Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

University presidents more concerned with climate than free speech

original article: University presidents nationwide refuse to sign ‘Intellectual Freedom Commitment’
March 10, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

Zero presidents have signed it; all refuse

In November 2015, as racial protests engulfed the University of Missouri and students issued demands nationwide, Peter Wood thought the rocky campus landscape was ripe for higher education leaders to affirm their commitment to intellectual and academic freedom.

With that in mind, the prominent scholar penned a “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment.” However, campus leaders completely rejected it.

“Zero, absolutely zero” presidents have signed on, Wood said in an interview, but the president of the National Association of Scholars isn’t giving up on his mission.

Wood’s efforts initially began in the fall of 2015, as the Mizzou protests garnered national attention and ousted university leaders, spurring students nationwide to make demands at their respective campus.

At that time, Wood saw a number of conservative commentators responding with “very aggressive statements” about the need to preserve freedom of speech on campus. While he didn’t disagree with them, he thought “something a little bit more thought through about what kind of actions could and should be taken to preserve the intellectual freedom” might be needed.

MORE: It might be time to defund colleges that suppress free speech, scholar writes

Wood initially published in January 2016 a 30-page document entitled “The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom.” He shared it with several thousand university presidents and trustees, but received little feedback.

“It certainly did not hit home,” Wood said.

That led Wood to develop the “College and University Presidents’ Intellectual Freedom Commitment,” a single-page, 340-word document he describes as less historical and philosophical and more of a “definite pledge.”

The document states “that intellectual freedom is the foundation of higher education.” It calls in part for the protection in academia to raise questions, analyze claims, express doubts and to argue for and against conclusions.

The commitment acknowledges intellectual freedom often results in controversies and public scrutiny.

“With that in mind we believe it is important from time to time for the leaders of colleges and universities to affirm strongly the principle of intellectual freedom,” it reads.

College and University Presidents’ Academic Freedom Commitment by The College Fix on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/341416284/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-LbyqKpDThhST7eAmM6jh&show_recommendations=true

The model for enlisting higher education leaders to sign on to such a cause comes from the progressive left, Wood said.

He pointed to the success of the “American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” which was brought forth by a dozen college leaders in 2006. The group worked with climate advocacy groups like Second Nature, ecoAmerica and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to push the pledge forward. By the end of 2007, the commitment had more than 300 signatures and eventually more than 650 institutions committed to it.

Wood hoped to have the same success. He reached out to university presidents one by one. Could he enlist campus leaders?

“The answer is a big flat no. I can’t,” he said.

Wood said it appears college and university presidents have moved so steadfastly to the left that they’re “much more interested in mounting the resistance to the rule of law and to President Trump than they are in protecting the rights of their own students and faculty members.”

However, that’s the negative way to look at the lack of signatories.

“The positive way is that the time has not yet come when they are really ready to commit themselves to this,” he said.

However, the fight for intellectual freedom on college campuses hasn’t stopped with Wood. It’s expanded outside academia. Wood pointed to model campus free speech legislationdeveloped by the Goldwater Institute and Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Additionally Wood and his organization, the National Association of Scholars, are working on proposed changes to the federal Higher Education Act.

MORE: Public colleges that threaten free expression would face steep penalties under model bill

However, Wood isn’t giving up on his intellectual freedom pledge. The potential legislation might spurn campus leaders to act on their own.

“As they begin to notice that their states and federal government are about to move into this territory, they may well begin to think that voluntary and self-regulation might not be a bad idea and could stave off these external authorities,” Wood said.

He also noted that recent riots at UC Berkeley over the appearance of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos “revived public interest in the topic and that opens up another chance.”

Wood isn’t discouraged by the original lack of response.

“I expect that everyone of these fights is going to be hard and I understand that higher education is now pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of the progressive left,” he said.

While there are conservative scholars and conservative institutions, Wood said it doesn’t particularly help him in getting them aboard given they’re a small demographic ignored by the mainstream.

It’s the larger demographic Wood wants to reach.

bias, censorship, culture, diversity, education, free speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, reform, scandal

“My hope is to make this a mainstream thing,” he said.

Filed under: bias, censorship, culture, diversity, education, free speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, reform, scandal

Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women

original article: On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind
March 8, 2017 by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March are holding another protest. This one is called A Day Without a Woman, in solidarity with those women who have lower wages and experience greater inequalities.

The protest encourages women to take the day off work, avoid shopping other than in small women- and minority-owned stores, and wear red.

The problems being protested against Wednesday—inequality, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity—are all too real for many disadvantaged women, but the legal protections for them are in place here in the United States. Women who are unfairly treated at work or discriminated against can stand up, speak out, protest in the streets, and take legal action. Not so for many women in other parts of the world for whom the hashtag #daywithoutawoman is all too apt.

