Friday, June 12, 2020

The Looming School Reopening Nightmare

Kids who don’t like going to school in California – and there are plenty of them – are going to be absolutely miserable when schools reopen in 3 or so months. According to Governor Gavin Newsom’s just released general guidelines, students will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken upon entering the school, then sit in classrooms where desks will be spaced six feet apart. Lunch offers no respite, as kids will be forced to eat in the classroom. (Interestingly, no mention was made as to how to eat or drink with a mask covering one’s mouth.) More specific guidance will be released by the state shortly.

The Los Angeles County guidelines, also released last week, contain other restrictions, including one-way hallways, 16 kids maximum in a class, and a staggered school day which would include at-home learning, with students coming to school in shifts. To give the kiddos a break, they will each be given a ball which they can play with at recess…by themselves. Congregating on an athletic field is most definitely a no-no.

It’s worth noting that while the state and county have issued guidelines, it is up to the individual school district which, if any, to adopt. As such, the California Teachers Association is prepping for war. As Mike Antonucci notes, any school district modifications will only happen via collective bargaining with the local teachers union.

It would be best for all concerned to shun the guidelines. Can you imagine a group of squirrely kindergartners actually wearing masks for several hours, sitting meekly in a classroom six feet apart, day-in and day-out? A few may adapt, but for many it will be traumatic. In fact, it is abusive and totally unnecessary. According to CDC data, as of May 28th, there have been 11 deaths of 5-14 year-olds due to Covid-19. Light stuff compared the number of children who die in traffic deaths. In 2017, 675 children 12 years old and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and nearly 116,000 were injured. Other than wearing a seat belt, there have been no proposed draconian guidelines to keep children safe.

Also, per the Wall Street Journal, “The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity projects that children under 15 are 6.83 to 20.07 times more likely to die of the flu or pneumonia than coronavirus—assuming 150,000 Covid-19 fatalities in the U.S. this year—and 128 times more likely to die of an accident.”

Additionally, between 2007 and 2017 the suicide rate for 10-14 year-olds nearly tripled, according to the CDC. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College, finds that suicides are related to the school calendar, especially for boys, who kill themselves 95 percent more during the school year than in the summer. Gray suggests that increased stress over school is the cause. With all the new mandates – masks, social distancing, no play – what little joy there was in institutional schooling will evaporate. As such, the suicide rate will most likely increase.

The good news is that many families have discovered the joy of spending more time together. Seagal Hagege, a mother of three in Irvine, said her kids, ages 8, 7 and 4, “have become better behaved, kinder to one another and more independent” since the quarantine began. She’s hardly an outlier. A Real Clear Opinion Research poll showed that 40 percent of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school after experiencing the lockdown. Also, an EdChoice survey found that 52 percent of parents have a more favorable opinion of homeschooling since their child’s school was shuttered.

While homeschooling is probably the best scenario, if kids are to go to a public school, they should be able to do so with a minimum of restrictions. The prevalence of child-to-adult transmission is debatable, but either way, young and otherwise healthy teachers should have no fear. Older teachers and those with certain pulmonary conditions may need to go on leave, retire, or work with students digitally. What we need to do is constantly track data, and use a scalpel to tweak policy when necessary. The current sledgehammer method is harmful to all stakeholders. But then again, if the heavy-handed state and county mandates are convincing more parents to homeschool, maybe the education establishment should keep on pounding away.


UK: 'ABSOLUTE TRAGEDY' Ex chief inspector of schools criticizes  ministers for failing kids – and says some could have to repeat a YEAR

ENGLAND'S former chief inspector of schools has blasted the Government's approach to schools and education as an "absolute tragedy".

Sir Michael Wilshaw lashed out at ministers for failing kids who desperately need to return to school or face missing months of education which could set them back years.

Parents and politicians have hit out after the Government announced not all primary school kids would go into class until September

It came after the Government said yesterday that kids wouldn't go in for a month of school before the summer, but that zoos and theme parks would be able to open.

Sir Michael told Good Morning Britain: "I think it's a mess, and it's a shambles. "What's happened over the last few weeks and months has been an absolute tragedy.

"And it's been a tragedy for those youngsters who need school, need the structure of school, need the routine of school, need teachers who will be working with them, to support them when they get very little support at home."

He said: "I just don't know how we've made such a mess of it, because headteachers, and I know lots of headteachers, will have been saying to the Department for Education, you've got this wrong.

"If you're going to insist on social distancing and a maximum of 15 in a class we will need double the amount of space, we will need double the amount of teachers and we've got to make sure we have that. "There hasn't been a plan up until now."

Ministers haven't yet come up with an answer of how to get more kids in the classrooms but still sticking to social distancing rules.

It came as:

Furious parents lashed out as theme parks and zoos are set to open but schools may be shut until September

Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield has now accused ministers of "furloughing childhood", while parents lined up to voice their anger at the plans

A top MP warned 700,000 disadvantaged kids are NOT doing home work and don’t have access to computers

New figures revealed pupils are more likely to be hit by lightning than die of coronavirus

Sir Michael told the BBC's Radio 4 today that summer catch up classes were vital to make sure kids wouldn't lose out - and urged the Department for Education to look at providing extra cash.

"Schools will have to put into place recovery programmes," he said. "Youngsters will have missed out on a whole terms education."

He said it was "extraordinary" that the Government had made an announcement for all kids to go back for a month without figuring out how it was going to work. "It smacks of poor organisation," he said.

"The Government needs to get its act together on this one - learn from the mistakes that have already been made, and make sure there is adequate planning for September."

He said that Government should be seriously looking at whether to ask kids to repeat a year.

"They have one chance of a good education," he stressed. "They deserve the same sort of provision and quality that others have received in previous year groups."

Today the Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the Government was making “good progress” on schools. He said:  "I personally think every day our children are not at school is a tragedy.

"It's obviously going to have an impact on their futures.  "That's why I'm so glad that as part of our measured and deliberate plan, we were able to reopen schools on 1 June for a number of pupils, especially our youngest children.

"We can't do it all in one go, we have to take careful and measured and deliberate steps to do it, but that's what we're doing.


Chinese international students defend Australia as a 'safe' educational destination

Chinese international students have defended Australia as a "safe" destination for study, despite a travel warning issued by the Chinese Government urging students to reconsider.

In a statement published on Tuesday, China's Ministry of Education cited both the risk of COVID-19 and "racist incidents targeting Asians" in Australia.

Anti-discrimination groups have reported a rise in anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, and media outlets, including the ABC, have covered cases where people of Asian appearance were targeted due to the coronavirus.

Chinese international student Mr Zheng, who did not want his first name used, told the ABC that Chinese people in Australia — including international students and Chinese-Australians — were having a hard time as the diplomatic tension between China and Australia escalated.

