Monday, May 01, 2017
UC President Janet Napolitano hid $175 million while raising tuition, paying excessive salaries
A state audit released Tuesday concludes that the University of California Office of the President, led by former Obama administration DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, hid away $175 million while paying excessive salaries to staff and raising tuition on students. Auditor Elaine Howle also says someone from Napolitano’s office interfered with questionnaires sent to various UC campuses as part of the audit. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The UC Office of the President amassed millions in the secret reserve funds in part by overestimating how much it needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted, the audit said. From 2012 to 2016, the office sought increased funding based on the inflated estimates, not actual spending, according to Howle…
About $32 million of the $175 million that Howle’s audit found in the secret reserve came from campus assessment fees — money that the auditor said could have been spent on students and should be returned to the campuses.
Even as it accumulated the campus fees, Napolitano persuaded the Board of Regents to increase those fees in two of the four years audited, Howle said.
There are nearly 1,700 people working in the Office of the President. The audit notes that number is significantly higher than other similar offices. This chart makes the comparison. Note that the California State system has more than twice as many campuses and nearly twice as many students but manages to get by with 1/3 the amount of staff of the UC system:
In addition to having an outsized staff, the Office of the President was also paying significantly higher salaries than comparable state workers were earning, plus offering a special retirement plan, and other questionable expenses. From the LA Times:
The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”
On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.
“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said.
Given how bad this looks, perhaps it’s not surprising that Napolitano’s office interfered with the auditor’s efforts to investigate the situation. In order to gather information on how much the services being offered by the Office of the President were actually being used by the system’s 10 campuses and whether the campuses thought the cost of those services was reasonable, the auditor sent out two surveys to each campus. The auditor specifically asked the campus executives who received the surveys not to share them with the Office of the President. But that didn’t stop one of Napolitano’s deputies from interfering and arranging a call to manage the responses. From the report:
Although we explicitly asked each campus not to share its survey results with anyone outside of the campus, we learned in February 2017 that the Office of the President had requested campuses to send their survey responses to it and that the deputy chief of staff of the Office of the President (deputy chief of staff) organized a conference call with all campuses to discuss the survey and screened the surveys before the campuses submitted them to us…
When we compared the prescreened versions of the surveys to the versions the campuses subsequently submitted to us, we discovered trends that concerned us. Specifically, we found that the survey responses were changed in ways that made the Office of the President appear more efficient and effective. The most extensive changes were in the open-ended comments that campuses provided in response to our broad questions. Table 15 summarizes several examples of those changes. Further, after the Office of the President’s review, campuses also changed 13 ratings that we know of; 12 of these made the Office of the President look better. For example, in the prescreened version of its survey, San Diego stated that it was dissatisfied with the transparency regarding what the campus assessment pays for within the Office of the President. However, the survey we received stated that the campus was satisfied with the level of transparency. In addition, San Diego’s comments documenting concerns with the Office of the President’s budget process were deleted.
As a result of this clear effort to massage the data, the auditor determined the results were unusable:
Because of the Office of the President’s involvement, we believe that the survey results carry an unacceptably high risk of leading us and users of the survey results to reach incorrect or improper conclusions regarding the efficacy of the Office of the President’s operations. Auditing standards prohibit us from using such evidence as support for findings and conclusions.
For the record, Napolitano has denied the claims made in the audit. She says the reserve fund was only $38 million which was set aside as a reserve in case of emergency. But needless to say, all of this stinks to high heaven. Howle, the auditor, told the SF Chronicle, “I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor.” Lawmakers plan to hold a hearing on the results of the audit next week.
In response to Berkeley, Rep. Sean Duffy asks Betsy DeVos to take action on taxpayer-funded campuses
On the heels of Ann Coulter's canceled lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wis., is asking Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a list of actions her department can take to address the problems caused by recent free speech controversies on taxpayer-funded college campuses.
In a new letter sent from Duffy to DeVos on Friday morning, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, the Wisconsin Republican says he is "deeply concerned" by UC Berkeley's decision to "suppress free speech" by canceling Coulter's lecture.
"If university officials feel that it is their priority to keep students safe," Duffy wrote, "they should do so by addressing the culture of violence that accompanies these lawless riots, not by suppressing the constitutional rights of everyday American citizens."
"By canceling the original event," he continued, "UC Berkeley has sent a clear and disturbing message to protesters everywhere: continue the violence and you will win."
The congressman detailed examples from his home state in the letter as well, noting, "Students tell me all the time that they spend four years enduring rather than learning, and never once have the opportunity to study under a conservative professor."
In response, Duffy is asking DeVos to provide him with "a set of specific actions the Department of Education can take to ensure that taxpayer-funded institutions of higher education create and support a fair environment that protects speech and fosters dialogue." He also requested "specific recommendations" for actions that Congress can take to ensure taxpayer-funded colleges and universities "foster an honest, equitable, and fair discussion of political issues and thought."
"I implore you to be mindful of these politically intolerant environments that our taxpayer dollars are funding throughout the United States, and to take any and all necessary action to prevent this systematic suppression of free speech," Duffy wrote.
"Universities are a place for our best and brightest to be educated, not indoctrinated," he concluded.
Given her previous statements, it is likely DeVos will be sympathetic to Duffy's plea.
At this year's CPAC she decried the silencing of conservative voices on college campuses, telling students in the audience, "The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and, more ominously, what to think."
She continued, "They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you're a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree."
Given the bipartisan uproar over Coulter's canceled lecture — even Duffy's congressional colleagues Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., both criticized the decision made by Berkeley — his sentiments are likely shared by many others on Capitol Hill.
The Death of Higher Education
As tuition and far-left ideologies rise, many universities are experiencing a plunge in enrollment and donations.
The average graduate of the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. Altogether, that’s almost $620 billion more than the total of U.S. credit card debt. But the staggering cost of tuition isn’t the only reason why many liberal arts colleges have observed a steady decline in enrollment over the past decade. The radical suppression of free speech and the blatant touting of far-left ideologies have caused many students to seek their degrees in a more tolerant environment.
The University of Missouri is closing down three dorms this year due to lack of enrollment since its infamous Melissa Click incident and its announcement of an “open season” on student journalists last year.
And it’s not just Mizzou. Alumni of colleges and universities nationwide are awakening to the fact that their beloved alma maters are nothing like they remember. “As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized, and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” one 77-year-old wrote in a letter to Amherst College’s alumni fund. He proceeded to reduce his support to the college to a mere $5 per year before cutting off his donations entirely. A 1982 Yale graduate said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.” He concluded, “The worst part is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.” Not surprisingly, Yale College’s alumni fund was flat between this year and last.
To put it plainly, alumni from a range of generations and schools say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Their predominant lament is that students are irreparably embroiled in racial and identity politics. Let’s put it more plainly: Colleges are America’s most racist consortiums. They encourage black dorms and black graduations; they praise minority hatred of whites through “white privilege” indoctrination seminars and ethnic-and-black-studies courses; and they shamelessly tear down statues of their old, white, male founders and re-name academic buildings that were christened for bigoted, slave-owning misogynists. Modern universities have eviscerated and dishonored their heritage by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Not even Thomas Jefferson is safe at the University of Virginia he founded.
Is this academic moral decline worth upwards of $60,000 a year in tuition? Not by a long shot. To add insult to injury, most college students graduate without taking any courses that enrich their intellect or develop their character (which was, after all, the original purpose of universities). Today, one can obtain a bachelor’s in English lit at UCLA without even cracking open a book of Shakespeare’s plays while being required to read the lesbian interpretation “Juliet and Juliet.” Other colleges freely spend their students' tuition dollars to put free condoms and lubricant in every student dorm or free bus rides to the nearest Planned Parenthood.
Even more shocking is the Institute of Education Statistics estimate that 40% of students at a four-year college drop out before completing their degree. For the 60% who do complete their degree, 64% take longer than four years to graduate, costing themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educational expenses per year. In light of these facts, many young people are forgoing the traditional BA for trade and vocational schools after realizing the obvious truth: higher education is no longer worth the social and financial costs. The prediction that college closures will triple by 2017 only confirms this.
While wealthy fools will continue to fund Yale and its fellow left-wing seminaries, a day of reckoning may well be on the horizon for our institutions of “higher education.”
Sunday, April 30, 2017
UK: How parents are removing their children from religious education classes because they do not want them to learn about Islam
Parents are pulling their children out of school religious education lessons because they do not want them taught about Islam, the Church of England said yesterday.
