Thursday, July 27, 2017

Christie Signs Bill Requiring NJ Schools Use Preferred Pronouns for Transgender Kids

A veto would have been over-ridden

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill requiring New Jersey schools use the preferred pronouns of transgender students, according to a Saturday report.

The legislation (S3067/A4652) compels New Jersey to mandate that state schools call transgender students by their preferred pronouns and prohibits them from making transgender students use bathrooms opposing their gender identity, according to

“This is a huge victory for equality in New Jersey, and we want to send a big thank you to Gov. Christie for standing on the right side of history on this one,” Garden State Equality, a civil rights organization, said Friday in a statement.

Transgender students will be “addressed at school by the name and pronoun preferred by the student that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, regardless of whether a legal name change or change in official school records has occurred,” says the law.

Furthermore, New Jersey schools cannot force “a transgender student to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender identity, and [must provide] reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student’s safety and comfort.”

New Jersey’s Democratic-majority Legislature passed the bill in June by a 59-15-3 vote in the state Assembly and a 25-10 Senate vote prior to Christie’s Friday signing.

“All of our children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” said Democratic state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, a sponsor of the bill, to “And that means having the regulatory framework in place to be sure that our schools are safe places and have supportive environments for all students.”

“If we cultivate intolerance, children will pick up on that and think it is OK to bully others who are deemed different,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, another sponsor.

While New Jersey amended its Law Against Discrimination in 2006 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, it did not contain specific provisions pertaining to pronouns and bathrooms.


From Wesleyan, a cautionary tale for Harvard on male-only clubs>

In a case that could offer a cautionary tale to Harvard University, a Connecticut jury recently sided with a fraternity that sued Wesleyan University after the school tried to force the club to admit women.

Wesleyan, like Harvard, is trying to improve what it considers a discriminatory and unsafe social scene fostered by exclusive, all-male organizations. The two universities are taking different approaches — a Harvard panel has suggested banning fraternities, sororities, and final clubs altogether — but the Wesleyan example shows how difficult forcing such change can be.

“Broadly speaking, it does suggest that there are limits to the amount of interference a private university can impose on its students’ abilities to engage in associative groups outside of the university’s control,” said Will Creeley, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit organization that is following the Harvard situation closely.

Creeley said the situation in Connecticut has significant differences from Harvard, including that the Wesleyan fraternity had been a university-sanctioned residence whereas the all-male final clubs at Harvard are off-campus social organizations that often throw parties for undergraduates. But he said the case is part of a pattern across New England of schools attempting to curtail students’ rights to associate with single-gender social clubs.

The Wesleyan case began in 2014, when university president Michael Roth announced that all residential fraternities would be required to become fully coeducational over the following three years in an effort to make the campus more “equitable and inclusive.”

In 2015, the Wesleyan chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon sued the university after the school rejected its plan to integrate women into the 127-year-old DKE house on High Street in Middletown. Its plan was to allow women from a sorority, Rho Epsilon Pi, to occupy six beds inside the DKE house — separated from the men’s quarters — as an autonomous organization.

The fraternity argued in court that it had followed the school’s order, but also that the order was unfair because Wesleyan offered other types of exclusive housing, such as the Women of Color House; the Turath House, for Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim students; and single-sex dormitories, but refused to permit fraternity brothers the same option.

The fraternity said the school informed DKE that it would have to become “fully coeducational,” then rejected its plan.

The fraternity sued under a state law, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, alleging that the university made negligent misrepresentations and interfered with the fraternity’s business relationships when it did not accept the fraternity’s plan on how to integrate women.

The case went to trial, and in June a six-person jury ruled in favor of the fraternity, awarding $386,000 to the Kent Literary Club, DKE’s alumni chapter at Wesleyan. The DKE house has still not reopened, however, because of ongoing legal matters.

The fraternity believes the case demonstrates that although private schools have broad control over rules they make for their students, they do not have complete control.

“Maybe [Wesleyan is] not so free as they thought they were to change their policies willy-nilly and to say one thing on the one hand, then do something else on the other hand,” said Scott Karsten, a Wesleyan 1974 alumnus and member of the DKE alumni association.

Karsten was a witness in the trial and negotiated with the university at the time of the coed mandate, he said.

Harvard initially considered a plan much like Wesleyan’s: pressuring single-sex clubs to go coed in 2015.

To that end, Harvard introduced a controversial policy last spring aimed at curtailing the clubs’ influence over student social life by imposing on-campus restrictions on students who join single-gender off-campus clubs.

Administrators say the clubs foster an out-of-control drinking and party culture that leads to sexual assault and permits excluding people based on appearance or social status. The clubs are known for lavish parties in their ornate homes around Harvard Square that are worth millions. Many club houses are decorated with antique books, taxidermied animals, and sunken leather sofas.

Some male final clubs did accept women, but most resisted. One that admitted women has now returned to all-male status because of infighting between undergraduate and alumni members.

Last week Harvard considered changing its approach to sanctioning the clubs, which are private organizations governed by alumni boards and are not part of the university.

Instead of asking the male clubs to admit women, a committee of administrators and faculty released a report that recommends the university forbid students from joining unrecognized single-gender clubs altogether, with a goal to “phase out” the clubs by 2020.

The list of forbidden clubs includes not only the male-only final clubs but also female-only final clubs, sororities and fraternities. The report is a recommendation, not a final policy. The ultimate decision is up to Harvard president Drew Faust.

Harvard spokespeople declined to comment on the Wesleyan case, saying it is irrelevant to Harvard’s efforts.

Wesleyan officials also declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. The Hartford Courant reported last month that the university was exploring its legal options after the ruling.

The student blog Wesleying last month published an e-mail the university president sent after the verdict.

“Though we disagree with the decision, we appreciate the judge and jury’s time and consideration,” he wrote, adding that “Wesleyan believes very strongly in the principle of coeducation.”

A spokesman for the national chapter of DKE also declined to comment, as did attorney Richard J. Buturla, who represented the Wesleyan alumni chapter in the suit.

The day of the verdict, the fraternity issued a statement that said it was gratified by the decision, which it said “validates that we were acting in good faith and trying to meet the university’s requirements when we submitted a plan to coeducate our residence,” according to the Courant.

DKE has sued in the past over the same issue on other campuses. The fraternity sued Middlebury College — and lost — in the 1990s when the school forced fraternities to go coed. It sued Hamilton College over the same issue in 1995, and the suit was thrown out.

Many elite private colleges in New England have banned Greek life organizations in recent decades. Middlebury College did so in 1991. Colby College and Amherst College did it in 1984 and Bowdoin College in 1997.

But not so at all colleges. In 2015, Trinity College in Hartford dropped its attempt to force sororities and fraternities to go coed. The school’s president, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, said the 15 months of conversations on campus about the proposal proved to be divisive and counterproductive.

“I have concluded that the coed mandate is unlikely to achieve its intended goal of gender equity,” she wrote in an e-mail to students at the time, as reported by the Hartford Courant.


Australian High school CANTEEN menu features turmeric lattes, smashed avo on artisan bread and vegan salted caramel

A big improvement on Mrs Obama's dismal ideas

An elite all-ages school is offering its students vegan chocolate mousse, dumplings and even smashed avocado on toast at its canteen.

Northern Beaches Christian School, in Sydney's far north, has been open to change in recent years, with teachers calling themselves everything from 'learning activists' to 'pedagogical wizards'.

And now the $15,000-a-year private school has also bid goodbye the days of writing lunch orders on a brown paper bag, with the school's canteen better resembling a beachside cafe with its variety of gourmet options.

Founded in the early 1980s, Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) became an independent and not-for-profit organisation in 2004. Today it has more than 1,300 students, with its practices seeing it 'highly regarded by educators across the world'.

And part of the school's efforts to 'empower' its students from primary school to Year 12, has been the inclusion of its independently-owned canteen - 'Grounded'.

While many parents' memories of school canteens involve brown paper bags, meat pies or devon and tomato sauce sandwiches, times have definitely changed.

It is joined on the canteen's winter menu by artisian fruit loaf, tapioca pudding, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, 'Nonnas meatballs', deli sandwiches on sourdough, as well as turmeric and chai lattes.

Promoting the canteen on its website, the school spruiks its 'great food and coffee' while also encouraging parents to pay a visit.

'The cafe aligns with our core value of being a learning community built on strong, meaningful relationships – food is a great catalyst for shared community,' the website reads.

