National Universities Where the Most Students Live on Campus

1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. California Institute of
4. Columbia University
5. Stanford University
6. Massachusetts Institute of
7. St. Mary’s University of
8. Yale University
9. Dartmouth College
10. Vanderbilt University

Source: US News and World Report



Higher Education Gets "Competent", Via Meadia, April 24
How Parental Involvement Affects Students' College Success, Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative, April 24
Telling Students to Earn Less, Wall Street Journal, April 24
Higher Education Already Has a Leftist Bias, George Leef, Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, April 23
Should Courts Stay Out of the Race Business?, Garrett Epps, The Atlantic, April 23
Closing the Floodgates on Student Debt, Via Meadia, April 23



High Art Deserves a High Place in Higher Education

By Peter Wood

How do the fine arts fit with the liberal arts?  Not as well as one might think. Painting, music, photography, and other arts are often part of today's jumbled curriculum, but they seldom have the academic status of disciplines such as English and art history.  The situation is reversed when it comes to public status, where having a prize-winning composer, novelist, or painter on the faculty is a matter of institutional pride. 

The tensions between those who study the arts and those who practice them are very old and perhaps very deep.  Two different sensibilities are brought into play and neither really trusts the other, even if they are found in the same person.  The urge to explain and the urge to create are both powerful, but they pull in opposite directions.  Plato famously exiled the poets (and other artists) from his imaginary city ruled by philosophers.  But Plato held that tension very close, since he too was a poet.  The tension continues to run right through many individuals on either side of the nominal line.  The artist who doesn't also philosophize and the critic who doesn't yearn to create art are rarities.  But the "old quarrel," as Plato called it, persists.  

Continue reading...


April 23, 2014

The Supremes Allow States To Prohibit Discrimination!

"It has come to this," Justice Scalia begins his devastating concurring opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, referring with near-boiling incredulity to the fact that the Court was required to "confront a frighteningly bizarre question: Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbid what its text plainly requires? Needless to say (except that this case obliges us to say it), the question answers itself."

The plaintiffs, you will recall, argued that Michigan's Proposition 2 (passed with a 58% majority in 2006), which amended the state constitution to prohibit state agencies from giving preferential treatment based on race, was unconstitutional because it made it more difficult for minorities to achieve government policy that "inures primarily to the benefit of the minority" or that "minorities ... consider" to be "in their interests." (If you don't recall the debate over this case, see my analysis of "The Five Fallacies Of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.")

Because the Court contains liberals who increasingly seem to live in an alternate universe, the question did not of course answer itself. By a 6-2 vote, however, the Court did manage to conclude that prohibiting discrimination is not discriminatory. The opinion for the Court was written by Justice "Swingvote" Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Justice Scalia's concurring opinion, joined by Justice Thomas, is a jewel, destroying the reasoning of the plurality as thoroughly as the dissent written by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg. Justice Breyer surprisingly sided with the plurality in a largely incomprehensible separate concurrence. (Does he really believe that, for example, data demonstrating low minority scores in math and reading is relevant to the question of whether states may prohibit judging minorities by different standards?) Justice Kagan recused herself.

Those who believe discrimination on the basis of race is wrong will be relieved that the Court has now held that states may prohibit it by amending their constitutions with provisions that closely echo the intent and text of the 14th Amendment. But anyone seeking a compelling principled argument, or even basic coherence, in "Swingvote" Kennedy's opinion will be sorely disappointed, and even more disappointed that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito felt compelled to join it rather than Justice Scalia's much more powerful concurrence (which, of course, would have made it the Court's opinion, not a concurrence).

Schuette was ostensibly not about either the constitutionality or even the merits of race-based affirmative action. It turned instead on the "political process" doctrine from two earlier cases holding, with a number of qualifications, that the political structure may not be changed in manner making it more difficult for minorities to achieve what is, or what they believe is, in their interest. Justice Scalia argued persuasively that those cases should have been forthrightly overturned, but forthrightness is largely a stranger to Justice Kennedy, who left the shell but little more of those precedents standing. 

