Why poor blacks don’t want to be professors

Most science professors are white or Asian males, reported Ed Yong in The Atlantic.

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Furthermore, women and underrepresented minorities are less likely than white and Asian men to be interested in faculty careers.

Readers responded: So what? It’s patronizing to assume that “women and minorities are wrong about their own interests and priorities,” one wrote.

A postdoc recalled trying to persuade two black female lab techs to go to graduate school.

They told us that we were women in our early thirties who couldn’t afford to buy houses or have children, who spent our nights and weekends working, who didn’t have retirement savings, and who were still struggling to get permanent jobs. Why on earth would they want to be like us?

A black scientist who left a Harvard immunology lab for Big Pharma said the biggest issue is pay. After three years at the lab, he earned $32,000. He started in the pharmaceutical industry at $70,000; after a year, he was earning $90,000 with shorter hours.

OSU attacker was studying ‘microaggressions’

Abdul Artan, who tried to kill his Ohio State classmates with a car and knife, had a group project due this week on “microaggressions,” reports Robby Soave in Reason‘s Hit & Run. Born in Somalia and mostly raised in Pakistan, Artan came to the U.S. as a refugee with his mother and siblings two years ago.

Abdul Artan was interviewed by Ohio State's Daily Lantern at the start of the school year. He said he was afraid to pray publicly. Photo: Kevin Stankowiecz

Interviewed by a student journalist at the start of the school year, Abdul Artan said he was afraid to pray publicly.

Artan, “who reportedly became radicalized after learning about injustices committed against fellow Muslims,” was enrolled in  class called Crossing Identity Boundaries.

“The assignment, worth 15 percent of his grade, required students to find a dozen examples of microaggressions on social media and explain which identity groups were the victims, according to the syllabus,” writes Soave.

The purpose of the class is to promote “intercultural leadership” and transform students into “actively engaged, socially just global citizen/leaders.”

. . . According to the syllabus, the point of the microaggressions project is to make students “recognize the role of social diversity” and “demonstrate an appreciation for other points of view and cultures.”

A friend claimed Artan “loved America.” However, in his final Facebook post, Artan vowed to “kill a billion infidels” to save a single Muslim, called radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki a “hero” and complained about the treatment of a Muslim minority in Burma.

He was shot and killed by a campus police officer. All his victims survived.

High school grads need ‘middle skills’

A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood. Photo: Andrew Nelles/Reuters
A man walks his dog past a mural depicting factory workers in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Photo: Andrew Nelles/Reuters

Donald Trump persuaded Carrier to keep 1,000 production jobs in the U.S., but he won’t be able to make manufacturing great again, writes Anthony Carnevale in the Hechinger Report. To earn a middle-class living, high school graduates will need to train for “middle-skills” jobs. For most that will mean earning a vocational license, certificate or associate degree.

Robots, not low-paid Chinese workers, are responsible for most of the decline in manufacturing jobs.

Who’s taking manufacturing jobs?

Manufacturing jobs aren’t being shipped to low-wage countries like Mexico or China, writes Carnevale, who heads Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “In recent years, 88 percent of job loss in manufacturing is due to gains in productivity, such as increased use of robots.”

The economy needs service workers, he writes. While 19 percent of new jobs are low-paid, low-skilled “McJobs,” 36 percent are middle-skill jobs in “health care, information technology, financial services, office-based clerical and administrative work” and skilled work in construction, repair, and machinery operations. These jobs “pay close to the median earnings of all full-time, full-year workers ($42,000), if not more,” writes Carnevale.

In 1967, only 25 percent of workers had “some college,” he writes. “Now 61 percent of workers have some credentials beyond high school.”

We expect that about 20 percent of high school graduates, almost all men, can achieve a middle-class income through jobs that mostly involve skilled manual labor. But that still leaves nearly one-fifth of workers with not enough education or skills to thrive in the modern economy.

Manufacturing, which now employs 9 percent of the workforce, is not going to make a dramatic comeback, he argues. “The  United States should be investing in training and education that meets these workers where they live.”

E pluribus Trump

Celebrating our various racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities has prevented liberalism from “becoming a unifying force capable of governing,” writes Mark Lilla, a Columbia humanities professor, in the New York Times. “Identity liberalism” put Donald Trump in the White House, he argues.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton “called out to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop,” Lilla writes. Those left out felt excluded.

Schools encourage children to “talk about their individual identities, even before they have them,” he writes.

High school history curriculums “anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country.”

When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.”

Lilla concludes: Teachers should “refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history.”

