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EDUCATION

Academia’s Racism-Industrial-Complex A college education now is all about “dismantling whiteness.” January 15, 2018 Jack Kerwick

Some recent examples from the world of Higher Education make the point that I’ve been at pains to impress upon readers, namely that for as sprawling as is the Academic-Industrial-Complex (AIC), it is essentially a function of an even more expansive Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC).

[1] There’s Brooklyn College’s Laurie Rubel, professor of math education. According to the student journalists who run the college watchdog publication Campus Reform, Rubel wrote an article for the Journal of Urban Mathematics Education in which she contends that the concepts of “meritocracy” and “color-blindness” are both “tool(s) of whiteness.”

The problem with meritocracy, Rubel asserts, is that it “ignores systemic barriers and institutional structures that prevent opportunity and success.”

As for color-blindness, Rubel remarks: “Teachers who claim color-blindness—that is, they claim not to notice the race of their students—are, in effect, refusing to acknowledge the impact of enduring racial stratification on students and their families.”

Rubel continues: “By claiming not to notice, the teacher is saying that she is dismissing one of the most salient features of the child’s identity and that she does not account for it in her curricular planning and instruction.”

So, by aspiring to know and evaluate their students independently of their racial backgrounds, teachers promote “whiteness.”

However, Rubel also contends that if teachers notice the racial backgrounds of their students, they’re guilty of promoting “whiteness.” For example, when teachers say of their students that they “can’t relate” to them, they note differences. But, Rubel laments, these “differences are typically cast in terms of deficit constructions about students, their places, and their families.”

In order to walk this tightrope, Rubel proposes that teachers include “social justice” issues into their math lessons.

Studying Western Civilization in the South Bronx Hostos Community College overcomes students’ resistance to learning about ‘dead white dudes.’ By Jillian Kay Melchior

On her first day of English class at Hostos Community College during the fall 2017 semester, Maria Diaz glared at the reading handout, a Plato excerpt on the trial of Socrates. “I used to be like, ‘Prof, why are we reading this? It’s so boring and confusing,” she recalls. But only months later, Ms. Diaz would gush about the merits of the Western canon, quoting Socrates’ claim that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

While much of academia continues its progressive and postmodern lurch, these courses at Hostos, first offered in 2016, represent a move in the opposite direction. One of the classes even was designed especially for students who score a “high fail” on their literacy tests. Profs. Andrea Fabrizio and Gregory Marks, along with their colleagues in the English Department, created the courses in collaboration with Columbia University. They borrowed heavily from the Ivy League school’s core curriculum for liberal-arts undergraduates.

So far about 1,300 students at Hostos, which is part of the City University of New York, have taken these Western Civ classes. “We’re trying to make them good writers, good thinkers and ultimately good citizens by talking about these deeply humane questions,” Mr. Marks says.

Studying the classics has become an anomaly on many campuses, as once-foundational texts have come under attack. The faculty at Oregon’s Reed College recently bumped up their decennial review of a required humanities course that student activists claimed was “Eurocentric,” “Caucasoid” and “oppressive.” Yale’s English Department voted in March to change its curriculum after more than 150 students signed a petition claiming “a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color and queer folk are absent actively harms all students.” It’s now fathomable that a student could get a Yale English degree without studying Chaucer, Shakespeare or Milton.

And in 2016, Seattle University students held a weekslong sit-in to protest the classical emphasis in the humanities college, ultimately prompting the dean’s departure. One student, Zeena Rivera, complained to reporters that “the only thing they’re teaching us is dead white dudes.”

Based on demographics alone, Hostos Community College might seem like a probable place for similar protests. Hostos is in the South Bronx, in a congressional district that has repeatedly ranked the poorest in the nation. People of color account for more than 98% of the student body. Many are immigrants. In one Western Civ class, the 25 students spoke 10 foreign languages.

Like their counterparts at other colleges, Hostos students are focused on oppression and injustice. During a recent class I sat in on, slavery came up several times, and one student suggested that because of economic disparities and discrimination, “we’re still not really free.” Several students talked about how they suffered from racism and sexism.

“These students’ interest in rights and equality is just burning,” Mr. Marks says. He and Ms. Fabrizio draw on that interest with readings like the Declaration of Independence and excerpts from the Federalist Papers. Students also are given Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Fourth of July oration, which venerates America’s founding principles but notes that they are “flagrantly inconsistent” with slavery. CONTINUE AT SITE

The College Board Still Can’t See Europe Straight Its standards for the AP European History exam omit vital concepts such as liberty and individual endeavor. By David Randall

David Randall is the director of communications for the National Association of Scholars.

