Friday, September 25, 2020

Betsy DeVos Just Dropped Another Bomb On Princeton’s ‘Systemic Racism’

By now, you know that the Department of Education is investigating Princeton University over its president’s declaration that racism is systemically “embedded” in the university’s administrative and campus culture.

In fact, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber went so far as to declare that “racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies.”

Did you catch that? Racism exists at Princeton “sometimes by conscious intention,” according to the university’s president.

This declaration may seem like a public confession demanded by the racial inquisition within the high church of wokeness, and it could be just that and nothing more. But declaring that conscious acts of racism exist within the administration of a university receiving federal funding is kind of a big deal, and that’s why the feds declared last week that they are demanding answers and explanations from Princeton, immediately.

For anyone who might think the Trump Administration was merely engaging in an election year press release publicity stunt, think again.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is not only taking this very seriously, but she just articulated the specific trap that Mr. Eisgruber has willfully walked into.

Appearing on the Chris Stigall Show DeVos referred to this as a “very serious matter” not once, not twice, but three times. “It is a very serious matter,” she told Stigall this morning on AM 990 The Answer in Philly.

She then went to the very crux of the issue pertaining to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandates that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

In exchange for receiving overstuffed bags of your tax dollars on a regular basis, Princeton merely has to cross a couple of “Ts” and dot a few “Is” on the federal forms. One of the minor details the university needs to declare is that it doesn’t discriminate and that it follows federal laws with regard to civil rights.

And that’s the trap Princeton just willingly walked into. DeVos laid it out to Stigall in no uncertain terms.

“You have the requirement every year, that every higher ed institution – that has any kind of federal funding going to it – must certify and declare annually that they do not discriminate and that they follow all civil rights laws. And then, on the other hand, you have an institution whose leader says ‘we are inherently, systemically racist.’ Those two cannot exist together,” DeVos explained.

And there it is. If Princeton is guilty of “systemic racism” by “conscious intention,” that means that it has not only willfully and knowingly violated the civil rights of its students, but it also means it has falsely claimed otherwise to the federal government, thus violating the Civil Rights Act and knowingly taking your tax dollars under false and deceptive pretenses.

As DeVos said, “This is a very serious matter.”

Of course, there is a way out for Princeton and Eisgruber. DeVos graciously laid that out to Stigall.

“And so, it is a very serious matter that I trust that we are going to be able to navigate… that Princeton will respond appropriately and we will work through this,” she said. “It is a serious issue and the notion that any institution would knowingly and regularly continue to operate and declare that they are not discriminatory or racist and then at the same time acknowledge they are, the two are totally incompatible.”

First of all, DeVos’s use of “knowingly and regularly” is incredibly significant because it amplifies the pattern of discriminatory practices and the routine of annually certifying that the university has, in fact, not engaged in any discriminatory practices. As DeVos says, “the two are totally incompatible.”

The only remedy for Princeton is to admit it’s not guilty of systemic racism. Anything else could mean an existential threat to the university as well as shame and humiliation for Michelle Obama’s alma mater.

That’s what DeVos signaled when she said, “I trust that we are going to be able to navigate… that Princeton will respond appropriately and we will work through this.”

The ball is now in Princeton’s court. Will it stand by its declaration that it’s guilty of systemic racism and thus admit that it has been lying to the Department of Education in exchange for federal funding? Or will it admit that this was nothing but performative grandstanding to satisfy the unsatisfiable mobs demanding that all of us declare our racism and beg for forgiveness after a penance is exacted from our flesh?

We shall see. One thing is for certain: If Joe Biden wins in six weeks and Elizabeth Warren is the new Education Secretary, this entire matter will just go away.


Competition among schools is healthy, especially in a pandemic

With so many public school districts starting the year with 100 percent remote learning, parents are scrambling. Driven by economic necessity or desperation for quality educational options, untold numbers of parents are looking for in-person learning options wherever they can find a spot: from private and charter schools to the learning pods that have sprung up this fall. But in some school districts, the resulting competition to keep these families enrolled is not sitting well.

a person sitting at a desk in front of a window: Remote learning in Chicago public schools© Scott Olson/Getty Images Remote learning in Chicago public schools
Last month, Denver’s board of education released a statement pleading with its parents: “Stay enrolled in your school!” Their message insisted that their schools are best for children, and that keeping kids enrolled “helps ensure [their] schools have the desperately needed resources to meet the needs of [their] students and community.” Also, “For every student who un-enrolls, the district loses approximately $10,600.”

It’s hard to believe such pleas will work, in Denver or elsewhere, while families are desperate for in-person alternatives—as they are now. What’s more, it shouldn’t work, because it’s an effort to escape healthy competitive pressures to meet the needs of families—pressures that repeatedly surfaced in my discussions with numerous private, charter and public school superintendents this summer. In varied contexts, the threat of families “voting with their feet” pushed districts to keep the needs of their families in front of the loudest voices alarmed about the COVID-19 threat.

Competition, or its absence, can shape the reopening calculus. In districts where families have few choices, where charter schools are unavailable or full, private schools are unaffordable or pods are impractical, families are totally reliant on the plans of their traditional neighborhood schools. In such districts, competition hardly registers in school leaders’ decision-making. Without choices, parents clamoring for open schools cannot hold district leaders’ feet to the fire to reopen quickly, and their voices can be drowned out by more alarmist ones.

“My blood is on your hands!” and “Do you want me to die?” are real messages teachers I interviewed this summer sent to superintendents. Those outlandish messages reflect valid safety concerns of teachers—but with no counterbalance, they can amplify and exaggerate the health risks superintendents have to weigh. Public health officials can also push a one-sided view. When asked, “Who is really in charge of reopening schools?,” one superintendent responded, “I would say the health officer because he’s a ‘the sky is falling’ person. When I want to say, ‘Let’s close,’ I call him because he’ll say close until 2025.” Some parents report fearing reopening, but several superintendents said they tended to be two-income families better able to cope with closed schools and to make their voices heard. When faced with a chorus echoing “safety first,” superintendents find averting risk and asking parents looking for open schools to trust and wait to be the easy path.

In contrast, superintendents of tuition-dependent private schools feel competitive pressures acutely. As one put it, “if I don’t open face-to-face five days a week, people aren’t going to pay to come to a Catholic school.” Remote private schools face losing students when remote public school is available for free, and many have already had to close for good. Reopening in-person can be doubly good for private schools, stemming their losses and giving them a chance to grow their enrollments when public schools go remote.

If this raises lazy stereotypes of private school profiteers, don’t buy into them. Far from ritzy private schools for the wealthy, the private school superintendents I spoke to lead mission-driven organizations—and they all described their main struggle as figuring out how to reopen safely, keenly aware that such a safe reopening was the only viable path forward. A virus outbreak would disrupt the instruction they owe families in the short term, and harm their reputations in the long term. The first challenge these schools faced was retooling facilities and operations to ensure a safe return; the second was convincing teachers and parents that safety precautions would be effective, especially with neighboring public schools saying a safe reopening was impossible.

Of course, many public school district superintendents also face real competitive pressures, historically from private schools or charter schools, and now from pandemic learning pods. That competition pushes superintendents to pursue risk management, rather than risk aversion. And when parents have options, it animates their calls to reopen, forcing leaders to balance those views with the “sky is falling” contingent. In one superintendent’s words, “the safest environment is to go all remote. But if the district right next to you provides instruction, you’ve got a huge revenue loss to contend with.”

Ultimately, all superintendents, public and private, face the same challenge in this pandemic. Everyone I spoke with recognized the health and safety concerns that make remote learning a safer and easier option, but they also recognized the heavy educational losses and pressing family needs that require schools to reopen. Their challenge is to provide the best remote learning possible while schools have to be closed, and to reopen schools as soon as is prudently possible. But what passes for prudence is significantly shaped by whose voices get amplified.

Keeping competition at bay could give cover for school leaders seeking a path of risk aversion but, at least in Denver, competitive forces are part of a push toward managing risks that is bringing students back to school buildings ahead of schedule. Last week, Superintendent Susana Cordova informed teachers that the city’s youngest students would return weeks earlier than planned, “based on ongoing feedback we’ve received from our teachers, leaders, families and larger community.” When competitive pressures animate the voices of families that would be squelched without them and force more district leaders into the balanced risk management glimpsed in Denver, we should all be supportive.


I’ve Taught High School Students Who Know the Constitution Better than Don Lemon Does

Chris Talgo

On September 21, CNN anchor Don Lemon displayed his contempt for America’s governing system, as well as his ignorance of basic civics, during a very revealing back-and-forth with his CNN colleague Chris Cuomo.

“We’re going to have to blow up the entire system,” Lemon said, referring to what he believes must happen should Joe Biden win the White House this fall.

Cuomo: “I don’t know about that. You’ve just got to vote.”

Lemon: “And you know what we’re going to have to do, honestly, from what your closing argument is, you’re going to have to get rid of the Electoral College.”

