May 13, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Public Education as a Weapon to Subvert and Transform: Frankenstein’s Monster Reborn in the Classroom
On May 16, 2018, as many as 10,000 North Carolina teachers will “take sick leave” from dozens and dozens of schools across the Tar Heel State to come to Raleigh to demonstrate for higher salaries and other benefits. It is the same day that the General Assembly, which has major oversight of those salaries, will re-convene for its “short session.”
I don’t know anyone who would begrudge a good and dedicated teacher a salary increase or better benefits. Indeed, the teaching profession traditionally has been considered akin to the ministry and priesthood or law-enforcement as an honorable and valued calling—something essential to the very progress of any society, without which a culture cannot succeed and cannot pass on its collected wisdom, its insights, its learning, and its understanding of its heritage. Educators—teachers—have been rightly seen as pivotal in this critical process: from the assemblies in the ancient Greek stoa and the rabbinic schools in the temples of Israel, to the great monastic traditions of Ireland and of the monk Alcuin under Charlemagne, to the first great universities in Bologna and Paris, their role has enjoyed a special, elevated status.
They were an extension, as it were, of the family, occupying a role conceded to them by the family which, by both natural law and Divine Positive Law, had the primary role of educating its offspring. Educators were, in fact, employees of the family. And just as the more wealthy and noble families were able to hire private tutors and instructors for their households, the children of less affluent families in community often took advantage of the rich plethora of religiously-oriented educational opportunities which appeared in the early Middle Ages. A major goal of the church was to provide to its students a full education, steeped in classical knowledge, in logic and mathematics, philosophy and an ability in languages, an appreciation of inherited knowledge, and an understanding of nature surrounding them…while not leaving more practical learning completely aside (thus in most religious schools, students also experienced manual work, as well).
Obviously, not all children were able to access or receive such education; it was certainly understood that apprenticeships in the trades and journeyman experience were in many ways just as critical, if not more so, to the well-functioning society and social order. Indeed, just as today, joining military service or pursuing clerical orders were seen as excellent means of acquiring an education and an important vocation (“vocation” comes from the Latin word, “vocare,” meaning “to call”).
During the 19th century a debate raged across the United States about the role of what was termed “free public education,” that is, education—schools—created by the county or city and run by the local government (with direction and support by the state), and, of course, supported by citizens (usually via taxation). In particular in Virginia a fierce debate over public education erupted in 1876 between the great Southern author and social critic Robert Lewis Dabney and Virginia’s first Superintendent of Public Instruction, William H. Ruffner. The issues and repercussions raised in those exchanges are still with us, if in modified forms. [http://www.unz.com/article/robert-lewis-dabney-and-his-attack-on-progressivism/]
Dabney’s central question remains: how is it possible to educate a child if the moral and ethical values of religion are not taught but proscribed, for did not “public education” directly imply such avoidance? Given the developing status of relations between church and state and changing constitutional interpretations, the state could not endorse one religious belief over another. Thus, Dabney observed, state-sponsored education tended to become secularized. But if education were not Christian, then it would inevitably become anti-Christian. Could education really be education if it educated “the mind without purifying the heart?” In Dabney’s view: “There can be no true education without moral culture, and no true moral culture without Christianity.” The Achilles’s Heel of state-supported public education, in addition to its assertion of state rights over parental rights in a child’s education, was its inevitable and systemic use by “demagogues, who are in power for a time, in the interests of their faction.”
Dabney and the partisans of privately-supported and family-controlled education lost that debate, practically speaking. And with the advent of social and political Progressivism in the early years of the 20th century, public education was seen as a key, in many cases, the key to the future, to better jobs, to success in life, to prosperity, in fact, to real happiness.
Nevertheless, even with the totem of “free public education” firmly fixed in the public mind as absolutely essential and its centrality in any political election program or campaign—not to mention the billions of dollars to be spent by both by local and state authorities and the Federal government—nearly every study, almost every report card on education, both K-through Grade 12 and college, indicates an inverse proportion of results to expenditures. It seems the more money we spend on what is called “education,” the worse our schools and colleges become, at least in those basic skills that the educational process is supposed to implant.