The College Board doesn’t take criticism well. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has twice called out the College Board for writing progressive propaganda and calling it a standard for an Advanced Placement test — first when we criticized its AP United States History test in 2014, and then when we criticized its AP European History test in 2016 (in a report called “The Disappearing Continent”). Each time, the College Board pretended it had made no mistakes — and then did a shabby job of fixing its errors, in hopes that its critics would go away.

The College Board has a standard procedure in place, which it’s been using to respond to our criticism of the Advanced Placement European History (APEH) standards. First it says nothing is wrong with its exam. Then it silently makes superficial changes — and says the exam is now, as it always has been, perfect. When we find that the exam is still grossly flawed, it repeats that nothing is wrong with its exam. Then, if the public is still asking questions, it makes further silent and superficial changes.

Every silent change the College Board make is an admission of how badly it presents history. Moreover, the board’s surreptitiousness about admitting error — its refusal to acknowledge that it made changes in the first place — confirms that it is not engaged in good-faith efforts at reform.

Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison have written at NRO to defend the College Board’s most recent silent revision, this time of its APEH standards. Hess and Addison address a few of the criticisms I made in my December 2017 article “Churchill In, Columbus Still Out,” but not my most serious criticisms of the structural flaws of the College Board’s APEH standards.

Above all, the College Board still omits liberty in its outline of AP European History. The very words liberty and freedom are still almost completely absent from its standards, and so is the long struggle for liberty that defines European history. You’ll never learn from the College Board that Michel de Montaigne argued for tolerance, that John Milton championed freedom of speech, or that English lawyers and judges built English liberty upon the common law.

The College Board still omits the entire history of modern Europe’s unique development of the architecture of modern knowledge — every intellectual discipline we use to think about the world, from astronomy to geology in the natural sciences, and from art history to sociology in the humanities and social sciences. You’ll never learn from the College Board that Jean-François Champollion deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics, that Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace pioneered computer science, or that Gregor Mendel discovered modern genetics.

The College Board still omits chance and individual endeavor, telling students that European history is all inevitable social and economic development, which leads inexorably to a secular, well-governed welfare state. If you want to know about the Age of Discovery and Conquest, the College Board will tell you about the compass, the quadrant, and the lateen rig — but not the names of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, or Francisco Pizarro. If you want to know why Europeans don’t all just settle down to follow directives from bureaucrats in Brussels, the College Board won’t give you a clue.

Dirty College Secrets A record-breaking year for campus insanity. January 10, 2018 Walter Williams

A frequent point I have made in past columns has been about the educational travesty happening on many college campuses. Some people have labeled my observations and concerns as trivial, unimportant and cherry-picking. While the spring semester awaits us, let’s ask ourselves whether we’d like to see repeats of last year’s antics.

An excellent source for college news is Campus Reform, a conservative website operated by the Leadership Institute (https://www.campusreform.org). Its reporters are college students. Here is a tiny sample of last year’s bizarre stories.

Donna Riley, a professor at Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, published an article in the most recent issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Engineering Education, positing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.” Riley added that “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing.” Would you hire an engineering education graduate who has little mastery of the rigor of engineering? What does Riley’s vision, if actually practiced by her colleagues, do to the worth of degrees in engineering education from Purdue held by female and black students?

Sympathizing with Riley’s vision is Rochelle Gutierrez, a math education professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her recent book, she says the ability to solve algebra and geometry problems perpetuates “unearned privilege” among whites. Educators must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society. She thinks that “on many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.” After all, she adds, “who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White.” What’s worse is that the university’s interim provost, John Wilkin, sanctioned her vision, telling Fox News that Gutierrez is an established and admired scholar who has been published in many peer-reviewed publications. I hope that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s black students don’t have the same admiration and stay away from her classes.

Last February, a California State University, Fullerton professor assaulted a CSUF Republicans member during a demonstration against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The students identified the assailant as Eric Canin, an anthropology professor. Fortunately, the school had the good sense to later suspend Canin after confirming the allegations through an internal investigation.

Legal Battle Heats Up Over Fordham University Decision to Ban ‘Students for Justice in Palestine by Shiri Moshe

Fordham University in New York on Wednesday called on a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed over its refusal to recognize a chapter of the anti-Zionist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/01/05/legal-battle-continues-over-fordham-university-decision-to-ban-students-for-justice-in-palestine/

Four current and former students filed the motion accusing Fordham of practicing viewpoint discrimination by barring the formation of an SJP affiliate, and demanded that the university sanction the club while the case is in litigation. The private Jesuit school has argued, in turn, that SJP’s reported behavior on campuses nationwide indicate that the establishment of a local branch could be “polarizing” and pose a safety concern to students and faculty.

Justice Nancy Bannon of the New York County State Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling at a later date.

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, announced in a December 2016 email that he would deny SJP club status, even though the school’s United Student Government voted to grant the group recognition. Under university policy, the dean has the final authority to approve or deny student clubs.

