Patriotism: Are we in this together?

Most Woodrow Wilson High football players in Camden, N.J., knelt during the national anthem last Saturday. Photo:Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

High school football players across the country are refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Rejecting the rituals of patriotism is a mistake, writes New York Times columnist David Brooks.

The idea of America is that we’re supposed to “create a good and just society,” he writes. And that we’re always “screwing it up.”

“This fusion of radical hope and radical self-criticism” is America’s “civic religion,” he writes. It’s “fired a fervent desire for change.”

When we sing the national anthem, we’re not commenting on the state of America. . . . We’re expressing commitment to the nation’s ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled. If we don’t transmit that creed through shared displays of reverence we will have lost the idea system that has always motivated reform. We will lose the sense that we’re all in this together. We’ll lose the sense of shared loyalty to ideas bigger and more transcendent than our own short lives. If these common rituals are insulted, other people won’t be motivated to right your injustices because they’ll be less likely to feel that you are part of their story.

In short, it’s “we the people” or every man, woman and being for him-, her- or zir- self.

At many schools, “a globalist mentality teaches students they are citizens of the world rather than citizens of America,” Brooks complains. “The multiculturalist mind-set values racial, gender and ethnic identities and regards national identities as reactionary and exclusive.”

Since the post-911 peak in patriotism, Americans are less likely to say they’re “extremely proud” of their country, reports Gallup. The decline is sharpest for those 18 to 29 years old. However, only 1 percent say they’re not proud at all.

Trend: How proud are you to be an American -- extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud or not at all proud?

Backlash: Diversity training boosts bias

Here’s a non-surprise: Mandatory diversity training leads to less diversity and more hostility, concludes a study published in the Harvard Business Review.

. . . five years after instituting required training for managers, companies saw no improvement in the proportion of white women, black men, and Hispanics in management, and the share of black women actually decreased by 9%, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4% to 5%.

Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.

Voluntary training led to better results, researchers found.

Research from the University of Toronto reinforces our findings: In one study white subjects read a brochure critiquing prejudice toward blacks. When people felt pressure to agree with it, the reading strengthened their bias against blacks. When they felt the choice was theirs, the reading reduced bias.

Stressing the benefits of a multicultural workforce, rather than the risk of lawsuits, college recruitment aimed at women and minorities, mentoring new hires and creating in-house diversity efforts led to a more diverse managerial workforce over time. Bringing in outside consultants backfired.

I went through this sort of mandatory training in my newspaper days. One Power Point presentation featured purple hippos, because nobody employed by Knight-Ridder Newspapers was a purple hippo.

School administrators might benefit from a look at the research.

Seattle U students protest ‘dead white dudes’

Robert Gavino, Fiza Mohammad and Zeena Rivera talk about their sit-in.  “When am I going to start reading writers from China, from Africa, from South America?” Rivera said. Photo: Steve Ringman, Seattle Times

A college devoted to the humanities teaches too many “dead white dudes,” complain students at Seattle University’s Matteo Ricci College. Protesters want less Plato and more Ta-Nehisi Coates, reports Katherine Long in the Seattle Times.

Also they’re sitting in to demand that the “racist” dean, Jodi Kelly, be fired. She gave a student a copy of Dick Gregory’s autobiography and explained why he used a racial slur for the title.

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In a meeting with Father Stephen Sundborg, president of the Jesuit university, a black student charged Kelly used the “n-word” and said she could “reclaim” the word, as the black comedian had.

It is not her place to tell me not to be offended,” the student said. “This woman needs to be removed. I’m worried about the students that come after me.”

In a letter to the university community, Sundborg refused to fire Kelly. Otherwise, he groveled. “I cannot pretend to know how deep their pain goes, the amount of harm it has caused or the extent of our own shortcomings as educators and administrators,”  he wrote.

Kelly pledged to review curricula, “hire a consultant to assess the college’s culture and climate, and train faculty and staff in racial and cultural literacy,” reports Long.

