Freedom of Speech

In Writing (all kinds) on May 15, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Thank you for sharing, Prof S.E. Anderson & GAC.

Every time I receive such detailed & cross-sectional News, it often reminds me about the very “Significance/Importance” of The Free Speech, Freedom Expression, & Academic Freedom. Still, in the 21st Century, some authoritarian (feudal & semi- dictatorial) States, many educators, media outlet Centers and/or organizations, Journalists, Advocates for Social Justice, and others often end-up being ‘banned’ and/or jailed.

Of course, as one of my early mentors in the the field of Human Rights/Equality tutored me, many “moons” ago, certain individuals/groups/organization may have to revisit, the meaning of “Free speech/expression judiciously.” There are certain expressions that need to be examined. Do such expressions include, what this mentor called: “THEWARRING WORDS?” If that is the case, then, it is no more “FREE EXPRESSION!” It is intended to SILENCE THE VICTIMS, by creating an environment of violence, that propagates & promotes HATE/HATRED”

Sorry for any cross-postings.


Testing Resistance & Reform News: May 4 – 10, 2016

Add Georgia to the list of states that have had to eliminate consequences attached to test scores because of the failure of computer-administered exams. Earlier this year, Alaska and Tennessee cancelled their tests as did Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota in 2015 — more than two-thirds of all states have reported computer test SNAFUs:

Meanwhile, the grassroots assessment reform movement continues to push state and local policy-makers to rollback policies that mandate the overuse and misuse of standardized tests.

National Best Ways to Evaluate Student Learning Growth Involve Educator Input
National Why NAEP Shows No Educational Progress

Multiple States Online Testing Foul-Ups Leave States Flummoxed
Multiple States After Rejecting Common Core Exams, What Next?

Alabama School Board, Parents Discuss Glitches in Computerized Tests

California San Diego Cuts Back Testing Mandates in Response to Assessment Reform Pressure
California State Board to Decide New School Performance Metrics

Florida How High-Stakes Testing Dumbs Down Education
Florida State Teacher Bonus System Gets an “F” Grade
Florida Large School District Backs Away From Relentless Testing

Georgia State Board Nullifies Results After Computer Disruptions of State Exams
Georgia Governor Signs Bill Reducing Standardized Testing Volumes and Consequences
Georgia Milestones Testing Is Educational Millstone

Hawaii Why Standardized Testing Should Be Abolished

Indiana Testing Madness Needs to Stop–12860418

Kentucky As State Testing Nears, Some Choose to Opt Out

Massachusetts Parents Protest PARCC Exam

Michigan Give Schools Flexibility in Testing

New Jersey Lawsuit Settlement Gives Districts Power to Determine Graduation, Not State Tests
New Jersey to Extend Grad Test Moratorium
New Jersey We Must Learn to Teach the Whole Child

New Mexico Don’t Punish PARCC Opt Outs
New Mexico Removes Gag Order on Teachers Criticizing Tests

New York Parents and Teachers Protest Against Scripted Test-Prep Lessons
New York Regents Head Says High-Stakes Testing of Special Ed and English Learners Is “Abusive”
New York Questar Hires Former Pearson Exec. to Run Assessment Program

North Dakota State Will Replace Common Core Standards and Tests

Pennsylvania Schools Need More Money, Not Another State-Imposed Test

Tennessee the State’s Real Accountability Problem
Tennessee Public Deserves Explanation of State Test Failures

Texas “Mothers Against Drunk Testing” Calls for Moratorium on all State Standardized Exams. “Enough Is Enough!”
Texas Superintendents Say State Test Is Riddled with Errors and Other Issues
Texas Why We Are Opting Out of the Test

Utah Governor Calls for End to Common Core Testing

Wyoming Confusing Emails About “Lost” State Tests Creates Panic Among Districts

International Thousands of British Students “Strike” Against Against Testing in “Let Our Kids Be Kids” Campaign
International Overwhelming Percentage of British Children Report Feeling Test Pressure
International Answers to Tests Taken By 600,000 British Students Leaked Before Administration

“Big Data” Failed to Fix Education; It’s Time for Small Data

Survey: Classroom Formative Tests More Valuable Than State End-pf-Year Exams

Should You Trust a Computer to Score Your Child’s Writing Test?