Cuomo: “I don’t see it.”

Exasperated, Lemon countered, “The minority in this country decides who the judges are and they decide who the president is. Is that fair?”

Cuomo: “We’ll need a constitutional amendment to do that.”

Lemon: “And if Joe Biden wins, Democrats can stack the courts and they can do that amendment and they can get it passed.”

Cuomo: “Well you need two-thirds vote in the congress and three quarters of the state legislatures.”

Lemon: “Well they may be able to do that.”

It is sad (and funny) that Lemon, a CNN anchor with a primetime slot, is clueless about elementary civics.

However, it is frightening that Lemon is condemning the Electoral College, which is the last line of defense against mob rule.

Unbeknownst to Lemon obviously, the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College to prevent as James Madison put it, “tyranny of the majority.”

According to Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, “The Electoral College is a very carefully considered structure the Framers of the Constitution set up to balance the competing interests of large and small states. It prevents candidates from wining an election by focusing only on high-population urban centers (the big cities), ignoring smaller states and the more rural areas of the country — the places that progressives and media elites consider flyover country.”

As Spakovsky understands, unlike Don Lemon, the Founding Fathers were well aware of the dangers that direct democracies pose to the preservation of rights for all, especially those in the minority.

Such is why they insisted that the United States not follow the example of ancient Greece, the world’s first direct democracy. Instead, the Founding fathers, in their wisdom, created a federal constitutional republic.

And under the Constitution, they made sure to enact a system that protected the rights of all, including those who live in small states. That is why state legislatures originally elected U.S. senators, not the people directly. By doing so, the states had a say in the federal legislature.

That is, until the Progressive Era, when the 17th Amendment was passed, which resulted in less power for the states and more power for the federal government.

Perhaps, one of the last vestiges of state power, at least as the Founding Fathers originally intended, lies in the Electoral College. The genius of the Electoral College is far and wide.

Not only does it ensure that multiple constituencies in several states maintain their place at the table of power, it also forces presidential candidates to barnstorm the nation in an effort to win the votes of all sorts of groups, who have a plethora of issues that they care about.

If we were to do away with the Electoral College, which is not as easy as Lemon thought it was, presidential candidates would likely travel to major cities while ignoring the wants and needs of those in rural areas and less-populated states.

Yet, I suspect that someone like Don Lemon, who has repeatedly thumbed his nose at so-called flyover country, would have no problem with this scenario. In fact, I strongly believe out-of-touch coastal elites like Lemon would welcome this with open arms.

Well, sorry Don. As things stand, the Constitution is still the supreme law of the land. And as a former teacher of American Government and U.S. History, I can say that I taught hundreds of teenagers who grasped this concept (along with other basic civic lessons) much better than you apparently do.


Saving a Struggling College Starts with the Board

Before the COVID-19 pandemic walloped our colleges and universities, higher education had been facing threats to existing business models for years. A great deal has been written the past few years predicting the demise of large numbers of U.S. colleges and universities.

Many higher education institutions are indeed threatened. But their demise may not be inevitable; the problem may not be endogenous factors but how they are managed, and that can be corrected.

Still, the scenario has looked bleak for many small private colleges. Former Harvard Business School professor and management guru Clayton Christensen predicted that half of American colleges would shut down by 2030. One new study, “The College Stress Test, Tracking Institutional Futures across a Crowded Market”, is less alarmist than Christensen, albeit still quite concerning. The authors summarize the public conversation of higher education. They depict it as suffering a gloomy future, particularly for small, private, tuition-dependent colleges, “whose fate has already been sealed…higher education is on the brink of a crisis, and schools need to sit up and take notice.”

The smaller and more tuition-dependent an institution is, the more vulnerable it is. At many of these places, any loss of revenue can be dire. Former president of the Appalachian College Association Alice Brown wrote that “having ten fewer students than expected is a serious financial problem. Having thirty fewer is a disaster.” Former chancellor of the Minnesota State University and University of Maine systems Terrence MacTaggart characterized the situation facing small, private, low-prestige institutions rather bluntly: “Small private colleges without a distinctive niche face a harsh reality: Change for the better or risk decline and possibly going out of business.”

The headwinds facing small, private, colleges were already severe prior to the pandemic: a looming demographic cliff, soaring costs, declining revenues, competition from significantly less-expensive alternatives (e.g. state institutions, online institutions like Western Governors University and Southern New Hampshire University), alternative stackable credentials, and according to William Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, growing sentiment questioning whether a college degree is worth it.

A business facing environmental changes of this magnitude would be expected to pivot rapidly by entering new markets, developing new products and services, jettisoning legacy systems, and rapidly innovating. Higher education, however, does not operate at the speed of business.

Decision-making in higher education does not rest solely in the executive ranks; it is often paralyzed because governance is shared between the board of trustees, the president, and the faculty.

Augustana College’s president, Steven Bahls, wrote that shared governance is broadly understood to have certain guidelines about who has authority over different spheres of activity: the faculty taking charge of the curriculum, the president conducting day-to-day management of the college, and the board having responsibility for fiduciary oversight, stewardship of the institutional mission, and hiring/firing of the president. In practice, however, this ostensibly clear-cut delineation of authority is not actually clear and can be a significant impediment to making decisions and taking action. Rather, it becomes a political process dedicated to balancing competing interests; the resultant horse-trading inevitably defers action.

This political process of shared governance is just that—political. According to Jay Schalin, the director of policy at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, most private college and university boards are effectively the owners of the institution and legally have the final say, yet they commonly relinquish that authority to the president and the faculty. If an institution is in decline and on a path to closing, it is the board of trustees that is ultimately to blame. College presidents Brian Mitchell and Joseph King state: “The institutional buck generally stops with the trustees—and therein lies the problem.”

The problem is that the board has shunned its fiduciary duties by abdicating responsibility to the president and the faculty.

The problem is that the board has shunned its fiduciary duties by abdicating responsibility to the president and the faculty.
If that sounds like the point of view of a trustee, that’s because it is. I have been a member of the board of trustees of Westminster College in Utah for over 12 years. It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve on this board. Nevertheless, I have frequently been frustrated with the pace of, or in some instances, resistance to, change. I chose to channel that frustration into the pursuit of a deeper understanding of how boards of trustees resist or contribute to change. Ultimately that led me to enter a PhD program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University; my recently completed doctoral dissertation is entitled: “Turning Around Small, Private, Tuition Dependent Colleges: How Boards of Trustees Impact Decline and Turnaround.”

This comparative case study of three colleges that flirted with going out of business but managed to turn things around focuses on the actions and attitudes of the board of trustees, rather than focusing just on the president.

Each of the institutions I studied suffered from what small college turnaround consultant Ruth Cowan called “problem blindness.” One of them was egregiously so; that institution was effectively insolvent, unable to make payroll, and buried under a mountain of payables, yet the board thought everything was fine.

The other two boards were aware of their financial troubles, but they tolerated year-over-year deficits, choosing to believe that the deficits were episodic rather than structural. Regardless of the reasons for problem blindness, the result was that each of the three colleges squandered millions of dollars.

Compounding the problem blindness of the boards was the way that each board was overly deferential to the president, contributing to these presidents engaging in wasteful, misguided, and risky pursuits. Deference to the president is inherent in the governance of U.S. colleges and universities; this is due to an asymmetry of information problem. Board members are largely volunteers and predominantly have backgrounds in business and law. Their awareness of what is going on at their campus and in the broader landscape of higher education comes almost exclusively through reports and updates provided at quarterly board meetings. Administrators, on the other hand, are usually long-term academics who are intimately acquainted with almost everything that occurs on their campus and highly informed about higher education in general. It is therefore only natural for board members to defer to the president.

The interdependence of the board and the president can be a real strength of the presidency, however, it can also lead to what long time college trustee and US Appeals Court Judge Jose Cabranes described as “back him or sack him” whereby trustees believe they should unequivocally support the president until he or she becomes objectively and obviously unfit for the position.

Loss aversion is what an Antioch University professor of education, Jon Wergin, described as the tendency to act out of fear of loss rather than to seek out the potential for gain. It is a psychological trap that people fall into in which they remain in doomed relationships or continue to gamble rather than cut their losses and walk away. Two of the institutions I studied retained presidents long past the time that enough evidence was in that they were objectively unfit. Loss aversion, plus a strong tendency to stay the course because of a past commitment even though doing so is harmful, creates an environment that makes it extremely difficult for a board to fire a president.

Optimism bias can lead to a systematic fallacy in strategy and decision-making that Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman calls “the planning fallacy.” In this dynamic, decisionmakers tend to underestimate costs, completion times, and risks while overestimating the benefits. Kahneman suggested that the root cause of the planning fallacy is decisionmakers taking an “inside view,” focusing on the specifics of a plan or budget. The planning fallacy can be mitigated by “reference class forecasting” whereby decisionmakers find a reference class of similar projects that have already been completed. The actual results of those similar projects can be used to help form an “outside view” that is almost certain to be less optimistic than the inside view.