The 28-year-old, who is studying a masters degree in biomedicine at the University of Adelaide, said he felt safe in Australia over the last four years, and felt the warning was more of a Canberra-Beijing spat than a genuine concern for the safety of millions of students in China.

"The first warning [over the weekend] for travellers was not even necessary, and this one for students has gone too far," Mr Zheng said. "It's not even truly protecting its citizens, but a political debate in the guise of addressing racism."

Mr Zheng said he believed students in China should continue to be entitled to choose their destination to study abroad, and told the ABC that he still recommended Australia as a good place for interested Chinese students.

"I hope Chinese students who had an intention to study overseas would make their decisions based on their own career and life-planning," he said. "I hope they won't prioritise the authorities' warning for where they are going."

One of Mr Zheng's friends, 28-year-old Chinese student Primo Pan, who is currently studying a PhD in the University of Adelaide, told the ABC the warning was "over the top", even though he had been subject to racism a few times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There was an increase in racism targeting Chinese people in Australia, but it’s still a safe place where your personal security is not threatened," Mr Pan said.

"Ordinary Chinese people are caught up in the crossfire between Australia and China." 'I don't believe this allegation has any sort of solid ground'

"Finally education needs to give way to politics," Weibo user Zhenningyue said.

"The political sense is way more meaningful than the actually scenario. I live in Australia and I feel very well," another Weibo user said.

But Dr He-Ling Shi, an associate professor in economics at Monash University, told the ABC Beijing's allegation was unfair.

"I don't believe this allegation has any sort of solid ground. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Australian universities have taken various measures and tried to help overseas students ... and also facilitated their studies in Australia," he said.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Minister cancels collection of key literacy and numeracy figures in Scotland's schools

John Swinney has cancelled the collection of key figures this year showing whether school pupils are meeting the expected benchmarks for reading, writing and numeracy.

The Deputy First Minister wrote to directors of education at Scotland's 32 local authorities stating he had decided to suspend gathering the information during the pandemic.

He argued he could not be sure the figures would be "comparable with previous years" and trying to assess pupils would "add considerably to the other pressures on school and education staff."

The Education Minister expressed confidence that "teachers will continue to assess the progress that children and young people are making whilst learning at home, and report that progress back to parents."

But the Scottish Tories said there was "no justification" for suspending the monitoring of educational attainment for the entire year, especially as children are not at school.

His decision came amid mounting concern that the closure of schools, which will not partially reopen until August 11, will further widen the huge attainment gap between pupils from wealthy and deprived areas.

Experts have warned of a postcode lottery in the help children and parents are receiving from schools during lockdown, with some councils refusing to consider online teaching over security issues.

The Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels (ACEL) figures are usually key in assessing pupils' performance and whether the Scottish Government is meeting their target of closing the attainment gap.

The statistics, based on teacher judgment, report on the percentage of school pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 who have achieved the expected CfE level for their stage. They cover reading, writing, listening and talking and numeracy.

According to the most recent report, published in December, four out of 10 pupils from Scotland's poorest areas are leaving primary school without achieving expected literacy levels.

Mr Swinney has previously been accused of "political expediency" after blaming coronavirus for delaying an independent review of the Scottish education system until after next May's Holyrood election.

In his letter, the Education Minister said he has been considering whether the collection of ACEL data for 2019/20 should go ahead but he wanted to "minimise any additional work that might be required at a time when resources are stretched."

He said it would be impossible to gather the figures "in the normal way" while schools are closed and his officials had discussed alternatives with council education directors and teaching unions.

"The consensus was that, no matter which approach is taken to collecting the data, it would add considerably to the other pressures on school and education authority staff, and we cannot be sure that it will be comparable with previous years," he said. 

"I have concluded, therefore, that there is no strong rationale for gathering the ACEL data under the current circumstances and have decided to suspend the data collection for this year."

Mr Swinney said it was "important" that schools continue to gather evidence of pupils' progress but he did not specify how this would be done.

But Jamie Greene, the Scottish Tories' Shadow Education Secretary, said: "Parents are extremely anxious about the educational experience their children are receiving at home.  “This makes it even more important for us to monitor progress to ensure that children are not being left behind.”

In a second letter to education directors, Graeme Logan, the Scottish Government's director of learning, reduced the requirements for planning and reporting related to the National Improvement Framework.

He said recovery planning for the 2020/21 academic year should focus on how to reopen safely and they should examine what they intend to do to "remedy any impact that there has been around the widening of inequalities of outcome experienced by children and young people."

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland union, said: "“This is helpful guidance from the Scottish Government, indicating a practical approach in light of the substantial pressures being placed on schools during the COVID-19 crisis."


UK: The case for school exams

If we permanently scrap A-level and GCSE exams, we lose a vital rite of passage.

Many teachers, not to mention assorted pundits, argue that UK schools ‘cannot go back to how they once were’.

The lockdown, and the resulting suspension of the curriculum, has supposedly provided an opportunity for ‘a drastic overhaul’ of education in England and Wales (as if there haven’t been enough changes already over the past 20 years). For some, the decision by England’s exam regulator Ofqual to cancel public exams this year, and replace them with teachers’ predictions, shows that an education system could be based on ‘emotional and social development, not constant invigilation’.

It seems the longer schools remain shut, the louder advocates of anti-academic proposals become. Columnist and anti-exams obsessive Simon Jenkins argues that the digital age makes the school-hall exam appear like a ‘medieval ritual.’ He asks, if exams can be scrapped so quickly and easily during the pandemic, why not scrap them permanently?

Admittedly, there are many problems with a system, obsessed with exam-driven league tables, that overly prioritises teaching to the test. It ends up prioritising technique and memory over a passion for learning for its own sake. Indeed, there’s few things more soul-destroying for teachers and students than lessons on ‘exam technique’, and guidelines for an ‘A’ grade. Even the education inspectorate Ofsted now recognises that schools should not be reduced to ‘exams factories’, and should instead offer a curriculum that advances non-instrumental knowledge.

Nevertheless, an effective way to ensure that students have internalised invaluable academic skills, from logical argumentation to scientific methods, is through examinations.

Moreover, exams can play a vital role in equipping teenagers with adult norms. They teach the young the importance of self-discipline, deferred gratification and overcoming a major challenge. And during the exam period, year groups (and their teachers) tend to bond through their shared determination to outfox examination boards. Exams are taken individually, but often prepared for socially.

