April 2015

What’s Going On On College Campuses?

Who would have thought, only a few years ago, that our basic First Amendment right of free speech would be under attack on college campuses (of all places!)? But those are now ordinary campus events.

Progressives want to shield college students from what are called “scary ideas.” They are not referring to Halloween pranks or costumes, or to historic wartime episodes of bitter fighting; the new buzz words are “trigger warnings,” “outgrowths of fragility,” or “sexual paranoia.”

Professors talk about the need to overturn the “privilege theory.” Anyone who can’t claim to belong to an oppressed group must be unfairly advantaged by unearned “privilege.”

A whole new vocabulary has come into collegians’ lingo. Students claim they suffer from “microaggressions,” a word defined as the use of a verbal expression or any customary social norm of behavior to which somebody might take offense or feel threatened.

Everyone is subject to having his ordinary conversation or acts construed as secretly or inadvertently using racism, sexism or heterosexism. Everyday slights or indignities, verbal or behavioral, are assumed to be giving offense.

Some students gripe about hostile classroom environments, which the Left usually attributes to “white privilege” and other forms of institutionalized oppression. Students are even offended by professors correcting their papers and exams because corrections allegedly deride their intellectual capacity and harm their psycho-physiological health.

Another trendy phrase among college students is the claim that they need “safe spaces” where their feelings can’t be hurt. The safe place at Brown University, for example, was equipped with cookies, coloring books, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, a video of frolicking puppies, plus staff trained to deal with trauma.

The need for “safe spaces” was invented by the feminist movement (whose leaders always portray themselves as oppressed victims of the patriarchy). This silly expression is now used by the LGBT community on its posters, postcards, and signs.

“Safe places” are designed to shield students from being “bombarded” with upsetting opinions. For example, if a class discusses the “rape culture,” the college should provide a “safe space” for students who find some comments “troubling” or even (the new buzz word) “triggering.”

At Reed College in Portland, Oregon, freshman Jeremiah True was banned from participating in class discussion after he challenged the concept of “rape culture” and questioned the widely used statistic that one in five college women is sexually assaulted. The 19-year-old student was accused of “placing too much emphasis on men being unfairly charged with rape,” which was “deeply upsetting” to other students and “retraumatized and triggered survivors.”

Funny thing, I haven’t heard of any safe places reserved for those who are offended by anti-American, anti-Christian, or even anti-religion talk. Where is the safe place reserved for the University of California, Irvine students who were upset when dozens of leftist professors signed a letter supporting banning the American flag on campus?

The professors’ letter stated that “nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia” and referred to the American flag as “paraphernalia of nationalism . . . used to intimidate.” Rather than banning the flag, the university could have designated a “safe place” for any students who feel “intimidated” by the mere sight of the American flag.

At Cornell University, an assistant dean of students said he would welcome a pro-ISIS group on campus, even if it wanted to conduct a training camp for students or ship care packages to the Middle East. But at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, the Christian fraternity Chi Alpha and its Stanislaus Christian Fellowship were barred from campus for “discrimination” because their leadership positions were reserved for professing Christians.

And what about the students at Pine Bush High School in New York State where, during the regularly scheduled morning announcements, the speaker read the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic? This event exploded into a raging controversy that divided the school into angry factions, even though the principal came on the loudspeaker to apologize.

National Review has blown the whistle on who really does enjoy “privilege” in America. This useful article shows that the most valuable “privilege” is not “white privilege” nor even “wealth privilege,” but is the “marriage privilege,” i.e., the advantage of growing up in a home with a mother and father who are married to each other.

Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution also found that only 19 percent of the kids in the lowest economic quintile remain stuck at the bottom of the economic pile if they are born to parents who are married and stay married. This marriage privilege works for the middle class, too.

Harvard Professor of Economics Raj Chetty is another scholar who has noted the significance of the marriage privilege, but he added another dimension: the neighborhood where the kid lives. “Once we control for the fraction of single parents in an area, we find no correlation between racial shares and upward mobility.”

These conclusions were confirmed by the late William Raspberry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist. He expressed little tolerance for those who blame black problems on poverty, crime or even racism when, he wrote, the chief cause is the failure of marriage and the absence of fathers.

New Math on Campus

The New York Times published a provocative news story called “The New Math on Campus.” Alas, it’s not about the obvious failure of Common Core to teach arithmetic; it’s about the changing ratio of males to females on most college campuses.