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468


Hundreds of UW students protest lack of progress on race issues

May 13, 2016
Hundreds of students walked out of classes at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus midday Thursday and then briefly took over the UW’s regents meeting, protesting what they see as systemic institutional racism at the UW.
Their list of demands includes asking the UW to divest its holdings in major national hedge funds and banks that hold investments in the private prison industry. Students say these companies are benefiting from mass incarceration policies and harsh prison sentences that have devastated minority communities.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans said the university has no direct investments in private prison companies. He said he does not know if the university’s hedge funds include prison investments, but that the amount of money invested in hedge funds is a small part of the university’s portfolio.
In December, the University of California system sold about $30 million of investments in companies that operate private prisons, at the urging of student activists. Columbia University has also divested from private prison companies. UW President Ana Mari Cauce said the UW is not invested in any of the companies at the center of those divestment actions.
The protesting students, faculty and staff — who call themselves the South Campus Organizers — have also joined with Black Lives Matter activists, plus another group, Decolonize UW, to publicize incidents of racism on campus.
They started the protest at 11 a.m., when about 300 students gathered next to Mary Gates Hall. They then marched through Allen and Suzzallo libraries, made speeches on Suzzallo’s steps on Red Square, and walked through the Quad. Around 1:20 p.m., they entered the UW Board of Regents meeting on the fourth floor of Allen Library and briefly took over the meeting. Later in the day, they blocked traffic periodically on streets near campus.
In an open letter to UW leaders, they say the university has failed its community by holding forums and meetings without taking action to create a more equitable campus.

Last month, hundreds of students took control of a scheduled race and equity conversation at the university, saying the UW isn’t moving fast enough to solve racial friction on campus. Students distributed a list of seven demands, which included divesting from prisons by the end of spring 2017, and removing a section of the student admissions application that asks students about prior convictions.
The UW’s admission application only asks students if they’ve been convicted of a violent felony crime against another person, Arkans said.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education urged the nation’s colleges and universities to reconsider college-application questions that ask students to divulge if they have been arrested.
Meanwhile, at Seattle University, a group of students also is demanding change in that school’s  curriculum and culture.on that campus. About 30 to 40 students spent the night in the front office of Matteo Ricci College, the school’s humanities college, and more joined in for  a rally at noon on campus. They have said they will not leave until their demands are met.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or On Twitter @katherinelong.
NY Judge finds rating teachers through growth (test) scores “arbitrary and capricious”
Court decision as a PDF here:
message from attorney Bruce Lederman below, who sued on behalf of his wife, Sheri Lederman.
“I am very pleased to attach a 13 page decision by Judge Roger McDonough which concludes that Sheri has “met her high burden and established that Petitioner’s growth score and rating for the school year 2013-2014 are arbitrary and capricious.” The Court declined to make an overall ruling on the rating system in general because of new regulations in effect. However, decision makes (at page 11) important observations that VAM is biased against teachers at both ends of the spectrum, disproportionate effects of small class size, wholly unexplained swings in growths scores, strict use of curve.
The decision should qualify as persuasive authority for other teachers challenging growth scores throughout the County. Court carefully recites all our expert affidavits, and discusses at some length affidavits from Professors Darling-Hammond, Pallas, Amrein-Beardsley, Sean Corcoran and Jesse Rothstein as well as Drs. Burris and Lindell . It is clear that the evidence all of these amazing experts presented was a key factor in winning this case since the Judge repeatedly said both in Court and in the decision that we have a “high burden” to meet in this case. The Court wrote that the court “does not lightly enter into a critical analysis of this matter … [and] is constrained on this record, to conclude that petitioner has met her high burden.” I believe that is Judge-Speak for the judge wanted to rule in favor of the Ed Department but our evidence was so powerful that he had no choice except to rule in our favor.
To my knowledge, this is the first time a judge has set aside an individual teacher’s VAM rating based upon a presentation like we made.
THANKS to all who helped in this endeavor.”

The Gender Pay Gap for Young Workers Is Higher for the Most Educated

May 04, 2016

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute finds that the gender wage gap begins for students immediately after they graduate from college. The study found that women with college degrees earn $4 less per hour than their male peers early in their careers, and the gap is widening.
Women with a college degree earn an average hourly wage of $16.58, according to the study. Young men with a college degree, earn an average of $20.94 an hour – $4.36 more than young women with a college degree. This results in a $9,000 annual pay gap.
The gender earning gap is wider for those with a college degree compared to those with only a high school education. Young women with a high school diploma but no college earn 92 percent of  the pay of similarly educated men. Yet young women with a college degree earn only 79 percent of the pay earned by similarly educated men.
The study, The Class of 2016: The Labor Market Is Still Less Than Ideal for Young Graduates, may be downloaded by clicking here.

How George Mason Became Koch’s Academic Darling

George Mason’s recent decision to name its law school (at right) for the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has put the
university’s relationship with one of the nation’s most-influential political families under closer review.
By Jack Stripling
May 13, 2016-

Fairfax, Va.- In the annals of George Mason University’s history, few outsiders have claim to a role so prominent as Charles G. Koch.