'Grounded is an independent business, with a vision is to provide healthy, delicious food, prepared daily on the premises.' 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Australia: 'The education system is broken': Teacher who quit her job after 30 years reveals why she intends to home-school her grandchildren

Rather unclear what she wants changed.  More staff and less assessment is part of it but the rest is unclear. 

I think she fails to understand that continuous assessment is designed to circumvent reliance on a "sudden-death" examination at the end of the year.  That was once the system but was often protested against as being an unfair measure of a pupil's ability.  Lots of students who did poorly were said just to be having a "bad day".

And teachers "taught to the test" back then too.  It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

And she ignores the function of the NAPLAN (national) exams in detecting and hopefully improving failing schools.  There are many quite bad schools in the government sector.  That is why 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.

It is of course possible to have a school environment where students feel relaxed and learn in their own way.  I once taught in such a "progressive" school myself. It had a great staff/student ratio and friendly teachers  but, even so, one half of my pupils did well and the other half learnt nothing.  And the school did not survive that.  It closed down after a few years.  A school system meant to serve all just cannot be run that way.

The classic example of such a school, "Summerhill", still struggles on but it still has only 60-70 pupils and is too expensive for most parents -- meaning that most pupils come from rich homes -- and they are above-average pupils anyhow.  The school is also said to be "surprisingly strict" these days. The school has been around since the '20s but has few imitators today.  It is clearly not a viable model for government schools

She set the internet alight last year, after she penned a damning essay about the state of the Australian education system and why she was quitting after 30 years in the profession.

And now the Queensland-based teacher, Kathy Margolis, has said she has absolutely no intention of letting her grandchildren into the school system either: 'The education system is broken,' she said.

'I have said to my three sons, "If you guys one day have kids, and I haven't managed to get the system changed, then I’m going to home-school every last one of them",' she told Mamamia on Monday.

In her latest statement, Ms Margolis has said that one of her biggest concerns about the school system is the fact that kids are being expected to read and write in their first formal year of schooling.

'There are kids who are saying, "I'm stupid, I can't do this,"' Ms Margolis said.

'They can see their friends who know all the sight words. Not only that, we're giving them report cards that are telling these parents, "Your child hasn't met this standard," when really, what we should be saying to the parent is, "It's okay, they're just not ready yet, don't stress." But they're not hearing that and they're going out and getting tutors.'

Ms Margolis added that she would have 'lost her job' if she had told parents that their child merely needed an 'extra year'.

'Parents want their kids to do well and to be okay, so they're coming from a place of helping their kids. Really, the kids just need extra time,' she said.

Since Ms Margolis quit teaching, she has started working for the organisation, Protecting Childhood. 

This stands for play-based learning till the age of six, no set formal homework until the age of eight, and no standardised testing which is used to 'pass or fail' kids.


Education in Australian schools is in crisis and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up. I have been a primary school teacher in Brisbane schools for over 30 years. This year, after much thought, I have decided to look for another job, not easy for a woman in her 50s. I cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done. I love my students and they love me. I know how to engage children in learning and how to make it fun. It’s what I do best.

Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time. So now that I have justified our holidays, many of which are spent doing the above, let’s talk about what is going on in classrooms across this great nation of ours.

Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care.

The curriculum is so overcrowded. Prep teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography. As a teacher and a mother of 3 sons, this scares the proverbial out of me. We all know that boys this age need to be moving around doing things that interest them, not sitting at desks. And what about the notion of readiness? I fear those little ones who are not ready are going to be left behind. And here’s the problem with our crowded curriculum. There is not enough time to consolidate the basics. Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the 3 R’s. My own children went off to year one after having had a lovely, enriching play based year of learning back in the days of pre-school. They didn’t know any sight words; they could write maybe a few letters and guess what? They learnt to read and write without being pushed at such an early age.

In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data’s sake. Don’t even get me started on NAPLAN. Teachers wouldn’t have a problem with NAPLAN if it wasn’t made out to be such a big deal by the powers that be, the press and parents. It has turned into something bigger than Ben Hur.

So why am I writing this? I’m writing this because teachers need to speak up but we are often afraid of retribution. We need to claim back our profession but we are powerless. Teachers teach because we love children and are passionate about education. Our young teaching graduates enter the profession bright eyed and bushy tailed, energetic and enthusiastic, ready to make a difference. So why I ask are they only staying for an average of 5 years? Of course that question is rhetorical. I know the answer. They are burnt out and disillusioned. Older teachers like me have seen better days in the classroom so in a way it’s harder for us to see all the joy slowly being sucked out of learning. But we also have a wealth of experience to draw from and we know which hoops you don’t necessarily need to jump through. We occasionally speak out. We are not as easy to “control”. But we are tired and also burning out with disillusionment.

I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know agree with us. I write this because I love children and I can’t bear to see what we are doing to them. Last year, as I apologised once again to my class for pushing them so hard and for the constant barrage of assessment, one child asked me “if you don’t like the things you have to do then why are you still a teacher?” That question got me to thinking long and hard. I had no answer except that I truly loved kids and it was with a heavy heart that I realised that wasn’t enough anymore.

The teacher's original 976-word essay was published on her Facebook page last year. In it, she said the system was in 'crisis' and added that she wrote the post in the hope of sparking public debate.

'Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care,' she wrote at the time.

'Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data's sake.'

The post swiftly went viral and was shared thousands of times online.

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to the Queensland Department of Education for comment.

In a recent statement issued by the state's education minister, Kate Jones, to ABC Radio, she said: 'I have to ensure that early year teachers feel that they have the flexibility to do the appropriate age learning for students in their class.

'Also in the recent budget we announced that there will be a fully funded prep teacher aide in every classroom in Queensland.

'The statements will identify any issues they believe the prep teacher should have and we will provide that directly, and this is something prep teachers have asked for.'


Bloomberg Wrongly Cites 'Wealth Inequality' to Vilify School Choice

Bloomberg this week published a new article fostering the Left’s “private school is evil” canard. The author cuts to the chase in the first sentence, where he bemoans, “These days, private school really is just for rich kids.” Citing National Bureau of Economic Research data, the author reports a significant decline among middle-income participation in private schools over the last 50 years, whereas the participation rate among high-income families is essentially flat. This, the author surmises, “could come to perpetuate the nation’s growing wealth divide.”

While the article doesn’t specifically mention school choice, there’s clearly a grudge. The irony, of course, is that conservatives have long advocated for school choice — for example, by vastly expanding school vouchers. This would provide opportunities for more lower and middle class children to attend private schooling. The Bloomberg report rationally points out that “the average tuition at nonsectarian private elementary schools ― where the percentage of students from high-income families has risen substantially ― surged from $4,120 in 1979 to $22,611 in 2011.” Yet this misses a key point: Government per-pupil spending has skyrocketed as well, with quite literally nothing to show for it.

More school choice would create more competition, which naturally helps to keep rising tuition rates in check with the added benefit of boosting performance. That’s more than we can say of public schools. The fact is, statist policies are eating away at the middle class. And to Bloomberg’s point, statism affects the entire economy — including, incidentally, private school tuition. This more than anything is contributing to the so-called wealth gap. Leftists pretend it’s the other way around. And if bolstering this narrative means exploiting “wealth inequality” — a scapegoat used with virtually every topic — to demonize school choice, so be it. For them, it’s a win-win.


Minnesota Schools Adopt Transgender Toolkit for Kindergartners
Teachers told to ask children their 'preferred pronouns'

A "transgender toolkit" for public schools in Minnesota advises teachers to call children "scholars" instead of boys and girls.

The guidelines were approved Wednesday by the "School Safety Technical Assistance Council" and will be distributed to Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools and charter schools throughout the state. The toolkit attempts to "ensure a safe and supportive transition" for children becoming a different gender at school.

The toolkit allows for boys who identify as girls to use the girls' bathroom, and tells teachers to ask kids what their "preferred pronouns" are.

The Minnesota Department of Education encourages parents to have "acceptance and support of their child's gender identity" if they want their child to perform well at school.

"Schools should not assume a student's name or pronoun," the toolkit states. "School officials should ask the student and use the requested name and pronouns."

The department says no legal documents are needed to change a student's name or gender in school records. The department also said that teachers must call students by whatever name they choose to ensure that bullying does not occur.

"When students are referred to by the wrong pronoun by peers or school staff, students may feel intimidated, threatened, harassed or bullied," the toolkit states. "School staff can ensure a more respectful environment for all students when efforts are made to correct the misuse of pronouns, as well as names, in student records."

