Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Ham-handed politician, horrible eulogizer

Reader David Christopherson writes us:
I'm interested to hear what others who read the SCSU-Scholars Blog think about what I viewed as a truly mean-spirited and venomous speech delivered tonight by Wellstone Campaign Treasurer, Rick Kahn. While I loved the family tributes to Paul Wellstone, whom all of us could admire as a virtuous man, has not Rick Kahn tonight single-handedly decreased the probability of Walter Mondale's returning to the U.S. Senate?

You can hear Kahn in his entirety in RealAudio. I didn't watch the speech live -- my daughter needed homework help -- so I played the audio a few minutes ago. I count no fewer than 13 exhortations to "win this election for Paul Wellstone" ... at a memorial service.

The speech starts slowly and while Kahn isn't going to win prizes as a speaker, it wasn't problematic for the first ten minutes. But then he gets going:
There will be a choice nonetheless either ... to keep his legacy in the Senate alive or bring it forever to an end. ... If Paul Wellstone's legacy comes to an end just days after this unspeakable tragedy occurs then our spirits will be crushed and we will drown in a river of tears. We are begging you do not let this happen.
He then turns to six Republican senators and asks them to help Wellstone win (and perhaps keep themselves in the minority as a result.) This is the thanks they get for coming? He does the same to Jim Ramstad, the senior MN Republican in the House. "Can we not set aside the partisan blahblahblah" he asks them, two minutes after saying that their winning means Wellstone's legacy dies.

He finishes the speech asking everyone to win for the others on the plane. As if the only thing in their lives that mattered was their being the swordbeaerers for Paul Wellstone, who we're told over and over fought for this and fought for that.

When Kahn exhorted the crowd "and we're going to organize, and we're going to organize, and we're going to organize, and we're going to organize, ..." it reminded me of Wellstone's tantrum "no blood for oil" from the well of the Senate in 1991. Wellstone was a new senator then, and he learned, and ended up being respected. Rick Kahn, you're no Paul Wellstone.

Will it hurt Mondale? The current Strib poll has Mondale +8, though two other pollsters have him at +2 and dead even. As pointed out on PowerLine, Strib polls look like they're about 5% out ahead for Democrats versus the other polls, so Dave's right that it might go against him. But I doubt it. If there was ever a state that would throw a Princess Diana effect to a politician, this is it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

What are you going to do after college?
The Confidence Man posts this comment on more and more of our students going to graduate schools. According to the New York Times (link requires registration)
Law school applications are up 17.4 percent from last year, the biggest jump in 20 years, according to the Law School Admission Council. Other graduate programs are also undergoing a surge in interest. Columbia University's Graduate School of Business reported a 26 percent increase in applications this year, to about 7,400, from the year before. The University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education received 1,700 applications, a 50 percent increase over two years ago.

Interesting, given this entry by Joanne Jacobs concerning the motivation of students who go to college in the first place. The Times is interviewing the best students at the best schools while Jacobs is discussing places more like SCSU. Most of our students don't have the option of graduate school.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Another Minnesotan on Wellstone. There are days when I think I can write. Moi, auteur! Then I read Lileks today, and realize I ain't got squat.

Friday, October 25, 2002


Like King, I found myself stunned and numb with the news of Paul Wellstones death today. My reaction surprised myself. As I've tried to reflect, and as I've listened to the non-stop media coverage, I'm beginning to realize that Wellstone represented what we all hope we can be in the arena of politics and scholary dialouge. Without exception, most of the pundits have talked about how he often was the long ranger on issues (and votes) and that many people didn't agree with his positions. But to a person, there was deep RESPECT for his INTEGRITY. Wellstone is the type of politician/scholar I would love to debate, as I would know that the debate was real....that is, based on passion, a well-thought out belief/value system, and based on mutual trust and a search for construction, rather than destruction.

