Education & Parenting

Modern Universities: Citadels of Censorship?

Writes Adam Steinbaugh on Hundreds of campuses encourage students to turn in fellow students for offensive speech | Washington Examiner:

Universities are the cradle of free speech, where ideologies and ideas clash, where academics and activists can agree, disagree, or be disagreeable. This is particularly true in the United States, where the First Amendment zealously guards against government surveillance and intrusion into free speech.

Yet at hundreds of campuses across the country, administrators encourage students to report one another, or their professors, for speech protected by the First Amendment, or even mere political disagreements. The so-called “Bias Response Teams” reviewing these (often anonymous) reports typically include police officers, student conduct administrators and public relations staff who scrutinize the speech of activists and academics.

This sounds like the stuff of Orwell, although even he might have found the name “Bias Response Team” to be over-the-top.

Over the past year, I surveyed more than 230 such reporting systems for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and asked dozens of schools for records about their Bias Response Teams. What I found is detailed in a new report describing how universities broadly define “bias” to include virtually any speech, protected or not, that subjectively offends anyone.

 

Yaron Brook’s “Four Separations”

Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute lists four things he would amend if he “had the opportunity to rewrite the Constitution.”

From Glenn Has Incredible Interview About Economic Freedom With Yaron Brook – Glenn Beck:

Well, I have four separations that I would put into the Constitution: Separation of state from ideas. I don’t think government should be in the business of ideas. Religion is one set of ideas. I think it should be separate. But I think generally the government is there to protect our rights. Period. Full stop. That’s it.

If you want to be a communist under a free society, that’s okay. Get your friends together, go start a commune, be pathetic and miserable in that commune, to each according to his — from each according to his ability, each according to his means. As long as you’re not opposing it on people, you can do your own thing in a free society. That’s the beauty of freedom.

Separation of state from economics. The government has no economic policy. There shouldn’t be a Treasury Department, in the sense that there is today. Economic advisers. Central planning doesn’t work. It doesn’t work big. It doesn’t work small. It just doesn’t work, and it’s immoral. It’s wrong for the government to impose their values on us as individuals. So it’s morally offensive, and it’s economically stupid.

Separation of state from education. State has no role in education. And the reason our educational system is breaking down is, as corrupt and awful as it is, particularly in the inner cities, particularly for poor people — everybody is always concerned. When they say privatize education, what will happen with the poor kids? Well, it can’t be worse than it is today with these poor kids, right? Think about the educational quality they’re getting from a public educational system. So I’d like to privatize the whole system and get the government out of it. One of my disagreements with Thomas Jefferson is over the University of Virginia and the idea that the state should be involved in education.

And fourth is separation of state from science. Let’s get the state out of science so that we can have scientists unincentivized by government grants and politics and all of that, decide about global warming, about stem cells. Left and right, when government intervenes in science, it corrupts the science.

Read the whole interview at Glenn Beck.

Lisa VanDamme on The Proper Goal of Education

From the website of the VanDamme Academy:

“The proper goal of education is to foster the conceptual development of the child—to instill in him the knowledge and cognitive powers needed for mature life. It involves taking the whole of human knowledge, selecting that which is essential to the child’s conceptual development, presenting it in a way that allows the student to clearly grasp both the material itself and its value to his life, and thereby supplying him with both crucial knowledge and the rational thinking skills that will enable him to acquire real knowledge ever after. This is a truly progressive education—and parents and students should settle for nothing less.” —  Lisa VanDamme

Check out their curriculum. Pretty incredible.

“Black Lives Matter” Lies Inspire Police Hatred: Gangs in Minority Areas Are The Real Problem

Writes Heather MacDonald on The lies told by the Black Lives Matter movement | New York Post:

The facts are these: Last year, the police shot 990 people, the vast majority armed or violently resisting arrest, according to the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings. Whites made up 49.9 percent of those victims, blacks 26 percent. That proportion of black victims is lower than what the black violent crime rate would predict. Blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants in America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, 57 percent of all murder defendants and 45 percent of all assault defendants, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, even though blacks comprise only 15 percent of the population in those counties.

