Category Archives: Education

Clinton offers new plan for tuition-free college

Because $19+ TRILLION debt just isn’t enough to ruin America, I guess.


Via NY Post: Hillary Clinton threw a bone to Bernie Sanders on Wednesday and offered up a new plan for tuition-free college.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee proposed eliminating tuition entirely for families making up to $125,000 at state public colleges and universities, a move she estimates will cover 80 percent of applicants.

That’s a significant shift from her original plan for debt-free college that would have lessened the student loan burden but still imposed tuition.

“I remain committed to ensuring that a college degree is attainable for anyone in this country with the desire and determination to earn one,” Clinton said in a statement.

Sanders has called for public colleges to be tuition-free for everyone, regardless of income.

While Clinton didn’t go that far, Sanders praised her shift. “I applaud @HillaryClinton for the very bold initiative she has just brought forth for the financing of higher education,” Sanders tweeted immediately after the announcement.

Sanders, still officially running for president, has been pushing the Democratic platform committee to adopt his more progressive ideas. His campaign is urging supporters to pressure the committee to formally oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that President Obama supports and Clinton once embraced. She’s since opposed the deal.

The tuition-free proposal signals the willingness of the Clinton campaign to inch toward Sanders’ agenda to earn his endorsement and encourage his supporters — especially young people — to embrace Clinton.

The tuition-free plan would start with families earning $85,000 a year or less and tick up to $125,000 by 2021. Clinton also said she would issue an executive order granting a three-month break to all federal student loan borrowers.

During that reprieve, borrowers could consolidate loans, enroll in programs to reduce monthly payments or recover from delinquency.


Forced diversity training backfires, claims Harvard study

Shocker, not.


From Fox News: Diversity might be a good thing, but forced training in tolerance not only fails in the business world, it backfires, according to a new Harvard study.

Managers sent to mandatory diversity training sessions often come away resenting the very groups they are being encouraged to accept, according to the study, entitled “Why Diversity Programs Fail,” and published in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review. It gets even worse when threats and punishments are imposed to ensure participation, the study found.

 “People often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance,” wrote authors Frank Dobbin, a professor of sociology at Harvard and Alexandra Kalev, a professor of social sciences at Tel Aviv University. “Your organization will become less diverse, not more.”

The study looked at financial institutions, where in mandatory initiatives aimed at increasing diversity have not increased the number of white women and black men in managerial positions, the study claims. Five years after implementation of involuntary training, the proportion of minority managers either remained stagnant or declined — as much as 9 percent for black women.

“Mandatory diversity training sends exactly the message of control – and psychological research shows us time and time again [that] people resist control,” Kalev told in an email.

On the other hand, the option to undergo voluntary training invoked the opposite effect– minority representation in management increased, around 4 percent for black men. The study found that when training is not forced on employees, as many as 80 percent take part – and the benefits are measurable.

Large banks and other big companies shell out millions of dollars every year for diversity training programs, in part to guard against discrimination lawsuits. Morgan Stanley budgeted an additional $7.5 million toward diversity programs in 2007 after getting hit hard with multiple discrimination lawsuits, Bloomberg News reported, in settlements that cost the company more than $100 million in the past few decades.

But ineffective training will not protect companies from legal exposure, said attorney Suzanne Bish, who litigated a discrimination suit against an investment bank. “It doesn’t mean very much to us if there’s diversity training or not,” she said. “There are companies who want to appear that they are doing something, and it could be window dressing.”

The study’s findings did not surprise Bish, who said forced training could cause employees to “get defensive” and that people often “don’t react in a positive way to that training,” especially if higher-ups aren’t perceived as authentic in their diversity beliefs.

The study also has implications for college campuses, where mandatory diversity programs and voluntary courses have increasingly expanded from coast to coast.

In one of the more aggressive programs, the University of Toledo will implement elements of its Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion, which will require all faculty and students to enroll in diversity training by the 2017 school year. The plan is proceeding even though two-thirds of students who had never had diversity training said they were opposed to it. Forcing those students to participate would be counterproductive, according to Kalev.

As in the business world, mandatory diversity training could cause members of the campus community to “disengage from the idea of diversity” and “develop negative attitudes toward minority students and faculty” she warned.


California university seeks to ‘deconstruct’ masculinity

Pajama Boy

Via Campus Reform: To increase male student retention and combat sexual violence, one California university is offering a “safe space” for male-identifying students to discover their authentic masculinity.

“Dudes Understanding Diversity and Ending Stereotypes (DUDES) is a traveling Men’s Center, housed in the Campus Diversity and Inclusion Center for students who identify as Men, as well as women, transgendered students, and male allies,” the University of Redlands states on its website.