Long ago when I went to college, campuses were about 70 percent male, and until 1970 it was still nearly 60 percent. Today, however, the male percentage has fallen to the low 40s on many campuses.

The American Council on Education reports that women have averaged 57 percent of enrollments since the year 2000. Women received nearly 60 percent of all college degrees conferred in 2010. This has dramatically changed social relationships and interactions among students. Neither girls nor boys appear to like this change, but nobody knows what to do about it. Few are even willing to discuss it.

One female student described the new relationship between the sexes like this. “Out of that 40 percent male population, there are maybe 20 percent we would consider dating, and out of those 20 percent, 10 have girlfriends, so all the girls are fighting over that other 10 percent.”

Anybody who understands human nature realizes that this situation changes behavior and male-female relationships. Girls do not want to get left out in the cold, so they compete for men on men’s terms. This results in more casual hook-ups that are dead-end encounters with no future, no real romance, and no prospect of marriage. A psychology professor described this bluntly: “When men have the social power, they create a man’s idea of relationships: more partners, more sex, no commitment.”

One mom of a Princeton University student caused an uproar last year with a Valentine’s Day opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. She warned female undergraduates that they should find a husband before they finish college “since they will never again have a deep pool of qualified potential marriage possibilities.” She was blunt about her advice: she urged young women to “to invest 75 percent of their energy in finding a partner and 25 percent on professional development.” She claimed her advice is scientifically based: “Work will wait. Your fertility won’t.”

That advice is completely contrary to what is taught in women’s studies courses. Feminist professors tell young women to devote themselves first and foremost to building a professional career and not to think about marriage until they are well established and over age 30. Reports from fertility clinics tell us that their patients complain that no one ever told them it might be difficult to get pregnant after they are over age 30.

What About Academic Grades?

Colleges claim they grant admissions based on academic merit, and girls come out of high school with better grades than boys. But that doesn’t always mean they are smarter or more capable of doing college work or more likely to succeed after graduation.

Boys do far better on average than girls on the SAT test for mathematics, which means that boys are better prepared than girls for STEM majors in college. This has been true every year for more than 40 years.

Nearly twice as many boys as girls attain very high scores on the Math SAT, with an immense difference at the high end. But the job market for STEM graduates is not as attractive as it used to be, due to corporations’ preference for hiring lower-paid, easy-to-control foreigners on H-1B visas. Many smart American guys decide that the high cost of an engineering degree is not worth it.

A shocking 46 percent of recent college graduates work in jobs that do not require any college degree. Boys are more likely than girls to look at the cost-benefit tradeoff of going to college. The imbalance of so many more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years.

So, what’s the solution? One solution might be to impose the duty on admissions officers to arbitrarily admit only half women and half men. Another solution might be to stop granting college loans, thereby forcing students to take jobs to pay for their tuition and eliminate time for parties, perhaps even wiping out time for fraternities and sororities.

I went through college while working a 48-hour-a-week manual-labor job and I don’t regret a minute of it; it was a great learning experience. I received nearly all A’s (long before the phenomenon of grade inflation) because I devoted 100 percent of my available time to studying for the courses I was taking.

Another solution would be to reinstate all the men’s sports that have been cancelled by an extremist feminist application of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination against female students. The federal law called Title IX was passed only to assure that females are not discriminated against in schools and colleges, but the feminists in the Carter Administration invented a new Title IX requirement called “proportionality,” a word they took from a dictionary, not from any law.

Proportionality became a feminist tool to require that the proportion of women on college sports teams must equal the percentage of women in the student body. Now that many colleges are up to 60 percent female, it’s easy to see what has happened to men’s athletic teams.

The feminists have abolished more than 2,200 men’s college sports teams since 1981, such as wrestling, gymnastics, track, golf, and even some football, in order to limit the number of male players to conform to Title IX guidelines. That removes a primary motivation for young men to go to college, many of whom want to try out for a sport even if they are not good enough to make the team.

Rewriting American History

American history is such a wonderful success story, with noble goals, valiant heroes, exciting adventures, fantastic achievements against all odds, and a truly unique success in building the freest and most prosperous country in the world. It’s a story that should inspire and motivate the younger generations, making them proud of the exceptional nation our forefathers founded, and inspire them to be ready to defend it against all enemies.