If a teacher calls a child by the wrong pronoun, he could violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, according to the guide.

Teachers also should avoid calling grade school children "boys and girls," because the phrase is not "inclusive."

"Teachers could address students as ‘students' and ‘scholars' to be inclusive as opposed to ‘boys and girls,'" the guide states.

Other tips include not picking a homecoming or prom king and queen—instead students should nominate "prom ambassadors," "homecoming court," or "homecoming royalty."

The department explains, "Language around gender is evolving."

"In some communities, the term ‘Two-Spirit' is used for an American Indian person possessing a blend of male and female spirits," the toolkit states. "The term honors people of native heritage. Two-spirit students traditionally do not seek out medical transition nor use the language of transgender nor gender nonconforming to describe their gender."

The toolkit links to several outside resource guides, including the group Gender Spectrum's "Student Gender Transition Plan," where a child can fill out their "preferred name," gender, and assigned sex at birth.

The form asks, "What does the student wish to communicate about their gender?" and what "requests" the student will make, such as a new name, pronouns, or using a different locker room or bathroom.

The plan also includes a schedule for sharing a child's new gender with the school and other parents, and a time for a "parent information night about gender diversity."

The department also references a "Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools," developed by left-wing organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, the National Education Association, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. This guide states that a child's "age and maturity" should "never be a basis for denying a transgender student an opportunity to transition in a safe and supportive environment."

The guidebook also advises that students can use the restroom of their choice. The department suggests that school officials should segregate students who feel uncomfortable by a biological boy who identifies as a girl joining the girls' locker room.

"Privacy objections raised by a student in interacting with a transgender or gender nonconforming student may be addressed by segregating the student raising the objection provided that the action of the school officials does not result in stigmatizing the transgender and gender nonconforming student," the toolkit states.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Harvard women's clubs face ban too

The usual "unintended side-effects" of Leftist regulation attempts.  There's some nasty little authoritarians in the Harvard administration. Like the Puritans of old, they seem to resent that other people are having fun

CAMBRIDGE — Just blocks from the multimillion-dollar brick mansions owned by Harvard University’s legendary all-male final clubs is a separate world.

Here, drab office building basements and former storefronts have been retouched with white lace curtains, comfy couches, and brightly decorated walls. Scattered around Harvard Square, these rented spaces are home to several of the university’s sororities and women’s final clubs.

There are no taxidermy collections here, passed down over generations, or grand staircases, and there’s barely enough room in some of them to throw a boozy party. Instead, it’s where Harvard’s undergraduate women say they pad around in their socks, gather to binge-watch Netflix shows, prep with their friends for job interviews, and compare notes on birth control.

But as Harvard attempts to crack down on all-male final clubs, a proposal to ban membership in exclusive clubs could have a disproportionate impact on women, who belong to such organizations in greater numbers.

“These sanctions unfairly punish women’s groups,” said Pauline Ryan, who graduated from Harvard this spring and was a member of a sorority and a women’s final club. “The administration often highlights Harvard’s mission of preparing its students for the ‘real world,’ but what they fail to acknowledge is that the real world still has ‘old boys clubs’ and that therefore women’s organizations remain necessary balancers and spaces that empower women.”

Earlier this month, a university panel recommended that Harvard bar students from joining private, off-campus clubs — a plan that would ultimately need the approval of university president Drew Faust. While the main target of the proposal is seven all-male final clubs, which administrators blame for unruly parties that have led to underage drinking and sexual assault, and for fostering a divisive culture, the recommendation calls for phasing out all elite social clubs, including fraternities, sororities, and female final clubs by 2022.

That has angered many sorority and female final club members, who say they have been swept up by the university’s efforts to crack down on these all-men bastions that draw some of the wealthiest male students on campus.

There are four sororities and four all-women final clubs for Harvard students. Membership is hard to calculate, because the groups keep their rosters private and some women join both sororities and final clubs. But Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean at Harvard College and vocal opponent of the proposed policy, estimates that 900 women belong to such clubs — as opposed to 675 men.

“A lot of the conversation has been around male clubs; that’s particularly frustrating,” said Camille N’Diaye-Muller, 21, a rising senior and the undergraduate president of the Delta Gamma sorority. She said she and many women support the university’s aims to create a safe and inclusive space for students.

“We don’t believe this will deal with sexual assault and exclusivity,” she said. “A policy like this will do more harm than good.”

Harvard officials declined to comment on the committee’s recommendations.

But in its report, the committee acknowledged that there are distinctions among the single-gender clubs and that many of them formed as “well-intentioned antidotes to the effects of the final clubs.”

But the final clubs and other such exclusive organizations create a “pernicious” influence on undergraduate life, according to the report.

“In order to move beyond the gendered and exclusive club system that has persisted — and even expanded — over time, a new paradigm is needed, one that is rooted in an appreciation of diversity, commitment to inclusivity, and positive contributions to the social experience for all students,” the report states.

While sororities say they have an open recruitment process and try to match women with an organization, not everybody gets in. The Harvard Crimson reported that 280 women signed up for sorority recruitment this year, but only 193 received invitations to join.

The women’s final groups, La Vie Club, the Bee Club, the IC Club, the Pleiades Society, are even smaller and invitation-only. Many rent space from the men’s final clubs and hold joint events.

Several women at Harvard said the sororities and women’s final clubs have been their refuge at a hypercompetitive school, where power is still held primarily by men.

While women outnumber men on US college campuses, accounting for 57 percent of enrolled students, at Harvard men make up about 52 percent of students. Though Faust became Harvard’s first female president a decade ago, the tenured faculty remains predominately male, with women accounting for between a quarter and just over a third of the tenured or tenure-track faculty, according to Harvard data.

Many of Harvard’s sororities and women’s final clubs started more than 25 years ago as an alternative social space to the male final clubs and fraternities.

For Rebecca Ramos, 22, a Delta Gamma who graduated in May and plans to be a high school teacher, her sorority was the place where she could relax most at Harvard.

The high-achieving students who get into Harvard have spent most of their high school lives participating in a gamut of activities and are eager to re-create that experience when they arrive on campus. But getting into many of Harvard’s extracurricular organizations, whether it’s the debate club, dance club, or social-service organizations, can be competitive.

Students have to go through a “comp” process, which either stands for competency or competition — the origins are in dispute. The requirements include essays, interviews, multiple tryouts. Many try, few succeed.

Ramos said she applied to join more than a dozen groups as a freshman but got into fewer than a handful, and was struggling to find her place on campus, when she joined the sorority.

“Harvard can be a very difficult place to be a student,” she said. “A lot of people at Harvard have this mask, that everything is great. It’s about, ‘Did I get the perfect internship that will land me the perfect job?’ But the sorority is a place where women feel comfortable taking that mask off.”

She said she has confided in her sorority sisters when she was stressed about how she was doing in college.

Sororities and single-gender clubs also help women form networks that can help them land jobs, provide recommendations for graduate school, and offer support if they move to a new city, members say. Members and graduates say that the ban may push the bad behavior of the men’s final clubs that Harvard is hoping to rein in further underground and make it more difficult to monitor.

Ariel Stoddard, who graduated from Harvard in 2010 and was a member of The Sabliere Society, an arts-based women’s final club that went coed this year, said having women’s social groups is important. She belongs to a women’s networking organization in Los Angeles, where she now lives.

“There are groups and clubs that exist across all ages and affiliations,” she said. “They provide a huge social support.”


Campus Rape: Revisiting the 'Dear Colleague' Letter

When dealing with sexual assault, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is working to bring Rule of Law back to college campuses   

Responding in 2011 to a false narrative that sexual assault on college campuses was out of control, Russlyn Ali, at the time the assistant secretary for civil rights in Barack Obama’s Department of Education, penned what became known as the “Dear Colleague” letter. It was a 19-page “significant guideline document” for colleges and universities to follow, but its major effects on campus life were to make it extremely difficult for a student accused of sexual assault to defend himself and to lower the standard required for disciplinary action to a simple preponderance of the evidence. Even with the reduced standard (or perhaps because of it), campus rape incidents continued to make headlines, including fake news like the University of Virginia story retracted in 2014 by Rolling Stone.

