Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

More Political Silly Stuff


Politicians always need “issues” these days so they can show voters how concerned and involved they are in improving the nation. Inside Higher Ed has a story today on a new one — the supposed need to get more rural kids into college, but not in such a way that they’ll want to leave the hinterlands and get “one of them big city jobs.”

This is much ado about nothing. People living in rural areas probably understand much better than politicians whether they can learn what they really need to without earning a degree. They also do not see that it’s a “problem” that a smaller percentage of kids from rural areas go to college than do kids from urban areas. Furthermore, why suppose that there is a need to deter bright rural kids from leaving? The nation’s rural areas will survive the exodus of some people. No social engineering is necessary.

Many politicians like to treat farms and rural life like little pets to be trotted out and groomed occasionally. Years ago when I lived in Michigan, a legislator was pushing anti-development legislation on the grounds that if farms were sold and developed, city folks would find it too hard to take their kids out to the country to see cows and sheep and goats and chickens.

Rachel’s Law Passes


Halleluiah! Yesterday the New York state legislature passed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, as indicated in this press release posted by Bruce Kesler, who has also been closely following the events leading up to the law’s adoption.

The legislation is being dubbed “Rachel’s Law” after Rachel Ehrenfeld, who fought tooth and nail for its passage to protect American journalists and authors from foreign defamation lawsuits that infringe on their First Amendment rights.

Academic writers throughout the nation, and especially those engaged in telling the truth about terrorism and its perpetrators, should hail the law for fortifying their rights — and join Ehrenfeld in her fight for similar legislation at the federal level. In the words of New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who co-sponsored the law, at YouTube:

This law will protect our journalists and authors from trumped-up libel charges in kangaroo courts in overseas jurisdictions which don’t share our commitment to free speech and freedom of the press . . . This law will give New York’s journalists, authors, and press the protection and tools they need to continue to fearlessly expose the truth about terrorism and its enablers, and to maintain New York’s place as the free speech capital of the world.


Another Pol Who Thinks HIgher Ed Boosts the Economy


This one is Ohio governor Ted Strickland. According to a story in the Chronicle, Strickland “sees higher education as key to reinventing the state’s flagging economy.”

Strickland looks at the statistic that only about one in three Ohio adults has at least an associates degree and jumps to the conclusion that the state’s economic fortunes would improve if that percentage were increased.

This is another of those political gimmicks that sounds good to most people and pays off a significant support constituency, but won’t matter in the least. Luring more mediocre to weak students into college won’t make Ohio a bit more attractive to investors.

Britain has been trying the “let’s boost the economy by producing more college grads” for more than a decade, with the result that they now have lots of degreed people doing work previously done by non-degreed people.

If Governor Strickland wants to improve Ohio’s economy, he should think about emulating Hong Kong with its low taxes and regulations rather than Great Britain. But low taxes and deregulation would upset a lot of his voting constituencies. So I’d bet on the flagging economy to keep on flagging.

Voters Want President to Do Something About Tuition Cost


This article in the Chronicle informs us that 42 percent of those polled think that controlling college costs is “extremely important” for the next president.

This is another depressing manifestation of the politicization of America. The president has no authority under the Constitution to do anything about college-tuition levels. Nor does Congress.

What the people polled probably mean is that they want the federal government to do more to subsidize the cost of going to college. That necessarily means taxing lots of relatively poor people who don’t send kids to college, as well as relatively affluent people who have saved enough to be able to afford what college costs, so that some parents can get more of a break on the expense of college for their kids. Americans have become government junkies, always looking for goodies, like children who want things from Santa.

Re: Politically Imbalanced Faculty


Mack Mariani writes:

I co-authored the study on indoctrination mentioned in a previous post. I couldn’t agree more with the statement that “the dominance of left-wing faculty has consequences.” Be that as it may, we are not looking at what professors do in the classroom; we are looking at the impact of faculty ideology on student ideology. We find no statistical association between the two, but from that we do not conclude that you can dismiss concerns about what professors do in the classroom. That’s just not something we are doing in this paper.

I don’t disagree with Klein at all on his points about opportunity cost. In my opinion, he’s right. I think there are many negative consequences that result from ideological imbalance — in terms of the questions we ask, the topics we study, the readings we assign, and the climate we provide for discussion and debate. (I can’t speak for my co-author on any of this, of course.) In the study, our goal was to assess the impact of an ideologically imbalanced faculty on student ideology.

We use the HERI dataset as a means of looking at changes in student ideology over the course of a four-year college career (we are tracking a single cohort here). We then tie that in with HERI data on faculty ideology.

On our findings:

First, the study confirms what everyone knows. The faculty is way to the left of the general population. In addition, more students move to the left than the right. The majority of the students don’t move at all, though, and another 40 percent move only one degree. The critical thing — and the focus of our paper — is that this movement does not appear to be related to faculty ideology. The factors that are statistically associated with changes in ideology include female gender (which is associated with a move to the left) and high family income (which is associated with a move to the right). Both of these relationships make sense to me.

We are very aware of the limitations of the study. We spend a lot of time talking about those limitations. This isn’t going to stop folks on the Left from embracing it as a shield to defend the imbalance of the academy. Likewise, it isn’t going to stop many on the Right from instantly dismissing it.