Unfortunately, exams are now being recast as a major cause of mental-health problems. Admittedly, some students find written exams very difficult to deal with. This is why coursework-based qualifications exist as an alternative to A-levels. But does this mean that every student should be protected from sitting exams? A significant number of students relish the challenge of exams. That’s why there was so much disappointment among many students following the cancellation of this year’s A-levels and GCSEs. They felt deprived of a potential sense of accomplishment and achievement.

For too many educationalists, however, the pleasure some students take in exams is yet another reason to call for their abolition. They argue that the success of some comes at the expense of others, whose results are thus regarded as mediocre or worse. There has even been an attempt to reframe ‘exam results’ as an instance of ‘education inequality’. And the best way to avoid damaging teenagers’ self-esteem stemming from ‘education inequality’ is to scrap its source — namely, exams.

The alternative proposals to an exams-based education leave a lot to be desired. One suggestion is that education should be focused on ‘ending child poverty’. Another idea is to concentrate on developing children’s social and emotional wellbeing – as if there isn’t enough of this guff in schools already. Quite where learning and knowledge feature in this brave new world of schooling is anyone’s guess.

The educational radicals hostile to exams seem unaware that, in the past, such qualifications were actually demanded by working-class parents. They wanted a universal benchmark to prove that their children were as academically able as those from wealthier backgrounds. Of course, children from wealthier backgrounds would still have considerable advantages. But this motivated ambitious working-class children to work even harder.

The problem today is that education reformers either refuse to acknowledge that teenagers possess agency, or, if they do acknowledge it, they are suspicious of it. Instead, they prefer to see children as damaged goods in need of emotional (and nutritional) support. State education once encouraged young people to develop agency and personal responsibility. Today’s regressive proposals would encourage them to embrace state mollycoddling.

This supposedly radical agenda for education is underpinned by a miserable assumption: that young people no longer have the capacity to make their own way in the world. Quite simply, these would-be educators need their heads examining.


Five Australian universities crack the top 50 on list of the world's best places to get a tertiary education

Five Australian campuses have made a list of the top 50 universities in the world. The QS World University Rankings has published its annual list of the top tertiary institutions across the globe for 2020. 

The top place to get a higher education in Australia, according to the list, is the Australian National University in Canberra.

The university tied at number 29 with the Universirty of Toronto in Canada - with the two finishing just behind the University of California, Berkeley at number 28.

The number one place internationally to earn a degree is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, popularly known as MIT.

Stanford University and Harvard University rounded out a clean sweep of the top three places by the United States.

Oxford University was the highest ranking English institution, with the famous college town at number four.

The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, was number five. 

Researchers said the majority of American universities had been slipping in the individual ranking indicator scores, while Australian scores had been improving.

They said this was largely because Australia was earning a reputation as a quality destination for international students.

Other local universities to make the top 50 included the University of Melbourne jumping several places from the previous year to number 38.

The University of Sydney reached number 42 while the University of New South Wales followed at number 43. 

The University of Queensland was Australia's only other top 50 entry at number 47.

The list, which ranks 1,000 universities in total, uses six performance indicators.

Academic reputation, is the major indicator, which was scored using the survey  responses of 94,000 individuals in the higher education space about the quality of work done at each institution.

Employer reputation was also scored by questioning nearly 45,000 employers.

Citations per faculty was also included - measuring how many times other academics referenced a university's work in research papers.

International student ratio was measured as an indicator of global awareness and brand reputation, which is a strong point of Australian institutions.

And lastly, faculty staff to student ratio  numbers were included as a measure of teaching quality, with Australian universities slipping in this category since the 2019 rankings.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Case for Reopening College Campuses

Higher education media has gone “all in” for keeping college campuses closed this fall, with articles like “The Case Against Reopening” in The Chronicle of Higher Education and “Colleges Are Deluding Themselves” in The Atlantic, just to mention a few.

Their basic premise: Reopening would be irresponsible because many students, faculty, and staff will get sick, some will die, and it will be our fault. The author of “The Case Against Reopening,” Stan Yoshinobu, asserts that there can be “only one right decision,” which of course is the one he advocates.

Attempts to portray those of us who favor reopening as insensitive, uncaring, or mercenary are uncivil and unjust. We, too, are concerned about students and others on campus, not just in the short term but also over the long haul. We believe the health—nay, the very survival—of our campuses is vital to the long-term health and well-being of all concerned.

With all due respect to Professor Yoshinobu, there is another possible answer—one I believe is better supported by the evidence. Here are four good reasons campuses should reopen in the fall.

Demographics. When coronavirus first began making headlines in March, it was indeed scary. We didn’t know much about it—whom it might affect, or how. For that reason, it was prudent to close campuses for the remainder of the semester.

Since then, the virus has been studied extensively. We have seen enough cases, and gathered enough data, to reach some reasonable conclusions. And one of the main things we’ve learned is that otherwise healthy young people are at very low risk. Italy’s National Institute of Health reports that, despite the country’s horrific, panic-inducing outbreak, only 16 people under 30 died of COVID-19.

In the United States, as of May 9, the CDC had recorded 78 deaths in the 0-24 age bracket. With nearly 43 million people between the ages of 15 and 25, that means the chances of someone in that demographic dying of COVID-19 are less than .000002, or one in 500,000.

I realize not everyone on a college campus is “college age.” But even in the 0-34 age bracket, which incorporates the vast majority of campus denizens, there have been only 499 total deaths nationwide, out of a population of 150 million.

Acknowledging that coronavirus poses little danger to the young and healthy, 22 European nations have reopened their schools and several are in the process of reopening universities. So far, according to a report by The Guardian, none of those countries has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. There’s no reason we can’t follow the same strategy and expect similar results.

Coronavirus bias. For whatever reason—fear of the unknown, media hype, political gamesmanship—our response to the coronavirus seems disproportionate. To illustrate, let’s examine other dangers college students face.

According to the CDC, accidents are the No. 1 cause of death among college-age individuals in the U.S., leading to about 12,500 deaths per year. Suicides and homicides account for another 5,500 and 4,800 deaths, respectively. Between 40,000 and 50,000 Americans die every year from opioid overdoses, most of them young. Indeed, prescription opioids are the second-most abused drug on college campuses, behind marijuana (and not counting alcohol), with one in four students admitting to their use.

Speaking of alcohol, the CDC estimates that about 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related causes, mostly drinking and driving. Thirty-five students a year succumb to alcohol poisoning.

“But those things are different,” some say. “They’re not infectious diseases.” Okay. How about flu and pneumonia? Those two respiratory infections together constitute the 9th-leading cause of death among individuals in the 15-24 age bracket. COVID-19 wouldn’t make the top 15.