Around the world women are subjected to “honor violence” and lack legal protections and access to health and social services. According to Amnesty International’s recent annual report, throughout the Middle East and North Africa, women and girls are denied equal status with men in law and are subject to gender-based violence, including sexual violence and killings perpetrated in the name of “honor.”

The relationship between the sexes in Muslim majority countries is inspired and often governed by a mix of tribal, traditional practices and Islamic law. Algerian author Kamel Daoud recently referred to this system as entailing “sexual misery” for both men and women throughout the Islamic world.Daoud favors the full emancipation of Muslim women, yet many commentators criticized him as being guilty of “Islamophobia,” a term increasingly used to silence meaningful debate.

International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women—to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression—who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women—female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

The revival of part of the women’s movement, catalyzed by the election of Donald Trump, has deeper roots than can be seen on the surface. Like Wednesday’s protest, a large portion of Western feminism has been captured by political ideologues and postmodern apologists. Rather than protecting women’s rights, many feminists are focused on signaling opposition to “right-wing” politics.

One of the organizers of the Women’s March movement recently tweeted: “If the right wing is defending or agreeing with you, you are probably on the wrong side. Re-evaluate your positions.”

I’m all for dissent, but that “us vs. them” mentality has caused political gridlock, even on humanitarian issues where the left and right should work together. Hostility and intolerance to others’ views have made rational discussion on important issues taboo. A robust defense of universal women’s rights should welcome support from both the left and the right, overcoming domestic partisan divisions in order to help women abroad attain their full rights.

This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights.

abuse, culture, extremism, feminism, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, oppression, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, scandal, victimization

Filed under: abuse, culture, extremism, feminism, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, oppression, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, scandal, victimization

Confusion between care and insurance guarantees costs will rise

original article: When Replacing ObamaCare, Remember Health Insurance Isn’t Health Care
March 7, 2017 by WILLIAM M BRIGGS

Big Louie whispers to you, “Say, Mac. The fix is in. The Redskins are throwing it to the Browns. It’s all set. Guaranteed.”

“No, kiddin’, Louie?”

“I’m tellin’ ya. Now listen. I want you to bet me the Skins win.”

Wha…? But you just told me ….”

“You aren’t paying attention. What’s wrong with you, Mac? You want trouble? I said the Skins will lose and you will bet they’re going to win. Now gimme sixty bucks that says the Skins will win.”

“Hey! You don’t have to be so rough …”

“Say, these twenties are new! Considerate of you. Listen. Don’t be so glum. You’re contributing to a good cause: me.”

What Insurance Is

Any of this remind you, Dear Reader, of the insurance business? It shouldn’t. Yet the word insurance has undergone a strange metamorphosis, which is caused, as you won’t be surprised to learn, by government.

Insurance used to be a bet you would make that you hoped you wouldn’t win. You went to an insurer and made a bet that something bad would happen, say, you got cancer or your house would burn down. The insurer figured out how much it would cost to pay you to fix the bad thing. He then said, “Okay, gimme Y dollars, and if the bad thing happens, I pay you X.” If you didn’t like Y or X, you negotiated with the insurer until a pair of numbers were mutually agreeable — or you agreed to part ways.

But suppose you told the insurer, “I have cancer. It will cost X to treat. I want to bet with you that I get cancer. What’s the minimum Y I should pay you?”

The insurer would either laugh you out of his office, as he commiserated with you about the sad state of your health, or he would pick a Y greater than X. Why? Because it was guaranteed that the insurer would pay out X. Why would he ever take an amount less than X?

The Government “Fix”

Because government, that’s why. Because your cancer is a “pre-existing condition” and it was seen as cruel and heartless for the insurer not to lose money on your behalf. But government forced the insurer to lose money. Government enjoyed playing Robin Hood. Hood as in criminal, crook, confidence trickster (did you not know that? Big Louie knew).

However, because the entities that comprise government move in and out of insurers (and their banks), the government also took pity. Government knew insurers had to make up their forced deficits. So it mandated that citizens who did not want to make a bet with any insurer had to give the insurer money for bad things that would almost never happen. ObamaCare became Big Louie muscling twenty-somethings to insure themselves against Alzheimer’s.

Thanks to Supreme Court Justice Roberts, you being forced to fork over funds to a private entity was called a tax. (Same thing Big Louie calls it!) Thus, not only was the word insurance gutted of most of its actual meaning, so was tax. Orwell lives.

