- Stop active-shooter drills in schools: “Preparing our children for profoundly unlikely events would be one thing if that preparation had no downside. But in this case, our efforts may exact a high price.” [Erika Christakis, The Atlantic] “Lockdowns and active-shooter drills have led to officers firing blank rounds to simulate live fire, mock executions of teachers, and students tearfully writing out wills while hunkered down. …Last year, The Post reported an estimate that the odds of a child being fatally shot while at school any given day since 1999 was 1 in 614,000,000.” [Jonathan Blanks, Washington Post/Cato]
- After ordeal with Child Protective Services based on drug test fluke, Western New York mom “is certain of one thing, she’ll never eat a poppy seed again.” [WROC]
- Answer: no. “Should access to a public education be a constitutional right for all children?” [Jessica Campisi, Education Dive; Mark Walsh, Education Week, covering AEI debate on holding of 1973 Supreme Court case of San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez against such a federal right]
- Pay attention to the politics of schools of education, because they help determine what you’ll see in the classroom down the road [Jay Schalin, Martin Center] More: University of Washington’s Secondary Teacher Education Program “is a 12-month immersion in doctrinaire social justice activism.” [Quillette]
- “The Regressive Effects of Childcare Regulations” [Cato video with Ryan Bourne]
- “Court revives Obama-era rule that incentivizes racial quotas in special ed” [Liam Bissainthe]
My new piece for Real Clear Policy examines and rejects the argument that the college admissions scandal retrospectively validates the use of racial preferences in college admissions.
If racial preference in college admissions is unjust, it doesn’t magically become just because people identify some other injustice that has different beneficiaries.
Many of those arguing that the admissions scandal somehow vindicates racial preferences seem unaware that Singer repeatedly falsified students’ ethnicities to get them into affirmative action categories….
If you’re an applicant who doesn’t fit in *either* the celebrities-and-cheaters pool or the racial-preference pool, things definitely aren’t somehow canceling out. You’re competing with other families like yours for an artificially small number of remaining admission seats….
Public universities should not discriminate by race, especially not on the excuse that someone managed to game the system on other grounds. Two injustices do not add up to one justice.
- Oops! “Tulane sophomore unknowingly named as plaintiff in lawsuit over college bribery scandal” [John Simerman, New Orleans Advocate] “Admissions scandal class action is ‘fascinating’ but likely doomed – experts” [Alison Frankel, Reuters] Plus advice from Ken at Popehat;
- Some problems with the idea of a sweeping presidential order to decree free speech on campus — and a promising if more modest step the White House could take instead [Donald Downs, Cato] Two more views on how universities can “fend off outside intervention and, more importantly, be true to their own mission… [by] nurturing a better free speech culture” [Keith Whittington, parts one and two; John McGinnis]
- “‘If racial preference [in college admissions] is unjust, then it doesn’t magically become just because people notice some other injustice that has different beneficiaries,’ Olson said. ‘Two things can be unjust at the same time, and two injustices do not add up to one justice.'” [John Blake, CNN, quoting me on the argument that the admissions scandal somehow proves preference advocates’ case]
- Harvard lawprof and residential dean Ronald Sullivan under fire for defending unpopular figures facing MeToo charges
[Randall Kennedy, Chronicle of Higher Education; Conor Friedersdorf (quoting HLS prof Janet Halley: “Finally, the ‘climate survey’ technique is a dangerous precedent as a matter of employment rights and as a threat to academic freedom. It’s a thinly veiled version of the heckler’s veto.”)]
- The Snuggle is real: very long list of demands by Sarah Lawrence students occupying campus building includes consistent access to detergent and fabric softener [Sarah Lawrence Phoenix; Pamela Paresky, Psychology Today] Rather more seriously, the students demand the college reconsider the tenure status of a professor who published a mildly conservative op-ed in the NYT [Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed]
- Even if occasionally subverted by dishonest actors, standardized tests remain the gold standard among transparent, objective ways to improve the accuracy of college success prediction [Jenna A. Robinson, Martin Center]
For 20 years I’ve been writing about how the gaming of disability diagnoses in schools helps affluent families. And I was hardly alone: in 2004 Craig Lerner wrote a paper entitled: “‘Accommodations’ for the Learning Disabled: A Level Playing Field or Affirmative Action for Elites?” There hasn’t been much interest in fixing things.