One of many lawsuits resulting from the “Dear Colleague” letter was filed last year by a recently graduated law student from the University of Virginia (not connected to the Rolling Stone case), while another case was settled earlier this year after it was revealed that the accuser was upset because the defendant stopped dating her. By this time, though, the accused had long since been expelled from the school; details of the settlement were unavailable.

And while states like California and New York developed affirmative consent laws intended to make sure that, if things became physical, both parties knew what they were getting into, the problem arises when alcohol becomes involved and one or both participants no longer are in a position to give informed consent or stop the process.

As The New York Times reported, Candice Jackson, who is the acting head of the Department of Education’s civil rights division (a successor to Russlyn Ali), opined that “the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was just not quite right.’”

Jackson has since apologized for the “flippant” tone of the remarks, but no apology will ever placate a hardcore leftist who’s been [triggered]

According to on such unhinged leftist, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jackson “crossed a serious line and highlighted her clear biases in this area in a way that … should disqualify her from service in the position of top Department of Education protector of students’ right to be safe at school.” While Jackson may have exaggerated the number to some degree, it’s far closer to the truth than the Left’s oft-repeated lie that “one in five” women on campus are sexually assaulted.

The senator also leaves out the context of other statements made by Jackson to the Times. She noted the investigative process has not been “fairly balanced” between accuser and accused in recent years, and that students are deemed rapists “when the facts don’t back it up.” In fact, she said, sometimes there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.” But Murray, as a senator who will eventually vote on her confirmation, is one of those who holds the fate of Candice Jackson in her hands.

And while Murray was a vociferous opponent of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, it’s DeVos who is considering revisiting the subject of campus sexual assault and due process as “an issue we’re not getting right” after six tumultuous years. But DeVos isn’t just writing a long letter and making it stick — she’s out speaking with several of the parties involved, including rape survivors, college administrators, and — gasp — even those who were wrongly accused.

Some would like things to go even more quickly. David French, writing at National Review, suggests the “Dear Colleague” letter be immediately rescinded and colleges be compelled to turn these matters over to the civil and criminal court systems already in place. This would certainly be an improvement in due process for both parties, although aggrieved leftists will surely howl that this restoration of due process will have a “chilling” effect on victims reluctant to tell their stories.

The failure of the current system, however, means that something has to be done. While sexual assault is a problem on campus, there was already in place a lawful means of handling the issue. The problem was that victims were reluctant to put themselves through the process, and schools were fearful of the prospect of negative press from such proceedings. But preserving the rights of the accused and maintaining the presumption of innocence until being proven guilty — even if only by a standard of “clear and convincing evidence” common in civil trials — should be the standard. Let’s hope DeVos can make it right again.


Australia: University funding rationalization provokes controversy

Universities have accused the Turnbull government of muddying the waters as it prepares for a fight over higher education funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday released figures showing what students will pay under planned changes would more closely match the benefits of getting a degree.

The federal government's overhaul of higher education includes increasing student fees by up to $3200 over a four-year degree, cutting university teaching funding by 2.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, tying a portion of funding to performance measures, and lowering the threshold when student debts must start to be repaid.

Senator Birmingham said the report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, "injects facts ... into a debate that has at times been dominated by platitudes and sound bites".

It showed about 45 per cent of the benefits from a higher education were private, such as securing a well-paid job.

The government says its planned fee increase will mean students contribute 46 per cent of the cost - up from 42 per cent now - with taxpayers covering the rest.

Senator Birmingham took aim at university groups that supported the coalition's previous proposal for full-fee deregulation but oppose the package now before parliament.

They had "tried to walk both sides of the street in this debate".

The minister characterised the increase in funding to universities since 2009 as "a river of gold".

The group of six Innovative Research Universities disagreed, telling a Senate inquiry on Monday the river of gold was down to more enrolments, not any boost to per-student funding.

"If anyone's being inconsistent here, it's the government that previously embraced the concept we did need more resources," executive director Conor King told a hearing of the inquiry in Melbourne.

"In this (package) it goes down; of course we're opposed."

The Group of Eight - representing the nation's research-intensive universities - said the government's package was not coherent and would leave students paying more for less.

The government had a track record of releasing reports such as the Deloitte research to the media without showing the sector first, chief executive Vicki Thomson said.

"We find we're responding to claims about rivers of gold or vice-chancellors' salaries or surpluses which are muddying the waters when we're wanting to talk about actually what sort of university sector do we actually want in this country," she told the committee.

The Senate inquiry will also hear from the academics union, education department officials, business representatives and higher education experts on Monday and Tuesday.

It's expected to report when parliament resumes in August, clearing the way for the bill to be debated.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Schools Spice Up Student Lunches with Restaurant-Quality International Dishes Designed to Boost Enrollment

On Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue attended the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual conference in Atlanta, promising to enable nutrition professionals to prepare meals for students that are more culturally-diverse, appealing and nutritious.

In an effort to combat students’ rebellion against the skimpy, tasteless lunches schools mandated by the Obama administration – which resulted in declining enrollment, wasted food, and tighter budgets – schools are now offering a wide range of more flavorful, international, restaurant-quality dishes.

“Students expect their school cafeterias to serve the diversity of flavors they are accustomed to in restaurants,” stated the SNA in a press release.

“Attendees will test recipes including Chicken Tikka Masala and Thai Style Fish Tacos, Spicy Korean BBQ strips and Southwest Chili con Carne.”

“The USDA and SNA are partners in working together because we all have the same goals in mind, and that’s the health and vitality of our young people,” Sec. Perdue said at the conference:

“My goal as Secretary of Agriculture is to remove the bookkeeping headaches and menu problems that are distracting our school nutrition professionals from doing their real job of feeding kids nutritious and appealing meals.”

SNA attendees walked through an exhibition with 408 different booths at which new foods and menu items were displayed. This year, there was an emphasis on providing a diverse variety of international dishes.

Nutritionists and parents like those who attended the conference in Atlanta have become increasingly concerned about school nutrition after participation in school lunch programs has consistently dropped in recent years.

Sec. Perdue has already rolled back some of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s restrictions and standards. Harsh backlash against the former first lady’s infamous school lunch restrictions made national headlines during the Obama administration as school children took to social media to post photos of their tiny, unappetizing school lunches, often with the hashtag “#ThanksMichelleObama.”

In a May press release entitled “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again,” USDA announced its intention to “provide greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school meal programs in order to make food choices both healthful and appealing to students.”

While at the conference, attended by over 7,000 people, the secretary met with school nutritionists from around the country. SNA’s new president, Dr. Lynn Harvey, agreed with Sec. Perdue’s assessment of the current situation and vision for the future.

“School nutrition professionals work every day to make school meals more nutritious and delicious for our students,” said Dr. Harvey. “We are honored that Secretary Perdue recognizes these ongoing efforts and the importance of school meal programs. We look forward to working with USDA to identify ways to build on this success in school dining areas.”\


UK universities accused of giving too many first-class degrees

About a quarter of students gained a top degree last year, up from 8 per cent in the early 1990s

Universities are guilty of significant degree grade inflation, critics say, with some awarding first-class honours to more than 40 per cent of their graduates.

The number of firsts has almost doubled in five years at some universities, with almost three in ten students at Russell Group institutions being given the best degrees last year. Across the board, about a quarter of students graduated with a first — up from 8 per cent in the early 1990s.

Sceptics say that, as a result, employers are forced to look at job applicants’ A levels and even GCSE results because university classifications have become meaningless. Imperial College London and the University of Surrey gave firsts to 41 per cent of graduates last year.


Let’s put the ‘mattress girl’ case to bed

Paul Nungesser should not have to live with continual accusation

This week, Columbia University settled a lawsuit brought by ex-student Paul Nungesser. Nungesser sued Columbia under a US federal law known as Title IX, which forbids universities from discriminating against students on the basis of gender. The law hit the headlines when students started deploying it to claim damages for universities’ apparent failure to investigate allegations of sexual assault on campus properly. Nungesser argued that Columbia’s failure to deal with an allegation against him amounted to discrimination and seriously affected his ability to continue his studies.

In 2013, Nungesser was accused of sexual assault and anal rape against another Columbia student at the time, Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz alleged that consenting intercourse between them had turned violent, and Nungesser anally raped her. When Nungesser was exonerated by both a local police investigation and an internal university investigation, Sulkowicz began carrying a mattress around campus as part of an ‘endurance art’ project. She called the work ‘Carry That Weight’ and said it was illustrative of women’s burden in having to deal with sexual assault. She became known as the mattress girl.

