intellect. Everything else of marketable value comes from this:

… general culture of mind is the best aid to professional and scientific study, and educated men can do what illiterate cannot; and the man who has learned to think and to reason and to compare and to discriminate and to analyze, who has refined his taste, and formed his judgment, and sharpened his mental vision, will not indeed at once be a lawyer, or a pleader, or an orator, or a statesman, or a physician, or a good landlord, or a man of business, or a soldier, or an engineer, or a chemist, or a geologist, or an antiquarian, but he will be placed in that state of intellect in which he can take up any one of the sciences or callings I have referred to, or any other for which he has a taste or special talent, with an ease, a grace, a versatility, and a success, to which another is a stranger. In this sense then, and as yet I have said but a very few words on a large subject, mental culture is emphatically useful.

Arguing against the cultural leftists is a waste of time. Their own output is, for the most part, self-refuting trash, though arguing too hotly against it may nowadays invite attention from the police. But there is an easy reply to the worshippers of “fact.” This is that England became the first industrial nation, and pioneered the main theoretical sciences, and conquered a quarter of the world with a ruling class schooled in the Greek and Roman classics, and in little else. And if the modernisation of other countries allowed a shifting about of comparative advantage after 1870, we remained great and rich and powerful down to 1914, after which we beat the more “scientific” Germans in all matters of science and technology.

 And if our involvement may not have been entirely wise, it was our science and technology that won the Second World War. And if our science and technology fell increasingly on stony ground in this country after 1945, that was because our rulers were progressively embracing the cult of immediate usefulness. We are now broken as a nation because we grovel at the feet of rulers who cannot parse a sentence in their own language, let alone in Greek.

Therefore, I suggest, the proposal of the Oxford Classics Faculty should be denounced – even, and perhaps especially, by those who do not themselves know Greek or Latin.


Reinvigorating the Teaching of American History

It’s no secret that many of today’s students are ignorant of American history and of how American democracy works. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, only 1 in 3 Americans would be able to pass the U.S. citizenship test. Clearly, the current education system—at the K-12 and college levels—has failed to do its job. And that includes the University of North Carolina system schools.

According to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), none of the UNC system schools require students to take “a survey course in either U.S. government or history with enough chronological and/or topical breadth to expose students to the sweep of American history and institutions.” In fact, of all the 49 North Carolina colleges and universities that ACTA evaluated, only two schools fully met the above criteria.

Fortunately, there are now a number of initiatives that aim to fill the gaps in students’ historical knowledge. One of those initiatives is the American History for Freedom program. The Martin Center sat down with the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill to learn more about the program.

Pfeffer Merrill is director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Campus Free Expression Project, which promotes viewpoint diversity and free expression on college campuses.

Could you give a little background on the American History for Freedom program?

Thanks for the interest in this too-little-known but important program! The American History for Freedom (AHF) program was added to the American Higher Education Act when that Act was last reauthorized by Congress in 2008. Just a brief reminder from readers’ high school civics class: When Congress authorizes a program, that doesn’t mean that the appropriate federal department or agency will start setting it up. For that to happen, Congress also must appropriate funds to establish and run the program. To date, that second step hasn’t happened.

The good news is that there is fresh bipartisan interest in the AHF program. Last year, a bipartisan group of eight Senators introduced the USA Civics Act of 2019, which would reauthorize this program. That bill isn’t likely to be passed in this Congress, but it is a strong signal that there is bipartisan support to see the AHF program funded in this budget cycle, which kicked off when the president sent his 2021 budget proposal to Congress on February 10. The House and Senate are beginning the long process of preparing a budget resolution, which could include a first-time appropriation for the program.

What is the status of the program today?

AHF was signed into law as part of the Higher Education Act of 2008, but never received appropriations funding. However, Congress has the ability to fund the program through the current appropriations process.

I’m sure some of your readers do worry about adding yet another federal spending program. But I’d liken the AHF program to infrastructure programs. We need ongoing investment in our highways, ports, digital capacity, and the like so the economy will grow over the decades ahead. Likewise, we need ongoing investment in what I’d call our intellectual infrastructure so that we can have a healthy democracy, with citizens who know their history and Constitution. Investing in the AHF program is an intellectual infrastructure investment that will pay civic dividends for decades to come.

There are reports that students leave college with little knowledge of American history. How little do students actually know and how would the program help solve that problem?

Alas, the reports about what people, including the college-educated, know about American history and how our government works are pretty depressing. A survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that less than 40 percent of respondents—and only a little more than half of college graduates—could correctly answer a multiple-choice question about the length of terms for members of Congress. More than half of respondents—and a third of college graduates—did not know that the Bill of Rights is the name given to a group of Constitutional amendments. I could go on, but I don’t think there’s doubt graduates and the public too often don’t know basic facts about our history and government. That has real consequences: people don’t know how to be engaged citizens, and they lack the knowledge to contextualize current events and controversies in a longer, broader understanding of our past.

