Friday, November 27, 2015

K-12 Course Choice: The Next Evolution in School Choice?

A fundamental tenet of parental choice in education is that students’ learning opportunities should be personalized rather than limited based on where their parents can afford to live. Online (or virtual) learning takes this concept even further by removing both geographical and temporal constraints.

This month The Evergreen Education Group released its 11th annual Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning report. Findings were presented at the iNACOL [International Association for K-12 Online Learning ] Blended and Online Learning Symposium in Orlando.

Online and blended learning (a combination of traditional in-classroom and online learning) are important and growing parental choice options. According to Keeping Pace approximately 315,000 students in 35 states are attending fully online schools, an increase of more than 6 percent since the 2012-13 school year (p. 5).

The desire for greater personalization in learning is likely a large reason why.

In the typical classroom setting governed by seat-time and other requirements students must try to master the knowledge and skills they need based on someone else’s schedule. Online learning turns that dynamic on its head since students learn at their own pace, taking more time to master course material if they need it but not being held back if they don’t.

In other words, individual student achievement—not what time the bell rings—is the driving force behind solid online learning programs (as opposed to programs that simply treat technology as a faddish classroom add-on).

Another encouraging trend is the growth of online course choice policies.

Fully 11 states allow students to choose the courses they need and want from a variety of providers, according to Keeping Pace (pp. 59-63). States with the best programs include Florida and Utah for encouraging a variety of providers and course options for students, ensuring parents and students, not school districts, are in charge of choosing, and for funding providers based on successful student completions, not seat time.

While still in its relative infancy, K-12 online course choice represents a welcome antidote to the one-size-fits-all approach to education typified by efforts such as Common Core “national” standards.

Course choice also carries significant potential to improve the overall quality of academic courses by introducing competition, which carries with it powerful pressure to provide high-quality, low-priced offerings. Such competition would also go a long way toward minimizing the sheer volume of courses with inflated titles (not to mention price tags) and deflated rigor.


Who Created These Campus Whiners?

Remember the campus unrest in the 1960s? Whether or not you agreed with the students, they were protesting about things of great consequence — civil rights, the military draft, the Vietnam War. They had chants such as “Hell no, we won’t go.”

Those were the good old days.

Now we are witnessing whiny college kids marching in the streets, screaming obscenities or taking over the university president’s office, and for what? Feeling slighted? Having their feelings hurt? Talk about rebels without a cause.

I’ve traveled to many campuses in recent weeks and experienced the melodrama of student grievances firsthand. To be fair, I should note that many of the students are impressive, with open and inquiring minds. It’s only a loud-mouthed minority whose mission is to shut out and shut down views they find ways to be offended by.

These leftist kids are agitated and angry. This is a hangover effect, I suspect, from the shattered Utopian dreams of “Hope and Change.” I have noticed in recent months that these students attend my lectures not to learn anything — they know everything already — but hoping that I will slip up or say something they can label as offensive or that violates their eight-volume campus speech code.

When I ask them what they want, a typical response is “radical transformation of the economy” to reduce income inequality, racism and sexism and, of course, to end climate change. Government will command these changes to achieve this transformation. These are young Stalinists who are willing to suspend almost every basic freedom and civil liberty for “the greater good.”

They’re on a roll, having already successfully removed university presidents and faculty for the sin of being insufficiently responsive to their latest grievances.

At one recent visit to the University of Massachusetts, I asked a few kids what their plans were for Thanksgiving. They practically spat at me for even mentioning this white-supremacy holiday, which only trivializes and glorifies the genocide of the Native Americans by the pilgrims. Wow. Sorry I brought it up, especially in your “safe space.”

I can’t help contrasting these attitudes with a recent meeting I had with a group of soldiers who had returned from Afghanistan. These brave men and women risked their lives every day. They had real bullets shot at them, not the verbal ones that the campus leftists find so offensive. They have genuine and, in some cases, life-changing injuries: ringing in the ears, post-traumatic stress disorder and broken limbs.

They served so that campus leftists can remain sheltered in their cocoons and protest the wounds to their fragile psyches from having to listen to a point of view they disagree with. The horror.

Can you imagine the tyranny you would bring upon yourself by actually hiring one of these self-righteous complainers?

Employers tell me despondently that millennials are by far the highest-maintenance generation they’ve ever seen. One recruiter recently told me: “They need their hands held; they demand affirmation; they are forever whining about their feelings. We really don’t have time to deal with their petty grievances.”

Who’s to blame for all of this? Alas, we are: the parents who caved in to every instant-gratification demand they ever had, arranged “play dates” for them, showered them with positive affirmation daily and gave them timeouts rather than spankings. Our schools are to blame for labeling them “gifted and talented” and awarding them towering trophies for finishing in sixth place so as not to damage self-esteem. College professors are to blame for corrupting their minds with hate-America ideology. And now the administrators are to blame, too, as they bend to students' every petty demand.

Worst of all are the successful, well-meaning Americans who think they are being charitable by giving their money to the very universities that are indoctrinating these kids with nonsensical ideas. Why? Just stop. Society would be better off if you just burned your money.

I admit that people make these complaints about every new generation. But millennials seem seriously off-kilter, and we made them this way. A generation that has grown up in more affluence and personal freedom than any other in history has been taught to hate the free enterprise wealth-creation process that gave them what they want in the first place. A generation that has been drilled since pre-kindergarten that the highest virtue in life is tolerance has suddenly become the least tolerant in history.

What they lack most is gratitude. It’s something to think about this Thanksgiving.


A Little-Understood Engine of Campus Unrest: Racial Admissions Preferences

An underlying reason for today’s “hostile learning environment” on campus

Why are some of the most privileged students in the nation plunging into a racial grievance culture and upending their campuses as though oppressed by Halloween costumes they don’t approve, imagined racial slights, portraits of Woodrow Wilson, a tiny handful of real racial epithets, and the like?

The reasons are of course multifaceted. But one deserves far more attention than it has gotten: Many or most of the African-American student protesters really are victims — but not of old-fashioned racism.

Most are, rather, victims of the very large admissions preferences that set up racial-minority students for academic struggle at the selective universities that have cynically misled them into thinking they are well qualified to compete with classmates who are, in fact, far stronger academically.

The reality is that most good black and Hispanic students, who would be academically competitive at many selective schools, are not competitive at the more selective schools that they attend.

That’s why it takes very large racial preferences to get them admitted. An inevitable result is that many black and (to a lesser extent) Hispanic students cannot keep up with better-prepared classmates and rank low in their classes no matter how hard they work.

Studies show that this academic “mismatch effect” forces them to drop science and other challenging courses; to move into soft, easily graded, courses disproportionately populated by other preferentially admitted students; and to abandon career hopes such as engineering and pre-med. Many lose intellectual self-confidence and become unhappy even if they avoid flunking out.

This depresses black performance at virtually all selective schools because of what experts call the cascade effect. Here’s how it works, as Richard Sander and I demonstrated in a 2012 book, Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It:

Only 1 to 2 percent of black college applicants emerge from high school well-qualified academically for (say) the top Ivy League colleges. Therefore, those schools can meet their racial admissions targets only by using large preferences. They bring in black students who are well qualified for moderately elite schools like (say) the University of North Carolina, but not for the Ivies that recruit them. This leaves schools like UNC able to meet their own racial targets only by giving large preferences to black students who are well qualified for less selective schools like (say) the University of Missouri but not for UNC. And so on down the selectivity scale.

As a result, experts agree, most black students at even moderately selective schools — with high school preparation and test scores far below those of their classmates — rank well below the middle of their college and grad school classes, with between 25% and 50% ranking in the bottom tenth. That’s a very bad place to be at any school.

This, in turn, increases these students’ isolation and self-segregation from the higher-achieving Asians and whites who flourish in more challenging courses. At least one careful study shows that students are more likely to become friends with peers who are similar in academic accomplishment.

Put yourself in the position of manyHispanic and especially black students (recipients of by far the largest racial preferences) at selective schools, who may work heroically during the first semester only to be lost in many classroom discussions and dismayed by their grades.

As they start to see the gulf between their own performance and that of most of their fellow students, dismay can become despair. They soon realize that no matter how hard they work, they will struggle academically.

It is critical to understand that these are not bad students. They did well in high school and could excel at somewhat less selective universities where they would arrive roughly as well prepared as their classmates.

But due to racial preferences, they find themselves for the first time in their lives competing against classmates who have a huge head start in terms of previous education, academic ability, or both.

Researchers have shown that racial preference recipients develop negative perceptions of their own academic competence, which in turn harms their performance and even their mental health, through “stereotype threat” and other problems. They may come to see themselves as failures in the eyes of their families, their friends, and themselves.

Such mismatched minority students are understandably baffled and often bitter about why this is happening to them. With most other minority students having similar problems, their personal academic struggles take on a collective, racial cast.

Consider the case of a student whom I will call Joe, as told in Mismatch. He breezed through high school in Syracuse, New York, in the top 20 percent of his class. He had been class president, a successful athlete, and sang in gospel choir. He was easily admitted to Colgate, a moderately elite liberal arts college in rural New York; no one pointed out to Joe that his SAT scores were far below the class median.