Of course, insurers assisted in their own demise. They, like everybody else, were happy to let folks conflate the incompatible terms health insurance and health care. Once people could no longer keep these separate in their minds, the end of insurance was guaranteed.

What Insurance Isn’t

Insurers blurred these distinctions by separating themselves from the purely betting side of business, by dealing with people’s employers and not people (a condition ensconced by further Government mandates), by paying doctors and hospitals and not people, and by writing blanket instead of specific contracts. It came to be seen as normal for a person to expect “insurance” to pay for their kid’s visit to the doctor for sniffles.

Having the sniffles is almost guaranteed; it is thus numerically no different than a pre-existing condition. Having an insurer pay out on these “sure bets” meant that an additional layer of bureaucracy had to be built to handle the paperwork and shuffle funds around. Insurers unwisely moved to make a profit on these sure bets, which caused them to be penurious when paying out on large claims. Doctors had to increase their staff to handle the busywork. Monies that would have gone to pay for “bettable” diseases had to be diverted to pay for aspirins and bandages. Every step along the way caused premiums to be driven higher.

Now no one understand’s the true cost of care. Worse, we’re at the point where the true meaning of insurance is under active attack. A recent article in Bloomberg complains that it would be better if insurers used data to calculate a person’s chance of this or that disease — which is exactly what insurers should do. The author of that article also frets that insurers might “once again [be] allowed to charge extra for pre-existing conditions, an idea currently being debated in Congress.” In other words, the author is worried that insurers might once again be allowed to do what insurers are supposed to do, and what they must do if insurance is to work.

When Congress scraps ObamaCare, they must not replace it with any scheme that confuses insurance and care. This confusion guarantees that costs will go up and the bureaucracy will grow.

bureaucracy, crisis, cronyism, economics, government, health, health care, nanny state, politics, reform, unintended consequences

Filed under: bureaucracy, crisis, cronyism, economics, government, health, health care, nanny state, politics, reform, unintended consequences

Harvard orders students to spy on each other

original article: Harvard orders students to spy on each other with broad new rules against single-sex clubs
March 7, 2017 by Greg Piper

Don’t worry, it’s not ‘intrusive’

No one expects the Harvard Inquisition!

That is, unless you saw snippets of an implementation committee’s report that called for Harvard to not only punish and exclude members of single-sex clubs from a broad range of fellowships and leadership positions, but to block those students from running for office or leading The Harvard Crimson.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has finally released the full 46-page report by the committee in charge of deciding how best to undermine freedom of association, and he said he agrees with practically all of it, The Crimson reports:

Under the recommendations, students starting with the class of 2021 who seek leadership positions, captaincies, or fellowships will have to sign a written statement affirming their commitment to “nondiscrimination on the basis of characteristics of ‘intrinsic identity,’ including gender.” Students will also have to affirm they do not currently belong to an “unrecognized single-gender social organization,” did not belong to one in the past year, and will not belong to one in the year after their tenure in a leadership position or athletic captaincy ends.

Sound like the House Un-American Activities Committee? We’ll get to that later.

Harvard wants students to attest in writing that they are not in final clubs–but noninvasively! Hello, Upside-Down! http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/3/6/implementation-committee-recommendations/  pic.twitter.com/CAh9xymlr6

Harvard: We evaluated our peers’ practices targeting Greek orgs closely
World: Can we see your results
Harvard: Surehttp://osl.fas.harvard.edu/files/osl/files/implementationcommitteefinalreport.pdf pic.twitter.com/MxrAf4bRe0

View image on Twitter

The main change: Khurana “did not accept the committee’s recommendation that members of single-gender social groups be barred from leadership roles on The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council.”

But this wholesale attack on campus democracy and freedom of the press still might happen when fewer people are paying attention. Khurana said those ideas deserve “further deliberation.”

MORE: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy, free press

The most stunning part of the report is how it plans to enforce compliance, and the disingenuous way it describes the method, which may explain why committee leaders refused to even give its members copies of the report while its future was in doubt:

The committee recommended that the Honor Council investigate students who violate the policy by “falsely affirming compliance,” though the report emphasized that students should “not perceive the policy as intrusive or punitive.”

Harvard wants students to attest in writing that they are not in final clubs–but noninvasively! Hello, Upside-Down! http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/3/6/implementation-committee-recommendations/ 

The Honor Council judges allegations of academic-integrity violations. It includes administrators, faculty and – yep – students who might want those coveted fellowships and leadership positions for themselves.