Why do too many Americans know so little about American history and how our government works? One factor for the widespread historical and civic illiteracy is simply that these subjects are not being taught, or taught with enough rigor, in K–12. A recent study found that only eight of the 50 states require a year-long course in civics and government, and only 28 states require a year-long course in U.S. history. Too often teachers are not as ready as they should be—or as they want to be—to teach about our country.

Thankfully, the AHF program has a specific provision to address the K–12 teaching of civics and history. The program can fund teacher preparation programs that will “stress content mastery.” It can also fund collaborations with local educational agencies, allowing teachers who are already in the classrooms to access programs that will boost their knowledge. This is a real opportunity to better prepare those who will be teaching civics and U.S. history in our primary and secondary schools.

The AHF program will be a real boon to funding programs and centers that will deepen college and university students’ knowledge of our country. That’s especially important since the number of students majoring in history has plunged since the Great Recession, even as college enrollment has risen. Much of the programming funded may be co-curricular activities, lecture series, and events that will attract students who are not history majors. We want students in STEM fields, in pre-professional majors, and business programs—those who may not have learned much U.S. history and civics in primary and secondary schools—to have another chance to pick up this knowledge on campus.

By funding programs and centers that can equip students with historical knowledge in which to contextualize current affairs and understand how our political and civic institutions can address today’s challenges. The AHF can help prepare students to be the next generation of leaders, move our country past its current polarization, and restore our traditions of civility, mutual respect, and pragmatic compromise.


Shocking standard of new teachers in Australia

They don't know primary school stuff, let alone show any benefit of a university education.  It's a tremendous revelation of non-existent school standards.  The blind are leading the blind.  No wonder so many parents send kids to private schools

Clare Masters

GRADUATE teachers are leaving university, without basic literacy skills, including spelling and grammar, and are increasingly needing tutoring to pass the literacy portion of their qualifying exam.

Tutoring agencies are seeing a rise in the number of graduates seeking help to pass the Federal Government's Literacy and Numeracy Tests for the Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) test, required to become a teacher, and experts are saying the test should be done as an entrance' exam to weed out unsuccessful candidates.

Some agencies say students are struggling with basic skills like fractions, grammar and even knowing the number of weeks in a year. "We have been surprised by the number of university students studying to be teachers who are seeking assistance with their literacy skills to pass their LANTITE, and who may have already failed this test a number of times," said Dr Selina Samuels, chief learning officer at tutoring service Cluey. She said there had been over 750 inquiries for LANTITE support in just four months.

Teacher Melinda Wood, from The Tutoring Academy, said many of her students were missing basic foundation skills. "With literacy, they don't know the simple rules for grammar, punctuation and how to spell or do fractions.

"I had one student who didn't attend primary school in her own country and came to Year 8 in Australia and has difficulty reading. She is doing a Masters of Education and she is struggling a lot."

Ms Wood gave one example of a question that asked students to estimate an annual income from weekly pays and said students were failing it in practice tests as they "don't know how many weeks are in a year".

"They use spell check and stuff at home to help them but the. second they are in exam conditions they don't know how to cope."

The recent PISA scores show Australian students are falling behind and Centre for Independent Studies' Blaise Joseph said a teacher's core skills needed to be high. "Evidence shows it is really important teachers be high achievers. Over the years we have lowered the bar for entry standard for teacher education degrees," he said.

"We have about one in five Australian students below the minimum standard for literacy and that is going to be reflected in new teacher intakes. It defies common sense you have uni students who don't have basic literacy and numeracy skills who are then going to be responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy to children."

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 24/2/20

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Republicans furious over history lesson comparing Trump to Nazis

Republican lawmakers in Maryland have criticized a history lesson at a public high school near Baltimore in which Donald Trump was compared with Nazis and communists.

A slide used in a history class at Loch Raven high school in Towson showed a picture of Trump above pictures of a Nazi swastika and a flag of the Soviet Union.

Captions read “wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall” and “oh, THAT is why it sounds so familiar!”

The Baltimore Sun reported that the state delegate Kathy Szeliga arranged for copies of the slide and the school system’s response to be sent to fellow Baltimore county lawmakers. She also posted the image on Facebook. “It is horrific. It is educational malfeasance,” Szeliga said on Friday.

The Baltimore county councilman Wade Kach said the slide was “a piece of propaganda” that didn’t belong in a classroom.

The school system said the slide was not part of the resources it provides for history teachers.

Charles Herndon, a spokesman for Baltimore county schools, said students in advanced high school classes are “discerning, intelligent students who are going to be able to draw their own inferences and draw their own conclusions”.

“The topics being discussed in the class included world wars and the attempts by some leaders throughout history to limit or prevent migration into certain countries. In isolation and out of context with the lesson, the image could be misunderstood,” the school district said in a statement.

The school system said the issue had become a personnel matter “which will be appropriately addressed by the school administration and is not subject to further clarification”.