Joe immediately found himself over his head academically, facing far more rigorous coursework than ever before. “Nobody told me what would be expected of me beforehand,” Joe later recalled. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into. And it all made me feel as if I wasn’t smart enough.”

But just as surprising and upsetting was the social environment in which Joe found himself. “I was immediately stereotyped and put into a box because I was African American,” he recalled. “And that made it harder to perform. People often made little derogatory comments.…There was a general feeling that all blacks on campus were there either because they were athletes or they came through a minority recruitment program.… That was just assumed right away.”

It was also, unfortunately, quite true. That’s why racial preferences are an extremely powerful generator of racial stereotypes about intellectual abilities. Joe was forced by bad grades to drop out after his freshman year, though he eventually returned to Colgate and obtained his bachelor’s degree.

Not many mismatched students complain — even if they figure out — that the root of their problems is that they are not well-qualified to compete with their classmates. The universities, the media, and others do their best to conceal and deny this connection. And it is human nature to seek less humiliating, more sinister explanations.

The grievance-prone college culture offers ready targets for these frustrated students to blame for their plight: wildly exaggerated and sometimes fabricated instances of racism, trivial perceived “microaggressions,” and the very real racial isolation that is largely due to racially preferential admissions — all leading to a supposedly hostile learning environment.

Another common reaction is to withdraw into racial enclaves within the campus. Many universities encourage this by creating black dormitories and even by assigning entering students to them.

Racial, intellectual, economic, social, religious, and political diversity can greatly enrich the educational experience — but not when engineered through large preferences that do more harm than good to their supposed beneficiaries, not to mention to the stronger students who are passed over to make room for racial-preference recipients.

All this goes a long way toward explaining the over-the-top demands now roiling our campuses for still more racial admissions preferences; more preferentially hired, underqualified professors; more grievance-focused courses and university bureaucrats; more university-sponsored racial enclaves; and more apologies for “white privilege.”

The university leaders who cravenly coddle the racial grievance lobby, such as Yale President Peter Salovey and Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber, are only aggravating academic mismatch, racial isolation, and unhappiness among minority students — and degrading their own universities.

Pessimistic observers of such meltdowns conclude that our most prestigious universities are committing suicide. Where are the leaders who will set things straight?


Campaigners' fury at bid to cut feminism from British High School  syllabus

Women's rights campaigners have reacted with fury over plans to remove a section on feminism from the politics A-level syllabus.  The proposed changes would remove all mentions of feminism, sex and gender, with only one female political thinker mentioned by name.

The suffragette movement is squeezed into a section on pressure groups.

Yesterday there were calls for the Department for Education to reverse the ‘insulting and misguided’ move.  A petition to ensure women are not ‘erased out of history’ has attracted thousands of signatures.

Management consultant Jacquelyn Guderley, who co-founded Stemettes which aims to inspire girls into science and engineering careers, warned that women’s voices were being silenced.

She wrote on her website: ‘We are going through a huge feminist revival. Even if we weren’t, our daughters and granddaughters, sons and grandsons, nieces, nephews and families need to know about the movements and key female figures that got women to where they are today.’

Under the old syllabus, a whole module was dedicated to ‘knowledge of the core ideas, doctrines and theories of feminist thought, of tensions within feminism and of competing feminist traditions’. In the proposed new syllabus, the feminism section has been removed and instead there is a section on pressure groups.

In the liberalism section, 18th century figure Mary Wollstonecraft – regarded as a founder of the feminist movement – is the only female key thinker mentioned compared to six men.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, told the BuzzFeed website: ‘The plan to shoe-horn feminism, one of the most important and ongoing political forces in modern history, under the banner of ‘‘pressure groups’’ is both insulting and misguided.’ 

Former Liberal Democrat equalities minister Jo Swinson wrote on Twitter: ‘Is removing feminism from the A Level Politics syllabus a good idea?’

Patrick McGhee, Assistant Vice Chancellor at University of Bolton, wrote: ‘Don't like sound of this at all > Government To Remove “Feminism” From Politics A-Level Syllabus.’

Campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez said: ‘New politics A level includes only one female thinker & has got rid of feminism as area of study. Sign the petition.’

A government consultation on the move closes on December 15. The Department for Education insisted it was for exam boards to set the detailed content of qualifications and schools were free to decide which figures they teach about.

A spokesman said: ‘We want schools to highlight the issues faced by women from all walks of life and ages in history, including the work of key female political thinkers within the ideologies covered and in UK and global politics.’

The government consultation on the move closes on December 15.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Decoding fact and fiction in coding

Trisha Jha is on the money below.  The idea of teaching programming to kids must have come from someone who knows nothing about it.  Only people in the top 2% of IQ will ever be able to program to any significant extent. I once tried to teach Uni NSW Sociology students programming in a language that seems easy to me  -- FORTRAN -- but none of them actually learnt it as far as I could tell.  My son has recently got a job as a computer  programmer but he has a first class honours degree in mathematics and spent a solid 18 months doing computer programming courses at university.  There are a few very bright kids who take to computer languages like a duck to water but that is the end of it.  Average kids will never acquire useful programming skills

We're seeing an increasingly apparent borderline obsession with getting primary school age kids to learn to 'code', i.e. computer programming. Bill Shorten promoted it in his Budget Reply speech this year and various commentators have formed a chorus.

The focus on coding does have sensible origins. The 2009 Melbourne Declaration made the fairly common-sense observation that school students should be prepared for "a world in which information technology will be ubiquitous."

It seems schools aren't doing a very good job. The National Assessment Program includes an ICT component, and the 2014 report for Years 6 and 10 released this week shows  test performance - in terms of mean scores and the percentage of students reaching basic standards - is poor and has declined since 2011. Only 55% of Year 6 students were deemed proficient, and just 52% of Year 10 students. Results were also differentiated by socio-economic status, with kids from professional urban households performing better than their rural and underprivileged peers.

It should not be surprising that 'digital natives' may not be so skilled after all. The technology people use on a daily basis is becoming less technical and more focused on 'idiot proof' apps.

Is it any wonder, then, that even children who are accustomed to using technology are often failing to grasp how to use it to complete concrete tasks? The idea that schools can 'teach' computing skills, the skills necessary for 'creative and productive' use of technology (as the Melbourne Declaration proposes) just by replacing the whiteboard with a smartboard, and exercise books with computers, is folly.

If the obsession with coding is shorthand for more explicit and purposeful teaching of ICT, as ACARA CEO Rob Randall has said there should be, then there's something to it. But trying to cram the teaching of a highly specific skill (likely by poorly-trained instructors, given there is already a shortage of maths and science teachers) into an already-crowded curriculum can only make things worse - especially when so many kids are still not functionally literate or numerate. Those are skills that even the most brilliant of software engineers cannot do without.


University's free yoga class is shut down over 'cultural appropriation' fears after complaints from 'social justice warriors'

Indians are going to be upset because a few Canadians practice yoga?

A free yoga class has been suspended after student leaders at a Canadian university are concerned the practice of it could be seen as 'cultural appropriation'.

Jennifer Scharf, who has been offering the weekly yoga class at the University of Ottawa campus for seven years, said she was notified in September that the program was being ended.

In an email from the Center for Students with Disabilities, staff wrote that while yoga is 'accessible and great for students', there are 'cultural issues of implication involved in the practice', the Ottawa Sun reported.

'I'm not pretending to be some enlightened yogi master, and the point [of the program] isn't to educate people on the finer points of the ancient yogi scripture,' she told the Ottawa Sun.

'The point is to get people to have higher physical awareness for their own physical health and enjoyment.'

The university's Student Federation, which operates the center, had initially approached Scharf in 2008 about providing yoga instruction to students, including those with disabilities, according to the Ottawa Sun.  Around 60 university students participated in the program.

The center's staff said that yoga has been under 'a lot of controversy lately' as a result of how it is being practiced and which cultures those practices are 'being taken from,' according to the Ottawa Sun.

Staff from the center also expressed that many of those cultures 'experienced oppression, cultural genocide and Diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy'.  The center official went on to say that 'we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practicing yoga'.

Scharf, who works as a yoga teacher at the Ramas Lotus Center, said the concept of cultural appropriation does not apply in this case.

She told the Ottawa Sun that the complaint that caused the program to come to an end came from a 'social justice warrior' with 'fainting heart ideologies' in search of a controversial issue that would attract public attention.

Scharf claimed people are just searching for a reason to be offended by anything they can find, according to the website.

'There's a real divide between reasonable people and those people just looking to jump on a bandwagon,' she said. 'And unfortunately, it ends up with good people getting punished for doing good things.'

Romeo Ahimakin, acting student federation president, dismissed the claim that the decision to suspend the program came as a result of a complaint.

Ahimakin said the student federation had placed the yoga program on hiatus while they worked with students to improve it and make it 'more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces', according to the Ottawa Sun.

'We are trying to have those sessions done in a way in which students aware of where the spiritual and cultural aspects come from, so that these sessions are done in a respectful manner,' Ahimakin said.