In many ways Wellstone represents an excellent example of what Robert Coles called "moral leadership". Coles book, "The Lives of Moral Leadership" is a must read for anyone who is looking for inspiration on what it takes to make a difference, even when you are an n=1 (which, in many respects, characterizes Wellstone's role in the Senate). As stated on the book dust jacket, "Coles tells how to be a moral leader and shows how the intervention of one person can change the course of history, as well as influence the day-to-day quality of life in our homes, schools, communities, and nation." I think this is why King, myself, and many others across the country are reacting so emotionally to the loss of Paul Wellstone. As is often the case, we don't recognize the importance of someone until they are gone. I believe everyone who pays attention to politics and discourse in this country and on our campuses now recognizes what an important role Wellstone played. He belongs in Cole's next book as a example of a real moral leader.

Finally, on a personal note, all the attention paid to Paul Wellstone and his family may minimize the loss of the others who also perished in the crash. Unfortunately, a colleague of mine in the Dept. of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Mary McEvoy (aka, Mary Mac), who was one of the state DFL leaders, was also on the plane. Her lose is numbing and hits close to home. Although not recognized on a national level, she also represented all that constitutes a moral leader. A true scholar with a passion for politics. Today Minnesota did not lose just one important academic/scholar role model-------we lost two.

Although it is probably too soon to suggest such ideas, I would like to plant a seed. How about SCSU sponsoring a yearly series of "Wellstone" debates, where significant issues are debated on campus, and ONLY in the spirit of Wellstone's moral leadership. Not demonstrations, name calling, shouting, etc., but a serious, spirited, respectfull scholarly debate of issues. I personally would be willing to donate $500 to get this going and would challenge others to make similar donations.

Kevin McGrew

I've been trying to figure out what one can possibly say about the passing of Paul Wellstone. I was having lunch with a good friend who is a Wellstone backer when it was announced on the PA in the student union, and the room was stunned to silence. I had another meeting, we hurried out and I didn't really have a chance to say how I felt. Not that I could, because it's taken some time to sink in. Peggy Noonan's article I think puts it best.
It's good to have men and women of belief in Congress. It's tragic to lose one. ...

When conservatives disagree with liberals, and they're certain the liberal they're disagreeing with is merely cynical, merely playing the numbers, merely playing politics, it's a souring experience. When liberals disagree with conservatives and they're sure the conservative they're disagreeing with is motivated by meanness or malice, it's an embittering experience. But when you disagree with someone on politics and you know the person you're disagreeing with isn't cynical or mean but well meaning and ardent and serious--well, that isn't souring or embittering. That's democracy, the best of democracy, what democracy ought to be about.

As much as I've disagreed with this man's ideas over the years, one thing I never thought about Paul Wellstone was that he was cynical. Maybe that's why so many were ticked off when he decided to run for a third term he said he wouldn't. "Oh no," they would say, "not him! He hasn't become just another politician, has he?" (And maybe his Iraq vote was his telling us he wasn't, and maybe that's why his poll numbers went up afterward. Maybe.) He was as sincere as you get in politics. He was an academic, and someone on WCCO who worked with him at Carleton made him sound like a bit of a campus agitator -- I'm sure he'd've gotten me into one of those email debates I seem to always get into -- but you never doubted that he meant it. "Well meaning and ardent and serious" --that's all you'd want from a fellow academic. It's how we'd hope to be remembered.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

The discussion continued over on the discuss list. Notably, one of the state legislators, Joe Opatz (DFL-St. Cloud) is an administrator at SCSU and often provides us with some observations from the inside. He and I have discussed a couple of times the move within Minnesota towards a "high tuition-high aid" model for higher education. Turns out there is a serious push for a reduction in the allocation of money for higher education that goes directly to public institutions, with the funds moved towards the State Grant Program. If the push succeeds, about a quarter billion dollars moves from the University of Minnesota and the state university and technical/community college systems to grants -- which can be used for financial aid for students (of lower income families) to go to private schools. That revenue would have to be made up by higher tuition (currently students pay around a third of education costs through tuition, and state money pays the rest.) Joe characterizes the argument for this plan
The new grant money would then be targeted to low-income students. Putting more dollars in the hands of the neediest students would, they argue, increase college participation by this underserved population. It would also provide incentives for institutions to compete in a more robust market place and thus improve both quality and efficiency. They further argue that such an approach will more efficiently fulfill the state's needs for an educated workforce. Finally, higher income students would pay closer to the actual cost of their college experience, for which they will reap great financial rewards.
I don't really have a problem with this. But it does create a major concern for us that it goes to private schools, which Joe is right on top of as well:
Although Minnesota is 5th in the nation in grant dollars to full-time undergraduates, it ranks far lower, at 21st, in the percent of undergraduates receiving need-based grant aid and 27th in the nation for percent of undergraduates receiving all grant aid (1999-2000 data; NASSGAP, 2001 {link added -- if it's the wrong one, that's my fault--kb}). In other words, Minnesota spends a large amount for student aid but gives it to a relatively small number of students. This is so because of Minnesota's unusual commitment to private colleges. The higher tuition of private colleges is taken into account when calculating the awards given to students. Thus, it turns out that 52% of the $120 million of taxpayer money used to fund the program each year goes to the 18% of Minnesota undergraduate students who choose to attend a private college.
That last number is the jawdropper. I'm reasonably certain most states don't do this -- I'd've loved to have tapped state grant money to go to St. Anselm when I was a college student, but there was no way New Hampshire would ever do that!

