Tag: Higher Education

Richard Epstein reacts to the tax plan released by congressional Republicans and explains what steps are most essential for jumpstarting economic growth.

In this episode of the “New Skills Marketplace” podcast, Andy Smarick (AEI) and John Bailey (AEI) sit down with Deborah Quazzo from Global Silicon Valley Acceleration to discuss ed tech and nontraditional skills providers.

Debora first provides some background on the surge of investment in ed tech starting in 2009 [6:00]. Next, she describes innovation in enterprise learning, entrepreneurial education, and talent identification [11:05]. Deborah then offers policy recommendations for funding nontraditional learning programs [18:48]. She speaks about the progress the ed tech sector has made in opening pathways for women and minorities to enter the field [25:27]. Finally, Deborah talks about peer-to-peer engagement on education platforms [30:46]. Andy and John conclude with a reflection on their discussion with Deborah.

Amy Wax and Larry Alexander, professors of law at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of San Diego, respectively, wrote an op-ed recently which argued that not all cultures are equal. In response, many of their colleagues in higher education went berserk. Bill interviews Prof. Wax about the op-ed and the controversy that erupted. Then Bill talks with Congressman Ron DeSantis about his proposal to rein in the Mueller investigation and stop it from turning into a witch hunt out to get Pres. Trump. Finally, Bill and Brian Kennedy discuss how Pres. Trump has handled the major crises before him, particularly Hurricane Harvey and the continued aggression of North Korea.

Colonel Jessup Was Right


Popping up amidst tales of destruction, loss of lives, and heroic rescues in Houston was a contemptible crack that appeared in a Twitter feed about how red state Trump supporters deserved what they got. In addition to this was another smear that sneaked into the news while Houston was plunged into the agonies of enduring Hurricane Harvey.

It seems a newsletter entitled “Social Justice Collective Weekly” posted its concerns about those who have served in the military, suggesting that veterans should not be allowed to attend college. Naturally, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where the posting took place, reacted with enough politically correct shibboleths to paper over any inconveniently provocative comments, and denounced discrimination on the basis of every standard imaginable, including race, ethnicity, gender, “gender expression,” gender identity,” “sexual orientation,” and so forth, along with a few political things here and there.

Which covered sexual offenses several times over, but what exactly did the SJWs find troubling about veterans? In the post’s words, “Many veterans openly mock the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society.” This comes naturally, because of veterans’ “socialization into the military culture” which is “that of a white supremacist organization” that leaves them “permanently tainted.” Moreover, “many students are frightened by… veterans’ overwhelming presence in the classroom, which can distract other students. This is usually true for vulnerable individual such as LGBTQQI2SAA, who have been known to be the butt of insensitive jokes made by veterans.”

In this AEI Events Podcast, a panel of academics, hosted by AEI’s Ryan Streeter and Samuel J. Abrams, discusses the experience of conservative professors on campus and the role faculty play in addressing the campus political climate. The panelists touch on a variety of topics, including the prevalence of confirmation bias and the necessity of including all ideas to avoid decline in the quality of research and education, as well as risks of overstating the current campus climate, and they disagree about whether the campus climate will lead to tangible societal change.

The panel features Samuel J. Abrams (AEI), Gerard Alexander (University of Virginia), Eliot Cohen (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies), James Gimpel (University of Maryland), and Samuel Goldman (The George Washington University). It is moderated by Pete Peterson (Pepperdine School of Public Policy).

Mattress Girl Discredited


If you haven’t heard of the “mattress girl,” it’s not for lack of trying among liberal opinion shapers. Emma Sulkowicz, who dragged a blue mattress around Columbia University’s campus in 2014 to dramatize her plight as a rape victim, was profiled sympathetically in New York magazine, the New York Times and other publications. Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D., NY) invited her to attend one of President Obama’s State of the Union speeches. Artnet pronounced her mattress stunt (for which Columbia awarded her course credit as an art project) “one of the most important art works of the year,” and she was honored by the Feminist Majority Foundation and other groups.

Her story is this: A consensual sexual encounter with a male student named Paul Nungesser suddenly turned violent. Without warning, he choked her, struck her, and anally penetrated her while she cried out in pain.

Such things do happen. In the course of researching a book due out next year, I’ve spoken to dozens of college students. Every single one knows someone who has been raped. Some know more than one. And the list of colleges that have disciplined or expelled students for rape or sexual assault is long. Some college students have been criminally prosecuted, and rightly so.

Harvard’s Assault on Freedom of Association


Whether you follow the work of my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) or not, you may be aware of the ongoing dispute over Harvard University’s single-gender social organizations (e.g., the “Final Clubs”), which the university has been trying to drive to extinction through increasingly unsubtle means.