Scharf suggested that she would be willing to change the name of the program from yoga to 'mindful stretching' as a compromise.

The staff from the center debated re-branding the program before eventually making the decision to suspend the program, according to the Ottawa Sun.

One student federation official, Julie Seguin, said labeling the center's yoga program as cultural appropriation is 'questionable' and 'debatable'.


The University of Racial Indoctrination

What do the students want? That was the question many asked as they watched American college students across the country go on protests, sit-ins and hunger-strikes over claims that administrators were not doing enough to combat racism on campus.

The movement took off last week when protests at the University of Missouri (‘Mizzou’) led to the resignation of its president, Tim Wolfe. Copycat protests then spread to many others, including Yale, Ithaca College, Claremont McKenna College and Amherst College. Reading through the lists of demands from these student groups, it is clear that they have much in common.

For a start, the student activists demand apologies, usually for inherited sins of the past. At Mizzou, Concerned Student 1950 hoped to orchestrate a Maoist-style shaming session. The group demanded the president present a ‘handwritten’ apology to be read aloud at a press conference, and plead guilty to his ‘white male privilege’.

In a self-parody of political correctness, Amherst Uprising called on the president and board of trustees chairman to apologise for an ‘institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latin racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native / indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental-health stigma, and classism’.

The students are also quick to demand ‘Off with his head!’, and with about as much reason as the Queen of Hearts. Shortly after Mizzou’s Wolfe fell, the dean at Claremont, Mary Spellman, acceded to demands for her to resign. Her crime? A poorly worded email.

The student group Next Yale is now demanding that Nicholas and Erika Christakis — professors and student advisers at one of Yale’s colleges — lose their jobs. Erika had the temerity to send an email that effectively said that students don’t need administrators telling them which Halloween costume to wear, and Nicholas the gall to agree with his wife and defend free expression.

But beyond extracting a confession from a college official before their execution, what exactly do these students want the universities to do? In a word, all want to expand what might be called the race therapy complex in higher education. This complex encompasses a variety of administrative bodies, student clubs, training and course curricula, all with the aim of propagating a particular view about race – one that sees the problem of racism, and its management, in therapeutic terms.

The demands of today’s activists hit upon the key components of the race therapy complex, including:

* Appointing senior administrators in charge of diversity;
* Mandatory racial-awareness and sensitivity training for students and faculty;
* Required courses in ethnic studies;
* Increased funding for multicultural centres and ‘social justice’ clubs;
* Increased funding for mental-health counselling.

To a college president at risk from a mob-organised career guillotine, accepting these demands will be almost a no-brainer — especially since these measures would represent a continuation of the race policies that administrators themselves have promoted for the past two decades. As a tour of Mizzou’s website highlights, the university has operated a panoply of race-related programmes for over a decade: the ‘MU Equity Office’, the ‘Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative’, 11 diversity-related training and development programmes, the ‘Show Me Respect’ campaign, the ‘One Mizzou’ initiative, a guide to promoting an inclusive classroom, a ‘Difficult Dialogues’ theatre group, to name only some.

So when Mizzou’s board last week introduced measures demanded by the protesters – including hiring a new diversity officer; requiring all incoming freshman to complete racial training; adding a new component on racial studies within the academic curriculum; and reviewing mental-health services – it was following down their own well-established trail.

A good question might be: why should we expect new diversity initiatives to bring about racial harmony on campus, if they haven’t already? But it would be more accurate to understand today’s battles over race as the product of the inherently divisive race therapy complex, and that doubling down on it, as the protesters now demand, will only exacerbate tensions.

The stated goals of the race therapy complex — which include raising ‘racial awareness’ and being more ‘sensitive’ about race — sound pretty innocuous, but they are actually problematic for overcoming racial divisions and realising civil rights for black Americans. As Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn diagnosed in her essential book, Race Experts, the demise of the civil-rights movement in the 1960s led to the rise of self-appointed social engineers wielding the new tools of racial etiquette, sensitivity training and new-age therapy. While influenced by the black-identity movement that had replaced Martin Luther King’s universalism, the primary factor behind the creation of the diversity profession was the boom in psychotherapy, which swallowed the civil-rights movement, and many other social movements.

Despite surveys documenting a sea change in attitudes regarding race, these race experts refused to believe that the US had become more egalitarian. Convinced of the entrenched bigotry of Middle America, they sought to tackle racism in a new frontier: the mind.  The race professionals shifted the focus of anti-racism to stereotypes, language and feelings, and constructed codes of conduct to police personal behaviour. In other words, they positioned race as an issue of therapy and etiquette, rather than justice or equality in employment, education and society-at-large.

In commenting on events at Mizzou, the writer Jason Whitlock (who is black) put it this way: ‘Liberal elites define racism as “code words” and “dog whistles” and the utterance of the n-word by white people. They reduce racism to a language. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and our Greatest Generation defined racism as laws and policy.’

As the complaints of the student activists show (about everything from the revving of a car engine near protesters to the phrasing of emails), this outlook continues to situate racism in relatively minor, interpersonal incidents. The race therapists encourage hyper-sensitivity, expand into new areas where offence can be taken, and urge apparent victims to not hold back their emotions – all of which have been witnessed in the current protests. In doing so, they create new sources of anxiety and coarsen social interactions. Diversity engineers stoke the fires of division. As Lasch-Quinn wrote, they promote ‘a world in perpetual recovery, a world of endless slights’, in which ‘racist crimes and social faux pas are one and the same’. That pretty much sums up students who have a meltdown over Halloween costumes.

The latest proposals to extend the reach of the race therapy complex on campus can only make relations among different groups worse. For a start, they will give more power to diversity officials, whose bureaucracy within the university is already something of a regime unto itself. Everyone at Yale knew that when its diversity office published its ‘guidance’ on Halloween costumes, it would have a chilling effect, given its capacity to ostracise and discipline students. And, as Erika and Nicholas Christakis learned, this office can count on a section of students to rise to its defence.

Diversity offices are essentially arms of the federal government on campus, backed by the authority of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (which protects people from discrimination on the basis of race in programmes that receive federal funding, like most universities) and its enforcement agency, the Office of Civil Rights. Expect more appeals to the OCR, which has expanded its remit over time, to intervene. That’s what Missouri Student Association vice-president Brenda Smith-Lezama seemed to be doing when she said, ‘I am personally tired of hearing that the First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and other students here’ — the term ‘hostile environment’ being something that the OCR is meant to protect students from.

The new proposals will also corrupt the curriculum and inhibit the exchange of ideas. When student activists at Claremont complain that the Crime and Public Policy course ‘does not offer readings with perspectives of people of colour,’ and that the Civil War history course is ‘extremely insensitive’ and ‘hurtful’, they are arguing that all course content must meet with a censor’s approval. It is a move that places limits on the exploration of knowledge.

Understanding the impact of race on society should be an area of academic inquiry and debate. But, as first-year students will learn from the ‘race sensitivity’ indoctrination, the race-therapy model will be one that students question at their own risk. This is how the race therapists supposedly ‘win’ the intellectual argument: by claiming that any other view is against the school’s code of conduct.

As it is discussed in terms of encouraging greater ‘awareness’ and ‘respect,’ a newly enhanced diversity agenda may appear soft, but it increasingly reveals a hard authoritarian dimension. Thanks to the race-therapy professors and bureaucrats, students are taught that words in themselves cause real harm, create an ‘unsafe space’ and violate a moral code. No wonder that, to many students of this generation, calls to defend free speech sound formal and beside the point.

Moreover, today’s student protesters seem quite happy to seek to clamp down on expressions of speech, and egg on the campus authorities to take action. Activists welcomed the Mizzou campus police department’s email asking students to report ‘cases of hateful and hurtful speech’, so that they could direct them for criminal or disciplinary action. This gives the offence-taker the ability to get the police involved, and thus potentially criminalise speech.

At Amherst, protesters demanded that the president not tolerate the students who put up posters that read ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘Free Speech’. The president must ‘alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency’. Here, racial training is revealed for what it truly is: a form of re-education and punishment.

Giving new powers to the race therapy complex on campus must be opposed. Despite what they claim, these ideologues are encouraging, not overcoming, racial divisions. Their narrow, victim-based and therapeutic agenda is directly opposed to the optimistic humanism of the civil-rights movement. Accepting their terms would mean not being able to speak of the universalistic ideas of Martin Luther King, which would be a travesty.

Thankfully, some students are seeing through the protesters’ attempts to seize moral authority via claims of victimhood. The editorial team at the Claremont Independent published a strong dissent: ‘We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked.’ Yes, now is the time to speak out against those who would divide us by race.


On not going to university

With an increasing number of students heading to university each year, the value of a university degree is not the same as it once was. Even the word ‘value’ indicates that universities have become more like businesses rather than places of education. As the graduate market becomes more saturated, it is becoming more interesting to tell an interviewer why you chose not to go to university. In an interview with The Sunday Times earlier this year, Clarissa Farr, high mistress of St Paul’s Girls’ School in London (apparently the best-performing school in Britain), stated how it will soon be seen as ‘acceptable for bright students not to go to university’, indicating this ‘could be a more exciting and faster route to the top’.

