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Grade Inflation Eats Away at the Meaning of College by George C. Leef

The Year Was 2081 and Everyone Was Finally Above Average.

Every so often, the issue of grade inflation makes the headlines, and we are reminded that grades are being debased continuously.

That happened in late March when the two academics who have most assiduously studied grade inflation — Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy — provided fresh evidence on their site GradeInflation.com that grade inflation continues.

The authors state, “After 30 years of making incremental changes (in grading), the amount of rise has become so large that what’s happening becomes clear: mediocre students are getting higher and higher grades.”

In their database of over 400 colleges and universities covering the whole range of our higher education system, from large and prestigious universities to small, non-selective colleges, the researchers found not one where grades had remained level over the last 50 years. The overall rise in grades nationally has brought about a tripling of the percentage of A grades, although some schools have been much more “generous” than others.

Or, to look at it the other way, some schools have been much better than others in maintaining academic standards. For instance, Miami of Ohio, the University of Missouri, and Brigham Young have had low grade inflation. Why that has been the case would be worth investigating.

In North Carolina, Duke leads in grade inflation, followed closely by UNC. Wake Forest is in the middle of the pack, while UNC-Asheville has had comparatively little.

But why have American colleges and universities allowed, or perhaps even encouraged grade inflation? Why, as professor Clarence Deitsch and Norman Van Cott put it in this Pope Center piece five years ago, do we have “too many rhinestones masquerading as diamonds?”

Part of the answer, wrote Deitsch and Van Cott, is the fact that money is at stake.  “Professors don’t have to be rocket scientists to figure out that low grades can delay student graduation, thereby undermining state funding and faculty salaries,” they observed.

It might surprise Americans who believe that non-profit entities like colleges are not motivated by money and would allow honest academic assessment to be affected by concerns over revenue maximization, but they do.

But it is not just money that explains grade inflation. At least as important and probably more so is the pressure on faculty members to keep students happy.

History professor Chuck Chalberg put his finger on the problem in this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Chalberg writes about a friend of his who had completed her Ph.D. in psychology and was working as a teaching assistant to a professor and graded the papers submitted by the undergraduates “with what she thought was an appropriate level of rigor.” But it was not appropriate, she soon learned. The professor “revised nearly all of the grades upward so that were left no failures, few C’s, and mostly A’s and B’s.”

Had she underappreciated the real quality of the work of the students? No, but, Chalberg continues, “the students thought that they were really, really, smart, and would have been quite angry and thrown some major tantrums if they got what they actually deserved.”

Thus, giving out high but undeserved grades is a way of avoiding trouble. That trouble could come from students who have an elevated and unrealistic view of their abilities and will complain about any low grade to school officials.

It could also come from their parents, who have been known to helicopter in and gripe to the administrators that young Emma or Zachary just can’t have a C and if it isn’t changed immediately, there will be serious repercussions.

Another possibility is that faculty will give out inflated grades to avoid conflict with those school administrators.

Low grades affect student retention and at many colleges the most important thing is to keep students enrolled. Back in 2008, Norfolk State University biology professor Stephen Aird lost his job because the administration was upset with him for having the nerve to grade students according to their actual learning rather than giving out undeserved grades just to keep them content. (I wrote about that pathetic case here.)

Could it be that students are getting better and deserve the higher grades they’re receiving?

You’d get an argument if you ran that explanation by Professor Ron Srigley, who teaches at the University of Prince Edward Island. In this thoroughly iconoclastic essay published in March, he stated, “Over the past fourteen years of teaching, my students’ grade-point averages have steadily gone up while real student achievement has dropped. Papers I would have failed ten years ago on the grounds that they were unintelligible … I now routinely assign grades of C or higher.”

Professor Srigley points to one factor that many other professors have observed — students simply won’t read. They aren’t in the habit of reading (due to falling K-12 standards) and rarely do assigned readings in college. “They will tell you that they don’t read because they don’t have to. They can get an A without ever opening a book,” he writes.

We also have good evidence that on average, today’s college students spend much less time in studying in homework than students used to. In this 2010 study, Professor Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks found that college students today spend only about two thirds as much time as they did some fifty years ago. That’s hardly consistent with the notion that students today are really earning all those A grades.

On the whole, today’s students are receiving substantially higher grades for substantially lower academic gains than in the past.

Grade inflation is consistent with the customer friendly, “college experience” model that has mushroomed alongside the old, “you’ve come here to learn” college model. For students who merely want the degree to which many believe themselves entitled, rigorous grading is as unwelcome as cold showers and spartan meals would be at a luxury resort. Leaders at most colleges know that if they don’t satisfy their student-customers, they will find another school that will.

Exactly what is the problem, though?

Grade inflation could be seen as harmful to the downstream parties, the future employers of students who coast through college with high grades but little intellectual benefit. Doesn’t grade inflation trick them into over-estimating the capabilities of students?

That is a very minor concern. For one thing, it seems to be the case that employers don’t really pay much attention to college transcripts. In this NAS piece, Academically Adrift author Richard Arum writes, “Examining post-college transitions of recent graduates, Josipa Roksa and I have found that course transcripts are seldom considered by employers in the hiring process.”

That’s predictable. People in business have come to expect grade inflation just as they have come to expect monetary inflation. Naturally, they take measures to avoid bad hiring decisions just as they take measures to avoid bad investment decisions. They have better means of evaluating applicants than merely looking at GPAs.

Instead, the real harm of grade inflation is that it is a fraud on students who are misled into thinking that they are more competent than they really are.

It makes students believe they are good writers when in fact they are poor writers. It makes them believe they can comprehend books and documents when they can barely do so. It makes them think they can treat college as a Five Year Party or a Beer and Circus bacchanalia because they seem to be doing fine, when they’re actually wasting a lot of time and money.

Dishonest grading from professors is as bad as dishonest health reports from doctors who just want their patients to feel happy would be. The truth may be unpleasant, but it’s better to know it than to live in blissful ignorance.

This article was originally published by the Pope Center.

George C. LeefGeorge C. Leef

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

When Satire becomes Politically Correct Policy: DePaul University bans chalk for student safety

trump chalk composit imageIn March we posted a political satire column titled “Students demand ‘chalk free zones’ after Trump 2016 graffiti found at Emory U.” The column stated, “Trump ‘chalking attacks’ are appearing on college campuses across America. It began on the campus of Emory University where ‘Trump 2016’, ‘Vote Trump 2016’ and ‘Trump’ graffiti was found on buildings, sidewalks and on benches written in chalk on the university campus.”

We concluded with the tongue-in-cheek, “The Keep Chalk on College Campuses (KCCC) free speech movement in a short statement said, “Chalk U!”

On April 4th we posted a second political satire column titled, “After a #Trump2016 chalk attack on the White House Obama signs Executive Order banning chalk.” The column stated:

Today the Secret Service reported a “#Trump2016 – Make America Great Again” chalk attack occurred at the White House. President Obama, his family and the White House staff were evacuated to a secret location until the chalker and his/her associates are apprehended.

[ … ]

Josh Earnest, Assistant to the President and Press Secretary, at a White House briefing noted:

The first family and those of us working in the White House now live in fear of the chalkers who want to make America great again.

FBI Director James Comey has just briefed President Obama on this growing existential threat.

These attackers are using chalk as their weapon of choice and they must be stopped at all cost.

After meeting with his National Security Council, President Obama has signed an Executive Order making chalking a federal offense and designating members of Make America Great Again Chalkers enemies of the collective.

The Executive Order calls for the arrest of anyone carrying chalk in a concealed manner. It establishes a federal, state and local law enforcement Joint Chalk Task Force (JCTF) to combat this growing threat to our progressive way of life.

Anyone owning chalk must report it and register on a new national database of chalk possessors.

trump chalking 4It appears that political satire has become politically correct policy at DePaul University.

On April 15th, Jazz Shaw from HotAir reports:

The struggle is real, my friends. We’ve already looked at the horror being inflicted upon special snowflakes around the country these days as #TheChalkening sends college students scurrying for their safe space. Who knows what sort of lasting damage could ensue if young adults turn a corner on their morning walk only to see a name or campaign slogan emblazoned on the sidewalk where they are walking, enshrined there for all time? (Or at least until the next rainfall.) Not everyone is taking this threat lying down, however. At DePaul University in Chicago, students will soon be able to perambulate around the quad without fear of such lasting mental scar tissue because the university has banned chalking the sidewalks after someone was tasteless enough to write the name of Donald J. Trump on the pavement. (Daily Caller and Campus Reform)

DePaul University will no longer allow students to chalk political messages on the sidewalks of its campus because of the “offensive, hurtful, and divisive” nature of pro-Trump chalking found on campus last week.

“While these chalk messages are part of national agendas in a heated political battle, they appeared on campus at a time of significant racial tension in our country and on college campuses. DePaul is no exception,” Depaul’s vice president for student affairs Eugene Zdziarski wrote in a campus-wide email obtained by Campus Reform…

Campus Reform reached out to DePaul to ask why university officials chose to respond to this particular chalking instance despite claims that chalking “regularly” occurs on campus. No response was received in time for publication.