Last May, Harvard announced that members of these social organizations would be ineligible for recommendation for prestigious scholarships, chief among them the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, and also be ineligible for leadership positions in student organizations. It’s been a dark comedy of errors ever since. Perhaps sensing the backlash to come from the recommendations of the policy’s implementation committee, which recommended making the policy even harsher, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced the formation of a new review committee in January 2017. But Khurana then turned right around and said he would accept “nearly all” of the implementation committee’s draconian recommendations, and then appointed himself the head of the new review committee.

But even that obvious charade didn’t prepare us for the singular awfulness of the new committee’s recommendations, which aim to “phase out” single-gender social organizations entirely by 2022. Worse, they target not only single-gender organizations, but any social organizations whose membership criteria are in any way exclusionary. And students would be punished for running afoul of the new policy:

In this AEI Events Podcast, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the House Education and Workforce Committee (R-NC) delivers a keynote to discuss the opportunities of career and technical education, followed by a discussion with AEI’s Andy Smarick. Chairwoman Foxx states that CTE can help fill jobs in in-demand fields, potentially increase graduation rates, and give students more schooling options.

Mr. Smarick and Chairwoman Foxx then discussed the federal government’s role in expanding CTE, with Chairwoman Foxx stating that local-level decisions on the subject were more beneficial. She also stressed the importance of online and distance learning.

In this AEI Events Podcast, Princeton Professors Robert P. George and Cornel West discuss their close friendship that thrives despite their deep political disagreements—a surprising message in a politically polarized culture. Their lively conversation with Ramesh Ponnuru—who was their student at Princeton—seeks to answer one question: What is the purpose of a liberal arts education?

West and George have spent the past several years teaching and lecturing together to accomplish a common goal: the provision of a true liberal arts education to their students. Through their courses and their friendship, they have served as examples of how, when two knowledgeable and principled individuals come together in an honest and nonadversarial pursuit of truth, the competition of ideas deepens their own understanding of that truth.

College vs. the Love of Wisdom


Part I: A sad realization

While we Ricochetti may find it regrettable, the vast majority of human beings aren’t interested in ideas. In my Advanced International Relations class, we met once a week after reading a book. It was mentally electrifying. We ran the gamut of different ideas and theories and hammered out what they all meant. The teacher was superb, and it was a smaller class, so it was perfect for discussion. The class was among the most intellectually productive things I’ve ever done. Sadly, I doubt that a majority of the students were really into it. I asked my Professor why the students were so uninterested in the morality of torture and wars and Empires. He shrugged and said that while he always found it odd, it was usually that way.

Furthermore, some of the straight-A students were as intellectually stimulating as dusty cardboard. They perfectly regurgitated whatever the Professor spoke or whatever the textbook said, but they never bothered to think about anything they absorbed. My Uncle and my Dad hate this argument. They think they can force people to be intellectual and thoughtful. I never saw a lot of that on campus, did you?

KC Johnson joins Seth Barron to discuss sexual assault and college disciplinary procedures on campuses across America.

In 2011, the Obama administration ordered all campus disciplinary offices to use a lower “preponderance of evidence” standard when charging a student of a sexually related crime. Today, colleges are under intense pressure from both activists and bureaucrats to punish students accused of rape. And with the political climate growing toxic on college campuses, school administrators know that there’s little to gain from defending the accused.

Higher Education: Not a Worthy Charity


As part of their annual alumni gathering the UCLA Anderson School of Management posted a boast on Instagram about how the class of 2002 raised $1.2 million for the school. I certainly support charity, but this boast really struck me – is this the best place for these talented people to be putting this amount of money? Are colleges and universities, as they currently operate, good places for charitable dollars?

Let’s put some perspective on the economics of attending the Anderson School (I am only picking on them because I am an alumnus). The current cost of the full-time program at UCLA is $96,966 for residents and $109,540 for non-residents. The executive program costs close to $150,000 (note the link shows the cost of one year of the two-year program). I am a 1986 graduate of the UCLA management school full time MBA program. My total tuition costs were $3,000. Tuition increased 3,133%, a 12% compound growth rate. Inflation adjusted tuition would be $6,674, a 122% increase with a 3% compound growth rate. In 1986, UCLA was ranked #8 by US News. Now it is ranked #15.

On the cost side, I could not find much information on the Anderson School, but spending at the University of California has grown massively (health care and hospitals are part of that) like it has at most universities. And the spending is not on education. The number of faculty has stayed relatively constant while the number of administrators has grown steadily. From 2000 to 2015, enrollment increased 38%, faculty numbers stayed flat, and administrators more than doubled. From the LA Times: “The number of those making at least $500,000 annually grew by 14% in the last year, to 445, and the system’s administrative ranks have swelled by 60% over the last decade — far outpacing tenure-track faculty.” Again, health care plays a role in that unbalanced growth but this article in the American Spectator details how politically correct “research” pays extremely well. Does a donation go to something that delivers social value?