The Left’s Siege of Our Universities David Horowitz’s latest book chronicles the Left’s transformation of academic institutions into doctrinal training centers. Barbara Kay

In November, an incident regarding freedom of speech on campus took place at Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University that galvanized the attention of Canadians and of those with an interest in this subject beyond our borders.

A graduate student in the field of Communications, Lindsay Shepherd, used a short segment in class from a debate on TVOntario’s nightly issues show, The Agenda, to illustrate to her students how linguistic terminology can become contested terrain in the realm of ideas. The presenting issue was freedom of speech; the vehicle for debate was the use of transgender pronouns. The segment Shepherd showed – without either approval or condemnation – included forceful pushback against “compelled speech” by Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor whose publicly avowed refusal to use constructed gender pronouns has in the past 18 months rocketed him, via a tsunami of vlogs and public appearances, from virtual obscurity outside the academy to continental celebrity.

In short order Shepherd was summoned to a meeting with her supervisor, her department head and the director of WLU’s Gendered and Sexual Violence and Support program. What happened at that meeting – more like a Star Chamber interrogation – would have fallen into the historical oubliette, except for the fact that Shepherd recorded it and shared it with the media.

Ordinary Canadians who listened to this recording were stupefied at the overt intimidation and condemnation Shepherd was subjected to, including accusations of “transphobia,” a comparison of Peterson to Hitler and for good measure a sprinkling of demonizing “racism” and “ “white supremacist” to ensure the message took hold. All because she adopted a perspective of neutrality in presenting conflicting opinions to her class so that they could freely discuss the issue without her influence. This was an intolerable stance for her left-wing superiors.

Support for Anti-Israel BDS Movement ‘Virtually Nonexistent’ Among College Students, Study Finds By Toni Airaksinen (?????)

Student activists at the University of Michigan (UM) made school history this past November after successfully lobbying the student government to pass an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution. The first of its kind at UM, the resolution urged the university to divest from three Israeli companies, and was passed 23-17.

If the UM student government truly represented the student population, then this resolution would reflect widespread anti-Israel sentiment among students. Indeed, this is a concern for many Jewish and pro-Israel parents, who worry that American universities are slowly turning into hostile climates for their kids. But a new study cast doubt on this — finding that support for BDS at UM is, in fact, “virtually nonexistent.”

In a study of 3,000 students at UM, researchers found that only about 7 percent of non-Jewish students “somewhat” or “strongly” support a boycott of Israel. Among Jewish students in particular, that number was even lower: only about 2 percent of them say they would support a boycott of Israel. That leads us to an interesting question: how did the BDS resolution at UM pass if most students didn’t agree?

Leonard Saxe, a Brandeis University professor who co-authored the survey, told PJ Media in an interview that campus BDS victories are rarely reflective of the general student body. Instead, citing the successful BDS resolution at UM, Saxe explained that this is what happens when a “handful” of student activists successfully seize political power.

“What’s clear is that the UM resolution does not represent the views of most students on campus, but a small minority of students,” Sax told PJ Media, explaining that this is “what happens when a small group of people try to hold the political process of student government, but it doesn’t represent the views of most students.”

This paradox has played out at numerous college campuses in the last two years. Even as the BDS movement claims victories at an increasing number of colleges, student support for the movement remains low. At the three other colleges that Saxe and his team surveyed — Harvard University, Brandeis University, and the University of Pennsylvania — support for the BDS movement was in the single digits, Saxe told PJ Media.

‘White-Informed Civility’ Is the Latest Target in the Campus Wars The rules of collegiate debate are also coming under attack as racist and patriarchal. By Steve Salerno

From the land that irony forgot—which earlier gave us microaggressions and trigger warnings—comes a new and surprising movement, this time to combat civility. Civility, you see, is a manifestation of the white patriarchy. Spearheading this campaign are a duo of University of Northern Iowa professors, who assert that “civility within higher education is a racialized, rather than universal, norm.”

Their article in the Howard Journal of Communications, “Civility and White Institutional Presence: An Exploration of White Students’ Understanding of Race-Talk at a Traditionally White Institution,” describes a need to stamp out what they call “whiteness-informed civility,” or WIC. The pervasiveness of WIC, it seems, erases “racial identity” and reinforces “white racial power.”

Their thesis can be a tad hard to follow, unfolding as it does in that dense argot for which academia is universally beloved. But their core contention is twofold: One, that civility, as currently practiced in America, is a white construct. Two, that in a campus setting, the “woke” white student’s endeavor to avoid microaggressions against black peers is itself a microaggression—a form of noblesse oblige whereby white students are in fact patronizing students of color. Not only that, but by treating black students with common courtesy and expecting the same in return, white students elide black grievances, bypassing the “race talk” that is supposed to occur in preamble to all other conversations. Got it?