One problem I think for the argument Joe makes is that there's a lag between our receiving a student and the public money that funds the other 2/3rds of their cost. We're real sensitive to movements in enrollments; upticks can be very stressful. High-tuition/high-aid would probably dampen those unexpected cost cycles.

More to the point, what's the real harm here? The point is that what the taxpayer wants is an educated public, regardless of where they are educated. It's up to us as academics in a public university to be sure we're offering value. How do we do that? It's a matter of accessibility, contact with faculty and staff, good advising, etc. Done correctly, high-tuition/high-aid doesn't change accessibility for lower-income families. It does matter, of course -- demand curves slope downward, even for higher ed. (and regardless of the Wall Street Journal's take on this.) That model is going to cost us a few students. But if it makes us more creative, more proactive and pro-student, I say let's sign up.

In essence, what we have in MN is a higher-ed voucher that you can take to any private school, religious or secular. It should come as no surprise that I favor vouchers. The more I think about this, I might have to go along with the Citizen's League on this one.
Thank you, Joe, for the information. I learned something new today.

Late add. It dawned on me after posting that the number Joe cites would seem to mean that some students are getting grants for private school that exceed public tuition costs. I think there's a good argument for capping the size of grants at, say, the tuition level for UM. Or even full in-state costs with room and board there. That would make it emulate a voucher even more, and eliminate the incentive for private schools to generate higher grant awards through increased tuition.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The WSJ post drew many responses on the discuss list at SCSU today. Kate Mooney in the accounting program pointed out that higher tuition at private schools may be driving more students to the public schools. True, I said, though public school tuition is going up faster than private school according to College Board. And later, I realized that if tuition at private schools was driving students into the public schools and if these students are from more affluent families, wouldn't our use of financial aid go down?

Several writers noted that the real cost of education has gone up, either as a share of the time a student works to pay for it or as the share of student loans in the financing of it. I agree, but that's reasonable if you accept the argument that the returns to education have increased in the last forty years. The WSJ (and College Board) cites the increase of $1 million in lifetime income for college degrees over high school education. It doesn't seem too much to ask that the individuals receiving that income bear a higher share of the cost, does it?

I think though that the professionals in our admissions office (thank you, Sarah!) have it mostly right. What is being observed here, and what I find inexplicable from the WSJ (they are supposed to be educated in economics, after all) is the effects of a good old recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research reported two weeks ago that "The U.S. economy continues to experience increases in production and income with no significant growth in employment." So where do these people go? Of course, to college! As the unemployed come back to school and retool their job skills, they will drive up enrollments and perhaps tuition, while availing themselves of loads of student loans and other financial aid. I really wonder if when we get more nontraditional students if financial aid goes up faster than tuition? I have no numbers but I suspect that's true.

As one might suspect as well, the post drew some flak from people upset that "tenured faculty living in ... leafy latte towns" are being unfairly characterized as driving up tuition costs. Mark Jaede from History puts it well:
Faculty and students are also taxpayers and working stiffs. Children of faculty and factory workers go to college. The false categorizations of the editorial invent enmities where there are in fact overlapping interests. They cast faculty as the sole privileged class. Most importantly, they overlook the fact that there are some folks far more privileged than latte-swiling professors who could afford to pony up a few more bucks for education.