The DUDES Resource Center, the description elaborates, “provides support for students who would like a safe space to talk about men’s issues, get involved on campus, and discuss issues regarding masculinity, media, gender roles, etc.”

DUDES is one of five “Gender Programs” at Redlands that are designed to supplement the work of the Women’s Center and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department. The other initiatives include a “Masculinity Discussions” series, as well as three programs that provide resources and support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The “Masculinity Discussion” series provides students with alternative views of masculinity, because according to the website, “We believe it is crucial to deconstruct our societal understanding of masculinity and establish more inclusive definitions of manhood as part of the effort to reduce violence in our communities.”

DUDES other offerings include a fraternity-like brotherhood for male students interested in social justice called Rangi Ya Giza (RYG), as well as the Men Achieving Leadership Excellence and Success Institute, or MALES.

RYG hosted a rally this spring to discuss “issues of modern policing,” at which they encouraged participants to sign a petition asking the Department of Justice to mandate better data reporting in police departments.

At another DUDES event, students discussed a perceived connection between masculinity and gun violence, and one professor presented research suggesting that guns and swords have been seen as phallic symbols for centuries.

Zack Ritter, Associate Director for Campus Diversity and Inclusion at the university, told Campus Reform that the male retention rate on campus is around 85 percent, while females stay in school at a rate of 90 percent. The Men’s Retention Committee formed DUDES to help close that gender gap while also demonstrating that Redlands men aren’t male chauvinists.

Gawker mocked Redland’s use of acronyms for its masculinity programs Wednesday by referring to the fictitious Brothers Allied to Learn Life Successfully (BALLS), which the article says recently created a program known as Progressive Excellence Needs Institutional Support (PENIS), which in turn spawned its own offshoot called Diversity Is Coherent Knowledge Helping Every Action Demand Solutions (DICKHEADS).

Ritter told Campus Reform that the Gawker article didn’t bother him, and that he was happy for the publicity. “If you’re standing on the outside of this stuff, maybe it looks like bullshit, but that’s cool too,” Ritter said. “This is a democracy and you can believe what you want to.”

Ritter pointed out that the programs at Redlands were meant to help students feel comfortable with their gender identity, not to condemn them for it. “There are many types of ways to be a man, and there are many types of ways to be a woman,” he asserted. “This isn’t the Boy Scouts; we aren’t saying this is what you have to do to be a good man.”

As a case in point, he noted that the Campus Diversity & Inclusion program recently posted pictures to their Instagram and Facebook accounts of a December event at which male students were encouraged to try walking down a red carpet in high heels.


Ritter explained that the high heels walk is meant to help students find comfort in expressing themselves, noting that he himself would feel uncomfortable walking around campus in high heels.

Ritter said he thinks many high school students entering college develop unhealthy views of masculinity and sex from Hollywood movies, which can cause problems for them in college. “I think we’re trying to get men to break their stereotypes they have about women,” he asserted, saying, “if we can start breaking that cycle, we can start changing society.”

According to Ritter, DUDES has a busy schedule planned for the upcoming fall semester. They will be holding a conversation about pornography for the second time with Let’s Understand Sex Together (LUST), as well as their high heels event during DUDES Week.

In addition, a film series featuring titles like “The Empathy Gap” and “The Bro Code” will tackle how young men view women in society today, and Ritter said he is also looking forward to holding discussions featuring student athletes and coaches at the school about breaking down stereotypes between athletes and other students.

Ritter believes that social justice education can be a positive influence for students, and would like to see students making micro-corrections in their daily lives. “Every day may be a renaissance for you,” he said. “On an individual level you can make change for your life.”


Police called to a South Jersey third-grade class party because of “racist” brownie comment

The mother of the third-grader plans to find another public school to send her son next year. I highly recommend home school.


Via On June 16, police were called to an unlikely scene: an end-of-the-year class party at the William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, New Jersey. A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was “racist,” the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment.

The police officer spoke to the student, who is 9, said the boy’s mother, Stacy dos Santos, and local authorities. Dos Santos said that the school overreacted and that her son made a comment about snacks, not skin color. “He said they were talking about brownies. . . . Who exactly did he offend?” dos Santos said.

The boy’s father was contacted by Collingswood police later in the day. Police said the incident had been referred to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The student stayed home for his last day of third grade.

Dos Santos said that her son was “traumatized,” and that she hopes to send him to a different Collingswood public school in the fall. And she wants an apology. She said she graduated from Collingswood High School and has two other children, a 21-year-old who also went through Collingswood schools, and a 3-year-old. Her husband, the third grader’s father, is Brazilian, dos Santos said.

“I’m not comfortable with the administration [at Tatem]. I don’t trust them and neither does my child,” she said. “He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, ‘Tell me what you said.’ He didn’t have anybody on his side.