Universities seem increasingly to focus on the so-called student experience over the students’ education, with universities putting huge resources into public relations, league tables and student surveys. University has become the place for teenagers to go when they wish to delay being an adult, rather than being the bridge to independence it was once considered to be. As someone who chose to leave university, it felt like I was simply putting my life on hold for three years, when I really wanted to jump into the world of work. This feeling was further enhanced by spending time on campus, where it felt like all students were being kept together and shielded from the outside world.

Now, I’m not anti-university. Achieving a university degree is hard work, and many jobs require degree-level knowledge. In fact, any form of education is valuable. But, the problem is, students are funnelled into a university education without the chance to consider if it’s what’s best for them. Other opportunities, like apprenticeships, internships or going straight into work, are not suggested to many students as schools wish to boost their proportion of ‘high achievers’. But this means many students only arrive at university to discover it is not the right path for them. Many students have simply felt pressured to go. But if university is meant to be about creating independent thinkers, shouldn’t students be given the independence to decide whether they want to go in the first place?

A further reason many young people are now reconsidering whether university is the best option for them is the fees. Some subjects, like science, include the cost of the lab equipment and the conducting of experiments. But, for a history degree, paying £9,000 a year seems like a lot of money for some essay feedback, a few reading lists and the odd lecture or seminar.

The reason I initially decided to go to university was because I enjoyed learning and I felt university was the only place I’d be able to continue my education. But learning isn’t just confined to studying, essays and tests. In fact, since leaving university it’s been nice to rediscover learning simply for the joy of it – reading around the subjects I love, watching TEDTalks and taking part in public debates.

University is a form of education, yes, but it’s not the only form. Many people do thrive at university, but I don’t think it should be seen as the only route, and something everyone must do if they wish to succeed. There are so many opportunities out there that young people should be allowed to explore before deciding for themselves whether university is the best option for them. And if it’s not? That’s okay, too.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Abolish "No Child Left Behind"

Today a House and Senate conference committee met to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was last reauthorized in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

There are numerous problems with the proposed compromise being considered (see here, here and here, for example).

But the bigger question we should be asking of Congress is why reauthorize the ESEA in the first place?

We’ve endured 50 years of federal meddling in elementary and secondary education, and we have scant (if any) hard evidence that DC politicians—whether it’s members of Congress, presidents or their education secretaries–know what’s best for other people’s children.

The ESEA was first enacted back in 1965 as a key program in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society efforts including the elimination of poverty. The law’s stated goal was to help improve academic performance among disadvantaged students. Yet ESEA spending has far outpaced both student enrollment and achievement.

From 1966 through 2012, total ESEA spending increased approximately 180 percent from nearly $8.5 billion in 1966 to more than $24 billion in 2012 (in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars).

[Unpublished data from “Appropriations for Programs Authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1966-2012,” available upon request from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD)/Budget Service.]

Meanwhile public elementary and secondary school enrollment (prekindergarten through high school) increased less than 10 percent over a corresponding period, from about 46 million students in 1969 to 50 million students in 2012.

In spite of ESEA spending that has outpaced student enrollment by nearly 20 to one, student achievement has been essentially flat among 17-year-olds since the early 1970s in both reading and math, increasing just two scale score points in each subject overall.

Part of the controversy surrounding today’s conference hearing concerns years of unsuccessful attempts by Congress to reauthorize the ESEA . In the absence of Congressional reauthorization, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan began unilaterally issuing waivers exempting states from various accountability provisions under NCLB without congressional approval.

While Chairman Kline and others rightly challenged Duncan’s constitutional authority to initiate this national “race to the waiver,” too many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle seem blissfully unconcerned over their own constitutionally suspect actions.

For all the popular talk in Congress about recalibrating the federal role in education so that it acts as a guardrail to keep the states in line, the word education does not appear in our Constitution, and Congress has no express authority over education. Period.

U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah rightly objected to the proposed ESEA compromise bill, stating that:

    ...we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children. The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.


What Congress should be doing is prohibiting any ESEA program from being reauthorized. All related program funding should be returned to the states with no federal strings attached—the most flexible plan of all.

Those funds, in turn, should be deposited into student education savings accounts controlled by their parents, not politicians—the most accountable plan of all.

Next, no piece of federal education legislation should be enacted unless the U.S. Constitution is amended giving Congress express authority to pass education-related legislation.

Finally, state lawmakers should enact and expand parental choice programs. Today, more than 1.25 million students nationwide are benefiting from parental choice programs in the states. Rigorous scientific research proves parental choice works; parental choice saves money; parental choice is constitutional; and, best of all, parental choice programs change children’s lives for the better.


Princeton Ousts Leftist hero -- the "founder" of the United Nations

Yet another student protest, yet another racist thrown under the bus. Except this one actually was racist — he just also happened to be a Democrat president and a father of the “progressive” movement.

“The Black Justice League at Princeton had demanded that the president acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from buildings on campus, mandate ‘cultural competency’ courses for all faculty and staff, and provide cultural space for black students on campus,” The Washington Post reports. “President Christopher Eisgruber immediately agreed to the idea of a cultural space Wednesday night, but declined to sign the demands and promised to continue talking with students about the other ideas.”

Wilson believed in a malleable Constitution and a virtually all-powerful executive. In fact, he was in many ways the originator of the elite administrative state in which know-it-all bureaucrats make thousands of decisions that solve problems in wreak havoc on our lives. He was also quite a racist. But as David Harsanyi writes, “Like most progressives of his era, Wilson wasn’t merely a common racist, he embraced the pseudo-scientific eugenics that would haunt millions. After his election, he didn’t only say terrible things — ‘There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field’ — he institutionalized racism in the federal government, segregating the civil service in 1913. He personally fired 15 out of 17 black supervisors appointed to federal jobs, while his postmaster general and Treasury secretary segregated their departments. He’s the only president that I know of who’s ever celebrated the Ku Klux Klan in the White House.”

But you know something? We’ll bet these same student protesters are big fans of Planned Parenthood, which was founded by a eugenicist by the name of Margaret Sanger. Heck, Planned Parenthood still gives out media awards with her name on them. She and Wilson were peas in a pod on the issue, but you won’t hear that at Princeton.


End College Football

By Victor Davis Hanson

College football players are gladiators of sorts. On the one hand, they are vastly underpaid for the risks they take as well as the profits they generate for the university and the scores of jobs they subsidize. On the other, in terms of college protocols, they are pampered and exempt from rules that other students follow. Being exploited and privileged is a bad combination.

For half a century, liberals have pointed out that football players should drop the amateur pretense, join a semi-pro club, and make the money they deserve -- given that their admissions, grades, and class attendance are exempt from university rules, and warp the college experience. Why do we treat as a privileged class those who so often do not meet university requirements that are non-negotiable for mostly indebted students without recourse to such lavish scholarships and subsidies? Entire majors, curricula, counseling, and protocols were invented simply to free football players from having to be students.

Athletes are also exempt from the new liberal policing.  The university campus has grown into a scary place, given the Maoist tendencies to go after race/class/gender enemies of the people. But no institution is more guilty of such politically correct crimes than is the football team.

The majority of the African-American players on the University of Missouri team threatened to boycott their next game, unless campus diversity demands were met, including quotas to ensure more black representation on the faculty and staff.

But why then would the football team be exempt from its own ideology?  Did the players assume that their money-generating power made them far more important than the English Department or counseling staff? Did they think they were akin to nuclear plant operators and jumbo jet pilots -- or the Democratic primary field -- whose tasks are professed as far too important to be adjudicated by non-meritocratic criteria?

Nearly half of the University of Missouri’s players are African-American, four times greater than the black percentage of the general population.

Under the Obama administration’s dictates of proportional representation and disparate impact, publicly funded institutions must ensure racial diversity, even if they are not proven to practice discrimination.

So-called “merit” criteria are no excuse when racial diversity is absent. Nor is the fallback position of "no qualified applicants in the pool." In college lingo, where are the minority recruiters at University of Missouri to broaden the recruiting base and ensure a fair sample of potential recruits? Why are Asians and Latinos underrepresented? Or for that matter whites as well? Mentoring, outreach, set-asides -- could not all these tools of fairness and equality be implemented in the fashion that they are on campuses in general to ensure a richer mosaic? Are the swimming and tennis teams ethnically diverse? The equestrians? Why are the very public manifestations of university life not reflections of university values?

Feminists insist that one in four female students is sexually assaulted on campus before graduation. If that is true, responsible parents have no business sending their kids to a unsafe university like, say, Stanford, where a walk in the quad is supposedly statistically about ten times more dangerous than strolling in downtown crime-ridden East Palo Alto at night. But do feminists target the football team. If not, why not?

Nationwide, there is an epidemic of student athletes being charged with sexual assault (again, true of the University of Missouri football team), at rates far higher than the general student population. In fact, a recent study revealed that the University of Missouri experienced 63 criminal cases involving 46 of its athletes during a recent five-year period. Statistically its athletes are among the most likely of university players nationwide to be charged with sexual assault, and far more prone to be charged than non-athlete students.