Something similar is happening in collegiate debate, where historically high standards of decorum are under siege as manifestations of white patriarchal thinking. So are the factual and logical proofs that debaters are normally expected to offer in arguing their case. Some participants are challenging the format, goals and ground rules of debate itself, in some cases refusing even to stick to the topic at hand.

Again the driving theory is that all conversations must begin by addressing race. As one top black debater, Elijah J. Smith, writes, debate must, before all else, “acknowledge the reality of the oppressed.” He resists the attempt on the part of white debaters to “distance the conversation from the material reality that black debaters are forced to deal with every day.”

Mr. Smith and his think-alikes seek to transform debate into an ersatz course in Black Studies. In a major 2014 debate finals, two Towson University students sidestepped the nominal resolution, which had to do with restricting a president’s war powers, in order to argue that war “should not be waged against n—as.” Two other students decided that rather than debate aspects of U.S. policy in the Mideast, they’d discuss how the common practices of the debate community itself perpetuate racism. Other recent debates involving black participants have devolved into original rap music. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Death of Academic Rigor By David Solway

The notion of academic rigor has fallen on evil times. In a typical instance of continuing epistemic degradation, Donna Riley, of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, insists that rigor must be eliminated since rigor is a “dirty deed” fraught with “exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.” It matters little, apparently, if our bridges collapse so long as “men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation and low-income students” are welcomed into the new holistic community defined by “other ways of knowing” – whatever these may be. Similarly, Rochelle Gutierrez, of the University of Illinois, fears that algebra, geometry, and math perpetuate white male privilege and discriminate against minorities. Indeed, minority under-performance is often disguised as a form of “mismatching” – that is, the fault lies with the institution for being beyond the student’s intellectual means. Clearly, the dire situation we are in can only deteriorate as the concept of excellence bites the dust and students are deliberately coaxed into pre-planned intellectual darkness.

The precipitous decline in educational quality in North American schools, colleges, and universities has been amply documented in a plethora of articles and books over the last 20 or so years, including my own efforts in such volumes as Education Lost, Lying about the Wolf, and The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods. One of the places where we can find real “climate change” is the educational establishment, from kindergarten to graduate school, a mind-sphere where heated rhetoric and frozen accomplishment go hand in hand. The pedagogical and scholarly climate has become almost unlivable. Like far too many teachers, I have witnessed the debacle from the trenches – as a supply teacher in the high schools, an ESL instructor, a college professor, a visiting lecturer, a guest professor on the international circuit, and a university writer-in-residence. The scenario never changed.

Tax Reform’s Warning Shot for Universities The GOP puts liberal academia on notice. Howard Husock

Support for, and reaction to, the tax-reform bill has divided almost entirely along partisan lines, with one notable exception: many on the right and the liberal left alike have denounced a new 1.4 percent tax on net investment income for the largest university endowments—those whose value exceeds $500,000 per student. Prominent conservatives such as George Will, Gregory Mankiw, and Michael Strain have characterized the tax—which will affect about 30 universities, including such major research institutions as Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton—as motivated by anti-intellectualism and partisanship, aimed at liberal academia. Will, who has served as a Princeton trustee, described the tax as an “astonishingly shortsighted” threat to the tradition of “great research universities (that) have enabled the liberal arts to flourish, the sciences to advance and innovation to propel economic betterment.”

Yet it’s worth keeping in mind that the federal government will continue to be the nation’s primary source of university research money. The government not only funds research through direct grants but also supports the facilities and staff of universities through “overhead” payments, which amount to many billions of dollars. The National Institutes of Health, for instance, distributed some $5.7 billion in overhead payments in 2013 alone, in addition to tens of billions of dollars in direct research grants. That same year, Stanford got 31 cents in overhead on top of every research grant dollar it received. Each university negotiates its own overhead rates, and complex formulas dictate what portion of the negotiated rate is actually disbursed along with direct research funding. According to federal data obtained by Nature, Johns Hopkins has negotiated a 62 percent overhead rate. By comparison, the European Union sets a flat overhead rate of 25 percent for all institutions receiving research grants.

The question that universities should ask themselves is how they have lost, at least in part, the longstanding bipartisan support that made the federal government the major financial backer of research, as well as a generous funder of university overhead costs. The original champion of federal research, development, and overhead grants for research institutions was the farsighted Vannevar Bush, the first presidential science advisor, who served Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. It was under Bush that the Office of Scientific Research and Development first negotiated a research overhead rate, with MIT. Today, the U.S. leads the world in government research and development spending; some $40 billion is distributed to nearly 900 colleges and universities, accounting for 60 percent of these institutions’ research funding. (Twenty percent of the total went to just ten universities, including Stanford, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins). The results—from the mapping of the human genome to the creation of the Internet—have transformed the world.