The incident, which has sparked outrage among some parents, was one of several in the last month when Collingswood police have been called to look into school incidents that parents think hardly merit criminal investigation.

Superintendent Scott Oswald estimated that on some occasions over the last month, officers may have been called to as many as five incidents per day in the district of 1,875 students.

Mayor Jim Maley

Mayor Jim Maley

This has created concern among parents in the 14,000-resident borough, who have phoned their elected officials, met with Mayor James Maley, blasted social-media message boards, and even launched a petition calling on the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office to “stop mandated criminal investigation of elementary school students.”

The increased police involvement follows a May 25 meeting among the Collingswood Police Department, school officials, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, where school officials and police both said they were told to report to police any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called anything “as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally.”

The police and schools were also advised that they should report “just about every incident” to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Carey said.

Previously, the school district, following the state’s Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, had only reported incidents it deemed serious, like those involving weapons, drugs, or sexual misconduct. Both Carey and School Board President David Routzahn described the protocol set forth after that May meeting as a significant change in procedure.

“It was a pretty clear directive that we questioned vehemently,” Oswald said.

But a month after the meeting, and after police investigations that parents consider fruitless had begun to gain attention, Maley wrote in a public letter that the May 25 meeting was intended to “reinforce the applicability” of the MOA, “not to expand its terms.” Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo, in an accompanying statement, said she hoped Maley’s message “clarifies” the responsibilities of school officials.

Maley said in an interview Tuesday that there had been a “misunderstanding” during the May 25 meeting. But Oswald said the Prosecutor’s Office was shying away from its own instructions. “At some point, it seems, they’ve realized that the intent of the MOA that they’re leaning heavily upon is not what they directed us to do,” Oswald said. “It went way above what that MOA says.”

Another point of contention between the Prosecutor’s Office and school officials is what prompted Maley’s meeting in the first place. In a public letter issued to parents Monday, Routzahn said he was “not aware of any single event” in the district that might have prompted the Prosecutor’s Office to ask for a higher reporting standard.

But Maley said the Prosecutor’s Office had been concerned about a “delay” in reporting an incident at Collingswood High School this spring. He would not comment further, noting that the incident was under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Oswald said the high school incident had not been raised during the meeting May 25.

“I welcome discussion on that as well,” he said.

Several parents said they consider the recent police involvement not only ridiculous but harmful. Megan Irwin, who has two daughters who have attended Collingswood public schools and who teaches first grade in Pennsauken, said the police had been called to deal with behavior the schools could easily have handled.

“Some of it is just typical little-kid behavior,” Irwin said. “Never in my years of teaching have I ever felt uncomfortable handling a situation or felt like I didn’t know how to handle a situation.”

And Pam Gessert, a Collingswood resident who works as a school counselor in Burlington County, said that because teachers have the best relationships with students, they are most qualified to determine what happened in a particular incident.


Millennials now request money in place of a wedding registry

One would think that millennials would shun taking a carbon-polluting road trip or plane flight for their honeymoon. Maybe they’ll buy carbon offsets with the cash they receive as gifts.


From The way weddings are done is changing rapidly.  Traditions are different, dresses are naked and costs are higher, but what really has people up in arms is the newest wedding gift trend.

In a new blog released by Pinterest, it says that millennials are asking for money in place of a registry, specifically a fund for their honeymoon or a “honeyfund.”

Young couples are usually living together before the wedding and have already bought all their household appliances and such, so a registry doesn’t make much sense to them.

“I am going to be perfectly honest here, while we aren’t asking for honeymoon money, my fiancé and I are asking for money. The difference is we aren’t living together and we want the money to go pick out our own appliances and household items. Since we don’t have our own place yet, it is hard to pick out typical registry items like towels or a bath set or a comforter. We did however, do a registry with about 20 items on it because we understand that some people would rather pick from a list, and that’s perfectly fine.”

Traditions, like all things, will continuously shift as young generations grow up and become the working class. I can see why some people would think it’s tacky or tasteless to ask for money, but ultimately isn’t it about the new couple and their happiness?

At least you know your gift was appreciated and put to good use instead of stored in the attic or re-gifted.


Girls jealous after ‘Fame’ high school crowns boy prom queen

I don’t blame them for being upset. Yet this generation better get used to it. It’s now mandatory to celebrate “diversity.”

Matthew Crisson/Facebook Photo

Matthew Crisson/Facebook Photo

From NY Post: Some girls at La Guardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts were not amused that a boy stole their stiletto-heeled thunder and became this year’s prom queen — and their claws have come out on social ­media.