Continue reading "The Supremes Allow States To Prohibit Discrimination!" »

April 22, 2014

An Open Letter to an Earnestly Wrong-Headed College President

Dear Azusa President Jon Wallace,

I read with interest that you have disinvited the distinguished scholar Charles Murray as a speaker tomorrow at your university, Azusa Pacific. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Cancelling speeches is a hallowed campus tradition, like pantie raids were in the 1950s.

But have you done it the wrong way by blaming the calendar?

Your point that the April 23rd speech would have been late in the school year is absolutely accurate. But most people tend to believe you knew all along that late April is closely followed by early May, when Azusans are traditionally released from the occasional but dreaded school pressure of having to read and listen to people they don’t already agree with. As Dr. Murray pointed out, the speech had been planned for months, with the April-May proximity fully understood by seasoned calendar readers, one of whom should surely be on your staff.

Try not to blame the calendar while smearing the disinvited in the same sentence (“Given the lateness of the semester and the record of Dr, Murray’s scholarship…” Most presidents would argue that the smear belongs in a sentence of its own, quite separate from calendar issues.

When informing the speaker that he has been canceled, remember to send the note to the speaker himself, not to his publisher, bookmaker, barber, mother-in-law—or, as you did—to his employer. Using Google is a good way to find the address of each cancelee.

Instead of complaining about the calendar, or the bad lighting or weakness of folding chairs in the auditorium, why not try any of these proven techniques to rid your campus of unwanted conservative or libertarian speakers:

  • Cite the danger of violence as a reason to cancel (Columbia treatment of anti-jihadist Walid Shoebat, for example) This is the pre-emptive heckler’s veto.
  • Let hecklers drown out and cancel the speech, then put out a pious pro-free-speech statement, but don’t punish the protesters and don’t invite the speaker back (Brown University’s treatment of Ray Kelly).
  • Charge a security fee too high for the sponsoring organization to pay (pioneered at Berkeley).

Or simply say that diversity is a religion on this campus, and since that is the one true faith, why should you allow a heretic to speak?

An Open Letter from a Suddenly Disinvited Speaker

I was scheduled to speak tomorrow to you and your fellow students at Azusa Pacific University. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else.

But there’s another way to decide whether you would have been safe in my hands if I had spoken at Azusa Pacific. Go to YouTube and search “Charles Murray.” You will get links to dozens of lectures, panel discussions, and television interviews. You can watch Q&A sessions in which I field questions from students like you, including extremely hostile ones. Watch even for a few minutes. Ask yourself if I insult them or lash out. If I do anything except take their questions seriously and answer them accordingly. Ask yourself if I’m anything more dangerous than an earnest and nerdy old guy.

Azusa Pacific’s administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.

April 21, 2014

Extremism and Crime Wave at Dartmouth? Really?

Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon recently gave a state-of-the-college address concerning disciplinary matters on campus. Dartmouth clearly wanted the address to receive attention—the college leaked the full text to the Washington Post, which dutifully reproduced it online and did a lengthy article about it.

In highly charged language, Hanlon charged that “Dartmouth’s promise is being hijacked by extreme behavior, masked by its perpetrators as acceptable fun.” What is this behavior? Some of it is hardly uncommon: excessive drinking (hardly uncommon on college campuses), parties with what the college administration perceives as “racist and sexist undertones,” and “disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the internet.” But Hanlon also included two criminal offenses in his list—hazing and sexual assault. That Hanlon seems to equate a crime that carries a sentence of 10-20 years in prison with insults on the web(!) suggests a difficulty in setting priorities.

But Hanlon appeared unaware of this contradiction. “Enough is enough,” he proclaimed. “IT IS TIME”—capitalization in the original—“FOR DARTMOUTH TO CHANGE.” Dartmouth, he concluded, needed “to end the extreme behaviors that are in conflict with our mission and fundamentally harmful.”

Continue reading "Extremism and Crime Wave at Dartmouth? Really?" »

Misremembering the Civil Rights Act of 1964

President Obama and three of his predecessors and assorted civil rights luminaries (Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, John Lewis) gathered recently at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and, belatedly, to honor the memory of Lyndon Johnson, who engineered its passage. (For years Democrats fled association with LBJ like the plague. In August 1992, for example, the Washington Post points out, Democratic nominee Bill Clinton spoke at the LBJ Library “on what would have been Johnson’s 84th birthday … and never once mentioned the name of Lyndon B. Johnson.”)

