This is what happens when you let the inmates run the asylum:
Some St. Paul public schools are unsafe for students and teachers, writes Katherine Kersten, a senior policy fellow at the Center for the American Experiment, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
A Central High teacher was “choked and body-slammed by a student and hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury,” while another teacher was knocked down and suffered a concussion while trying to stop a fight between fifth-grade girls. There have been six high school riots or brawls this school year.
Hoping to close the racial suspension gap, the district has spent millions of dollars on “white privilege” and “cultural competency” training for teachers and “positive behavior” training, an anti-suspension behavior modification program, writes Kersten.
Misbehavior is initially tolerated and as it is, it become endemic and epidemic. What’s the penalty for doing so? Well, teachers are punished with “white privilege”, “cultural competency” and “positive behavior” classes.
Meanwhile where the problem is centered, i.e. with the students, nothing changes. In fact, the “authorities” then make the problem even worse:
When that didn’t work, “they lowered behavior standards and, in many cases, essentially abandoned meaningful penalties,” she writes. Students can’t be suspended for “continual willful disobedience” any more. Often, students “chat briefly with a ‘behavior specialist’ or are simply moved to another classroom or school where they are likely to misbehave again.”
Behavior has gotten worse, wrote Aaron Benner, a veteran elementary teacher, in the Pioneer Press. “On a daily basis, I saw students cussing at their teachers, running out of class, yelling and screaming in the halls, and fighting.”
Again, this isn’t rocket science. The problem students, knowing they aren’t going to be punished for their behavior, continue to replicate it and push the envelope even more. All the liberal psychobabble that has led to this point has had inevitable result that teachers live in fear.
Teachers say they’re afraid, writes Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. He quotes a letter from an anonymous teacher, who says teacher are told there are no alternative placements for violent or disruptive K-8 students.
“(Teachers) have no way to discipline. If a child is running around screaming, we let them run around and scream. If a student throws a chair at the Smart Board we remove the other students and call for help. If a student shouts obscenities, we simply use kind words to remind them to use kind words themselves. I am not kidding. . . .
The only consequence at the elementary level is taking away recess or sending the offending student to a ‘buddy classroom’ for a few minutes.”
Who are the victims? Well, obviously the teachers. But there are even more victims which the dominant philosophy within this school district seems to simply ignore:
At this teacher’s high-poverty, highly diverse school, “I have many students in my class who are very respectful, work hard and care about doing well in school,” the teacher writes. “The disruptive, violent children are ruining the education of these fantastic, deserving children.”
No kidding. So what has increasing tolerance, lower behavioral standards and the refusal to discipline brought this school system? Failure. It has failed the teachers who are left to deal with increasingly violent behavior. It has failed the good students who have their ability to learn and succeed hampered by disruptive students who go unpunished. And, in reality, they fail the disruptive students, who are never taught the hard lesson that certain behavior is unacceptable and will be punished.
Because, you know, that’s just outmoded thinking.
Oh. And “race”:
On March 9, a veteran high school teacher was suspended for social media posts complaining about the discipline policy, when Black Lives Matter activists charged him with racism.
Theo Olson, a special education teacher at Como Park High, wrote that teachers “now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed, just designing our own classroom rules.”
He did not mention race.
Black Lives Matter had threatened a “shut-down action” at the school if Olson was not fired.
That’s just pitiful. And the results of such poor leadership within that district are inevitable:
The same day Olson was put on leave, another Como Park teacher was attacked by two students, suffering a concussion. “The two entered the classroom to assault another student over a marijuana transaction gone bad,” an associate principal told the Star-Tribune. Two 16-year-olds face felony assault charges.
Welcome to the blue education model in action.
Sure, it’s past Halloween, but this short horror film is too good to pass up.
That, at least, is the result of a survey recently completed:
To put some numbers behind that perception, The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale recently commissioned a survey from McLaughlin & Associates about attitudes towards free speech on campus. Some 800 students at a variety of colleges across the country were surveyed. The results, though not surprising, are nevertheless alarming. By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.
