Category: Academics

New York City Gives 1.1 Million Students Free Pass From School To Join Climate Change Protests

There is an interesting story in the New York Times that the city has decided that any of its 1.1 million public school students will be allowed to skip classes without penalties to join the global youth climate strikes to be held this Friday. As someone who has long advocated for action on climate change and opposes the Trump environmental policies, I am entirely in support of demonstrations. However, the decision raises some concerns over how the New York Public School system chooses which protests to sanction. Would students be permitted next month to attend anti-climate change protests? If not, this authority is being used in a viewpoint discriminatory manner.

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Survey: Only 39 Percent Of Americans Can Name All Three Branches of Government

The annual Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey is the latest chilling survey revealing the lack of knowledge of most Americans about their own system of government. While this country remains highly patriotic, most Americans are woefully ignorant of the details of their constitutional system. According to the survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, only 39 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government.

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GW Holds Annual Supreme Court Review

I will be again joining a distinguished panel of experts at George Washington University this morning to kick off the new Term of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court review will convene in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room of the George Washington Law School at 9 am EDT (13:00 GMT/UTC)  We will be discussing a number of leading cases this term as well as the current Court make-up.

 A livestream will be available via the GW Law Facebook page. A link to more information is available here.

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“Liberal Breeding Ground”: Tennessee Lawmaker Calls For The End Of Higher Education

Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield has called for the end of higher education, which he dismisses as a “liberal breeding ground.” It is a curious view for a politician from a state with world-class universities which fuel the state’s burgeoning high tech industry and bring huge amounts of revenue in the form of tuition, support contracts and tourism. That includes Vanderbilt University, which is viewed as one of the world’s greatest universities. There is also the much beloved University of Tennessee with its statewide supporters of the Volunteers football team.

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“Not Based On Science”: Chief NOAA Rebukes Trump As IG Investigates Allegations Of Political Pressure To Reverse Forecast That Contradicted Trump

I have previously written about the controversy over President Donald Trump’s comments on Hurricane Dorian and the latest self-inflected wound in what is being called “Sharpiegate.” The name however masks something more serious. It is not the bizarre decision to mark up a hurricane map with a Sharpie to extend the path to Alabama. It is not even the bizarre refusal to just acknowledge an honest mistake in not acknowledging that path predictions on that day showed the hurricane avoiding Alabama. The more serious problem is what the statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effectively rebuking the forecast of its Birmingham office contradicting the President. There are now reports that the Commerce Secretary threatened firings if NOAA did not issue a statement supporting Trump’s untrue statement. When Trump issued his statement no one was predicting that the hurricane would hit Alabama (days earlier there was a possibility that Alabama could be effected). Various scientists and experts denounced NOAA’s statement and the politicalization of NOAA. Now the Inspector General is investigating and Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, has called the unprecedented NOAA statement “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

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U.N. Documents Thousands Of Extrajudicial Killings After Chicago Teacher Union Members Went To Venezuela In Sign Of Solidarity

Do you recall the delegation of Chicago Teacher Union members going to Venezuela in a demonstration of support? Many of us were highly critical of Richard Berg (Organizer), strike captains Sarah Chambers (Special Education Educator), Valeria Vargas (Math Educator) and Fabiana Casas (English Educator) for the trip to show solidarity with a blood-soaked regime that has denied free speech, free press and other fundamental rights to Venezuelans. Chambers even expressed approval in a tweet saying “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person.” Another thing Chambers probably did not see were the thousands of murdered Venezuelans just documented by the United Nations in a report of the extrajudicial killings ordered by the Maduro regime. Actually, between the millions that have fled, the thousands murdered, the thousands in jail, and the thousand in hiding, I am surprised Chambers saw many people at all on the streets of Venezuela.

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Riddikulus! Catholic Pastor Bans Harry Potter Books Because They Contain “Actual Curses and Spells”

The Reverend Dan Reehill is the pastor of St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee and he has banned Harry Potter books because he believes that the books contain “actual curses and spells” that “risk conjuring evil spirits.” Reehill is a grown man who thinks that actual magic or evil spirits may be summoned by reading the books. Moreover, he is in charge of a school of children.