In New York City, where blacks make up 23 percent of the city’s population, blacks commit three-quarters of all shootings and 70 percent of all robberies, according to victims and witnesses in their reports to the NYPD. Whites, by contrast, commit less than 2 percent of all shootings and 4 percent of all robberies, though they are nearly 34 percent of the city’s population. In Chicago, 80 percent of all known murder suspects in 2015 were black, as were 80 percent of all known nonfatal shooting suspects, though they’re a little less than a third of the population. Whites made up 0.9 percent of known murder suspects in Chicago in 2015 and 1.4 percent of known nonfatal shooting suspects, though they are about a third of the city’s residents.

Gang shootings occur almost exclusively in minority areas. Police use of force is most likely in confrontations with violent and resisting criminals, and those confrontations happen disproportionately in minority communities.

So if “Black Lives Matter” really cared about innocent black lives they would call for more policing in high crime minority communities. Instead BLMers do the opposite attacking the police as such, making the police a target.

Gun-related murders of officers are up 52 percent this year through Aug. 30 compared to last year. The cop assassinations are only a more extreme version of the Black Lives Matter-inspired hatred that officers working in urban areas encounter on a daily basis. Officers are routinely surrounded by hostile, jeering crowds when they try to conduct a street investigation or make an arrest. Resistance to arrest is up, officers report.

The result of “Black Lives Matter” making policing more difficult is that they are doing “less of those discretionary activities in high-crime minority communities.” Leading to…

Violent crime is rising in cities with large black populations. Homicides in 2015 rose anywhere from 54 percent in Washington, DC, to 90 percent in Cleveland. In the nation’s 56 largest cities, homicides rose 17 percent in 2015, a nearly unprecedented one-year spike. In the first half of 2016, homicides in 51 large cities were up another 15 percent compared to the same period last year.

The carnage has continued this year. In Chicago alone, at least 15 children under the age of 12 have been shot in the first seven months of 2016, including a 3-year-old boy who is now paralyzed for life following a Father’s Day drive-by shooting. While the world knows Michael Brown, whose fatal police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., spurred Black Lives Matter, few people outside these children’s immediate communities know their names. Black Lives Matter activists have organized no protests to stigmatize their assailants.

This is because the so-called “Black Lives Matter” movement is not concerned about ALL Black lives, but only the less than 1% of Blacks (perhaps) illegitimately killed by the police. Some Black lives apparently are of more importance than others.

Yes, there are bad cops out there — and policing is in need of reform — but on the whole the police are a force for good. To lump all cops together as bad, as the BLM narrative implies, does a great disservice to the heroic individuals who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.

For the past two decades, the country has been talking about phantom police racism in order to avoid talking about a more uncomfortable truth: black crime. But in the era of data-driven law enforcement, policing is simply a function of crime. The best way to lower police-civilian contacts in inner-city neighborhoods would be for children to be raised by their mother and their father in order to radically lower the crime rate there.

If BLMers don’t trust the agents of the state as policeman, why do they trust the agents state as a surrogate parent given the dismal results of the anti-capitalist “progressive” welfare state (and the breaking up of the family unit it promotes)?

Comments philosopher Andrew Bernstein on the matter:

It’s not the cops that pose a danger to innocent black men, women, and children–it’s the thugs.

Why does the Left perpetuate the vicious canard of trigger-happy, racist cops to the detriment of policing and, therefore, of innocent black lives?

Because if we looked closely at the terrifyingly high rate of violent crime in many black urban neighborhoods–vastly higher than it was just 60 years ago–we would be led to recognition of its cause: The welfare state targeting of blacks, leading to astronomic illegitimacy rates, many children raised by a mother on welfare and no father in the home, scads of unsupervised children, despair, drug addiction, drug trafficking, and the off-the-charts rate of violent crime that accompanies drug trafficking.

Blacks are still victimized by racist white Americans–by semi-socialist intellectuals and by Democratic Party leaders, who care not a whit about the carnage in many black communities because it is a step toward fulfilling their “dream” of a paternalistic, semi-socialist America.