The entire idea of “chalking” as a form of expression has apparently been a tradition at DePaul for quite some time, just as it is on sidewalks around the nation.

Read more.

We again quote those who support free chalking speech on college campuses with, “Chalk U!”

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of chalk guns is by artist and designer Mike Falk.

Bernie Sanders Is Wrong on College and Jail by Kevin Currie-Knight

In a December 15 tweet, Senator Bernie Sanders intimated that graduating from college decreases the likelihood that you will go to jail:

Sanders has long supported dubious measures for making college more affordable and hence accessible to all, and this may be why: he believes that “no college” is a path to jail.

Mike Rowe, the former TV host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs and a longtime opponent of the “college for all” message, responded to Sanders with outrage. Rowe challenged Sanders’s idea that the most viable option without a college degree is jail. He also brought home a favorite point of his, to throw into question whether a cost-benefit analysis of college really shows that college is the best path to a successful career.

I’ve written before against the “academic training for all” mentality that Sanders and so many others seems set in, but Rowe, unfortunately, also gets a few things wrong.

Upcredentialing and Downvaluing

While Sanders is right that college degrees significantly increase one’s job prospects, he’s wrong to think that “college for all” will increase job prospects for everyone. Rowe is right to note that there are viable career options that don’t require college degrees, but he overlooks that they are vanishing by the year.

We all strive to “outcredential” each other, and in short order, the college degree is the new high school diploma. 

As a recent study documents, more employers are demanding a college degree as a qualification for careers that never used to require one — from positions at an IT help desk to positions as a receptionist, office manager, or file clerk. What is behind this “upcredentialing” phenomenon?

College degrees and other certificates of learning are what economists call positional goods: their value partly hinges on how they stack up relative to what others have. If I live in an area where few have finished college, my degree will be of great value and probably open many doors. But if I live where college degrees are commonplace, mine will do little more than put me on an even footing with my equally credentialed peers. In that case, distinguishing myself from others may require me to get still more education than my peers.

The Education Arms Race

We can think of higher education as a game of chicken, where each person’s strategy is to outdo others without completely breaking their bank. Since I want to compete in the job market, and I have reason to think that many other people are getting college degrees, my strategy should be to get one, too, and perhaps one more impressive than theirs. But my competitors are probably thinking the same thing, and each of us knows what the other is thinking. We all strive to “outcredential” each other, and in short order, the college degree is the new high school diploma.

This is basically what Americans have done for the last several decades, at least since the GI Bill expanded college accessibility.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, college enrollment in 1983 was 10.6 million, and, after a small dip between 1984 and 1985, it has steadily increased each year. In 2012, the number stood at 17.7 million. Data also show that more Americans than ever have college degrees, though the percentage of people with college degrees (20 percent to 40 percent) varies by state.

Upcredentialing occurs because it can. Employers want ways to differentiate candidates. When college degrees were scarce, the candidate with the college degree distinguished himself from everyone else right off the bat. But when more and more people have a college degree, employers can afford to make having one a requirement.

If this process looks circular, that’s because it is. Bachelor’s degrees are a pathway to many more career options because many careers now require bachelor’s degrees. But the reason many careers now require bachelor’s degrees is because people en masse get bachelor’s degrees because they are a path to a better future.

Trapped in a Vicious Circle

While I generally support Rowe’s “college isn’t the only way” message, I am more pessimistic than he is because I don’t see the circle breaking easily.

If the best way to have the best career prospects is to outdo my competition, how likely is it that I will decide not to go to college if I suspect that others are better satisfying employers’ expectations by going? I could take a chance, but it’d be a big chance; if I’m right, I save a lot of tuition money, still get a decent job, and accumulate four extra years of earnings and experience, but if I’m wrong, my career prospects are slim. Rowe might point out that many careers don’t require a college degree, but I’d remind him that the pool of such jobs is shrinking. Fifteen years ago, those jobs included file clerks and construction supervisors, both of which now require degrees.

If this process looks circular, that’s because it is.

Some companies are bucking the upcredentialing trend and recognizing that there is little reason for them to require college degrees for certain positions. I hope that as those companies find success with that model, others will follow suit and we will reach a tipping point. Rowe probably shares that hope.

None of this lets Sanders off the hook. Not only is his tweet horribly oversimplified (and to be fair, one can’t be terribly nuanced in a tweet). But “college for all” ceases to look so good when you understand that education is a positional good. Increasing college access to all will do little more than deflate the value of a college degree for everyone by fueling the very upcredentialing that is already making the degree ever less meaningful.

“At the end of the day,” some future tweet may opine, “a second PhD is a helluva lot cheaper than prison.”

Kevin Currie-KnightKevin Currie-Knight

Kevin Currie-Knight teaches in East Carolina University’s Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

On the ‘White Privilege’ movement

We close out the year with more protests and demands than ever, as our intellectuals engage in more and more “conversations” about race.

The protests spilled over to restaurants and shopping venues, even as Americans celebrated Christmas.  The incubators are the schools and college campuses, where students are taught about injustices invisible to the common man.  Textbooks offering lessons for deep classroom discussion include the sociology textbook, Color Lines and Racial Angles, published by Norton.  It includes such thought-provoking gems as “Asian American Exceptionalism and ‘Stereotype Promise,'” “The Fascination and Frustration with Native American Mascots,” “White Trash: The Social Origins of a Stigmatype,” and “Thinking about Trayvon [Martin, of course]: Privileged Responses and Media Discourse.”

Another gem from the once esteemed textbook publisher is Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Centurywith offerings from professors in various fields, such as biology, history, anthropology, sociology…and education, with a contribution by Bill Ayers’ choice for Obama’s Secretary of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond.  The Obama education transition team leader and developer of one of the two national Common Core tests offers her thoughts on education in an essay titled, “Structured for Failure: Race, Resources, and Student Achievement.”

At the K-12 level, materials for sensitizing students to oppression abound.  There is  (Re)Teaching Trayvon: Education for Racial Justice.  Curriculum materials on “teaching the ongoing murders of black men” are also readily available at Rethinking Schools.The George Soros-funded Teaching for Change also has some incendiary curriculum materials for the tykes.

White Privilege: All these materials are intended to instill an understanding of “white privilege,” which arose as more obvious methods such as slurs and discrimination disappeared.  White privilege is a kind of unconscious superiority that must be reviewed constantly–replacing the Puritan scouring for sin.  To gain an understanding, students can read “Beyond the Big, Bad Racist: Shared Meanings of White Identity and Supremacy” in theirColor Lines textbook.

The common wisdom in academe is that all white people are racist because they have white privilege.  An exponent of this theory, George Yancy, was recently hired by Emory University to teach philosophy.  His letter to “White America” appeared on Christmas Eve in the New York Times. Following in the footsteps of Ta-Nehisi Coates, a MacArthur Genius Grant winner and National Book Award winner for his stream-of-consciousness racial complaint in the style of James Baldwin, Yancy invoked James Baldwin.

“Dear White America,” wrote Yancy, as he set out to berate her,

I have a weighty request. As you read this letter, I want you to listen with love, a sort of love that demands that you look at parts of yourself that might cause pain and terror, as James Baldwin would say. Did you hear that? You may have missed it. I repeat: I want you to listen with love. Well, at least try.

Yancy, here, managed to combine demand and insult.  No doubt, millions of white masochistic Americans did just that: they tried very, very, very hard to listen, with love (as difficult as it is for them to grasp the concept).

This man who occupies an office once occupied by a real philosopher, continued,

We don’t talk much about the urgency of love these days, especially within the public sphere. Much of our discourse these days is about revenge, name calling, hate, and divisiveness. I have yet to hear it from our presidential hopefuls, or our political pundits. I don’t mean the Hollywood type of love, but the scary kind, the kind that risks not being reciprocated, the kind that refuses to flee in the face of danger. To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve decided to model, as best as I can, what I’m asking of you. Let me demonstrate the vulnerability that I wish you to show. As a child of Socrates, James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, let me speak the truth, refuse to err on the side of caution.

Now, the Dissident Prof has taken some classes in philosophy, but never has she heard a professor declare himself a “child of” any historical figure, much less of such a disparate triad as Socrates, James Baldwin, and Audre Lorde.  Furthermore, they told their students that philosophy is the love of wisdom and that according to Socrates, the beginning of wisdom comes with the admission of ignorance.

Professor Yancy, however, declares that he speaks the truth, or at least a truth that does not hold back, has no doubt.

Lest anyone get the impression that Professor Yancy feels himself in any way superior to White America, or to anyone else, he confesses his own sin of sexism, or male privilege.  But then again that must mean he is superior because he confessed his privilege.  So unless you, White America, confess the privilege that Professor Yancy says you enjoy (because he knows), you are guilty.

Richard WrightRichard Wright I will not claim to be a child of Richard Wright, just someone who, in spite of her white privilege, read and taught (at Emory) his autobiographical account of a show trial put on by the American Communists in the 1930s.  Wright got entangled with them in his efforts to break into writing.  The poor soul who is the target, his friend Ross, is NOT a privileged white American, but a black American, one of many targeted and exploited by the communists.