FIRE’s 2017 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech


Unfortunately, it isn’t an easy undertaking deciding which schools belong on FIRE’s “10 worst colleges for free speech” list every year. This year was no exception.

This morning, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) published our annual “worst of the worst” list, which can be read with detailed descriptions of each school’s misdeeds at The Huffington Post.

Drain the Real Swamp: Academia


Suppose for the past half century or so you’ve been forced to pay the Acme Swamp Company to engorge all lakes, caverns, rivers, streams, and puddles with effluents, along with enough reptiles to put Jurassic Park to shame. Then, after you’ve discovered that the Acme Company has also supplied Wile E. Coyote with Roadrunner-catching equipment since the Truman Administration, you decide to “drain the swamp.” And then—surprise! surprise! —you’re devastated to learn that the swamp you tried to drain simply filled up again from tributaries that cannot be shut off. And you’ve been paying for those tributaries, too, for a long, long time. In fact, you’ve discovered that these streams are not only exorbitantly pricey, but frequently destructive, parasitic, and virtually impregnable. Question is, what can you do?

The “swamp” in question of course is Washington DC, but also includes much of the bureaucracy, judiciary, and cultural command posts of the country, such as the media and entertainment industries. The tributaries comprise America’s educational system, long dominated by the radical left and protected by tenure and union power. It is this ideological effluent center that has done so much to poison the discourse of American politics, smearing every institution that contributed to the country’s greatness, and radiating hatred of all things most citizens hold dear—family, patriotism, free enterprise, free speech, freedom of religion, the Bill of Rights generally, and of course America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Certainly, storming the Bastille of Ivory Tower totalitarianism constitutes a very great challenge, beset with tribulations and struggle. But one must start somewhere, so here is a short list that could be considered by State legislatures, as well as by an institution that itself should be abolished—the Federal Department of Education.

FIRE Releases 2017 Speech Code Report


shutterstock_238626832Today my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), released our annual “Spotlight on Speech Codes” report, a rundown of the speech policies at 449 of America’s largest and most prestigious colleges and universities. The report contains both good and bad news about the state of free speech on campus.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Fire’s 10th annual report surveyed speech policies at 345 four-year public colleges and 104 private schools. The good news is that the share of colleges with “red-light” speech codes that substantially bar constitutionally protected speech has declined to 39.6%, a nearly 10% drop in the last year and the lowest share since 2008. Over the last nine years the number of institutions that don’t seriously threaten speech has tripled to 27. Several colleges including the University of Wisconsin have adopted policies that affirm (at least in theory) their commitment to free speech.

Member Post


The background on this is that the higher ed bubble is slowly collapsing, and the college where my spousal unit works is laying off staff. Two people got axed from the SU’s department (but, notably, not a single one of the three dozen “vice provosts” who earn take home salaries in the mid-six figures). One […]

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Extreme Sloppiness at the Wall Street Journal

Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College.

At noon, while waiting for lunch, I glanced at The Wall Street Journal and noticed that, in the “Personal Journal” section, on pp. R4-R9, that newspaper — with the help of Times Higher Education — had provided its readers with a list of 497 American colleges ranked in light of endowment, likelihood that graduates would get a job, engagement, environment, average salary of graduates, and the like.

Victor Davis Hanson explores the tensions between technological progress and cultural vitality.

The Reality Behind the Student Debt “Crisis”


072116WHCEALost amid all the political news this week is a new White House report on student debt in higher education. One thing I was curious to see was what conclusions it drew about the macroeconomic impact of high debt levels. Politicians, especially presidential candidates, sure seem to think it’s a pretty big problem. From the report comes a different view:

The rise in student loan debt has created challenges for some borrowers with lower earnings, but has not been a major factor in the macroeconomy.

— Despite its steady rise over the past decade, aggregate student loan debt remains small relative to aggregate income. In 2015, total student loan debt was 9 percent of aggregate income, up from 3 percent in 2003. By itself this is considerably smaller than the rise in mortgage debt prior to the crisis and it has also been accompanied by a reduction in other forms of consumer debt.

What if the Founders Took a Page from Today’s College Administrators?


At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), it goes without saying that we’re big fans of the First Amendment and our legal system’s robust guarantees of freedom of expression. Goodness, though, the free speech protections we enjoy in our society can bear awfully little resemblance to the conceptions of free speech (and un-free speech) that have taken root in the speech-code-heavy culture of our colleges today.

This got us wondering: What if the Founding Fathers conceptualized the First Amendment with the same boundaries college administrations so often put in place — what with their policies on “biased” speech, unconstitutional “free speech zone” restrictions, and increasingly intolerant attitudes toward “microaggressions?”