Did You Know? Majority of Federal Funding for College Is for Student Loans

The federal government has grown in importance for higher education for decades. The most long-lasting effect could be its status as the lender of first resort for student loans. The vast majority of federal spending on colleges and universities comes in the form of making loans, dwarfing all other activities.

Of the $120 billion supplied by the Department of Education for higher ed institutions in FY2017-FY2018, 79 percent of this support (about $95 billion) was in the form of student loans, according to Open the Books, a nonprofit government watchdog.

Another 19 percent of funding was for direct payments, such as grants, and contracts made up 2 percent of federal funding. The vast majority, about 91 percent, of that funding went to traditional schools and community colleges. However, for-profit colleges and cosmetology schools received the rest, roughly $11 billion.

In theory, those loans wouldn’t be a problem because the students would graduate and then repay their loans accordingly. In reality, however, borrowers often don’t graduate, struggle to repay their loans, fall behind on their payments, and default. Borrowers can avoid default by enrolling in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, but as these plans grow in popularity, graduate students with higher debt have flocked to them. IDR plans end in de facto loan forgiveness, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that $167 billion in graduate student debt and $40 billion in undergraduate student debt will be forgiven by 2029.

While loans were seen as a way to help low-income students achieve a college degree, it’s become a program that has turned the Education Department into a bank with bad borrowers, leaving taxpayers to cover the bill.


University of Southern California to Make Tuition Free for Low-Income Students

I didn't think USC was that rich

The University of Southern California announced Thursday that the private university will offer free tuition beginning next fall for students from families earning $80,000 or less.

The elite Los Angeles school will increase undergraduate aid by more than $30 million per year in a move the school expects will increase financial aid to more than 4,000 students. About a third of new students who enroll for next fall or spring are expected to benefit. An eligible student can receive up to $45,000 more financial aid under the new policy.

“This expansion of the university’s financial aid package will result in more need-based financial aid for students across the income spectrum, particularly those families who are finding it increasingly difficult to pay the rising costs of a college education,” USC said in a statement Thursday announcing the policy.

In addition, the new policy will not take home ownership into account when calculating a student’s financial need. This rule change is intended to address the surging housing prices in southern California, which can warp the optics of a family’s financial situation when a large portion of their money is tied up in their house.

“This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey,” USC President Carol Folt said in the press release. “We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances.”

The school said it intends to continue expanding its financial aid program over the next few years, taking “further steps” to make attending feasible for even more students.


Monday, February 24, 2020

The Philosophical Force Driving the Fight to Rewrite History

Two recent stories that dominated academic Twitter were the cancellation of the Western Art History course at Yale and the incorporation of the 1619 Project in the school curricula in Buffalo, New York and Washington DC. Though political centrists on Twitter were outraged, no one noted that those two incidents are thematically similar. Without understanding the connection, fighting back against indoctrination throughout the education system will be impossible.

Consider the situation at Yale. Yale’s administration ended a decades-old course on the Western canon because it is arguably too big a field to cover. The course, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” was once taught by authorities like Vincent Scully but has caused “unease” among some students and faculty because it is an “idealized Western ‘canon’—a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.”

Putting European art “on a pedestal” is “problematic,” as every genre and tradition are “equally deserving of study,” according to Tim Barringer, chair of Yale’s art history department. He elaborated: “The class will also consider art in relation to questions of gender, class and race” and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism. Art’s “relationship with climate change” will also be a “key theme.” Incidentally, the course was extremely popular among students, a significant number of whom were disappointed and dissatisfied with this sudden change.

In DC and Buffalo, the situation is similar, but in reverse. As the NPR report notes, the heavily criticized and flawed 1619 Project, a revisionist history about the American founding, will be a mandated part of the curriculum for 7th through 12th graders, teaching students that the American founding was predicated on slavery, not emancipation from monarchic rule. But that isn’t all. The project, essentially spearheaded by non-experts and activist journalists, also argues that “plantation economics led to modern corporate, capitalist culture and how post-Civil War politicians blocked universal health care because they opposed medical treatment for recently-freed slaves.”

Are those structural changes reflective of student-driven radicalism? While it is fair to claim that campus radicalism has increased in recent years, the evidence to the claim that they are student-driven remains sparse. On the contrary, most structural changes and campus activism are led by a section of activist faculty, who in turn take advantage of students to use them as pawns or justifications to ensure a radical agenda.

Consider the evidence from just one week of news. There’s a push for banning military presence at freshers in Cambridge University, led by university bureaucrats and political union leaders; and another push to ban a centuries-old student club for failing diversity quota at Oxford. A climate action group led by faculty and activists in the United States want the Big Ten schools to divest from fossil fuels and move toward carbon neutrality. And Berkeley rejected “76 percent of qualified applicants without even considering their teaching skills, their publication history, their potential for academic excellence” for failing to adhere to university standards for a commitment to diversity.