Now test accommodations have surfaced as one key theme in the big and colorful new college-admissions scandal. “Particularly glaring in the 204-page indictment is that the majority of the children, whose parents were charged Tuesday, had seamlessly secured disability accommodations on their standardized tests. This enabled them to have additional time on the exams and to take them alone with the proctor at a private testing facility that was located, in some cases, thousands of miles from the test-takers’ residences.” [Michelle Robertson, SFGate/New Haven Register] More: Akira Olivia Kumamoto, Sacramento Bee; FBI affidavit on new scandal; Doree Lewak, New York Post last year on accommodations.
- “Everything would be all renewable all the time if we could just pass the right laws.” The wishful underpinnings of the Green New Deal [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Regulation Magazine editor Peter Van Doren]
- “The U.S. rail system is optimized for freight, vs. European and Japanese systems that are optimized for passengers (it is hard to do both well with the same network). The U.S. situation is actually better, much better, for energy conservation.” [Coyote]
- Federalist Society discussions of climate litigation based on public nuisance theories: National Lawyers Convention panel with David Bookbinder, Eric Grant, James Huffman, Mark W. Smith, moderated by Hon. John K. Bush; “Originally Speaking” written debate with John Baker, Richard Faulk, Dan Lungren, Donald Kochan, Pat Parenteau, David Bookbinder; Boston Lawyers Chapter panel on municipal litigation with Steven Ferrey, Phil Goldberg, Donald Kochan, James R. May, Kenneth Reich] Climate nuisance suits have met with an unfriendly reception in American courts and there is no good rationale for filing copycat claims in Canada [Stewart Muir, Resource Works]
- “Public Universities Exploit Eminent Domain Powers with Little Oversight” [Chris West, Martin Center]
- Many pro-market reforms would reduce the risks to life and property from natural disasters, climate-related and otherwise [Chris Edwards, Cato]
- “On patrol with the enforcer of DC’s plastic-straw ban” [Fenit Nirappil/AP via Peter Bonilla (“Welcome to the worst ride along ever”)]
- The less you know: new push to “de-bias” faculty recruiting by removing CVs and interviews from the process [John Morgan, Times Higher Ed/Inside Higher Ed on developments in Britain]
- “You Can’t Make This Up: A Speech Code that Investigates Students for Discussing the Freedom of Speech” [University of South Carolina: Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato certiorari brief in Abbott v. Pastides]
- “Sokal Squared” hoax runs into IRB (human subjects review) issues at Portland State, and it’s more complicated than you might think [Jesse Singal, New York]
- “A Liberal Case for DeVos’s Reforms” [Lara Bazelon, New York Times] After initial resistance, ACLU moving to acknowledge merit of some objections to Obama-era Title IX procedure [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic] Attorneys general from 18 states plus D.C. sign letter arguing against presumption of innocence for students accused under Title IX [same]
- “Anti-Koch group tries to get hummus banned from university in BDS effort” [Zachary Petrizzo, The College Fix]
- Monopoly bargaining privileges for faculty: vindication and hope after Janus [Charles Baird, Martin Center]
- Fourth Circuit: Title IX may oblige universities to take action against outside social media sites whose content is said to create hostile environment. By blocking student access to them? [Samantha Harris, FIRE, Eugene Volokh, Robby Soave on University of Mary Washington ruling]
- Return of the loyalty oath? Some senior academics speak out against required faculty diversity statements and pledges, at the University of California [Stephen Bainbridge, Nick Wolfinger, John McGinnis, Law and Liberty] and Harvard [Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Jeffrey Flier, Times Higher Education]
- Speech codes and “The Coddling of the American Mind”: Greg Lukianoff and Adam Goldstein guestblog at Volokh Conspiracy [series: first, second, third, fourth, fifth]
- “OCR’s use of overly broad anti-Semitism definition threatens student and faculty speech” [Zach Greenberg, FIRE] University of Washington lecturer publishes article on sex differences in pursuit of computer careers, it’s cited as gender harassment as part of successful push for training and curriculum review [Stuart Reges, Quillette] Update on “Fourth floor, ladies’ lingerie” joke episode [Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, earlier]