As part of a sit-in, students have displayed books they want the Matteo Ricci curriculum to contain.

(The display) includes books on Buddhism, the civil-rights movement, feminist theory, social movements, poverty, mass incarceration, alternative views of American history. They say they want to read and discuss authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Malala Yousafzai, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sherman Alexie.

 Instead, they say, many Matteo Ricci courses are focused on close readings of the classics.

Zeena Rivera is sick of Plato. “The only thing they’re teaching us is dead white dudes,” she said.

Kelly said classics courses include Confucius and Lao Tsu, while “students read African-American and Latino scholars, historians, playwrights and poets” as part of the core curriculum, reports Long.images

In addition to decentralizing whiteness, students want “a critical focus on the evolution of systems of oppression such as racism, capitalism, colonialism, etc., highlighting the art, histories, theologies, political philosophies, and socio-cultural transformation of Western and non-Western societies.”

Teacher Maria Martin, a “woman of color” from a low-income family and a Matteo Ricci graduate, learned a great deal studying Greek and Roman culture, she writes on The Stranger.  Students who don’t want to read  classical literature should choose a “different major,” she suggests.

Matteo Ricci offers a “humanities for education” major and many graduates plan to become teachers.

Shakespeare vs. progressive education

Shakespeare can’t survive the progressive, multiculturalist principles taught in teacher education, writes Mark Bauerlein, an Emory English professor, on Minding the Campus.

English teacher Dana Dusbiber refuses to teach Shakespeare because he’s too old, white, male and European, she wrote in the Washington Post.

She’s not some oddball, writes Bauerlien. Dusbiber learned in education school that students need to see their race represented in what they read. She was taught that “the past is irrelevant or worse,” that contemporary literature is “more real” than the “authoritarian” classics.

Shakespeare endures in the classroom on aesthetic and cultural grounds that progressivism refuses.  It casts aesthetic excellence as a political tool, the imposition of one group’s tastes upon everyone else.  And it marks the culture at whose pinnacle Shakespeare stands (the English literary-historical canon) as an outdated authority.

Progressive education can’t admit that “Shakespeare is central to our cultural inheritance,” concludes Bauerlein. “If progressivism reigns in secondary and higher education, Shakespeare, Pope, and Wordsworth are doomed.”

Most parents are pragmatists

Nearly all parents want their child’s school to provide a strong core curriculum in reading and math and  stress science and technology, concludes a new Fordham study. They want their children to learn good study habits, self-discipline, critical thinking skills and speaking and writing skills. But, after that, parents have different priorities, concludes What Parents Want.

Pragmatists (36 percent of K–12 parents) assign high value to schools that, “offer vocational classes or job-related programs.” Pragmatists tend to be less educated with lower incomes. They’re also more likely to be parents of boys.
Pragmatists

Jeffersonians (24 percent) prefer a school that “emphasizes instruction in citizenship, democracy, and leadership.”

Test-Score Hawks (23 percent), who tend to have academically gifted and hard-working children, look for a school that “has high test scores.” If they’re not satisfied, they’ll switch schools.

Multiculturalists (22 percent), who are more likely to be urban, liberal and black, want their children to learn “to work with people from diverse backgrounds.”

Expressionists (15 percent), more likely to be liberals and parents of girls, want a school that “emphasizes arts and music instruction.”

Getting their child into “a top tier college” is important to Strivers (12 percent), who are far more likely to be African American and Hispanic.

After the “non-negotiables” (reading, math and science) and the “must-haves” (study habits, critical thinking, communications), “desirables” include “project-based learning, vocational classes, and schools that prepare students for college and encourage them to develop strong social skills or a love of learning,” the study found. Rated “expendable” are small school enrollment, proximity to home and updated building facilities. Teaching love of country and fluency in a foreign language also was a low priority for most parents. “When forced to prioritize, parents prefer strong academics,” Fordham concluded.