A spokesperson told The Crimson the Honor Council would stick to investigating those who apply for fellowships, while those who hold “organizational leadership positions” in prohibited groups will be evaluated under a “trust-based system,” whatever that means.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

Ryne Weiss at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) describes the council’s new mission as leading “inquisitorial efforts for those suspected of fibbing when asked whether they are, or have ever been, a member of the Communist Par— I mean, single-gender sorority, fraternity, or final club”:

So it looks like a modern-day version of the Secret Court is back, and this time, it’s enlisting students along with the faculty and staff traditionally tasked with ferreting out those with associations too unsavory for Harvard. Given that students compete with each other for the very positions that the students on the Honor Council will have the power to deny (athletic captaincies, scholarships, leadership of student groups, etc.) this is obviously and unmistakably ripe for abuse.

Keep in mind that two days after the committee delivered its report to Khurana, the dean created a faculty review committee that had (in theory) authority to scrap or revise the very single-sex sanctions in the report.

He was probably afraid that if faculty saw the report, they would quickly quash the sanctions with their own “nondiscrimination” motion, which was slated for a vote just days later. (The motion’s sponsor, former Dean Harry Lewis, withdrew it after Khurana’s concession, and recently announced he’s teaching only two more semesters before officially retiring.)

Now Khurana’s conveniently timed creation of the faculty committee looks like “a dishonest diversionary tactic to kill a motion by faculty members that which would have challenged the sanctions regime” in the still-hidden report, Weiss writes:

If Harvard administrators had any kind of accountability, the use of such a tactic might pose a real problem. But given that they can apparently read faculty emails without any real consequences, that might be too much to ask.

How dare you slow our ‘momentum towards greater inclusivity’

If there’s one piece of black comedy in this sorry display of Harvard’s most illiberal impulses, it’s the implementation committee’s annoyance at having to compete with a new lover (the faculty committee) for Khurana’s attention.

In a section that specifically credited “student members of the committee,” the report says this:

[T]he lack of clarity as well as the events of the past month, namely the formation of a new faculty committee to review this policy, have had a particularly negative effect on conversations with numerous existing stakeholders in the College’s social scene. These events have fostered skepticism about the intent and commitment to the policy, discouraged those students who are supportive of efforts to transform the nature of the clubs, and undermined the confidence and progress of those groups who have already made difficult decisions to move in a more inclusive direction [by capitulating to months of threats]. Momentum towards greater inclusivity was stalled by lack of clear leadership and legitimate concerns as to whether institutional support was unstable.

Such Newspeak is just the beginning, though. As The Crimson points out:

The report also details a plan for the “dissemination of a positive narrative around the new policy,” including a draft of a letter to incoming students, and “professional brochures.”

You can see more about the propaganda campaign under Section C, “Communications and Benchmarking,” page 21 of the report. Note the multiple references to “diversity” and “inclusion.”

Committee whose recs sought to expand Harvard’s anti-freedom/association policy urges college to push “positive narrative.” Remarkable.

The remaining single-sex clubs aren’t being bludgeoned into nonexistence just yet: The report creates a “provisional social organization” designation for clubs that pledge to forsake their right to free association (and apparently their ties to national organizations).

And once more, the women are getting preferential treatment:

The report also calls for … a five-year “bridge” program for traditionally female final clubs and sororities that would allow these groups “to operate with gender focused missions” for some time after the College’s policy takes effect next fall.

If you don’t want to see Harvard take a step backwards to the good ol’ days of communist witch hunts, sign FIRE’s petition to Khurana and President Drew Faust while it might still change this Orwellian policy.

abuse, bigotry, bullies, bureaucracy, corruption, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, scandal, victimization

Filed under: abuse, bigotry, bullies, bureaucracy, corruption, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, reform, relativism, scandal, victimization

Democrats defend pathetic status quo in education in anti-choice fashion

original article: On Education, the Left Protects a Miserable Status Quo
March 1, 2017 by Walter E. Williams

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, “The president’s decision to ask Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education should offend every single American man, woman, and child who has benefitted from the public education system in this country.”

Expressing similar sentiments, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond said, “I expect that Mrs. DeVos will have an incredibly harmful impact on public education and on black communities nationwide.”

Those and many other criticisms of DeVos, the Department of Education secretary, could be dismissed as simply political posturing if we did not have an educational system that is mostly mediocre and is in advanced decay for most black students.

According to the Nation’s Report Card, only 37 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading in 2015, and just 25 percent were proficient in math.

For black students, achievement levels were a disgrace. Nationally, 17 percent of black students scored proficient in reading, and 7 percent scored proficient in math. In some cities, such as Detroit, black academic proficiency is worse; among eighth-graders, only 4 percent were proficient in math, and only 7 percent were proficient in reading.

The nation’s high school graduation rate rose again in the 2014-2015 school year, reaching a record high as more than 83 percent of students earned a diploma on time.