- Bias response teams are benign-sounding way to police speech [Dan E. Way, Martin Center] Prescribed first-year programs do much to bend the assumptions surrounding what can be safely said [John Tierney, City Journal] Artists’ intent was to challenge Confederate imagery, but some students were offended, so down it went [Inside Higher Ed: Scott Jaschik and Emily Chamlee-Wright and Sarah Skwire]
- Speech First, recently formed nonprofit group, sues University of Texas over speech policies [Phil Prazan, KXAN, Washington Examiner: Lauren Cooley and Grant Addison]
- So often those who seek to control the rest of us seem unable to achieve self-control. Case in point: sponsor of NY bill to search gun applicants’ social media accounts [Jon Campbell, Democrat and Chronicle, Sen. Rob Ortt on Twitter] More on Sen. Kevin Parker’s proposal: Scott Greenfield, and my earlier;
- Concerning an issue that Cato has warned about for many, many years, the emergency powers of the President [Elizabeth Goitein/The Atlantic, related video]
- Web accessibility suits hit colleges [Rick Karlin, Albany Times-Union], New York wineries [Brianne Garrett, Wine Spectator, Kathleen Willcox, Wine Searcher, Thomas Pellechia, Forbes], other defendants around New York [Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News, Jamie Herzlich/Newsday]
- “How the Feds Spy on Reporters” [Cato Daily Podcast with Julian Sanchez and Caleb Brown]
- Thread on what government subsidies have done to Canadian literature. Reason to resist letting subsidies be pushed further into US literary arts sector, let alone print news as some would like [Jonathan Kay Twitter thread]
- A likely story: “Scottish Grandpa Claims He Checked ‘Terrorist’ Box on Visa Form by Mistake” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]
- R. Shep Melnick on his new book The Transformation of Title IX: Regulating Gender Equality in Education [Christina Hoff Sommers review, Education Next; Brookings; Melnick in National Affairs] And three video appearances by the author [Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth, Hoover Institution, Harvard Program on Constitutional Government]
- Some early looks at Department of Education’s planned revamp of Title IX regs [Robby Soave, Reason and more; KC Johnson, Minding the Campus; Shikha Dalmia/The Week; previously here and here]
- “Students Filed Title IX Complaints Against Kavanaugh to Prevent Him From Teaching at Harvard Law” [Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Jamie D. Halper, Harvard Crimson] “Professor Defends a Woman Accused of a Sex Crime, University Forces Him to Undergo Sexual Harassment Training” [Robby Soave on episode at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire; Conor Friedersdorf (training “as a general purpose punishment for alleged wrongthink”)]
- “Facing Penalties, 100 Percent of College Students Completed Sexual Harassment Training” [Jamie D. Halper, Harvard Crimson]
- “Failing at Fairness: Getting the Story 180 Degrees Backwards” [Coyote]
- Colleges face wave of cases alleging faculty misconduct 25, 35 years ago or longer [Collin Binkley, Asssociated Press]
- Administrators at University of Southern Maine, a public institution, hastily yank course that offered credit for harassing Sen. Susan Collins on Kavanaugh nomination [Dennis Hoey, Portland Press Herald, USM press release] Some colleges would rally around an alumnus nominated to the high court, while others would maintain institutional neutrality. At Yale a large faction demanded a commitment to opposition [Peter Schuck, Minding the Campus; related Twitter thread (“2018: the year of weaponizing college friendships”)]
- Canadian university suspends economics professor without pay for publishing journal article documenting colleagues’ publication in questionable scholarly journals [Douglas Todd/Vancouver Sun, paper]
- Q. How many lampooned academics does it take to appreciate the Helen Pluckrose / James Lindsay / Peter Boghossian grievance studies hoax? A. That is *not* funny [Alexander C. Kafka, Chronicle of Higher Education rounding up reactions]
- Notwithstanding “enforcement will be consistent with the First Amendment” disclaimer, language in U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights ruling could pressure universities to restrict some criticism of Israel [Eugene Volokh]
- “As many as one in three students at some elite colleges have been officially designated ‘disabled.'” [Garland Tucker, Martin Center] “ADA in the Classroom: Suitable Accommodation or Legalized Cheating?” [Ari Trachtenberg, 2016]
- “Taking the Bar Exam as a 46-Year-Old Law Professor” [Orin Kerr]