Beyond that, the “those things are different” argument misses the point. The fact is, we know going into a new school year that a number of our students will be killed driving to and from campus. We know too many will commit suicide or become victims of deadly assaults (to say nothing of less-deadly assaults, including sexual assault). We know some will experiment, many for the first time, with powerful drugs—and for some, it will be their last time. We know many students drink too much, and some will die because of it. We know some will succumb to infectious diseases, like flu and pneumonia.

We do everything we can to mitigate the dangers—short of shutting down our campuses. That’s because we recognize those perils as the price of doing business—serving our students and communities. Why would we respond differently to COVID-19, when the data clearly indicate that it is less harmful to young people than many other risks deemed acceptable?

Herd immunity. People scoff at the notion of herd immunity, but its effectiveness has long been acknowledged by epidemiologists and immunologists. Basically, “herd immunity” means that enough people have contracted the virus (whether symptomatic or not) and developed antibodies that the disease begins to die out. That is what has, for millennia, kept the human race from dying off every time a new virus comes along.

A number of medical experts have pointed out that isolating ourselves not only keeps us from developing immunity to this virus, but might cause us to lose our immunity to other viruses. Our immune systems are designed to encounter potential pathogens so they can learn how to overcome them. As Dr. Dan Erickson puts it, “Sheltering in place decreases your immune system. And then as we all come out…with a lower immune system and start trading viruses, bacteria—what do you think is going to happen? Disease is going to spike.”

Bringing students back to campus will allow them to develop herd immunity to coronavirus much faster while also allowing them to maintain their immunity to other pathogens that are potentially just as dangerous.

Many argue that we cannot allow students to return to campus until we have a vaccine. But that might not be for another year or more, and as Dr. Anthony Fauci has noted, a vaccine might not be highly effective. The other possibility is to lock ourselves in our homes indefinitely.

Even that wouldn’t help, in the long run. As Dr. Artin Massihi explains in the article above, “There’s two ways to get rid of a virus: either it burns itself out or herd immunity…Viruses kill people, end of story. The flu kills people. COVID kills people. But for the rest of us, we develop herd immunity. We develop the ability to take this virus in and defeat it, the vast majority of us.”

Extinction avoidance. The last reason to reopen our campuses is that if we don’t, many will cease to exist. Some may go under, anyway, but others can be saved if they have enough enrollment this fall. Failing that, it will just be a matter of time before they close their doors permanently.

Those who attempt to frame this as a cynical “lives versus money” debate again miss the point. This isn’t about colleges making money; it’s about their survival. And the ones that will suffer the most are those that serve the most marginalized students, including small rural colleges, regional universities, and HBCUs. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, observes that for many schools like his, “not reopening the campus this fall amounts to an institutional death sentence.”

Those who think we can simply hold all our classes online again this fall are deluding themselves. Students tolerated that in the spring because they had to. But study after study shows that a clear majority favor returning to campus; short of that, many do not intend to return at all. Can our campuses survive that intact? Can our higher education system? Can our students?

Probably not. Recently, 600 doctors, representing “thousands of physicians in all specialties and from all states,” wrote a letter to President Trump in which they expressed “alarm over the exponentially growing negative health consequences of the national shutdown.” Among other long-term health issues, the letter addressed that of campus closures: “Keeping schools and universities closed is incalculably detrimental for children, teenagers, and young adults for decades to come.”

If this were a clear-cut choice between life and death, then there would be no question. But the choice is not clear-cut. Given what we know, we are unlikely to see large numbers of students, faculty, or staff die from COVID-19, especially if we take common-sense precautions like reducing the size of our lecture sections and expanding online offerings and work-at-home options for those at higher risk. Any benefits of keeping campuses closed will be far outweighed over time by the negative consequences of that decision.

College leaders should adopt the approach that countries like Sweden have taken: Protect the most vulnerable while allowing everyone else to get back to living.


Student Lawsuits and De Facto Refunds

Students from about 100 universities brought class-action lawsuits against colleges that have refused to give tuition refunds after COVID-19 shut down campuses. So far, the only aid students have received has come through the federal CARES Act.

Those universities facing lawsuits include large, nationally known schools such as Drexel University, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado. Anastopoulo Law Firm in South Carolina has carved out a niche for students looking to file a lawsuit. It advertises their services by asking, “Are you a college student who was forced to leave campus? You may be entitled to compensation.” Students feel exploited by colleges (and potentially law firms encouraging class-action lawsuits), so they fight for refunds as they tolerate online classes.

As mentioned in a previous article, the quality of online classes is quite different than in-person classes with daily interaction. The lawsuits claim that online classes are not worth the tuition students pay for on-campus classes. The quality is lower, so they want discounted tuition. Some students also feel other financial pressures, such as paying rent even if they aren’t on campus. With many of them losing their jobs, a tuition discount could help them out of a financial hole. No wonder that so many class-action lawsuits have been filed.

Though colleges have not been quick to embrace tuition discounts, they do have federal funding to give students emergency grants.

As a student at North Carolina State University, I had the opportunity to apply for money through the CARES Act. The Act includes emergency funding to support students affected by campus disruptions. If a student meets financial aid eligibility, they can get assistance. However, the funds aren’t enough to help all students. In its required public disclosure, as of May 12, NC State has given almost $6.2 million to 3,435 students. Students can receive up to $3,000 in aid, but the university has not released the average aid amount awarded. Assuming the aid is divided equally, each student would have received $1,804.

NC State estimates, however, that 20,651 of its students are eligible for funds. If all students received a check, they would get $433. The university doesn’t appear to expect all qualified students to request aid. For the students who do receive CARES Act aid, they have a de facto tuition discount. That aid, however, doesn’t come close to how much all students could receive if colleges lose the class-action suits and must give refunds.


Governments challenged to shake up Australia's  'Byzantine' vocational education system

A shake-up of the prices of vocational education courses, abolishing unnecessary regulators, expanding access to student loans, introducing government-funded vouchers for training and simplifying subsidies are among proposals floated by a Productivity Commission report.

In the interim report to be released on Friday, the commission calls on state and federal governments to fix the vocational education and training sector, which it says is "underperforming, excessively complicated and suffers from ad hoc policy approaches".

The findings support Prime Minister Scott Morrison's push for an overhaul of the national skills and workforce agreement, which governs federal, state and territory support for the training sector – viewed as a critical element of the country's economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The report found the current "Byzantine" approach was overdue for replacement and the total $6.1 billion spent by governments could be used more effectively. It found providers needed to be more responsive to the needs of students and employers.

Commissioner Jonathan Coppel said some of the options being put forward in the report were "pretty radical" and intended to provoke discussion about improvements needed in the system.

"The way in which we fund access to training can be done in a way where you get a bigger bang for your buck," Mr Coppel said.

A key issue highlighted by the report was the disconnect between accessible higher education loans that have fuelled university enrolments and the "extremely restrictive" loans scheme for vocational education.