Some, Church officials said, hope to shield their children from learning about any faith but Christianity, and others have a particular intention to keep children from any knowledge of Islam.
They pointed towards far right political groups and some minority faith sects as activists who are trying to ‘exploit’ the legal right of parents to withdraw their children from school RE.
CofE leaders called for the right of withdrawal to be repealed and for RE to become a compulsory part of school timetables to encourage pupils to learn to live with others from different backgrounds.
The accusation against parents who remove children from RE classes comes against a background of intensifying arguments about the future of religious education teaching.
The subject is not part of the compulsory National Curriculum, and is, alongside sex education, the only subject from which parents can withdraw pupils.
CofE school inspection chief Derek Holloway said: ‘Through RE teacher social media forums and feedback from our RE advisers I am aware that some parents have sought to exploit the right to withdraw children from RE lessons.
‘This is seemingly because they do not want their children exposed to other faiths and world views, in particular Islam. Anecdotally, there have also been some cases in different parts of the country of parents with fundamentalist religious beliefs also taking a similar course.
‘This is not confined to any one particular religion or area of the country.’
Mr Holloway added: ‘To enable all to live well together there is a need for all pupils from all backgrounds to receive a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high quality RE.
‘Sadly, and dangerously the right of withdrawal from RE is now being exploited by a range of interest groups often using a dubious interpretation of human rights legislation. The right of withdrawal from RE now gives comfort to those who are breaking the law and seeking to incite religious hatred.’
School RE lessons are supposed to teach children not just about Christianity but to give them a background on the beliefs and history of all the major faiths.
Parents have a legal right to remove their children from RE under a 1998 education law.
The CofE, which has 4,700 schools including 200 secondary schools, aims to promote ‘deep respect for the integrity of other traditions’ in RE.
Mr Holloway said the subject ‘does have a contribution to make to combatting extremism and to community cohesion, but these are not its core purpose nor its main aims.’
He said the teaching of RE should not be confused with the daily act of worship which schools are required to offer to pupils. In most schools this is a Christian assembly, and parents are entitled to withdraw their children from the act of worship.
There are no figures on how many parents remove their children from RE classes, although CofE officials said the figure is thought to be small. The subject is popular at GCSE, with more than 250,000 children taking the exam at 16.
Critics of religious education said parents should continue to be able to remove their children from classes.
Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: ‘The fundamental problem is that RE is a confused subject area, still sometimes taught in a biased or partisan way.
‘If the subject was reformed to be genuinely educational and non-partisan study of religious and non-religious worldviews, the right to withdraw may no longer be necessary. But until such time, the right of withdrawal is required to protect parental rights and freedoms.’
U of Missouri Journalism Prof.: Which is More Dangerous -- ISIS or the NRA?
Missouri School of Journalism Professor Emeritus George Kennedy, the former managing editor of the Columbia Missourian, the school's teaching newspaper, suggested in a recent commentary published by the Missourian that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is more dangerous to Americans than the radical jihadist Islamic State (ISIS).
In the April 20 commentary, "The NRA's Influence is a Danger to Us All," Professor Kennedy compared the NRA and ISIS, noting when each group was founded and claiming that while the world may fear ISIS, it is politicians who fear the NRA. He also said the NRA is far closer to attaining its goal than ISIS is to attaining its caliphate.
The NRA's goal, Kennedy claims, is to remove "all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone." Kennedy neither cites nor quotes any NRA source to back up that assertion.
Kennedy then notes some gun-death and terrorism statistics, claiming "annual averages" show that -- when not counting the 2,996 victims from 9/11 -- the number of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists averages 9 per year, but the number of Americans killed each year by another American with a gun, since 9/11, averages 11,737 a year.
The apparent suggestion is that Americans are more dangerous to other Americans than ISIS, and that this is somehow because of the influence of the NRA.
As Kennedy asks, "Which organization is more dangerous to Americans -- ISIS or the NRA?"
Conveniently, Kennedy does not present statistics on the number of incidents where Americans use guns defensively to protect themselves or their property, a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A 2013 report by the gun-control group Violence Policy Center, using data from the FBI, concluded that over a five-year period (2007-2011) "the total number of self-protective behaviors involving a firearm by victims of attempted or completed violent crimes or property crimes totaled only 338,700," which averages to 67,740 defensive gun uses a year.
In other words, Americans use guns to protect themselves and their property about 67,740 times a year -- and that's a conservative estimate from a pro-gun control organization.
On a related note, a CDC study commissioned by the Obama administration in 2013 found that "self-defense" with a firearm "can be an important crime deterrent." In fact, the injury rate is lower for crime victims who defensively use a gun than it is for victims using other, non-gun, self-protective strategies, said the CDC.
Kennedy also does not mention the number of Americans killed by automobiles each year.
In 2015 that number was 38,300 people killed on U.S. roads, and the deaths apparently had nothing to do with the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the NRA.
In concluding his commentary, Journalism Prof. Kennedy softens a bit, admitting "there's plenty of blame to go around" when it comes to the misuse of firearms. "However, there is no denying that the NRA is Missouri’s and the nation’s most vociferous, most generous to its friends and most vindictive to its enemies advocate of a free-fire zone for guns of all types in all places," says Kennedy. "And that’s a danger to us all."
I wonder if any of the 49 murder victims of the Islamist attack at the gay nightclub in Orlando wished they had been carrying a gun. Or the 89 murder victims at the Bataclan in Paris. Or the 5 Americans murdered in Chattanooga. Sadly, they can't tell us now.
ACLU Comes Out In Grudging Support Of Ann Coulter After Speech Cancelled
The liberal American Civil Liberties Union has came out in support of conservative columnist Ann Coulter’s right to speak on a public college campus Wednesday after the event was cancelled.
Coulter, a 12-time New York Times bestselling author, was slated to speak on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley until the school cancelled the event, claiming they couldn’t guarantee the security of Coulter or attendees.
Coulter, who was invited to speak by a student group, said she would go to the campus and speak anyway, but ultimately cancelled after the event’s sponsor dropped out Wednesday morning.
It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after the controversy erupted and after Coulter announced her event was cancelled, that the ACLU spoke up in support of her right to speak.
In a tweet, the ACLU said, “The heckler’s veto of Coulter’s Berkeley speech is a loss for the 1st Amendment. We must protect speech on campus, even when hateful.”
Earlier in the day, the ACLU tweeted a link to a press release from Monday reading, “UC Berkeley cannot limit speech because of its content or because of the viewpoint it espouses. Nor can it help others to do so by canceling, delaying, or moving an event in reaction to threats of disruption or violence, unless doing so is truly necessary to preserve public safety or some other compelling government interest.”
But the same release continues to take a swipe at Coulter as a purveyor of “hate speech.” The statement claims, “Hate is contrary to our core values. The ACLU condemns bigotry and fights for equal rights for all, and we hope that the University and its officials will do the same. But no matter how heinous the speech, the First Amendment protects everyone. To be clear, the constitution does not protect speech that directly incites violence or harasses individual students or community members.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:51 AM
Friday, April 28, 2017
Government Schools + Anti-Gun Political Correctness = Child Abuse
Several years ago, I would regularly share horror stories about innocent kids being abused by politically correct government school administrators who overreacted to anything remotely resembling a gun.
I even had a U.S. vs. U.K. stupidity contest that featured many examples of anti-gun lunacy, though Canada may actually win the prize for the most absurd case of political correctness.
But I eventually stopped sharing these types of stories because it seemed there were so many and I felt like I was making the same points over and over again.
Time for the hiatus to end. I’ve run across a handful of stories that are so preposterous that I can’t resist revisiting the issue.
Here’s our first example. A local television station in North Carolina reports that a little girl was suspended because she pretended that a stick was a gun while playing with her friends.
A local mother is outraged after her 5-year-old daughter was suspended from school because of a stick that resembled a gun. …It started Friday when her mother got a call from the principal about a playground incident. Caitlin explained that she and her two friends were using their imaginations, playing “King and Queen.” In this case, Caitlin was the guard protecting the royals and picked up the gun to imitate shooting an intruder into the kingdom. Hoke County Schools said Caitlin posed a threat to other students when she made a shooting motion, thus violating policy 4331. …Miller says Caitlin was alienated by her friends and teachers as a result of the suspension. She hopes that the school will issue some sort of apology to her daughter.