If we as faculty at a public university are serious about funding education, we do need to take seriously issue of cost control. We do need to accept our fair share of the tax burden on our middle- and sometimes upper middle-class incomes. We do need to be mindful of the fact that our salaries come from the public purse.

We do _not_ need to accept caricature as argument.
Well no, unless you are writing an editorial. I think getting a little colorful in these things is rather the point, isn't it? I mean, isn't the WSJ trying to sell papers?

But more to the point, and to partly agree with Prof. Jaede, let me offer that again the WSJ does a bad job in understanding economics. The point isn't cheapskate rich families unwilling to share with tenured faculty because there's a very tenuous link between taxes, faculty salaries and tuition. Tuition charged by public schools is going to depend on what the market can bear -- just as it does for private schools. The price one can charge for tuition is not a function of faculty salaries because what we charge is a function of the addtional (or marginal) cost of the educating another student. With a non-residential student population, the cost at SCSU is largely a congestion cost -- we get bigger classes, students have a harder time registering, parking sucks eggs, etc. To the extent we need more classes, we rush adjuncts into the breach -- and their costs are not what the WSJ is discussing. Tenured faculty salaries are, in the economists' parlance, inframarginal. They don't count in pricing -- they only drive the costs we hope the Legislature will pick up and pass along to taxpayers.

Now, I disagree with Prof. Jaede, who seems to think we should shame the rich into paying more for public education. Respecting people's right to property is my main tenet, and having more property in a market-based economy isn't a function of "privilege" as he states but of serving others better. But I will agree with him that casting tenured professors as the cause of higher taxes is just bad thinking. The root cause lies at the decision of Leviathan governments to provide those things which the private sector can do for itself, thankee. I suspect some at the WSJ would agree with that. Too bad they couldn't write clearer.

We get more mail! David Christopherson pointed me to a George Will article yesterday on how Carter got it wrong with North Korea. In contrast, Andrew Sullivan (not a reader, but he should be!) says GWB got it right from the start! To copy Instapundit, advantage Bush (and Sullivan)!

While you're whiling away on the blogs, give a read to James Lileks' Bleat from yesterday on the Pledge of Allegiance to the Earth. The author is a teacher and it's my devout fear the teacher is from SCSU.

Stephen Hicks offers a very good defense of academic freedom in his article, "Free Speech and Postmodernism" in the current edition of The Navigator. A sample:
It is therefore surprising that the greatest current threats to free speech come from within our colleges and universities. Traditionally, a major career goal for most academics has been to get tenure, so that one can say whatever he wants without being fired. That is exactly the point of tenure: to protect freedom of thought and expression. Yet today we see that many individuals who have worked for many years to get tenure and the academic freedom that goes with it are the strongest advocates of limiting the speech of others.

The whole piece deserves careful reading.

This morning's Wall Street Journal carries a small editorial (link requires subscription, sorry) on rising tuition costs. Here at SCSU tuition went up 11%, while nationwide it went up 9.6%. You'd think that would drive down enrollments. But financial aid nationwide is up 11%; here at SCSU we had to stop enrolling new students in July, which according to Provost Spitzer is the first time in anyone's memory that we've done that.

Isn't this economics stood on its head? Normally, when costs rise this much customers, er, um, students and parents (we do hate the c-word around this campus) start screaming and stop paying. But as the editorial notes, not so for education.
Parents will pay a lot to stamp their children with a brand name for life, and in any case the politicians have created a system of subsidies that increase along with tuition. These are federal as well as state, direct as well as indirect through the tax code, and they effectively immunize college campuses from the market pressures that businesses face every day. Thus have we created a vicious circle: Tuition goes up, the politicians deliver more aid, and tuition goes up some more.

In other words, taxpayers are chasing their own wallets. Given the powerful economic benefits that accrue from a college degree (Census figures put the difference in lifetime earnings between college grads and non-grads at nearly $1 million), government subsidies amount to a reverse wealth transfer in which Peter, the working stiff, is taxed to underwrite college-bound Paul and the tenured faculties living in Madison and Chapel Hill and other leafy latte towns. Maybe it's time to stop.