Educators see this as some kind of achievement and congratulate themselves. The tragedy is that high school graduation has little relevance to achievement.

In 2014-2015, graduation rates at District of Columbia Public Schools, just as they did nationally, climbed to an all-time high. At H.D. Woodson High School, 76 percent of students graduated on time; however, just 1 percent met math standards on national standardized tests linked to the Common Core academic standards. Just 4 percent met the reading standards.

The low black academic achievement is not restricted to high school graduates of D.C. schools. The average black high school graduate has the academic achievement level of a white seventh- or eighth-grader.

As such, it stands as unambiguous evidence that high schools confer diplomas attesting that students can read, write, and compute at a 12th-grade level when in fact they cannot. That means they have received fraudulent high school diplomas.

There are many factors that affect education that educators cannot control. But they have total control over the issuance of a diploma.

Educators often complain that there’s not enough money. Census Bureau data show that as early as 2009-2010, Washington, D.C., spent $29,409 per pupil.

Starker proof that there’s little relationship between spending and academic proficiency is in the case of Detroit’s public schools. In 2009-2010, the nation’s elementary and secondary public school systems spent an average of $10,615 per pupil. According to the Census Bureau, Detroit schools spent $12,801 per pupil. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy claims that Detroit actually spent $15,570 per pupil that year.

There’s not much payoff for education dollars. The National Institute for Literacy found that 47 percent of the city’s adults are “functionally illiterate.” The Nation’s Report Card reports that Detroit students score the lowest among the nation’s big-city schools, and Washington is not far behind.

I’d ask Schumer how it would be possible for DeVos to make education any worse than it is for many Americans. I’d suggest to Richmond that if the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan were the secretary of education and wanted to sabotage black academic achievement, he couldn’t find a better method for doing so than keeping our public school system as it is.

Many black politicians and educators would never have their own children attend the rotten, dangerous schools that are so much a part of our big cities. Many black parents, captured by these schools, would like to get their children out.

But that’s not in the interest of the education establishment, which wants a monopoly on education. Black politicians and academics are the establishment’s facilitators.

That explains their hostility to DeVos. She would like to give more parents a choice.

bureaucracy, children, congress, corruption, crisis, Democrats, education, elitism, funding, government, ideology, nanny state, political correctness, politics, reform, relativism, scandal, tragedy

Filed under: bureaucracy, children, congress, corruption, crisis, Democrats, education, elitism, funding, government, ideology, nanny state, political correctness, politics, reform, relativism, scandal, tragedy

Harvard – look what happens when you give social justice warriors free rein

original article: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy and a free press
February 28, 2017 by Greg Piper

When it became clear that faculty might vote to overturn Harvard’s punitive rules against members of single-sex organizations such as final clubs, the university created a faculty review committee rather than suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Some people thought it was purely “window dressing,” a way for Harvard to make professors feel like they had a say when they really didn’t.

The administration would still get what it wanted, the thinking went: the blacklisting of club members from elite fellowships (like the Rhodes) and leadership roles on athletic teams and student organizations.

But it looks like the faculty review committee might actually serve as a useful check on even worse recommendations coming from the implementation committee that made the original recommendations.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

The Harvard Crimson reports that the implementation committee now wants to ban fraternity, sorority and final-club members from “several more post-graduate fellowships,” not just those requiring the dean’s recommendation.

It’s also refusing to give out copies of the new recommendations, probably anticipating that they would go viral very quickly:

Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.

This is similar to the protocol by which members of Congress can review classified material, so you get a sense of how important this committee thinks it is.

MORE: Dean chickens out of blacklist on eve of risky faculty vote

But it’s not just post-graduate fellowships the committee wants to put off-limits:

In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.

In other words: This big-headed committee is so determined to snuff out men and women spending time with their own kind, which is allegedly sexist and elitist, that it will destroy democracy and a free press on campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sounds the alarm on this “super-blacklist,” which validates Harvard’s earlier inclusion in the group’s “10 Worst Schools for Free Speech” list.

MORE: Harvard punishes men’s team for crude comments of prior team

In earlier eras Harvard tried to out gay men and communists, and now it’s using the same tactics against people who like the platonic company of their own sex, writes FIRE’s Ryne Weiss:

[W]e really wish we could stop covering this car wreck. Unfortunately, Harvard keeps driving towards the wall.

He also notes the classified hush-hush procedure, and muses how the committee would even enforce these proposed rules against final clubs:

Maybe by calling the programs and warning them that the student applying had committed the unforgivable crime of throwing a “Headbands for Hope” charity fundraiser with Kappa Kappa Gamma? …

What is more democratic than a secret, authoritarian body telling you who you can’t vote for? There’s nothing troubling about that at all!