Indeed, one can scarcely separate the story of George Mason from that of Mr. Koch, a libertarian billionaire who, along with his brother, David H. Koch, has used his fortune to try to swing elections and to emancipate markets from regulation.
The Koch brothers’ war of ideas expands far across academe, where programs aligned with their political interests curry philanthropic favor, but no institution has benefited as consistently from the Koch largess as George Mason. And, arguably, no university has suffered as much criticism as a result.
The Charles Koch Foundation pumped nearly $50 million into George Mason between 2011 and 2014, according to an analysis of tax forms conducted by theAssociated Press. Much of that money was steered toward the Mercatus Center, a libertarian-style economic think tank that Charles Koch helped to establish.
While there is little question that George Mason owes a great deal to Mr. Koch’s generosity, there is considerable disagreement over whether the philanthropist’s donations lend him undue influence over the direction of the university or merely serve to enhance a few discrete academic programs that have long attracted scholars with a free-market orientation. This long-festering dispute reached a tipping point earlier this spring, when George Mason announced that it would name its law school for Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice, in recognition of a $10-million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation and a $20-million donation from an anonymous benefactor.
In naming the school for Justice Scalia, a hero to conservatives and a villain to many progressives, George Mason’s uneasy relationship with one of the nation’s most-influential political families has come under closer review and pitted professors against one another in an ethically charged dialogue about donor influence on teaching and research.

‘Market-Oriented Ideas’

The seeds of Mr. Koch’s relationship with George Mason were planted in 1980, when the Mercatus Center set up shop on the university’s campus. The center, which bills itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas,” helped George Mason to lure some of the biggest names in economics. They include James M. Buchanan Jr. and Vernon L. Smith, both of whom have won Nobel prizes.
Mercatus was founded by Richard Fink, a George Mason professor who would help to forge formal links between the university and Mr. Koch’s vast financial and political enterprises. As Mr. Fink ascended in Koch Industries Inc., becoming an executive vice president and member of the company’s Board of Directors, the economist’s influence grew at George Mason, where Mr. Fink served for eight years as a member of the Board of Visitors.
He remains a member of the Mercatus Center’s board, along with Charles Koch and Brian Hooks, executive director of the Koch Foundation.
George Mason’s emergence as a hot spot for free-market thinking soon extended to the university’s Law & Economics Center, a unit of the law school, which attracted legal minds of an often libertarian persuasion. Regardless of whether Charles Koch shaped George Mason’s trajectory or simply supported it, there are few institutions that have become so strongly identified with a particular school of economic thought across multiple disciplines.
Walter E. Williams, George Mason’s John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics, had a ringside seat for the university’s evolution. On a recent morning at his office, Mr. Williams, who joined the faculty in 1980, sounded unsurprised by the latest controversy concerning Mr. Koch, whom Mr. Williams considers a personal friend.
Most of George Mason’s faculty members, the professor says, “have utter contempt for the Constitution.”
“So a Constitutional person like Scalia would be very offensive to them.”
This is the sort of red meat Mr. Williams offers up to listeners of the Rush Limbaugh radio broadcast, where the professor occasionally fills in as guest host. Over the course of an hourlong interview, Mr. Williams lambasted “nasty liberals” at the University of Massachusetts, compared most forms of taxation to slavery, and watched a video of Mr. Koch toasting the professor at a dinner several years ago. During the toast, Mr. Koch seemed to relish an anecdote about Mr. Williams, who is black, once claiming that if any Black Panther Party members messed with him he could “kick their butts.”
At 6 feet, 4 inches, perhaps that is true.
Mr. Williams’s politics are no secret. On his bookshelves rest a bust of Adam Smith, the patron saint of unimpeded capitalism, and a copy of The Libertarian Reader. But Mr. Williams says that he is careful not to bring his opinions, hardened as they are, into the classroom. He scoffs at any suggestion that George Mason’s economics department indoctrinates students with antiregulatory, free-market messages. He does, however, hope his pupils will come to see the world just as he does.
“I would like students to share my subjective opinions,” Mr. Williams says. “If they become hard-minded thinkers, they will adopt many of my opinions.”

‘Obscure the True Agenda’

Few people seem to dispute that George Mason, at least in the disciplines of law and economics, is a more conservative campus than many other public institutions. The harder question is whether Koch money perpetuates that reality, and in so doing ensures that the university’s scholarship and teaching will serve the foundation’s political interests.
To answer that question, skeptics naturally look toward Mercatus. The center is a private, nonprofit research organization that operates independently of the university and without state or federal money, but it has considerable cross pollination with George Mason’s economics department, some of whose professors rely upon Mercatus to supplement their incomes. This year, about two dozen George Mason faculty members received a total of $432,000 from the center, Mercatus officials said. The center has also provided financial support to 64 graduate students, nearly of them in economics.
Mercatus has come under increased scrutiny over the past year, and much of that attention is due to Jane Mayer’s book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday, 2016).
Ms. Mayer’s book recounts the political maneuverings of Charles and David Koch, as characterized in a confidential study written by Clayton A. Coppin, a management consultant at Koch Industries who taught history at George Mason. In the study, Mr. Coppin described Mercatus as “a lobbying group disguised as a disinterested academic program.” By donating money to the center, Mr. Coppin wrote, Charles Koch received a tax deduction for financing what amounted to an advocacy arm for his “corporate interest.”
Establishing centers and institutes, Mr. Coppin said, was preferable to giving money to universities outright because it gave Mr. Koch more leverage.
“It would be necessary to use ambiguous and misleading names, obscure the true agenda, and conceal the means of control,” Mr. Coppin wrote. “This is the method that Charles Koch would soon practice in his charitable giving, and later in his political actions.”