I’m not the only one who thinks this is insane.
Now for our second story. It’s about a very dangerous 11-year old girl who – gasp!! – . A Florida television station has the details.
A South Florida couple is outraged after they said their daughter was suspended from her middle school for using a child butter knife at lunchtime to cut a peach. …Souto’s daughter is an honor roll student at Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines. …Ronald and Andrea Souto told Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden that their 11-year-old daughter was suspended for six days for bringing the knife to school.
“This is a set of a spoon, fork and knife for toddlers — one year old,” Andrea Souto said. “It is made for children to learn how to eat properly. She’s used it since she was baby.” According to the school district, the girl violated the county’s weapon policy when she used her butter knife in the cafeteria to cut the peach. …Ronald said he hopes what happened to his daughter will bring change to the district, specifically new polices when it comes to weapons.
But this rogue child didn’t just get suspended. She may become an actual criminal.
The Soutos said they were shocked about the suspension and are now concerned that their daughter’s act of kindness could lead to criminal charges. …The Pembroke Pines Police Department said it has turned over their investigation to the State Attorney’s Office. It’s unclear whether prosecutors will file charges.
Our third story comes from a St. Louis TV station and it involves a four-year old boy who was suspended for a shell casing.
Hunter, 4, has been suspended from his preschool for bringing a shell casing from a fired bullet to school. He’d been at the preschool for about a year, she said, and now was in tears. Neither she nor Hunter’s dad knew it, but he found something he thought was pretty neat and he took it to school Tuesday to show his friends. …Hunter’s parents got a letter from the school’s director saying Hunter had been suspended for 7 days. …It turns out the casing came from a visit with Hunter’s grandpa who is a Caseyville police officer, Jackson said. …The school’s vice-president e-mailed her that he was notifying the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
The last sentence is particularly chilling since DCFS bureaucrats presumably have the power to take children from their families. So imagine the horrible position of Hunter’s parents, who not only have to deal with their kid being suspended for doing nothing wrong, but also have to worry about the state kidnapping their child if some anti-gun bureaucrat woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Our fourth and final story is courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama, where a teenager was expelled for a year because of a water gun.
A family is up in arms after their 16-year-old daughter was expelled from Prattville High School for having a water gun on campus. …she was banned from school property and any extra-curricular activities for the same period. …She said a male classmate handed the toy to her daughter “as a joke.” “…the second you picked it up, you know its plastic and a toy,” she said. “So we can understand the initial reaction, not knowing it wasn’t a real gun. But after the principal and school officials knew it was a water gun, things should never have progressed this far.” …The family wants any reference to the expulsion removed from Laney’s academic records, McPhillips’ letters read. …If the expulsion isn’t removed from Laney’s academic record, the family is considering filing legal action
I suppose there are two big-picture lessons to be learned.
First, it’s hard to be optimistic about the education system after reading this type of story.
If bureaucrats at government schools don’t have common sense, how can they teach reading, writing, and arithmetic?
Maybe (especially given the shocking lack of results after record levels of staffing and funding) we should break up the government school monopoly and let parents choose better-quality schools.
Second, keep in mind that anti-gun statists know they can’t win the intellectual argument against private gun ownership, so they’re trying to stigmatize anything remotely connected to guns in hopes of eventually winning the political argument.
Returning Education to the Schools and Parents
President Donald Trump has called for major changes to federal education policy. During his bid for the White House, he vowed to cut wasteful federal spending on education while preserving funding for services; he pledged to champion school choice; and he promised to return educational policymaking to the state and local level. “We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education,” he said in a television campaign ad.
All of these goals can be accomplished during the Trump administration, but not without a major overhaul of the US Department of Education (ED).
Created as a cabinet-level agency in 1979, ED now consists of 30 leading offices and sub-divisions with nearly 4,400 department employees, whose combined base salaries alone amount to more than $479 million. Unfortunately, there is no official inventory that uniformly defines federal programs along with their corresponding annual funding. Thus the number of programs by ED office and sub-division can only be estimated and likely understates the actual number of programs bundled within individual budget line items.
However, based on the latest available budget data, ED currently oversees approximately 115 major programs at a cost of more than $70 billion per year, plus an additional $150 billion in postsecondary student loan obligations. Annual contractual services, supplies, equipment, land, structures, and other ED overhead expenses cost taxpayers roughly $93 billion more.
Although the US Constitution makes no provision for a federal role in education, transferring ED programs to the states will require a strong political will. Nevertheless, such a battle is worth fighting because federal encroachment has stifled local control and undermined effective education.
Cal State University System Bloats Up Bureaucracy
As we recently noted, the University of California is spending $504 million on UCPath, a computer payroll system that was supposed to cost $156 million. UC bosses have spent $327 million on UCPath, but it remains four years behind schedule. That’s quite a performance by a university system that regards itself as the greatest in the world, and tasked with educating the best and brightest. In bureaucratic inefficiency, however, the UC is getting some stiff competition from the Cal State University system, the nation’s largest, with 474,600 students and more than 49,000 faculty and staff at 23 campuses.
According to a new report from California’s state auditor, Cal State is adding management personnel – vice presidents, deans and such – at double the rate of other employees, including faculty, 15 percent to seven percent. While bulking up on non-teaching bureaucrats, Cal State bosses are also hiking management pay. According to the auditor, “at one campus at least 70 management personnel received raises totaling more than $175,000 annually and were not supported by current written performance evaluations, and another campus improperly classified eight assistant coaches as management personnel to increase their salaries.” And they say to themselves, what a wonderful world, but there’s more. “Many campuses cannot demonstrate that they are adequately monitoring their budgets,” and “state law exempts CSU from many budget oversight mechanisms applicable to other state agencies.” The state does not “require CSU to specify how it used state appropriations to improve student success.” So none of the spending is tied to actual achievement, and accountability is nowhere in evidence.
In the wake of the auditor’s report, CSU chancellor Timothy White explained, “it is important to recognize the CSU’s management staffing levels and administrative costs are lower than other similar higher education institutions both within California and nationally.” In other words, other places pay more, so we must have it too, regardless of need or merit. This is the sort of thing one would expect from a teenager complaining about her allowance, and all too typical of California government.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:54 AM
Thursday, April 27, 2017
It's official: Berkeley hit with lawsuit over Coulter lecture
The University of California, Berkeley was just slapped with a lawsuit over its mishandling of Ann Coulter's scheduled lecture on campus.
Young America's Foundation (YAF) and the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) filed a suit in federal court suing the school for violating their rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection on Monday. The suit, which is available on YAF's website, names several Berkeley administrators along with University of California President Janet Napolitano as defendants.
"Though UC Berkeley promises its students an environment that promotes free debate and the free exchange of ideas," the suit says, "it had breached this promise through the repressive actions of University administrators and campus police, who have systematically and intentionally suppressed constitutionally-protected expression by Plaintiffs ... simply because that expression may anger or offend students, UC Berkeley administrators, and/or community members who do not share Plaintiffs' viewpoints."
Citing the school's adherence to its vague "high-profile speakers" policy, the suit charges Berkeley with applying the policy in a way that discriminates against conservative speakers.
"By imposing an unconstitutionally vague policy concerning so-called 'high-profile speakers,' and selectively applying that impermissibly vague policy to burden or ban speaking engagements involving the expression of conservative viewpoints," it reads, "Defendants have deprived YAF and BCR of their constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection."
The suit notes Berkeley's imposition of curfew and venue regulations resulted in the cancellation of two conservative lectures this month alone. It also cites the school's decisions to reschedule Coulter's lecture for a "dead week" and to allow liberal speakers to discuss immigration on campus without facing the same restrictions applied to the 12-time New York Times bestselling author.
"Defendants freely admit that they have permitted the demands of a faceless, rabid, off-campus mob to dictate what speech is permitted at the center of campus during prime time, and which speech may be marginalized, burdened, and regulated out of its very existence by this unlawful heckler's veto," the lawsuit says.
In a statement, Ron Robinson, president of YAF (my previous employer), invoked Berkeley's role in the historical free speech movement, remarking, "It is unfortunate that the very school that is considered the 'birthplace of the Free Speech Movement' is now leading the charge to censor thoughts, ideas, and debate. The University of California, Berkeley's selectively applied approach to 'free speech' is unacceptable."
YAF, which is serving as the lead plaintiff in the suit, confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Monday that Coulter still plans to speak at the originally scheduled time later this week. The organization will livestream Coulter's lecture on its website.