Full socialism–National Socialism and Communism–murders tens of millions of innocent victims. Semi-socialism murders only tens of thousands–and to racist U.S. leftists, “only” blacks, whose lives do not matter. In truth, black lives matter because all human lives matter.

But if black lives truly mattered to the Left, it would advocate three political principles:

  1. A full phase-out of the U.S. welfare state
  2. End the politcal-legal war on drugs and transform this “war” into a moral-philosophic-educational one
  3. Definitively abolish all minimum wage laws and permit wage rates to fall to market levels, where all low-skilled teenagers could be hired and productively employed.

In brief, if black lives mattered–if all human lives matter–they would support individual rights and capitalism.

 

Is Education a Right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUPFVnoJyds

Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute says no, and Paul Vaaler from the University of Minnesota says yes in a 2015 debate hosted by the Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Regressive Leftists Oppose Redskins Name, While Native Americans Embrace It

From New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name – The Washington Post:

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

[…]

Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.

[…]

But for more than a decade, no one has measured what the country’s 5.4 million Native Americans think about the controversy. Their responses to The Post poll were unambiguous: Few objected to the name, and some voiced admiration. “I’m proud of being Native American and of the Redskins,” said Barbara Bruce, a Chippewa teacher who has lived on a North Dakota reservation most of her life. “I’m not ashamed of that at all. I like that name.” Bruce, 70, has for four decades taught her community’s schoolchildren, dozens of whom have gone on to play for the Turtle Mountain Community High School Braves. She and many others surveyed embrace native imagery in sports because it offers them some measure of attention in a society where they are seldom represented. Just 8 percent of those canvassed say such depictions bother them.

Comments Naomi Schaefer Riley in the Atlantic:

As a recent Washington Post survey concluded, most American Indians are not offended by the term “Redskins”—the name of D.C.’s football team. In interviews, I couldn’t find a single native who mentioned sports-team names as an important issue facing American Indians today. While I did read one editorial in a reservation newsletter arguing against the celebration of Columbus Day, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to discuss the issue further.

While researchers have argued that team names such as this impair Native youths’ self-esteem, many of those young people have grown up in poverty, living with one or no parents, often exposed to adults who have problems with drugs and alcohol. When these young people have few educational options and little hope of employment ahead of them, it seems ignorant, if not offensive, to focus solely on the names of sports teams, if that distracts from addressing more serious problems. [Native Americans in the U.S. and Property Rights: A Comparative Look at Canada’s First Nations Property Ownership Act – The Atlantic]

Or perhaps it is smart of so-called tribal leaders to create distractions so they don’t get blamed for not addressing the real problem.

Why blame the policies that benefit them as tribal leaders, but hurt Indians in general, when the Washington Redskins can serve as a scapegoat. After all look what it has done to empower and enrich “Black Leaders.”

VanDamme Academy: A Documentary Project

This video is a glimpse into the world of VanDamme Academy – a world we hope to share even more, in a full documentary.

VanDamme Academy is known for producing some of the best academically prepared students in Orange County. But there is something more, something altogether different – a bristling energy, a depth of discussion, a sincere joy in the endeavor to become educated – that sets the school apart. It is these qualities that prompted a recent graduate to write, “This school is the best thing that ever happened to me.” It is these qualities that prompt parents, and visitors, and distant admirers to say, wistfully, “I wish I had gone to this school.”

One of those admirers is a filmmaker, who believes strongly that in the debate over education reform, VanDamme Academy has something vital to contribute. But what it has to contribute is something so utterly new, so essentially different from the educational norm, that people really grasp it only by stepping inside the school’s walls and experiencing it for themselves. We can give the whole world that experience through a documentary.

We need help to make the documentary happen. If you would like to learn more about this project and how you can help make it a reality, email a request for the documentary project details to [email protected]

Joy: The Pleasure in Learning

Susan Engel is a senior lecturer in Psychology and the director of the Program in Teaching at Williams College. And she has written an insightful piece on the importance of pleasure in learning.