Mr Coppel acknowledged the widespread rorting that arose under the previous VET FEE-HELP loans scheme, which damaged the reputation of the sector, but said that was a "symptom of poor policy" and an expansion of loans should be accompanied by better regulation.

"We would envisage further safeguards and integrity measures if those options were to be the ones that get embraced," he said.

The commission's review also highlighted significant variations in government subsidies provided in different states and territories. It noted the subsidies for one popular course, the certificate 3 in individual support used in the aged care or disability care sectors, varied by up to $3700 across the country.

A total of 13 new fee short courses are now available online to assist anyone across the State who wants to upskill and prepare for the workforce post-pandemic.

It suggested a number of ways to phase out the complexity, including a common and more transparent method for devising costs and simplifying rates across different courses.

One provocative option put forward by the commission was a shift away from government subsidies towards the introduction of vouchers for students, in a bid to support their choice and make providers more responsive.

There are about 4.1 million Australians in the vocational education system, with about 30 per cent of training hours offered by TAFEs and 60 per cent by private providers.


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill Creates Commission to Battle ‘Invisible Racism’

To say that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has experienced racial tensions in the last few years would be an understatement. The most visible source of conflict has been the fate of the infamous—and illegally toppled —Confederate statue, Silent Sam. But even after the statue’s demise, activists at Chapel Hill insist that their work to root out racism from the university has just begun.

Activists do not believe UNC’s relationship with racism is only in the past. It is just as present today, only now it is largely “invisible” and “systemic” in the university’s curriculum, policies, and in the attitudes of students, faculty, and staff. The need for an all-encompassing struggle with this invisible racism, in their view, calls for an all-encompassing re-ordering of UNC.

And the university’s new chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, has made it part of his mission to validate activists’ evident contempt for the university by obliging their demands.

Within the first few weeks of becoming chancellor, Guskiewicz had already drafted initiatives that would further activists’ grievances against the university. However, as much as Guskiewicz may have convinced himself that such efforts will contribute to the university’s goal of education and the “improvement of the human condition,” it is much more likely to engender deeper resentment among those whom he aims to appease.

The first effort, implemented last fall, is the “Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University Initiative,” which consisted of a series of courses students could take to explore the history of race at UNC. Some course titles include:

The second effort, launched in January, is a 15-person “commission” entitled “History, Race, and a Way Forward.” The commission, co-chaired by history professor James Leloudis and communications department chair Patricia Parker, will focus on three general areas: 1) archives, history, research and curation; 2) curriculum development and teaching; and 3) engagement, ethics and reckoning.

The commission will last for several years, with no defined end-date. But once it does reach an end, the commission will release a report with recommendations on how UNC-Chapel Hill can be a place of “inclusive excellence.”

During the commission’s first meeting on February 7, Guskiewicz opened the meeting by stating: “This is a historic day. We’re taking on something that I think is bold. I think [the commission] will be one of the most important initiatives on our campus over the next several years.”

Guskiewicz continued: “We know that some of the injustice, racism that has been part of our history is out there—we know it. There is a lot more that we have not yet understood.” He said that he believes the commission’s work will “allow the university to heal. That’s why I’m here today: to confront some of the hard truths of our history; give a voice to the long silence.” Failing to point to any concrete examples of the racism that is “out there” on campus, Guskiewicz then left the commission members to their work.

So far, commission members have met several times. For the most part, the discussions have been filled with pious—but vapid—rhetoric about the importance of the “conversation” they were embarking upon and the “questions” they were raising. But in between the hollow platitudes was an abundance of thinly veiled grievances and deeply embedded bitterness.

It did not take long for the members’ festering resentment to rear its head. During the first curriculum subcommittee meeting, UNC-Chapel Hill education professor Sherick Hughes stated: “There’s been a consistent story told by white people about everybody else and about how everyone else should feel and what they should do and how they should think.”

But in between the hollow platitudes was an abundance of thinly veiled grievances and deeply embedded bitterness.
Hughes argued that the current curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill has an “underlying” motive that is aimed to disadvantage black people—a quiet and unseen racism. “There’s clearly been a hidden curriculum about race on campus,” Hughes said—although it is unclear how the existence of something can both be “clear” and “hidden.” He said curriculum is part of the social structure that puts boundaries around “ways of knowing.”

Hughes predicted that the commission would be battling to implement any curriculum changes proposed by the commission because he believes there will be individuals who only want one narrative to be told—that of “white people.”

“How do we educate people who are in the sense of—they want to hearken back to…” But before he finished his sentence Hughes stated: “I’m convinced that some of the board of governors want to hearken back to a time where the people of color here are grateful and silent”—an utterly absurd and melodramatic claim.

Larry Chavis, assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, echoed Hughes’ disdain of white people: “white scholars literally pointed [sic] themselves as being able to tell everyone else’s story…the story of native indigenous populations, the story of blacks, the story of everyone.” To Chavis, there is no single “objective reality,” but rather everyone has their own narrative based on their own identity.

As an example, Chavis pointed to the new UNC Program for Public Discourse and stated, “there is a vein of thinking that there is an objective reality that we can put our identities and ourselves aside and discuss something in a very objective way.” He said he apologized if he “was mischaracterizing” the program, but that is how he interprets their mission. He pointed out how the program’s leaders talk “about getting teachers or professors to remove their politics from their teaching,” a tactic with which he disagrees.

During the same discussion about curriculum, co-chair Leloudis emphasized the importance of thinking “about ways from the outset we might work toward decolonizing the university.” He talked about the importance of putting front and center a “critical awareness of how power works, in this case through narrative.”

Leloudis also talked about how students across a range of identities feel invisible and hidden, and that students can feel marginalized even if they are unable to identify any actual sources of marginalization. “It’s obviously easy for many white students to go through the institution and be completely convinced by the idea that changing the mix of bodies on the campus somehow creates a more equitable and inclusive institution,” Leloudis said.

At the initial meeting, several members made clear that the time they dedicate to this “important work” comes with a price tag. Hughes argued that members of the commission should be able to ask for compensation since they are already doing “invisible work.”

“Has there been any conversation about any form of compensation? Whether it’s a course release—it’s going to be labor intensive and highly invisible,” Hughes said. He felt it necessary to clarify that his request for compensation was “not just for those of color, but those who aren’t of color as well.”

Danita Mason-Hogans, a project coordinator at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, said that she was not interested in payment, as Guskiewicz had already given her what she asked for.

“In my response to chancellor Guskiewicz when he asked me to be on this committee, I expressed my concerns and asked: ‘I don’t require payment, but I would like to have $2,000 towards a housing board that I’m on,’ and he did that,” she said.