None of those efforts are student-led. Nor are the faculty-led “open letter” campaigns and petitions—almost always started by activist-academics, who lead campus and student activism, sometimes causing de-platforming and violence.

It is unsurprising that, in the Yale and Buffalo cases, there are also top-down restructuring attempts, pushed by a section of activist media and academia, to craft a narrative without regard to students or taxpayers, an ongoing phenomenon. One of the persistent claims is that only a small minority of academics are radical and oppose free inquiry, and that there is no indoctrination in academia.  That claim, as data suggests, is debatable, but the larger problem is when these small groups are successful in restructuring the academy and the majority stays silent because it is not worth the personal risk to try to stop them.

The bigger question, therefore, is ideological. To understand the root causes behind that top-down restructuring, one needs to understand the ideological underpinnings in the academy. Since the publication of The Authoritarian Personality in 1950 by Theodore Adorno in which the Marxist and critical theorist created a scale to determine authoritarian traits among individuals, the academic left has treated genuinely conservative instincts (nationalism, trust in hierarchy, economic conservatism) as signs of fascist sympathy. Anything related to the classical Western canon was seen as suspect, be it art, architecture, or conservative Western values. That destructive idea formed the backbone of the Critical Theories influential in the 1960s and served as the foundational basis for the queer, feminist, racial, social, and gender theories that permeate Anglosphere academia. Adorno’s influence drives the 1619 Project and Yale’s cancellation of its Western art course.

Ultimately, the aim of canceling or changing those courses are subversive, divisive, and revolutionary.
Ultimately, the aim of canceling or changing those courses are subversive, divisive, and revolutionary. They’re a radical reshaping of a unifying historical narrative, a way to reshape society as early in the educational system as possible. Both actions are driven by a section of activist-academics. Both want to negate and critique Western history. Both are sharply critical of capitalism. And both want to replace the dominant historical narrative with an alternate, relativist version. Get rid of Michelangelo, Aivazovsky, and Bernini in favor of a banana taped to the wall and Santhal tribal weaving patterns.

Replacing the historical narrative would also normalize the idea that every development of ideas from representative democracy to freedom of speech, the rule of law, and private property was strictly predicated on “capital,” an ahistorical and flawed argument. That reframing isn’t new; similar projects were tried before, most recently on the grandest scale in the Soviet Union. Reframing history is fundamental to indoctrination.

To view those acts as separate, limited in scope, and unique is, of course, an insult to intelligence. At least academic leftists in charge of higher ed are honest about their intentions, compared to a section of “centrists” who pretend they are baffled by everything that’s going on around. And it is unlikely that any reform would come from within the academy.

For example, a recent open letter against transgender activism by 30 British academics drew a counter open-letter campaign by over 3,000 academics. The radical ideological conformity within the academy, which is determined to reshape the dominant narrative, combined with the bureaucratic culture, which incentivizes further radical top-down restructuring, can only be confronted by external counter pressure. But without understanding the theoretical underpinnings behind such radicalism, it would be impossible to debate or formulate any future policies.​


Fighting for Free Speech on Campus

Leftists embrace and promote a system of higher education built on anti-American ideas.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring institutions of higher learning “to promote free and open debate.” Progressives largely opposed the measure, claiming the perceived assault on free speech is exaggerated.

Tell that to a conservative gun-rights supporter who was surrounded by a left-wing mob at Ohio University earlier this week. The Washington Post reports, “Students swarmed Kaitlin Bennett and her companions in a tense encounter Monday captured in several videos … showing students yelling, flipping off the visitors and at one point throwing drinks through an open window of their truck.” Bennett’s crime? She went to campus to ask students about “Presidents’ Day.”

Campus hostility toward conservative and libertarian speakers is an ongoing problem, but it goes further. There’s a powerful culture in academia that strongly discourages students from expressing traditional views on a range of topics. This culture is reinforced by the books they’re assigned, the classes they take, the papers they write, and the policies and programs implemented by the administration.

College students today must embrace, for example, the “LGBTQ” agenda, open-borders policies, theories of systemic racism, and a certain kind of socialist “solution” to climate change. They must be open to criticizing America’s and Western civilization’s founding principles. Students who conform are embraced and engaged by their classmates and professors. Those who don’t are marked as the enemy.

“Currently, I would estimate that around a quarter of Americans not only are indifferent to free speech as a fundamental value of our society, but are determined to snuff it out as soon as they have the power to do so,” John Hinderaker writes at Power Line. “They represent, generally speaking, the activist wing of the Democratic Party.”

One insidious way that colleges and universities promote leftist ideology is through mandatory student fees.

David French, former director of Alliance Defending Freedom’s Center for Academic Freedom, writes at The Dispatch, “Vast amounts of money are channeled into specifically and intentionally ideological enterprises. Student fees prop up interest groups, and sometimes they support ideologically driven campus ‘centers’ dedicated to gender equity or LGBT equality.”