I'd write more, but I'm off for a latte myself, after which I'll be picking leaves off the snow.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Reader Roger Lewis sends along this link on the size of political contributions by unions. He notes "As an Arizona boy, my experience with unions is very limited, but AFSCME sure has one heck of a lot of money to donate!" That's no lie! And guess who gets much of their money? That's right, Democrats get $9 of every $10. Ditto for the National Educators Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association. As I mentioned to someone else who wasn't happy with my Wellstone rally report, Vladimir Illich Wellstone is getting most of his money by personal contributions, but from individual contributions by lawyers and soft money via the national party and teachers union. And today someone emails me a shameless Flash ad criticizing Coleman's PAC money, while Coleman has raised little more than $1 million to Wellstone's $580,000. The size of the party support and individual contributions by lawyer$ that V.I. Wellstone gets far swamps Coleman's supposed advantage. (Data from OpenSecrets.) And more than half of the money Pauly has gotten comes from out of state.

I was struck by this article in the campus newspaper today. It includes this sentence:
"Kaleidoscope is a creative forum for the (SCSU) community to think about and reflect and process through difference," [Frankie] Condon said.
Huh? Is she just stringing along words, or does that sentence actually have meaning? I wonder if she gets her stuff from the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator? Note, the speaker teaches writing.

Monday, October 21, 2002

OK, guys, don't get worried. I changed the template as requested by readers who were going batty with the old ones. Hope you like it. It's a bother to change these! You'll also notice I have gone to Blogger Pro and got rid of the annoying popup banner. We're a real blog! Yeah!

Kevin, you didn't witness the Wellstone rally on campus today. We will have to start issuing "Shrill Voices of Silliness Alerts". He even brings the freakin' bus! So what do I get for wearing this shirt to a Faculty Senate meeting? The morphing on the parent site is too damned cool!

Jack makes a very good point when he states that " I don't really think the Old Left really wants to win anything. This stuff is just masterbatory: they get to carry a few old signs and sing some old songs and feel enormously good about themselves and vastly superior to the rest of humanity."

After a number of years of listening to the same chorus of protesters (complainers?) at SCSU, a professor of color helped me "see the light." His comment (which is paraphrased due to memory loss over the years) was that "we need to remember that for many, they no longer care about the cause...they only care about the battle." BINGO. I think it is very evident who (within the social justice/human relations SCSU community) are only professoinal protesters and who are those who want to be real problem-solvers. Unfortunately, those who only seek to cause havoc without solutuions tarnish the legitimate voices within the social justice group. In fact, not only do they tarnish the reputation of all within the social justice community, they even intimidate their own in order to "control the message." While at SCSU a faculty member who fits under the social justice umbrella shared with me that he/she was severely chastized by the more vocal wheel-spinning protesters for voicing a more moderate opinion on the SCSU listserv. Fortunately, I think the shrill voices of protesters without rational/logical problem-solving behaviors are on the wane at SCSU.....its about time.

Kevin McGrew (ex-APSY faculty member of 9 years)

I have breakfast with three fellows every Saturday for the last few months. One of them is a Dittohead, another quite liberal, the third a fellow libertarian who knows tons more about guns and war than I do. I had sent them the letter from Tehran I posted earlier and the liberal fellow of the group sent this reply (quoted in full).

Very moving - I feel for her (and her countrymen). But, what makes the US
responsible for bringing a better life to Iran? We fought and died for our
freedoms (and continue to do so). As I stated at breakfast, I don't believe
the US should intercede in every country and try to run the world. How can
libertarians support intervention??

Another point I meant to bring up: if we are right to export our beliefs
through violence because we believe we are right, why can't those who also
believe they are right (and we are wrong) export their beliefs through
violence? I DO believe we are right, but they are probably just as
convinced I'm wrong as we are convinced they're wrong. This is perhaps a
trite and superficial argument, but I believe it has validity as a
discussion point!