A handful of participants expressed skepticism about whether the commission would get any “real” work done, or whether the project was a mere symbolic checking of meaningless boxes. Mason-Hogans expressed concern about wasting her time on “something that was not serious.” Joseph Jordan, director of UNC’s Stone Center for Black Culture and History, asked:

What would be the modes of action, transport, thinking, arguing, and all the other kinds of things that we have at our disposal, to make sure they [the commission’s recommendations] get enacted? Because it wouldn’t make sense for us to be here doing this if we didn’t think those things were going to be able to take shape.

As Jordan continued, he expressed distrust of Guskiewicz and his leadership. “There is a concern that the administration here will [not] take what we do seriously…What does it mean to get engaged in that kind of effort [of enacting concrete policy changes on campus]?” He predicted that there would be “a set of forces” that will oppose their recommendations.

Co-chair Parker assured the members that “our expectation is that our work is going to be taken seriously. So, if that means something has to change, then we’ll do what’s necessary to bring about that change.”

UNC does have an abhorrent history of racism and slavery. No honest person denies or diminishes that reality. And honest scholarly research, archival work, and memorialization of that history is merited. One must ask, however, why past—and ongoing—efforts to document and study that history are not enough. Why give 15 activist scholars free rein to re-imagine UNC-Chapel Hill as they see fit?

Coleman Hughes, a black writer and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, expressed frustration at how progressives encourage black people to view themselves as perpetual victims: “Progressives ought not dodge the question,” Hughes wrote. “Why are blacks the only ethnic group routinely and openly encouraged to nurse stale grievances back to life?” He continued:

Cracks in the reparations mindset are beginning to show themselves. Whites are noticing that black leaders still use historical grievances to justify special dispensations for blacks who were born decades after the end of Jim Crow—and many whites understandably resent this. Asian students are noticing that applying to elite colleges is an uphill battle for them, and are understandably fighting for basic fairness in admissions standards. The majority of blacks themselves are noticing that bias is not the main issue they face anymore, even as blacks who dare express this view are called race traitors.

As Guskiewicz should have learned from past incidents on campus, the commission members will never be appeased, no matter how much he tries to accommodate their demands, because many of them have built a career and carved a professional niche out of nursing the “stale” grievances that Hughes describes.

Guskiewicz has put himself in an impossible situation.

As members of the commission made clear, there is no room for disagreement about the merits of the commission’s work and the policies they will eventually propose. In their view, either a racist element of the university community will oppose their recommendations, or Guskiewicz’s administration will dutifully embrace them.

Nevertheless, Guskiewicz must sincerely ask himself several questions. Does he understand that this commission wants to enact concrete policy changes that are based on the assumption that UNC-Chapel Hill is systemically racist? Does he agree that Carolina— its admissions policies, student life, faculty, students, programming, and curriculum—are tainted with invisible racism? Does he agree that certain members of the board of governors want black people to be “grateful and silent?”

It’s time for Guskiewicz to take a firm stand and put an end to the airing of “stale” grievances before UNC is dismantled, renamed, and “purified” beyond recognition.


Community College Systems to Review Police Training

Two statewide community college systems have announced plans to review their training programs for law enforcement officers following nationwide protests against police brutality.

The community college system offices in Virginia and California made the announcements Wednesday.

Students have been calling on colleges to cut their ties with local police agencies, and protesters are calling on cities across the U.S. to defund police entirely after a white police officer killed George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd had been arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Floyd's death sparked hundreds of protests in American cities. Police have been recorded responding violently to peaceful protesters, adding to the concerns about law enforcement practices.

"It’s clear as we see everything that’s happening across the country, from people dying at the hands of police officers to the subsequent protests and demonstrations, there is a need for genuine communication," said Jeffrey Kraus, assistant vice chancellor for public relations at the Virginia system. "There is a need for many members of the community to be able to sit down and talk about what they expect from law enforcement officers, including the law enforcement officers themselves."

Virginia's decision was one of many it put forth in a letter from the system's chancellor, Glenn DuBois. The system also plans to form groups to create a six-year strategic plan to increase equity at the colleges and create measurable strategies for increasing diversity in its hiring practices.

The task force to review law enforcement training will be led by Quentin Johnson, president of Southside Virginia Community College. It will include both community members and law enforcement officials, Kraus said. Many of the details are still being ironed out, including the exact makeup of the panel and its timeline to draft recommendations.

Ultimately, the recommendations will go to each individual college, which will then have to choose whether to adopt the changes, Kraus said.

The system does not know what percentage of Virginia's law enforcement it trains, he said, but just last year it enrolled 2,200 people in those programs.

In California, Eloy Oakley, the community college system's chancellor, announced similar plans to review the entire system's police and first responder training programs.

The system's colleges train about 80 percent of the state's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

A spokesperson for the system said many of the details for the review still need to be worked out, and colleges have not yet received communications on the plan.

“We need to take responsibility for our own curriculum,” Oakley said while making the announcement, according to Mikhail Zinshteyn, a CalMatters reporter.


Two Appeals Court Opinions Spur College Administrators to Promptly Implement New Title IX Regulation

Last week, two appeals courts found that the processes at two universities -- University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia – that had been used to adjudicate sexual assault claims were fundamentally unfair. At issue in both cases were some of the sexual assault grievance procedures that had been promoted during the Obama Administration by its “Dear Colleague Letters” of 2011 and of 2014.

These flawed procedures included no presumption of innocence, no right to confront your accuser, no cross examination, and not even the right to a live hearing. The previous Administration espoused these procedures in an effort to combat the supposed “rape epidemic” on college campuses, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. Universities felt coerced into adopting these procedures, resulting in sexual assault adjudications that any reasonable person would view as not designed to get to the truth of what had happened.

State and federal judges seem to be agreeing with this conclusion, as there have been over 140 judicial decisions in favor of falsely accused students against their universities since 2011. Continuing this trend are the two recent cases that are the subject of this article: Boermeester v. Carry and Doe v. University of the Sciences.

In Boermeester, judge Amy Hogue of the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District found that USC’s procedures were fundamentally unfair because they did not allow cross-examination or a meaningful hearing in which the accused student could respond to the accusations made against him. In this case, the accused student was subjected to an investigation in which the investigator acted as investigator, prosecutor, and jury. Often referred to as the “Single Investigator Model,” this approach holds that one person serve as investigator, as the factfinder, and as a determiner of sanctions. The accused was not allowed to ask any witnesses questions, either in person or through an advisor. Nor was he informed what the accuser had claimed in her interview.

