A cry from the heart against rot in education

The Brearley School is a private all-girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It costs $54,000 a year to attend and, according to Bari Weiss, prospective families apparently have to take an “anti-racism pledge” to be considered for admission.

Brearley’s supposed commitment to anti-racism does not prevent it from discriminating on the basis of race in admissions and hiring. Nor does it stop the school from indoctrinating its students in the racist doctrines of critical race theory.

One parent has had enough. Andrew Gutmann has pulled his daughter out of Brearley and sent a letter explaining his decision to the families of every student body member (around 600 of them).

Bari Weiss presents the letter on her website. This is the full text:

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,

Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten.

In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult.

I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child’s education is irreparable.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

….

Source: A cry from the heart against rot in education

I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated

As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.

“Antiracist” training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising. It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race. Furthermore, in order to maintain a united front for our students, teachers at Grace are directed to confine our doubts about this pedagogical framework to conversations with an in-house “Office of Community Engagement” for whom every significant objection leads to a foregone conclusion. Any doubting students are likewise “challenged” to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy.

I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.

My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions. The morally compromised status of “oppressor” is assigned to one group of students based on their immutable characteristics. In the meantime, dependency, resentment and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered “oppressed.”

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Recently, I raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. (Such racially segregated sessions are now commonplace at my school.) It was a bait-and-switch “self-care” seminar that labelled “objectivity,” “individualism,” “fear of open conflict,” and even “a right to comfort” as characteristics of white supremacy. I doubted that these human attributes — many of them virtues reframed as vices — should be racialized in this way. In the Zoom chat, I also questioned whether one must define oneself in terms of a racial identity at all. My goal was to model for students that they should feel safe to question ideological assertions if they felt moved to do so.

It seemed like my questions broke the ice. Students and even a few teachers offered a broad range of questions and observations. Many students said it was a more productive and substantive discussion than they expected.

However, when my questions were shared outside this forum, violating the school norm of confidentiality, I was informed by the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.”

He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.

A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”

Students from low-income families experience culture shock at our school. Racist incidents happen. And bias can influence relationships. All true. But addressing such problems with a call to “undo history” lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt. My own contract for next year requires me to “participate in restorative practices designed by the Office of Community Engagement” in order to “heal my relationship with the students of color and other students in my classes.” The details of these practices remain unspecified until I agree to sign.

Source: I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated

The Intellectuals’ Assault on Intelligence

The current class of intellectuals, whether inside the universities or outside as a product thereof, now flout the principles of logic and reason far more than their relentlessly mocked uneducated rubes ever did.  Complex issues requiring thoughtful analysis of probabilistic tradeoffs and consequences are replaced with simplistic models that would have left the intellectuals of yesteryear aghast.  Where complicated continuums are warranted, binary scales are substituted in which anything besides absolute purity is considered evil.  False analogies, poor pattern recognition, hasty conclusions, misjudging the whole by a part, ascribing false motives and meanings have become the artisan bread and butter of the pontificating patricians.  Double standards abound in which moving goalposts of unethical or even criminal behavior are applied to capture political opponents, while flexible extenders are granted to liberate supporters.  Political opponents, along with groups they may be associated with, are defined by their worst moments or qualities or members, regardless of how insignificant.  Conversely, supporters and their associated groups will be defined by their best moments and qualities and members, no matter how meager.  Finally all the abuses of logic and reason are wrapped up in shiny packages called science-data-facts with great big bows called decency so that those who refuse such offerings are taunted, censored, blacklisted, and ultimately criminalized.

This attack on reason is the symptom of a cause that has its origins in the great saboteur of free thought: pride.  Without acknowledging the limits and intrinsic instability of the intellect, there is a tendency for our natures to err in favor of self-interest.  The intellect takes the back seat to our reptilian passions or, even worse, becomes the servant of the reptile.  Confirmation bias takes over as pride, greed, envy, vengeance overpower the intellect.  Pride will shift the objective of knowledge-seekers from truth to self-glorification, agendas that often conflict.  The intellect is apt to pervert itself not to enlighten and explore, but to deceive and conceal.  To achieve virtue, the intellect is dependent on humility — humility to mistrust both the completeness of our own understanding and the purity of our own motives. Humility is necessary to acknowledge how easily we go from rational to rationalizing when our desires are strong enough to sacrifice not only our nobler sensibilities, but also the welfare of others, especially the ones we never cared for to begin with.  It is in that humility where we will find the humanity that will save us from destroying the lives of others in our intoxicating prideful pursuit of the knowledge of good and evil.