Wright is asked to come to the trial so that he might “learn what happened to ‘enemies of the working class.'”

The following day, a Sunday, Ross is confronted by his accusers.  Over the course of three hours, the accusers describe “Fascism’s aggression in Germany, Italy, and Japan,” “the role of the Soviet Union as the world’s lone workers’ state,” and the “suffering and handicaps” of the Negro population on Chicago’s South Side and the relation to “world struggle.” The direct charges against Ross are made, with dates, conversations, and scenes.

Then it is time for Ross to defend himself:

He stood trembling; he tried to talk and his words would not come.  The hall was as still as death.  Guilt was written in every pore of his black skin.  His hands shook.  He held on to the edge of the table to keep on his feet. . . .

“Comrades,” he said in a low, charged voice.  “I’m guilty of all the charges, all of them.”

"TheGodThatFailed" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia“TheGodThatFailed” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via WikipediaIn a similar manner, those of us benefiting from “privilege,” must confess as we are blamed for such things as the “school to prison pipeline” and the deplorable conditions on the South Side of Chicago.  Those who wish to be in the good graces of those like Professor Yancy must confess these over and over and over.

Fortunately, there are still a few legitimate philosophy professors around, such as Jack Kerwick, one of the contributors to the Dissident Prof collection, Exiled.  Kerwick, who keeps a very busy schedule teaching, also is a frequent contributor to such sites as Townhall and American Thinker.  Those who have enjoyed his application of logic to the issues of the day can now enjoy his razor sharp analyses in a new collection, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front, where he tackles such topics as Immigration, Academia, Religion, and Race.  As a matter of fact, I think George Yancy should read it.  I cannot think of anyone who would benefit more.

A couple reminders: The deadline for public comment on the U.S. Dept. of Education’s “family engagement” plan is Jan.4.  The deadline for 2015 charitable contributions is Dec. 31.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Ideas in Exile: The Bullies Win at Yale by Diana Furchtgott-Roth

The student speech bullies have won at Yale. Erika Christakis, Assistant Master of Yale’s Silliman College, who had the temerity to suggest that college students should choose their own Halloween costumes, has resigned from teaching. Her husband, sociology professor Nicholas Christakis, Master of Silliman College, will take a sabbatical next semester.

One of the bullies’ demands to Yale President Salovey was that the couple be dismissed, and a resignation and sabbatical are a close second.

As had been widely reported, Erika Christakis said,

Is there no room any more for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.

At issue are costumes such as wearing a sombrero, which might be offensive to Mexicans; wearing a feathered headdress, which might offend Native Americans, previously termed Red Indians; and wearing blackface to dress up as an African American.

Dr. Christakis’s comment is so obvious that it hardly needs to be said. Students who are admitted to Yale are some of the brightest in the country, and it should not be the role of the University to tell them how, or whether, to dress up at Halloween.

The speech bullies want mandatory diversity training, rules against hate speech, the dismissal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis, and the renaming of Calhoun College because its namesake, John Calhoun, defended slavery.

If America is to be whitewashed of the names of individuals from prior centuries who fall short of the political standards of the 21st century, we will be a nation not only without names but also without a past. The names of our states, our municipalities, and even our universities would disappear. Elihu Yale was a governor of the East India Company, which may have occasionally engaged in the slavery trade. It is easy to condemn the dead who cannot defend themselves. But if we curse the past, what fate awaits us from our progeny?

Not all Yale students agree with the tactics employed by the bullies. Freshman Connor Wood said,

The acceptance or rejection of coercive tactics is a choice that will literally decide the fate of our democracy. Our republic will not survive without a culture of robust public debate. And the far more immediate threat is to academia: how can we expect to learn when people are afraid to speak out?

The Committee for the Defense of Freedom at Yale has organized a petition in the form of a letter to President to express concern with the bullies’ demands. Over 800 members of the Yale community have signed. Zachary Young, a junior at Yale and one of the organizers of the petition, told me in an email, “We want to promote free speech and free minds at Yale, and don’t think the loudest voices should set the agenda.”

Nevertheless, it appears that the loudest voices are indeed influencing President Salovey. He has given in to protesters by announcing a new center for the study of race, ethnicity, and social identity; creating four new faculty positions to study “unrepresented and under-represented communities;” launching “a five-year series of conferences on issues of race, gender, inequality, and inclusion;” spending $50 million over the next five years to enhance faculty diversity; doubling the budgets of cultural centers (Western culture not included); and increasing financial aid for low-income students.

In addition, President Salovey volunteered, along with other members of the faculty and administration, to “receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination.”

With an endowment of $24 billion, these expenses are a proverbial drop in the bucket for Yale. But it doesn’t mean that the administration should cave. Isaac Cohen, a Yale senior, wrote in the student newspaper,

Our administrators, who ought to act with prudence and foresight, appear helpless in the face of these indictments. Consider President Salovey’s email to the Yale community this week. Without any fight or pushback — indeed, with no thoughts as to burdens versus benefits — he capitulated in most respects to the demands of a small faction of theatrically aggrieved students.

Yale’s protests, and others around the country, including Claremont-McKenna, the University of Missouri, and Princeton, stem from the efforts of a small group of students to shield themselves from difficult situations. Students want to get rid of speech that might be offensive to someone that they term a “micro-aggressions.” This limits what can be said because everything can be interpreted as offensive if looked at in a particular context.

For instance, when I write (as I have done) that the wage gap between men and women is due to the sexes choosing different university majors, different hours of work, and different professions, this potentially represents a micro-aggression, even though it is true. Even the term “the sexes” is potentially offensive, because it implies two sexes, male and female, and leaves out gays, lesbians, and transgenders. The term “gender” is preferred to “sex.”

What about a discussion of the contribution of affirmative action to the alienation of some groups on campuses today? Under affirmative action, students are admitted who otherwise might not qualify. In Supreme Court hearings on Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.”

The majority of students at Yale want an open discussion of all subjects, but the attack on the Christakises have frightened them into silence. Zach Young told me,

If the accusers’ intent was to enlighten and persuade, their result was to silence and instill fear. I worry that because of this backlash, fewer students or faculty — including people of color and those of liberal persuasions — will feel comfortable expressing views that dissent from the campus norms. Why risk getting so much hate, disgust, calls against your firing, just for the sake of expressing an opinion?

Why indeed? The answer is that arguing about opinions is the only way to get a real education. Let’s hope that another university stands up for freedom of speech and offers the Christakises teaching positions next semester.

This article first appeared at CapX.

Diana Furchtgott-RothDiana Furchtgott-Roth

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, is director of Economics21 and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Silly Season at School, Protests and a Cowboy Song

One, two, three, four!  What are we protesting for?  There seems to be some confusion on campuses across the nation.  But we do know that so far groups on 73 campuses have joined the Black Liberation Collective and issued “demands.”  Like a lover’s spat gone on too long, the aggrieved party hardly knows what it is that is bothering them.  We hear that there is “institutional racism” that permeates campuses; “microaggressions” abound.  Long-standing sculptures and paintings suddenly make students hyperventilate as they undergo collective PTSD syndrome.

It’s even in a name. Over at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania the Black Student Union is demanding the renaming of Lynch Memorial Hall. Inside Higher Edreports, “Students who are pushing for the name change say that the name ‘Lynch’ has racist associations because of lynching.”

A Memorial to Lynching? Is the building a memorial to the act of lynching? “The building is named for Clyde A. Lynch, an alumnus who was president of the college from 1932 to 1950, and who died in office. He is credited with helping to keep the college functioning and growing during the Depression, no easy task for a small college without a large endowment.”

Shh, don’t tell them about our new Attorney General.  They might suffer trauma at hearing the name Loretta Lynch.  Or what about Lynchburg?  Should the city be renamed?  Yes, we have a problem in education, but it has little to do with racial discrimination and everything to do with intellectual discernment.  If anything, we need to be more discriminating about whom we admit to college.

At Emory University where I taught for seven years, the administration has promised all kinds of things, such as hiring more faculty from the preferred groups and holding more and more expensive and time-consuming workshops that breed racial resentment.  (I think I see the activists’ strategy!)

Having spent so many years on campuses I like to think of myself as inured to such craziness.  But a couple things jumped out in the Emory administration’s response.  (Apparently, the Emory students’ “Wall of Love” was not enough.)  Rod Dreher at American Conservative was particularly alarmed by capitulation to the demand that students judge professors on end-of-course evaluations with

at least two open-ended questions such as: “Has this professor made any microaggressions towards you on account of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and/or other identity?” and “Do you think that this professor fits into the vision of Emory University being a community of care for individuals of all racial, gender, ability, and class identities?”

Student evaluations report on faculty sensitivity.  In other words, students will evaluate faculty not on their teaching ability, but on their microaggressive-ness and fitting “the vision” of a “community of care.”

Sensitivity to Need for Psychological Services: The Dissident Prof, however, was struck by the fact that the administration suggested that the need for psychological counseling services is greater among “students of color.”  They are happily capitulating to “demands” that more resources be available to Black students through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

The administrators, Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, and Claire E. Sterk, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, proclaim, “Recognizing that mental health is an important part of student success, last spring we created a new executive-level position to lead the CAPS office.”