In short, we are paying much more for far less. As Professor Walter Williams writes [https://patriotpost.us/opinion/55531-educational-fraud-continues] less than four out of ten graduating high school seniors can pass a simple English reading test (and only 17% of black students make the grade!!). Just 25% of high school seniors are proficient in math. Nevertheless, our high school graduation rate is 80 %.
Yet by even primary school and certainly by middle school, most public school students have begun to receive ample injections of ideological toxins that will only increase as they advance in the system. By graduation time they may not be able to write a clear English sentence (much less speak one) or know who Thomas Jefferson was or how to do simple mathematics, but you can bet your last tax dollar they’ve heard about how evil the NRA is, that “gender fluidity” is normal, and that white folks have been oppressing “people of color” since the beginning of time itself.
Just in recent days we have heard via the media (Fox News) that at the University of Michigan (and on another 200 campuses), zealous “social justice warrior” students are instructed by the university administration to report (anonymously of course) if they overhear another student making “racist,” “sexist,” or “homophobic” remarks, even if those conversations are private. And correction will be meted out! Thus, those poorly educated but richly indoctrinated high schoolers, now undergoing the full panoply of Leftist envenomization at the collegiate level, are being turned into newly-minted domestic informants--spies--on their fellows. How does this differ from the worst aspects of Stalin’s Russia? And this is what we get for $20,000 to $40,000 or so a year paid to our colleges to educate our children?
I have discussed various aspects of this situation in several MY CORNER columns earlier this year (i.e., February 16, 22, and 25, 2018) and this past December (i.e., December 11 and 18, 2017). I cited a number of really egregious examples of just how our educational system has degenerated, becoming a virtual petri dish for inculcating the most extreme Leftist and cultural Marxist theories on a variety of subjects, including race and racism, sex and gender, white supremacy, and a host of other topics—all the while the traditional basic rudiments of learning, logic, communication, and understanding of our history and culture are left largely by the wayside as tossed out garbage.
And I offered some general proposals about how those of us truly concerned with education, and in particular, the education of our own children, should act, what we might do. On December 18 last year, while praising recent actions of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system on free speech and academic freedom [http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article188880434.html], I also suggested that the issues and problems were much deeper and more endemic, and thus would take much longer to fully correct. But that those problems had to—must—be addressed if we are to salvage our educational system, not just colleges but our public schools as well, from the clutches of those ideologues—those “demagogues, who are in power for a time, in the interests of their faction,” as Dabney presciently called them 142 years ago.
Today, then, I pass on three articles. The first is the essay from the pen of Professor Walter Williams that I quoted previously, offering details and statistics about the present state of our public education system that should be front-and-center in the mind and legislative action of every politician—but are outrageously ignored, or, worse, dismissed (after all, the goal for much of modern education is indoctrination).
The two following essays, one about the reception that Dr. Paul Gottfried received on a recent speaking visit to Hamilton College in New York State, and a second by Dr. Gottfried on the treatment of a distinguished scholar at Florida Atlantic University, are just two examples of this madness gone berserk. And each time we say to ourselves: “It can’t get any worse,” and then, inevitably it does.
My friend Dr. Clyde Wilson, himself a long time nationally-recognized history professor at the University of South Carolina, suggests that not only we shutter our public colleges and start over again, but that we should napalm them. While I don’t go quite that far, what is needed is radical and resolute action. Indeed, even as so-called “conservatives” babble on unceasingly about reform, words, it seems, are always easier to find than action. Events, however, have advanced too far to temporize.
Educational Fraud Continues
By Dr. Walter Williams APRIL 25, 2018
Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, a.k.a. The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.