Why are these incidents ignored? Has any women’s studies program conducted a study of student athletes to determine whether they statistically assault women, especially involving the use of violence, at higher rates than the general student body? The University of Missouri football team’s threatened boycott should be a wake-up call and teachable moment to reexamine the entire football program there to investigate critical issues such as diversity and sexual assault.

Deans and provosts are often evaluated on the basis of increasing faculty diversity, rather than improving student performance, faculty teaching and research, or graduation rates and employment.

Should coaches not be subject to the same criteria? The coach who goes 2-8, but whose team looks like America (Asian linemen, Latino quarterbacks, female kickers, white punt returners, etc.), in theory should receive a bonus. In contrast, the 10-0 coach, who fails his diversity goals, should be fired for ignoring the disproportionate impact of his recruiting and player-selection criteria that had resulted in massive over-representation of one particular racial group at the expense of other groups who were largely ignored.

The truth is that the university is a dysfunctional institution. Free speech no longer exists. Trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and safe zones have created a climate of fear and bullying on campus. Affirmative action criteria emulate the abhorrent "one-drop" rule of the Old Confederacy. Campus identity is defined by race and gender, but never class.  Annual hikes in tuition exceed the rate of inflation. Faculty are paid widely asymmetrical compensation for instruction of the identical class, depending on archaic institutions like tenure and seniority. Non-teaching personnel have soared. Graduate PhD programs have proliferated, even as jobs for their graduates have shrunk. Undergraduate university graduation rates have declined. College graduates are assumed to earn high-paying jobs; but the dismal rate of bachelor's degrees translating into employment commensurate with staggering college costs and student-loan debt would prompt federal investigations of fraud and false advertising in any other institution.

At the center of such chaos and contradiction sits college football -- the most hypocritical of all university institutions. It may have survived past liberal criticism that it was a veritable money-making and exploitative industry, run amok and immune from the campus laws that govern faculty and students. But it should not survive present liberal demands for racial diversity, proportional representation due to disparate impact, and zero-tolerance for sexual assault.


Mother's agony after reading 11-year-old son's note describing how he is being bullied at new school

British State schools are a lottery

A mother was left shocked and heartbroken after reading her 11-year-old son's harrowing account of how bullies had turned his life into 'a nightmare come true'.

Kerry Mustafa, 29, read how pupils at her son's new school had hurled racist abuse at him, threatened him with a compass, and even attacked him at school, breaking his thumb.

She suspected he was having problems so asked him to write down his feelings, but was unprepared for the extent of his turmoil revealed in the note, in which he wrote that he 'couldn't cope with it'.

Ali Junior - known as AJ - wrote about being 'petrified' and said his life had become 'a nightmare come true,' at the new school, rated outstanding by Ofsted.

He also wrote that the racist abuse he suffered made him feel 'sick', as he described how pupils at his new school had threatened to fight him on Facebook. He added: 'Then I was called names, I was heartbroken.'

The 11-year-old also wrote how his life had been much better at his previous school, and after describing the bullying and abuse, added: 'So this is my life now?'

Mrs Mustafa said: 'I'm quite lucky that AJ comes to me every time there's an incident at school or something happens. 'He has even rang me from school telling me about the bullying he is experiencing that day.  'But suddenly I realised he had told me about what was going on but he had never spoken about how he felt about it. 'So I asked him to write about his feelings but I wasn't prepared for what he had to say.'

Mrs Mustafa and AJ's father, Ali Mustafa, from Hull, East Yorkshire, have accused teachers of not doing enough and have now removed him from Sirius Academy North.

They are also contemplating schooling their young boy from home.

Mr Mustafa said: 'We've reported it so many times and every time the school says they will deal with it.

'But I'd call again and I'd speak to a different person, who hasn't got any record of what was said before and what is happening to my son.'

Mrs Mustafa added: 'We want him to go to school and be around other children and live a normal life. 'But if I can't get him into another high school, I will have to keep him at home.'

Mr Mustafa, who works as a television satellite engineer for the business he and his wife run, spoke of the change in his son's personality since he started secondary school in September.

He said: 'It's completely changed him.  'He was in a fight where he broke his thumb, he's been threatened with a compass, he's been smacked in the face, he's been called racist names like Ali Baba.

'The final straw was when he received a message from Facebook asking him if he would be in a fight. For me there is no other option. I do not want my son to go back to that school.'

In a statement from Sirius Academy North, head of school Ian Ravenscroft said: 'It would be inappropriate to comment upon specific incidents, however we take all forms of bullying and prejudice extremely seriously.

'We investigate all allegations of bullying fully and put in place support as appropriate.  'The academy's dedicated pastoral team deals swiftly with any reported concerns.' [The usual British bullshit]


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yale president grows some balls

In an email Wednesday Yale’s President and the Dean of Yale College affirmed their support of Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika despite activists calling for their resignation.

“Both Nicholas and Erika Christakis remain committed to serving the college, and we fully support them in these efforts. They are exceptional teachers and scholars, with a longstanding and deep dedication to undergraduates,” wrote university President Peter Salovey, and Dean Jonathan Holloway.

Student group Next Yale had previously issued a list of demands which included the, “immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from the positions of Master and Associate Master of Silliman College.”

The uproar against the Christakises started after Erika sent an email which questioned guidelines for Halloween costumes, writing:

"Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition."

Nicholas, a sociologist and physician, wished to defend his wife and attempted dialogue with students. But he was met with vulgar screaming and a student asking, “Who the f*ck hired you?”

It is unknown how Yale will respond to other protester demands that include, “abolish the title ‘master.’”


Campus zealots hound student out of lectures and bars with shouts of 'rapist' after he dared to question the effectiveness of rape 'consent workshops'

A student has been driven out of lectures and bars with shouts of ‘rapist’ after he dared to question the effectiveness of ‘consent workshops’.

Second-year George Lawlor, 19, fears for his future at Warwick University after being ostracised and bullied for challenging a student union drive to hold rape awareness sessions.

Writing in a blog, he argued that the overwhelming majority of people ‘don’t have to be taught to not be a rapist’ – and that men inclined to commit the crime would be unlikely to attend such a workshop.  He added that he found his invitation to one of the sessions ‘incredibly hurtful’.

But in the latest example of politically correct intolerance in universities, the student faced a fierce backlash from radical feminists. He was attacked on Twitter and Facebook by student activists branding him a ‘rapist’ and ‘misogynist’.

Mr Lawlor, who studies politics and sociology, fears the furore will affect his academic work – and his future career.

The abuse was so bad that he stopped going to lectures. He told the Daily Mail: ‘I was expecting a reaction, but I was not prepared for just how horrible it was. I remember putting it online and told a few people, who were … saying there would be a backlash.’

In the piece, ‘Why I don’t need consent lessons’, Mr Lawlor said he ‘loved consent’ but that organisers were ‘pointing out the obvious’ and ‘thinking they’ve saved the world’ by making men listen to lectures about rape.

He posed with a sign reading, ‘This is not what a rapist looks like’, to highlight that most right-thinking people know where the boundaries are. But he was called ‘classist’ and ‘racist’ by people who thought he was commenting on what the physical appearance of a ‘typical’ rapist was.

The article was covered on news sites in the US, all over Europe and in Australia.

Mr Lawlor said Warwick student paper The Boar ‘got all their writers together to gang up’ on him with two one-sided articles. Others deleted him as a Facebook contact and sent abusive messages.

He added: ‘In real life, the bus to university was the worst … I heard people talking to each other saying, “I really want to hit that kid”. Walking through campus, people would go silent as I walked past. It was really scary … it got really nasty.’

He said that when he ran in student union elections, someone wrote on his Facebook page, ‘I want to give this guy minus one vote’, followed by another user adding, ‘I want to give this guy minus 100 per cent oxygen’.

Mr Lawlor added: ‘There was one guy messaging me on Facebook for over a week, calling me names like racist, rapist … I’ve stopped going to lectures and seminars because of the perceived threat.’

He said he was driven out of a bar in Leamington after some students overheard his friend mention his name. ‘These six guys just crowded round me and started shouting at me … calling me a rapist, a misogynist, and threatening me … I had to get out of there,’ he said.

Mr Lawlor suggested his ordeal will have a chilling effect on other students. He said many had told him they agreed with the article but were afraid to back him publicly.

‘It’s all part of this no-platforming agenda, where they try and create “safe spaces” … but no-one ever thought to question whether I was in a “safe space”,’ he said. ‘People were calling for me to be expelled. You’re only allowed to talk about certain issues, it seems.’

He added: ‘When you search my name all you find is my name next to the word “rapist”. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer you don’t want to risk having this sort of reputation … so there’s a fear that stops people talking freely.’


As David Starkey is the latest to be banned by our politically correct universities... Britain's students: the new fascists?

When you hear the word ‘university’, what image comes to mind? Dreaming spires? A sun- dappled quad? The brightest of Britain’s youth strolling about, minds wide open to new ideas, controversial theories, different ways of thinking?