There’s a lot of overlap between Test Score Hawks and Strivers: Add them together and you get  35 percent of parents focused on academic success, nearly as large as the Pragmatist group.  Jeffersonians and Multiculturalists don’t overlap as much, but arguably both groups are concerned about preparing children to be citizens in a diverse society.

Who killed the liberal arts?

    Who Killed the Liberal Arts?  Joseph Epstein blames his fellow professors in a Weekly Standard essay.

    (Professors) in their hunger for relevance and their penchant for self-indulgence, began teaching books for reasons external to their intrinsic beauty or importance, and attempted to explain history before discovering what actually happened. They politicized psychology and sociology, and allowed African-American studies an even higher standing than Greek and Roman classics. They decided that the multicultural was of greater import than Western culture. They put popular culture on the same intellectual footing as high culture (Conrad or graphic novels, three hours credit either way). And, finally, they determined that race, gender, and social class were at the heart of all humanities and most social science subjects. With that finishing touch, the game was up for the liberal arts.

    Epstein became a liberal arts major because he didn’t think he could pass accounting.

    He’s responding to Andrew Delbanco’s College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, which complains that most students enroll in college to earn job credentials, not to pursue an education.

    This cartoon says it all.

Cultured, sensitive markers

Crayola now offers “Multicultural” markers, crayons and colored pencils in an “ethnic-sensitive color palette.” That is, the markers come in “diverse” skin tones from pale pink to dark brown. Not one is labeled “flesh.”

The idea of cultured, sensitive markers is silly, writes Eugene Volokh.

Multiculturalism vs. science labs

Multiculturalism has gone berserk at Berkeley High School, writes William Briggs on Pajamas Media. The school board may cut before- and after-school science labs that extend instruction time by 20 percent. After all, most advanced science students are white and Asian-American.

But there’s plenty of time and money, Briggs writes, for the required History of the Americas course and Globalization, in which students “draft a more effective decision-making mechanism of world government.”  Students also can take Politics and Power (“large run” by students) and Contemporary La Raza History.

Popular Culture in 20th Century America . . . examines “texts” as diverse as mural paintings, street theater, rap music, women’s art, immigrant stories, and MTV to analyze their role in shaping American society. Popular Culture is designed to teach students skills in critically examining the historical role of popular culture in defining racial issues, the regulation of sexuality, and consumer society. It also explores popular forms of resistance to the dominant culture.

If no room is left in the “Eco-Literacy and Social Justice Seminar,” kids might opt for the fall-back “Social Justice Seminar,” where the question “What can I do to bring about social change for a more just society?” is answered.

. . . BHS will surely keep all offerings from its African American Department. There, students can open their minds with “African American Journalism” or “Advanced African American Journalism.” From their course descriptions, these appear to be identical in substance with non-African American Journalism courses (which BHS also offers). Just as the course “African American Economics” doesn’t differ from non-African American Economics.

. . . Black Psychology— whose major objective “is to impart a clear knowledge of what African-Centered thought is” — could be that easy “A” a lot of kids seek because it “is not a lecture course.” Major “emphasis is on classroom discussion.” What is cooler than sitting around and grieving?

Berkeley High has the “largest racial equity/achievement gap in the state,” notes San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders. The plan to eliminate science labs “bolstered the common suspicion that some educators want to close the achievement gap by dumbing down public schools.”

As Peggy Scott, a governance council parent who voted against the plan, told KQED Forum’s Michael Krasny on Wednesday, “Closing the achievement gap really means bringing the bottom up, and the problem is that it does seem and it does feel like what might be happening is trying to bring the top down.”

While the science labs have been shown to improve achievement, the savings will go toward “equity grants.” One proposal is to “de-track” ninth-grade math so all students take the same class. “The result will not be a more just society,” Saunders predicts. “Instead, a declining number of Berkeley High students will be able to do the math.”