The speeches purporting to celebrate LBJ’s legacy were predictable. Our Narcissist-in-Chief, for example, “wraps himself” in LBJ’s civil rights legacy, according to Newsweek, preening in his keynote address “that’s why I’m standing here today -- because of those efforts, because of that legacy.  (Applause)” Equally predictable, Jimmy Carter emphasized our continuing failings, targeted “the mistreatment of women” as the “next front,” and lamented that America is “still falling short.”

The speeches, however, were also disturbingly revealing. Bill Clinton, for example, gave voice to the virulent partisanship that is so prevalent today. “We are here,” the former president and future First Gentleman wannabe asserted, “because the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act made it possible for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama to be president of the United States.” I hope some of the attendees saw more to celebrate in the prohibition of racial discrimination than Democratic political victories.

Clinton’s pointing to Democratic political success as the highest praise of the civil rights legislation contrasts sharply with LBJ, who pushed the legislation despite the fear he expressed to Bill Moyers immediately after signing the 1964 bill that he had delivered the South to the Republicans for a generation.

Continue reading "Misremembering the Civil Rights Act of 1964" »

April 18, 2014

The Times and Sexual Assault at Florida State

The other day, the New York Times published a lengthy investigative piece on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Much of the article, written by Walt Bogdanich, has little to do with higher education, per se--the Tallahassee Police Department comes across very poorly. Winston come across even worse, since the Times reveals that he was involved in an incident with a second woman. The incident is described in extremely vague terms, but does not appear to have been an alleged sexual assault; that said, it's hard to believe that Winston could have won the Heisman Trophy if this article had appeared last November instead of this week.

The Times' treatment of Florida State, however, is more problematic. The Times doesn't challenge the local prosecutor's conclusion that there wasn't probable cause to bring charges against Winston--meaning that any fair disciplinary tribunal at FSU could not have found him guilty, even under the preponderance-of-evidence standard. Yet the paper seems eager to raise questions about the university's response, perhaps to fit the article's frame, prepped by myriad pieces from Richard Perez-Pena: that "the case has unfolded as colleges and universities across the country are facing rising criticism over how they deal with sexual assault, as well as questions about whether athletes sometimes receive preferential treatment."

The Times' lengthy article cites two additional cases other than Winston's. The first was mentioned only in passing, but appeared to reveal that the university treated sexual assault allegations seriously: "A Times review of sexual assault complaints handled by the campus police last year found that in one case, officers asked for the Potbelly's [a local bar] video when they were trying to identify a suspected assailant who had been seen at the bar." The article does not discuss anything more about the case.

The second involved a complaint from a mother of a student, who claimed that her daughter had been sexually assaulted at a fraternity. The mother said that "the university should take a harder stand on the men who are identified as having committed rapes." But the next line in the article reveals that "according to the campus police, the student had said she did not want officers to investigate the case." Even in these due process-unfriendly times on college campuses, universities can't punish students without even the semblance of an investigation.

The Times also published a chart showing that Florida State reported, on average, fewer sexual assaults than institutions of comparable size. But the university had a plausible response, noting that "83 percent of FSU's students live off-campus, where incidents are handled by the Tallahassee Police Department and are not required to be reported as part of the university's annual campus crime statistics." It's not clear why the Times didn't include this information; its chart includes bar graphs for around 30 schools, but identifies only two of them.

What about the Winston case? At best, here the Times paints an ambivalent picture regarding FSU. It describes the incident with the second woman, and includes the following passage: "A month before the rape accusation became public, the university's victim advocate learned that a second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Mr. Winston, according to the prosecutor's office. The woman did not call it rape -- she did not say 'no' . . .  The victim advocate was concerned enough about the episode to have alerted Mr. Winston's first accuser."

This isn't the action of a university administration giving preferential treatment to a student accused of sexual assault; if anything, it's the reverse, but what would be expected from an administrator ideologically sympathetic to a claim that rape allegations are always true. More broadly, the incident raises a question (basically unexplored by the Times): if universities are compelled to investigate, why aren't they given the tools for the job, such as subpoena power? In this instance, the Times seems to chastise FSU for not conducting a more thorough inquiry that the student herself did not want.