Through his foundation, Charles G. Koch has given millions to George Mason U. An official with
his foundation said Mr. Koch supports scholarship “about the relationship between freedom and
prosperity. … It’s unfortunate that some folks have used political tactics to silence or attack scholars
they don’t agree with instead of dealing with the ideas themselves.”

Tyler Cowen, general director of Mercatus, declined an interview request and referred all questions to Bob Ewing, the center’s director of media relations. Mr. Ewing said he had not read Dark Money and could not comment on Mr. Coppin’s characterization of the center. He stressed that the Koch foundation is just one of more than 3,000 foundations, individuals, and corporations that provide Mercatus with financial support. John C. Hardin, director of university relations for the Charles Koch Foundation, said the foundation is “interested in pursuing questions about the relationship between freedom and prosperity.”
“That’s what Charles is excited about supporting,” Mr. Hardin said. “It’s unfortunate that some folks have used political tactics to silence or attack scholars they don’t agree with instead of dealing with the ideas themselves.”
The Mercatus Center’s conflict-of-interest statement speaks directly to concerns of donor meddling, labeling any such interference as unacceptable.
“Mercatus financial supporters have absolutely no influence or control over the research design, methodology, analysis, or findings of Mercatus research projects, nor do they have influence or control over the content of educational programs,” the statement reads. “Offers of financial support predicated on such expectations are not accepted.”
The center’s strong language provides a bulwark against overt and egregious forms of donor influence, which academics of all political stripes would presumably find inappropriate. Subtler donor influences on the culture of George Mason University, however, are more difficult to detect and harder to quantify.
Carrie A. Meyer, an associate professor of economics at George Mason, first joined the faculty in 1988, after finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Ms. Meyer describes herself as a political moderate who leans left of her colleagues. Looking back on her career, Ms. Meyer said, she has held back in her scholarship at George Mason, gravitating toward vanilla topics, such as a book based on the diaries of her family’s farm. She did not want to rock the boat.
“I carefully chose my research so it wouldn’t be objectionable to them,” she said.
Ms. Meyer described her colleagues as smart economists but said they collectively provide graduate students with a narrow view of the discipline.
“I would tell people that it’s better to go to a place where they would get a broader education,” she said.
Other George Mason professors push back against that critique. Peter J. Boettke, a professor of economics and philosophy, said the university values rigorous intellectual debate, not the parroting of some political orthodoxy.
“We have a variety of people with different views here,” said Mr. Boettke, director of a Mercatus program and an authority on the Austrian school of economics, which looks askance at government spending as an economic stimulus. “Let’s say we have a graduate student who wanted to write a thesis on the Affordable Care Act. Would they be discouraged from doing it because of Mercatus? I would hope not. I hope they would see this is an environment of open discourse and the best arguments win out.”
Whatever questions the Mercatus Center has invited, administrators have consistently concluded that it helps bring superstars into the university. Peter N. Stearns, a former provost of the university, said that the center’s association with politically motivated donors raised “yellow flags, but not red ones.”
“We didn’t know as much about the Kochs then as we do now,” said Mr. Stearns, who served as the university’s chief academic officer from 2000 to 2015. “I was aware of it and not entirely comfortable with it. But the program was providing us with objectively high-quality faculty. The reputation was high, even if they were aligned with a libertarian or a free-market stance.”

Polarizing Justice

What once passed for mild suspicion of the Kochs’ perceived influence has boiled over into outright disdain among some professors at George Mason. The Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies, another Koch-funded nonprofit on the university’s property, have been seen by critics as troubling satellite operations on the fringe of the university proper. But the gift to the law school brings these concerns closer to the core of the institution, and the Scalia naming tracks as a middle finger to liberal minded students and professors.
Justice Scalia’s record on gay rights and racial preferences in college admissions are particularly troubling to some faculty members, who see his opinions as counter to the inclusive mission of the university. During oral arguments over affirmative action last year, Mr. Scalia raised the specter of “mismatch theory,”questioning whether black students might do better at a “slower-track school.”

“I don’t know how we can call ourselves a public university and associate ourselves with someone who doesn’t believe that African Americans belong at a school like Mason.”