The project received global attention and divided opinion. One art critic called it the ‘best art show of the year’ and said it demonstrated ‘radical vulnerability’. Sulkowicz received awards from two prominent American feminist groups. She was profiled in New York magazine. Others said Sulkowicz was a liar, especially following revelations that she had sent Nungesser flirtatious Facebook messages the morning after the alleged attack. These two young students became symbols of the competing interests in rape investigations - especially of the clash between ensuring a proper investigation and maintaining the presumption of innocence.

Despite being cleared, things turned grim for Nungesser. His name was included in a ‘rapist list’ pasted to the wall of the men’s toilet at Columbia. Sulkowicz was allowed to carry the mattress on to the graduation stage and received academic credit for the project (many saw this as tacit approval by the university of Sulkowicz’s conduct and presumably her accusations). It was this granting of credit that formed the basis of Nungesser’s Title IX suit. He accused Sulkowicz’s supporters of bullying him and claimed he had been subjected to widespread harrassment. In its settlement statement, Columbia said ‘Paul’s remaining time at Columbia became very difficult for him and [this is] not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience’.

Many are saying that with the settlement of the lawsuit, justice has been done. But in fact, this case highlights the sorry state of justice in these campus cases. On the one hand, you have a young woman who accuses another student of a serious crime and who feels the only way she can achieve a resolution is by harassing him through artwork. On the other is a student who has been exonerated of said serious crime, and who rightly expects to be able to move on with his life. Whatever actually happened on the night, the use of this case to make broad statements about the justice system has made it harder for either side to achieve anything resembling justice.

Neither of these people is straightforwardly in the wrong. Sulkowicz is allowed to voice her perspective on what happened to her. It is a sad fact that more and more young women are turning to social media to voice their allegations because they think the justice system will let them down. But there has to be a line where a legitimate voicing of concerns becomes something else, where it becomes overbearing and wrong. Because Nungesser has a right to the presumption of innocence and due process. When he was exonerated, he should have been allowed to carry on with his life unimpeded and free from harassment or continual accusation. He cannot be convicted in the kangaroo court of public opinion just because there was no evidence to prosecute him in a real court. Sulkowicz’s right to discuss what she thinks happened to her must be balanced against Nungesser’s legal rights and his right to move on.

It was wrong to elevate Sulkowicz to the status of a feminist icon. That introduced an utterly unhelpful dimension into the case and inflamed suspicion around Nungesser. After the mattress project, Sulkowicz created an art piece called ‘Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol’ (‘This Is Not A Rape’). It is a video work showing her engaging in sexual activity with a man. The website that hosted the video said the activity is ‘supposed to resemble rape… but is entirely consensual’. She said the piece is meant to ask questions, like: ‘Are you searching for proof? Proof of what?’; ‘What do you want from this experience?’; ‘How well do you think you know me?’. Some welcomed the artwork as ‘brave’, while others cited this sexually explicit video as further evidence of Sulkowicz’s willingness to court publicity.

We will probably never know what happened between Sulkowicz and Nungesser on that night. The politicisation of the case makes it even less likely. Nungesser’s name should no longer be associated with a rape allegation and Sulkowicz should never have become an international symbol of feminist struggle. The more we politicise these cases the harder they are to deal with in a fair and objective way. This is the only lesson to take from this debacle.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The gap that never will close

We see below that parental education is found to be the big factor in how well the child will do in education. It is also shown that this is a genetic influence.  So there is no hope that black educational attainment will ever equal white educational attainment.  In general, poorly educated parents must bring forth poorly educable chidren.  The exceptions are to be treasured but will not be frequent

Genetic Influence on Intergenerational Educational Attainment

Ziada Ayorech, Eva Krapohl, Robert Plomin


Using twin (6,105 twin pairs) and genomic (5,825 unrelated individuals taken from the twin sample) analyses, we tested for genetic influences on the parent-offspring correspondence in educational attainment. Genetics accounted for nearly half of the variance in intergenerational educational attainment. A genomewide polygenic score (GPS) for years of education was also associated with intergenerational educational attainment: The highest and lowest GPS means were found for offspring in stably educated families (i.e., who had taken A Levels and had a university-educated parent; M = 0.43, SD = 0.97) and stably uneducated families (i.e., who had not taken A Levels and had no university-educated parent; M = −0.19, SD = 0.97). The average GPSs fell in between for children who were upwardly mobile (i.e., who had taken A Levels but had no university-educated parent; M = 0.05, SD = 0.96) and children who were downwardly mobile (i.e., who had not taken A Levels but had a university-educated parent; M = 0.28, SD = 1.03). Genetic influences on intergenerational educational attainment can be viewed as an index of equality of educational opportunity.


College Professor’s Failed Defense of Federal Meddling in College Discipline

Hans Bader shows up some logical slipping and siding

A college president recently promoted fallacies about the law in order to justify federal micromanagement of school discipline. Writing in the Washington Post, Brooklyn College’s Michelle Anderson defended a 2011 letter from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) dictating “the standard of proof in campus disciplinary proceedings.” It told colleges that had been using the “clear and convincing” evidence standard to instead use a mere “preponderance of the evidence” standard, if the allegation involves sexual harassment or assault (rather than a non-sexual offense).

For an unelected federal bureaucrat to dictate the burden of proof at colleges across the country is disturbing. But Anderson defended OCR’s action, claiming that “Preponderance is the standard of proof that applies throughout our justice system, except when life or liberty is at stake.”

This is an inaccurate claim. The civil justice system uses the clear-and-convincing evidence standard for many matters. I don’t know how Ms. Anderson could have taught law (as she did for years) without learning this basic legal reality.

One common example of the legal system using the clear-and-convincing evidence standard is given by Connecticut’s Office of Legislative Research. As it notes, “Most states require clear and convincing evidence” before punitive damages can be awarded, requiring “a high probability or a reasonable certainty that the plaintiff’s version is” true. This is not the only type of court case in which such clear proof is required. As I pointed out in the Wall Street Journal in 2014, “The clear and convincing evidence standard is often used for cases such as license suspensions and many issues involving fraud, punitive damages, wills or family decisions.”

Anderson believes that if the court system applies a preponderance standard, so, too, must campus disciplinary proceedings. But this belief has no logical or historical basis. Colleges used a higher standard in campus disciplinary proceedings for many years, without any objection from the courts. As James Picozzi noted in 1987 in the Yale Law Journal, “Courts, universities, and student defendants all seem to agree that the appropriate standard of proof in student disciplinary cases is one of ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.” (University Disciplinary Process: What’s Fair, What’s Due, and What You Don’t Get, 96 Yale L. J. 2132, 2159 n. 17 (1987)).

A federal appellate judge, Jose Cabranes, continued to advocate the use of the clear-and-convincing standard in campus disciplinary proceedings in a January 2017 op-ed in the Washington Post, which also noted that “the American Association of University Professors has described [it] as essential in any fair proceeding.”

Although colleges stopped using the clear-and-convincing standard for sexual harassment and assault allegations after the Education Department ordered them to in 2011, many of them (such as Duke University, or the University of Virginia’s Honor System) still use that higher standard of proof for other types of allegations, such as vandalism, non-sexual assaults, or honor code violations.

The April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that Anderson defends also contains more disturbing forms of federal micromanagement, as noted earlier, along with bad legal advice for colleges. It encouraged colleges to restrict cross-examination by the accused, even though the Supreme Court called cross-examination the “greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” in its decision in Lilly v. Virginia, 527 U.S. 116, 124 (1999) – and campus cross-examination is also a specifically protected right under some state Administrative Procedure Acts. In a departure from longstanding Education Department policy, it also demanded that colleges regulate off-campus conduct (which led to people being investigated for sexual harassment for off-campus speech about sexual issues, such as an essay criticizing campus “sexual paranoia” in the Chronicle of Higher Education). And it ignored past agency rulings by demanding that colleges allow complainants to appeal not-guilty verdicts unless the accused is barred from appealing (which critics viewed as akin to double jeopardy).

Anderson is not troubled by any of this federal overreaching (her writings indicate she would go even further, to require accused people to prove they had verbal consent to sex, contrary to the fact that consent is often non-verbal, and most happily married couples engage in intimate contact without verbal consent). Although she doesn’t explain why the standard of proof should be the same in campus disciplinary proceedings as in civil litigation, the Education Department tried to justify this position in its April 4, 2011 letter. It reasoned that the lower “preponderance” standard was “the standard of proof established for violations of civil-rights laws” in lawsuits brought in federal court. Therefore, it claimed, preponderance must also be “the appropriate standard for” schools to use in “investigating allegations of sexual harassment or violence.’”