Think again. Britain’s universities have changed. They’ve turned from citadels of intellectual inquiry into sprawling camps of conformism, where anyone who dissents from what is decreed to be the correct thought processes will be cast out into the academic darkness.

Our colleges are now stuffed not with bright-eyed students keen to discuss any ideas, however radical, but proselytising zealots who will hound off campus anyone that offends their politically correct sensibilities. They spend their time constantly on the lookout for thinkers or books or even pop songs that blaspheme against their right-on ideology.

They are what you might call the student Stasi, and I have discovered for myself what it is like to be on the receiving end of their self-righteous ire.

A year ago, in November 2014, I was due to speak at Oxford University in a debate about abortion. But a gang of fuming student feminists had other ideas.

They said it would be offensive to female students to have ‘a person without a uterus’ — what most of us call ‘a man’ — talking about abortion. Such a discussion would harm their ‘mental safety’, they claimed. So they set up a Facebook page littered with expletives which demanded that the debate should be called off.

It was like an online mob jumping up and down with pitchforks.

The Facebook furies threatened to turn up to the discussion with ‘instruments’ — and they didn’t mean musical instruments — to ‘disrupt’ it. The irony of them threatening the physical safety of a university meeting in the name of defending their own ‘mental safety’ was lost on these alleged bright young things.

Even more depressing than this ludicrous protest was the fact that Oxford’s university management kowtowed to the hysteria and cancelled the debate.

This week, Britain’s other great seat of learning, Cambridge, showed that it is likewise happy to spurn those who hold what are considered to be the ‘wrong views’.

Following complaints about the inclusion of the scabrous but brilliant historian David Starkey in a video promoting Cambridge, Starkey was banned from taking part. The short film features famous Cambridge alumni talking about how life at the university changed them, as part of a £2 billion funding drive.

Students at Cardiff University demanded that the leading feminist Germaine Greer should be ‘No Platformed’ — in other words banned from being able to speak in public — because they objected to comments she had made about transgender issues

Starkey was banned from taking part in a short film promoting Cambridge featuring famous alumni talking about how life at the university changed them, as part of a £2 billion funding drive

But the potential appearance of Starkey — known for his robustly un-PC views — caused a hissy fit among both student union officials and lecturers. They were signatories to an open letter which called the historian ‘a man who has a well-documented and undeniable history of racism and sexism’.

Now this isn’t Bernard Manning we’re talking about — it is one of Britain’s best-loved historians, who has enlightened millions about the Elizabethan era. He also regularly injects spark and sass into grey TV shows like Question Time.

No DOUBT one of the comments the university has taken offence at — like an ageing Duchess clutching her smelling salts — was his observation after the London riots of 2011 that ‘the whites have become black’.

To explain his point, he went on to talk about the pernicious influence of what he called the ‘destructive, nihilistic gangster culture’ which he said ‘has become the fashion’ in our inner cities.

He has also expressed withering views in the past on ‘pretty girl historians’ — and this is his reward, ostracised by his own university.

Thankfully, some of Starkey’s fellow historians are agitating for his place in the video to be reinstated, and are fuming against Cambridge’s capitulation to the self-appointed censors. But I don’t suppose they will do much good. These illiberal students will brook no opposition.

In the year between my being banned from the Oxford abortion debate and the shameful traducing of David Starkey at Cambridge, barely a week has passed without students screaming for the censorship of things that ‘hurt’ them. They even call for ‘safe spaces’ where they can go without feeling threatened either intellectually or physically.

Students at Cardiff University demanded that the leading feminist Germaine Greer should be ‘No Platformed’ — in other words banned from being able to speak in public — because they objected to comments she had made about transgender issues.

They insisted that Greer’s belief that men who have sex-change surgery do not become real women, has ‘no place in society’. What tyrannical arrogance to think they should be the arbiters of which voices should and should not be heard.

In the end, Greer’s lecture went ahead this week, but not without a gang of placard-waving students outside insisting that her words are ‘harmful’.

In September, the student union at Warwick University banned the Iranian-born secularist and critic of Islamism, Maryam Namazie. They said that her views would upset Muslim students.

This is a woman whose family escaped Iran in the hope that in the West they’d be free to say whatever they please. Yet Warwick students behaved like little ayatollahs themselves — affronted by the sight of a woman who has the gall to criticise Islam — and sought to shut her up.

Following a public outcry, she was re-invited — but when students resemble the finger-wagging rulers of Iran, you know there’s something rotten on campus.

Last month, the colourful feminist Julie Bindel was ‘No Platformed’ by the student union at Manchester University. Why? Because ten years ago, in the Guardian, she penned an article criticising transgenderism — blasphemy in the eyes of the self-elected guardians of accepted thought.

(She wrote: ‘I don’t have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women.’)

It isn’t only different or daring thinkers who are silenced by censorious students. At the end of last year, Dapper Laughs, a perma-tanned Cockney comic, was banned from performing at Cardiff University. Student officials claimed that his jokes ‘dehumanise’ women and are therefore ‘inappropriate’. Among the thought police, the word ‘inappropriate’ signals that something is wicked, and must be stopped. Sometimes, this student intolerance crosses the line from sinister to surreal.

More than 30 student unions in Britain have banned the American singer Robin Thicke’s salacious smash hit song about seduction, Blurred Lines, claiming that it makes female students feel unsafe.

Last year, a DJ at a student bar in Oxford accidentally played Blurred Lines, causing a student official to leap up and unplug the sound system, like a nun at a school disco tut-tutting over the Rolling Stones.

Other student unions have banned lads’ mags, tabloid newspapers, even sombreros: they claim it is ‘cultural appropriation’ — whatever that means — for middle-class white kids to don Mexican hats.

Some student unions enforce these ‘No Platform’ policies not only against neo-fascist parties, but also against UKIP — which was banned at the University of East Anglia. Equally, it can be difficult for Israel-supporting students to hold discussions on some campuses because the prevailing attitude among many students and academics is pro-Palestinian.

Recently, the student union at University College, London, banned a Nietzsche reading group, fearing that it would inculcate students with Right-wing ideas.

Friedrich Nietzsche is, of course, a giant among 19th-century philosophers, and widely studied. Yet exposure to his views was deemed to be too dangerous. Nothing is safe: not famous feminists, popular historians or cheeky stand-up comedians. Everything they find distasteful must be expunged.

Such intolerance reached its nadir when students at Goldsmith’s College in London and also at Cambridge recently burned the newspapers of Far-left groups that they find offensive. Now, burning literature has dark, disgusting historical echoes.

The word ‘fascist’ must never be used lightly. But to destroy with fire words you don’t like? That is fascistic, and the very opposite of the freedom of thought that should prevail on 21st-century campuses.

As we have seen, the New Fascists, and the academic apologists who cave in to their censorious demands, frown on alternative thinking and seek to eradicate dissenting thought.

The end result is a narrow dogma in which only one world view can prevail. But a university banning freedom of thought is like a hospital giving up on medical treatment — an abandonment of its very reason to exist.

David Starkey must be reinstated in that Cambridge video. But we must go so much further: the freedom to think and debate — and, yes, to rile and offend — must be reinstated on every campus in the land.


Public University Joins LGBT Radicals in Targeting Professor Who Thinks Kids Should Have Mom, Dad

Kim Davis. Aaron and Melissa Klein. Barronelle Stutzman. Robert Oscar Lopez?

For many conservatives, the first four names—Americans who have faced state-sanctioned discrimination for trying to live in accordance with their religious beliefs about marriage—bring strong opinions about America’s deteriorating state of religious liberty.

However, it is Lopez who may be America’s most persecuted pro-family advocate—even as some pro-family and conservative leaders have declined to take up his cause.

Last year, the radical Human Rights Campaign (HRC) targeted Lopez–an associate professor of English and classics at California State University Northridge (CSUN)—as part of the so-called “Export of Hate” because of his international advocacy on behalf of children and against redefining marriage.

A bisexual man raised by lesbians, Lopez told The Daily Signal in 2014 that the HRC’s efforts have left him feeling “completely isolated,” as well as “having to worry every time I leave my home—and my wife is there with the newborn—and not knowing whether I’m going to get killed, it’s really hard.”

This past June, things got worse for Lopez: He found out that CalState administrators had spent eight months building a case against him for the crime of giving students an optional assignment to present at the Reagan Library, as well as for allegedly retaliating against students who disagreed with his conservative views on family and the rights of children.

In October, the newly tenured professor—a status earned just two years ago—was found guilty of retaliation against a student. This is a decision that could lead to his dismissal.

“The Office of Equity and Diversity first claimed that I discriminated against a heterosexual female student and a gay male student by offering them two options to fulfill 20 percent of a course grade,” Lopez told The Daily Signal in a recent e-mail. He added:

    One option was to write ten responses to the reading, an assignment I currently give out in all my classes. The other option was to prepare a research exhibit and display it at an all-day conference at the Reagan Library; it was the Reagan Library option they found ‘harmful’ because they were exposed to and had to sit next to conservatives while they ate and listened to lectures.