A committee of leftwing historians is attempting to revise how American history will be taught to our young people, and it’s important for us to know what this new history is teaching our kids and what it is not teaching, which is just as important. The AP U.S. American History Framework was issued under the authority of David Coleman, who is now president of the College Board and is recognized as the “architect” of the Common Core standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The American public ought to be able to go on the internet and read for ourselves what is being taught, but the new American History denies that it is a curriculum, claiming that it merely provides the “Framework” for local teachers to fill in details. But the College Board does prescribe the test that kids must pass in order to graduate and become college-ready, and that is what sets the boundaries of what kids will be taught and not taught.

The U.S. History Framework has structured history to feature America’s mistakes, failures and embarrassments instead of our fabulous successes in building the most exceptional country in the history of the world. It even appears that the Left is trying to make students ashamed of much of our history.

The scholars Stanley Kurtz and Larry Krieger have written important critiques of the new Framework for American history, as reflected in the test students will be expected to pass in order to win access to college. Here are some of their findings:

  • The Framework tries to teach American history through the eyes of our enemies. Our kids are led to believe that our nation was engaged in “the pursuit of empire” and dominion over others. The centerpiece of our early history is described as our alleged mistreatment of the American Indians; we are told we should be blamed for all sorts of oppression and racism against the Indians.
  • The Framework’s brief mention of the Monroe Doctrine, for example, teaches the falsehood that it represents America’s alleged attempt to seek dominance over the North American continent.
  • The Framework ignores the religious basis of the Founders, and the large part that their Christian faith played in their dangerous trip across the Atlantic and their early trials and tribulations.
  • The Framework ignores our tremendous success in establishing a constitutional government and replaces that with a left-leaning emphasis on race, gender, class, and ethnicity. According to Stanley Kurtz, “James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders are largely left out of the new test unless they are presented as examples of conflict and identity by class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.”

Kurtz charges that the new AP U.S. History exam is an attempt to federalize all U.S. K-12 education and, at the same time, shift its content sharply to the left.

One sample exam was released to certified AP U.S. History teachers, who were solemnly warned not to disclose the contents to anyone and warned that, if they did, they would be stripped of their AP teaching privileges and be hit with other penalties.

This new U.S. History Framework indoctrinates our kids with a negative view of America’s past. Instead of explaining that the early Americans rejected a monarchy (which was the pattern of government from which nearly all the early settlers came) and established a “we the people” form of government, the Framework emphasizes that colonial America gave us a “rigid racial hierarchy” and a “belief in British racial and cultural superiority.”

The history of George Washington, the most important man in American history, is limited to a brief sentence from his Farewell Address. The Framework emphasizes negative events while ignoring Washington’s positive achievements and extraordinary leadership. It also makes short shrift of Abraham Lincoln, even omitting the Gettysburg Address. The Framework completely excludes American military history, omitting discussion of our battles and wartime heroes.

Scholar Stanley Kurtz analyzes the Common Core U.S. History Framework as “closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians” that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. Their goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative.

  • The Framework includes little or no discussion of the Founding Fathers and the religious influences on their lives and on our nation’s history.
  • The Framework ignores all Revolutionary War battles and commanders and ignores military history throughout our history from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.
  • The Framework deals with the Declaration of Independence and the principles it so eloquently expresses with just one phrase in one sentence.

What About Common Core Math?

Those who think that Common Core is going to make your kids smarter should read an article written by one of America’s most distinguished mathematics professors at the University of California, Berkeley, Marina Ratner, and published in the Wall Street Journal (8-6-14):

“The most astounding statement I have read is the claim that Common Core standards are ‘internationally benchmarked.’ They are not. Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries. . . . For California, the adoption of the Common Core standards represents a huge step backward which puts an end to its hard-won standing as having the top math standards in the nation. The Common Core standards will move the U.S. even closer to the bottom in international ranking. . .

“Simple concepts are made artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper, while the actual content taught was primitive.”
Republican Resolution

One group that has figured out what’s wrong with Common Core is the Republican National Committee. It passed a strong and well-written resolution which displays a keen understanding of why the AP U.S. History Framework is bad news for our school kids. Here are some excerpts:

Whereas, almost 500,000 U.S. students take the College Board’s AP U.S. History (APUSH) course each year; . . .

Whereas, the new APUSH Framework reflects a radically revisionist view of American History that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects, . . .

Whereas, the Framework includes little or no discussion of the Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the religious influences on our nation’s history, . . .

Resolved, the Republican National Committee strongly recommends that the College Board delay the implementation of the new APUSH Framework for at least a year, . . . and that a committee be convened to draft an APUSH Framework that is consistent with . . . the desires of U.S. parents and other citizens for their students to learn the true history of their country.

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