“I don’t know how we can call ourselves a public university and associate ourselves with someone who doesn’t believe that African Americans belong at a school like Mason,” said Craig Willse, an assistant professor of cultural studies. Henry N. Butler, dean of the law school, said the idea of naming the school for Justice Scalia came from the anonymous donor, who has pledged $20 million to go along with the Koch Foundation’s $10-million contribution. The naming, Mr. Butler said, was by no means an endorsement of the totality of Justice Scalia’s views. Indeed, the dean said, he would just as happily have named the law school for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s reliably liberal justice, had that been the donor’s wish.
“I would have that thirty-million-dollar smile on my face,” Mr. Butler said.
George Mason’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution last week calling on the university to put the renaming on hold until the gift agreements could be further reviewed. The discussion before the vote revealed an intensifying rift between law professors, who say the gift will advance the school’s national profile, and faculty in other disciplines, who say the contribution gives the Koch Foundation undue leverage over university affairs.
Lloyd R. Cohen, a law professor, stood before a packed room of his colleagues and described the resolution as “hate-filled.”
“Consider the barely concealed contempt for the law-school faculty and administration, that we would voluntarily sell out our right to faculty governance and academic freedom for a donor,” Mr. Cohen said.
The anonymous donor’s gift agreement, which provides for scholarship money that will in turn generate tuition revenue to help pay for 12 new professorships, gives the donor broad discretion to terminate the deal if the school “is no longer principally focused” on its “mission.” It also stipulates that Mr. Butler, specifically, “is a critical part of advancing the school’s mission” and that the donors should be notified “immediately” if he is removed or resigns.
None of these stipulations, Mr. Butler said, infringe on the president and provost’s authority to fire the dean or the school’s authority to appoint the professors it sees fit. To suggest that the school would agree to anything less, Mr. Butler said, is offensive.
“They challenge our academic integrity, and they act like a bunch of purists,” he said of his critics. “It’s all political. I don’t throw hand grenades at other people in the university, and they are taking cheap shots.”
What Mr. Butler cannot deny, however, is that George Mason is taking a gamble. The business plan, such as it is, relies on the precept that the law school, which has seen staggering enrollment drops and a corresponding rankings decline, will rebound with help of the donors’ largess. The school expects to exhaust the $30 million in about 10 years, Mr. Butler said, after which the university will be relying on sustained enrollment increases to continue to pay for the dozen new professors.
Count David L. Kuebrich as a skeptic. Mr. Kuebrich, an associate professor of English, has spent years researching donor influence at George Mason, often finding that the university foundation’s agreements are confidential and not subject to public-records laws. These new agreements, which were made public because they required the president’s signature for the Scalia naming, ensure that the university will be indefinitely on the hook to pay for new faculty positions, regardless of whether the plan works or the donors deliver, Mr. Kuebrich said.
“The Kochs always cut hard deals,” he said. “They get a lot for their money, and it’s coming ultimately from Virginia taxpayers.”

‘No Brainwashing’

Like the economics department, George Mason’s law school has a solid reputation as a bedrock of libertarian thought. Its blending of law and economics draws upon the traditions of the University of Chicago, a number of whose leading scholars have a history of praising the power of unfettered markets.
The Scalia naming has rekindled concerns about the Law & Economics Center’s Mason Judicial Education Program. The program, which receives money from the Charles Koch Foundation and other right-leaning groups, provides seminars that aim to give judges an “understanding of critical economic disciplines” to inform their decision making, according to its website.
But critics on George Mason’s faculty have questioned whether these seminars are designed to ideologically influence judges.

D. Bruce Johnsen (left), director of a judicial-education program at George Mason’s Law & Economics
Center, scoffs at the idea that the program seeks to influence judges ideologically. “To suggest that
anyone could get a bunch of judges together and brainwash them is just nonsense,” he says.

“There is no brainwashing going on here,” D. Bruce Johnsen, the program’s director, told professors at last week’s Faculty Senate meeting. “To suggest that anyone could get a bunch of judges together and brainwash them is just nonsense. These people, as their profession, listen to smart advocates constantly, and sift through what they say and they make up their own mind. So, again, I think this is just a thinly veiled attempt to tell a lie and repeat it over and over again.”The law school’s reputation as a libertarian stronghold, however, may give some job candidates pause. When David N. Schleicher interviewed for a faculty position with the school, in 2008, he asked Daniel D. Polsby, who was then dean, whether it was a problem that the candidate leaned left politically.
“He said, ‘Of course not. Are you crazy?’” recalls Mr. Schleicher, who earned tenure at George Mason and is now an associate professor at Yale Law School.
To the extent that George Mason’s law school has hired conservative scholars, Mr. Schleicher said, it is at least in part because these professors are not thought to be as highly sought after by the more-liberal programs that dominate academe.
“The school has developed a bit of an ideology around hiring, the belief that you can hire better people because of biases elsewhere,” Mr. Schleicher said. “But it is certainly not exclusive in their hiring, as evidenced by them hiring me.”