Lilla’s op-ed is “making white supremacy respectable,” writes Katherine Franke, a law professor who directs Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She compares her colleague to Klansman David Duke.

Finally, college book costs go down

College textbook costs have gone down at four-year public and private schools for the first time in 17 years, according to College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2016 report.

Annual student spending on course materials has decreased by almost $100 since 2007-08, reports Student Watch.

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“Students have more options than in the past,” said Elizabeth Riddle, of the National Association of College Stores (NACS).  “Stores offer lower-cost rentals, e-books, custom course packs and print-on-demand open educational resources (OER) as well as price comparison tools.”

My husband,  the author of a computer engineering textbook, thinks publishers have overpriced textbooks beyond what the market will bear. Students are buying pirated copies online, making do with an obsolete edition, sharing with classmates, using the library, etc. I see a new hardcover edition costs $230, but it’s available for $10.25 on Kindle. The $17 paperback edition is published in India and isn’t supposed to be sold in the U.S., but is.

Remedial failure: Who’s to blame?

Eighty percent of students starting community college in California take at least one remedial course, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report.

Remediation “fails” students, according to the report. Only 16 percent will earn a two-year degree in six years; 24 percent transfer to a four-year college or university.

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Math is the greatest barrier: 65 percent of students are assigned to “developmental” math: Most start at least two levels below the college level. Only about 27 percent of remedial  math students go on to complete a college math course with a grade of C or better.

In addition, 54 percent enroll in “developmental” English. Less than half will pass a college-level English class.

Students earn no credit, since they’re not doing college-level work. For those who stick with it — about half do not — it takes a year or more.

Most of the state’s community colleges are trying alternatives, such as aligning remedial courses with students’ programs of study or compressing two-semester sequences into a single semester, reports the PPIC. (I think alignment means letting students with un-mathy majors take statistics instead of algebra.)

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Florida’s state colleges and universities let students skip remediation, even if their placement scores are low, if they think they can handle college-level courses. Colleges have added online labs and tutoring to help.

Perhaps all colleges should go “Full Florida,” writes Matt Reed, who blogged as “community college dean,” in Inside Higher Ed.

Remedial enrollments dropped by half, reports the Sun-Sentinel. Pass rates in entry-level college classes dropped slightly or held steady.

“Pass rates in developmental classes increased significantly,” Reed’s colleagues tell him. They think it’s because students are there by choice.

There’s something fundamentally broken about developmental education . . . Forcing students who have had bad experiences in a given subject to start by re-taking material they’ve had before, on their own dime, with no credit towards graduation, is a motivation-killer.

Most students who earned A’s and B’s in high school require remedial help in community college, according to a survey of 70,000 community-college students. Forty percent of A students and 60 percent of B students were unprepared for college work in math, English or both.

Less than a third of community college students earned a two-year degree after six years, reports the National Student Clearinghouse. One in 10 complete a four-year degree.

Teaching anti-Trump hysteria

Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

The election of Donald Trump should be used to teach civics and history — not scare students or “suggest that only a Democratic victory would have aligned with the nation’s values,” write Rick Hess and Checker Finn in U.S. News. Teachers should keep their bias out of the classroom.

They’re not Trump fans, but they think it’s foolish to see the election only “through the prism of racism and xenophobia.”

If Hillary Clinton had won, some students would have felt “unsafe” on campus, write Hess and Finn. Their list includes:

  • Evangelicals and Catholics whose religious schools and colleges are threatened by federal authorities for non-compliance with directives related to gender and sexual identity.
  • College students muzzled by progressive speech codes or sanctioned by “bias response teams” for posting Trump signs or celebrating America as a “melting pot,” and well aware that a Clinton administration would embrace such restrictions.
  • College students fearful of being falsely convicted by kangaroo campus courts and publicly pilloried or expelled under the Obama administration’s Star Chamber approach to sexual harassment, which has compelled universities to abandon the basic tenets of due process.

If Clinton had won, would educators have canceled classes to comfort Trump supporters? Would anti-Clinton students carrying “not my president” signs be consoled — or mocked as sore losers?

Hess and Finn conclude: “For those who supported Donald Trump because they think the nation’s elites hold them in contempt and have declared war on their values, we fear that the nation’s educators have done little this past week to disprove the point.”


Oh, in a column on how universities are “othering” Trump supporters, Glenn Reynolds links to a great rant by “Jonathan Pie” on how to persuade people to change their minds. Calling them racists isn’t the most effective strategy.

Crying on campus

Cornell students staged a “cry-in” after Donald Trump won the presidency.