Middlebury Professor Apologizes -- To Rioters For Inviting Charles Murray
Middlebury College seems dead-set on adhering to social justice norms by apologizing for the violence that occurred when social scientist Charles Murray came to speak—not apologizing to Murray, the professor rioters injured, or the students who wanted to hear Murray’s speech, but to the rioters who shut it all down.
In a post for The Middlebury Campus, Bert Johnson, chair of the school’s political science department and an associate professor, apologized to the students who were upset over Murray’s invitation, writing that he should have consulted with dissenting students before co-sponsoring the event.
“The short amount of time between when the event became public and when it occurred gave all of us scant opportunity to listen to and understand alternative points of view,” Johnson wrote. “Most importantly, and to my deep regret, it contributed to a feeling of voicelessness that many already experience on this campus, and it contributed to the very real pain that many people – particularly people of color – have felt as a result of this event.”
You want to know who’s about to be truly “voiceless” at Middlebury? The right-leaning students who invited Murray to talk about economics. Those students were already a minority on campus, and are about to have their right to invite speakers taken away because the majority of campus residents hold liberal viewpoints and the loudest objectors don’t want to hear anything with which they disagree.
It’s Offensive to Treat Charles Murray Like He’s a Nazi
Murray wasn’t invited to discuss the decades-old book that discusses race and the protesters found objectionable. He was there to talk about his 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America,” which used statistics and research on white Americans to make a point about the class system in this country, which he argues transcends race.
Murray isn’t a provocateur like other speakers who have been forced off campuses. He doesn’t say things simply to get a reaction. When a couple of social scientists gave a transcript of Murray’s speech to college professors and asked them to rate it on a scale of “very liberal to very conservative,” the overwhelming majority of professors who responded rated it as “middle of the road.”
“Some professors said that they judged the speech to be liberal or left-leaning because it addressed issues like poverty and incarceration, or because it discussed social change in terms of economic forces rather than morality,” the social scientists wrote. “Others suggested that they detected a hint of discontent with the fact that Donald Trump was elected president. No one raised concerns that the material was contentious, dangerous or otherwise worthy of censure.”
Yet at Middlebury, Murray was painted as some kind of right-wing racist monster, unworthy of a platform to speak at the college. If someone whose speech is found unobjectionable can be treated this way, any right-leaning speaker can, because the loudest faction of the Left isn’t really interested in shutting down what they call “hate speech,” they just don’t want anyone to hear different viewpoints.
The Rioters Run the Asylum
Middlebury’s Johnson says the college continues to “debate what to do next” and wants to hear from a new committee that has been formed to limit invited speakers. That committee was formed in a student government meeting convened after Murray’s speech.
During that meeting, just one member of the student government stood up for free speech. Several student senators argued for shutting down opposing viewpoints. Sen. Hannah Pustejovsky said Murray’s invitation to give a speech that numerous professors and others found unobjectionable “feels like the community standards were violated.”
Sen. Connor McCormick responded by saying students should be able to invite who they want to campus, even if that person’s ideas are unpopular. Sen. Travis Sanderson said that some speech should not “have equal platforms.” Another senator, Nikki Lantigua, said Murray’s writing “questioned her own existence which has caused her mental health to suffer,” according to the minutes of the meeting. She said she was “exhausted” and felt physical pressure because of Murray’s presence.
Later, Sanderson said “speakers can be shut down” and praised the protesters. The students agreed to table discussion of a bill that would denounce Murray, but voted to create an ad-hoc committee to discuss “the ideas of the community standards” and the legislation that was introduced. Given how many members of the student government claimed that Murray’s speech violated community standards, one can guess what that committee will decide.
Students obsessed with social justice may be winning campus victories by scaring administrators into agreeing with them, but the tide might be turning against them in broader American society. Pundits on both sides of the aisle have denounced the tendency of self-identified liberal or progressive students to act illiberally by becoming violent in response to speech they don’t like. Even President Barack Obama has told students on numerous occasions to engage with speakers they disagree with, rather than trying to shut them down.
More recently, “The Simpsons” made fun of social justice warriors at Yale University. If even pop culture is starting to turn on these students, they may soon find themselves unable to curry favor with college administrators. Those administrators will have to become more afraid of negative publicity from giving in to the demands of the perpetually outraged. With the outraged continually embarrassing themselves with displays of violence and vulgarity, that point may arrive soon.
Ashe Schow is a senior contributor to the Federalist and senior political columnist for the New York Observer. She also contributes to a weekly segment on the Enough Already podcast. She has previously worked for Watchdog.org, the Washington Examiner and the Heritage Foundation.
The Cowards of Academia
Now that student mobs at universities around America (and elsewhere in the West) have silenced conservative speaker after conservative speaker, it has dawned on a small number of left-wing professors that the public is beginning to have contempt for the universities. As a result, a handful of academics at a handful of universities have signed statements on behalf of allowing “diverse” views to be heard at the university.
These statements are worthless.
While some of the professors who have signed them may sincerely believe that the university should honor the value of non-left free speech, one should keep in mind the following caveats.
First, the number of professors, deans and administrators who have signed these statements is very small.
Second, while no one can know what animates anyone else, it’s a little hard to believe that many of those who did sign are sincere. If they are, why haven’t we heard from them for decades? Shutting out conservatives and conservative ideas is not new. Plus, it’s easy to sign a letter. You look righteous (“Of course, I support free speech.”) and pay no price.
Third, these statements accomplish nothing of practical value. They are basically feel-good gestures.
If any of the rioting students read these statements — a highly unlikely occurrence — it is hard to imagine any of them thinking: “Wow, I really have been acting like a fascist, rioting and shutting down non-left-wing speakers, but now my eyes have been opened and I’m going to stop. Even though my professors have taught me that every conservative is a sexist racist xenophobic Islamophobic hatemonger, next time one of these despicable human beings comes to campus, I will silently wait for them to finish talking and then civilly ask challenging questions.”
Thanks to left-wing indoctrination that begins in elementary school, most American students do not enter college as supporters of free speech. As reported in The New York Times on Feb. 7, 2017, a Knight Foundation survey found that only 45 percent of students “support that right when the speech in question is offensive to others and made in public.”
If any professors want to do something truly effective, they should form a circle around a hall in which a conservative is scheduled to speak, with each of them holding up a sign identifying themselves as a professor: “I am (name), professor of (department).”
If just 1 percent of the professors on campus — that would mean just 43 faculty members at a place like UCLA — were to stand in front of the building in which a conservative was to speak, that might actually have an impact. If they were then attacked by left-wing thugs, other faculty members would be forced to take a position.
But it won’t happen. It won’t because the university is a particularly cowardly place. And it has been so for many decades. In the 1970s, when I was a graduate student at Columbia University, left-wing students took over classrooms and administration offices. But I recall no faculty members objecting; and the college presidents and deans, were, if possible, even more craven.
Ann Coulter was scheduled to speak this week at the University of California, Berkeley. Last week, the university announced it was canceling her speech, providing the usual excuse that it couldn’t guarantee her safety, or others'. This excuse is as phony as it is cowardly. Berkeley and other universities know well that there is a way to ensure safety. They can do so in precisely the same way every other institution in a civilized society ensures citizens' safety: by calling in sufficient police to protect the innocent and arrest the violent. But college presidents don’t do that sort of thing — not at Berkeley, or Yale University, or Middlebury College, or just about anywhere else. They don’t want to tick off their clients (students), their faculty, leftist activist groups or the liberal media.
Under pressure, Berkeley’s cowardly administration rescinded its cancellation and rescheduled Coulter’s speech during the daytime during pre-finals week, when there are no classes and many students are not on campus. Coulter has rejected these changes and vowed to speak on the originally scheduled date.
So, next time you read a statement by some professors — virtually all of whom, remember, have been silent for decades — on behalf of allowing opinions other than their own to be expressed on their campuses, take it with a large grain of salt. It’s primarily because some alumni are finally withholding funds from their closed-minded alma maters, or because the students they have produced have become so violent even the mainstream media can’t ignore it.
Until they line up to safeguard people like Ann Coulter and stop teaching their students that conservatives are deplorable human beings, their open letters aren’t worth the printer toner that prints them.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
'Ladies First:' Men Are Suffering Campus Injustice
Sexual assault on campus is a real problem, but false accusations are also ruining some young men.
