Friday, April 21, 2017
School Forced to Cut More Than 20 Classes in Order to Pay Labor Union
The University of Massachusetts, Boston is cutting more than 20 summer courses as the school desperately attempts to manage a $30 million operating deficit that is due in part to a project labor agreement that requires unions to be the “sole and exclusive” source of job-site labor.
The university has been plagued by controversy, ranging from declining enrollment to lackluster fundraising, but the project labor agreement is one reason why the university must now cut classes in the summer, and into the fall, reports The Boston Globe.
The university system’s building authority approved a 10-year master plan that called for $750 million in construction with a union work requirement. The requirement effectively excluded the 80 percent of Massachusetts construction workers that are not members of a union. The project labor agreement means less competition, fewer bidders, and higher costs, The Boston Globe reports.
The school’s [black] chancellor, J. Keith Motley, announced last week that he would step down at the end of the year, but defended his 10-year record full of multimillion-dollar construction projects.
“I have no regrets because if the creator blesses me to walk on this campus three years from now and you walk it with me, I know you’ll see an incredible institution,” Motley told the university system’s board of trustees Tuesday.
The warning signs were out there as early as 2011, when UMass Boston’s 2011 strategic planning team warned that rapid growth would be expensive, and that they would have to find efficiencies wherever possible. In 2014, Ellen O’Connor, the former vice chancellor for administration and finance, warned Motley about the exorbitant construction costs.
“We are running out of money,” O’Connor said to Motley in 2014. It is unclear as to who else was made aware of the concerns, but university officials continued to move forward with ambitious expansion.
Despite the multiple warnings, construction on new facilities continued, with costs running well over budget and behind schedule. For example, The UMass Boston science center was projected to cost $155 million, but ended up running $28 million over budget and two years behind schedule. A new classroom building ran $17 million over budget and a year behind schedule, according to The Boston Globe.
In order to make up for the massive budget deficit, adjunct faculty have been laid off, course offerings have been reduced, and database subscriptions in the school’s library have been canceled
Ann Coulter's speech at a California public university was canceled because of "security concerns."
Apparently the lesson University of California, Berkeley learned from the violent protests surrounding writer Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech earlier this year was … you shouldn’t let controversial figures give speeches.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that commentator Ann Coulter’s upcoming speech had been canceled “for security concerns.”
“UC Berkeley officials say they were ‘unable to find a safe and suitable’ venue for the right-wing provocateur who was invited to speak by campus Republicans on April 27,” the AP report added.
This shouldn’t be acceptable.
UC Berkeley canceled Yiannopoulos’ Feb. 1 speech. The level of violence and destruction that greeted Yiannopoulos—who was rightly condemned shortly after the Berkeley violence for remarks he made months earlier about teens, adults, and sexual relationships—was astonishing.
No doubt it’s quite a headache for a university to figure out how to cope with thugs who are willing to act like this, just because they want someone silenced. Although the fact that UC Berkeley appears to have arrested only one person in the aftermath of the protests suggests a lack of seriousness about holding protesters accountable for their actions.
(Update: In an email to me received after publication, Sgt. Sabrina Reich, a public information officer at University of California, Berkeley Police Department, wrote: “To date, there have been two arrests and one student is facing school discipline … but the investigative efforts continue.”)
The point is, no college should reward violent protesters by refusing to allow controversial speakers to appear.
Because this isn’t really about Coulter or Yiannopoulos or author Charles Murray, who was greeted by violent protests when he arrived to speak to Middlebury College in Vermont.
Legal Foundations Call for Repeal of Obama-Era Race-Based School Discipline Guidance
Two legal foundations are calling for an end to federal pressure on school districts to adopt racial quotas in suspensions. And rightly so: It is wrong for an agency to pressure regulated entities to adopt racial quotas, or make race-based decisions, even if the pressure does not inexorably lead to a quota. (See Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod v. FCC, 141 F.3d 344 (D.C. Cir. 1998)). I earlier discussed at length how Obama-era rules, issued without notice and comment in 2014, pressured school districts to adopt racial quotas in suspensions, which violated the Constitution; misinterpreted Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; and ignored judicially-recognized limits on disparate-impact liability.
On March 29, Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, sent an email to the Justice Department asking the Trump administration to withdraw these rules, which are contained in the Obama administration’s January 8, 2014 letter to America’s schools, known as the “Dear Colleague letter: Racial Disparities In The Administration Of School Discipline.” Clegg urged “the withdrawal of the January 8, 2014 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter,” which was issued by the Obama Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. He called this letter “unsound as a matter of both law and policy,” citing “a variety of sources that have criticized the letter, again from both policy and legal perspectives.” Clegg is a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division, where he served from 1987-1991.