MORE: Harvard designates ‘open forum’ off the record to stifle criticism

The committee’s new recommendations are also a slap in the face to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, a tinpot dictator who nevertheless had earlier promised The Crimson – which is totally separate from Harvard – that its leaders wouldn’t be ensnared by the rules:

To sum it up: Harvard administrators would purport to dictate who could lead an independent student newspaper, who students could vote for in their student government, and who could hire graduates of the university.

Harvard’s erratic behavior over the past month – creating the faculty review committee only two days after the implementation committee gave its (secret) final report to Khurana – makes more sense now, Weiss says:

Harvard was afraid that the new sanctions-on-steroids regime would leak to faculty, students, the public, and FIRE, and profoundly damage the regime’s public support. Harvard calculated that if it could keep the details secret until the last possible minute, it would give students and faculty too little time to do anything about it. And Harvard administrators really, really do not like embarrassing leaks. We’re talking a “we’ll-inspect-faculty-members’-emails-without-their-knowledge” level of hating leaks. …

MORE: Harvard promises special treatment to women-only club

It seems extremely unlikely that Dean Khurana just coincidentally announced the new panel two days after he was handed these recommendations. He probably saw these recommendations, was aghast, realized the faculty vote was nigh and that they would never go for this, and got a new group.

With this huge embarrassment stemming from her own illiberal impulses, maybe Harvard President Drew Faust will finally decide to zip her lips on how freedom of association is just another way of saying Jim Crow.

MORE: Hanging out with other males is like stopping blacks from voting

abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, bureaucracy, civil rights, corruption, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, freedom, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, public policy, reform, regulation, relativism, scandal, socialism, victimization

Filed under: abuse, bias, bigotry, bullies, bureaucracy, civil rights, corruption, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, ethics, extremism, freedom, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, progressive, public policy, reform, regulation, relativism, scandal, socialism, victimization

Higher ed’s prejudice problem

original article: Higher ed’s prejudice problem: Glenn Reynolds
February 27, 2017 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Higher education has a problem with prejudice. It’s not the usual racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia that colleges are always denouncing. It’s prejudice — sometimes expressed in an ugly and open fashion — against Republicans, conservatives and libertarians. And people are starting to notice.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told conservative students to keep talking, even if faculty and administrators insult them, or treat the expression of politically incorrect views as some sort of “threat.” Her advice: “Don’t shut up. Keep talking. Keep making your arguments. You can do so respectfully and with civility, but I think you need to do so with confidence.”

She’s certainly right that many campuses have pretty openly taken sides in American politics, marginalizing campus Trump supporters and treating Trump’s election more like a terrorist attack — with safe spaces, therapy dogs, and canceled exams — than like the exercise of democracy that it was. And even some professors are noticing the problem.

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, George Washington University professor Nikki Usher cautions her fellow academics not to ignore their Republican students.

Usher writes:  “I worry quite a bit for students who I know feel passionately about Republican politics. They, too, deserve to come to class feeling as though they are welcome to share their opinions, that what they have to say matters, and that the classroom is indeed a space for debate and conversation about differing viewpoints. . . . I fear that Republican students will not only self-censor in my course, but also feel even more marginalized on the college campus than they have in the past.”

She’s right to worry. At campuses across America, faculty and administrators act almost as if there are no Trump supporters at their institutions, when in fact, of course, there are plenty of them almost everywhere. They’re usually just, as Usher notes, afraid to speak out.

Maybe DeVos’s encouragement will change things. And, I suppose, that encouragement is an implicit promise that students who are punished or mistreated for expressing the “wrong” views can count on some backup from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. A little bit of that sort of attention can probably do a lot to change behavior at universities, which are hugely dependent on federal funding.

Meanwhile, some states are going much farther. Noticing that higher education has a huge political diversity problem — faculties and administrators are far to the left of America generally, and the problem has gotten much worse in recent years — at least two states are pushing legislation to require “partisan balance.”

Universities offer excuses for their leftward skew: Conservatives just aren’t that interested, or aren’t smart enough to be professors, or something. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle writes, these excuses aren’t very persuasive: “Politically, academia is about as unbalanced as Norman Bates. Attempts to justify it contain eerie echoes of a 1950s CEO explaining why blacks and women simply weren’t qualified to ever do anything more taxing than make coffee and sweep floors.”

McArdle also says — and I agree — that political or ideological hiring quotas are probably a bad idea. Quotas in general are a bad idea. We got them in the early days of racial integration because we didn’t trust schools to hire fairly. Will today’s academic administrators stand in the schoolhouse door to keep out Republicans?