The “Dear Colleague” letter, the brainchild of the ACLU and other far-left activist groups, states that, under Title IX, it is the responsibility of institutions of higher education “to take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence” on campuses. The letter makes clear that, should an institution fail to fulfill its newly contrived responsibilities under Title IX, the Department of Education can impose a fine and potentially deny its access to federal funds.
However, this defense against sexual harassment seems to apply only to female students. Recently, a male student at Cornell who claimed he was sexually harassed and raped by a woman was himself expelled and charged with raping the very woman he claimed assaulted him. The male student claims he was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression after Cornell subsequently suspended him. Last spring, the day he was notified of his second suspension, he tried to commit suicide.
Sadly, another male student was successful in taking his own life after enduring a kangaroo court at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was accused of writing anti-gay slurs against a self-identified homosexual male student. After the accused student’s tragic death, campus investigators admitted that there was no evidence to support the accuser’s claims. The father of the deceased student is now suing the accuser on the grounds that the accuser himself was the one making inappropriate sexual advances and pressed charges to protect himself.
The war against men on modern college campuses has spun out of control. Not only are a man’s claims of sexual assault brushed aside while a woman’s same claims receive unquestionable celebrity status, but many male students are afraid to even approach female students for fear of making said females feel uncomfortable and thus pressing charges. After all, according to many modern feminists, a man can sexually assault a woman without laying a finger on her. Those men who entered college hoping for some merry mingling with the opposite sex may find themselves expelled and publicly disgraced with a permanent record.
That said, promiscuity on college campuses — and in culture in general — doesn’t come without consequences.
It’s unrealistic to expect colleges to be successful at catching and punishing sexual predators. That’s simply not their core mission. Colleges are supposed to be sanctuaries where young people learn to be responsible, but instead they have shouldered the unnecessary burden of policing their students' sex lives.
The federally funded, Barack Obama-initiated, anti-campus-rape program “It’s On Us” touts a snazzy website and slick avatars to upload to your social media accounts, but it fails to offer common sense advice on stopping rape in its tracks: personal responsibility. Don’t drink yourself unconscious? Don’t put yourself in compromising situations? You won’t find such sound advice here — only a carefully edited video of professors and students reading from a script about how they are ready to “stand up for victims.” It’s almost enough to make one wonder if their goal is preventing victimhood versus celebrating it.
The Campus Sexual Assault Study of 2007, undertaken for the Department of Justice, found that the popular belief that many female rape victims have been slipped “date rape” drugs is false. “Most sexual assaults occur after voluntary consumption of alcohol by the victim and assailant,” the report states. An astonishing number of rape cases brought up by female students against male students fall apart in court, but still make headlines for years afterwards and often bring the accused men to disgrace and utter ruin.
Unfortunately, giving any advice to women about their behavior or attire is the unforgivable sin of our culture and the harbinger to becoming eviscerated by hordes of furious feminists. But the feckless accusations of these unscrupulous people have caused not only destruction but even death. Like conservative Christians, straight white males are becoming a minority group on modern campuses that the Left is eagerly attempting to extinguish. And that’s not the way to go about helping those young males become the men our society really needs them to be.
Avoiding making eye contact or asking where someone is from are signs of RACISM says Oxford University in new snowflake row
Avoiding making eye contact with someone or asking where they are originally from have been deemed as racist micro-aggressions in a newsletter issued by Oxford University.
The institution's Equality and Diversity Unit states these two common behaviours could potentially cause the listener 'mental ill-health'.
The Trinity term newsletter claims asking someone where they are 'originally' from implies that the questioner does not believe they are British.
The Trinity term newsletter also mentions 'not speaking directly to people' and 'jokes drawing attention to someone's difference' as possible forms of everyday racism.
It says people doing these things are often 'well-meaning', but insists they are still reinforcing negative stereotypes and making people feel like they 'do not belong'.
But Professor Frank Furedi, author of What's Happened To The University, said the advice was 'Orwellian' and called on Oxford to 'wake up to reality'. He told MailOnline: 'To go from simply stating someone is racist based on what they say to assume they are unconsciously racist is a very Orwellian turn.
'Microaggressions empower the accuser to say that it doesn't matter what you intend by that look, I just know by the look of your eyes you are racist. 'It is a very insidious way of thinking. Universities used to understand the reality that humans are complex.
'It would be nice if Oxford could wake up to reality.'
Oxford University said the advice was part of an attempt to fight discrimination and encourage equality of opportunity.
Students at the university recently took part in a campaign called 'I, too, am Oxford', to raise awareness of unconscious racism.
At one college, Pembroke, students are advised by their representatives to report 'macro and microaggressions' to a welfare officer. She will then deal with the issue by 'mediation with the other party' or 'through the harassment policy'.
Professor Furedi said giving advice on avoiding microaggressions happens at 'virtually every' university in the USA, but is fairly new to the UK.
The Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Kent University urged British students to resist the trend, adding: 'A minority of students make it their own cause.
'But there are usually a lot of people who think it is stupid but they acquiesce to it and eventually the influence of these ideas becomes more prominent.'
An Oxford University spokesman told MailOnline: 'The Equality and Diversity Unit works with University bodies to ensure that the University's pursuit of excellence goes hand in hand with freedom from discrimination and equality of opportunity. 'The newsletter is one way of advising and supporting staff towards achieving these aims.'
The row comes two months after a Cambridge college was accused of 'cultural misrepresentation' by students after serving 'Jamaican stew' and 'Tunisian rice'.
Students argued the dishes served at Pembroke College were not authentic to countries they were described to be from, The Sunday Times reported.
The original complainant said: 'I'm used to as a minority student being constantly invalidated when flagging up specific issues but if people feel their cultures are misrepresented they have the right to address this. 'Micro-aggressions are a reality of the everyday existence of many people of colour.'
The rot of political correctness
By Tammy Bruce
In today’s academy, truth is an invention. Expecting people to show up on time is racist. Censorship is good. Silencing opposing viewpoints imperative. Violence to enforce safety is natural.
For the last 25 years, under the guise of “political correctness,” we’ve been watching the inexplicable flow into our culture. The idiotic demands of political correctness in the 1980s, ironically relying on the decency of the American people for their acquiescence, was just the prep course, an amuse bouche before the main course of creating social chaos and destruction.
It sounds dramatic, and it is, and it’s also the only way the left maintains power — brainwashing people into believing that social norms must be destroyed in order to create a more perfect society. From the ashes would emerge the great collective phoenix.
Just ask the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba and Venezuela how well that works out.
Last year, we watched political correctness on campus jump with abandon into its perfected state of fascism. Within a year, we moved from weeping students demanding safe spaces to direct, organized violence to stop speakers who do not pay allegiance to the left’s status quo.
Perhaps with the ascent of Donald Trump, it was the shock of realizing the American people weren’t Venezuelan and were not inclined to commit mass suicide.
Consider some recent revelations, the natural trajectory from the crowd a generation ago that was demanding manhole covers be called “personhole covers,” and making “mailman,” “fireman,” and “policeman” all verboten. We assented, and a thousand steps later:
Reporting about Pomona College: “Black students condemn ‘truth’ as an invention of white people, want conservatives expelled.” News about Clemson University: “Public university’s ‘diversity training’: Expecting people to show up on time is racist.” A headline about the work of an ungraduated researcher at University of Wisconsin-Madison: “Teachers should allow Ebonics because English grammar is too hard for minorities to learn.”
This “activism” at the academy is not only classically fascist, it destroys the future for the young people awash in its conditioning. Imagine, after all: What business, what culture, could survive a generation that thinks expecting people to be on time is racist?
Attempting to enact Orwellian rules at college is just one pastime of students. Free Beacon comments on the direct and often violent efforts to stop nonliberal speakers from being heard:
“With Notre Dame students feeling ‘unsafe’ at the prospect of Vice President Mike Pence speaking at their commencement, the riots at Berkeley caused by the presence of professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos on campus, and the explosive protest in March against author Charles Murray at Middlebury College that resulted in the assault of a professor, the war on campuses against freedom of expression and hearing opposing views is pervasive and troubling.”
To say the least.
Last week, the University of California at Davis’ Student Senate voted to remove the American flag from Student Senate meetings. If you want it to be visible, you have to file a petition in an effort to convince others.