“I know I go to LaGuardia because a boy won prom queen,” snarked Asia Pierre in a Facebook post that attracted 500 homophobic comments and 100 shares before it was removed.

“It just sucks that men win everything and we thought we at least deserve that,” wrote a classmate under the name Taj Mahal.

Matthew Crisson, an 18-year-old Staten Islander who self-identifies as “non-binary” (meaning neither male nor female), was awarded the tiara at the “Fame” school last weekend. “It was a big deal for me to reach out to everyone and run,” Crisson told The Post.

Mona Davids, a LaGuardia parent who saw the negative Facebook post and comments, notifying the school and the Department of Education’s new LGBTQ community ­liaison.

“They were very catty and negative comments about something so wonderful and positive,” Davids said. “It was very alarming to me, considering what happened in Orlando and how these things can get out of hand.”

Dog eyeroll


UNC claims Christmas vacations, golf outings are microaggressions


Via Campus Reform: To help staff members avoid microaggressions, the University of North Carolina advises gender-neutral dress codes and avoiding phrases like “husband/boyfriend.”

The guidelines, which were posted to UNC’s Employee Forum website Thursday, also warn against such potentially offensive behaviors as complimenting a woman’s shoes, asking people to “stand and be recognized,” and even scheduling vacations around religious observances.

The school categorized microaggressions based on “social identity group,” with separate sections for race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ability, national origin, and class.

The document asserts, for instance, that “referring to ‘husband/boyfriend’ of women, ‘wife/girlfriend’ of men who are coworkers instead of partner/spouse … sets the expectation that people do not identify as LGBTQ until they say otherwise or disclose their sexual orientation.”

Similarly, saying “I don’t know any LGBTQ people” implies that “you have to openly declare your gender identity and sexual orientation for me to care about LGBTQ issues.”

Moreover, the guide adds that “addressing trans people with incorrect gender pronouns, calling them by former names, inquiring about their ‘real’ identity, asking them to explain their gender identity, and denying or failing to acknowledge their pronouns, name, or identity” suggests to the recipient that “as a trans person, you are inferior to and less authentic than cisgender (non-trans) people.”

Even a simple compliment like “I love your shoes,” at least when addressed to a woman in leadership during a Q&A after a speech, really means “I notice how you look and dress more than I value your intellectual contributions. How you look is really important.”

The post also addresses microaggressions against individuals with physical and mental disabilities, warning against phrases that trivialize such conditions.

“Please stand and be recognized,” the school explains, “assumes that everyone is able in this way and ignores the diversity of ability in the space,” while using expressions such as “I’m totally OCD about my files” and “I get ADHD sometimes” “minimizes the experiences of people who live with mental health issues.”

According to UNC, “having an office dress code that applies to men and women differently assumes that your staff fits into one of two gender categories; can also be a violation of anti-discrimination policies.”


For the same reason, the guide adds, “only having ‘man’/’woman’ or ‘male’/‘female’ as options for gender on forms” constitutes a microaggression because it means that one “must fit in the gender binary and select among these predefined categories.”

Suggesting that the staff play golf at a retreat is also a microaggression, UNC contends, since it “assumes employees have the financial resources/exposure to a fairly (expensive and inaccessible) [sic] sport.”

Race and national origin are apparently fraught topics, as well, leading UNC to recommend that individuals neither ask too many questions about those topics nor remain ignorant about them.

“When I look at you, I don’t see color” is a microaggression, for instance, because it constitutes “minimizing/denying a person of color’s racial/ethnic experiences,” as is asking to touch a black person’s hair, because it implies that they are foreign and exotic.

“How did you get here?” constitutes a national origin microaggression because it acknowledges that some “immigrants get to this country illegally,” while asking “Where are you from?” implies that “you are not American and do not belong to this community.”

Meanwhile, telling a foreign-born person that “you speak English really well!” suggests that “if you are born anywhere ‘foreign,’ you cannot speak English well,” and thus is also a microaggression.

Regarding religion, the guide avers that telling someone that “you don’t look Jewish/Native/Muslim” implies that “there is an expected look/attire and you must fit into that norm.”

UNC also states that academic calendars planned around significant religious holidays “further centers the Christian faith and minimizes non-Christian spiritual rituals and observances.”

In a section suggesting strategies for self-correction, the guide encourages staff members who “tend to say ‘you guys’ in mixed company” to “become more inclusive with your language and social media posts,” as well as to “reflect on ways you can increase your cultural intelligence on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Sharbari Dey

Sharbari Dey

The list was made by Sharbari Dey, assistant director for education and special initiatives at UNC’s Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and Kristia Prince, coordinator for leadership development in the school’s Housing and Residential Education department.

For further reading, the post recommends reading 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say by Dr. Maura Cullen to learn more about microaggressions.