This is simply the latest proof that colleges and universities in this nation are turning from bastions of free speech and academic freedom to institutions that are enabling and enforcing “speech codes” that student activists demand. The result is the death of “robust intellectual debate” on campus. Now administrations feel moved to “protect” those who are uncomfortable with uncomfortable ideas. And they demand penalties and the quashing of those ideas. The very notion that our great institutions of higher learning have bought into this anti-intellectualism should be an anathema to them. But instead they support these sorts of movements.
Just recently Williams College began an “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series to provide “intellectual diversity” on campus. Ironically, it then disinvited conservative writer Suzanne Venker when, according to the college, her proposed visit was “stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus.” Obviously her ideas went beyond “uncomfortable learning”, however Willams College now defines that phrase. But one thing is clear, Williams College is about as committed to “intellectual diversity” as Hillary Clinton is to the truth.
Given all this, is anyone even remotely surprised to see supposed intellectuals who are the products of this sort of education system calling for the jailing of “climate deniers” and the banning of their speech? Free speech is dying in this country and it is doing so in the very institutions that should be its staunchest defender.
Especially when it comes to our colleges?
This should absolutely stun and frighten you if you’re a college age man:
At a congressional hearing on campus sexual assault, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis suggested that expelling students based solely on the idea that they might have committed a crime is an acceptable standard. And the hearing audience applauded him.
Polis, a Democrat, was discussing due process and standards of evidence as they apply to colleges and universities adjudicating sexual assault. Currently, colleges must be only 50.01 percent sure that an accusation is valid before punishing an accused student (more on that later). Polis began advocating for allowing colleges to use a lower standard than that.
“I mean, if there’s 10 people that have been accused and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people,” Polis said. “We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university.”
For this, the audience applauded.
Of course I understand why the audience applauded. It was loaded with people supporting the “victims” who were testifying and should come as no surprise. But what about the resident idiot Polis? Can he even imagine the same standard applied to him? Glenn Reynolds applies it:
Well, since there’s at least a 20% chance that Polis is a corrupt hack, let’s just boot him from Congress and disqualify him from holding any future office. After all, it’s not like we’re putting him in jail or anything.
After all, one only has to look at our Congress to understand that corruption is rampant and he’s as likely corrupt as the next guy.
Trust me, if he were caught up in some sort of movement like that he’d be whining his head off about “due process”. He declare any move to oust him a “witch hunt”. He’d scream for the rule of law.
But, in order to toe the liberal line and since he’s all about toeing that line, he’ll put those principles aside in order to do so.
In a formula as old as government itself, we see a government created problem (it takes over student loans, college costs inflate, college debt burden increases) and now Hillary Clinton, in the guise of future government, offers a solution. Let’s make college affordable again (or, in other words, shift $350 billion of the cost to taxpayers).
Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce a $350 billion plan Monday to make college affordable and relieve the burden of student debt for millions of Americans, drawing on popular tenets of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. …
At the heart of the plan, dubbed the New College Compact, is an incentive program that would provide money to states that guarantee “no-loan” tuition at four-year public universities and community colleges. States that enroll a high number of low- and middle-income students would receive more money, as would those that work with schools to reduce living expenses. Because Pell grants, a form of federal aid for students from families making less than $60,000, are not included in the no-debt calculation, Clinton anticipates lower income students could use that money to cover books, as well as room and board.
This is like Obamacare … just a step toward “free” college. Obviously, an estimate of $350 billion is likely to be woefully short of the real cost (they always are). And when the program crashes and burns, well, the next logical step (at least to “progressives” who have no clue about economics) will be to make college “free”, like many other “progressive” countries. Because, you know, wish it to be so and it will be so!
C. Ronald Kimberling analyzes the initiative:
Hillary’s plan for higher education violates so many principles of the Constitution, federal law, and economic common sense that it takes the breath away. In a nutshell, she would spend $350 billion a year to support public (i.e., governmental) colleges and universities with the proviso that a two-year associate’s degree would be “free” to students and a four-year degree would cause no one to have to incur student loan costs. In exchange for direct federal subsidies to the public colleges, states would be required to appropriate more funds for such colleges, Pell Grants could be used only for student living expenses, interest rates on existing student loans would be reduced to eliminate federal “profits” on such loans, and for-profit colleges would be subjected to even stronger regulations than at present.