But just because quotas are a bad idea doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, and academia should take it seriously. One argument for racial diversity has been that taxpayers won’t support a higher education system that doesn’t look like them. That’s an argument for ideological diversity, too. As McArdle writes: “The impregnability of the ivory tower is an illusion, because it depends more than ever on a steady flow of government money. If academia defines itself too explicitly as the enemy of the folks controlling that money, the spigot will turn, and the garden inside will rapidly begin to dry up.”

I hope that our higher education leaders will overcome their fear of people who don’t think like them. All of America will be better off if they do.

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American voters overwhelmingly support school choice

original article: POLL: MILLENNIALS, MINORITIES STRONGLY SUPPORT SCHOOL CHOICE
March 1, 2016 by Andrea Dillon

American voters overwhelmingly support school choice programs, including younger voters and minority groups, a new poll has found.

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American voters overwhelmingly support school choice programs, including younger voters and minority groups, a new poll has found.

The poll, commissioned by the American Federation for Children, a national education policy think tank, questioned 1,100 likely voters across the country about their support for school choice policies. According to the results, 70 percent of voters say they generally support school choice policies, and 42 percent “strongly support” choice. Voters of Hispanic descent and voters aged between 18 and 35, often referred to as “millennials,” support school choice policies at higher rates than the general population.

The survey was conducted by polling research agency Beck Research LLC and released on January 28.

Minority Support

Matthew Frendewey, national communications director for the American Federation for Children, says school choice supporters are more diverse than some may believe.

“Setting aside polling on party identification and the respective demographic crosstabs, in terms of strictly polling demographics, African-American voters are typically more open to school choice,” Frendewey said. “That support remains strong when drilling down on specific programs, like charters, vouchers, opportunity scholarships, etc.”

Frendewey says Hispanic families are also becoming more supportive of school choice policies.

“Hispanic families have traditionally trailed African-American support,” Frendewey said. “This was the first poll where we saw Hispanics mirror their support with African-American families.”

‘Extremely Popular’

Mary Claire Reim, a research associate in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, says the poll’s findings are not surprising.

“School choice is extremely popular among minority and low-income families, because it is these groups who struggle the most to overcome the achievement gap present in our public schools and need alternatives,” Reim said. “Limitations on school choice directly prohibit families who do not have the means to attend private school from pursuing the best possible education for their child.”

Success in Washington, DC

Reim says the success of Washington, DC’s school choice program is further evidence of the popularity of choice among underserved demographic groups.

“Well over 90 percent of the participants in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, for example, are minority students, and parents and families have reported extremely high satisfaction rates with their schools of choice,” Reim said. “In fact, participation in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program led to a 21 percent increase in graduation rates. Minority and low-income families benefit immensely from school choice options, which is why growing support for such programs is to be expected.”

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Doctor who forcibly euthanized elderly woman ‘acted in good faith’

original article: Dutch gov’t panel: Doctor who forcibly euthanized elderly woman ‘acted in good faith’
January 31, 2017 by Claire Chretien

NETHERLANDS, January 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Dutch doctor who forcibly euthanized an elderly woman without her consent “acted in good faith,” a euthanasia oversight panel decided when it cleared her of wrongdoing. The chairman of that panel has expressed hope that the case will go to court – not so the doctor can be prosecuted, but so a court can set a precedent on how far doctors may go in such cases.

This particular case was sent to the Regional Review Committee, which oversees the country’s liberal euthanasia regime.

The woman, who was over 80, had dementia. She had allegedly earlier requested to be euthanized when “the time was right” but in her last days expressed her desire to continue living.

Nevertheless, her doctor put a sedative in the patient’s coffee. The doctor then enlisted the help of family members to hold the struggling, objecting patient down so that she could administer the lethal injection.

“I am convinced that the doctor acted in good faith, and we would like to see more clarity on how such cases are handled in the future,” Committee Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm said. Taking the case to court would be “not to punish the doctor, who acted in good faith and did what she had to do, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.”

Society has “flipped everything completely upside down,” Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews. “This is a prime example of another upside down attitude in the culture.”

“Doesn’t someone have a right to change their mind?” he asked. “They sell it as choice and autonomy, but here’s a woman who’s saying, ‘no, I don’t want it,’ and they stick it in her coffee, they hold her down and lethally inject her.”

“It’s false compassion,” Schadenberg continued. “It’s killing people basically out of a false ideology” that treats euthanasia as somehow good when “it’s the exact opposite of what it actually is.”

“All signs say she didn’t want to die,” he said. “Canadians should take notice of this because this is exactly what we’re debating in Canada.”