Sure, conservative and religious clubs and organizations on campus may get a few dollars here and there, but that’s merely done to make the system look unbiased. “The end result is that students are involuntarily forced to fund an enormous amount of campus activism,” French adds. “It’s a comprehensive system of compelled speech that would be shockingly unconstitutional virtually everywhere but the academy.”

Of course, the crackdown on free speech goes well beyond student fees. The effort is multi-pronged, and it’s designed to embrace and promote a system of higher education built on anti-American ideas.

Older professors are being replaced with young, leftist ideologues already programmed in the new groupthink by teacher-education programs. They set up shop in their offices, eager to regurgitate their philosophy to unsuspecting students who haven’t a clue that they’re part of a reeducation program.

The result is that conservative students engage in self-censorship, itself a powerful way for the Left to silence opposing viewpoints instead of engaging them in the marketplace of ideas. Students holding traditional views fear speaking up in class or challenging those with so-called progressive viewpoints, even when their own worldview is openly attacked. Likewise, conservative professors remain silent in faculty meetings and elsewhere.

Of course, colleges and universities have official statements affirming their commitment to free speech and open dialogue. To the uncritical eye, the spirit of the First Amendment seems to be in good hands.

Don’t be fooled. There’s no such thing as free speech in the academic world, and it should worry all of us. We only need to look to Europe to get a glimpse of what awaits us when this next generation of radicals assumes power.


Australian Public School bans parents from entering grounds

Parents have simultaneously been outraged and baffled after a school on the NSW Central Coast banned them from entering the grounds to drop off or pick up their children.

Wamberal Public School has instead set up designated family meeting areas for parents, citing security reasons for the decision.

It comes amid concerns about violent outbursts by parents at schools across the country.

The change was announced in the school’s first newsletter of the year which said meeting areas for parents would be established at both entrances.  “Parents are encouraged to use these areas to minimise disruption to teaching and learning, increase safety for students & reduce pedestrian track in congested areas,” the newsletter read.

Each morning, teachers are stationed at both gates “to supervise and care for students”.

Parents accompanying children have been “asked to not proceed into other areas of the school” and “are encouraged to say goodbye at the gate where their child can enter”.

The school said the areas were introduced following parent feedback and consultation with “the Wamberal P&C, the Department’s Health and Safety, School Safety and Security experts, and our Project Reference Group”.

Angry parents fronted a Parents and Citizens meeting on Monday to get the ban reversed, the Daily Telegraph reported.

They argued they were never consulted about the change and students have grown anxious or stressed about navigating the grounds alone.

In a more recent newsletter, school principal Paul Miller addressed the issue.  “We value and appreciate feedback from our community,” he said.

“This year we are trialling new ways to make sure the school day starts and ends smoothly. The changes take into account our school’s growth, safety, community feedback and the school’s unique physical layout.”

Parents have been encouraged to complete a survey to share their thoughts regarding the family meeting area.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mass.: Cambridge high school struggles with equal access to AP classes

They have tried all sorts of things to get black academic achievement up to white levels but nothing works.  When will they face the obvious fact that blacks on average just have lesser academic ability?  The decades of failure to close the gap is testimony to that

They also mistake cause and effect below.  They think that because blacks feel unequally treated, it must be the fault of racism.  In fact it is their lesser ability that causes blacks  to feel unequally treated.  When teachers assume that blacks will not do well they do so because that is generally true.

CAMBRIDGE - For decades, the high school in this famously diverse and progressive city has waged war on its achievement gap. Twenty years ago, officials at Cambridge Rindge and Latin tried eliminating the school’s "house” system that divided students into schools-within-schools, saying it segregated them by race; soon after, the school created heterogeneous classrooms that mixed together students with differing academic abilities. Three years ago, the school made another landmark change to stamp out racial segregation, mandating honors English and history courses for all freshmen.

But according to one key measure, none of the efforts have worked.

A Boston Globe analysis of state data found that when it comes to Advanced Placement test taking, Black students are more underrepresented in Cambridge than in any of the 13 other towns and cities bordering Boston. Last year, just 9 percent of the 433 students who took AP exams in Cambridge were Black — although Black students made up nearly 30 percent of the enrollment at the high school.

The stubborn persistence of the gap, in the face of repeated attempts to wipe it out, has contributed to recent racial tensions at the high school, where some Black students say they still feel like outsiders. And it sharply underscores the difficulty of this widespread problem: even a place as seemingly progressive and well-intentioned as Cambridge struggles mightily.

Naia Aubourg, a 2018 graduate of Rindge and Latin, said she and many of her Black classmates were funneled into lower-level courses beginning in middle school, and teachers and counselors at Rindge and Latin never explained AP to her. Now a sophomore in college, Aubourg said she had to take extra preparatory courses to catch up when she arrived on campus as a freshman. "The opportunities in high school were only there for people who knew how to access them,” she said.