Todd Starnes reported one UC Davis student’s support of the action on her Facebook post: “Why do you feel that advocating for the U.S. flag that represents a history of genocide, slavery, and imperialism is more important than stuff that actually matters like I don’t know, the violence against our LGBTQ Brown and Black students, rising tuition, resources for our students without homes,” she fumed. “What a waste of time.”
The odds are quite high that the students at this public university are relying on a variety of federal, state and alumni loans to finance their rage against the machine. Perhaps some of the assistance should be reconsidered when a classic education is taking a backseat to social justice warrioring. On Monday, I appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program discussing this after the student leaders canceled a planned appearance on the program. Apparently, their college bubble was threatened.
Yet, college was supposed to be the bubble destroyer. Leaving home and all familiar, thrown into a new, challenging world. You are to be prepared for a world bigger than you, and certainly different from you.
Instead, we are infantilizing students, appeasing and placating them, condemning them to a life uncertain. Who needs time management? The ability to work and live with people unlike yourself? Why not resort to violence because you’re upset or angry or irritated?
It has been a perfect storm creating this disaster, one of which is the lowering of expectations of students in general because of the rot of political correctness. Our public schools have failed so miserably, universities now can’t hold applicants to any sort of standard.
Consider the frighteningly absurd decision by Stanford, as The Wall Street Journal reported: “Every year, Stanford asks its applicants an excellent question: ‘What matters to you, and why?’ Ziad Ahmed of Princeton, N.J., summed up his answer in three words. His essay consisted of the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” repeated 100 times. He got in.”
We can answer Stanford’s question quite simply: What matters to us are college degrees that still mean something; graduates who are ready to contribute to society and are ready to pursue dreams in business, life and society. What matters to us is the future. What matters is us winning this existential fight for students and a nation being abandoned by the liberals running our universities.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Education Department launches investigation of Richmond Public Schools over racial disparities
The Education Department has launched “a civil rights probe of Richmond Public Schools at the request of advocacy groups who say the district’s disciplinary policies discriminate against black students and students with disabilities.” The probe was announced in an April 12 letter from the District of Columbia regional office of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The groups that filed the complaint, the Legal Aid Justice Center and the ACLU of Virginia, cite data showing “Black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times more likely than white students without disabilities to receive short-term suspension.” Comparing blacks with disabilities to whites without disabilities seems like an odd, apples-to-oranges comparison, since students with emotional or behavioral disabilities may be more likely to act out in class, or attack their classmates or teachers, due to emotional problems — and thus have higher suspension rates than those without disabilities for legitimate non-discriminatory reasons (even though the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act makes it harder to suspend students with disabilities than it is to suspend students without disabilities).
Perhaps realizing that they had no evidence of actual racism, the groups base their discrimination complaint on “disparate impact” — the idea that even colorblind policies amount to discrimination when they impact more minorities than whites. The Richmond Public Schools have lots of black teachers and staff, so suggesting that these suspensions are due to racism or ill-will towards black people would stretch the bounds of credulity. The complaint seeks to compel the Richmond Public Schools to make discipline laxer by reducing suspensions and using “restorative justice,” and by curbing what they view as overly subjective policies regarding suspensions. This push will backfire on students, most of all on black students. And it will likely lead to lawsuits against the Richmond Public Schools by teachers and students who have to put up with abuse from students who are no longer suspended, but left in the classroom.
Black students are suspended at higher rates than white students in Richmond. But that hardly is a sign of racism. As one commenter put it, “the system is 90% black. There are hardly enough white kids to make a valid comparison. The white kids who are there are from high earning homes concentrated around Fox and Mary Munford.” The appeals court in Richmond has rejected the idea that racial disparities in suspension rates show discrimination. Faced with “statistics [that] show that of the 13,206 students disciplined” in a North Carolina school district “from 1996–98, sixty-six percent were African–American,” it said, this “‘disparity does not, by itself, constitute discrimination,’” and was “no evidence” that the school district “targets African–American students for discipline.” (See Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 269 F.3d 305, 332 (4th Cir. 2001) (en banc)).
Such disparities may not even amount to unintentional discrimination of the “disparate impact” variety. Even “disparate impact” complaints are supposed to be based on statistical findings that control “for various factors that one would expect to be relevant to the likelihood of disciplinary action.” (See Caridad v. Metro-North Commuter Railroad Co., 191 F.3d 283, 292-93 (2d Cir. 1999); see also Ward’s Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989)). Factors linked to student misbehavior and disciplinary action include, but are not limited to, living in poverty, or coming from a single-parent household, challenges that disproportionately confront black students. Student misconduct rates are much higher in schools where poverty is common, especially abuse aimed at teachers: verbal abuse aimed at teachers is five times higher in such schools. (See Rachel Dinkes, et al., Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007, pg. 26)). Misbehavior is also much more common among students from single-parent households. As the Brookings Institution has pointed out, “black students are also more likely to come from family backgrounds associated with school behavior problems; for example, children ages 12–17 that come from single-parent families are at least twice as likely to be suspended as children from two-parent families.” (See Tom Loveless, The 2017 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? (Brookings Institution, March 2017, pages 30-31)).
As Katherine Kersten pointed out last year in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, black students’
discipline rate is higher than other students’ because, on average, they misbehave more. In fact, a major 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that the racial gap in suspensions is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” That problem behavior can manifest itself in other ways. Nationally, for example, young black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white[s]…Why such a gap? A primary reason is likely dramatic differences in family structure. Figures for St. Paul are not available, but nationally, 71 percent of black children are born out of wedlock…while the rate for whites is 29 percent. Research reveals that children from fatherless families are far more likely than others to engage in many kinds of antisocial behavior.
In its past investigations of school districts, though, the Office for Civil Rights has sometimes failed to control for any race-neutral factors, wrongly assuming that any difference in suspension rates between blacks and whites makes out a prima facie case of disparate impact. In addition to sometimes misapplying the disparate-impact concept, the Education Department may not even have the power to apply it to begin with. The Supreme Court has expressed skepticism about the validity of the Education Department’s disparate-impact regulations, since they were adopted pursuant to the Title VI statute, which the Supreme Court has ruled only bans intentional discrimination, not disparate impact. (See Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 286 n.6 (2001) (calling the case for disparate-impact rules under Title VI “strange”)).
The curbs on suspensions that the Richmond complaint seeks will likely backfire on students, especially black students, and will lead to additional lawsuits. When New York City restricted principals’ ability to suspend students, and increased reliance on “restorative justice” approaches, there were increases in violence and gang activity in schools, with blacks suffering most from that. As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden observed, “teachers report less order and discipline, and students report less mutual respect among their peers, as well as more violence, drug and alcohol use, and gang activity. There was also a significant differential racial impact: nonelementary schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst shift in school climate under the de Blasio reform.” (See School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-16 (Manhattan Institute, March 2017)). University of Rochester professor Joshua Kinsler earlier discovered that “in public schools with discipline problems, it hurts those innocent African American children academically to keep disruptive students in the classroom,” and “cutting out-of-school suspensions in those schools widens the black-white academic achievement gap.”
Restorative justice approaches and other forms of lax discipline also lead to lawsuits against school districts by teachers and students who have to put up with abuse from students who are no longer suspended, but left in the classroom. In an April 19 column, the black economics professor Walter Williams gives an example of a teacher in a South Carolina school district who sued for racial and sexual harassment at the hands of students who were not removed from her classroom despite repeated verbal abuse: “a white Charleston, South Carolina, teacher frequently complained of black students calling her a white b——, white m——-f——-, white c—- and white ho. School officials told her that racially charged profanity was simply part of the students’ culture and that if she couldn’t handle it, she was in the wrong school. The teacher brought a harassment suit, and the school district settled out of court for $200,000.” Teachers assaulted by students have also brought lawsuits.
Laxer discipline does not, by itself, eliminate disparities in the suspension rate between blacks and whites. That’s because it cuts the suspension rate for both blacks and whites, rather than just cutting the black suspension rate. In fact, laxer discipline sometimes cuts the suspension rate even more for whites than for blacks, resulting in an even bigger ratio of suspended blacks to suspended whites, as the Washington lawyer and numbers-cruncher James Scanlan notes. Scanlan, who has degrees from Harvard Law School and the London School of Economics, points to examples from cities like Denver, Colorado, where the ratio of the black suspension rate to the white suspension rate went up from less than 4 to 5.5 after the schools began making discipline more lenient. In the San Francisco recorder, Scanlan argued that it is a mistaken assumption “that stringent discipline policies tend to cause large racial disparities in discipline rates. Exactly the opposite is the case. Stringent discipline policies tend to yield smaller racial differences in discipline rates than more lenient ones.”