The atrocious NAEP performance is only a fraction of the bad news. Nationally, our high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That means high school diplomas, which attest that these students can read and compute at a 12th-grade level, are conferred when 63 percent are not proficient in reading and 75 percent are not proficient in math. For blacks, the news is worse. Roughly 75 percent of black students received high school diplomas attesting that they could read and compute at the 12th-grade level. However, 83 percent could not read at that level, and 93 percent could not do math at that level. It’s grossly dishonest for the education establishment and politicians to boast about unprecedented graduation rates when the high school diplomas, for the most part, do not represent academic achievement. At best, they certify attendance.
Fraudulent high school diplomas aren’t the worst part of the fraud. Some of the greatest fraud occurs at the higher education levels — colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of white high school graduates in 2016 enrolled in college, and 58 percent of black high school graduates enrolled in college. Here are my questions to you: If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 70 percent of them? And if roughly 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 58 percent of them?
It’s inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and cannot perform at the college level. Colleges cope with ill-prepared students in several ways. They provide remedial courses. One study suggests that more than two-thirds of community college students take at least one remedial course, as do 40 percent of four-year college students. College professors dumb down their courses so that ill-prepared students can get passing grades. Colleges also set up majors with little analytical demands so as to accommodate students with analytical deficits. Such majors often include the term “studies,” such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies and American studies. The major for the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students’ SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38.
The bottom line is that colleges are admitting youngsters who have not mastered what used to be considered a ninth-grade level of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic. Very often, when they graduate from college, they still can’t master even a 12th-grade level of academic proficiency. The problem is worse in college sports. During a recent University of North Carolina scandal, a learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the period from 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of the 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. About 10 percent read below a third-grade level. Keep in mind that all of these athletes both graduated from high school and were admitted to college.
How necessary is college anyway? One estimate is that 1 in 3 college graduates have a job historically performed by those with a high school diploma. According to Richard Vedder, distinguished emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University and the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in 2012 there were 115,000 janitors, 16,000 parking lot attendants, 83,000 bartenders and about 35,000 taxi drivers with a bachelor’s degree.
I’m not sure about what can be done about education. But the first step toward any solution is for the American people to be aware of academic fraud at every level of education.
HOW HAMILTON COLLEGE DEFINES 'ACADEMIC RIGOR'
The insanity that passes for "scholarship" at a radical liberal arts college. May 2, 2018
by Professor Mary Grabar
What do college presidents mean by “academic rigor”? Good “judgment” in the classroom? Making the campus “inclusive”? Recent developments on the campus of Hamilton College after the visit of Paul Gottfried, Horace Raffensberger Professor of Humanities Emeritus, Elizabethtown College, provide clues.
Gottfried was invited to speak to two classes by Robert Paquette, Executive Director of the nearby Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. As I described at the AHI’s website, Gottfried on October 25, 2017, discussed conservatism in the United States in “Modern Conservative Politics” in the Government Department, and then gave a lecture based on his recent book, Fascism: The Career of a Concept, in a history course, “Nazi Germany.” Although he was greeted by students holding signs accusing him of racism, Gottfried gave two informed performances and responded to questions, including hostile ones, with intelligence and courtesy.
Nevertheless, his visit inspired campus-wide denunciations in a letter from the Government Department, editorials in the student newspaper, and a letter from the college president.
Two days after the visit, students, faculty, and administrators received the following proclamation:
We the undersigned full-time members of the Government Department would like to speak out regarding Paul Gottfried’s visit to one of our courses. We are still learning about what transpired on Wednesday. . . . However, we have already heard multiple complaints from students about racist remarks allegedly made by Gottfried. We unequivocally condemn any and all such racist remarks. . . .
Similarly, the student newspaper vaguely claimed that Gottfried was “espousing hateful opinions” and therefore should not have been allowed on campus. It took until December 4 for President David Wippman to reply, which enraged student Katherine Barnes who wrote “Too little, too late, too tolerant: President Wippman fails to condemn Gottfried.”