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Inclusion By Exclusion: The Twisted Logic Of Educators Achieving Equality

Below is my column in Tthe Hill Newspaper on the recent proposal by a diversity panel appointed by Mayor Bill De Blasio to eliminate much of the Gifted and Talented programs in the school system. It is part of a broader trend of achieving equality by eliminating opportunities or recognitions.

Here is the column:

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Rockefeller University Moves To Redesign The “Dude Wall” After Rachel Maddow Remarks [Updated]

We have previously discussed how universities are removing portraits of their founders or their most accomplished figures because they are white males. The latest such example is Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute where neurobiologist  Leslie Vosshall announced that a wall displaying portraits of the winners of the prestigious winners of the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award must be changed. The problem is that they are the wrong race and gender so a committee is expected to order the design of the wall. The “problem” was identified by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow who gave an award for leading female scientists and derisively referred to the portraits by asked “What is up with the dude wall?” Now the “Dude Wall” will be changed in a move that raises real concerns over the growing trend toward removing historical portraits in colleges to achieve diversity.

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SAT Dumps Controversial Adversity Score Program

David Coleman, the President and Chief Executive of the College Board, has been under steady and rising criticism over his relatively short tenure at the head of the testing organization. After taking control, Coleman immediately moved to implement the most controversial move in the history of standardized testing: an “adversity score” that would supplement the testing scores to benefit students from impoverished areas. Critics objected that Coleman was moving beyond the core function of standardized testing and engaging in his vision of addressing social ills and inequities through testing. Some even objected that it was an effort to insert a de facto affirmative action program at the test score stage. The College Board has now announced that this expensive effort by Coleman will be scrapped. College Board however has indicated that “information” may still be given to colleges, leading some to question whether Coleman is truly yielding on his effort to augment the standardized scores of applicants.

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De Blasio Panel Recommends Total Elimination of Gifted and Talented Programs

Most school systems have gifted and talented programs for students who are substantially advanced in courses and need more challenging material. The programs allow teachers on both levels to offer a more holistic curriculum and it also has served to keep advanced students in the public school system after years of “white flight.” The programs however have a majority of white and asian students. A panel appointed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has now come up with a recommendation to solve that de facto “segregation.” It wants to simply eliminate the gifted and talented program. Problem solved.

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No, It Is Not Racist To Oppose Birthright Citizenship

Below is my column in The Hill on the recent controversy over President Donald Trump’s comments on ending birthright citizenship. The most notable criticism came from Professor Lawrence Tribe who accused Trump of pursuing a racist agenda to “reverse the outcome of the Civil War.” Others have also labeled the effort as racist including media coverage. It isn’t and the underlying constitutional question is unresolved.

Here is the column:

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Muggle College Settles With Wizarding School

Merlin’s Beard! The College of William and Mary has been embroiled in a contract dispute with a wizarding school for years over unpaid lease fees. Unable to show either a binding magical contract or an unbreakable vow, William & Mary decided to settle for a portion of the alleged outstanding claims against Learn Larp LLC for $70,000. That’s dollars, not galleons.

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“We Didn’t See A Single Homeless Person”: Chicago Teacher’s Union Members Fly To Venezuela In Show Of Support

Venezuela is a humanitarian and civil liberties disaster. The repressive regime of Nicolás Maduro has been condemned around the world for its campaign of killings, arrests, and torture with the help of hundreds of Cuban intelligence officers. The free press and any dissent has been brutally destroyed as the nation itself reduced to pre-industrial standards. Beyond Cuba, North Korea, and other authoritarian regimes, Venezuela has few friends . . . . except union teachers from Chicago. The delighted picture above shows the delegation of union teachers who flew to Venezuela in support of one of the most blood-soaked regimes in the world. The picture reportedly shows Richard Berg (Organizer), strike captains Sarah Chambers (Special Education Educator), Valeria Vargas (Math Educator) and Fabiana Casas (English Educator) on Twitter after crowdfunding their trip to Venezuela.

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American University Holds Training Session On Avoiding Single Standard Grading To Achieve “Antiracist” Objectives

American University has brought in an academic from the University of Washington-Tacoma with a curious mission for an academic institution: to teach academics not to grade on the writing ability of students as opposed to their “labor.” Professor Asao Inoue believes that writing ability should not be assessed because such assessment interfere with “antiracist” objectives.

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