We did our best to ask an interesting question (albeit a narrow one) and try to answer it in as fair a way as possible. Other scholars will continue down this road with other, and we would hope, even better ways to approach it.


More on Orchestrated Hate Crimes


Yes, Robert, as you and Malkin show, the extent of staged hate crimes on campuses is shocking.

But Malkin’s sharp account of their causes and consequences merits further note. The former consists of a venomous commingling of “identity politics, multicultural studies, cowardly administrators and sympathetic media.” The latter weakens “the credibility of whistleblowers with bona-fide claims of victimization. They squander law-enforcement resources. They poison the academic environment.”

And the immediate answer to this insidious hate-lie hustling? No tolerance by campus leaders of those — minorities or otherwise — who fabricate these “crimes.”

Playing Rag and Bag Tag at CC


Consider the latest feminist antics cum backlash at Colorado College, as described by FIRE:

Colorado College’s “Feminist and Gender Studies Interns” distributed a flyer called “The Monthly Rag.” The flyer included a reference to “male castration,” an announcement about a lecture on “feminist porn” by a “world-famous prostitute and porn star,” an explanation of “packing” (pretending to have a phallus), and a quotation from The Bitch Manifesto.

As a parody of “The Monthly Rag,” [two students then] … distributed a flyer … called “The Monthly Bag” under the pseudonym “The Coalition of Some Dudes.” The flyer included references to “chainsaw etiquette,” the shooting range of a sniper rifle, a quotation regarding a sexual position from the website, and a quotation about “female violence and abuse” of men from the website

After administrators declared the two students guilty of violating the campus’s conduct code, FIRE got into the act, rightly calling on the college to “reject both double standards and censorship.”

But fairness and free expression aside, isn’t it pathetic that students across the country continue waste their precious minds on such trash?

Ward Connerly on the Move


Here’s a story in Diverse magazine about Ward Connerly’s efforts to introduce state ballot initiatives to discontinue racial-preference programs. The movement needs signatures to reach the ballot in Arizona, Missouri, and Nebraska, and it’s already on the ballot in Colorado and Oklahoma. For information, check out the Arizona, Nebraska, and Missouri Civil Rights Initiatives.

Malkin on Constantine


In the New York Post. She has a good rundown of past hate-crime hoaxes, though I’d like to chip in another from my alma mater.

This Could Make Electronic Homework Submissions Tough


UPDATE: I am a moron.

I went to log into my Gmail account this morning and saw this:

New! Gmail Custom TimeTM  

Ever wish you could go back in time and send that crucial email that could have changed everything — if only it hadn’t slipped your mind? Gmail can now help you with those missed deadlines, missed birthdays and missed opportunities.


Pre-date your messages
You tell us what time you would have wanted your email sent, and we’ll take care of the rest. Need an email to arrive 6 hours ago? No problem.

Mark as read or unread
Take sending emails to the past one step further. We let you make emails look like they’ve been read all along.

Make them count
Use your custom time stamped messages wisely — each Gmail user gets ten per year.

Worry less
Forget your finance reports. Forget your anniversary. We’ll make it look like you remembered.

Fundraising 101


Barack Obama has raised about ten times as much money as John McCain from college employees and other educators, and Hillary Clinton leads McCain by a factor of about six. Details here. (Hat tip here.)

Hampshire College, Bastion of Oppression


Another day in the life of higher ed:

Students at Hampshire College, in Amherst, Mass., walked out of class this morning to protest what they saw as administrators’ insufficient commitment to fighting racism, the Associated Press reported.

As part of a series of events called Action Awareness Week — featuring a teach-in, a speak-out, and a writing workshop on oppression — a group of students had presented a list of 17 diversity-related demands (also posted on Facebook) to Hampshire’s president, Ralph J. Hexter.

Among other things, the students were calling for additional faculty and staff positions in multicultural affairs, mandatory “anti-oppression training” for all employees, and residence halls exclusively for students of color and for “queer-identified” students. A few hundred students staged the walkout, an organizer told the AP, when the college’s president did not immediately agree to their demands.

But Mr. Hexter, who is one of academe’s few openly gay presidents, has had several lengthy meetings with the student activists, and he plans to sit down with them again this afternoon, said Nancy Kelly, senior adviser to the president. —Sara Lipka

Turn of Events for Plagiarist Prof’s Hate-Crime Case


The New York Post via Instapundit:

A Manhattan grand jury has subpoenaed the university records of the controversial black Columbia Teachers College professor who found a noose hanging from her office door – signaling that the investigation is broadening to examine possible links between the teacher, her closest friends and the racially charged incident, The Post has learned.

According to sources, the subpoenas obtained recently by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and prosecutors demanded the college hand over a laundry list of records pertaining to embattled professor Madonna Constantine, whose colleague found a 4-foot hangman’s noose on her office doorknob last October.

The incident happened at the height of the school’s probe of plagiarism charges against her.

We’ve blogged about Constantine before.