The complaint prudently doesn’t ask the Education Department to reduce the suspension rate of blacks to the suspension rate of whites, which would be illegal — although such demands have been made in past complaints, and the complaint does demand identification of the causes of “race and disability disparities” and “recommendations for reform.” In past settlements with the Office for Civil Rights, some school systems have agreed to “targeted reductions” in “suspensions for African American students,” to resolve discrimination complaints against them with the Education Department. But those are racial quotas all but name, and the appeals court in Richmond has taken a dim view of such racial quotas. In its ruling in Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 269 F.3d 305, 332 (2001), the court rejected the idea that suspension rates should be made equal among all groups, declaring that the notion that a school system “should have a disciplinary quota is patently absurd.” Similarly, the appeals court in Chicago blocked 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 an illegal racial quota. (See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997)).
One hopes that the Richmond Public Schools will not try to resolve this discrimination complaint by offering to adopt a racial quota in suspensions. That is something that could lead to reverse discrimination lawsuits against it by affected students and teachers. (See, e.g., Huckabay v. Moore, 142 F.3d 233 (1998) (white employee could sue for racial harassment); Parents Involved v. Seattle School District, 551 U.S. 701 (2007) (successful reverse discrimination lawsuit by mostly white parents)).
The desire of the Richmond complaint to eliminate “subjective” elements in discipline seems hopelessly impractical. As the appeals court in Chicago noted, some of the most important school rules are inherently “subjective,” but they cannot be discarded on that basis: for example, although rules against “disrupting classes” are to some extent “subjective,” they are nevertheless essential and cannot be sacrificed to achieve racial balance, since they serve “important disciplinary criteria.” (See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997)). Moreover, there is no evidence that “subjectivity” is the cause of blacks being suspended at a higher rate than whites. Indeed, the appeals court in Philadelphia found to the contrary, noting that blacks had the highest suspension rates relative to whites for “very objective offenses.” (See Coalition to Save Our Children v. State Board of Education, 90 F.3d 752, 775 (3d Cir. 1996)).
UCLA Conservative Professor May Be Fired From Job For Refusing to Cave In to Political Correctness
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) administration is allegedly trying to sack an outspoken conservative professor for his resistance to political correctness.
Keith Fink, a UCLA professor who teaches classes on entertainment law and free speech, fears the university could an upcoming professional review to help push him out of the institution.
Fink has previously caused waves on campus by refusing to embrace trigger warnings and safe spaces, prompting the university to block some students from taking his classes.
University policy dictates that every lecturer must undergo a periodic “Excellence Review” to judge their performance.
If a panel of senior faculty members decide the professor doesn’t meet the excellence standards, they are forced to leave the position. Fink told The Daily Wire that such reviews are normally just a formality, but the university administration is throwing obstacles in his path.
According to the emails acquired by the Wire, the officials have reprimanded Fink for incorrect admin in soliciting statements from students to support his teaching – a charge Fink denies.
He also claims the department ignoring his nominees for students to contact and using a different list, purposefully skipping one which praised him particularly strongly. Only when he noticed that the document was missing, the department fixed the allegedly accidental mistake.
The student who wrote the letter told the site: “No reasonable person would believe that my letter was ‘accidentally’ omitted from the dossier, because presumably it flatly contradicts the department’s narrative,” the student said.
“They asked me what my honest opinion was, and I spent hours articulating how Professor Fink is an excellent instructor and explaining the impact he has had on my life. It infuriates me to hear they attempted to (by accident or by malice) discard my opinion simply because it contradicts their mission.”
The UCLA administration also solicited a number of negative letters from students, which the professor believes are exaggerated.
One allegedly accuses him of using racial slurs – without the context that he was teaching a class on the First Amendment and whether they were protected.
Fink told the Wire: “The way the system is, this is the easiest way for them to get rid of me. This is the perfect storm.”
The Insane Punishment a School Gave a Teen Over a Water Gun
What is the appropriate punishment for a high school student found on campus in possession of a water gun?
The Autauga County Board of Education, which covers communities near Montgomery, Alabama, decided that a 16-year-old girl with a water gun was in violation of the board’s firearms policy. So Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols received a one-year expulsion.
According to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser, Laney explained that she acquired the water pistol “as a joke” from a male classmate in a school hallway at Prattville High School.
The school’s security cameras captured footage of Laney holding the toy gun, but not of the male student holding it at any time. He received no punishment.
Laney said she put the water pistol in her backpack and then, the same day, on the back seat of her car in the school parking lot. It went unnoticed by the principal and school officials until a classmate reported to the administration a few days later that Laney had a gun.
Prattville High officials, following proper procedures, questioned Laney. She told them that the purported gun was really a water gun and was in her car, parked on school grounds, at that time. Confirming that Laney, in fact, possessed a harmless piece of plastic, school officials successfully cleared the threat.
Laney’s mother, Tara Herring, says her daughter got a 10-day suspension. Herring conceded that the black water pistol may have looked like a real gun at first glance, but is made of plastic and clearly distinguishable the second someone touches it.
That could have been the end of the story, but the school board decided to hand down a one-year expulsion for Laney’s violation of the Parent/Student Code of Conduct, which classifies possession of a weapon as a “major offense” punishable by expulsion.
The board’s Policy Manual prohibits students from possessing firearms on school grounds, including cars parked in the school lot. “Any student who violates this policy shall be expelled for a period of one year,” it says.
The Policy Manual, however, also provides that the superintendent of schools “may modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.” Thus far, Superintendent Spence Agee has declined to comment on the incident, although if he has any common sense, he’ll modify this draconian penalty.
Also at issue is whether Laney’s water pistol even qualifies as a prohibited firearm under school board rules. The Code of Conduct broadly defines a firearm as an object that “is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive charge or by compressed air or by spring action.”
A water gun could fall under this broad definition of a firearm only if water qualifies as a projectile and the plastic toy uses compressed air or a spring mechanism to release it. Surely, the board did not envision a harmless water gun when it adopted its firearm prohibition.
The Policy Manual provides an even stricter definition by adopting the definition of a firearm provided by federal law (18 U.S.C. § 921). Under the statute, a “firearm” is “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” Notably, not a water gun.
As the New Jersey State Supreme Court once reasoned, the statute is “talking about a real gun capable of discharging a projectile of some sort, not talking about a toy gun, not talking about a water gun, not talking about a plastic gun that can’t fire a projectile” (State v. Gantt (1986).
Laney’s water pistol is not a firearm under the adopted definition of Autauga County schools’ Policy Manual.
Education officials are understandably hypersensitive to threats of guns on campus, but the danger posed by real guns at school should not allow for a gross overreaction that could derail a student’s academic career.
Conflicting standards, overly broad definitions, and vague policies plague the criminal justice system with the possibility of absurd results. The same is happening here.
In this case, Agee should yield to reason, if not compassion, and use his discretion to modify the expulsion or yield to the statutory definition of a firearm to reduce the level of Laney’s offense.
Laney’s family has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue if the school board does not act to remove the “scarlet letter E” (expulsion) from Laney’s record. It should not take a lawsuit to determine that a water pistol is not a firearm.
A 16-year-old girl deserves more from America’s public education system than a one-year expulsion for possession of a water gun.
Monday, April 24, 2017
College Activists: Searching For Truth Makes You A Racist
Do you believe there’s an objective truth? Well, you’re a white supremacist then, at least according to a small number of black Pomona College students.
In a letter that strings together words the students no doubt learned in their Blank-Studies classes in what almost appears to be social justice Mad Libs (the word “marginalized” appears seven times in the one-page document), the students claim inviting a speaker critical of Black Lives Matter and supportive of police amounts to oppression.
Further, the three authors of the letter—freshmen Dray Denson, Avery Jonas, and sophomore Shanaya Stephenson—explain that “the Truth” is a concept rooted in racism.
“The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain,” the students wrote. “This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples” (emphasis added).
Notice the list of social justice buzzwords: white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, and capitalism. I’m surprised they didn’t include authoritarianism and Donald Trump.
The letter is a response to an email sent by Pomona College president David Oxtoby, who on April 7 criticized those who protested the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald. Mac Donald was invited to speak by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, Pomona’s sister school, about her book, “The War on Cops.” Some students called her a “notorious white supremacist fascist,” and proceeded to chant “Black Lives Matter” while banging on the windows of the building where Mac Donald was scheduled to speak.