Her plan is significantly more expensive than the ideas put forward by self-described socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. Constitutionally, this violates the 10th Amendment, and it also violates the Department of Education Organization Act. It also runs counter to fifty years of bipartisan tradition, stemming from the Higher Education Act of 1965, which settled a 1950s-60s debate about whether federal aid to higher education should focus on direct subsidies of higher education institutions or on portable, voucher-like assistance to students in favor of the latter alternative. It places unfunded mandates on the states, and it enhances a public higher education monopoly of government-run colleges over private non-profits and for-profits, both of which are completely excluded from this federal largesse. All this takes place at a time when technology and disruptive innovation are creating more alternatives to traditional post-secondary education than we ever had before. In short, she takes President Obama’s regulatory approach toward enhancing a public sector monopoly and puts it in warp drive. Even I am flabbergasted by the audacity and scope of this proposal.
Again, looking at Obamacare, we know Constitutional or legal limits are hardly an obstacle. She might have a bit of difficulty getting through a Republican Congress but that assumes a Republican Congress. Given their performance these last 2 years, you have to wonder. And you certainly have to wonder about the Supreme Court, if it ever got to that stage. They’d likely find a “right” to higher education somewhere in some mythical document (certainly not the Constitution) with John Roberts being the 5th vote for.
Sanders, of course, plans on taxing “Wall Street transactions” to pay for his plan. Clinton just plans to “close loopholes” – the catch all phrase for tax hikes. Most likely, they’d end up borrowing it.
One might wonder why, when we borrow 40% of the money the federal government spends, that we’re discussing a $350 billion plan at all for anything except defense. But if the government wants to spend money on education, perhaps a better target would be primary education, and a better plan would be school choice to better prepare students for higher education down the road. Perhaps we can teach them the real definition of affordable somewhere along the way, too.
Oh … and perhaps we can get the government out of the loan business and make it a competitive sphere again?
Yeah, that’s going to happen.
Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide. Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:
Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.
OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.
“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.
“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release. “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”
School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”
Might raise some privacy questions? Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings. But let me ask you a more important question? Is this a role for a school district? Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission? And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”
Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns. Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts? And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face? The questions are endless.
Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme. Why, I’m not sure. And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative. If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?
Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.
A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”
Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.
It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.
“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.
Some 600 people say they’re attending.
It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so. It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.
Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.
I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary. The point has been made. It will continue to be made. But this is not the right way to make it again.
Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no? Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction. Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:
Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.
Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.
They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.
I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”. Its sort of like the unemployment figures. Mostly fudged. And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers. These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they? What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”
Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:
Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”
And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.
Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly. Detroit:
No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.
Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.
“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”
Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.
A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.
Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.
With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.
Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.
Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.
The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.
I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level. While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year. Well done!
While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.
The mayor blames it on gangs. Why have gangs again become a problem?
Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”
From Reason, a Nick Gillespie quote that perfectly sums up the precious snowflake/SJW phenomenon in colleges:
But really, what the f*ck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I’m just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs.
“Human veal”. A perfect metaphor. Calling PETA … lol.
A well known and respected scientist resigns from the American Physical Society? Why?
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
Read the whole thing. His point, of course, is that any scientist with a shred of integrity who has examined the “evidence” presented should be doing precisely what he is doing – shaming those perpetrating the fraud and refusing to be associated with them.
Billy Bob in his usual role as Denier-in-Chief:
“No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you,” the former president added while channeling his wife. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.”
There was no doubt in his mind he hadn’t had sex with that woman too! If his lips are moving he’s … yeah, he is. And his wife is no better.
Nothing to see here citizen … keep moving, keep moving.
Guy Benson lays it out:
“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.
Bingo. And given what we see today, we’re hardly “A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country”.
So many things, so little time.
-You have to laugh at this one, I don’t care who your are.
In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.
About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman were able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails.
The left often times seems intent upon removing parody as a means of criticism by becoming parody proof. And you wonder why tuition continues to spiral out of control?
