Anne Neal Makes Life Hard for Accreditation Officials
This item from Inside Higher Ed escaped my attention until today. At the recent NACIQI meeting, Anne Neal put the representatives of the accreditation system through a tough cross examination.
Anne zeroed in on the fact that the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy report shows that many college graduates have pitiably low proficiency and asked “Do you have a baseline set of standards you would like (institutions) to meet, or do you leave that up to the institutions?” The representative responded, “There is no accepted minimum standard.”
Anne continued, “So basically, if an institution was having a 10 percent rate and thought that was good enough, that would be good enough for you?”
Answer: “That would not be good enough. The visiting accrediting teams set very high standards, and colleges bring out their own high level of expectations to that. Ten percent literacy is not something that any of our institutions would find acceptable.”
The story then goes on into other points, but I hope and trust that Anne followed up with the crucial question: “How would anyone know?” Few colleges if any require a demonstration of proficiency in reading to graduate and the accreditors do not make any effort to independently verify the competence of
graduates. As for the “high standards” they’re obviously a matter of wishful thinking when confronted by the truth that many college graduates leave school dismally ill-prepared in their reading, writing and math ability.
Republicans as Pariah in Academe
Villanova Professor Robert Maranto, a self-described “centrist,” gives testimony of having in his years in academe been considered “on the fringe,” because he is a Republican.
Among similar examples, Maranto notes that the decision on the part of one of his colleagues to register as a Republican “caused ‘a sensation’ at his university. ‘It was as if I had become a child molester,’ he said. He eventually quit academia to join a think tank because ‘you don’t want to be in a department where everyone hates your guts.’”
Such a firewall is leftist bias, Maranto says, that “a student could probably go through four years without ever encountering a right-of-center view portrayed in a positive light.” (The Washington Post)
College Stadium Security
When former FBI counterterrorist agent turned college instructor, Jim McGee, watches sports events, he sees security gaps and fans as potential targets. (AP)
Tribute to FIRE
Here from REASON’S Michael Moynihan is a particularly lucid explanation of campus censorship and thought-reform. As a member of FIRE’s advisory board, I would like to highlight with pride the organization’s extraordinary achievements as well as its political neutrality – which Moynihan also explains.
How Campuses Imperil Citizenship
An exact encapsulation of this insidious problem from Donald Downs:
Therapeutic logic, identity politics, and the infantilization of students have compromised belief in the type of mentality that makes public citizenship feasible. The values associated with public citizenship still exist and struggle for recognition, but they are seldom given even equal weight in university politics and administration. (NAS Online Forum)
What About Illegal Aliens?
A controversy has erupted in North Carolina over the policy of admitting illegal aliens into the state’s community colleges, as long as they pay the out-of-state tuition rates. At the Pope Center, we have a difference of opinion regarding that policy. Read this week’s Clarion Call for two opposing views.
Strictures in U.S. Driving Saudis and other Arabs to Desert American Universities
…notably, for Australia, which has begun to be billed in the Saudi media as “more welcoming.” The Gulfies appear to be reacting against hassles at U.S. airports and visa problems interrupting educations.
The U.S. is intent on preventing new terrorist attacks, given that Muslim travelers, some on student visas, carried out the 9/11 hijackings after entering the country with little screening.
Not all Australian officials approve of the growing influx of Arab students. Last summer, Australia’s government-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute issued a report cautioning that “Australian universities may be attractive targets for talent-spotting by extremist individuals or groups.” (The Washington Post)
Columbia’s ‘Takeover’ of West Harlem Via Eminent Domain
New York City recently approved the university’s extensive expansion into Harlem. Real estate attorney Michael White accuses Columbia of using “the threat of eminent domain … quite as destructively as eminent domain itself.” Few understand, he writes
that a private owner who covets the property of another can, outside the scrutiny of the public eye, start the condemnation process by writing a check to the self-funding government agency — to finance costs, including government staff salaries — so that agency will put together materials advancing the condemnation. In that vein, Columbia University, interested in acquiring a swath of West Harlem, wrote a $300,000 starter check to [NewYork’s Empire State Development Corporation ] in 2004, years before any public hearings. (The New York Sun)
Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice excoriates New York officialdom:
Worldwide, New York City is regarded as a beacon of hope and endless opportunity. Yet it routinely uses eminent domain for private gain.
This sends a message, loud and clear, that in the Big Apple, the American dream is subject to the whims of a tax-hungry government and land-hungry developers.
Private-property rights shouldn’t depend on where you live or whether your land could make more money as something bigger and newer – or, in this case, whether you happen to own property that a prestigious, wealthy university wants.