Disagreeing With Me Makes You a White Supremacist
Oxtoby wrote in his email to students that Pomona opposes “preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker.” He further stated that Pomona’s “mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society.”
Denson, Jonas and Stephenson took offense to Oxtoby’s defense of the truth.
“The idea that the search for this truth involves entertaining Heather Mac Donald’s hate speech is illogical,” the students wrote. “If engaged, Heather Mac Donald would not be debating on mere difference of opinion, but the right of Black people to exist. Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live.”
Where do they get the idea that Mac Donald doesn’t think black people have the right to exist? Defending good cops and criticizing the bad tactics of a politically correct group (that not all black people have decided to join) doesn’t mean she believes black people don’t have a right to exist. Also, again notice the string of social-justice-warrior buzzwords to describe Mac Donald.
Mac Donald wasn’t the only target of the students’ ire. They also wanted the school to “take action” against the Claremont Independent, a right-leaning campus publication. The three students, along with nearly a dozen others, signed their names to the letter, then said if the Independent publishes those names and they “receive threats and hate mail,” then Pomona should “take legal action against members of the Claremont Independent involved with the editing and publication process as well as disciplinary action, such as expulsion on the grounds of endangering the wellbeing of others.”
Get that? They signed their names, but if they receive any backlash for their actions they want other students expelled and sued. How progressive.
Mac Donald Responds: ‘A Major Embarassment’
In a statement to The Federalist, Mac Donald called the letter “a major embarrassment to the Pomona and Claremont faculty.” She cited instances of poor writing and grammar, but lambasted the content as well.
“The students appear to argue that the ideal of free speech is based on a mystifying and oppressive concept of unitary truth, and that such a concept solidifies white supremacy … [yet] They are fully confident that they possess the truth about me and about their oppressed plight at Pomona and Claremont,” Mac Donald said.
Mac Donald also defended her work, saying the students have misread it.
“My entire argument about the necessity of proactive policing is based on the value of black lives,” she said. “I have decried the loss of black life to drive-by shootings and other forms of street violence. I have argued that the fact that blacks die of homicide at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined is a civil rights abomination. And I have tried to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding residents of high-crime areas who are desperate for more police protection so that they can enjoy the same freedom from fear as people in more wealthy areas take for granted.”
Do What We Want Or Else We’ll Say You’re Racists
The students have also demanded that Oxtoby respond to them by Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. and send a revised email by Thursday, “apologizing for the previous patronizing statement, enforcing that Pomona College does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples, especially Black students who straddle the intersection of marginalized identities, and explaining the steps the institution will take and the resources it will allocate to protect the aforementioned students.”
So. Many. Buzzwords.
The social justice warrior problem on college campuses appears to be escalating. The protests are becoming more violent, and the demands are becoming more absurd. Just last week, the editorial staff of the Wellesley College student newspaper wrote: “If people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted.”
The phrase “hate speech” has lost all meaning on campuses, as it now refers simply to speech liberal students don’t agree with. They claim it is bigoted, dangerous, and “violent,” making it acceptable—in their minds—to respond with physical violence.
I’d honestly believe this letter was a hoax, like that ridiculous article on the Huffington Post demanding we take away all white men’s voting rights, which was taken down because the author was fake—except you can actually find these students in the campus directory.
Dignity and Fairness Matter for Every Child in the Locker Room
The American Civil Liberties Union recently noted in a blog post that “the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed.”
There is some truth to this: The oppressed are powerful voices in any battle for justice. But when it comes to defending the most vulnerable among us—our children—it is chiefly the responsibility of parents, teachers, school administrators, and lawmakers to defend their rights.
Yet the ACLU, rather than seeking justice, fairness, and privacy for every child, has chosen to privilege a select few while utterly disregarding the privacy rights of millions of other young students across the country.
In the growing conversation taking place about what privacy means in intimate facilities, and whether one’s biological sex is a relevant factor to consider in boys’ and girls’ athletics, we’ve heard a lot from certain students who are working through very sensitive issues pertaining to their sex and gender identity.
And that is a good thing. Their voices matter in this conversation.
But substantially missing from this national conversation are the indispensable voices of the vast majority of children, and particularly girls. Ignoring their voices results in a failure to advance true equality and justice and violates children’s fundamental rights. Indeed, not one child’s privacy should be compromised.
And yet, young girls across the country—including in Illinois and Ohio, as just two examples—have been subjected to anxiety and humiliation when their school administrators secretly decided to open the schools’ locker rooms, restrooms, or showers to the opposite sex.
In Texas, 10-year-old Shiloh Satterfield recently described to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee how uncomfortable and anxious she feels now that her school has changed its policies to let boys into the school’s intimate facilities.
Her parents join thousands of other parents understandably concerned about what this means—not only for their children when changing clothes for gym class or showering after a swim meet, but also for overnight school trips where their daughters could be forced to share a bed with a biological boy (or vice versa).
And take the young boy in Pennsylvania who is not even able to change for the school’s mandatory gym class because the school is forcing boys and girls to undress together and to try “to act as natural as possible” while doing so. The boy is receiving a failing grade for each class he is unable to change for.
Young girls and boys across the country are trying to be heard—to share their discomfort and embarrassment at the thought of having to undress with a member of the opposite sex, or their frustration that they will no longer be able to compete in a fair environment if their sports teams allow boys and girls to play together.
These voices are not coming from a place of fear or social dislike. I’ve witnessed the love these students have for their friends who consider themselves transgender, while simultaneously pleading for their own rights, dignity, and privacy to be protected.
Just last week, a 15-year-old boy who identifies as a girl competed in a Connecticut high school girls’ track meet and won the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Even a quick glance at the pictures from the meet reveal that this young man, who now identifies as a woman, is still very much built as a male and is already significantly larger than his female peers.
As a woman who loved playing sports in high school, it’s obvious to me and many others that allowing biological males to compete with females is fundamentally unfair to girls who are physically different than high school boys.
Allowing boys, regardless of how they identify, to play on girls’ sports teams creates an unequal playing field for girls to compete and deprives them of a fair chance to qualify for—let alone win—athletic competitions.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1972, women did not have the same athletic opportunities as men. In this emerging conversation, we cannot forget the ground women have gained for equal opportunities.
Permitting the definition of sex to be changed or ignored would undermine the very essence of what it means to be male and female, which is a particularly relevant factor when it comes to athletics.
This understanding of biological differences is precisely what led to the passage of federal laws that help ensure a fair playing field for women. And now, some in our society, ironically in the name of equality, are running roughshod over what women fought so hard to obtain.
Many would like to paint this as a one-sided story about one victim: the boy who thinks he’s a girl, or the girl who thinks she’s a boy. And these children absolutely deserve love, attention, and support.
But supporting and caring for them does not mean we should inflict injustice on other children. We owe every young person in America a better response—a compassionate and fair solution that ensures protection for every student’s privacy and well-being, such as the policy that Alliance Defending Freedom has recommended to schools since 2014.
This policy allows schools to respect student privacy by continuing to designate separate boys’ and girls’ showers, locker rooms, and restrooms while providing other facilities for any student uncomfortable with using areas that correspond to his or her biological sex.
Justice requires that we protect the privacy and dignity of every child. We as a society should pause before we tell some children that their voices and their privacy rights don’t matter.
Clemson ‘Diversity’ Training: Time Is Culturally Relative, Expecting Promptness Is Racist
Clemson University’s ‘diversity education and training” teaches employees that every “cultural perspective regarding time” is equally valid, so it’s wrong to expect people to be prompt.
Clemson is spending $26,945 on “diversity education and training” for its faculty members, Campus Reform reports:
“Clemson President James Clements pledged that ‘all employees will participate in diversity education and training,’ last April, in order to create a more inclusive environment on campus.”
In one slide, employees are taught that tardiness is acceptable because the concept of time is culturally relative. Thus, every culture’s perception of the actual time must be respected - since one “cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other.”
The slide gives the example of “Alejandro,” who called a 9:00 AM meeting, and teaches that he should not rebuke a group of foreign professors and students who show up late:
“Time may be considered precise or fluid depending on the culture.”
Thus, the slide teaches, Alejandro shouldn’t impose his definition of time on others, because “his cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other.”
Posted by jonjayray at 12:48 AM