But Wippman’s letter would be considered laughable if it weren’t so slanderous. “I write to address issues of serious concern to every member of the Hamilton community,” it began as it addressed “the aftermath” of Gottfried’s visit and repeated the Government Department’s hearsay of “’racist remarks.’” Wippman, too, wrote that “racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry are anathema to our core values.”
“Second,” he intoned, “we are a community that insists upon academic rigor. . . . [W]e should not invite speakers to address subjects on which they have little or no relevant expertise or who espouse views that have no grounding in reason or fact.”
Wippman then declared his commitment to the “free and open exchange of ideas,” noting the “dozens, if not hundreds,” of invited speakers every year, but added, “Special considerations apply when a speaker is invited to a class, in which attendance is expected. . . . It is essential that all members of our community exercise good judgment. . . .”
“Academic rigor”? “Good judgment”? History Professor Paquette rightly contends, “no one on Hamilton’s campus approaches” Gottfried’s level of scholarship. He wrote multiple scholarly books on the topics of his lectures.
In contrast, we have two members of the faculty recently touted on Hamilton’s website. Ashley Bohrer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, at Hamilton since at least 2016, has a department web page describing her scholarship as “making philosophy transcend disciplinary and institutional boundaries,” with research focusing “on the intersections of capitalism, colonialism, racism, and hetero/sexism in both the early modern period and in the contemporary world.” The page advertises her as “a committed activist who has organized with a variety of feminist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist grassroots collectives.” Yes, she served on the “education committee” of Occupy Chicago and was an “activist with SlutWalk Chicago (photo). At Hamilton, she has taught “Philosophy and Incarceration” (with which she appears to have had firsthand experience) and “Marxism, Feminism, Antiracism.”
Bohrer has been bestowed with at least three grants from the college: the “Emerson Foundation Scholars Summer Grant for Collaborative Research,” “Building Inclusive Classrooms Seminar Grant,” and a “Social Innovation and Transformational Leadership Course Development Grant.” Bohrer, though a visiting professor, has been a member of the Hamilton College Humanities Council and of the Arthur Levitt Center Council for Public Affairs. In 2016/2017 she served as an “organizing faculty member” on “problematizing whiteness.”
Her “scholarship”--spouting Marxist drivel—was displayed at the 2016 Marxist Feminist Conference in Vienna. She claims a forthcoming book bearing the title, “Marxism and Intersectionality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality under Contemporary Capitalism,” information derived from a notice about her presentation on “gender policing” to Red Bloom, a “Communist Collective” in April.
Canary Mission, which “documents individuals and organizations that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses,” describes Bohrer’s numerous anti-Israel activities, including a “leading role in a campaign to occupy an illegal outpost in Israel, in hopes of building a Palestinian settlement.” She vocally supported Steven Salaita, whose tweet in 2014 wishing that more Jews would be kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists prompted the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to withdraw their job offer to him. She has authored several articles that “demonize” Israel and is a founding member of the Syracuse chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace, a group, which, contrary to its name, engages in disrupting pro-Israel speakers and events, and promotes BDS activities.
Over in the Anthropology Department, recent tenure-track hire Mariam Durrani is praised for incorporating “feminist and decolonial methodologies” in her research on “Muslim youth and communities, cultural mobilities, higher education in Pakistan and the United States, race, gender, and migration studies”—as well as her use of multimedia and for being “a committed social-justice advocate.” In April 2017, Durrani participated in the “Resistance and Complicity to Empire Through Political Movements” panel at the “Beyond Bans, Beyond Walls: Women, Gender & Islam Symposium” at Harvard Divinity School, along with a Ph.D. candidate, Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, the first elected Muslim politician in Massachusetts, and Haley Rogers, Massachusetts Director of Development and Community Relations, CAIR. The video shows her employing “Marxism” and “praxis,” and denouncing capitalism and the “military-industrial complex.”
After class, Hamilton students have had many offerings in terms of speakers and workshops, for which they often receive class credit or extra credit for attending.