Hat tip: The Intellectuals’ Assault on Intelligence

Source: American Thinker

Joseph Epstein Is Right about the ‘Dr.’ Problem

The education degree is mediocre, and blocks school improvement.

In his now-infamous piece of snarky commentary, Joseph Epstein criticized the proliferation of doctorates over the past half-century, reserving special derision for honorary doctors such as entertainers, and for doctors in education such as Jill Biden.

Perhaps more important than how we or the media may choose to refer to Dr./Mrs. Biden, the outsized focus on whether to use the honorific for a doctor of education helps explain why the past 30 years of public-education reform have underperformed. It is not teacher unions, but educational administrators with doctorates in education (the Notorious Ed.D.) like Jill Biden who run American public schools. That means we cannot substantially reform schools while leaving the Ed.D. program as it is intact. And so, to question the inherent value of that degree is to tease at this dilemma — and will invite the kind of backlash we have seen over the last several days.

Incidentally, I am a party to this fight by association, just not on the side with which I agree. My own American Educational Research Association (AERA), like all professional associations, is essentially an interest group. We are education professors in the business of producing degrees in education — so an attack on the Ed.D. is an attack on our jobs. Within 48 hours, AERA’s executive director issued a statement calling Epstein “misogynistic,” while advising other newspapers to have “second thoughts” about publishing such ideas.

I find it concerning when organizations representing professors advocate censorship. Indeed, the fact that the AERA seeks to silence Epstein rather than debate him is telling. What’s more, within days of the Wall Street Journal commentary, Northwestern University erased lecturer emeritus Joseph Epstein from their website, in order to support “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

While Epstein is acerbic like H.L. Mencken, incoming first lady Jill Biden does seem to truly care about her students and profession. (Back in 2012 we each wrote essays for Academic Questions about how to improve colleges; Biden’s addressed mentoring.) Yet in a free country, impolite gadflies play important roles in improving society. And on this matter regarding doctorates in education, Epstein is quite right. Other professors consider the Ed.D. a marginal degree, whose very mediocrity and ubiquity block school improvement.

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Epstein seems grouchy, and Jill Biden herself may have been an ill-chosen target for his scorn. But that doesn’t alter the fact that the Ed.D. is an academically weak degree whose holders limit school improvement. If we want to make schools more academic, the Ed.D. must reform or die.

Source: Joseph Epstein Is Right about the ‘Dr.’ Problem

NY Times Columnist Exposes The Deep Deception Of The NY Times’ 1619 Project

Bret Stephens has done a public service in exposing the 1619 Project for what it is: An agenda-driven attempt to impose a false and misleading history on our children. The post NY Times Columnist Exposes The Deep Deception Of The NY Times’ 1619 Project first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion .

Source: NY Times Columnist Exposes The Deep Deception Of The NY Times’ 1619 Project

WELL, THIS IS A SILLY IDEA, BUT IT PROVIDES ME WITH AN INSPIRATION: Using A Pigouvian Tax To Reduce…

But I was inspired to think about a Pigouvian tax on a societal institution where that is clearly not the case: Higher Education. As we have been assured by all the leading authorities, 1 in 5 women who attend college is raped. We thus need to tax higher education institutions at a level sufficient to compensate the 20% of their female students who are victimized. Taxes laid on gross revenues would probably be passed on to students, so we’ll need to tax the real stakeholders in universities who — since there are no shareholders — are faculty and staff. Assume an average damage of $1 million for a rape — surely no one would dare suggest a lower figure — multiply that by 20% of the female student body size, and apply that tax to faculty and staff salaries. That may not generate enough revenue, but we could also tax gross sports revenues — where taxes can’t easily be passed on –to make up the difference.

Source: WELL, THIS IS A SILLY IDEA, BUT IT PROVIDES ME WITH AN INSPIRATION: Using A Pigouvian Tax To Reduce…

Why black graduates of the USC Marshall School of Business may start finding it hard to get international jobs

Back in January 2016 Victor Mair, professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, started an interesting discussion in the blog “Language Log” about a common Chinese word that sounds like a racial insult in English. Professor Mair wrote, As soon as I read “a phrase that sounds uncannily like the N-word” in the first paragraph, I knew exactly what my colleague’s friend was talking about.

Source: Why black graduates of the USC Marshall School of Business may start finding it hard to get international jobs