It is a vexing, deeply painful problem for Cambridge, one that has long been detailed in reports and lamented at public meetings. School officials said a series of major changes in recent years should make AP classes more diverse in time. But they acknowledged that the problem has deep and complicated roots, and that there is no easy fix.

"We recognize that it’s not going to happen overnight, that it’s probably going to be a number of years . . . and there is frustration that the pace of change isn’t faster,” Superintendent Kenneth Salim said.

First created in the 1950s, Advanced Placement courses boomed in popularity in recent decades. Considered one of the most rigorous curricula in high schools, they are widely seen as critical college preparation. But Black and Latino participation has lagged, and the College Board — the New York nonprofit that oversees the program — has in recent years urged high schools to remove obstacles to enrollment and strive for AP classes that more closely resemble their student populations.

That effort remains a work in progress. Nationally, Black students are 15 percent of all public school students, but only 9 percent of AP exam takers, according to the College Board. In Massachusetts, 9 percent of students are Black, as are 6 percent of AP test takers. Latino students face a wider divide: 21 percent of all Massachusetts students, they represent only 10 percent of AP exam takers.

Even more troubling, perhaps, is the disparity in AP exam scores, state data show. In Cambridge, white students took 411 AP tests last year and 89 percent received scores of 3 or higher out of a top score of 5, which could qualify them for college credit. By contrast, of the 50 exams taken by Black students, only 48 percent received scores in the same range.

Educators, community members and students in Cambridge said several specific policies and practices have contributed to the AP gap. Those have included a lack of basic education about AP and cumbersome entrance requirements to some AP classes, such as prerequisite courses and teacher recommendations.

And then there’s the way students have been labeled and separated by their perceived abilities, a practice known as "tracking,” which, despite high-profile counter-initiatives, has flourished periodically at both the middle and high school levels in Cambridge.

Aubourg, 19, said her course was set in middle school, when many Black students were "tracked” into a path of lower expectations. Aubourg’s mother worked long, demanding hours when her daughter was in high school, and was unfamiliar with Advanced Placement. Aubourg was an upperclassman by the time she learned — via "word of mouth” — how to access the school’s menu of advanced offerings.

Elaina Wolfson, another 19-year-old graduate of Rindge, said early tracking permanently consigned too many Black and Latino students to a path that did not prepare them. "It’s so hard to push past that barrier,” she said.

Determined to improve the experience of Black students, Cambridge school officials have attacked their achievement gap anew in recent years. As part of a multiyear initiative known as "Leveling Up,” the district did away with tracking for English and social studies classes in the first two years of high school. Heterogeneous "honors for all” classes were phased in for freshmen in English two years ago, and then in social studies last year. Physics is taught in mixed-ability classrooms to all freshmen.

Next, the district tackled tracking in middle school math classes, ending its achievement-based grouping system for seventh graders last year and for eighth graders this year.

The approach also intensifies support for students: A summer "preview” class boosts confidence for nervous AP students; two new freshman guidance counselors help explain course options; and teachers use results from the PSAT - taken by sophomores and juniors - to help identify those with AP potential.

Leaders said they have tried to learn from past mistakes. Twenty years ago, when the Cambridge school district made a controversial switch to "achievement-blind” high school classes, teachers received little preparation, and struggled to teach to the wider range of skills in their classrooms. This time, Salim, the superintendent, said the school system spent a year preparing educators, re-working curriculum, and consulting outside experts before making changes. They also sent two deans to Evanston, Ill., to study the successful measures used at Evanston Township High School to bolster Black and Latino enrollment in AP.

"Historically, individual principals or administrators have had bold ideas, but they lacked the collective support of the district as a whole,” Salim wrote in an e-mail.

Yet Salim and Damon Smith, the high school’s principal, acknowledged that vestiges of the past remain, including some teachers who may still selectively steer students away from AP.

The overall percentage of AP students who are Black and Latino has not budged, three years into the school’s "leveling up” initiative. Yet there are signs that change is taking root. Two current sections of AP US history mirror the overall diversity at the high school, which is 43 percent Black and Hispanic and 38 percent white.

One afternoon last month, those AP classes were filled with attentive sophomores — the majority of them, students of color — who listened intently to a lesson spanning the Red Scare, the Ku Klux Klan, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Nearly all the students in both AP classes said they had been encouraged by a teacher to enroll. Most said that in the beginning, they felt nervous and intimidated. But all are planning on taking more AP classes.

One student, Herani Hiruy, 15, said some of her other honors classes are mostly white. Often, she said, she stays silent in those classrooms, reluctant to join in discussions because she is Black.

"You can tell that other people notice you’re the only person of color,” she said, "and you feel like you’re representing a whole group.”

Some students, teachers, and community residents said programmatic changes alone will never erase the divide. Real transformation, they said, will require a hard, unflinching look at the racism that persists at Rindge and Latin.

Two years ago, members of the high school’s Black Student Union drew public attention to the everyday presence of racism at their school, detailing their experiences in a series of gut-wrenching videos. Members of the group described slights, insults, and microaggressions from teachers who stereotyped them or doubted their potential.