Surge Working, Says Prof
Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, a professor of international security studies at West Point, recently toured Iraq. He says there are “profound changes in both tone and substance” and that we must “press our advantage.” (The Wall Street Journal)
Thanks at Christmastide to Our Troops
Seth Gitell pays tender and deserved tribute to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in a meditation on the World War II song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” He taps into an account of the song’s origin on the St. Lawrence University Web site.
This year the “Merry Christmas” salutations and farewells were more numerous than ever. A few years ago, it seemed, even in Christian churches and among Christians, a “Merry Christmas” might be met with embarrassment or disapproval, because if a non-Christian happened to be passing by, he might feel excluded. But this year I gave many Merry Christmases and received even more, even in the supermarket and at the newsstands, and even from clearly non-Christian folks! This is how it should be. It spreads holiday cheer to all. And it shows what a little pushing back against multi-culti and PC can do.
Free “Death” From Yale
For the first time the university is offering its “Death” course and other popular undergraduate classes for free online. Using the Internet to share offerings is a growing trend growing at top-tier U.S. campuses. (The New York Sun)
Said’s ‘Dime-Store’ Pedagogy
In a fine review of Ibn Warraq’s seminal new work, Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, Michael Weiss summarizes the author’s account of what went awry with postcolonial studies — the academic discipline largely created by Said, which, in an attempt to analyze the relationship of conqueror to conquered, entrenched (as Weiss says) “a dime-store psychology of empire at the center of every discussion of ‘East meets West.’” (The New York Sun)
The Academic Ghostwriter Scandal
Here from Jacob Hale Russell is a rather shocking piece about how celebrity academics abuse their reliance on student researchers/writers.
N.Y. Court Paves the Way for ‘Libel Tourism’
The New York Court of Appeals has passed up a chance to protect American authors from the libel judgments of foreign courts. Harvey Silverglate says that the court “could have done a better job of protecting our constitutional rights.”
Libel law in Britain, far more plaintiff-friendly than U.S. libel law, has spawned what has come to be known as “libel tourism,” a practice by which American writers have been sued by non-British nationals in British courts over works published in the U.S.
The case in question here involved Rachel Ehrenfeld, who had asked the court to declare the British ruling against her unenforceable under the First Amendment.
At issue was Ehrenfeld’s important book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed — and How to Stop It, in which she accuses a Saudi billionaire of backing organizations with alleged ties to terrorism. He brought suit against Ms. Ehrenfeld and other researchers who have made similar allegations against him in court in London. (The New York Sun)
Enlightened Self-Interest vs. Service Learning
John Egger, professor of economics at Towson University, argues cogently against awarding academic credit for community service, a widespread practice today in colleges across the country. Egger is responding to Towson University president Robert Caret who has pompously touted “service learning” as a way to deliver students from self-absorption and get them involved in the community. Egger points out that a good liberal education would instill an appreciation of the needs of community better than spending college credits on “service.” Also, as Adam Smith said, one of the best ways to get people to co-operate with others is through an understanding of the beneficent mutuality of self-interest. Enlightened self-interest can also boost equality in a way that a helping-the-unfortunate approach cannot. Service learning, on the other hand, according to Egger, “weakens respect for society by implying that other people, less fortunate in some way, are owed one’s time and effort. Teaching that others are morally entitled to a part of one’s life — people one does not know, may not like and whose misfortune one had no role in creating — is the surest way to engender a sense of resentment and disdain, not benevolence, toward one’s fellow human beings.”
Constitutional Moral Telos
Being a longtime admirer of Amherst Professor Hadley Arkes, his review of Uncovering the Constitution’s Moral Design, by Paul R. de Hart caught my eye: This is a remarkable, scholarly achievement … de Hart makes the case for the moral telos of the Constitution in the most compelling way … [and] manages to show how the logic of the Constitution must lead back to an understanding of natural law … The writing is precise, flowing, clear. And the conclusions come with an accumulating force. (The Claremont Institute)
B.U. Biolab Criticized
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says a controversial, $178 anti-bioterrorism lab being built by Boston University on its medical campus “will go forward,” despite a recent scathing report by the National Research Council. The NRC asserts that said a past safety review of the facility was inadequate and border-line incompetent. (The Boston Herald)
CIA Draining Iran’s Brains
In 2005 the CIA kicked off “the Brain Drain,” a secret program intended to degrade Iran’s nuclear weapons program by persuading major officials, such as scientists and military officers to defect. Intelligence gathered as part of that campaign provided much of the basis for the recent NIE report that concluded the Islamic Republic had halted its nuclear weapons work in 2003.
‘A Donkey At Berkeley’
…is the title of a provocative speech on the college curriculum by Herb London (Minding the Campus).