The Court found that this procedure “effectively denied [him] a fair hearing,” and that when credibility is at issue and the student faces severe disciplinary sanctions, cross examination is required. Cross examination is important, the court noted, because it is an important way for a neutral factfinder to assess a witness’s credibility. The court reversed the accused student’s expulsion and ordered USC, if it conducts another hearing, to ensure that the new hearing is fundamentally fair.

Likewise, in the University of the Sciences case, judge Juan Sanchez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (which includes Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) found that the university’s procedures were fundamentally unfair. Like USC, the University of the Sciences used the Single Investigator Model. Accused students had no right to confront their accusers, or to meaningfully rebut the charges made against them. Like the Boermeester case, John Doe was not permitted to ask his accusers any questions, either in person or through an advisor.

The federal court also found evidence that the university wrongly punished him because he is male. The court noted that the university did not investigate his claim of sexual assault, even though it was required to by its own procedures. More disturbing, the court found that the school encouraged the female accuser to locate other female students to accuse John Doe.

The obvious problems present in these cases would have been avoided had the Department of Education’s new regulations been in effect at the time the allegations were filed. The new regulations require some form of cross examination and abolish the Single Investigator Model. The regulations therefore make it more difficult for university bureaucrats to act in a biased manner.

If we want a system where college students on both sides of the dispute are treated fairly, we should stand behind these regulations and ensure their prompt and full implementation at colleges across the nation.


Monday, June 08, 2020

Janice Fiamengo on the derailed reform of America's campus kangaroo courts

Bettina Arndt

I wrote to you a few weeks ago expressing my excitement that the Trump administration was finally introducing changes to the Title IX rules responsible for the kangaroo courts on American campuses. With universities having lost hundreds of legal cases and receiving widespread condemnation from judges for failure to protect the due process rights of the accused, we were very hopeful that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would announce major reforms.

You’d certainly have the impression she’s done that, with feminists running around like headless chickens after the new regulations were released, and most mainstream media pushing their alarmist line. “Will the Trump Administration’s New Sexual Assault Rules Hurt Survivors?” asked a typical New York Times opinion piece.

What a joke. It was only when I listened to Janice Fiamengo who has spent the last two weeks wading through the 2000-page report released by DeVos, that I realised we’d been had.

I am sure most of you know Janice’s work. She’s one of the world’s best known and most admired advocates for men. Formerly a professor of English at Ottawa, Janice is now retired from academia and living in Vancouver. She’s been speaking out for many years about men’s issues, most importantly through her YouTube videos – The Fiamengo Files.

Her most recent videos have dissected the Title IX changes in detail, starting with the extraordinary speech given by DeVos to announce the new rules. DeVos talks about “campus scourge” of sexual assault – buying into feminist rhetoric about a rape crisis, ignoring the abundant data showing mercifully low figures for such crimes. How appalling to hear the Education Secretary pronouncing that “sexual offences are about power and control” – ludicrous ideological  claptrap which is all about shafting men and denying women’s role in the messy, often drunken sexual hook-ups that comprise so many of these cases.

All this after months of meetings and submissions where DeVos attracted flak for talking with men’s rights groups and accused men who had won law suits against universities. She claimed to have consulted all sides but in the end she sold out. 

DeVos’s speech was bad enough but, as Janice makes clear in her recent videos, the detail of the announced changes are hugely disappointing. 

This week I managed to have a lengthy talk with her on thinkspot. Here’s the link-

Here, in brief, are some of the points Janice makes about these pathetic “reforms”:

The new regulations still mandate schools to adjudicate sexual assault allegations rather than leaving such criminal matters to the courts.

The universities can still choose the “preponderance of evidence" standard, the lowest possible standard, meaning that a young man can be branded a rapist and expelled from college because in the mind of the adjudicator it seemed “more likely than not” that he did what his accuser claimed.

Title IX personnel are often ideologues steeped in ‘start by believing’ ideology, and not properly trained to investigate allegations of  criminal misconduct.

The Department is confident that bias can be combated through training materials that "require" investigators and adjudicators to be "impartial."

The accuser has the right to appeal a tribunal judgement with which she disagrees, meaning that an accused student may find himself being tried for the same alleged misconduct twice. Under the American justice system this “double jeopardy” is specifically prohibited - so why is it allowed in a campus tribunal where the results for the accused student are so grave? 

The new regulations offer supportive measures to complainants put in place prior to any investigation – but none to the accused. Such measures, which include counselling, academic accommodations, class schedule changes, and no contact orders, provide an incentive to students to make complaints and mean that there is no presumption of innocence. 

Yes, there are some positive changes. The accused now has a right to a lawyer, must be given a written statement of charges against him and the person who investigates the allegation is now separate from the person who makes the determination. Plus there is a new right to live hearings where accusers can be cross-examined by a third party.

But these are trivial given the bias and unfairness that will continue to pervade this tribunal system. And as Janice Fiamengo points out, the risk now is that the system will be perceived as providing fair treatment making it even harder for falsely accused young men to receive justice in the courts.

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How Universities Inject Toxic Anti-Americanism Into Students

Behind the anti-American hate seen in the current rioting, arson, and looting is the long term undermining of America carried out systematically in our universities. Various social movements—the counter-culture movement of the 1960s, the feminist movement from the 1960s, the revival of Marxism in the 1970s, the race activists from the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter, the gay liberation movement, the Palestinian anti-Israel movement—have been adopted and absorbed in universities in their most extreme and maximalist forms. Professors have ceased to see themselves as scholars striving for impartial and objective knowledge, choosing instead to be advocates of preferred groups and movements, and activists advancing “progressive” and far-left causes. Teaching has become largely political indoctrination, and administration includes ideological control and suppression of unwelcome opinions.

In the mid-20th century, most American colleges and universities had Western Civilization courses or programs. By the end of the century, most of these had been jettisoned. Western Civilization was no longer viewed as the font of great scientific and technological discoveries and achievements, of brilliant literary and artistic works, of advanced development of democratic institutions, of recognition of civil and human rights. Instead, Western Civilization was characterized as imperialistic, colonialistic, capitalist, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic, the work of evil white men who should be expunged from memory.

The work of evil white men was banned in favor of works by lesbians of color, indigenous natives, gays and transsexuals, Africans, Arabs, Indians, and East Asians. No more would students be sullied by the disgraceful works of the Jewish Bible, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, the Gospels, Augustine, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, and, skipping over many, Yeats, Proust, Joyce, Kafka, and Camus.

The only Western author honored in contemporary American universities is Karl Marx. In fact, Marx’s class-conflict model of society has been adopted throughout the social sciences, humanities, education, social work, and law, ranging females against males, people of color against people of white, LGBT++ against heterosexuals, indigenous natives against “colonialists,” Muslims against Christians and Jews (as always throughout history), disabled against abled, poor against well off, and unsuccessful minorities against Asians. The goal is the socialist utopia run by females, people of color, and transsexuals.