They note that currently, “half of the CAPS staff are people of color and 43 percent of the clients served last year were students of color, including 13 percent who identified as Black or African American.”  This seems to be a disproportionate number compared to the student population.

The Wall of Love: In addition to improvements in “bias incident reporting” (yes, there are teams to handle that on campuses nationwide) more academic support, diversity inisatives, increased representation in faculty, staff, and administrators, and an expansion of GED programs to the cafeteria staff, the administrators remind protestors that The Wall of Love was led by students and supported by the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services.  It was offered as “as a space for healing in light of racist comments on social media.”

More healing promised:  As the traumatic week of final exams approaches, a program is scheduled “to help students prepare for exams and engage in self-care.”

"My little pony friendship is magic group shot r" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - “My little pony friendship is magic group shot r” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – Happiness Boot Camp for Black Students: Even more healing is planned for the spring semester: “For spring semester, the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) is developing a Happiness Boot Camp for Black students as part of Flourish Emory.”  (Maybe they should just give a pony to every student.)

They conclude, “We look forward to further dialogue and collaborative planning on these issues in the very near future.”

At Hamilton College: Closer to where I live now, Hamilton College’s The Movement was ridiculed by the Daily Beast for its “demands” presented in such style: “We, the Students of Hamilton College, demand that white faculty are discouraged from leading departments about demographics and societies colonized, massacred, and enslaved.”  The college website, however, described the goings-on as “Hamilton College Student Group Joins National Conversation”:

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Hamilton’s Days-Massolo Center sponsored the first of a series of “crucial conversations” about students and faculty of color, inclusivity, intolerance and offensive social media posts. About 85 people attended.

The next afternoon, students marched from the Kirner- Johnson Building to Burke Library and Buttrick Hall, where the President’s office is located. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, an anonymous group of students calling themselves the Movement sent a list of demands to college administrators. That afternoon about two dozen students came to the regularly scheduled monthly faculty meeting; some read from the Movement’s demands and others asked questions or made statements. The meeting was peaceful and discussion was civil.

That’s a more than slightly different take than even the student newspaper The Spectator had.  Their photos showed students at the faculty meeting in t-shirts labeled “token”–clearly there to “occupy” the meeting and take it over.  Another photo shows students occupying Buttrick Hall, crowding inside and disrupting workday activities.

Editor-in-chief of Enquiry Mike Adamo suggested that Stewart could learn what “a discussion is, because it sure doesn’t involve ‘demands.'” Adamo is one of the AHI undergraduate fellows. In September, he questioned Dean of Faculty, Patrick Reynolds, and Dean of Students, Nancy Thompson, about their invitation to Rhodessa Jones.  He received a generic reply from Phyllis Breland of the Days-Massolo Center, which did not even mention his request for “comment on how programming like this reflects the quality of political discussion at Hamilton.”  That was after he quoted a positive review in SF Gate that described Jones’s film Birthright in which women scream, ” ‘Burn, mother—, burn.’ . . . .it is screamed, yelped, escaping primally from the women’s vocal cords. Projected onto the back of the stage is an image of the White House, and then picture after picture of Republican political figures — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz.”

Executive Director of AHI (which sponsors Enquiry) and Hamilton College History Professor Robert Paquette made a comment on the college website post about the nationwide student “conversation.”  Paquette noted that during his 35-year tenure at Hamilton, he has seen

no dearth of conversations by Joan Hinde Stewart or her administrators when it comes to having conversations with groups with what might be called a progressive agenda. She intends to claim “diversity” as one of her greatest legacies of her Hamilton presidency. She has no intention of being stand-offish to those who claim to be acting for the benefit of historically underprivileged groups.

Students with a right-of-center bent, however, “seem to be unworthy of conversation,” he added.

Indeed, deans at Hamilton did not deem an inquiry by an AHI undergraduate fellow regarding Rhodessa Jones’s appearance worthy of “conversation,” or even the courtesy of a reply.

"JenningsNelsonWaylon&Willie" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia “JenningsNelsonWaylon&Willie” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Laugh, cry, or sing?  Alas, one does not know whether to laugh or cry.  But a song came to mind, a country Western song, as so often happens to the Dissident Prof, especially as she cries into her beer over the state of the academy.  Lyrics follow below (with apologies to Ed Bruce, and Waylon and Willie).  Most will know the tune when they see the words.  But if not, there are links below, including to some karaoke music so you can sing along:

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Go to College, by Mary Grabar, the Dissident Prof:

Students ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to mold
They’d rather give you a song than high grades or gold
Cry-baby babbles and old faded slogans
And a complaint begin a new day
If you don’t understand him, you’re racist
And you should just go away.

Mamas, don’t let your babies go to college
Don’t let ‘em take classes and spend them big bucks
Make em be plumbers and welders and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies go to college
Cause they’ll never stay sane; they’re always deranged
Even with someone they love

Students like sparkly new dorm rooms and clear trigger warnings
Nice shiny trophies and victims and talks late in the night
Them that don’t know them will hate them and them that do
Sometimes won’t know how take them
No one’s wrong, they’re just different but their pride won’t let them
Do things to make you think they’re bright.

Mamas, don’t let your babies go to college
Don’t let ‘em take classes and spend them big bucks
Make em be plumbers and welders and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies go to college
Cause they’ll never stay sane; they’re always deranged
Even with someone they love.

Sing along with karaoke music by clicking here.

The original version by Ed Bruce by clicking here.

The Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson version by clicking here.

RELATED ARTICLE: College Student Takes a Stand Against Campus Free Speech Policy, Sues School

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of the Black Liberation Collective.

How Affirmative Action Backfires by Richard Sander

Affirmative action is before the Supreme Court again this week, as it rehears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas. (I’ve discussed the legal issues in Fisher here.)

But perhaps the most important question about racial preferences is one that’s not directly raised by the case: do they even work? Do they help underrepresented minorities to achieve their goals, and foster interracial interaction and understanding on elite campuses? Or do large preferences often “mismatch” students in campuses where they will struggle and fail?

Scholars began empirically studying the mismatch issue in the 1990s, but in the past five years the field has matured. There are now dozens of careful, peer-reviewed studies that find strong evidence of mismatch.

None of the authors of these studies claim that mismatch is a universal or inevitable consequence of affirmative action. But in my view, only demagogues (of which there is, unfortunately, no shortage) or people who haven’t read the relevant literature can still claim that mismatch is not a genuine problem.

It is helpful to think about mismatch as three interrelated phenomena that could affect a student of any race — let’s call her Sally — who receives a large admissions preference, so that she attends a college where her level of academic preparation is substantially below that of her peers.

First, “learning mismatch” occurs if Sally learns less than she would at a less competitive school, because the pace is too fast or her professors are pitching their material at a level that’s not ideal for her.

Others and I have argued that learning mismatch occurs on a massive scale in American law schools, where African-Americans (and some other students) tend to receive very large preferences and then, very often, are never able to practice law because they cannot pass bar exams.

Our best estimate is that only about one-third of black students who start law school in America successfully graduate and pass the bar exam on their first attempt (see my September 2006 blog post here).

A second form of mismatch — “competition” mismatch — occurs when students abandon particular fields, or college itself, because of the practical and psychological effects of competing with better-prepared students.

Suppose that Sally dreams of becoming a chemist, does very well in a standard high school chemistry course, and receives a preference into an elite school where most of her classmates have taken AP Chemistry. Even if Sally does not experience “learning” mismatch, she may nonetheless end up with a B- or a C in chemistry simply because of the strength of the competition.

A long line of studies (e.g., this excellent study by two psychologists) have shown that students receiving large preferences, facing these pressures, tend to abandon STEM fields in large numbers. Competition mismatch thus appears to have large and damaging effects on the number of African-Americans, in particular, graduating with science or engineering degrees.

The third type of mismatch — “social mismatch” — is in some ways the most intriguing.

Several studies have now found that college students are much more likely to form friendships with students who have similar levels of academic preparation or performance at college. The phenomenon operates even within racial groups, but when a college’s preferences are highly correlated with race (as they are at many elite schools), social mismatch can lead to self-segregation by minority students.

The result is decreased social interaction across racial lines. That’s particularly relevant to the Supreme Court’s deliberations because its tolerance of racial preferences has been based on the idea that a diverse racial campus promotes interracial contact and learning.

But if preferences promote substantial social mismatch, then race-conscious admissions actually decrease interracial contact and learning — not only at the school where the preferences are used, but also at the college that the preferenced minority student would have attended in the absence of preferences.

Of course, new studies of higher education come out all the time, and one can point to some study to argue almost any point. What makes the evidence of mismatch so compelling is the large number of very high-quality studies that have appeared in the past few years, performed by a wide array of scholars and appearing in the strongest academic journals that exercise the most stringent peer review.