On January 18, students were offered the Art Department Visiting Artists Series lunchtime workshop, “Wise Up for Otherwise: Queer Scholarship Into Song,” in which Dr. Kay Turner described “how she writes lyrics from queer texts, and why transforming those texts into song is both an entertaining and necessary mode of queer world making.”
On April 10, Porsha O. (sic) led a writing workshop titled “Glory: On Radical Self-Love.” The student newspaper described her as the Lead-Teaching Artist & Program Manager at Mass Leap in Boston, and a “renowned poet.” A video from the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Finals shows the self-described “Black, poet, dyke-goddess, hip-hop feminist, womanist” shouting that she is so “pissed off” about racism, injustice, and slavery that she is ready to “Break my foot open over everybody’s ass,” and repeating, “I’m pissed the F!*k off.” We doubt that students under her tutelage learned how to write sonnets.
Two days after this workshop, on April 12, students were tantalized with an email from the Hamilton College Womxn’s (sic) Center, asking, “Do you love amazing music about queer lovin’?” and announcing the evening visit by Be Steadwell* (sic). The mailing included a link to her music video containing witchcraft, marijuana-smoking, and lesbianism.
The following evening, students had two events. From 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the Chapel they could hear far-left media commentator and professor of African-American Studies Marc Lamont Hill’s “message to inspire hope, courage, and constructive social change.” At 7:00 p.m. they could then learn how to implement such ideas in a workshop titled “Activism 101,” hosted by “Mexican-American spoken word artist David A. Romero.”
A few days later, on April 18, the Sociology Department presented a talk on “LGBTQ+ Polyamory and the Queering of Intimacy” by Dr. Emily Pain, whose “findings speak to current struggles over LGBTQ sexual citizenship. . . .” In the vital research field of “polyamory,” Hamilton students learned, the “voices of queer people of color, of low-income backgrounds, and of trans* [sic] identities have been virtually silenced.”
On April 25, professor Durrani gave a late afternoon presentation titled “What Is Islamophobia?” at the Days-Massolo Center, a place of “intercultural dialogue,” which features speakers like Angela Davis. Later, students could go upstairs to the Womxn’s (sic) Center to make “zines,” about “healing, surviving, and trauma” and then discuss agitating for vending machines for birth control and abortifacients, like Plan B.
One would think Hamilton College would value AHI’s generosity in providing speakers on campus and at leadership dinners at our site, as well as reading clusters on classic works of Western civilization. Instead, they have pressured students, especially African-Americans, to stay away from the AHI, and ignored threats against AHI-affiliated students, including in 2016 on the leader of the campus Republican Club, now defunct.
But in totalitarian regimes alternate views cannot be tolerated.
ABOUT MARY GRABAR
May 5, 2018
The Pleasures of Bullying
Feigned outrage against Marshall DeRosa, a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, has now taken predictable forms. Nietzsche observed that a successful war can be used to justify any cause. At Florida Atlantic, even going after an implausible victim can provide sadistic satisfaction to bullying students and faculty.
Professor DeRosa's picture has been plastered on the walls of college buildings by supposedly concerned students with demeaning messages that he's a "white supremacist" and that his presence on campus is an outrage "demanding action." In my opinion, it's ridiculous to describe those engaged in these defamatory actions, as some commentators do, as "snowflakes." They are dangerous thought police, who in this case have targeted a thoroughly decent teacher.
Marshall is someone I have known for decades and who has suffered unbearable personal tragedy. Last fall, he lost a brilliant son of twenty-seven, who practiced law in Boca, when a car struck him from behind while he was loading his parked vehicle.
Leading to these attacks was, among other factors, Marshall's acceptance of a Koch grant to teach prison inmates in a nearby correctional institute. We know that academic recipients of Koch funds have been targeted by the left elsewhere – for example, at the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University. Those who are "outed" as beneficiaries of Republican foundations can now expect to see all hell break loose on their heads, once academic agitators and their groupies organize against them.