The very nature of private college governance is a breeding ground for optimism bias. One reason is the expectation that boards will defer to the president until he or she clearly proves to be unfit. Another is the omnipresent problem of information asymmetry between the administration and the board.

Without overt effort on the board’s part, the inside view is likely to be their only view. So, if a president presents a budget to his or her board of trustees, the inertia created from the confluence of these factors all but guarantees its approval, regardless of the accuracy of the numbers. One problem with this is that expense levels are going to be set based on the approved revenue projection. In higher education, it is extremely difficult to cut expenses if the revenue doesn’t materialize. This means that not only is money wasted on unnecessary expenses, but the school may have to borrow the money in the first place.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Behind Closed Doors: The True Impact of Virtual Learning on our Families and our Future

This morning, my son, a high school senior doing virtual learning, texted me, “I didn’t get out of bed for first period.” I replied, “Yikes!” To which he shot back, “It’s okay, I just did the class from bed.”

This cannot be a thing! Kids should not be going to school from their beds!

A few hours later, a friend on Facebook posted: “I’m totally winning at this parenting thing! I slept through my alarm and logged onto my son’s calendar time right as they were saying goodbye to everybody. So, he got marked tardy for today. And then I was trying to help my daughter with her math, but I don’t know the current math jargon, so I wasn’t able to explain it without making her cry. It’s only 11:00 am. This is going to be a stellar day.”

Another girlfriend posted in a Facebook group dedicated to reopening schools: “I went in to check on my 9th grader because she was yelling at her class – well it was at her computer. She was in tears telling me she was going to have to drop out or fail because there are too many tabs, and too much technology, and she doesn’t understand where she is supposed to find all her work. She said she asked for help but got kicked out of the group and couldn’t get back on and when she tried to talk to the teacher, they couldn’t hear her. ‘I can’t turn it in because I can’t find it. I can’t understand it when I do find it. Why can’t they just give me a sheet of work to do, I can do that, but I can’t do this computer stuff. It’s going to kill me.’ And I’ve been in tears since.”

Another friend, a therapist who works with youth, said all of her patient visits are done remotely and many of the young people she visits with online are home alone. “Yesterday I spoke to a 12-year old patient who is home with three younger siblings,” she said.

Whether parents are home, at work, or working from home, virtual learning is not working for anyone.

A parent at the office cannot fully focus on their job because they are worried about their child at home. Similarly, it is difficult for a parent to productively work from home if they have children who need help.

In the short term the schools closures and larger economic shut down resulted in a 37 percent drop in non-farm worker output from May to July and nation’s economy contracting by 31.7 percent in the second quarter.

With the economy now on the rebound, those losses appear to be temporary, however, scholars from The Brookings Institution looked into the long-term consequences of virtual learning and it’s not good. From the COVID-19 cost of school closures report finding “lost earnings of $1,337 per year per student: a present value loss of earnings of $33,464 (63 percent of a year’s salary at current average wage rates)… [and] a look at the impact on the whole of the country is much more sobering. In this model, the cost to the United States in future earnings of four months of lost education is $2.5 trillion—12.7 percent of annual GDP… Extrapolating to the global level, on the basis that the U.S. economy represents about one-quarter of global output, these data suggest the world could lose as much as $10 trillion over the coming generation as a result of school closures today.”

The human and economic costs of virtual learning are real. Our kids are losing years right now. By ignoring them we are placing our future in peril — and the cost may be more than we can bear.


Congress must help parents financially while public schools are shuttered

For parents, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. It’s typically an exciting time. Parents are school shopping, filling the supply list and attending orientation to meet the new teacher. It also marks a time of year when many parents go back to work full time or are relieved from the financial burdens of paying for summer camps and day care.

This Labor Day, however, many parents were left to worry about finding an alternative to shuttered schools. Where do parents turn when “back to school” isn’t an option?

Parents across the country are pleading with their school districts to reopen. Hard working, paycheck-to-paycheck American families already on very tight budgets have been forced since March either to stay home and forgo work or pay for child care that they could barely afford. They are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

These families are being pressured to make financial sacrifices, not for health reasons, but to avoid leaving their children unsupervised. We are not talking about “Do we go on vacation or not?” or “Do we remodel the kitchen?” We are talking about families who must decide whether to pay rent or buy food for the week. School closures are leaving the most vulnerable, underserved families and children to fend for themselves.

The potential consequences for the “achievement gap” are even more devastating. The gap between education outcomes for lower and higher income students is an issue that states have been battling for years and one that has been compounded by the implementation of Common Core State Standards. These standards are flawed and risk pushing many students into deeper slumps or stagnating their academic progress.

Learning deficits in the earlier grades could have irreversible consequences if not addressed immediately. Before the pandemic, roughly one in three students was proficient in reading by the fourth grade. If children are unable to build a strong reading comprehension foundation in their early years, they often get left behind and struggle to catch up, suffering the effects throughout the rest of their education.

Lawmakers showed some signs of understanding the current reality for American families, with Senate Republicans’ latest coronavirus proposal including at least $5 billion in provisions aimed at school choice. However, the main provision still does not put funds directly in the hands of families; instead, it funnels funds to states that in turn funnel funds to scholarship-granting organizations. Although well-intentioned, this is the very type of bureaucracy families cannot afford at a crisis moment like this.

Congress should help solve the public education crisis by putting any federal education funds directly in the hands of parents, a path Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and Rep. Chip Roy, Texas Repubican, outline in their bicameral SCHOOL Act, S. 4432 and H.R. 8054. Instead of channelling money into systems, parents should have access to funds that would allow them to seek education in alternative settings, such as private schools or learning co-ops. Doing so would encourage state and localities to do the same.

During the last six months, many governors and school boards have squandered valuable time resisting reopening for the 2020-21 school year. They have spent more time coming up with excuses for why it could not be done instead of using that same energy to innovate and get the job done for students.


Federal Judge Doesn’t Know How College Admissions Work

U.S. district judge Nathaniel Gorton recently sentenced Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, to prison for two months and five months, respectively, in the college admissions scandal. That case is now over. What is not over is the misimpression the judge has publicly advanced on how college admissions work in reality. He made the following public observation about college admissions, heightened by the stature of his office:

“Higher education in this country aspires to be a meritocracy.” No; in countless ways, that is not true.

About the Toby MacFarlane sentence Judge Gorton said: “Although I perceive no calculable loss to USC and ACT, there was certainly a loss to the overall educational system in this country,” a loss that “most assuredly was significant.”

Not accurate. He called MacFarlane “a thief.” Thousands of thieves, then, are in universities throughout the country.

The judge chastised one Varsity Blues participant, declaring that the participant had lied and cheated to get “around the rules that apply to everyone else.” No, the rules already did not apply equally to thousands of college applicants.

Let us count the unequal ways to get into college:

One, be an athlete. There are presently 490,000 athletes competing in NCAA athletics. By Judge Gorton’s logic, all of them were academically superior to competing applicants.

Two, be a legacy applicant—that is, the relative of an alumnus likely to be wealthy. The institutions will be hoping for future financial contributions. Ten to 25 percent of college student populations were legacy applicants given special preference. The percentage is not exact because university administrators are not eager to state the number: they know that their admissions policies are discriminatory, favoring the rich. Meritocracy is not the focus; money is.

Three, be a minority applicant. In today’s zeitgeist, applicants within the universe of identity politics, cancel culture, woke preferences, diversity, political correctness, and affirmative action will be helped mightily in gaining admission to college. Asian students, though, are sometimes discriminated against, say, at Yale University because there are too many on campus. The bean-counters discriminate. Meritocracy is not the focus; social justice is.

Four, be from out of state or out of country. Colleges aggressively seek out-of-staters because they pay higher tuition. An in-stater pays, say, $12,000, while an out-of-stater pays $30,000 or $40,000 more. And out-of-country students pay even more than out-of-staters. Again, meritocracy is not the focus, and money is.

Five, be a male. You might think being a male is a negative qualification in this age of sex identity, but ratios suggest otherwise: in public colleges, the ratio of males to females is 43.6 to 56.4. In private schools, it’s 42.2 to 57.5. College admissions officers will want more male applicants in order to reach closer parity to women.

Applicants in these five categories do not cheat the system; they get admitted legally through double standards. Even if Lori Loughlin’s daughters were legitimate rowing athletes, why should they get admitted to college owing to a double standard?

We will never know how much Judge Gorton’s incomplete knowledge about college admissions influenced his sentencing. All the Varsity Blues cases are yet to be adjudicated in his court. Judge Gorton’s apparent lack of knowledge about unequal processes of admissions could conceivably have affected his sentencing judgment. But as a famous lawyer once said, “don’t tell me what the law is; tell me who the judge is.” Judges have biases. I was chief of staff for Chief Justice Warren Burger, working intimately for or with him for over nine years. I know what his biases were. And we all know that the present Supreme Court has four liberals and five conservatives.