But as discussed earlier, that is a red herring, since the mere existence of harassment or assault by a student (as proven by a preponderance of evidence) doesn’t give rise to liability on the part of the school; only the school’s faulty response to it can. Liability under Title IX is based on whether the school mishandled sexual harassment or assault allegations, not whether students engaged in harassment. Students cannot violate Title IX; only schools can be sued under Title IX, not individuals. (See, e.g., Smith v. Metropolitan School District (1997).) Moreover, Students “are not agents of the school,” so their actions don’t count as the actions of the school. (See UWM Post v. Bd. of Regents (1991)).

As the Education Department admitted in its 1997 “Sexual Harassment Guidance,” “Title IX does not make a school responsible for the actions of harassing students, but rather for its own discrimination in failing to remedy it once the school has notice.” (62 FR 12034 (1997)). So to violate Title IX, an institution’s own actions must be proven culpable under a “preponderance” standard — not the mere occurrence of harassment.

Since an institution itself must behave in a culpable fashion, not just the accused harasser, federal courts have held that there is no violation of the civil rights laws even if harassment occurs, as long as the institution investigates in good faith in response to the allegation of harassment. That’s true even if the institution ultimately refuses to discipline a harasser based on the reasonable belief that he is innocent, after applying a firm presumption of innocence (such as demanding corroborating evidence, see Knabe v. Boury Corp., 114 F.3d 407 (3rd Cir. 1997)).

For example, a federal appeals court reversed a jury verdict that awarded a worker $85,000 against the U.S. Postal Service for sexual harassment, even though harassment did occur, since the Postal Service had, after investigating the worker’s sexual harassment complaint, reasonably, but erroneously, failed to credit plaintiff’s allegations. As the court explained, “a good faith investigation of alleged harassment may satisfy the ‘prompt and appropriate response’ standard, even if the investigation turns up no evidence of harassment. . .[and] a jury later concludes that in fact harassment occurred.” See Swenson v. Potter, 271 F.3d 1184, 1196 (9th Cir. 2001), quoting Harris v. L & L Wings, 132 F.3d 978, 984 (4th Cir. 1997).


Does free speech damage brains?

Can science, which has given us so many blessings, also help us settle disputes about free speech on campus?

Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, thinks so. She argues in the New York Times that science can “provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society.” It’s a point that she doesn’t prove, and that poses dangers to which she seems blind.

Barrett writes that science has shown that “abusive” speech damages listeners’ bodies, especially their brains, and should therefore be considered a form of violence. But it has also shown that “merely offensive” speech does not have this effect. So campuses should let Charles Murray speak, since he is offering “a scholarly hypothesis to be debated,” but is not “a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos.”

While I am not very familiar with the latter’s work, it certainly seems correct that a speech by Murray (a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute) would be much more likely to generate an intelligent discussion.

Colleges, and collegiate organizations, should take that fact into account when deciding whom to invite. If that’s all that Barrett wants to establish, she does not need to invoke science. Thinking through the mission of a university ought to be enough.

The science she cites does not really help her case. Her judgment about Murray and Yiannopoulos may be correct, but it is not obviously scientific. It’s hard to see how she overcomes this problem.

I suppose colleges could run tests in which random samples of undergraduates were exposed to prospective speakers and before-and-after comparisons of the fine structure of their brains were performed. Even then, though, we might have to take into account that some undergraduate brains are more susceptible to damage than others.

But it’s worse than that. Her factual assertions undermine her conclusion. She emphasizes that it’s “chronic stress” that affects the brain and nervous system: “If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that’s the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain.” That seems like an argument for, not against, tolerating a one-off speech by Yiannopoulos.

Nor does Barrett reckon with the fact that her rationale for keeping abusive speech off campus sweeps wider than her objective. If anything that causes “long stretches of simmering stress” is violence, then any professor with a reputation as a tough grader has a lot to answer for. So do traffic engineers, wedding planners and mortgage lenders.

Come to think of it, can an op-ed be sufficiently annoying to rewire a reader’s neurons for the worse? If so, is it too “literally violence”? It might be time for a citizen’s arrest.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Harvard’s Proposed Policy Would Punish Students for Having Normal Social Lives

For the second time in less than two years, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana is expanding paternalistic restrictions and sanctions on the student body based on whom they choose to be friends with.

In an email to the student body on July 12, the dean reported that the “USGSO Committee”—which handles policy on “unrecognized single-gender social organizations,” and which the dean co-chairs—released preliminary recommendations to be reviewed by the faculty and then approved by Harvard University’s president, Drew Faust.

These recommendations outline a new policy that exceeds the bounds of a prior, already overreaching policy, which will remain in place unless Faust approves the new policy.

The first policy, begun in 2016, targeted all-male and all-female organizations, including fraternities, sororities, and final clubs, all of which are off-campus, self-funded, and unrecognized by the university.

It stated that starting with the class of 2021 (this fall’s freshmen), members of those organizations will be barred from receiving prestigious scholarships (like the Rhodes Scholarship), athletic team captaincies, and leadership positions in recognized student organizations.

In response, some clubs, like the traditionally all-male Spee Club and the traditionally all-female Seneca, decided to transition to being co-ed.

The new policy goes even further.

Claiming that its initial goal of ending gender segregation and discrimination was “too narrow,” the committee’s new policy extends its sanctions to any “private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students, whether they have any local or national affiliation,” single-gender or otherwise, so that the clubs that attempted to adhere to the first policy cannot escape sanction.

Perhaps even more distressingly, it recommends that students who choose to join these clubs will face suspension and expulsion from the college.

The faculty committee is seeking to model this policy on those adopted by Williams College and Bowdoin College, including a policy that requires students to pledge that they will abide by the school’s “Social Code,” a code that prohibits joining, pledging, rushing, or even attending events sponsored by the prohibited groups.

Faust, who will be stepping down at the end of this academic year, seemingly has nothing to lose.

The groupthink mentality of the importance of “diversity and inclusion” is apparent throughout the committee’s report. As it continually emphasizes the importance of making all Harvard students feel “included,” it then asserts, in bold letters: “It is important to note that no one has suggested doing nothing.”

This is simply untrue. Numerous students have suggested allowing students to retain their rights to freedom of association, and professors like Harry Lewis have publicly condemned the administration’s intervention in students’ private lives.

In addition, a student referendum on the policy, referenced in the committee’s report, showed that nearly double as many students voted to repeal the sanctions as voted in support.

Further, the definition it gives for the outside groups affected by this policy is far too broad.

While it lists several clubs that the policy is intended to apply to today, it also applies the policy broadly to any similar organizations that are made up primarily of Harvard students, and which are private, exclusionary, and social in nature.

The logic of this policy could be more far-reaching than even the administration realizes.

Could a group of friends at Harvard fall subject to this policy if they exclude others from a private party they host? What about a private game night? Does this group of friends need a formal name in order to be subject?

By targeting such a broad swath of “exclusionary” actions, the administration of Harvard College has resorted to treating adult students like some elementary schools have treated first graders, requiring that everyone in the class be invited to each child’s birthday party.

It is paternalistic, hypocritical, and frankly insulting that administrators have imposed this policy. As one of the most exclusive universities in the world, Harvard has claimed to select only those with the brightest futures and best judgment for admission.

If this is so, then the administration should allow students to make their own choices of outside affiliations, rather than becoming a nanny state intent on scrutinizing the details of students’ social lives.

For these reasons, it is imperative that Faust reject the faculty’s new policy and reconsider the existing policy regarding students’ outside affiliations. Freedom of association is paramount to American society and basic liberty, and Harvard is mistaken in abandoning it.


Claremont McKenna College disciplines seven students for blockade that shut down Heather Mac Donald speech

Here’s a statement just released by Claremont McKenna College (about the incident blogged about here):

Claremont McKenna College has completed the full conduct process after students blocked access to the Athenaeum and Kravis Center on April 6, with the expressed intent to shut down that evening’s speaker, Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Findings and Outcomes

On the evening of April 6, a group of approximately 170 individuals from the Claremont Colleges and others outside our community organized, led, and executed a blockade of the Athenaeum and the Kravis Center. They breached the perimeter safety and security fence and campus safety line, and established human barriers to entrances and exits. These actions deprived many of the opportunity to gather, hear the speaker, and engage with questions and comments.