Battle of Ideas

Thrust into the center of this debate is Ángel Cabrera, who took over as George Mason’s president nearly four years ago. Mr. Cabrera, a native of Spain, previously served as president of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, a financially struggling institution that, in 2014, was taken over by Arizona State University.
Before he assumed his duties at George Mason, Mr. Cabrera was briefed on all of the university’s key donors and prospects, including Mr. Koch. He later met with Mr. Koch at an Arlington, Va., hotel, the president said, where Mr. Cabrera was disabused of some of the legends about Mr. Koch as a dark and mysterious ideologue. The two did not talk politics but rather business-management theory, a shared passion.
“I’ve been around enough to know that everybody is a lot more nuanced and complicated and interesting than they are portrayed to be,” Mr. Cabrera said. “It is human nature to simplify people’s characters and positions.”
To Mr. Cabrera, Mr. Koch is no different than a passionate climate-change activist who invests in a university well known for its research on global warming. The president said he is not concerned about the foundation establishing a “beachhead” of political action at the university, as some critics have suggested, because George Mason applies the same standards of tenure, promotion, and peer review throughout the university.
“Call it a beachhead. I don’t know. Call it anything you want,” Mr. Cabrera said. “All I see as a university president is a generous philanthropist who believes in one of the many things we do and he’s willing to invest there. And I say thank you; keep it coming.”
Jack Stripling covers college leadership, particularly presidents and governing boards. Follow him on Twitter @jackstripling, or email him at

Trump & Higher Ed: Popularizing Education Fascism

Trump’s Emerging Higher Ed Platform

Campaign co-chair describes ideas being prepared for fall campaign. Among them: getting government out of student lending, requiring colleges to share in risk of loans, discouraging borrowing by liberal arts majors and moving OCR to Justice Department.
May 13, 2016-
Donald Trump has been quiet about higher education policy during his triumphant march through the Republican presidential primaries. That could be ending soon.
Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump’s campaign, outlined for Inside Higher Ed the ideas that the presumptive GOP nominee is preparing to put forth. While final decisions have not been made on when the ideas will be formally unveiled, not to mention many details worked out, Clovis said the Trump campaign expects higher education to be a major issue in the fall general election.
Some of the ideas under consideration could be “revolutionary,” Clovis said. Proposals currently being prepared would upend the current system of student loans, force all colleges to share the risk of such loans and make it harder for those wanting to major in the liberal arts at nonelite institutions to obtain loans. And even if some of the proposals would face a skeptical Congress, these ideas could gain considerable attention if Trump uses them to parry with his Democratic opponent.

Clovis (right) is a tenured professor of economics at Morningside College, a small private college in Iowa, who is currently on leave to work for the Trump campaign. Some of Clovis’s recent pronouncements on Trump policies have been widely criticized by Washington experts as unworkable or unrealistic. And Clovis said he expects some higher education leaders to react the same way as Trump outlines these ideas in the fall campaign. He said the campaign remains open to ideas as long as they put the emphasis on student success in ways that have more impact than efforts of past administrations.
First off, Clovis made clear that the Trump campaign will fight and not endorse Hillary Clinton’s proposal for debt-free public higher education or the Bernie Sanders plan for free public higher education. The response on those ideas will be “unequivocally no,” Clovis said. “How do you pay for that? It’s absurd on its surface.”
Further, Trump will also reject President Obama’s proposals for a state-federal partnership to make community college free for new high school graduates. Community colleges are “damn near free” now, and “almost anyone can afford community college,” he said.
Big Changes for Student Loans
Many of the ideas on which the Trump campaign is working involve a complete overhaul of the federal student loan system, moving the government out of lending and restoring that role to private banks, as was the case before President Clinton partially and President Obama fully shifted loan origination from private lenders to the government. “We think it should be marketplace and market driven,” he said. Local banks should be lending to local students, he said, but colleges should be playing a role in determining loan worthiness on factors that go beyond family income.
Further, he said that all colleges should have “skin in the game” and share the risk associated with student loans. Many in Congress (and not just Republicans) have voiced support for that idea. But many Democrats have argued that some institutions — historically black colleges or community colleges, for example — should be exempt, given their histories of educating many students from low-income families who may not have the financial resources of others. But Clovis said that the principle of colleges sharing risk must apply to all institutions.
Further, he said that the risk needs to be substantial enough to change the way colleges decide whether to admit students, and which programs they offer.
Clovis said he hoped many colleges would continue to provide remediation for those unprepared for college-level work, although he said that he preferred the term “student success programs” to remediation. But he said that colleges should not be admitting students that they aren’t confident can graduate in a reasonable time frame and find jobs. That means a shift in who is involved in deciding on student loans, with less emphasis on parent contributions and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and more of “a partnership” between the student, the bank and the college. “We think if the college has real skin in the game, it will change its model.”
And these reforms would make it legitimate for colleges and banks to make decisions in part on students’ prospective majors and their likely earnings after graduation, he said.
“If you are going to study 16th-century French art, more power to you. I support the arts,” Clovis said. “But you are not going to get a job.”
A college should factor that in when deciding on a student’s loan eligibility, and the requirement that colleges share the risk would be a powerful incentive to do so, Clovis added.
“If you get into the esoteric aspects of a particular art field, you have to know that those are the circumstances,” he said.
And Clovis said this does not mean the Trump campaign is against the liberal arts. “The liberal arts education is the absolute foundation to success in life,” Clovis said, adding that he hoped business and engineering and health professions and education students would include liberal arts courses in their college educations. But it is a different thing altogether, Clovis said, to focus on such fields. “If you choose to major in the liberal arts, there are issues associated with that.”
There may be colleges that decide they are comfortable backing loans for students who study the liberal arts. A prestigious college could legitimately decide that anyone it graduates — regardless of major — will do well in life, and so go ahead with approving the borrowing. “If you go to Harvard, you can major in anything you want, and once you get in the door, you’ll be OK,” Clovis said, so such a college might be fine with its students borrowing to study the liberal arts. “But not all colleges are in the same system,” he said.
Community Colleges, For-Profits and More