Academia’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Trifecta Threatens Us All

The academy was once known for its manifold benefits to America. Great scientific and medical discoveries, sustained theories of economics and management, social psychological insights and a deeper understanding of classical texts are but a few. Its new perpetual genuflection to diversity, equity and inclusion and propagation of neo-Marxism across academic areas aren’t among them. As Heather Mac Donald has argued, the academy now advocates and produces stifling intellectual conformity, becoming the ideological seedbed for our summer violence and elite justifications

Dinesh D’Souza says that thanks to the academy, “Socialism in America today has turned black against white, female against male, homosexual and transsexual against heterosexual, and illegals against legal immigrants and American citizens.”

My university recently sent a proclamation to employees expressing solidarity for the rioting that has taken place across America, lionizing the “peaceful” protests. Jeremy Carl argues “The damage such neo-Marxist programs are doing to our nation’s social fabric is beyond academic comprehension or interest.” Empirical research by Paul Cassell strongly suggests that “a ‘Minneapolis Effect’ has struck—i.e., in the wake of anti-police protests following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, police officers are being re-deployed from anti-gun efforts and are retreating from proactive law enforcement tactics. This reduction in law enforcement efforts targeted at firearms crimes has led to, perhaps predictably, an increase in firearms crimes.”

Robert Maranto critiques the academy’s blind eye/tone-deafness to non-politicized human /problems concluding, “this misallocation of research puts political activism over empirical problem-solving. Activist academics signal that they care about the disadvantaged, but often the real goal is appealing to peers and funders…who dominate academic research.”

The recent rioting springing from police shootings of criminals of color impelled the academy to double down on diversity, equity and inclusion—the academic trifecta. My state university is a worthy illustration where both faculty and administration advocate for subordinating course instruction, content and theory to focus on diversity, racial equity and inclusion.


Academics have shilled postmodernism to students, progressive politicians and the administrative state. Its la gran mentira is that racism, sexism, economic inequality, unequal outcomes, etc. must be ameliorated through institutional guilt and being woke. US News & World Report even has a “Campus Diversity Index” weighing the racial and ethnic diversity of college campuses for all to see. The answer is always more diversity.

Health and Human Services author Rachel S. Franklin argues, however, “the conceptualization and measurement of ethnic and racial diversity in higher education appears to be often based on normative values rather than solid benchmarks.” These data suggest diversity membership can be demonstrated simply by having a favored last name.

For example, people with Hispanic last names are given preference in the academy, mainstream media and “woke” society. As classics professor Bruce Thornton points out in Searching for Joaquin: Myth, Murieta and History in California, having a Spanish name like Cruz or Rubio, gives one elite standing in America over names like Graham or Smith, despite their “whiteness” being indistinguishable. Victor Davis Hanson concludes in Mexifornia, “part of the genius of the postmodern term ‘Hispanic’ is that it gives quite a lot of cover for well-heeled Europeans and South Americans to receive preferences over native-born Americans.” Apart from breeding new academic departments, journals and research grants, the “la raza” foil has failed miserably to ease high Hispanic drop-out rates from high school, incarceration rates and unwed motherhood.

Who could blame African Americans for reaping the same benefits? Barack Obama, the offspring of a black father and white mother (the U.S. Census Bureau’s categorization is mixed race) is labeled “America’s first black president.” African names given or adopted now promise racial diversity– Ta-Nehisi Coates, Keyshawn Johnson, LeBron James, Tanisha Coetzee, Ludacris, Shaquille O’Neal, etc.


The academy’s equity and diversity obsession has made it significantly less diverse intellectually. An Inside Higher Ed article about ensuring equity defined it euphemistically as “promoting race, gender, social class and sexual orientation.” The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) considers one of its most important missions to be “the understanding of diversity and equity as fundamental goals of higher education.” Only a few private universities ignore equity and diversity goals in their missions. Overpaid equity & diversity administrators with substantial influence regulate.

Equity became equal outcomes not equal opportunity. In Discrimination and Disparities, Thomas Sowell argues that unequal distributions of income, employment and other social outcomes prove neither discrimination nor genetic deficiencies, but frequently involve luck. Two important questions are ignored when pushing this mindless progressive trifecta: 1) What can be done about inequality and at what cost? 2) What should we do collectively about the group and what should we leave up to individuals themselves?


Columbia University’s “Guide for Inclusive Teaching” states that “Excellence in teaching and learning necessitates the inclusion of every student’s unique identities, experiences, and talents.” While wonderfully accommodating, it is ideological scree. It would take professors two weeks of student surveying to just catalog each student’s unique identity, experience and talents, and another month to meld this mélange into class content, if it were even possible.

The question of how much diversity and inclusion is enough is neglected. Illustrating this point, I offer a thought experiment about a typical department in a public university. This department has four scholars of color (including three women and a black man), five white women, an openly gay man, and nine straight white men. Such a department ticks all the inclusion and diversity boxes. Yet many good students rail against being guilt-tripped for their whiteness/maleness. Suppose further that when one of the white males (a token Capitalist) retires, his replacement is a neo-Marxist white female. Could it be that there is simply never enough diversity or inclusion in this department or university–an endless solution in search of a real problem?

The Missing Element

This hypothetical department’s deal with the trifecta devil seems to have robbed them, the university and students of what may be their greatest need: true intellectual diversity.

For this very reason, Jonathan Haidt and scholars of different political persuasions organized the Heterodox Academy with over 4000 members, including me. Its goal is to establish in the academy true intellectual and viewpoint diversity through vigorous argumentation because of huge, unmet demand. Heterodox asserts that “in many fields, scholars’ backgrounds and commitments are insufficiently diverse. As a result, important questions and ideas may go unexplored, key assumptions unchallenged, and the natural human tendencies towards motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and tribalism can go unchecked. This undermines research quality and the impartiality of peer review; it can also corrupt committee decisions about admissions, hiring, promotion, and curriculum design…” resulting from the academic trifecta.

As Heather Mac Donald has said, “Every university twists itself into knots to admit, hire, and promote as many black students and faculty as it possibly can, in light of the fierce bidding war among colleges for underrepresented minorities. To declare from the highest reaches of the academy that racism is the defining and all-explaining feature of American society is to adopt a political position, not to state a scientific truth.”

With the academy and wokedom’s unquestioned acceptance of the “racism” explanation for all self-defeating choices, there is little chance of addressing the underlying behaviors that lie behind much racial disparity.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Trump Promotes Pro-American Education in Schools

To make America great again, Americans must know what it was that made our nation great in the first place. On Thursday, President Donald Trump set about addressing this by issuing an executive order creating the 1776 Commission.

The president explained the motivation behind his order, stating, “The narrative about America being pushed by the far left and being chanted in the streets bear a striking resemblance to the anti-American propaganda of our adversaries.” Noting Critical Race Theory, the training that he banned for federal employees just two weeks ago, Trump asserted, “This is a marxist doctrine, holding that America is a wicked and racist nation — that even young children are complicit in oppression — and that our entire society must be radically transformed.”

He cited a controversial pamphlet on “Whiteness and White Culture” that had been produced by the Smithsonian Institution for the National Museum of African American History and Culture but was later changed due to public backlash. “[It] alleged that concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, and the nuclear family and belief in God were not values that unite all Americans, but were instead aspects of whiteness,” Trump noted. “This is offensive and outrageous to Americans of every ethnicity. It is especially harmful to children of minority back grounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged. Teaching this horrible doctrine is a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words.”

The president also blasted that infamous piece of leftist histrionics known as the 1619 Project, saying, “This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principles of oppression, not freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s founding set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal, and prosperous nation in human history.”

“Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” Trump declared, “We must clear away the web of twisted lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”

Therefore, Trump stated the 1776 Commission “will encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding.” By teaching the nation’s young “to love America with all of their heart and soul,” Trump argued, “we will save this cherished inheritance for our children, for their children, and for every generation to come.”

With this latest EO, Trump has not only sought to stop the promulgation of poisonous anti-American Marxist propaganda, but he’s gone on the offensive in recognizing that America’s youth must not be robbed of the true knowledge of their glorious birthright. There is no nation more deserving of its citizens’ love, appreciation, and commitment than the United States.


When Student Debt Is A Good Thing (And When It’s Not)

Student debt has a bad reputation. It’s under attack from the left, which sees debt as a ball and chain that ruins the lives of young people who had the audacity to seek a decent education. Many on the right share this dim view of student debt but lay the blame at the feet of a higher-education bubble that cannot get its costs under control.

There’s merit to both of these views. Student debt can sometimes ruin lives, and the federal student loan program has indeed driven bloat and a proliferation of useless degrees. But the truth is more complicated.

While it can cause problems when employed in the wrong way, student debt can also be beneficial when used responsibly. The question is not whether we should eliminate student debt, but how we can ensure it is used only for beneficial purposes.

If the education is worth it—a big if, as we shall see—it will yield an earnings payoff in the future. Debt can help students with a liquidity issue, but it can also harm their career prospects if they take on bad debt.