For example, the highly-respected Journal of Economic Literature last year commissioned two economists to summarize the state of research on higher education mismatch. To ensure an impartial study, the two economists JEL selected started out with different views of mismatch: one was a skeptic, the other the author of research that had found evidence of mismatch. JEL also asked seven other economists, again representing a wide range of perspectives, to peer review the article when it was drafted.

The resulting article is circumspect, but unequivocal in finding that much of the evidence on mismatch (especially in law school and the sciences) is compelling.

The American Economic Review — one of the three or four top journals in the social sciences — also recently announced that it is publishing a comprehensive study of mismatch in the sciences. It takes advantage of an unusually large database from eight campuses of the University of California, covering the period before and after California voters, through Prop 209, made it illegal to consider of race in public college admissions.

The study could thus examine how UC students who, through racial preferences, attended the most elite UC campuses before Prop 209 compared with very similar students who attended less elite campuses after Prop 209.

Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo, and Joseph Hotz conclude unequivocally: “We find less-prepared minority students at top-ranked campuses would have higher science graduation rates had they attended lower-ranked campuses.”

The gold standard for empirical research is a genuine experimental design, where a group of subjects are randomly assigned to “treatment” and “control” groups. While random experiments are routine in medical research, they are still uncommon in the social sciences. A revealing study of that kind was recently conducted by three economists working with the Air Force Academy. 

Based on other work, the researchers hypothesized that students entering the Academy with relatively weak academic preparation would learn more and do better if they were assigned to squadrons with particularly academically strong cadets, thus creating opportunities for mentoring and tutoring. The Academy agreed to do a large randomized experiment, assigning some of the targeted students to the experimental squadrons with strong peers, and other students to “control” groups comprised of more typical students.

Again, the results were unequivocal: academically weak students in the experimental group learned less and got worse grades. Having much stronger students in the same squadron increased the weaker students’ tendency to form study groups with other weak students — a strong demonstration of “social mismatch.”

All this impressive research — and much more in a similar vein — has had little impact upon educational institutions. Even though many educational leaders will admit in private that the research is compelling, they believe that any public admission that racial preferences are counterproductive would be met with the sort of campus reaction that routinely drives college presidents from office.

For the same reason, university presidents and other educational leaders aggressively block the release of information vital to mismatch research — data which could, for example, help determine the border between small, safe preferences and large, harmful ones.

All of this should give the Supreme Court pause in assessing racial preferences. Past Court decisions have invoked a traditional deference to the independence of educational institutions. But colleges and universities have demonstrated that they are politically incapable of acting as good fiduciaries for their most vulnerable students.

A version of this post first appeared at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Richard Sander
Richard Sander

Richard Sander is an economist and law professor at UCLA, where he has taught since 1989.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Mismatched’ black students pay the price of affirmative action – The Boston Globe

Where Is Speech Most Restricted in America? by George C. Leef

A good argument can be made that free speech is least safe on private college campuses.

At public universities, the First Amendment applies, thus giving students, faculty members, and everyone else protection against official censorship or punishment for saying things that some people don’t want said.

A splendid example of that was brought to a conclusion earlier this year at Valdosta State University, where the school’s president went on a vendetta against a student who criticized his plans for a new parking structure — and was clobbered in court. (I discussed that case here.)

But the First Amendment does not apply to private colleges and universities because they don’t involve governmental action. Oddly, while all colleges that accept federal student aid money must abide by a vast host of regulations, the Supreme Court ruled in Rendell-Baker v. Kohn that acceptance of such money does not bring them under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

At private colleges, the protection for freedom of speech has to be found (at least, in most states) in the implicit contract the school enters into with each incoming student. Ordinarily, the school holds itself out as guaranteeing certain things about itself and life on campus in its handbook and other materials. If school officials act in ways that depart significantly from the reasonable expectations it created, then the college can be held liable.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) puts it, “There is a limit to ‘bait-and-switch’ techniques that promise academic freedom and legal equality but deliver authoritarianism and selective censorship.”

With that legal background in mind, consider a recent case at Colorado College. If Franz Kafka or George Orwell had toyed with a similar plot, they’d probably have rejected it as too far-fetched.

Back in November, a student, Thaddeus Pryor, wrote the following reply to a comment (#blackwomenmatter) on the social media site Yik Yak: “They matter, they’re just not hot.” Another student, offended that someone was not taking things seriously, complained to college officials. After ascertaining that the comment had been written by Pryor, the Dean of Students summoned him to a meeting.

Pryor said that he was just joking. What he did not realize is that there are now many things that must not be joked about on college campuses. Some well-known American comedians have stopped playing on our campuses for exactly that reason, as Clark Conner noted in this Pope Center article.

In a subsequent letter, Pryor was informed by the Senior Associate Dean of Students that his anonymous six word comment violated the school’s policy against Abusive Behavior and Disruption of College Activities.

Did that comment actually abuse anyone? Did it in any way disrupt a college activity?

A reasonable person would say “of course not,” but many college administrators these days are not reasonable. They are social justice apparatchiks, eager to use their power to punish perceived enemies of progress like Thaddeus Pryor.

For having joked in a way that offended the wrong people, Pryor was told that he was suspended from Colorado College until June, 2017. Moreover, he is banned from setting foot on campus during that time. And in the final “pound of flesh” retribution, the school intends to prohibit him from taking any college credits elsewhere.

With FIRE’s able assistance, Pryor is appealing his punishment. Perhaps the college’s attorney will advise the president to back off since its own “Freedom of Expression” policy hardly suggests to students that they will be subject to severe punishment for merely making offensive jokes on a social media site. If the case were to go to trial, there is a strong likelihood that a jury would find Colorado College in breach of contract.

Even if the school retreats from its astounding overreaction to Pryor’s comment, the administration should worry that alums who aren’t happy that their school has fallen under the spell of thought control will stop supporting it.

This incident is emblematic of a widespread problem in American higher education today: administrators think it’s their job to police what is said on campus, even comments on a social media app. Many colleges and universities have vague speech codes and “harassment” policies that invite abuse; those positions tend to attract mandarins who are not scholars and do not value free speech and unfettered debate. They are committed to “progressive” causes and will gladly use their power to silence or punish anyone who doesn’t go along.

American colleges have been suffering through a spate of ugly protests this fall. Among the demands the protesters usually make is that the school mandate “diversity training” for faculty and staff. Instead of that, what most schools really need is tolerance training, with a special emphasis on the importance of free speech. Those who don’t “get it” should be advised to find other employment.

George C. Leef
George C. Leef

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Student Demands: Conformity, Thought Police, Show Trials by Walter Olson

Of the demands being made by protesters in the current wave of unrest on American campuses, some no doubt are well grounded and worth considering. Some of them, on the other hand, challenge academic freedom head on.

Some would take control of curriculum and hiring out of the hands of faculty. Some would enforce conformity of thought. Some would attack the rights of dissenters. Some would merely gut the seriousness of the university.

Last night I did a long series of tweets drawing on a website which sympathetically compiles demands from campus protests — TheDemands.org — and noting some of the more troublesome instances:

  • From Dartmouth: “All professors will be required to be trained in not only cultural competency but also the importance of social justice in their day-to-day work.”
  • From Wesleyan: “An anonymous student reporting system for cases of bias, including microaggressions, perpetrated by faculty and staff.”
  • From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “White professors must be discouraged from leading and teaching departments about demographics and societies colonized, massacred, or enslaved under white supremacy.”
  • From Guilford College: “We suggest that every week a faculty member come forward and publicly admit their participation in racism inside the classroom via a letter to the editor” in the college paper.

My series drew and continues to draw a strong reaction. Now I’ve Storified the tweets as a single narrative, including some of the responses. Read it here.

Cross-posted from Overlawyered.

Walter OlsonWalter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

The Muslim Holy War comes to America’s College Campuses

The above posters and stickers were plastered all over five major American campuses in the second week of November – two universities in D.C. and three in Southern California – making fun of local anti-Israel groups, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Muslim Students Association (MSA), pointing out their support for Jew-hatred and violent jihad.

While the identities of those who designed the posters and put them up around the campuses can be neither confirmed nor denied, the responsibility for the campaign was claimed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center here and here. In addition, FreedomPost.us posted a one-minute video with the posters (below) in their story, If You’re A Hamas-Supporting Anti-Israel College In SoCal Or DC, These Posters Are On Your Campus.

The University of California Los Angeles newspaper, THE DAILY BRUIN, responded with an article Offensive posters targeting SJP resurface on campus for third time. The UCLA couldn’t wait to reveal its bias and went for the jugular already in the first word of the title. Rather than attempting to look into the MSA and SJP who like to harass Jews at UCLA, the article offered them the pulpit from which they predictably gunned for the messenger.

SJP outreach director, Ani Der-Grigorian, concluded that the reason SJP and MSA were being grouped together was not their shared hatred of Israel, but Islamophobia. She also complained that UCLA officials have done little in response to the posters and that they “haven’t sat down with us about how unsafe this makes our members feel.” No one bothered to wonder if their own anti-Semitic activities ever made any of the UC Jewish students “feel unsafe.”