From Joy: A Subject Schools Lack – The Atlantic:

The thing that sets children apart from adults is not their ignorance, nor their lack of skills. It’s their enormous capacity for joy. Think of a 3-year-old lost in the pleasures of finding out what he can and cannot sink in the bathtub, a 5-year-old beside herself with the thrill of putting together strings of nonsensical words with her best friends, or an 11-year-old completely immersed in a riveting comic strip. A child’s ability to become deeply absorbed in something, and derive intense pleasure from that absorption, is something adults spend the rest of their lives trying to return to.

[…]

Decades of research have shown that in order to acquire skills and real knowledge in school, kids need to want to learn. You can force a child to stay in his or her seat, fill out a worksheet, or practice division. But you can’t force a person to think carefully, enjoy books, digest complex information, or develop a taste for learning. To make that happen, you have to help the child find pleasure in learning—to see school as a source of joy.

Adults tend to talk about learning as if it were medicine: unpleasant, but necessary and good for you. Why not instead think of learning as if it were food—something so valuable to humans that they have evolved to experience it as a pleasure? The more a person likes fresh, healthy food, the more likely that individual is to have a good diet. Why can’t it be the same with learning? Let children learn because they love to—think only of a 2-year-old trying to talk to see how natural humans’ thirst for knowledge is. Then, in school, help children build on their natural joy in learning.

Read the entire article Joy: A Subject Schools Lack over at The Atlantic.

 

Message To Bernie: Denmark is Not a Socialist Economy, But a Market Economy with an Economic Time Bomb Called The Welfare State

From Denmark’s prime minister says Bernie Sanders is wrong to call his country socialist – Vox

[I]n a speech Friday evening at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that while he’s flattered to see Denmark discussed in a widely watched US presidential debate he doesn’t think the socialist shoe fits. “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” In Rasmussen’s view, “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

Here is Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark addressing the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on a range of Nordic solutions and challenges affecting the state of Denmark.

From Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault – The New York Times

It began as a stunt intended to prove that hardship and poverty still existed in this small, wealthy country, but it backfired badly. Visit a single mother of two on welfare, a liberal member of Parliament goaded a skeptical political opponent, see for yourself how hard it is. It turned out, however, that life on welfare was not so hard. The 36-year-old single mother … had more money to spend than many of the country’s full-time workers. All told, she was getting about $2,700 a month, and she had been on welfare since she was 16.

[…] Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. The population is aging, and in many regions of the country people without jobs now outnumber those with them. Some of that is a result of a depressed economy. But many experts say a more basic problem is the proportion of Danes who are not participating in the work force at all — be they dawdling university students, young pensioners or welfare recipients like Carina who lean on hefty government support.

[…] Denmark has among the highest marginal income-tax rates in the world, with the top bracket of 56.5 percent kicking in on incomes of more than about $80,000. But in exchange, the Danes get a cradle-to-grave safety net that includes free health care, a free university education and hefty payouts to even the richest citizens.

[…] But few experts here believe that Denmark can long afford the current perks. So Denmark is retooling itself, tinkering with corporate tax rates, considering new public sector investments and, for the long term, trying to wean more people — the young and the old — off government benefits. “In the past, people never asked for help unless they needed it,” said Karen Haekkerup, the minister of social affairs and integration, who has been outspoken on the subject. “My grandmother was offered a pension and she was offended. She did not need it. “But now people do not have that mentality. They think of these benefits as their rights. The rights have just expanded and expanded….”

[…] Robert Nielsen, 45, made headlines last September when he was interviewed on television, admitting that he had basically been on welfare since 2001. Mr. Nielsen said he was able-bodied but had no intention of taking a demeaning job, like working at a fast-food restaurant. He made do quite well on welfare, he said. He even owns his own co-op apartment. … “Luckily, I am born and live in Denmark, where the government is willing to support my life,” he said.