That conference was called “Bonds That Matter” and promoted traditional views on marriage and family.

“The gay male student was exposed as a fraud early on. That left the heterosexual woman, whose claims were subjected to a long and expensive investigation that ultimately ended up vindicating [me],” explained Lopez.

While the initial investigation revealed no wrongdoing, the campus is now claiming that Lopez retaliated against a student who reported him to the university—something he says is bunk because the student in question received an “A” in his class, she was not entitled to an award administrators claim he prevented her from getting, and “all the ‘evidence’ supporting the complainant’s retaliation claim was undocumented memory.”

Zero of three CalState administrators contacted by The Daily Signal about their targeting and persecution of Lopez responded to requests for comments. However, a spokesperson who was forwarded the e-mail told The Daily Signal that the university has done no wrongdoing in its investigation.

“CSUN is fully committed to upholding academic freedom and free speech, as well as the right of our students to bring forth concerns. Any investigation resulting from student complaints follows established CSU protocol and is conducted on the basis of determining whether or not there has been a violation of university policy,” said spokesperson Carmen Chandler.

In a disposition given to Lopez, the university claims that he was investigated only once charges were formally filed in May, by students who were graduating. However, the disposition also notes that “the facts surrounding [a female student’s] allegations … were similar to the allegations made” by two students “about the conference just days after it took place on October 3.”

Lopez says this means the investigation started last year—in violation of the campus’ policy to complete investigations “no later than 60 working days after the intake interview,” with a 30-day extension if necessary.

“We take issue with the accuracy of the allegations currently circulating relating to this investigation, but as this is a confidential personnel matter that involves confidential student information, we cannot discuss or disclose the details,” said the campus spokesperson.

Why is Lopez being targeted by university administrators? Lopez says it “is a complicated question,” and that he “faced resistance at the university due to my service in the U.S. Army Reserves, my prior work with national security, and my authorship of a 2011 book called ‘The Colorful Conservative.’”

Lopez, who says his view that “children have a right to a mother and a father” especially angered some liberal activists, thinks that outside groups may have worked with his students. “There was a mix of their own intense rage at me over my views and the real political pressure applied to them by outside groups,” he explained, saying that he has “no real gripes against the students, because I know they were weaponized by off-campus groups.”

Lopez says the latest charges may simply be administrators attempting to save face. In a letter to the university, his lawyer accused administrators of making a “purely political and ideological attack on Dr. Lopez for holding—and exposing his students to—ideas about children’s right[s] in the context of family and reproduction which are apparently unpopular at [CalState].”

Lopez considers the right to natural parents—a life circumstance he was denied growing up—so important that he and several other people raised by same-sex couples filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of children…and against redefining marriage. He has also publicly criticized IVF, a process some same-sex couples use to have children, saying it denies children the right to natural parents.

This month, CalState’s targeting of Lopez finally received the attention it deserves, with stories by Campus Reform, The Daily Caller, and other outlets, including a link from The Drudge Report. Lopez said he hopes that “the conservative movement can find a way to fight for people like me.”



Monday, November 23, 2015

America’s Cultural Revolution Reaches Amherst

General Jeffery Amherst's alleged but unproven blanket warfare raised yet again

In dismaying news for a troubled alumnus, America's politically correct student revolutionaries have not bypassed Amherst College, as shown by a November 12-13 sit-in at the college's Frost Library. Amherst events provide a case study of modern academia's leftist domination with grave implications for academic freedom.

The student protesters issued a statement befitting the Maoist demands for self-criticism of China's Cultural Revolution Red Guards, although no cannibalism has yet occurred at Amherst. The protestors decried Amherst being "complicit in oppressive organizations" against the "systematically oppressed" and demanded statements of apologies from Amherst's Board of Trustees Chairman and President Biddy Martin. Although "only a part of short-term healing," this apology would address Amherst staff, students, and alumni who had suffered the modern lament of lacking a "safe space for them to thrive while at Amherst College."

Unbeknownst to many at the "Fairest College," these individuals endured a catalogue of horrors of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latin racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism.

While no institution is perfect, such sins and any corresponding inability of the Amherst College community to thrive are not immediately apparent. A campus statue commemorates Amherst alumnus and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher while a captured Confederate cannon in a college building recalls Amherst students who fought in the Civil War. Amherst's Charles Drew Memorial Culture House carries the name of another alumnus who was a medical pioneer and, like civil rights legal pioneer Charles Hamilton Houston, is among Amherst's distinguished African-American graduates. The first Japanese graduate of a Western institution of higher learning, Joseph Hardy Neesima (Amherst Class of 1870), initiated Amherst's longstanding relationship with Japan.

Not an Amherst alumnus, but the college's unofficial mascot, Lord Jeffery Amherst, the 18th century British commander-in-chief in North America, is the current object of scorn for the college's would-be betters. Amherst's conquest of Canada from the French endeared him to American colonists, including those who named the Massachusetts hometown and namesake of Amherst College. In a 1763 letter exchange, though, Lord Amherst suggested dissemination of smallpox-infected articles among "disaffected tribes of Indians" for their "Total Extirpation."

The Frost protesters demanded that Martin condemn the "inherent racist nature of the unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff," memorialized in the school fight song and the private Lord Jeffery Inn next to the college. According to the protesters, this condemnation "will be followed up by the encouraged removal of all imagery" pertaining to Lord Amherst (perhaps even including his portrait in the college's Meade Art Museum?).

"Some people believe that drawing a parallel between Jeffrey Amherst and Adolf Hitler is going too far," a Native American student in the 2014 Amherst College class once said, "but for me and many other Native people, Amherst is our Hitler."

Yet the reality of Lord Amherst's offending letters during Pontiac's Rebellion, a conflict involving several Indian tribes in the Pennsylvania colony and Great Lakes area, is more complex. While Indians seized several British outposts, 600 settlers sought protection at Fort Pitt with its garrison of 125 soldiers on the site of modern Pittsburgh, then enduring the deprivations of a siege by 1,000 Indians. Historical evidence indicates that the fort's commanding officer, Captain Simon Ecuyer, independently implemented Lord Amherst's scheme with indeterminate effect.

"The Fort Pitt smallpox episode is just one example of the degree of hatred that animated both sides during Pontiac's Rebellion," a Pennsylvania historical society writes.

Once celebrated by colonists and Indians alike for its peaceful intercultural relations, Pennsylvania had become a killing ground in which each side became convinced that its future rested on extirpating the other. Indians raided British posts and settlements...burning homesteads, taking captives, and torturing and murdering soldiers and civilians. British colonists and soldiers retaliated with equal brutality."

The "British were willing to use biological warfare against their Indian enemies," the historical society writes objectively without Hitler hyperbole. The fact that several British officers like Ecuyer independently considered smallpox stratagems demonstrates that Lord Amherst possessed no unique cruelty. Indeed, evidence indicates that the British tried to weaponize smallpox against rebels in the American Revolution, a tactic that recalls medieval military uses of animal carcasses.

Lord Amherst had particular grudges against Native Americans, although there is no record of his in belloextermination musings ever affecting the various Indian tribes with which the British often traded, negotiated, and formed alliances. Inflated reports of Indians killing and scalping British soldiers in French captivity during the 1757 Fort William Henry massacre outraged him and the rest of British North America. While deplorable, Lord Amherst's hatred found echoes centuries later in American icon Theodore Roosevelt.

"I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians," he declared, "but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th."

Such historical nuances are unlikely to find a fair hearing among the Frost protesters who demanded a vague "zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech." They particularly condemned posters placed on campus with statements such as "All Lives Matter" and "in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech." The "racially insensitive" students involved should "be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.

Martin's call in a statement largely sympathetic to the protesters to "protect free speech while also establishing norms within our communities that encourage respect" is cold comfort under the circumstances. Absent rigorous respect for intellectual freedom, the Left's sacred cows such as LGBT agendas and non-Western faiths like Islam will go unchallenged while aspects of Western civilization like Lord Amherst will endure the strictest of scrutiny. The noxious ramifications of such biases extend well beyond the idyll of elite institutions like Amherst, a fact that should provoke alumni and parents to exercise adult supervision over increasingly infantile students.


A Conservative Student’s Take On the Recent College Protests

Can liberalism defend itself from its progeny? This question is rarely considered by liberals themselves. But after seeing the disturbances on America’s campuses over the last couple of weeks, they would be well-advised to start.

Universities are supposed to be bastions of liberalism. Liberal administrators have insisted for decades that they know how to craft an environment free of hatred and bigotry.

Under their beneficent control, America’s campuses would nurture a belief in universal human dignity that undergirds the traditional liberal worldview. Multiculturalism and affirmative action were stepping stones aimed at vindicating the most important value of all: tolerance.

 The Definition of Intolerance

Of course, tolerance that proceeds in only one direction – “tolerance for me, but not for thee” – is the very definition of intolerance.

Yet that intolerant conception is now accepted as correct by some leftist students nationwide.

The results have been predictably disastrous.