One student said she was “terrified,” reports the Cornell Daily Sun. Trump supporters “are willing to put people down based on their identity,” she said.

Crying and coloring at Cornell.

Crying and coloring at Cornell.

A dorm at Penn offered cats, a puppy, coloring pages and snacks.

Elsewhere in the Ivy League, a Clinton supporter bragged to the Princetonian that she’d spent Wednesday morning crying in her dorm room. “I sat and sobbed and I still have the tissues all over my floor to prove it,” wrote Marni Morse, a politics major. (I think “brag” is the correct word.) Finally, she left for class, still crying, wearing her “Dare to say the F-word: Feminism” t-shirt and her “A woman belongs in the House and the Senate” sweatshirt to feel “stronger.”

This is feminism? She’s not even strong enough to pick up her tissues.

Around the country, professors are delaying exams and offering counseling, reports Reason’s Robby Soave in a meltdown round-up.

At Loyola University and Byrn Mawr College, students demanded that classes be canceled, citing exhaustion, depression, and safety concerns, Campus Reform reported. “A Trump election directly endangers the lives of all students at Bryn Mawr College that are people of color, lgbtqa+, non-Christian, and female,” one student claimed.

Arielle Moore, 19, argues with a Trump supporter during a protest at Texas State. Photo: Jay Janner/AP

Arielle Moore, 19, argues with a Trump supporter during a protest at Texas State. Photo: Jay Janner/AP

“College campuses have created safe spaces to wall students off from the mildest forms of disagreement,” writes Soave. “Too many of them simply had no idea that great numbers of Americans despised their progressive agenda and were eager to strike a blow against political correctness.

Colleges have pushed racial, ethnic and gender diversity but ignored viewpoint diversity, writes Fordham University’s Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case. Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view.

Campus progressives have “pushed race-based and identity-group-based classifications,” concludes Soave. They’ve “assailed white privilege,” disparaging people based on their identity. Identity politics backfired.

Non-college-educated whites — still a large percentage of the population — voted as a bloc against the educated elites. Treated as “deplorables,” Archie and Edith Bunker chose the deplorable candidate.

Education in the Trump era: What now?

Donald Trump won the presidency by mobilizing the frustration of non-college educated whites who feel left out and left behind. (Donald Trump will be president of the United States of America. Oy vey.) What now?

On the campaign trail, Trump called for cutting “the power and reach” of the Education Department.

Donald Trump spoke in New York in June. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

Donald Trump campaigning in New York. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

“Education has to be run locally,” he said. “Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top are all programs that take decisions away from parents and local school boards. These programs allow the progressives in the Department of Education to indoctrinate, not educate, our kids.”

He backed school choice, including charters, vouchers and magnet schools.

Trump said he’d make colleges cut tuition. “If the federal government is going to subsidize student loans, it has a right to expect that colleges work hard to control costs and invest their resources in their students,” Trump said. “If colleges refuse to take this responsibility seriously, they will be held accountable.”

He also threatened to end the tax-exempt status of colleges and universities with large endowments and high tuition rates, notes Inside Higher Ed. Colleges need “to spend endowments on their students, not themselves,” Trump said. “They need to use that money to cut the college debt and cut tuition, and they have to do it quickly.”

Trump’s education platform includes making it easier for people to afford vocational and technical training.

Here are education quotes.

What’s he really going to do? Would Congress go along? I have no idea. Still in shock.

Trump’s victory “leaves widespread uncertainty about what’s in store for public schools,” writes Ed Week.

Fordham’s Mike Petrilli predicts “quick changes” at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, including an end to applying “disparate impact theory” to school discipline.

Massachusetts voters rejected lifting the cap on charter schools.

California voters repealed limits on bilingual education.

Poor achievers do little better than rich slackers

“Poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong,” writes Matt O’Brien in the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog.

The chart, based on research by Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, shows that 14 percent of wealthy high school dropouts stay in the top income tier, while 16 percent of low-income college graduates stay in the lowest tier. “These low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells,” writes O’Brien. “Some meritocracy.”

Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don’t need a high school diploma to get ahead. It’s an extreme example of what economists call “opportunity hoarding.” That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children’s favor.

By contrast, low-income graduates are more likely to earn a low-value degree from an unselective college or a “diploma mill.”  Blacks who earn a “good degree” are more likely to “live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities,” writes O’Brien.

Downtown College Prep, a San Jose charter that primarily educates low-income and working-class Mexican-Americans, offers career networking to help its graduates find professional jobs once they complete college. (Go ahead: Read the book.)