Also worth reading: Why Denmark isn’t the utopian fantasy Bernie Sanders describes – The Washington Post

How Left Wing Faculty Use Student Protestors as Shock Troops To Gain Money and Power

Robert Tracinski identifies the the real purpose behind the student protests over at the The Federalist.

He notes that much of the student demands “read less like a manifesto of student revolutionaries, and more like a particularly aggressive salary negotiation…There is a lot going on in these demands, including an attempt to turn universities into organs of leftist indoctrination, with all opposing viewpoints rigorously purged….But underneath the creepy totalitarianism, there is a more mundane and practical purpose.” Writes Tracinski:

[…] who do you suppose is supporting and encouraging the campus protests? Who taught them the ideas they are using, and who is egging them on? The very same faculty and administrators for whom the protesters are demanding more money and power.

Everyone who has ever spent time around a university or with academics knows that beneath all the high-flown ivory tower stuff, there is a constant scramble for money and authority. Every department’s job is to expand itself, to hire more faculty and administrators, to expand its budget, to get bigger offices in a nicer building. Now the “social justice” faction among the faculty has found a way to club everyone else into submission and win departmental office politics once and for all. Accuse the university of systemic racism, force its nominal leaders into groveling apologies, and then dictate terms to the rest of the system. Emboldened and seeing that no one wants to stand up to them, they’re even attempting to take over every other department of the university by foisting mandatory courses in “social justice” on the math department.

So what looks from the outside like a student protest movement looks on the inside like an administrative coup by a small faction of the faculty, using naive and ill-informed students as their shock troops. No wonder marginal faculty members are climbing on the bandwagon and signing up to muscle out reporters and guide the young protesters. They hope to ride this to higher-paid, more secure, more powerful positions.

And what about the majority of students who are not protesters and just want an education?

As for all of the other students …. it doesn’t benefit them at all. They are the ones whose education will be watered down with tedious mandatory indoctrination sessions and who will have to spend four years of their lives living in fear of making the wrong move and offending the wrong people.

They might want to consider the way in which they are being exploited for the institutional interests of a very few people, who feed them a lot of high-minded guff about ‘systemic racism’ while angling for bigger offices and cushier salaries.” [Student Protesters, You Just Got Used]

It is these students who need to speak up and be heard.

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15

After acquiring his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, Ahaan Rungta joined the MIT Class of 2019 at age 15.

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15 | MIT News

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was 5, I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

When Rungta turned 12, his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, as his parents realized he needed to be in a more intellectually stimulating environment. He also wanted to live closer to MIT.

For his 13th birthday, Rungta only wanted one thing — a visit to the Institute. “I stepped onto campus and it changed my life,” he says. “I will never forget the feeling of walking into the lobby of Building 7, looking up, and then touching the pillars to see if they were real. I couldn’t believe I was at MIT. My life and my ambitions moved to another level at that moment.”

Later that day, Rungta saw an Indian restaurant in the Student Center that had been closed down. He suggested to his dad — a chef who owned a restaurant in Lowell — that he look into reopening the café. His father soon became the manager of Café Spice, and the family moved from Lowell to Cambridge. Rungta studied in the Student Center every day while his father ran the café.

MIT was undergoing big changes of its own that year, with the launch of MITx, in which MIT courses would be made available online and delivered on the edX platform. Just as Rungta was ready for a new intellectual challenge, MIT once again was there for him, as its own digital learning efforts were expanding to now provide online courses in addition to course materials. When he was 9, Rungta took 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry) through OCW with Professor Donald Sadoway. Four years later, he signed up to take it again — this time through MITx with Professor Michael Cima. He has since taken 55 MITx and OCW courses, and he now uses these online resources to supplement his on-campus undergraduate experience.

Reflecting on his journey from Calcutta to Cambridge and the many intersecting moments with MIT, Rungta is grateful to his parents and to MIT for being responsive to his needs every step of the way. “MIT has been my middle school, my high school, my entire education. That’s pretty amazing. Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.” 

As he ponders declaring a major next year, Rungta pauses for a moment, and then he lights up. “In an ideal world, I would want to major in everything.”