When is student debt a good thing? “Good” student debt finances credentials that provide adequate value relative to their cost, increase lifetime earnings, and supply students with skills that are useful in the labor market and in life. “Bad” student debt deviates from this ideal in one or more respects. In discussing the “bad” sort of debt, many critics of higher education’s loan dependency have a point. But too often, the condemnation of “bad” debt fails to come with an acknowledgment of “good” debt.

A new NBER working paper quantifies the beneficial effects of student debt.

The study found that when students borrow slightly more, they are more likely to graduate college and enjoy higher earnings down the road. There was little quantifiable impact on student loan defaults or homeownership rates: the additional debt was an unambiguous net positive for the students observed. If a student starts college, takes on debt, and makes satisfactory academic progress, it is better to take on more debt rather than drop out.

Student loans provide the extra liquidity students may need to get across the finish line in college. Financial aid grants can help cover tuition, but there are other costs to consider. An unpaid fee or a car repair bill can mean the difference between graduation and dropout. That’s why students in countries with free college tuition, such as Sweden, still typically borrow five figures while in school. Debt can be a useful tool to cover living costs and surprise expenses, not only tuition.

All this presumes that the loans are financing a worthwhile education. In many cases, the value of a college degree is clear. For instance, students who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering and nursing typically enjoy upper-middle-class salaries right out of college. At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the typical nursing student earns a starting salary of $58,200, which is more than enough to manage a median debt load of $22,461. These credentials supply students with skills that are directly applicable to important jobs. Society as a whole is better off when students have loans as a tool to finance college education in these fields.

Unfortunately, much student debt often falls short of this ideal.

There are three principal categories of “bad” student debt:

For people who borrow but never complete the degree, student debt can truly ruin lives. About two in five students fail to finish college within six years, with dropouts concentrated at for-profit schools and community colleges. In North Carolina, 38 percent of students do not complete college within six years.

Non-completers are far more likely to default on their student loans, and the frequency at which students drop out means that over 20 percent of undergraduates default within five years. When borrowers default, the federal government is empowered to garnish their wages, seize their tax refunds, lower their credit scores, and add fees and penalties to their balances that can run into the thousands of dollars.

Most borrowers who drop out and default on their loans would have been better off not going to college at all. While policy changes can improve completion rates at the margin, many dropouts were never prepared for college to begin with and would have been better off pursuing other opportunities.

Yet these students were both encouraged and enabled to go to college by the heavily subsidized federal student loan system.

Other students graduate college but find that their degrees were not worth the cost. For instance, studies have shown that the average MBA graduate is no better off financially than he would have been in the absence of the degree.

An analysis by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shows that 30 percent to 40 percent of educational programs leave students with too much debt to justify the wages they earn in the labor market. Even at elite institutions, some degrees leave students with few well-paying job prospects after graduation. For instance, UNC-Chapel Hill students who earn a master’s degree in social work incur median student debt of $54,500 against a starting salary of $42,300; this equates to a debt-to-earnings ratio of 129 percent.

Students in this situation may be able to pay off their loans without defaulting, but they’re still paying too much and receiving too little.

The least visible problem with student debt, and consequently the trickiest to solve, is credential inflation. Subsidized student loans, along with other forms of financial support for higher education, enable more people to get degrees. Unfortunately, this leads employers to expect degrees from job candidates, even when those jobs have not required degrees in the past. Degree requirements lead people to take on student debt and earn college degrees when the needs of the labor market don’t justify it. Even if the borrowers themselves can use the debt to get access to better-paying jobs, the cost of their unnecessary education still acts as a drag on the economy overall.

How can we steer student debt toward its beneficial uses and away from funding noncompletion, low-value degrees, and credential inflation?

Different problems call for different solutions. Colleges should be financially accountable for a portion of student loans that are not paid back, which will encourage them to increase completion rates and de-emphasize low-value majors. There should be limits on the amount students can borrow from the federal government, particularly at the graduate level, to discourage degrees whose value doesn’t justify their cost. Governments and the private sector should invest in alternative credentials, such as apprenticeships and third-party certifications, to knock the expensive bachelor’s degree off its perch as gatekeeper to high-paying jobs.

And when things do go wrong, policymakers should find ways to make paying for education less burdensome, such as replacing debt with income-share agreements.

The federal government issues roughly $100 billion in new student loans every year, and much of that qualifies as “bad” debt. But the total eradication of student debt should not be the goal, since student loans can still be beneficial when used correctly. Instead, the right reforms can turn student debt from a drag on borrowers and the economy into a tool of individual empowerment.


Reclaiming the American University

Afew weeks ago, I learned I was blackballed by the major journal in my academic field, Rhetoric Society Quarterly. I have both published in, and served as a peer reviewer for, this journal in the past. I learned I was censored through a curt email exchange with the editor (Dr. Jacqueline Rhodes) after she refused to send my most recent essay out for peer review. Although she said the essay would be of interest to those in the field of rhetoric, she unilaterally decided it “wasn’t ready” for publication, despite its perfect alignment with the stated aims of the journal and the instructions for authors on the journal’s website. Because these judgments are typically left to peer reviewers, I asked for clarification—what was it about the essay that made it so “unready” that it couldn’t even be sent out for peer review?

Eventually, Dr. Rhodes replied that she was unwilling to publish anything that might be construed as “racist or transphobic, even in passing.” This made no sense. My essay’s topic was not even remotely related to race or gender politics. It was about people who take on assumed identities when trying to disappear from society. However, there was one sentence that Dr. Rhodes found “troubling.” In it, I made reference to my recent book, Metanoia, in which I offer a comparative analysis of the transformations of Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal. Of course, my reference to my own work was made in the third person so that peers wouldn’t know that I also wrote the essay (a requirement for a blind review).

Further, I explicitly framed the current essay as a corrective to certain claims I made in my earlier work. Under these circumstances, it is clear that Dr. Rhodes did not have any problem with the essay I submitted. She had a problem with the fact that it was Adam Ellwanger who had written the piece, given her familiarity with my recent research (and her likely awareness of the regular conservative commentary that I publish online). If the work was truly not “ready” for publication, then the process of peer review would have confirmed that. The truth, though, is that Dr. Rhodes didn’t send the piece out for peer review precisely because she wanted to ensure against a positive reception from the reviewers, which would require its publication.

The Extent of the Damage

Honestly, I was not surprised that an editor would circumvent the peer review process to avoid publishing research that didn’t align with her personal political agenda. I suspect this has happened to me more than once. What surprised me was that Dr. Rhodes was the first editor to admit that political bias was the reason for the rejection. And while I commend her for her honesty, this censorship embodies only one of the many ways, covert and overt, that university policy and academic practice have been weaponized to advance the progressive ideological agenda, punish dissenting faculty, and propagandize new generations of students.

These trends have been worsening for at least a decade, but in 2020 we are past the point where college campuses are merely “inhospitable” to open inquiry and debate. They are now openly opposed to the American tradition of free speech, which is indispensable for learning and intellectual advancement. For many years, dissident professors were silent about these phenomena. But as we saw colleagues drawn into frivolous and fraudulent Title IX inquiries, watched searches for new faculty members turn steadily into ideological litmus tests, and saw even off-campus speech become increasingly policed by university representatives, many recognized that these trends wouldn’t simply blow over.

Over the last five years, many professors dedicated to the traditions of open inquiry and free speech have vocally expressed their opposition to the ideological drift of the climate in higher education. But sadly, public criticism and the voicing of dissent has done nothing to check these illiberal forces. On the contrary: they have only tightened their grip on the academy.

Just this week there have been reports of a Northwestern University Law School meeting at which participants were required to confess their own racism before participating, and an architectural design class in which Trump supporters were banished on the first day.

It is now evident that criticism of these trends is not enough: the bureaucratic culture of the university is resolutely committed to enforcing intellectual conformity, and the administration is all too willing to cave to pressure from the loudest, most belligerently political factions of the student body and faculty.

For university representatives concerned about the future prospects of our universities, there remains only one mode of resistance: personal non-compliance with the policies and procedures that have reinvented our institutions as communes for dogmatic groupthink.


False rape allegations at Australian universities

Bettina Arndt

Do survivors of unwanted staring really have trouble passing exams? Well, that’s the inherent assumption in a submission from End Rape on Campus to the Federal Government objecting to their Job-Ready Graduates legislation which proposes to remove government-funded loans from students who can’t pass half their subjects.

The submission claims to be advocating for survivors of sexual violence, suggesting they fail or drop out of most of their courses while dealing with the universities complaint processes, and can’t support themselves through regular employment due to the effects of the trauma. “EROC Australia believes that the measures relating to academic performance would have a devastating impact on the ability of students who have experienced sexual violence to gain an education.”

Note the careful use of the term “sexual violence.” End Rape on Campus deliberately uses this umbrella term to cover both sexual harassment and sexual assault, while implying they are only talking about rape victims. Sharna Bremner, founder of EROC Australia, actually tweeted this week that the government legislation would “punish student survivors for being raped” but her use of language in the submission is far more slippery.

