Thursday The Complet

Peter Wood

Tea Parties

Last night in over 2,000 U.S. cities, citizens who felt they were “Taxed Enough Already” held tea parties to protest government tax policies. At Michelle Malkin’s blog, one commenter who identified as CrazyFool wrote, “Be sure to dress up as HIPPIES and NYC/Columbia students!” We’re not sure what that costume would entail, but might CrazyFool’s notion that Columbia students represent America’s most radical cohort say something about the University’s reputation?

Maintaining a Belief System

With only four credits left before graduation, Julea Ward was kicked out of the Eastern Michigan University counseling program. Prior to counseling a homosexual client, Ward was asked to affirm homosexuality as morally acceptable. Ward, a Christian, declined to make the affirmation and offered to refer the client to another counselor.

Afterward, Yvonne Callaway, a professor of counseling at EMU, told Ward that her beliefs contradicted the counseling department’s views regarding homosexual behavior. The University subsequently pursued remediation procedures. It first sought to change Ward’s beliefs. According to Suzanne Dugger, another professor of counseling at EMU, “The development of a remediation plan of course contingent on Ms. Ward’s recognition that she needed to make some changes. And...she...expressed just the opposite. [She]...communicated an attempt to maintain this belief system and those behaviors.” So because Ms. Ward maintained her Christian belief system, Eastern Michigan University dismissed her from the program. 

NAS has written extensively about how schools of the helping professions hurt those who dissent from the established political views. This is just one more example of a counseling program that stood in the way of freedom of religion and tried to force a student to violate deeply held convictions.

The Alliance Defense Fund will represent Julea Ward in a lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University.

UNC Apologizes

David French, director of the new Center for Academic Freedom at the Alliance Defense Fund, wrote at Phi Beta Cons:

In a world where universities threaten students with expulsion when they merely want to post pro-life materials in a display case, where students are shouted down by their own teachers for defending marriage, and when a student is actually expelled merely for her Christian beliefs regarding sexual morality, it is disheartening to see the other side of ideological aisle feel so bold as to actually engage in violence (language warning) to disrupt conservative speech.

His last link goes to the video of UNC-Chapel Hill student protesters hindering a scheduled speaker, Tom Tancredo, from giving his speech, which was supposed to be on Tancredo’s opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. 

Hmm...perhaps the tea partyers should have dressed as UNC-Chapel Hill students instead...

We mentioned this incident yesterday in hopes that UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, who had said he was “disappointed” about what happened, might find a way to “express disappointment with more rhetorical vigor.” Since then, he posted a campus email sent to all University students, faculty, and staff, where he acknowledged:

On behalf of our University community, I called Mr. Tancredo today to apologize for how he was treated. In addition, our Department of Public Safety is investigating this incident. They will pursue criminal charges if any are warranted. Our Division of Student Affairs is also investigating student involvement in the protest. If that investigation determines sufficient evidence, participating students could face Honor Court proceedings.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article about the UNC shout-down. Comments at the bottom vary:

I’m proud of the protesters and their taking a stand. That man spews hate. When will we get that the way that “freedom of speech” is understood in this country actually means that only certain people (Tancredo, certain white mailes, and those who accommodate them) get to speak.

- T

While I find the protesters actions deplorable, and no more excusable than any group that attempts to silence their opposition through intimidation, I can only think that this is what happens when you preach hate (no matter how one packages it) – preach hate, you get hate back.

- Rusty

Mr. Tancredo is an unvarnished a**hole, but that is no reason to shout him down. He was legitimately (if unwisely) invited and he has the right to speak to a forum whose members (or at least some of them) want to hear him.

- lslerner

Only one set of views is permitted on college campuses……all others must be quashed! Free speech, free inquiry….what a joke!

- AcademicsOnParade

Grade Inflation

This morning NAS posted a guest article on grade inflation by Thomas C. Reeves, an author and former professor of history. Dr. Reeves wrote that grade inflation is getting worse and that there is no incentive for it to stop. He concluded his article, “The Happy Classroom,” in despair.

We agree with Dr. Reeves that grade inflation exists and that it is a problem. We believe students should expect to work hard to earn B and even harder to earn A’s. But it is important to add that many students actually appreciate professors who push them to excel and don’t let them settle for mediocrity. Many students say, “He’s a hard professor, but a really good one. It’s a great class.”

There is an incentive for judicious grading—besides that it’s the right thing to do: students respect professors who demand quality. And getting an A in a class taught by such a professor actually means something.  


Coming Soon

The return of “If I Ran the Zoo.”


Atkinson’s War

If we had to pick one person in America who has done more than any other to damage education, who would it be? Ward Churchill for sullying the reputation of scholarship? 

Lee Bollinger for multiple accounts of aggravated political correctness? 

Derek Bok and William Bowen together for their egregiously misleading book, The Shape of the River, that gave Justice Sandra Day O’Connor her excuse to elevate “diversity” as a sound principle in higher education?

Justice O’Connor herself for her specious opinion legitimizing racialized admissions policies? 

Tom Hayden for writing the manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society—the Port Huron Statement—in 1962 and thus setting in motion the politicization of American higher education?

Jimmy Carter for creating the Department of Education and thus unleashing the forces of federal bureaucratization in domains where it had no business being? 

There are many contenders, but high on the list of finalists would have to be Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California. He devoted much of his final years in office to the attempt to eviscerate the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He was never wholly candid about his reasons, but they were pretty apparent. He wanted the College Board to eliminate the sections of the SAT in which African-American and Hispanic students performed least well. By threatening the College Board that he would drop the SAT altogether as a requirement for application to the University of California System, he succeeded in getting his way. The dread “verbal analogies” section of the SAT was dropped. 

This section of the SAT, however, was among the most relevant to the serious purposes of higher education. If students are going to go beyond simply stockpiling knowledge like sandbags on the banks of a rising river, they need to develop the capacity to recognize analogy. Analogy is at the heart of scientific reasoning, legal reasoning, poetic insight, and just about every other advanced intellectual skill.   But, thanks to Atkinson, it has been kicked out of our reckoning of the factors that make for success in college. Instead we have “critical thinking,” which is often just a euphemism for uncritical credulity. But that’s another story.

Atkinson, however, is not through with the SAT. Inside Higher Ed today reports his continued efforts to jettison the SAT. Atkinson’s recent conference paper on the topic is available here. He would like to replace the test, which attempts to indentify student aptitude for college study with a standardized test that measures actual achievement. There is, of course, a case to be made for that. Assessing achievement, not aptitude, was the model that prevailed in higher education for hundreds of years before the SAT was invented. Back then, the assessments were called “entrance exams,” and they weeded out people who may have been smart but hadn’t had the advantages of first-rate schooling. The SAT was meant as a liberal reform that would open the gates of higher education to those not so fortunate. 

Atkinson takes us full circle. Would his reform improve higher education or is he still searching for the exam that would produce the social outcomes he would prefer? His new paper offers plenty of clues that what Atkinson really wants is a test that produces the outcomes he favors. He writes, “Beyond some reasonable standard of college readiness, other admissions criteria must take precedence over test scores if we are to craft an entering class that reflects our broader institutional values.” What are those “broader institutional values? Oh, lots of things, but pay special attention to the end of his list: “special talents and skills, leadership and community service, opportunity to learn, economic disadvantage, and social and cultural diversity.” 

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