In Defense of Reading Dead Rich White Guys … Like Shakespeare.
Universities celebrate non-Western authors who attack Western Civilization. Throughout the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the toast of universities, the recognized king of the new anti-American truth, was Edward Said, an immigrant from Egypt who claimed Palestinian ethnicity. Raised to a professorship at one of America’s elite universities, he used his platform to vilify Western Civilization. In his book Orientalism, assigned to millions of university students in social science and humanities courses as the latest version of God’s Truth, he became the most influential intellectual in American universities.

Said’s central argument was that Western understanding of the Middle East—the region’s tribalism, religious fanaticism, imperialism, slavery, and oppression of women—did not really have anything to do with the nature of the Middle East, but was a projection of Western sins on the Middle East, in order to justify Western imperialism and colonialism in the Middle East. This theory came to be known as “post-colonial theory.” It was widely adopted in American academia and believed to be a definitive debunking of Western approaches to non-Western lands and cultures.

Said never offered any alternative picture of the Middle East, of its tribalism, religious fanaticism, imperialism, slavery, and oppression of women; he offered no more than a debunking of the Western view. But he was ill-prepared to do what he claimed. Said was a professor of English and a specialist in the writings of Jane Austen. He had no background in the history or anthropology of the Middle East. About the Middle East he had nothing to offer beyond a crass pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel partisanship and activism. For serious students of the Middle East, his writings are useless.

Nor did Said have a historical background in Western Civilization beyond English literature. So, it is not surprising that he was incorrect about the Western view of foreign cultures; more than any other civilization, Western Civilization was more curious about, more systematic in investigating, and more careful in its portrayal of foreign cultures. Nonetheless, his superficial and biased work was and is welcomed and celebrated in American colleges and universities as a serious debunking of Western Civilization.

One further example is from American anthropology, which champions all other cultures in the world, but can never extend its understanding and sympathy to American culture (or Israel’s). A popular ethnographic study of Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa read over decades by literally millions of students in anthropology courses (including mine) was promoted to shame America, on the grounds that these hunters and gatherers, and indeed all hunters and gatherers, better than America exemplified American values of gender equality, the prominence of female contributions, peaceful resolution of conflict, and prosperity, even “affluence.” Feminists celebrated. This account seemed to be true, until the historical and ethnographic details were examined closely. The prominence of female contributions was exaggerated, as was gender equality. These folks were very peaceful, unless they had to eliminate a troublesome fellow or faced encroachment of others. As far as affluence goes, there was a lot of leisure in good years and a lot of starvation in bad ones. In short, it was all bunk. But it provided an excuse, however invalid, to shame American society and Western Civilization, and to advance the partisan interests of those who profit from undermining American culture.

It rather amazed me when I was teaching in an elite university how many of my colleagues proudly proclaimed that they were communists, offered North Korea as a model to be followed, championed Communist China, and how few found American culture and Western Civilization achievements to be proud of. In fact, they seem to take pride in undermining America and the West. Like the mainstream media—the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC—working furiously to paint America as negatively as possible, American colleges and universities (with the exception of STEM disciplines) are enemies of America and the American people. 


Student suspended for criticising his university's China ties is banned from his own appeal hearing - as 'victim' speaks out in his defence

A student who was suspended from the University of Queensland for two years after criticising its links to China has been banned from attending his own appeal hearing.

Drew Pavlou was banned from completing his philosophy degree until 2022 on Friday after the university accused him of 11 cases of misconduct, which were detailed in a confidential 186-page document.

The 21-year-old revealed he had been banned from the proceedings to review the penalty on Friday, and his lawyer planned to include proof from an alleged victims that one of the complaints against him was 'manufactured'.

'Despite being an elected representative to the UQ Senate, I've been barred from attending a meeting reviewing my expulsion. Kangaroo court!' he Tweeted.

The UQ Senate is reviewing his suspension in an out-of-session meeting, and Mr Pavlou will be banned from accessing the minutes of the meeting as well, due to conflict of interest concerns.

UQ vice-chancellor Peter Hoj, who was referenced in the complaints against the activist, will not attend for the same reason.

'I don't understand why, as a democratically elected representative of UQ students on the senate, I'm being barred from this meeting,' Mr Pavlou told the ABC.

'They are taking all these steps to ensure there is as murky a process as possible, that the Australian public does not know how they are making these decisions.'

A spokewoman from the university told Daily Mail Australia that the meeting was to brief the Senate on the outcome of Mr Pavlou's disciplinary matter.   

'It would be inconsistent with standard conflict of interest procedures if Mr Pavlou or Senate members directly involved in the appeal process were to attend,' she said. 'The Vice Chancellor will also not attend.'

Mr Pavlou also revealed that his lawyer, Tony Morris QC, was contacted by one of students Mr Pavlou had allegedly 'harassed, bullied, threatened or abused' on social media.

The student wrote that not only had he not made a formal complaint nor felt 'distressed' as written in the complaint, he had not been contacted by UQ.

'Apparently the complaint mentions that I was "distressed" which is from my point of view laughable,' the student wrote in an email viewed by the ABC.

'While I think it was characteristically crass of him to write to a female friend the way he did I feel this complaint has been largely manufactured.' 

Over the weekend the Chinese Communist Party-controlled tabloid Global Times rubbed salt in the wound of Mr Pavlou's suspension, citing anonymous students celebrating it.

The article labelled Mr Pavlou an 'anti-Chinese rioter' while saying his peers were celebrating that 'justice finally came'.

Four anonymous Chinese and Australian students were quoted in the piece accusing him of inciting violence and racism while smearing Chinese students.

In response Mr Pavlou claimed Chinese state media had directed UQ to expel him, and said the university was dependent on income from Chinese students and donors.

'Chinese state media have just decided to go full mask off, endorsing my expulsion from UQ,' he wrote on Twitter.

'UQ relies on the Chinese market for 20 per cent of its income. Moral courage!'

A statement from University of Queensland confirmed fees from Chinese students make up about 20 per cent of revenue.

The campus has the fifth highest international student fee income in Australia, and about 18,000 of the 53,000 students enrolled are from overseas.

Nine thousand of those students are from China.

Mr Pavlou will be able to continue his studies until the verdict of the appeal.

He is due to complete his degree in six months, meaning he may graduate before his suspension begins.

The politics student believes his university caved to pressure from Chinese influence to suspend him.

He led a series of campus demonstrations last year, in support of Hong-Kong's pro-democracy movement.

The activist also posted messages to social media criticising China's authoritarian regime and denounced the university's close financial ties with the Communist Party