The UCLA article states that “Felipe Bris Abejon, SJP education and resources director and first-year political science student, said he was the first to notice the posters on Bruin Walk around 10 a.m., when he found one stuck to the bottom of his shoe.” There was no explanation as to whether the poster stuck to his shoe as a result of repeatedly kicking the wall on which it was displayed, or it crept from behind and attacked the shoe with malicious intentions, but the very fact that it was documented to be stuck to the SJP education and resources director’s shoe is clearly “offensive.”

UCLA_SPJ_Child_ISIS_600.jpg
In Washington, D.C., The American University newspaper, The Eagle, published a tearful article titled, Islamophobic posters found on campus made Muslim students feel unsafe.

“I had people calling me [on Sunday], telling me that they were legitimately scared,” said Aman Abdelhamid, the president of AU’s Muslim Students Association chapter, who claims she felt “severely troubled” by the posters. “The posters…had really strong implications, really threatening messages.”

One might think that Abdelhamid was “severely troubled” after seeing Palestinian children with knives being raised to stab Jews. Or that she felt shocked and ashamed after learning that her fellow president of a Muslim Students Association, Anwar Al-Awlaki, later became an Al-Qaeda leader and was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike. Against all expectations of human decency, however, it appears that Abdelhamid felt “severely troubled” and “threatened” only because all of the above became suddenly exposed.

The article, which initially dismissed the information in the posters as false, has since been edited and appended this notable correction at the bottom: “An earlier version of this article misattributed the New York Times article and stated that Anwar al-Awlaki was not president of an MSA chapter. He was, at Colorado State.” One might think that would change the entire narrative. It didn’t.

AU_Awlaki_600.jpg
Ntebo Mokuena, president of the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, who personally took down some of the posters while being escorted by the campus police, also made similar statements, claiming that some of the local students “offered to walk with Muslim students who did not feel safe traveling alone.”

No word on whether Jewish students have ever been offered the same aid and comfort during the anti-Semitic events that the MSI and SJP regularly hold on the same American University campus.

Laith Shakir, treasurer of AU’s SJP chapter, posted the pictures of the posters on Facebook, saying that they “spew Islamaphobic hate speech” and that he is glad a Public Safety officer “is currently patrolling the campus, finding and documenting these posters they’ve identified as inflammatory and hateful.”

“Not only is all of the information presented here categorically false,” writes Shakir, “it also propagates an exhausted talking point: if you are (or even just look) Muslim, and you’re involved in campus organization, you must also be involved in a terrorist group. Thus, Muslims and people who ‘look Arab’ are inextricably linked to violent extremism. The promoted hashtag [StopTheJihadOnCampus] isn’t trying to just “stop the jihad” (which, itself, is a nonsensical phrase); instead, it’s trying to eradicate anyone who could conceivably be labeled as Arab or Muslim from organizing on campus.”

AU_MSI_600.jpg
One might think that at a time when unhinged Islamic terrorism is making everyone in America and around the world feel “unsafe,” reasonable Muslim individuals with a conscience, a modicum of decency, and respect for their host country would pause, step back, and abstain from “organizing” anything except the opposition to such terrorism.

One might also think that “organizing” against international Islamic terrorism would take priority over all other “organizing” for any morally upright Muslim activist who claims that “terrorism gives Islam a bad name.”

What should one then make of those Muslim activists who, instead, jump into action and promote their religion by capitalizing on public fears, panic, and confusion, thus riding the tidal wave of terrorism to which they claim they have no connection, while declaring themselves to be the “victims” and complaining about “feeling unsafe”?

An unbiased observer would probably tell them to calm down and get off that wave. That would certainly help you stop feeling “unsafe.” That would also help you stop looking like a lout without a trace of conscience, reason, decency, and respect for your host country.

UCLA_BDS_600.jpg

RELATED ARTICLES:

Muslim Brotherhood-linked student group rallies not against jihad terror, but against “Islamophobia”

Global Jihad? Never Heard of It: UC Berkeley’s Bazian Still Hyping ‘Islamophobia’

CNN Erases Israel

EDITORS NOTE: This column was originally posted on The Peoples Cube.

The Legacy of Arne Duncan, Common Core and So Much More: College (Part 2)

As noted in my last post, outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has done his part to transform America through K-12 education.  This has happened through Common Core and by expanding the Department’s reach into younger and older cohorts.  Duncan got the promise for an additional $1 billion for preschool education.  As the Chronicle of Higher Education noted, Duncan is also leaving a “big imprint” on higher education.  His legacy is one of “innovation and regulation.”  College is put into a seamless web of K-16, or P-20, with an unprecedented federal role in admissions, placement, assessment, and financing.

The Chronicle notes that Duncan has deviated from the standard practice of Democratic secretaries who have just doled out money.  He has been “personally upbraid[ing] colleges over rising prices and low graduation rates, their handling of cases of sexual assault, their lax academic standards for athletes . . . , and their resistance to greater oversight.” Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, has become disillusioned with Duncan’s “top-down approach.” Institutions, like Yale University, get nervous about the Department’s investigations of “sexually hostile environments.”

The nonprofits, like the Lumina Foundation, that have been funding Common Core, however, give a positive assessment. Jamie Merisotis, President and Chief Executive, praises Duncan’s “strong leadership” in putting our higher-education system “a step closer to reflecting the needs of today’s increasingly diverse college students — and the changing meaning of ‘college’ to include all types of postsecondary learning.”  Competency-based programs that “measure learning” through demonstration of a skill set are among his many “innovations.”  Inside Higher Education calls it “new delivery model with the potential to improve degree completion, reduce costs to students, and improve transparency and alignment of learning outcomes to the needs of employers and society.”

Currently, over 600 colleges are designing, creating, or already have competency-based education programs. This number has grown from 52 last year. As with Common Core, it is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with “guidance” from the U.S. Department of Education.

The notion of “competency” changes the fundamental notion of education, taking it from learning for its own sake, with a knowledgeable, independent citizenry as an outcome, to producing workers with skill sets.  Colleges that have agreed to align financial aid to such tests have ceded their own power.

Funny, Arne Duncan, when he spoke at the 2013 meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA) and promised a “sea-change” in assessments for K-12 students, included “competency-based education,” as well as “non-cognitive skills.”  Others at that AERA meeting of academics and researchers working at universities, federal and state agencies, school systems, test companies, and non-profit agencies were Linda Darling-Hammond, who oversaw the development of the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) tests, one of the two Common Core tests, and her close colleague, Bill Ayers.

Many colleges are following the Department of Education in emphasizing non-cognitive, “social and emotional learning” skills.  Seventeen colleges have received funds from the Department’s “First in the World” grants to identify and help at-risk students through the aid of a tool called Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills to measure such emotional attributes as “grit.”

Colleges have been targeted strategically.  Jacqueline King, director of Higher Collaboration at SBAC, has been working to “create greater academic alignment between K-12 and higher education.”  Common Core tests are determining placement in college courses.  In 2014, college faculty in Tennessee attended workshops to learn how to “synch up with Common Core,” in effect to teach grade 13.

I reported that the Department of Education had funded the 2013 working paper, “The Common Core State Standards: Implications for Community Colleges and Student Preparedness for College.”   It described the “Core to College” program in ten states: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington.  Core to College is funded by the Lumina, the William and Flora Hewlett, the Bill and Melinda Gates, and other foundations.  Their report, “Making Good on the College-Ready Promise and Higher Education Engagement Core to College Alignment Director Convening, August 1-2, 2012,” provides a record of discussions by “alignment directors” and guest speakers on teaching “a new type of student, more prepared for college-level, discipline-specific work.”  (As a former college instructor I am skeptical: having “more prepared” students meant an easier time in teaching them—not the need for special workshops.)

The ten states are to serve as “bellwethers and models for the rest of the country.”  Among the strategies, directors suggested more data, outreach to other “stakeholders” and private colleges, and more meetings.  They are also looking beyond “the English and Math Departments” that receive Common Core-certified students.  Speakers proposed “engaging faculty in other disciplines that could be touched by Common Core implementation, such as history or the social sciences.”

WestEd, a major Common Core funder, is evaluating the initiative.

The push for new assessments (especially at community colleges) has been quickly followed by calls for free community college.  In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama cited Tennessee’s still-developing program as a model.  The American Association of Community Colleges welcomed the proposal.  This year, on September 9, Obama announced that the “College Promise Campaign” would be chaired by Second Lady Jill Biden.  AACC President Walter Bumphus and Trustee President J. Noah Brown will serve on the National Advisory Board.

Democratic front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, pushed free college in their first presidential debate on October 13, 2015.

To top it off, the federal government is providing a college “scorecard.”  Of course, those who continue to refuse federal aid, like Grove City College and Hillsdale College, will continue to be left off.

Students at these colleges will also find themselves at an increasing financial disadvantage. One of Obama’s first orders of business was to make the federal government the bank for student loans.  This “bank” practices “loan forgiveness,” by graduating payment to income and providing complete forgiveness through work in government jobs, such as in public schools or at Americorps, the federal agency.  Indiana University law professor Sheila Seuss Kennedy and Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce manager Matt Impink enthused about such a “tour of duty” that sounds like the “civilian corps” Obama put forth at the beginning of his presidency.