It was the Australian Human Rights Commission which latched onto the term “sexual violence” to cover up the disappointing result of their million-dollar survey into what was widely called the “campus rape crisis.” They found 99.2 % of students surveyed reported no sexual assault. Most campus victims turned out to be survivors not of assault but low grade sexual harassment which the survey found to be mainly unwanted staring.

So unwanted staring is actually at the heart of the campus crisis but naturally EROC activists are reluctant to admit their case rests on proving a leering male gaze can derail a student’s education. So they fudge things by throwing in a few points about the special trials faced by actual sexual assault victims – which are no doubt very real – midst sweeping claims about the shattering impact of “sexual violence”.

These are very tricky operators. That’s why Bremner and her cronies have not only managed to hoodwink most of the mainstream media into taking seriously their claims about a campus rape crisis but also have become major players in tertiary education policy.

Dracula running the blood bank

Amazingly, Sharna Bremner is fourth in the list of 13 authors on the recent “Good Practice Note ” on sexual assault and harassment recently issued by our university regulator TEQSA.

This alarming document encourages universities to keep adjudicating rape on campus, showing a total disregard for last year’s Queensland Supreme Court decision which determined these kangaroo courts to be illegal and thumbing its nose at Education Minister Dan Tehan’s instruction that these matters should be handled by criminal courts.

So, our major regulatory body with oversight of our vast tertiary sector sees no problem in proudly acknowledging this activist is instrumental in steering our universities still further into the illegal quagmire of our kangaroo courts. And it was her lobby group that was largely responsible for persuading the tertiary sector to buy into the manufactured rape crisis in the first place. Talk about Dracula running the blood bank.

It speaks to the extraordinary arrogance of TEQSA which sees no need to show any semblance of objectivity as they continue to lean on universities to ensure they usurp criminal law to appease the feminists.

And Bremner still isn’t satisfied. This week, EROC was on twitter arguing more needs to be done to force the universities to get more active in this area.

Email from Bettina Arndt:

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

UK: Edinburgh University’s shameful cancelling of David Hume shows how backward identity politics has become

Edinburgh University has decided to take yet another step to distance itself from its most important intellectual legacy – the Scottish Enlightenment.

It has decided to rename its David Hume Tower because some students claim that the 18th-century philosopher’s views on race cause them distress. In a letter to students, the university authorities said: ‘It is important that campuses, curricula and communities reflect both the university’s contemporary and historical diversity and engage with its institutional legacy across the world.’

It seems that one ‘institutional legacy’ the university is prepared to discard is the one that gave it its international reputation. For without the contribution of the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh University would be just another provincial institution of learning.

The repudiation of Hume is more than just a blow against the man himself and his reputation. It represents an important symbolic victory for identity politics and its crusade against the intellectual legacy of human civilisation in general, and of the Enlightenment in particular.

Virtually every great philosopher who contributed to the development of the ideals of tolerance and freedom has become a target of the crusade to ‘decolonise’ British culture and force contemporary society to detach itself from its cultural and intellectual foundations.

From this standpoint, John Locke, whose philosophy developed the idea of tolerance, is just a 17th-century racist. Adam Smith, another towering figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, is also a racist, apparently. According to one 21st-century critic of Smith, his sin was to make a distinction between ‘savage’ and ‘civilised’ nations.

Immanuel Kant – arguably the most influential thinker of the Enlightenment – and John Stuart Mill – the most important philosophical advocate of liberalism – are no doubt seen as racists, too. The Natural History Museum in London has said it is thinking of conducting an inquisition into its Charles Darwin collection to see if any of it might be deemed ‘offensive’ by the same kind of people who are distressed by the sight of David Hume Tower. A curator warns that some people might find the exhibition of things collected by or related to Darwin ‘problematic’. Why? Because apparently Darwin’s voyage to the Galápagos Islands on the HMS Beagle was just another one of Britain’s colonialist scientific expeditions.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, universities and museums have held up their hands and more or less said they will get rid of anything that is potentially offensive. So even Darwin, who challenged Victorian dogma and revolutionised society’s understanding of the natural world, is casually cast aside in order to appease the crusaders against Britain’s past.

There is little doubt that David Hume held views that were racist. In line with the racial thinking that prevailed in 18th-century Europe, he believed that ‘negroes’ were ‘naturally inferior to whites’. And he didn’t simply express the racial prejudices that were dominant in his time – according to some accounts he was indirectly involved in the slave trade. So Hume, who denounced the practice of slavery in Ancient Rome, can also be accused of hypocrisy.

There is little that is exceptional about Hume’s views on race. Like the vast majority of people living in the 18th century, he interpreted human and social differences through the prism of race.

But the fact that Hume had racist views is one of the least interesting and least important things about him. He was an energetic foe of the dogmas and conventions of his era. His philosophical scepticism and atheism were frequently denounced by those who upheld the prevailing moral order. His powerful critique of religious miracles made a profoundly significant contribution to the development of secular and modern scientific thought. Contemporary cognitive science owes a huge debt to Hume.

Hume exercised great influence over philosophers such as Smith, Kant, Darwin and Jeremy Bentham. That is why he is regarded by many as the most important philosopher who wrote in the English language. Even his detractors recognise that his Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) is arguably the most significant work of philosophy published in English before the 20th century.

It is unlikely that those who claim to be ‘distressed’ by Hume have actually bothered to study his work. If they had, they would realise that the writings of this remarkably sceptical philosopher are an important intellectual resource that those opposed to prejudice can draw upon. He may have been a prejudiced man, but his writings were animated by a critical spirit that challenged prevailing dogmas. That is why those of us who are committed to free thinking continue to regard him as an intellectual giant.

Whatever the faults of Hume the man, they pale into insignificance in comparison to the faults of his 21st-century detractors. There is nothing critical or questioning about the ‘decolonisation’ movement. Unlike Hume, who questioned the conventions of his time and oriented his thought towards the future, his detractors are devoted to the dogma of reading history backwards. They want to fix the problems of the past through denouncing and ‘cancelling’ 18th-century philosophers. And since these philosophers cannot answer back and account for their thoughts and behaviour, it is easy to win a one-sided argument against them. Under the guise of radical campaigning, there is moral cowardice and intellectual sloth at work here.

This targeting of Hume and other figures from the past is a key part of today’s cause of diminishing the Enlightenment. Identity politics is deeply hostile to the Enlightenment ideals of universalism, tolerance and freedom. The dogma of ‘decolonisation’ is really about challenging people’s pride in the civilisational achievements of the past that helped humanity to face an uncertain world.

Edinburgh University should be ashamed of itself. Once upon a time it was the principal intellectual centre of the Scottish Enlightenment; it was referred to as the ‘Athens of the North’. Following its disgraceful cancelling of David Hume, perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it the ‘Sparta of the North’.


Another blow to intellectual freedom: The University of Chicago’s English department is this year only admitting PhD students in ‘Black studies’

In the latest instance of illiberal academic wokery, the English department of the University of Chicago – a department that has already firmly established itself as, well, illiberally woke – has declared that in 2020-2021 it will be admitting only PhD students (five in all) who will pursue scholarship in ‘Black studies’.

That this brouhaha has arisen at the University of Chicago is seemingly surprising. No university in the world has historically been more committed to the principles of academic freedom and of freedom of expression than Chicago, and no university has such a storied heritage of scrutinising and upending the conventional wisdom and the shibboleths dominating higher education. From its founding in 1890 the university defined itself by its culture of fierce intellectuality, a culture characterised by relentless inquiry and robust debate. The university has recognised that such an environment demands protecting its faculty and students so that they can explore and develop the most unpopular ideas untrammelled. As Hanna Holborn Gray, a professor of history, emeritus, and the former president of Chicago, explained the university’s guiding principle: ‘Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.’

To nurture and sustain that intellectually free environment, Chicago long ago recognised that it must commit itself and its constituent bodies – its departments, institutes and professional schools – to neutrality on political, social and moral issues, regardless of how right and settled the response to those issues might appear. The university’s ‘Kalven report’ enshrined this principle in 1967. Written as a response to the demands of some students and faculty that the university take a political stand on such issues as the Vietnam War and the civil-rights movement, the report is a singular and justly famous monument to academic free expression, and it remains, as the university proclaims, ‘one of the most important policy documents at the University of Chicago’. It acknowledges that ‘a university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices and institutions. By design and by effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones… a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.’ But, crucially, the report insists, ‘the instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.’ Because a university must ‘maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures’, it is ‘a community but only for the limited, albeit great, purposes of teaching and research. It is not a club, it is not a trade association, it is not a lobby.’ This strictly neutral posture is necessary, the report explains, because any collective stance would inhibit the expression and exploration of ideas contrary to that stance:

‘[The university] is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. It cannot insist that all of its members favour a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues… It should not, therefore, permit itself to be diverted from its mission into playing the role of a second-rate political force or influence.’