The blockade breached institutional values of freedom of expression and assembly. Furthermore, this action violated policies of both the College and The Claremont Colleges that prohibit material disruption of college programs and created unsafe conditions in disregard of state law.

Through a review of available video and photographic evidence, the College initially identified twelve CMC students as potential participants in the blockade. After further review, the College charged ten students with violations of College policy. Three of those students were then found not responsible for any violation. After a full conduct investigation and review process for the remaining seven students, an independent community panel found each student responsible for policy violations.

Three students received one-year suspensions.
Two received one-semester suspensions.
Two were put on conduct probation.
All sanctions include strong educational components.

The College followed a full, fair, and impartial student conduct process before the determination of findings, sanctions, and the resolution of appeals. Efforts to politicize and interfere with this process had no influence on timing or decisions. Students had an opportunity to be heard, pose questions, ask for further investigation, and raise objections throughout the process. The independent panel of three (one panelist each from the faculty, staff, and student body) determined their findings of responsibility on a preponderance of video and photographic evidence and a limited amount of witness testimony. Sanctions were based on the nature and degree of leadership in the blockade, the acknowledgment and acceptance of responsibility, and other factors.

CMC has also provided evidence of policy violations by students of the other Claremont Colleges to their respective deans of students. Consistent with inter-college policy, CMC has asked each campus to review this evidence under their own conduct processes. In addition, CMC has issued provisional suspensions of on-campus privileges to four non-CMC students who appear to have played significant roles in the blockade.

Our Reinforced Commitments

Last September, President Chodosh and Dean Uvin wrote: “[f]reedom of speech and diversity of opinion are foundational to the mission of the College. Both the faculty and our Board of Trustees have endorsed the University of Chicago’s Principles of Free Expression as consistent with our own.”

They emphasized further:

[T]o benefit fully from the free exchange of challenging ideas, we must ensure that all people with different viewpoints, experiences, and analyses are included in our conversations…. We reject exclusion and ad hominem attacks as barriers to learning. All of us — students, faculty and staff — must commit to high standards of civility, respect, and appreciation for differences.

In President Chodosh’s August 2016 convocation address, he said:

If we are to cherish free speech, we must support and hear the speech with which we most disagree. The most persuasive arguments anticipate opposing viewpoints. Free expression without listening is of little use.

In the aftermath of the blockade on April 6, the College learned important lessons that must further strengthen our resolve. Our Athenaeum must continue to invite the broadest array of speakers on the most pressing issues of the day. Our faculty must help us understand how to mitigate the forces that divide our society. Our students must master the skills of respectful dialogue across all barriers. Our community must protect the right to learn from others, especially those with whom we strongly disagree. And Claremont McKenna College must take every step necessary to uphold these vital commitments.


Feds Spend $224,999 on ‘Clean Water’ Video Game

The National Institutes of Health is spending over $200,000 on a video game about clean water.

The computer game will help children "right the environmental wrongs" of a fictional town. A grant for the project was awarded last month to Meadowlark Science and Education, a company that makes STEM video games in Missoula, Mont.

The target audience of the new environmental health video game is 5th and 6th graders, who will use the game to sharpen their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills while increasing their "awareness of the importance of clean water."

"Improving STEM-focused curriculum is a primary objective of the current U.S. administration and is crucial for ensuring that upcoming generations receive the training and skills necessary to compete in the existing global economy," according to the grant for the project. "To that end, there is an urgent need for additional effective teaching tools able to reach a generation that requires instant access to information and advanced technology."

"Of particular interest to this proposal is the development of a highly effective, marketable, and interactive educational video game (iEVG) that focuses on STEM topics and targets 5th and 6th grade students—the age at which interest in STEM subjects is developed or lost," the grant states.

The goal of the study is to create a computer game with "significant commercial potential that increases awareness of the importance of clean water in human health."

The project, which began in July, has received $224,999. Research will continue through 2018.

Meadowlark Science and Education announced an upcoming project on its website for a computer game entitled "Water Follies." The objective of the game is for children to convince politicians on the importance of environmental issues.

"You play as Clark Flyer, a meadowlark who works together with a diverse cast of lovable animal characters, to solve and correct environmental issues plaguing their town," the company said. "Clark's goal is to convince the reluctant politicians in power that clean, lead-free drinking water should be everyone's top priority."

"Using your knowledge of STEM, you will solve puzzles, conduct experiments, and develop hypotheses to right the environmental wrongs that have affected the community," Meadowlark Science and Education said. "By interacting with the townsfolk, you will make many new friends and learn about their lives. With the help of your new buddies, you can make Holian Falls a town where everyone would want to live!"

The company has a disclaimer on its website listing government funding and that the content is "solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Colleges Pay Diversity Officers More Than Professors, Staff

Top public universities pay administrators with jobs related to diversity initiatives an average of  $175,088 per year, substantially more than other professors and faculty members, according to a Campus Reform investigation.

A sheet compiling the salaries of the top diversity administrators at 43 of America’s top public universities shows that virtually all are paid at least $100,000, with some going well beyond $300,000.

The average of $175,088 per year is more than three times the average American’s salary of $44,980. The lowest salary identified by Campus Reform is $83,237, still almost twice as much as the average American salary.

A 2016 report by the American Association of University Professors found that the average professor salary across ranks was $79,424.

In one example, an administrator at Rutgers University named Jorge Schement, vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, made $253,262 in 2016, while most faculty at Rutgers in 2015 made less than $50,000 a year.

The same 2015 review found that the median salary of tenured professors at Rutgers was $121,467, which makes for more than a $100,000 difference between the average Rutgers professor and the vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Some have suggested that giving diversity initiative administrators high salaries is ineffective.

“It is crucial for boards and leaders to ask whether spending on new administrative salaries will serve the genuine needs of students or just fulfill the wishes of certain administrators,” Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, told Campus Reform.



Ideological Tribalism: Graduating Stepford Students

Freedom of speech is foundational. Without freedom of speech there are no other freedoms.

In a stunning new guide to colleges that ranks  "a diversity of viewpoints and a culture of free and open discussion" New England colleges and universities are exposed as the most close-minded in a comparison of diversity of political and cultural points of view. Considering that the New England colleges and universities are some of the most prestigious in America and that they graduate future leaders and "authorities," the study results are particularly disturbing.

The silencing of Conservative voices on campus is a deliberate strategy to expand the widening echo chamber of left-wing liberal tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. Parochial schools are very clear in their mission to educate students in the particular tenets, customs, and ceremonies of their chosen religion. Religious schools freely and unapologetically attempt to perpetuate their religions through education. There is informed consent - the parents and students being fully aware of the purpose of their education.

The problem today is in non-parochial schools because parents believe their children are receiving a secular American education not a parochial education. The reality is that American students from pre-school through college are being indoctrinated in left-wing liberalism by their Leftist teachers. Leftism is the new religious orthodoxy of the Democratic Party and the Democrats are busy proselytizing their religion in the classroom. There is no informed consent and no consumer protections. There is only buyer beware.

Slowly parents are beginning to examine the content of the curricula their children are being exposed to and are rightfully alarmed by the anti-American, anti-establishment, anti-democracy lessons being taught. Their children are being propagandized toward anti-American collectivism and socialism every day all day.

When liberal professors outnumber their conservative colleagues 28:1 a culture of ideological tribalism is created and freedom of speech ceases to exist. Conservative voices are silenced because the academic and social tyranny of the Left demands conformity. It is an ideological war that demands submission.       

Tyranny cannot tolerate freedom of speech because in ideological wars words are the weapons. The Left is engaged in a very undemocratic effort to silence any voices of opposition. The tribal mind focuses on membership in the tribe as the absolute value which explains the malicious shunning and disparaging of anyone who disagrees. To be in the tribe one must demonstrate loyalty to the tribe and adhere to its cultural norms.

Instead of participating in the proud American tradition of open debate the Leftist leadership of the Democratic Party has adopted the tyranny of censorship, intimidation, and intolerance. Instead of encouraging respectful discourse for the merits of ideas to be debated the Left silences its opponents with its tyrannical demand for compliance to its tenets of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism. The Leftist orthodoxy silences any heterodoxy. The Democratic Party has devolved into ideological tribalism where membership in the group is determined by adherence to its orthodoxy.