Clovis said the Trump campaign would encourage community colleges, just like four-year colleges, to focus on serving students who can succeed. And Clovis said that, based on his research, there is much for community colleges to be proud of. He said many job-training programs at community colleges are very well run and help many students.
The Trump campaign has not yet focused on for-profit higher education, Clovis said. “The business model for for-profit higher education is quite different” from that of nonprofit colleges, Clovis said, and the campaign needs to figure out how to propose improvements for the sector. The Obama administration has been widely seen as tough on the sector, and many Republicans in Congress have accused the administration of overstepping its authority in this area. Clovis, given a chance to weigh in on such criticism, passed. He said the focus of the campaign’s ideas on higher education was public and private nonprofit higher education.
Clovis said he was a fan of nonprofit colleges that adopt some strategies from for-profit models. For example, he praised Regis University, where he once taught. The institution has a traditional residential campus in Colorado, but a much larger student body enrolled online.
The Obama administration has also been notable for overseeing many more investigations of colleges on how they handle sex assaults and for guidance that has encouraged colleges to take tougher stances in investigating alleged assaults. Clovis did not comment on those investigations per se, but said that one idea the campaign might propose would be to move the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to join the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.
“Once we get into office, we’re going to take a hard look at the Department of Education,” he said. “There are lots of things that serve people well, but there are many operations that do not. Civil rights is an important aspect of everything,” but students and colleges might get “better guidance and effectiveness” if we put it all “under one tent” at the Justice Department.
On the issue of affirmative action, on which colleges are currently waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on a challenge to the admissions system of the University of Texas at Austin, Clovis said the campaign would defer to the legal system. “Affirmative action needs to be settled by the courts,” he said.
Free Speech and Trump Chalkings
As Trump’s campaign has taken off in the Republican primaries, many campuses have seen Trump supporters chalk their support on campus walkways or build walls that refer to the candidate’s plans for a wall on the border with Mexico. On some campuses, the chalkings have included anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant statements. On some campuses, students have called these actions intimidation and demanded that chalkings be erased or walls come down.
Clovis said the campaign has been watching these campus debates and has been concerned about issues of free expression. “I think in the spirit of academic freedom, a college campus should be a place where people should be allowed to express themselves to the fullest as long as they don’t injure another party. We don’t support violence,” he said.
Colleges should defend the right of students to support Trump, or any candidate, he added, and colleges should reject demands that they condemn pro-Trump activities on campus.
“When students react in a particular way and they make demands, there has to be a calm approach to it, to say, ‘Look, this is free speech and this is the speech that is on this campus. You may not agree with this individual, but this person on this campus, and you should hear what they have to say.'”
College administrators should be speaking out in defense of free speech, he said. “We need leadership that says that one side does not get to dictate what is said.”

The Professor Helping Trump

National co-chair of campaign discusses his role, proposal about Muslims and how it would affect international
students, and coming “revolutionary” plan for higher education.
December 14, 2015-
Some colleges boast about how their faculty members are sought to advise presidential candidates. Not Morningside College.
The small private college in Iowa last week was distancing itself from Sam Clovis, a tenured professor of economics who is currently on leave so he can be national co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After Clovis was quoted defending the Trump campaign’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States, the link between Clovis and the college attracted attention.
A statement from the college said, “We find the view that a particular religion should be discriminated against to be repugnant to the values held at Morningside College. When he was on campus, Dr. Clovis was a staunch defender of the Constitution and a strong advocate for religious freedom. His recent comments appear to be at odds with his earlier views. We find his recent position to be outrageous and disappointing.” (The college says it has one student who self-identifies as Muslim.)
So who is Sam Clovis?
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed Saturday, Clovis described his campaign role, defended Trump’s call for a moratorium on letting Muslims into the United States, explained how the plan would affect international students and said the campaign is working on a higher education plan that will be “revolutionary” (and that will differ from that of Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican presidential candidate who thus far has been the only one to focus on higher education).
While Clovis is not a nationally known figure, he is prominent in conservative, religious circles in Iowa, where he is a longtime political activist (and unsuccessful candidate) who is sought after by Republican politicians. He started the 2016 race as a key aide in Iowa to Texas Governor Rick Perry, but defected to the Trump campaign in August in what was seen as a coup for Trump, and that prompted Perry allies to release emails from Clovis while on the Perry campaign, in which he criticized Trump.
When he is not engaged in politics, Clovis has been teaching for the last 11 years at Morningside. “I’m very proud to be on the faculty at Morningside. I’m very loyal,” Clovis said in the interview. He said he was “surprised” that the college would criticize his recent statements, which took place outside the classroom and while he was on leave. Officials at the college “probably were told certain things,” and didn’t have time to look into “the real story” of what Trump has proposed or its context, Clovis said.
Clovis is speaking out on the proposed Muslim ban and other issues in his role as campaign co-chair. He said that what this means on a daily basis is that he is coordinating various policy proposals from advisers and helping to prepare briefings and potential positions for Trump. “My job is to be a clearinghouse,” Clovis said.
Key criteria for all policies, Clovis said, are whether they have “a foundation in law,” “historical precedent” and are consistent with the Constitution.
Proposed Muslim Ban