As someone on the right who never received such a grant, I too was verbally abused as a speaker at an elite academic institution. Not taking money from a Republican foundation is no guarantee that the P.C. police won't go after you if you're a teacher or university speaker. But accepting Koch money may cause the P.C. crowd, led by gender studies students and activists at Florida Atlantic, to swing into action. And since no one is likely to push back, why not kick around and degrade one's target?
The charge of being a "white supremacist" that's been leveled against DeRosa is supposedly justified on several grounds, all equally specious. One, although he's given his time and energy sacrificially to teaching prisoners and preparing them for life after prison, he's done this with money from a Republican source. Never mind that there's zero evidence that the Koch Foundation has ever advocated for a single racist position or that it's even particularly conservative on social questions. According to Politico, the Koch brothers have had at best an "uneasy relation" with the Trump administration, if that's our new criterion for white racism. But that's not how the thought police (not snowflakes) at Florida Atlantic and Wake Forest think. The Koch brothers generally support the GOP and therefore must be racist, as the left now defines that term.
Two, DeRosa must be a racist because decades ago he published The Confederate Constitution of 1861: An Inquiry into American Constitutionalism with University of Missouri Press. Since then, he has had the audacity to note in scholarly commentaries that blacks sold other blacks into slavery and that "although slavery is a reprehensible institution," Southerners were justified in claiming that it was protected as property under American law. Just about everything DeRosa seems to have said on the subject of slavery that his detractors are now pulling out of context was said by historians of slavery, including Marxist ones, until the day before yesterday. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded a National Humanities Medal to Yale historian David Brion Davis, whose scholarship maintains the very points on slavery for which DeRosa is being pilloried.
Concerned students also crashed a faculty meeting, presumably without repercussions, to denounce DeRosa for once having been a member of the League of the South, a Southern regional organization that took on white racist overtones years after being founded. It's a matter of record that DeRosa quit the League in protest over this change. Even the decidedly leftist website Media Matters admits this fact. One has to wonder (or does one?) why, given this well-known repudiation, students had to break into a faculty meeting to humiliate a senior professor.
Ironically, the target of these attacks at Florida Atlantic is someone who has been an outspoken advocate of prison reform in his state. DeRosa has given speeches and published articles calling for the release of prisoners for nonviolent offenses. He has also conspicuously protested long prison sentences. An essay that DeRosa published in the Journal of the James Madison Institute includes this line that might have been drawn from the collected speeches of a very liberal Democrat. DeRosa praises "every bit of progress this country has made toward expanding access to that dream [of freedom] to millions of people who were previously denied it."
A large percentage of the prisoners whom DeRosa has argued for happen to be black, and it is ridiculous to claim that his use of a Koch grant has gone toward advancing white supremacist ideology. Two years ago, I was a co-presenter with DeRosa at a conference sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. Contrary to what I expected to hear, which was a comparative study of the Federal and Confederate constitutions, DeRosa launched into an impassioned speech about the black victims of what he thought were overly long prison terms in his state. When DeRosa and I had dinner together, he continued in this vein and then interrupted himself to assure me, "No, I am not a bleeding-heart liberal." At that point, I jokingly retorted: "You certainly give that impression."
DeRosa's field of study or his characterization of himself as a libertarian of the right has absolutely no bearing on his fate as a target of the academic left. It is also hard to believe that his standard observations about slavery in the Western Hemisphere or his onetime membership in a then-anodyne League of the South have produced genuine, belated cries of outrage. The charge against him, like denunciations of "running dogs of capitalism" made against victims of the murderous Maoist regime in China, are transparently false. The bullying that occurred at Florida Atlantic was a way of flexing leftist muscle and pushing faculty who might be inclined to offer a dissenting opinion into anxious silence.
As Marshall DeRosa in his lecture at Auburn described hapless youth incarcerated in Florida jails, a fellow listener turned to me and remarked with a broad smile: "No good deed goes unpunished." What was intended as humor has turned out to be prophetic.