In one video, a student recounted the teacher who, assuming she might be on "welfare,” told her she could get a fee waiver to take an AP exam.

The videos sparked outrage, including on the part of some teachers who felt they had no way to respond or offer context. More upheaval followed, after a white Cambridge School Committee member uttered the n-word during a 2018 visit to a high school class to discuss why the school’s computers block some racial slurs but not others.

Tensions flared again in December, when a long-awaited report on the n-word incident cast blame for it on a Black teacher — the adviser to the Black Student Union — who had invited the committee member to the class. In response, the student union demanded policy changes to address racism and inequities at the school.

Current Black Student Union members did not respond to interview requests. But Aubourg, who helped reinvigorate the dormant organization when she was a student at Rindge, said it was painful and eye-opening to see how some people reacted to Black students’ stories of mistreatment.

"Cambridge is famous for panels, meetings, conversations, and they’ve been having them for 30 years,” she said. "But it’s a sugar-coated conversation. No one wants to go [into] the nitty-gritty of what’s going on.”

Aubourg believed she and her classmates of color were seen as less capable by some educators. And some students internalized that bias.

Rachel Williams-Giordano, an AP US history teacher at the high school, said she has encountered some Black students who fear ridicule for seeking more challenging coursework.

"It’s not that the classes are too hard,’’ said Williams-Giordano, who is Black. "It’s that it’s not socially accepted among some of the students of color . . . It’s like, 'You’re trying to be white’ or 'You’re nerdy.’ ‘’

Caroline Hunter, a former teacher and administrator who worked at Rindge and Latin for 34 years, was a member of the "Concerned Black Staff” who produced a 1980s report exposing a racial divide in student achievement. She is stunned that the same problems persist today.

"The question,” she said, "is why is Cambridge still dealing with this tale of two cities?’’


Parents Ask Court to Stop Schools From Helping Children Make Gender Transitions

A group of Wisconsin parents is asking a state court to halt a public school district’s policy that they say instructs teachers to assist and encourage children in adopting transgender identities without notifying—and possibly while deceiving—parents.

The lawsuit is being brought by 14 parents, representing eight families, who allege the Madison Metropolitan School District’s policy violates constitutionally protected parental rights.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, includes an affidavit from Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, in which he asserts that gender transitions for minors expose vulnerable children to dangerous, lifelong physical, social, and mental health risks.

“For a child to live radically different identities at home and at school, and to conceal what he or she perceives to be his or her true identity from parents, is psychologically unhealthy in itself, and could readily lead to additional psychological problems,” Levine writes in the affidavit. “Extended secrecy and a ‘double life’ concealed from the parents is rarely the path to psychological health. For this reason at least, schools should not support deceit of parents.”

Levine’s affidavit continues:

 Most children are both legally and developmentally incapable of giving informed consent to such a life-altering intervention. And parents, of course, cannot give informed consent if the fact of their child’s wish to assume a transgender identity is concealed from them.

The 14 parents are represented by lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, both nonprofit, public interest legal organizations.

“This is a life-altering decision that educators have no business making,” Roger Brooks, ADF senior counsel, said. “As Dr. Levine explains based on decades of experience and extensive scientific literature, putting children on a pathway to puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones can have devastating effects across a lifetime. That should serve as a wake-up call to parents and all Americans: When schools cast aside biological reality in favor of gender-identity ideology, it’s children who are hurt the most.”

The legal motion formally requests the court to impose a temporary injunction against the school district’s policy.

The school district hadn’t been served with the lawsuit as of late Wednesday, said Tim LeMonds, public information officer for Madison Metropolitan School District. LeMonds said the district wouldn’t comment without reviewing the claims.

The school district “prioritizes working in collaboration with families to support our students and it is always our preferred method of support,” LeMonds said in a formal statement, adding:

MMSD must also prioritize the safety and well-being of every individual student who walks through its doors each day. It is with this focus [that] the district stands by its guidance document on transgender and non-binary students, and recognizes its tremendous responsibility to uphold the right of every child to be educated in a safe, all-inclusive, and nondiscriminatory learning environment.

The lawsuit calls for school officials to be transparent and honest when dealing with parents, and to meet standards of informed consent.

The 50-page affidavit from Levine says that multiple studies show that among children who experience gender dysphoria or transgender identification but do not socially transition, 80% to 98% “desisted,” or became comfortable with their biological sex, by young adulthood, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.

The affidavit also says that among boys “who engaged in a partial or complete social transition before puberty,” according to other data, fewer than 20% had desisted when surveyed at age 15 or older.