On April 3, the veteran constitutional lawyer who heads the Mountain States Legal Foundation, William Perry Pendley, sent a letter requesting the rules’ repeal. The letter quotes my March 29 letter to the editor in The Wall Street Journal, including the following language:
“The Obama administration’s rules wrongly pressure schools to have racial quotas in suspensions, and the Education and Justice Departments should now rescind them …The Obama administration’s 2014 ‘guidance’ told the nation’s schools to do something about the disparity in which black students are suspended from school at a higher rate than whites. But as the federal appeals court in Richmond noted, when it comes to suspensions ‘disparity does not, by itself, constitute discrimination,’ and the idea that a school system ‘should have a disciplinary quota is patently absurd.’ The fact that 66% of suspended students were black did not show discrimination in that case, Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (2001). Similarly, in 1997 the federal appeals court in Chicago struck down as an unconstitutional racial quota a requirement that schools not ‘refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline’ [in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997)].”
Pendley cited the harm caused by the Obama administration’s pressure in places such as Oklahoma City, where the school district entered into a settlement with the Obama administration designed to lower minority suspension rates. The resulting curbs on suspensions have apparently resulted in more fighting and classroom disorder. Quoting The Wall Street Journal, Pendley noted that a teacher in Oklahoma City said that referrals to the principal’s office “‘would not require suspension unless there was blood.’”
The accompanying April 4 press release from Mountain States Legal Foundation notes:
“William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, in a letter delivered today to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urged voiding of a directive—styled a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter—sent to State and local public school officials across the country by senior officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education. The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter (titled, ‘Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline’) warns recipients that the federal Departments of Justice and Education will ‘initiate investigations’ over ‘racial disparities in student discipline’—in some cases, even when the disparity merely reflects the fact that minority students ‘are engaging’ in specified misconduct ‘at a higher rate than students of other races.’
“According to Mr. Pendley, the ‘Dear Colleague’ January 8, 2014, letter violates federal law, misinterprets Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and pressures recipients to violate the Equal Protection Clause. In addition, the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter constitutes illegal rulemaking in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, promotes a policy that has a horrific record when used by local school districts, and has been the subject of almost universal condemnation by knowledgeable experts. In St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, the results of using racial equity rules to discipline students were nothing short of disastrous, specifically ‘violence and chaos.’ Because ‘kids … consider themselves untouchable [w]e are seeing more violence and more serious violence.’ ‘[A]t many elementary schools, anarchy reigned.’
“Jason Riley, in an op-ed entitled, ‘An Obama Decree Continues to Make Public Schools Lawless,’ Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2017, at A19, questions why, two months into the Trump administration, the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter is still official policy. Referencing a newly released study (‘School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public schools, 2012-2016,’ by Max Eden, Manhattan Institute, March 14, 2017), he notes that more than half of the nation’s 50 largest school districts have reduced suspensions ‘to the dismay of those on the front lines.’
“That the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter was issued illegally, that similar policies have yielded disastrous results for students, teachers, and even the intended beneficiaries (allowing students to avoid any responsibility for their actions, said one teacher, means they are destined to go ‘from the school house to the jail house’), and that it earned the condemnation of public policy experts should spell its doom,” said William Perry Pendley…Please withdraw the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter as soon as possible.”
Unlike some other civil rights statutes, Title VI does not itself ban “disparate impact,” as the Supreme Court made clear in its 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval. The Obama administration argues that even if the Title VI statute itself does not reach disparate impact, regulations under it can and do (an idea that the Supreme Court characterized as “strange” in footnote 6 of its Sandoval ruling). But even if Title VI disparate-impact regulations were generally valid, they would be subordinate to, and could not override, the Title VI statute itself, which bans racial quotas, as does the Constitution’s equal-protection guarantee. (See, e.g., People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997) (striking down as unconstitutional a provision that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline unless the district purges all ‘subjective’ criteria from its disciplinary code,” because that constituted a forbidden racial quota)).
Even if disparate-impact liability applied under Title VI, the Obama-era guidance fails to take into account non-racial factors (such as poverty and coming from a single-parent household) in determining whether a meaningful disparity exists to begin with, as courts require (and as I previously explained.)
Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:38 AM