For over 50 years the university has, correctly, held that an intellectually free university in which expression is afforded the widest possible latitude demands adherence to the Kalven report’s principles. As the university’s current president, Robert Zimmer, has argued:

‘[T]he focus on rigorous, intense, and open inquiry carried out by the faculty and students of the university must be accompanied by the greatest possible intellectual freedom, in an environment that supports openness and avoids steps that lead to chilling the environment…

‘[I]t follows that the university… should take no political positions and should remain neutral on such matters (except of necessity those in which it is a direct party), in order to ensure that we have a maximally open environment. Violations of neutrality are a mark against the maintenance of a non-chilling environment.’

Just as the university’s commitment to free inquiry has dictated adhering to institutional neutrality, it has also dictated that the university give its faculty members free rein to pursue their research, as well as their political predilections (even in the politically intolerant 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the university held that the left-wing and even Communist politics of some of its professors weren’t its business).

A commitment to academic freedom has also meant that academic departments within the university have been given the widest latitude to establish their own academic agendas – that is, to set curricular and investigative priorities and, concomitantly, to set priorities in graduate (ie, ‘postgraduate’) student and faculty recruitment. On its face, therefore, the English department’s decision to privilege Black studies as an area of scholarly investigation, even if misguided, is defensible. But as the lengthy and overwrought statement in which the department has announced its decision makes clear, the logic behind that policy is, in fact, pernicious and violates the university’s long-held and hard-won principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom. In full, that statement reads:

‘The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialised and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.

‘For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black studies. We understand Black studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black studies page.

‘The department is invested in the study of African-American, African, and African diaspora literature and media, as well as in the histories of political struggle, collective action, and protest that Black, Indigenous and other racialised peoples have pursued, both here in the United States and in solidarity with international movements. Together with students, we attend both to literature’s capacity to normalise violence and derive pleasure from its aesthetic expression, and ways to use the representation of that violence to reorganise how we address making and breaking life. Our commitment is not just to ideas in the abstract, but also to activating histories of engaged art, debate, struggle, collective action, and counterrevolution as contexts for the emergence of ideas and narratives.

‘English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalisations for colonisation, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why. And while inroads have been made in terms of acknowledging the centrality of both individual literary works and collective histories of racialised and colonised people, there is still much to do as a discipline and as a department to build a more inclusive and equitable field for describing, studying, and teaching the relationship between aesthetics, representation, inequality, and power.

‘In light of this historical reality, we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere. In support of this aim, we have been expanding our range of research and teaching through recent hiring, mentorship, and admissions initiatives that have enriched our department with a number of Black scholars and scholars of colour who are innovating in the study of the global contours of anti-Blackness and in the equally global project of Black freedom. Our collective enrichment is also a collective debt; this department reaffirms the urgency of ensuring institutional and intellectual support for colleagues and students working in the Black studies tradition, alongside whom we continue to deepen our intellectual commitments to this tradition. As such, we believe all scholars have a responsibility to know the literatures of African-American, African diasporic, and colonised peoples, regardless of area of specialisation, as a core competence of the profession.

‘We acknowledge the university’s and our field’s complicated history with the South Side. While we draw intellectual inspiration from the work of writers deeply connected to Chicago’s south side, including Ida B Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, and Richard Wright, we are also attuned to the way that the university has been a vehicle of intellectual and economic opportunity for some in the community, and a site of exclusion and violence for others. Part of our commitment to the struggle for Black lives entails vigorous participation in university-wide conversations and activism about the university’s past and present role in the historically Black neighborhood that houses it.’

This statement is plainly a manifesto expressing political commitment. From its first sentence, it explicitly aligns the English department to a political movement, Black Lives Matter, that adheres to a specific ideology, built on premises that range from the undisputed to the debatable to the dubious, in pursuit of radical societal goals that are hardly uncontested. The manifesto next commits the department and all its members to ‘the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialised and dispossessed people’ – a struggle that, however laudable some might find it, is certainly far from politically neutral. In detailing its academic programme, the department makes another demand for collective political action – ‘we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere’. The department returns to an explicit declaration of social advocacy in the statement’s final paragraph: ‘Part of our commitment to the struggle for Black lives entails… activism.’

The English department’s proclamation, issued by a constituent body of the University of Chicago, flies in the face of the Kalven report. While the Kalven report maintains that any official orthodoxy on political and social issues must be avoided so as not to censure the minority, the English department has delivered a collective political declaration, which repeatedly presents as settled fact what are contestable claims that require scholarly exploration, to which presumably all current and future faculty and students must adhere. Imagine the ‘chilling’ effect, to quote President Zimmer, that this manifesto would exercise on those whose views deviated from the official departmental line, particularly if they were, say, graduate students beholden to advisers or associate professors up for tenure.

While the Kalven report asserts that only the individual within the university is the proper ‘instrument of dissent’, the English department demands that ‘all faculty’ participate in ‘undoing anti-Blackness’ – a mandate for collective responsibility and for collective political action. While the Kalven report argues for the importance of institutional neutrality and for ‘maintain[ing] an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures’, the English department has defined its identity and purpose according to those fashions, passions, and pressures.

Because it is so fundamentally irreconcilable to the Kalven report, the English department’s manifesto is illegitimate. Moreover, that manifesto demonstrates that the department’s academic programme – its curricular and investigative priorities and its concomitant priorities in student and faculty recruitment – is plainly defined by, and emerges directly from, the department’s political commitment, its views on social justice, and its advocacy of anti-‘anti-Black’ activism. By the university’s own lights, the department should not be adopting a political stance or committing itself and its members to a programme of advocacy and activism in the first place; therefore, the academic priorities and programme that flow from and express that political commitment are, themselves, irreconcilable with the Kalven report’s insistence on official neutrality, and are also illegitimate.

Although a university spokesman, perhaps wishing to defuse the current imbroglio, stated that ‘as with other departments in the university, the [English] department’s faculty will decide which areas of scholarship they wish to focus on for PhD admissions’, that explanation is at best obtuse and at worst disingenuous. Certainly a history department, say, could legitimately define its academic priorities by privileging Marxian analysis. But if that department declared that, in pursuit of its conception of social justice, it was committing all its faculty to the workers’ struggle and to the concomitant project of squashing the workers’ class enemies, and was therefore prioritising scholarship informed by dialectical materialism in its curricular and recruitment decisions, then, plainly, the department’s academic programme would merely be a creature of its political advocacy.

In short, the decision of the University of Chicago’s English department to admit only graduate students pursuing ‘Black studies’ next year is reprehensible less for the policy itself than for the political commitment that dictated it. Alas, the English department is hardly the only unit of the University of Chicago to flout the Kalven report by indulging in political advocacy. The department of human genetics, the school of social-service administration, and the university’s art museum have issued similar political pronouncements, replete with their thudding litanies of slogans, jargon, and unargued assertions. If the university is to remain true to its glorious history as a bastion of free inquiry and free expression, it must reaffirm its commitment to the Kalven report. I don’t foresee it doing so.


UK: George Bernard Shaw’s views do not diminish his legacy: RADA students want his name to be removed from one of its theatres as part of an ‘anti-racism action plan’

One of Britain’s oldest arts institutions is to erase its connections with the most important English-language dramatist after Shakespeare. George Bernard Shaw has become the latest victim of the woke purge of cultural institutions following the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. Students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) have called for the college to remove the playwright’s name from one of its theatres because of his supposed support for racist eugenics. The school’s student body presented the proposal as part of an ‘anti-racism action plan’ to RADA’s ruling council and RADA has since promised to act.

Back in July, Edward Kemp, director of RADA, issued a lengthy apology to the Black Lives Matter movement, in which he confessed that RADA was institutionally racist. ‘We are profoundly sorry for the role we have played in the traumatic and oppressive experiences of our current and past black students, graduates and staff’, he said. ‘We are sorry for our inadequate response to the Black Lives Matter movement.’

It seems to matter little that Shaw was one of the earliest members of RADA’s council and a major posthumous benefactor. He also gives his name to the Shaw Fund, through which RADA financially assists emerging writers. According to the Telegraph, royalties from Shaw’s plays brought £78,000 to RADA last year alone.

Among its other proposals, the anti-racism action plan calls for a ban on performances of Restoration comedies, because of their connection with Empire. Students also complained about John Osborne’s landmark play, Look Back in Anger, because of its apparently exclusionary effect on BAME students. RADA’s curriculum is also to be ‘decolonised’, ‘master-and-servant’ exercises will be cut from improvisation classes, and training in received pronunciation will be ‘de-centred’.

The decision by Britain’s most elite performing-arts school to single out George Bernard Shaw for attack is astonishing. Shaw’s 60 plays are credited with killing off Victorian melodrama, ushering in the realist ‘theatre of ideas’ and revolutionising comedic drama. He influenced a spectrum of writers from the 1880s to the present day across Europe and America – from Noel Coward to Eugene O’Neill to Tom Stoppard. Even Shaw’s critics like TS Eliot and John Osborne were influenced by him.

Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 and the Order of Merit in 1946, which he refused. His entry in Encylopedia Britannica describes him as ‘the most trenchant pamphleteer since Swift, the most readable music critic in English, the best theatre critic of his generation, a prodigious lecturer and essayist on politics, economics, and sociological subjects, and one of the most prolific letter writers in literature… He helped mould the political, economic, and sociological thought of three generations.’

Many writers have attempted to portray Shaw as an apologist for both Stalinism and Nazism, though they tend to draw on a handful of comments he made in the early 1930s – a time when both movements were in their infancy, before their most wicked atrocities had been committed. Academic opinion is divided on whether Shaw sincerely believed the most provocative things he said, or whether he was simply being characteristically rhetorical, contrarian and ironic.

Shaw was always questioning orthodoxies. He was an early adopter of vegetarianism and was against vaccinations. He spoke out against both sides in the First World War, and against English rule in Ireland, though he wasn’t republican. He made trenchant attacks on the values of polite Victorian society, especially concerning its hypocritical sexual conduct.

Despite what the students of RADA claim, there is no evidence he was a racist. He mocked the rampant anti-Semitism of his day. According to Michael Holroyd’s 1997 biography, he espoused racial equality and argued for interracial marriage.

In fact, Shaw should be counted among the Edwardian progressives. Most notably he was a radical feminist and tireless critic of the inequalities of capitalism. Unfortunately – though it may seem counterintuitive to us today – these principles led him to the dark and dangerous idea of what he called ‘creative evolution’ – ie, eugenics.

Shaw wrote variously in support of eugenics and lectured to the Eugenic Education Society. According to the Canada-based anti-eugenics pressure group Eugenics Archives, Shaw did not subscribe to the idea of ‘controlled breeding’. Instead, he reasoned that reducing poverty was paramount because civilisation was deteriorating due to income inequalities. He believed that the only way for the human race to improve was by making sure that natural instinct, unrestricted by social forces, would guide reproduction.

While this thinking is certainly backward today, such notions were very popular in the early 20th century – particularly on the left. William Beveridge, DH Lawrence, Marie Stopes, John Maynard Keynes, Emmeline Pankhurst and many others were supporters of eugenics for the same reasons as Shaw.

Should the work of these individuals also be cancelled and their honours removed? Singling Shaw out for condemnation when his ideas, however wrongheaded, were widely shared across society is fatuous. We cannot judge individuals or societies of the past by the standards we hold today. The Guardian newspaper, originally part-funded by cotton mill owners, supported slavery in America. It also wrote in support of eugenics. That is no reason to shut it down. Eugenics is a dreadful (and simply wrong) idea that has no place in a modern liberal political calculus. But the fact is that real historical figures are complicated and their lives cannot be reduced to nursery-rhyme morals.

Shaw might have held some obnoxious views. But he also held enlightened ones. For instance, he wrote a sublime play about persecution in a culture war: Androcles and the Lion. Its central idea is a powerful truth: that one must have an end outside oneself in order to make life worth living.

RADA has given the world Harold Pinter, Albert Finney, Glenda Jackson, Diana Rigg and countless other world-class actors who really understood theatre. Its current staff and students seem content to revel in their ignorance by dismissing Shaw out of hand on the basis of a partial reading of his life. If only they would learn from the past and engage seriously with Shaw’s work. Maybe then they would heed the warning within it: that an identitarian, narcissistic obsession with one’s own moral superiority diminishes life for all of us.


Universities Must Cease Punishing Students for Their Online Pictures

Far too often, schools punish their students for the pictures, videos, and images they post online.

At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I work, we focus on defending student and faculty free speech rights and encouraging universities to uphold those rights, even when it is difficult and unpopular to do so. With increasing frequency, we see colleges and universities failing to adhere to their free speech obligations.

For example, just this summer, FIRE criticized Fordham University for punishing a student over an Instagram photo memorializing the Tiananmen Square massacre which featured the student holding a firearm. For this display of political expression, Fordham found the student responsible for violating university policies on “threats/intimidation,” earning the student disciplinary probation and a ban from campus, campus athletics, and leadership roles in student organizations. Fordham also required the student to take bias training and write a letter of apology.

In an eerily similar case at Long Island University-Post in 2018, the university summoned a student back to campus from his summer break to answer for posting a photo of his legally obtained firearm. Like at Fordham, there was no evidence the student posed a threat to anyone, yet that did not stop the university from investigating his clearly protected expression.

In those cases, and others like them, colleges woefully misconstrue the standard by which expression loses its First Amendment protection as a “true threat.” Although private institutions like Fordham and LIU-Post are not bound by the Constitution to uphold freedom of speech, they pledge in their official policies to grant students rights consistent with First Amendment standards. Under those standards, only those statements demonstrating “a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals” qualify as an unprotected threat.

Without even a rudimentary showing that a student intends to commit violence, a university should not presume that students’ expression—especially in the form of a picture—meets the high bar of a true threat.

This ignorance of free speech principles was on full display at George Washington University last year. After a Snapchat surfaced online showing two students joking about bombing Israel and laughing during the entire seven-second clip, which was overlaid with the caption “Hot Girl Rosh Hashanah,” the university called the local police and FBI, apparently believing that two college students have the capacity to wage war against a foreign country. Without any indication that the video was anything other than a hyperbolic exchange between friends, the university’s investigation casts a profound chilling effect on student expression.

Perhaps the most callous disregard of what constitutes a true threat occurred at Valdosta State University, where then-president Ronald Zaccari expelled a student in 2007 for posting a collage on Facebook depicting Zaccari, a parking deck, and the caption “S.A.V.E.-Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage,” in protest of the environmental impact of Zaccari’s plan to build a parking garage on campus. Without a hearing, Zaccari found that the student’s posed a “clear and present danger” and immediately evicted him from campus. It took more than eight years of litigation to vindicate the student’s rights after Zaccari’s stunning failure to understand basic First Amendment principles.

Nor are graduate students spared from university discipline for their photos. Administrators at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University filed a “Professionalism Intervention Report” against a medical student in 2017 for her Instagram photos of her wearing a white medical coat and posing topless on a beach in Europe. In their meeting with the student, administrators recommended that she “stop posting” or at least ask her then-fiancé for a “second opinion” on her posts, before finding her responsible for violating the university’s social media policy.

Some universities do get it right—the State University of New York at Geneseo, for example, correctly decided that, as a public institution bound by the First Amendment, it cannot discipline students who reference blackface on Snapchat. Although the university did launch an investigation into the expression in the face of tremendous pressure to expel the offending students, SUNY-Geneseo’s accurate conception of its limited powers is a welcome sight. However, it should not require a letter from FIRE for a public school to adhere to its Constitutional obligations.

For students, forewarned is forearmed: Knowing one’s rights is the first step to challenging unlawful university action.
When confronted with racism in their educational communities, universities are not powerless. The First Amendment only limits the types of punishment they may inflict—it does not shield students from, for example, criticism by fellow students, faculty, and the institution itself or from consequences from non-university actors. The answer to distasteful speech is more speech, not censorship. Universities may not sacrifice their students’ rights on the altar of combating institutional racism.

As universities come under increasing pressure by members of their educational communities and others online to expel students who post offensive, hateful, or controversial images online, they should be mindful of their obligations to uphold student free speech rights. FIRE’s message to these institutions is the same as that of the Supreme Court in its 1973 decision Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.

In Papish, the Court heard the case of a University of Missouri student newspaper editor expelled for publishing the headline “Motherfucker Acquitted,” and reprinting a cartoon depicting policemen raping the Statue of Liberty and Goddess of Justice, darkly captioned “With Liberty and Justice for All.” In finding for the student, the Court pronounced that “the mere dissemination of ideas—no matter how offensive to good taste—on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of ‘conventions of decency.’”

Today, university officials must heed the words of the Supreme Court and uphold the free exchange of ideas—and images—on- and off-campus.

For students, forewarned is forearmed: Knowing one’s rights is the first step to challenging unlawful university action. When universities launch investigations, summon students into mandatory meetings, or curtail any rights or privileges over a student’s photographic expression, students should remain skeptical of the school’s proffered justification for such actions, especially when they’re based on the allegedly offensive, controversial, or threatening character of the expression. Students must remain cognizant of their rights and vigilant when schools seek to restrict their expressive freedoms.

Sometimes it does require lawsuits to hold universities accountable. The aforementioned litigation at Valdosta State University resulted in a $900,000 settlement for the student. Another lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District resulted in the district revising several severely restrictive policies on student expression. Students should not have to take schools to court to realize the full extent of their Constitutional rights.

At the end of the day, it is universities, not their students, that have access to billion-dollar endowments, teams of lawyers to interpret the law, and hundreds of administrators to write and apply institutional policies. University leaders need to develop a greater understanding of the limits of their powers to punish students for their expression. We are happy to work with administrators to craft speech-protective policies toward this end.