Does the proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States meet those criteria?
Clovis responded by noting that in many cases, the United States has adopted policies that treat members of some groups in different ways than others. He cited President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies that led to the internment of Japanese-Americans and President Carter’s actions against Iranians as examples. Many legal and history experts would note that the internment of Japanese-Americans was unconstitutional.
And Politifact, the nonpartisan fact-checking outfit, disputed the comparison to the action President Carter took, which required all Iranian students in the United States to report to authorities to have their visas verified. Politifact noted that Carter’s actions were against a nation, not a religion, and noted that Carter acted in a manner consistent with countries taking nonviolent actions against one another during a crisis.
Clovis added that the Constitution protects U.S. citizens and, in some cases, people in the United States legally who are not citizens. He said that “nothing in the Constitution” bars discrimination based on religion against those outside the United States. (Many would dispute this view.)
People “need to recognize the historical context” of past limits on immigrants and to be honest about the realities of terrorism today, Clovis said. “The issue is that we’re looking at people reacting in the microcosm of today and the attitude of multiculturalism and political correctness,” Clovis said.
Many international students in the United States are Muslim. Clovis said he did not believe the Trump policy would result in their deportation. But asked whether those in the United States on visas who go home at some point during their studies would be affected, Clovis said that they would, and that they would need to remain outside the United States during the moratorium Trump is seeking. (Those on student visas do face some requirements today if they leave the U.S., but most are able to travel outside the United States and to return, with relative ease, and they currently don’t face a ban.)
Clovis stressed that “it’s not a permanent ban, but whatever length of time it would take for the United States Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to show we can vet people.” He added that “it could be 90 days or 30 days or 120 days,” or some other length of time, but “it’s a temporary thing.”
Asked if it would be unfair to block a Muslim student from returning to the United States from a trip home, Clovis said, “Don’t you think it would be prudent if a person leaves that we re-vet them and make sure it was proper?” under the new system Trump plans to create. There are “so many holes” in existing enforcement, Clovis said, that those who leave should be covered by any moratorium.
A ‘Revolutionary’ Higher Education Plan

Clovis said that the Trump campaign has started work on a “revolutionary” plan for higher education, but that it would probably not be released until after the first rounds of caucus and primary voting — in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Clovis said the plan is “a work in progress” and not ready for public discussion. “We’re working very hard on it.”
But he did provide some early details.
He said that a major focus would be a reform of the student loan system, which Trump has repeatedly criticized. He said the plan would likely promote “some risk sharing” by colleges, to assure that everyone has an incentive to promote student success.
To date, the Republican candidate who has spoken about higher education with the most detail has been Senator Rubio, who has called for reform of what he calls the “cartel” of accreditors that he says hinder reform and the entrance of new, low-cost players in higher education.
Trump is unlikely to join the campaign against accreditors, Clovis said. “I’m not sure tinkering with accreditation is where we want to go,” he said, adding that his work at Morningside with its accreditor (the Higher Learning Commission) has left him thinking that the regional accreditors do important work.
While higher education should include online options and other new approaches, Clovis said that he didn’t want to see face-to-face education diminished. “Online is a very powerful tool,” said Clovis, who taught online earlier in his career, with systems he said were far less sophisticated than those used today. But traditional campuses matter, too, he said. “I still love the classroom,” he said. “I still love chalk.”

CUNY’s Faculty Union Votes to Authorize Strike

by Sarah Brown
May 12, 2016-
The City University of New York’s faculty union has voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike as a five-year standoff over a contract drags on.
More than 10,000 unionized faculty and staff members participated in the vote, and 92 percent voted in favor of the strike authorization, the union announced on Thursday. They don’t plan to strike during this academic year, said Barbara Bowen, the union’s president and a professor of English at CUNY’s Queens College, but might do so in the fall if negotiations with university
  1. Thank you Cynthia Reyes! I’m going to buy your book right now :-).

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