Naysaying a New Study on Politically Imbalanced Faculties


A study soon to appear in the journal PS: Political Science & Politics affirms that faculties tilt left but, as Inside Higher Ed reports, “deflates the idea that cadres of tenured radicals are somehow corrupting America’s youth — or scaring them into adopting new political views.”

Daniel B. Klein, who has written about predominantly liberal, pro-government faculty, criticizes the authors for not having “done more tracing why students move from one political category of identification to another,” in which case, he adds, “they likely would have found some correlation with the political leanings of professors.”

Moreover, Klein sharply faults the study for neglecting the “opportunity cost.” “Even if it were true that students totally took a Bart Simpson attitude toward their college professors and were completely uninfluenced by them, I still think it would be a tragedy that during those four years, they were not getting the good stuff,” i.e., they were deprived of exposure to the ideas of such figures as Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek.

The dominance of left-wing faculty has consequences. Period.

Survey Says


Highlights from the CHE poll:

While Americans are clearly worried about college costs, one finding in the survey captures how conflicted they are about the issue. When asked if the federal government should have a role in controlling tuition at public and private colleges, the results were almost evenly split: 51 percent said yes, 49 percent no. …

At a time when the leading members of the Senate Finance Committee are focused on wealthy colleges’ use of their endowments, the issue seems to have little traction among most of the public. Only 18 percent of those surveyed said it was an “extremely important” issue for the next president, although Democrats rated it higher, at 25 percent. …

Despite the fact that nearly eight of 10 college students today attend public colleges, 41 percent of respondents say the quality of a higher education is better at a private institution. By seven points, 45 percent to 38 percent, respondents from households with incomes below $35,000 rated private colleges more highly than did respondents with household incomes of $35,000 to $75,000. …

In answer to another question on the poll, 46 percent of respondents said college professors were more liberal than they themselves were, compared with 25 percent who said they were about the same.

Obama’s Would-Be Leap Toward Federalized Education


With all Barack Obama’s vague waxing messianic, the specifics of his agenda, and notably his socialist-style plans for education, have tended to go unnoticed.

But those of us who hold to quaint notions like parental educational choice should be alarmed by Obama’s quite-explicit campaign blueprint “Plan To Give Every American Child A World Class Education,” and its linked document, “Barack Obama’s Plan For Lifetime Success Through Education.”

The plan is breathtakingly octopodal from the standpoint of intrusive, comprehensive federal intervention — a windfall for the array of Obama’s financial supporters in the world of educational special interests.

From educational programs for pregnant women to transformation of teacher education via mutually self-reinforcing school-university “partnerships,” this latest cradle-to-grave social-engineering scheme for federally influencing education would, as Lee Cary writes in American Thinker, transform education — in ways not among the principles put forth by the Founding Fathers.

Fear of Flying Lives


Here’s a notice in Publisher’s Weekly stating that Columbia University’s Union Theological Seminary is going to host a conference on Erica Jong’s ’70s novel Fear of Flying. The title is “The Fear of Flying: Can a Feminist Classic Be a Classic?”

UD Repackages Indoctrination Program


University of Delaware President Patrick Harker drew praise last fall for suspending a freshman-dorm program for indoctrinating students on gender and race issues, but then bounced it back for review to the UD Faculty Senate.

The faculty has now issued its “new” guidelines, which, according to the Wilmington News-Journal, amount to the same old, same old, albeit with more faculty involvement. The faculty has not repudiated program content such as Shakti Butler’s definition of a racist as “all white people living in the United States” and her statement that “people of color cannot be racists.” Nor has it elimimated the ritual of coercing freshmen into baring their souls to busy-body dorm staff about when they first discovered their sexual identity. And, to add insult to injury, the faculty dared to snivel that Butler’s dicta should not have been posted on UD’s website in the first place — in the apparent belief that parents and others have no right to examine the program.

In the words of one student, “It’s basically going to be the same crap, different people.” President Harker, take note.

NAS Rides Sentry


Fresh from the National Association of Scholars:

The recent release of the Department of Education’s records on foreign gifts to American institutions of higher education has given rise to concerns that some colleges and universities may not be reporting large foreign gifts in a timely or thorough fashion. In view of these concerns, the NAS has agreed to act as a clearing house for reports that we believe raise legitimate concerns about the foreign gift reporting practices of particular institutions.

The NAS is thus encouraging the public to be alert to this matter — and to pass on to it information relevant to the disclosure of substantial foreign gifts.

Thanks, NAS.

Anti-Jewish ‘Rut’ at UNM


A retired University of New Mexico professor, Richard Berthold, recently added to the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish vitriol in academe. He compared Israel with Nazi Germany and opined that Jews have used up their karma.

A UNM student, Lynn Provencio, justly protests in the New Mexico Daily Lobo that the professor’s “view, reminiscent of pre-World War II European academic views, is becoming very common in U.S. academia today as well as in Europe.”

Provencio notes, however, that all is not distortion and prejudice at UNM, whose school of journalism has invited Khaled Abu Toameh to speak on campus in April. Toameh is an Israeli-Palestinian journalist internationally respected for his courage and integrity in reporting.

Provencio rightly commends those who issued the invitation “for stepping out of the rut” and countering bigotry with “knowledge and honesty.”


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