We are well on our way.  With schools producing graduates with competencies “align[ed] to the needs of employers and society,” and with Common Core spitting out high school graduates “college and career ready,” we will no longer worry about higher learning.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research website. The featured image is of President Obama announcing free community college with Vice President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden.

#Take Back Our Kids

Our nineteen fifty something station-wagon was loaded with Mom, Dad, big fat Aunt Nee (300 lbs ), myself and four younger siblings. Aunt Nee raised my Dad; his surrogate Mom. Our family was excited about spending a hot summer day at Carr’s Beach, Maryland. I had no idea at that time that it was the only Maryland beach open to blacks.

Before hitting the road to the beach, the ritual included riding from our black suburban community into Baltimore city to pick up Aunt Nee and stopping down “Jew Town” to purchase corned-beef and a bread that the adults loved. I did not get a sense that my parents calling it Jew Town was meant in a derogatory way. It was simply an area of Baltimore filled with Jewish businesses that sold great food.

As a matter of fact, most of the corner stores in black neighborhoods were owned by Jews. Blacks purchased items without cash, put on their account. Store owners would log items in their book; no bulletproof wall and turn-style between the Jewish store owners and their black customers.

We always had a wonderful time at the beach and rode home exhausted. Dad’s car was not air conditioned. Looking back, I wonder how on earth did we endure; three adults, five kids, food and beach supplies stuffed in a hot station-wagon. And yet, all my memories of family days at the beach bring a warm smile to my face.

Mom was a great cook. Two of mom’s weekday dinner menus stick out as favorites. One was mom’s hot homemade biscuits with butter and King Syrup. The other was collard greens with cornbread dumplings. We kids were clueless about the economic component surrounding these meals. We simply enjoyed them, never feeling deprived.

Wednesday nights were prayer service at the storefront church in Baltimore city where dad was assistant pastor. On the way home, there was a corner bakery right before we crossed over the Hanover Street bridge. Whenever dad unexpectedly pulled over to purchase a dozen donuts, it was an exciting family treat.

As the eldest, I remember my parent’s lean years more than my siblings. One Christmas, I was extremely excited receiving a secondhand bicycle. Years later, Santa delivered new bikes for my younger brothers and sister.

Dad was among Baltimore City’s first black firefighters and mom worked part-time as a custodian at a high school and a domestic for white folks.

My point is we did not have what kids have today. And yet, we enjoyed the little things. We did not feel deprived. Mom and dad always found a way to get us whatever we needed. I remember wearing my new suit for 6th grade graduation looking at my friend Martin wearing a suit a few sizes too small. My three brothers, sister and I were happy.

The Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). While my siblings and I had our individual periods of rebellion, like the prodigal son, we defaulted back to our home training; our parent’s principles and values.

Today, the Left is aggressively usurping authority over your kids, ripping parenting out of your hands.

Decades of allowing liberal indoctrination to go unchallenged has produced a generation of youths who believe in the name of “fairness” that no one should have more than anyone else (income inequality). Needs and desires are now declared to be rights (government entitlements). In our quest to prove our tolerance as conservatives, we allowed the Left to steal our kid’s minds.

Youths are idealistic. Once liberalized guilt-ridden youths are led down the road of trying to make life fair, the consequences are far reaching. For example: Pressure from students is forcing colleges to make all campus restrooms “all gender”. An Oregon High School created gender-neutral restrooms for transgender students.

In case you have not noticed, the Left has zero tolerance for anyone daring to disagree with their far left radical liberal agenda. They punish and even seek to criminalize opposing points of view. How long will it be before our kids are reporting their parents to authorities after overhearing them express an opinion out-of-step with that of the Left, government and the mainstream media?

Folks, it is time that we take back our kids from Leftist’s indoctrination.

Though “#Bring Back Our Girls” won rave reviews from liberals, sadly, it did nothing to free the 200 girls kidnapped and made sex slaves by Islamic extremists. A year later, the girls have not been returned.

I wish to implement, #Take Back Our Kids. I am calling all parents to closely monitor their local school administrators and school boards, confronting them when necessary. Home schooling is a great option. We can no longer sit back and passively allow the Left to totally control the thinking and beliefs of our kids. We must #Take Back Our Kids.

The Brownshirts Are Back — And They’re In Our Universities!

Over at PJ Media, I ask why we must keep repeating the mistakes of history.

It is not news that virtually all American universities are decidedly leftist institutions. Few Americans, however, are aware of how inhospitable they have become to free inquiry and free discourse, and how hostile they are to anyone who stands up for Western values and against the global jihad – as some recent developments illustrate.

What is happening in American universities today has a clear historical parallel.

In his seminal history The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, the universities became centers of Nazi indoctrination in which students collaborated with stormtroopers (brownshirts) to terrorize dissenters:

It was above all the students who drove forward the co-ordination process in the universities. They organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers, staged mass disruptions of their lectures and led detachments of stormtroopers in house-searches and raids.

Let’s take those one by one.

1. “It was above all the students who drove forward the co-ordination process in the universities.”

At Eastern Michigan University last Friday, two showings of the film American Sniperwere scheduled. But during the first, four Muslim students, Ahmed Abbas, Layali Alsadah, Jenna Hamed, and Sabreen Dari, climbed onto the stage and began to denounce the film, which many Islamic supremacists have complained is “Islamophobic” because it depicts Islamic jihad terrorists in a realistic manner. They were briefly arrested, but managed to get the second showing canceled.

Student Body President Desmond Miller offered some airy double talk:

“The conversation we had wanted to make sure student safety was at the forefront. We wanted to make sure whatever happens, students would be safe. The second part of it, which is actually just as important as the first part, was making sure we have a very serious dialogue about the movie and the propaganda associated with this movie.”

Sure, let’s have a “serious dialogue” about the movie while not showing the movie in question.

2. “They organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers…”

There are precious few professors that today’s new brownshirts would care to campaign against, so they turn their fire toward campus speakers. David Horowitz spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last Monday, whereupon Manzoor Cheema, “Co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice,” wrote a letter to the campus newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, saying that it was “distressing” that Horowitz had spoken, and “especially distressing in the wake of Chapel Hill tragedy where three Muslim youth were murdered.”

Did Horowitz applaud or condone the murder of those students? Of course not. Were they even murdered because they were Muslim? No.

But Cheema wasn’t going to let facts get in the way of his defamation; he added:

“Horowitz has supported work of such virulent Islamophobes as Robert Spencer, who was cited 162 times by the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik.”

Do I call for mass murder, or any kind of crime? I do not. Am I any more responsible for this psychopath’s murders than the Beatles are for the murders of Charles Manson? Even less so, for Manson claimed to have gotten his orders to kill from Beatles songs, while Breivik never says that he was inspired to kill by anything I wrote, and he wasn’t.

Cheema, however, doesn’t care to discuss these matters rationally, and doesn’t want his readers to do so, either. He just wants to sling enough mud at Horowitz that such invitations will not be extended again to those who deviate from the politically correct line.

The same day, the Daily Tar Heel ran two other letters denouncing Horowitz, and (of course) none supporting him.

3. “…staged mass disruptions of their lectures…”

Here again, it would be hard to find a professor that today’s Nazi thugs would want to silence, so they do it to campus speakers. Here (and embedded above) is video of me trying to speak at Temple University in April 2012.

Such occurrences are rare, however, because it is rare that a speaker with views that run counter to those of these glassy-eyed, indoctrinated cultists gets invited to speak at a university at all. And if one is invited, then the Leftist/Islamic supremacist machine kicks into gear to suppress the forbidden ideas. When he learned that my colleague Pamela Geller was invited to speak at Brooklyn College, Ibrahim Hooper of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fired off an email to four Brooklyn College officials, with the subject line “Is Brooklyn College Really Hosting the Nation’s Leading Islamophobe?”

Later, with a sneer of cold command, he followed up with another…

Read the rest here.

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Save Money with Adjunct Professors, Spend It on Bureaucrats

Jordan Schneider, like many part-time college instructors, teaches on two community college campuses in order to cobble together a living. He earns a paltry $21,000 per year with no benefits for teaching a larger-than-normal load of four courses per semester. Non-tenure track full-time professors earn $47,000. Established professors’ salaries have remained flat, at between $60,000 and $100,000. As a former instructor of English at Georgia Perimeter College and elsewhere, these figures, from the 2014 Delta Cost Project, sound right.

In “Letter to Full-Time Faculty Members,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Schneider deviates from the typical call for redress through unionization, and appeals to full-time colleagues’ self-interests by arguing that a class of “super adjuncts,” paid more than regular adjuncts but less than full-time faculty ($20,000 to $25,000 per term with benefits), with some of the duties and voting privileges of full-time faculty, would take away administrators’ “trump cards”: the threat of replacing full-timers with cheap adjuncts, who, along with teaching assistants, now account for half of instructional staff (up from one-third in 1987).

But the number of full-time professors on short-term contracts (like “super adjuncts”) has already increased, by 30 to 50 percent between 2004 and 2012.