The left has perverted the liberal idea of tolerance by combining it with the perverse politics of identity and power. Too afraid of being labeled racists by campus radicals, the liberals have largely given up fighting for their own professed principles: democracy, equality under the law, equality of political rights, and the rule of law.

The drive to reduce “inequalities” in pursuit of “social justice” on campuses now takes precedence over every long-standing right cherished by liberals, most especially the freedom of speech.

Today’s students are willing to trade freedom for comfort. They will end up with neither.

How Did Things Get so Bad?

Identity politics, which is diametrically opposed to individualism and freedom, is now ingrained in the fabric of our universities. The sorting of students into “oppressors” and “oppressed” starts at the beginning of the contemporary college experience.

Those sorted into the “oppressed” category are exhorted to bring up their “marginalization” at every opportunity. Most of them cannot describe how they have personally faced substantial racial, ethnic or other discrimination (because few have).

So instead, they dutifully recite talking points about the “structural oppression,” “white supremacy,” and “systemic racism” allegedly faced by their identity group.

When conflict erupts, the “oppressed” are entitled to do as they please. If they behave well, they are praised for restraint in the face of injustice. If they behave badly, even violently, the “system” is blamed, and they are absolved of all responsibility.

Those sorted into the “oppressor” category usually consist of people who are some combination of white, heterosexual, Christian, and male.

Their highest calling is self-flagellation. They are required to condemn their own “privilege” and denounce the accomplishments of themselves and their families as unearned and unjust. They are to apologize for their identity group at every opportunity.

Those who try to think for themselves are denounced for their heresy as traitors to the cause of collective liberation. Those who insist on following any kind of moral principle or precept – which will necessarily offend some people – are deemed intolerant and demonized.

A Culture Of Hypersensitivity

We are now viewing the utter inability of liberalism to stand up for its own values. Modern American universities are no longer liberal models, but due to their restrictive and Orwellian environments, foster hypersensitivity and conformity.

The sense of victimization that these students feel is used to justify their nasty tactics. If you are on the wrong side of the social justice war, they will not stop at attacking your arguments. They will go after you personally – your job, your reputation, and your livelihood – to intimidate.

Not realizing that capitulation welcomes contempt rather than respect, liberal college administrators have capitulated and accommodated the radicals.

The radical left wants power, not justice. Liberals betray their own principles of freedom and equality under the law when they acquiesce to policies of racial quotas in the classroom and political censorship on the campus.

University of Missouri students demand a faculty that is a minimum of 10 percent black, and demand the addition of a mandatory “awareness and inclusion” curriculum developed by non-white students and faculty. They want to dictate the academic offerings of a university, with special treatment for their own racial groups. That is not equality.

Leftists are destroying liberalism. Universities are quickly gaining a well-deserved reputation as some of the least free institutions in American life.

The task is for conservatives, and true liberals, to stand up for America’s moral, legal, and political foundation.

Establishing classical liberal values in America required tremendous sacrifice on the part our forefathers. We are not about to see that legacy damaged by students who have no understanding of the source of their own freedom and prosperity.


Reflections on the revolution

Isaac Cohen

That the American university is in crisis is a statement that now commands wide agreement.

What are students complaining about? That Yale and other elite universities are mired in outdated conventions and ideas, which exclude and discomfit students who don’t “fit the mold.” For conservatives, and even for many moderates, these claims are mysterious: There are few institutions in American life that are so utterly beholden to the left and its principal tenets. But that doesn’t seem to impress the radicals. And so what happens is that students’ particularized grievances — an “insensitive” administrative email, perhaps, or an alleged “white girls only” party or, at Mizzou, a “poop swastika” drawn in a public bathroom — are transformed into abstract condemnations of entire schools. A university’s “racial climate” — which can include anything and everything about it — is deemed insufficiently “sensitive” or “inclusive.”

Of course, nebulous accusations that an entire institution is “insensitive” are nearly unfalsifiable, especially when these charges are ultimately grounded in feelings or, as the phrase goes today, students’ “lived experiences.” Indeed, it sometimes seems that the unfalsifiable nature of so many of these muzzy claims is quite deliberate. It is virtually impossible to quarrel with feelings. Muddled language makes for muddled minds, and muddled minds make for easy, unanswerable indictments.

Our administrators, who ought to act with prudence and foresight, appear helpless in the face of these indictments. Consider President Salovey’s email to the Yale community this week. Without any fight or pushback — indeed, with no thoughts as to burdens versus benefits — he capitulated in most respects to the demands of a small faction of theatrically aggrieved students. Within his prolix “letter to the community,” there was but one good idea: a reduction in the student income contribution, which rather ought to be done away with entirely and replaced with something like the law school’s career options assistance program.

Aside from this, three main proposals stand out: the further funneling of resources toward the “intellectually ambitious and important fields” of race, ethnicity, gender, inequality and inclusion; the doubling of cultural house funding; and mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, as well as new orientation programs that “explore diversity and inclusion.”

These are all bad ideas, for many reasons. But if President Salovey sees any downsides, one would never know it from his message. The only hint of reservation that can be found in Salovey’s email is his brief assurance that our commitment to eradicating racism and discrimination in no way “conflicts with our commitment to free speech.” Although one would hope that this assurance is valid, it is also largely beside the point.

What is wrong with Salovey’s plan for Yale, and the direction in which he is taking our fine university? The diversity behemoth is an enormous waste of academic time and energy. The cultural houses arguably contribute to campus-wide racial balkanization at least as much as they diminish it. Mandatory diversity training presents a grave threat to intellectual honesty and rigorous inquiry, because it assumes the truth of propositions that must ultimately be tested by empirical study.

The proliferation of hyper-ideological “studies” majors takes us further, as Glenn Loury put it, “onto a slippery slope that slides down into intellectual mediocrity.” The growing amount of time Yale students spend thinking about racial injustice is taken away from acquiring useful analytic skills and concrete knowledge in a broad range of subjects vital to our world’s future, and from learning to think carefully, rigorously and quantitatively, including about race and social inequality. These shortcomings have little to do with threats to free speech.

The true crisis of the American university is one of cowardice and craven capitulation. If free speech is to have meaning, people must have the courage to speak. My suspicion is that many students and faculty agree with at least some, if not most, of these assertions. Yet few dare to say so. And even fewer will argue for their merits.

That refusal to speak up is unfortunate. Campus radicals see themselves as moral crusaders, as champions of a secular “social justice” creed. They are not nihilistic relativists without a point of view. Rather, they want the university’s authorities to accede to their vision, to accept their point of view and their grievances without resistance. But that presents the university with a true “teachable moment” — to show our so-called activists, gently but firmly, why their view of reality, of the university’s role and of what’s best for society’s future, is shallow, hollow and misguided.

H. L. Mencken once said that democracy tends to degenerate into a “mere combat of crazes.” He might just as well have said the same about the modern American university.

Do those who run Yale care to prove him wrong?


Blame the White Guy 2015

University group hosts "White Privilege" retreat

The University of Vermont recently held a retreat exclusively for Caucasian students so they could explore white privilege.

“Examining White Privilege: A Retreat for Undergraduate Students Who Self-Identify as White,” was the name of the three-day conference, as first reported by the website Campus Reform.

It’s a bit wordy for a t-shirt, in my humble opinion. They should’ve just called it “Blame the White Guy 2015.”

The retreat was sponsored by the university’s African, Latino, Asian, Native American and Bi/Multiracial Student Center — ALANA for short.

“It’s a new retreat specifically for white students to engage in building a stronger and inclusive campus community,” ALANA stated on its website.

The taxpayer-funded university would not tell me how the “free” retreat was financed. Typically, when you see the word “free” it means “courtesy of the American taxpayer.”

ALANA said the purpose of the getaway was for white students to “recognize and understand white privilege from an individual experience as well as the impact of white privilege on the UVM community and beyond.”

They also felt it was necessary for the university’s white students to “conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systematic lens.”

I have no idea what that means.

I’m also having a difficult time understanding what it means to self-identify as white. Is that someone who belongs to a country club, cuts the crust off his bread and doesn’t have any discernable rhythm?

ALANA provided testimonials from white privilege alumni who gave the retreat a thumbs-up.

It was a “great opportunity to talk about an identity that I had not previously felt equipped to comfortably discuss,” said one pale face.

I can only imagine the fun they must’ve had at — noshing on salmon and arugula in the mess hall, sitting around a campfire crooning Barry Manilow songs and sharing scary stories about how their pigmentation oppressed people of color.

As we all know, the only way to build a stronger and inclusive university campus is to shame the white children into acknowledging they are personally responsible for every imaginable evil that has befallen the world — from global warming to that episode of “Happy Days” when Fonzie jumped over the shark.

I was particularly intrigued by a series of questions they asked the campers: What does it mean to be white and how does whiteness impact you?

The other day I contemplated my whiteness while I was watching a “Dukes of Hazzard” marathon.

Truth be told, I do enjoy Hank Williams Junior and NASCAR and mayonnaise. But I also enjoy Tyler Perry movies.

Some folks might self-identify as black. Others might self-identify as white. But as for me, I self-identify as an American — a free man.

And I think that’s a privilege no matter what color you are.