-Special Snowflakes rule academia anymore, and they’re not fans of free speech. Collective tantrums apparently work. From the inaugural “Disinvitation dinner”, George Will:
“Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively, and dangerously threatened than it is now,” Will, who’s had his fair share of protests, panics, and bans, told the audience. Today’s attack isn’t just about process, he noted: It’s “an attack on the theory of freedom of speech,” with a belief “that the First Amendment is a mistake.”
All you have to do is watch how speakers who rub the dominant feminist culture on any campus the wrong way are treated:
Witness Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known author, former philosophy professor, and, most recently, a YouTube star. Sommers, who describes her approach as “equity feminism,” is a refreshing change from mainstream modern feminism, which long ago click-clacked aboard the crazy train, ripped up all return tickets, and then hit the bar in the club car hard — not in a fun way, alas, but rather to weep and mutter various bad words over low-grade apple martini knockoffs garnished with mascara smears. Partnering with the American Enterprise Institute, Sommers has made a splash with her “Factual Feminist” video series, in which she calmly challenges and debunks oft-accepted and frequently absurd feminist talking points.
Bad news for those in the cocoon. So, instead of being intellectuals and curious, they retreat to their “safe spaces” or ensure that the speaker can’t be heard by themselves or others.
Sommers’ approach, in other words, is straightforward, fact-based, and lucid. But this, as the zealous, easily wounded students at Oberlin College and Georgetown University demonstrated over the past week, simply will not do. Faced with a speaker who thinks outside the box, campus groups lit up in protest. Students taped their mouths shut. Others heckled and jeered Sommers as a “rape apologist.” Still others advertised alternate “safe spaces” for students “traumatized” by a speech.
“The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety,” Sommers told the website Campus Reform, that Oberlin officials “arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.” This sounds sane, if it’s Opposite Day.
What’s a good comparison of the state of places of higher eduction that have enabled such behavior? Well this seem right to me:
If you’ve ever been to a junior high slumber party, you might recognize the following scenario: In the midst of high jinks and general good times, suddenly one girl will drift off to a corner. Her feelings, somehow, have been hurt. Slowly, a few sympathizers, clear suckers for drama, make their way into her corner. They rub her back, ask why she’s crying, and, even if the answer is absurd, spend the rest of the evening casting baleful looks at the rest of the girls, who are oblivious, living large, sucking down Mountain Dew, and gleefully watching movies their parents would never allow them to watch. (In my case, this was almost always “Dirty Dancing.”)
Cowardice might not be fun, but for some, self-pity — cowardice’s common companion — certainly is. This is especially true if someone else is egging you on. Sadly, huge swaths of today’s college campuses, supposedly pinnacles of higher learning, have morphed into a giant preteen slumber party with an alarming population of sulking corner girls.
-The circus is back in town and the Hill/Billy act is just as tired and old as it used to be. There’s a new book out pointing to how corrupt these people are … as if you needed a reminder. The “dead broke” Clintons are multi-millionaires who’ve raised government influence peddling to new and even more corrupt heights. And then we’re treated to the spectacle of Hillary flying coach and railing against the 1% and CEOs when she makes more money than any of them and her only child is buying a 10 million dollar Manhattan apartment. Forget about questioning lack of accomplishment as SecState – look at the money the Clinton Foundation raked in while she was in office. Quite an accomplishment wouldn’t you say?
“For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars.”
They just missed it … and, they’ll get away with it too, hide and watch.
-And while you weren’t watching, Erica Holder, er, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as AG by the Republican Senate.
Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.
And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.
About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.
Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.
Giving in to that has led to this:
And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.
The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.” Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.
And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.
What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.
Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:
“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”
The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.
Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.
It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”
George Will took notice of this study as well.
The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:
Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.
As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.
He goes on:
They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.
And progressivism mandates authoritarianism. It always has and it always will. The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established. One way to do that is through indoctrination. Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way. No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.
The very definition of propaganda. And indoctrination.
However, not all is lost. Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:
There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.
I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago. What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability. Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits. At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.
This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making. Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:
If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .
The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .
The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.
Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.
As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy. And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!
Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”. It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:
As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.
Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .
This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .
“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”
As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.
Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own. The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”. It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you. If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.
Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”. My guess? No, not yet. Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth. They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.
Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward. Another professor confessing his or her fears:
Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”. The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it? Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will? And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum. Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope. There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different? Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.