Goodbye, Full-Time Faculty

In spite of increasing reliance on contingent faculty, higher education costs tripled between 1975 and 2005. Tuition at public four-year colleges and universities increased nearly 160 percent between 1990 and 2012. At private bachelor’s institutions it has almost doubled since 1987. Yet, the proportion of all employees who were full-time faculty has declined 5 to 7 percent at four-year colleges and 16 percent at community colleges between 2000 and 2012.

While students have less access to faculty members, especially full-time faculty members, they are paying for the services of administrators and their professional staffs. Since 1987, this number has more than doubled and increased at a rate twice as fast as the growth in the number of students.

The Delta report states that there is “no single smoking gun” to explain such growth in administration.

Why So Many Administrators?

Huffington Post’s Jon Marcus cannot pin down the reasons either, claiming more resources are being devoted to such things as marketing, diversity, sustainability, security, athletic programs, and conference centers. He quotes Dan King, president of the American Association of University Administrators, who claims that government regulations and demands for such services as remedial help and counseling are responsible. Yet, graduation rates of students at four-year bachelor’s institutions have barely inched up, from 55 percent to 58 percent since 2002.

Political science professor Benjamin Ginsberg seems to have a good diagnosis. In his 2011 Washington Monthly article, “Administrators Ate My Tuition” he noted that well-paid professional bureaucrats have taken over duties once handled by faculty members on a temporary, part-time basis. Unlike faculty members, their motivation is not academic improvement, but growing the bureaucracy, with make-work projects developed at far-away conferences and retreats.

Goodbye to Real Instruction

This is evidenced by the questionable academic value of many of the initiatives coming out of their offices. In fact, many of the programs substitute for real academic instruction. More and more money is spent on diversity, social justice, and sustainability initiatives at the expense of real teaching.

The students who can least afford such diversions, those attending community colleges, are seeing the largest shift from funding for teaching to administrative programs.

I saw this happening at Georgia Perimeter College where I was a part-time instructor from 2007 to 2010. As we were being asked to squeeze several more students into our classes (that were maxed out at 22) for the same $2100 per class, college president Anthony Tricoli was rallying faculty to embrace civic learning.

Around the same time, 2009, the federal government put out the 136-page report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, for which Tricoli served as a roundtable member. The college’s Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement & Learning was one of about 100 participating organizations that included campuses, non-profits, and government agencies. However, real “civic learning” is the farthest from the report’s objectives.

Model centers, such as at the University of Maryland and Salt Lake Community College, show students working in soup kitchens, reading to school children, and cleaning up nature trails. Organizations such as Campus Compact (which GPC joined) and the Association of American Colleges & Universities (the lead writer of A Crucible Moment) provide direction. One instructional ASC&U video shows a statistics professor “collaborating” with an “anti-poverty” representative on a lesson publicizing free tax preparation services in target zip codes for Earned Income Tax Credits. (If there is any doubt about the agenda, a “social justice” sign appears prominently.) Instead of formal essays or research papers, students write “reflection papers.”

At my college, the associate vice president for civic engagement and service learning, attorney Deborah Gonzalez, made $104,000 for offering “infrastructure and resources, to share best practices and technical assistance . . . , to [help faculty] implement initiatives to help their students engage in their communities, both locally and globally”—all while presumably helping students strengthen their “academic goals and objectives.” In response to her call for courses with a “Civic-engagement or Service-learning component,” a colleague shared having students serve as docents at the Margaret Mitchell House. I failed to see how such activities, whether “global” or ushering at a local historic site, would help students struggling with grammar.

The grand new Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning opened in 2010 with much fanfare and a keynote address by former President Jimmy Carter. The program listed a good number of individuals drawing salaries or partial salaries for their efforts: the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Executive Director, the Service-Learning Coordinator, the Administrative Secretary, and eleven faculty members.

In 2012, however, Tricoli was forced to resign over a $25 million budget deficit; he is now suing, charging conspiracy to ruin his reputation. I don’t know what percentage the civic engagement initiative represented, but such programs are not cheap.

Rather than pleading for part of the increasingly smaller portion of budgets allocated to academic instruction, it seems that Schneider and others ought to be demanding the ouster of bureaucrats and the restoration of higher education to its rightful purpose.

Five Lessons K–12 Can Learn from Higher Ed by Jenna Robinson

Colleges aren’t perfect, but they can be instructive for the public schools.

U.S. colleges and universities don’t get everything right. On the whole, they’re overpriced, operationally hidebound, and ideologically stagnant. Despite those problems, American higher education does some things very well—well enough that students from around the world still choose to come to the United States to get advanced degrees.

Primary and secondary schools could learn a lot by taking a close look at some of the best practices in higher education. The underlying difference is that higher education behaves more like a free market, where individual choices and actions determine the outcome.

Here are five things that universities gets right:

1.  Students learn at their own pace. When a student gets to college or university, she arrives with a cohort of other students. They’re mostly the same age, and they’ll probably all take English 101 within their first year on campus. But that’s where the class structure ends. After English 101, students all go their own ways, taking classes to suit their particular talents and interests. Entrance exams mean that students enroll in the math or foreign language courses commensurate with their skills. And if a student flunks differential equations or organic chemistry, he doesn’t have to be held back a whole year. He moves on with the rest of his courses while he retakes the one problem class. There are even classes like “economics for non-majors” that allow students to explore a subject without taking difficult prerequisites or learning complicated methodology.

In K–12, students advance in lockstep with their peers. Students must learn all subjects at the same speed. Special talent in math or language doesn’t result in early promotion to the next level. Until students reach late middle school or early high school, they are expected to learn at exactly the same rate as their peers. And adherence to social promotion (which is allowed in half of U.S. states) means that all students advance from one grade to the next, regardless of achievement. This practice occurs despite the evidence that retaining students who fail their courses generates better outcomes for those students.

2.  Students and parents have skin in the game. Paying tuition affects parents’ and students’ behavior in two ways. First, they shop around for the best deal—not necessarily the cheapest school, but the school at which they can get the most bang for their buck. Second, paying tuition motivates students to care about their educational success (or lack thereof). No one wants to see their hard-earned dollars go down the drain—and scholars have found that this is true for money spent on higher education, particularly as a student approaches graduation. Loans, savings, and money earned from working are better motivators for students to stay in school than scholarships or grants.

If students fail their elementary school courses, they don’t have any financial stake in that failure—at least, not until very far in the future. And parents can’t easily make comparisons to tell whether they’re getting any bang for their buck. Thus, they don’t have strong incentives to hold schools and teachers accountable. More importantly, parents who send their children to public schools can’t take their education dollars elsewhere. Even if one student leaves, the school district will quickly fill her spot with someone else.

3.  Professors are required to have degrees in their field. Community college and university departments only hire professors and lecturers with degrees in the subjects they teach. Professors teaching Introduction to American Government at State U. can be expected to have a Ph.D. in political science—probably with a concentration in American politics. They also research in that same field, keeping abreast of the latest scholarship on their topic. Professors are experts in their own discipline when they enter a classroom to teach undergraduates.

In K–12 schools, many teachers have degrees in education and have spent more time studying pedagogy than the subject they teach. In many states, teachers are even rewarded with raises for getting advanced degrees—regardless of whether that degree is in their field. But the success of programs like Teach for America makes it clear that an education degree can’t substitute for good subject knowledge.

4.  Students can attend any school for which they’re qualified. College students aren’t “zoned” for particular schools. Even public colleges and universities don’t limit applications to students from certain area codes (although they often cap out-of-state enrollment). This system means that every student who chooses to go to college must weigh the costs and benefits of each option and make a decision about where to apply and attend; they cannot simply rely on a default option. Because students can choose where to attend, colleges compete to offer students what they want: good graduation rates, tuition discounts, face time with professors, and opportunities for extracurricular activities. The importance of U.S. News and World Report’s yearly college rankings is a testament to the power of education consumers’ choices.

In stark contrast, a large majority of students in most public school districts simply attend the school for which they’re zoned, and few students consider charter, private, or home-school options.

5.  Professors are paid as individuals, not as a collective. University professors in demanding fields, with unique or extraordinary talent, or with impressive resumes are paid more. Thus, the mean salary for a professor of engineering is $117,911 annually, while a history professor earns $82,944. Instructors, who do no research, earn less than tenure-track professors, who are expected to publish. Moreover, professors are evaluated on their merits when they are up for tenure. How many journal articles have they published? How good (or bad) are their student evaluations? Have they performed any administrative, advising, or outreach work to the satisfaction of the committee? University teachers receive no credit for simply sticking around for a requisite amount of time.

In K–12 public schools, however, “longevity pay” accrues to all teachers who continue to show up. Schools award tenure, in most cases, simply for teaching for a certain number of years without getting negative reviews. Most tellingly, teacher pay is rarely based on individual merit. Teachers receive raises en masse, sometimes for school performance and sometimes just because it’s a good budget year.

Higher education is by no means perfect. But by allowing some market processes, it has avoided the worst failures of the public school system. Politicians and K–12 educators should take heed.

ABOUT JENNA ROBINSON

Jenna Robinson is director of outreach at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.