“It is profoundly unethical to reinforce a male child in his belief that he is not a boy (or a female child in her belief that she is not a girl), and it is particularly unethical to intervene in the normal physical development of a child to ‘affirm’ a ‘gender identity’ that is at odds with bodily sex,” Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email, adding:

To do any of this without parental involvement not only harms children but violates parental authority. Childhood and adolescence are difficult enough as it is. Adults should not corrupt the social ecology in which children develop a mature understanding of themselves as boys or girls on the pathway to becoming men or women.


Campus Food Insecurity Matters

Food insecurity among American college students is a significant problem. While outdated stereotypes of higher education presume that undergraduates live on campus, receive stipends from their parents, and gorge themselves in campus dining halls, the facts suggest the opposite.

Only 15.6 percent of today’s students reside on a college campus, at least half receive little or no financial support from their parents when it comes to paying for college, many work several jobs (in addition to studying full time), and few can afford to purchase meal plans that cover the standard 21 meals a week. Instead, most of today’s students face sizable unmet financial need that dwarfs their available resources and contributes to a shortage of funds for basic necessities, including food and even housing.

The new economics of college are well-documented, if not yet fully understood. Rising tuition and a failing financial aid system, a labor market characterized by high employment rates but low wages, and a volatile economy that stresses the shrinking middle-class—these are but some of the major problems. As colleges and universities face growing financial pressures from state budget cuts and fierce competition, they turn to food service to make a profit, raising prices on already-strapped students.

Food insecurity among college students is a problem that Americans have overlooked and ignored for a long time. This fact, plus a culturally held belief and norm that ramen is a college rite of passage, make it difficult for some to understand college food insecurity. But the data are clear. When the questions are asked of today’s students, the results strongly indicate that they have difficulty purchasing adequate food for balanced meals—the definition of food insecurity according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Research teams from multiple fields (including but not limited to sociology, economics, public health, nutrition, and social work) have assessed campus food insecurity at more than 500 colleges and universities around the country, including the University of California, California State University, City University of New York, the community colleges of California, Maricopa (AZ), Dallas, Chicago, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington, and many more.   Taken as a whole, the research strongly suggests that food insecurity impacts at least one in three undergraduate college students. Moreover, this research has been published in both peer-reviewed journal articles, including two systematic reviews, and publicly vetted and widely distributed online reports, including a recent one covering more than 330,000 students at more than 400 colleges.

Evidence also shows that when college students experience food insecurity their health also takes a toll. Food insecurity among college students is related to higher weight status/BMI despite the notion that skipping meals results in weight loss. This is because when students skip meals to cope with not having the money to afford food, they compensate by choosing inexpensive calorie-dense foods, which contributes to weight gain. Other factors that take a toll are overall health, mental health and stress, and academic performance.

Students who are food insecure are overwhelmingly working, and working extensively, but are far less able to concentrate on their education and perform well in school. We know this both from quantitative studies and from interviews, across all levels of schooling.

Importantly, rates of food insecurity appear to be much higher among college students compared to the general population—and this makes sense because the new economics of college put students in double jeopardy. They have less time to work, and less access to work, compared to other low-income people. They face more expenses, often having to put their limited resources toward housing instead of food. And while college students are eligible for financial aid, they are far less eligible for other supports including SNAP and subsidized housing.

It is efficient and effective to take campus food insecurity seriously.
Some people assume that financial aid makes up for all of that. But the purchasing power of financial aid has declined precipitously; it hardly offsets the consequences of the systemic exclusion of students for other income supports. Students who cannot complete the financial aid application do not get that support. This includes students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or who are DREAMers, those who are unable to obtain the required information from their parents, and those who have fled domestic violence situations without all of their paperwork.

The financial aid formula also makes mistakes or treats students differently based on their parents’ age and time to retirement. Students who are considered dependent on their parents are assumed to benefit from financial support that they may not actually receive—leaving them without financial aid or other help. For example, many LGBTQ+ students become food insecure because it is wrongly assumed that they are supported by parents from whom they are estranged.

There are many academic, financial, and health reasons to address campus food insecurity. There is nothing to gain on both ends when a student sleeps through class due to insufficient nutrition. Grades suffer when a student thinks more about how they will get their next meal rather than focusing on academics, and when this happens, no one profits. A small investment in a campus-based meal program could boost grades and allow students to maintain their financial support. It is efficient and effective to take campus food insecurity seriously.

We recommend beginning by expanding students’ utilization of the SNAP program. The GAO’s recent report confirmed that college student eligibility for SNAP far outstrips take-up at this point, and that is money left on the table that could be used to boost college attainment. Colleges should revisit their business models for campus dining services and ensure they do not put profit over retention. If government subsidies prove an efficient way to lower campus meal prices, then an expansion of the National School Lunch Program to higher education may make economic sense. The recent passage of hunger-free campus legislation by several states, along with several pending bills in Congress, allows for evaluation of that possibility.

Addressing campus food insecurity does not turn colleges into social services agencies; rather, it makes them more effective at their job—education. Addressing food insecurity does not make students dependent on the government; rather, it increases the odds that they will achieve financial independence.  That should be a goal we can all agree on.