Outside the classroom the left-wing activists organize campus protests where academic cry-bullies shut down buildings and intimidate speakers to silence opposing voices. They demand safe spaces and Play-doh to calm and "protect" them from opposing ideas. These protesters are not burning books because the curriculum has already been censored and manipulated to eliminate opposing ideas. Instead of an education the students are being indoctrinated in the left-wing liberal orthodoxy of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism designed to produce another generation of Stepford students to join the widening echo chamber of orthodox Leftists who reject any heterodoxy.

The general public is being similarly indoctrinated because their news and information has been censored to eliminate opposing ideas and to silence opposing voices. The colluding mainstream media moguls of television, movies, print media, and the Internet, all have common cause to participate in the echo chamber of manipulative information designed to indoctrinate the public into accepting their left-wing liberal orthodoxy.

What is the purpose of the ideological tribalism of the Democratic Party? Just like the student curricula the public indoctrination by the leftist Democratic Party is part of the widening echo chamber designed to transform American democracy into socialism.

The Left organizes content designed to break down traditional American cultural norms that encourage individualism, achievement, the meritocracy, and critical thinking skills. The Leftist narrative promotes collectivism and passivity to produce an unaware and compliant public. The Leftist Democratic Party in America supports or is an apologist for Linda Sarsour, BDS, FGM, open-borders, illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, and the fiction that Islam is a religion like any other.

Instead of news and information the general public is being indoctrinated in the left-wing liberal orthodoxy of political correctness, moral relativism, and historical revisionism designed to produce an unthinking Stepford population who will join the ever-widening echo chamber of orthodox Leftists who reject any heterodoxy.

Consider the long term effects of their echo chamber that begins in kindergarten, continues throughout college, graduates Stepford students who become leaders and "authorities" in government, politics, academia, Internet, media, statistics, books, art, medicine, law, theater, movies, every sphere that influences American life. WHY?   

Because the globalist elite mega-moguls and their mega-corporations have a long term plan. They are using the echo chamber of Leftists as useful idiots to create the social chaos and divisiveness necessary to destroy American democracy and replace it with socialism. Socialism's complete cradle-to-grave government control is the prerequisite for the globalist elite's own one-world government that features an unrestricted world market for their goods and a binary socio-political system of masters (the globalist elite) and their enslaved population (everyone else).

The ideological tribalism of the Leftist Democrat Party that graduates Stepford students and disinforms the public to become Stepford voters is a boomerang. Ideological tribalism will be used against the useful idiots by the globalist elite who will ultimately impose one-world government and enslave them all. There is no place for Leftist agitators in one-world government - there is only room for Stepford slaves.


Small private schools are struggling, but Merrimack has found its footing

NORTH ANDOVER — Across the country, from New Hampshire to Kentucky to California, small private colleges are struggling. They’re merging with neighbors, cutting programs and staff, and offering steep tuition discounts to get students into seats. Some are going out of business altogether.

But Merrimack College, in sleepy North Andover, has recalibrated its approach to move away from the traditional liberal arts offering — and the strategy is working.

By stressing health sciences, business, and engineering over humanities and by tailoring its financial aid to attract high school graduates that best fit the small school, Merrimack has managed to boost student enrollment, build facilities, and stabilize its finances.

The result leaves Christopher Hopey, the college president, unusually chipper.

“I’m not as pessimistic as most people,” Hopey said last week. “The key is to look different than others.”

Merrimack College is among a cohort of small, private institutions that have avoided drastic financial steps, despite the shrinking number of college-age students and growing resistance from families unwilling to go deep into debt for private college when a public institution will do. And it is succeeding in Massachusetts, where competition is especially stiff, with about 90 four-year private and public schools that families can select.

Merrimack — a Catholic college that started out as a commuter school for returning GIs after World War II and is best known as a small, ice hockey powerhouse — has found its footing, said Pranav Sharma, an analyst for Moody’s Investors Services.

“How many times do you see a college growing enrollment by double digits for several years?” said Sharma. “It’s run as a business. They are very good at understanding who they are.”

The solution at Merrimack has been multifold but has focused on shifting from the basic liberal arts track to one geared toward degrees with clearer job prospects in the current economy.

For years, Merrimack offered its students a wide array of classes from philosophy and English to education, political science, and business management. But in recent years, it has built up its courses and lab spaces in health sciences, finance, and engineering, in the hopes of competing with the likes of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

In 2016, more than 30 percent of students graduated with business degrees and about 20 percent finished school with degrees in health services, sciences, and civil engineering. Meanwhile, the popularity of English and general liberal arts degrees has fallen. In 2015, 10 out of 654 students graduated with English degrees, down from 19 just five years before. Even fewer finished with liberal arts degrees: six students, down from 19 in 2010.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, called STEM fields, have become increasingly popular at colleges and universities nationwide as budget-conscious students gravitate to degrees most likely to land them jobs after graduation.

And in an environment in which most colleges are chasing the best and brightest, Merrimack has courted B students who are eager to attend; most of its students are from Massachusetts.

The effort has become so sophisticated that the college uses an outside consultant and computer algorithms to dole out financial aid, ensuring that students who visit often and want to come to the school get more money, instead of simply offering the biggest scholarships to students with the best grades who are weighing several options.

“They don’t fight for the students they aren’t going to get,” said Sharma, with Moody’s. “They are pretty disciplined about spending their scholarship aid.”

The sticker price at Merrimack was $55,620 last year, but with scholarships and financial aid most students pay about $33,000 on average. That puts Merrimack between other small private colleges in Massachusetts, such as Endicott College and Stonehill College, according to the US Department of Education.

Merrimack has worked to convince families that it’s money well-spent, highlighting partnerships with businesses, such as Raytheon Co. and New Balance, where students work and do internships, Hopey said.

The average earnings of a Merrimack student a decade after graduating are about $56,000 a year, above the national average of $33,500.

Many other small colleges are also trying their hand at reinvention, hoping to weather the shifting market.

Earlier this summer, Wheelock College in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood put its president’s house on the market and planned to sell a dormitory. It said it was examining its financial options, including eventually eliminating undergraduate degrees altogether.

Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire is eliminating its English and philosophy majors this year in favor of programs such as nursing, business, and sports management. Simmons College in Boston has turned to online graduate programs to boost enrollment and revenue. Schools such as Wentworth in the Fenway, which already have a strong presence in STEM education, have expanded to offer more profitable graduate-degree programs and are also marketing to more international students in Asia and the Middle East.

“There’s just not an obvious answer,” said Robert Zemsky, a professor with the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania. “The market shifted out from under them. The market has moved more vocational, it’s moved to places with lots of options, and more recently, more to those with lower prices.”

Still, Merrimack’s efforts seem to be yielding results.

Enrollment at the college has been on the rise for the past five years — climbing by more than 60 percent from about 2,300 students in 2011 to 3,780 students last year — and it plans to welcome its second-largest freshmen class this fall.

This summer the campus is teeming with construction workers who are building a track and stadium and a tutoring center on the library’s third floor, and finishing a new business school. The school’s finances have improved in recent years, earning an upgrade for its debt from Moody’s Investors Services from negative to stable.

The school’s endowment grew from $35 million in 2011 to $50 million in 2015.

For Sara Puglielli, 17, a rising high school senior from Connecticut who is on the college tour circuit this summer, Merrimack’s combination of business and liberal arts placed it on the list of potential schools, along with Bentley University and Babson College, long-standing campuses for business majors.

“And I like the smaller atmosphere,” Puglielli said. “And everything is modern.”

But convincing some families that a Merrimack degree is worth the price is still a challenge.

Malcolm Frampton — who brought his 17-year-old son Jackson to Merrimack for a recent tour — said for the price tag, the college still lacks some amenities that many other public and private schools offer, such as fully-updated dorms, a large library, and generous meal plans.

“We are considering colleges that are $20,000 less that still offer much more than Merrimack,” Frampton said.

Ultimately, small colleges face an uphill battle, said Alice W. Brown, a North Carolina-based higher education consultant who used to lead the Appalachian College Association, a group of private liberal arts schools.

And Merrimack’s path may not work for all small colleges, she said.

Just adding more STEM-related courses is likely not enough to stand out in a crowded market, Brown said.

“They have to be different and reinvent themselves,” Brown said. “It’s not that easy, there’s no simple solution. . . . There are no guarantees that just because you add the classes, students will come.”