A current debate in Canada is, “should they expand euthanasia to people who ask for it in their power of attorney…so if they’re incompetent, they can have euthanasia anyway,” Schadenberg explained.

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Scholars warn higher ed seized by leftist indoctrination

original article: Scholars warn higher ed seized by leftist indoctrination – but debate on fixing it unresolved
January 23, 2017 by KATE HARDIMAN

A new report suggests left-leaning professors have transformed the teaching of traditional civics with an emphasis on activism, creating a pipeline of students eager to serve the goals of secular-progressive causes.

But how best to fix the problem is one area that remains unsettled among some scholars.

“Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics” argues that “instead of teaching college students the foundations of law, liberty, and self-government, colleges teach students how to organize protests, occupy buildings, and stage demonstrations.”

Universities in America have redefined civics to mean “progressive political activism,” and the notion of a “good citizen” is now synonymous with “radical activist,” according to the report, recently published by the National Association of Scholars, a right-of-center academic watchdog group.

After surveying curricula at four major universities as a case study the report finds they are teaching fewer traditional civics classes while placing a greater emphasis on directing free student labor to progressive organizations in large part through the rise of “service learning” and “community engagement” courses.

“The New Civics seeks above all to make students into enthusiastic supporters of the New Left’s dream of ‘fundamentally transforming’ America,” the report states, adding pet causes pushed include environmentalism, socialism, identity politics, expanding government bureaucracy, and teaching students to essentially despise America’s founding.

“I was most startled that a number of these service learning professors cited Maoist China as one of their models for instruction,” David Randall, the association’s director of communications and report author, told The College Fix in a phone interview.

Randall said the new way of teaching civics is “grossly politicized,” adding “this is a reason for the public to be alarmed.”

He pointed to a specific example at Pomona College where a service learning course, and its funding, contributed to an anti-Trump rally.

Joy Pullman, an education pundit writing on the report at The Federalist, defines this new civics as “actually anti-civics: it teaches students how to be bad citizens, how to dismantle rather than preserve and improve their country.”

“New Civics teaches young people to revolt against the country that, among other things, educated them, provided for their security against foreign aggressors, and secured liberties most people in the world never had and still don’t have: freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to a representative government dependent on citizen consent,” according to Pullman.

Reaction to the report has been mixed. Some agree it should sound alarm bells.

“It’s well-known that America’s K-12 schools are mediocre, when compared to the grammar schools of other countries. Less well known is just how mediocre our colleges are. The NAS report helps us understand why that is,” law professor Francis Buckley of George Mason University’s Scalia Law School told The College Fix via email.

But others are concerned about the report’s remedial recommendations, which include a coordinated civic literacy curriculum at the high school and college levels, a required course in traditional American civics, and a mandate that the traditional civics requirement be met only through classroom instruction. The report also suggests cutting all federal and state funding for service-learning and civic engagement at the university level.

Such recommendations pose “a severe threat to academic freedom because government officials would be imposing their judgments on college campuses rather than allowing universities to do what they think is best,” author and co-editor of Academe blog, John Wilson, told The College Fix via email.

“It’s particularly disturbing because the NAS wants the government to destroy purely voluntary programs of civic education that no students are forced to participate in,” Wilson said.

NAS’ Randall said he disagrees such oversight would hurt academic freedom.

“A state government has the right to determine what is being taught in a civics class. The setting of the syllabus is a matter appropriately governed by the state authorities,” he said. “The most basic thing is that I don’t believe the method, service-learning, has educational value. I think it is within the government’s right to provide funding only to those courses and programs that it believes have educational value.”

Another critique of the report came by way of respected law Professor Stanley Fish, who suggests the association’s call for the promotion of virtuous citizenship is akin to a political goal, much like the progressive left’s goals.

“Fostering intellectual freedom? Yes! Search for truth? Yes! Promotion of virtuous citizenship? No! Promoting virtuous citizenship is no doubt a worthy goal, but it is not an academic goal, because, like the programs the report derides, it is a political goal,” Fish argued in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece titled “Citizen Formation is Not Our Job.”

Meanwhile, some university officials have defended themselves in the wake of the report.

For example, a top official at the University of Colorado at Boulder, one of the institutions focused on in the study, has issued a statement calling the NAS report “an opinion piece” and taking issue with the characterization of CU Boulder.

“CU Boulder offers students the chance to choose from a wide variety of classes and community experiences — from courses in Western civilization to working with local K-12 students experiencing poverty and homelessness,” Provost Russell Moore stated. “Our faculty, as required by regent law and academic custom, have developed a high-quality, balanced curriculum that helps us to shape tomorrow’s leaders and positively impact humanity.”

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