The Times also criticizes FSU for acting "in apparent violation of federal law" by not "promptly investigat[ing] . . . the rape accusation." A bit later in the article, Bogdanich observes, "If cases are reported, the university is obligated to investigate, regardless of what the police do." How universities are supposed to conduct parallel investigations (reaffirmed by OCR in the SUNY settlement) to police of criminal events--and the substantial drawbacks this mandate creates--is not something that the Times cares to explore. That's a story that wouldn't fit into the preferred frame.

April 17, 2014

The Real Common Core Story

I couldn't miss the eye-catching headline on Diane Ravitch's influential blog: "Schneider Schools Sol Stern on the Common Core." Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana teacher, is one of Ravitch's loyal allies in the education-reform wars. Ravitch thinks she's a great investigator and often cites her work. Actually, what Schneider excels at is promulgating conspiracy theories and using guilt-by-association to discredit those with whom she disagrees--such as supporters of the Common Core State Standards, whom she accuses of being duped and bribed by a corporate, anti-public school conspiracy led by Bill Gates, with an assist from President Barack Obama.

Schneider's 4,000-word denunciation of one of my recent articles here defending the Common Core characteristically didn't engage with my arguments, but it did provide a list of my nefarious "connections" and "involvements" with conservative organizations. With trumpets blaring, Schneider announced that the Manhattan Institute, where I am a senior fellow, has "a board of trustees noticeably heavy on hedge fund managers" and that "it should come as no surprise that MI promotes 'economic choice'; 'market-oriented policies,' and 'free market ideas.'" (Schneider doesn't seem to have noticed that most supporters of free markets in education actually oppose the Common Core.) She also levies the bizarre allegation that "MI is a cousin to the [conservative] American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)." In another feat of investigative journalism, Schneider offers an inside scoop about me and my wife: "Stern is not a teacher, nor has he ever been a teacher. But he is married to a Manhattan, NY, high school teacher. Not sure if she is under the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS)." And I'm not sure what that even means.

Another of my defects, according to Schneider, is that I have written favorably about E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge curriculum. She doesn't explain what's wrong with the Hirsch curriculum but instead alleges that Core Knowledge "was purchased by Rupert Murdoch's Amplify in 2013." If that were true, it would be considered a hanging offense in Schneider and Ravitch's leftist circles, because Amplify is a "for-profit" company and Rupert Murdoch is, you know, Rupert Murdoch. But the Murdoch allegation is false. Schneider probably borrowed it from Ravitch, who published it on her blog last year before retracting the claim when confronted with the truth--that the Core Knowledge curriculum was licensed to Amplify for the sole purpose of distributing it to schools around the country (a good thing for American children.)

Normally, it wouldn't occur to me to respond to Schneider's fact-deprived attack--except that it appeared on Ravitch's blog, which reaches tens of thousands of readers on some days. Ravitch is also the leader of a new left-wing education movement that has effectively exploited parental and teacher discontent with the Common Core Standards. It says something significant about the cause Ravitch now champions that she approves of Schneider's methods and uses them herself in criticizing my politically incorrect views on education reform.

Like Schneider, Ravitch believes that readers need to know the highlights of my life story and my affiliations in order to evaluate properly my position on the Common Core. She begins by noting that we first met when we were fellows at the Manhattan Institute, which is true. She then goes on to assert as an uncontested fact that after serving as "an editor at the leftwing Ramparts" in the 1960s, I "had a political-ideological conversion experience" and "became a zealous conservative." My transition from leftist radicalism toward a rather moderate conservatism took place gradually over many years and involved several important issues, including the defense of Israel, education, racial politics, and the failures of the welfare state. Tagging me as a "zealous" conservative is a calculated move on Ravitch's part. I am no more zealous about conservative ideas than Ravitch was when she served in the administration of the first President Bush. Like her, I support gay rights, abortion rights and other liberal positions. Indeed, if I really were a zealous conservative, I probably wouldn't support the Common Core.

Continue reading "The Real Common Core Story" »



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