To which I replied: "We're not responsible for her, Burt. We're not going to be the world's policeman. There is clear and credible evidence that Iraq had a hand in al Qaeda. There is to me clear and credible evidence that Saudi Arabia is culpable -- more for financing than being the birthplace of so many of al Qaeda's membership. I asked the question if Iran should be next. My answer is: no. Not before Saudi. On that I think Bush was wrong to put Iran in the axis of evil. (I thought that of North Korea too, but maybe he knew then what we know now.) I fully understand that we don't put Saudi in there because of energy. We have competing interests -- our demands for energy and security are in conflict. Tradeoffs are part of reality, true since Man has fallen, and those who say "no blood for oil" are idiots trying to avoid inescapable choices. I know you're not one of those idiots.

"In Iraq's case there's no reason to believe that Iraq has stopped being a threat to us, and there's no hope that any other solution than action against him initiated by us will work. I'm very reluctant to say that, because we know with war comes the government's never-ending attempt to remove our freedoms. But the fact that the morons in Washington would pass the PATRIOT Act doesn't make it wrong to eliminate Saddam. We can and should undo PATRIOT. We can't undo the next terrorist attack; we can only do our best to prevent it. Indeed, if preventing terrorism before it happens isn't government's legitimate function, what the hell is?

"Being a libertarian means being against the use of government power to stop peaceful acts like gun ownership (we have laws against using them violently, but you seem not to want to stop there). It is not being against the justified use of force in self-defense, which includes preventitive measures. We have a right to our own lives; nobody should be made a sacrifice to be absolutely sure the enemy means us harm when the enemy has already given us clear evidence he means us harm. If I own a gun and someone breaks into my house, I don't wait for the intruder to come upstairs and fire the first shot. I kill him at the foot of the stairs. Can there be any doubt that Saddam is attempting to break into our house?"

Two days later, I still think that's right.

I just finished Gitlin's essay King posted on Friday. It's effective. The Old Left folks like Julie and friends are among the best friends the president has. How many people would actually be interested in re-thawed anti-Vietnam rhetoric and phiosophy? Would 20% of the country be? 10%? They form such a silly extreme they won't appaeal to anybody except a few Human Relations majors, and they drive most students away. I talk to a lot of students, and they react to Julie-activism with either shrugs or grins. And as they hog the stage they make it hard for more reasonable voices to be heard.
But I don't really think the Old Left really wants to win anything. This stuff is just masterbatory: they get to carry a few old signs and sing some old songs and feel enormously good about themselves and vastly superior to the rest of humanity. Shucks, let them go, unless you really seriously want to change US policy towards Iraq; those who are serious about genuine change should be awfully grumpy.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Did anyone else see this? Julie? Hello?

Thursday, October 17, 2002

It's nice to see Kevin's post that King put up on scsu-discuss. It's nicely direct. I'm anxious to see if there will be any kind of response from the social justice crowd to the call for rational debate. I doubt it of course. They believe in pronouncements, demonstrations and chants, not debate. We did have one debate about a decade ago. I think it was a human relations class that asked Myron Anderson, a prof. from philosophy now retired, and I to take on political correctness and some of its defenders one evening. There was supposed to be a student debate on the same stuff at noon the next day. It sounds pretty pompous, but, frankly, I thought we creamed the other side -- they just didn't do at all well in controlled, rational debate. Without telling us why, they cancelled the student debate for the next day. Since then I've been asked to come to things like speakouts, which are unstructured , emotional and loud, but never a debate. I guess it's pretty naive to expect anything to start now, in the twilight of the pol-correct gods.

A couple of people have written me complaining of the ever-changing colors on the screen and that the links are hard to see. I agree. A new template is on my to-do list for the weekend. All I can say is, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

And meanwhile, Kevin, one of our social justice people has published in the St. Cloud (Red) Times. I think a good fisking is in order. Feel free to send your submissions at the mail link to your right.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I just finished skimming the current issue (Vol 31,7, October 2002) of the Educational Researcher, THE newsletter publication of the American Educational Research Association. On page 58 I found an add for the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education (CAOE). Based on my past battles with those who place themselves under the broad "social justice" umbrella at SCSU, many who seem to only subscribe to an oppressive model of human relations, I thought it was worth a peek. Although I have only begun to skim the material at the CAOE web page, I found it interesting that the director has published in such scholarly digs as the Educational Researcher, the Review of Educational Research, and Harvard Educational Review. seems that being a scholar and social justice advocate are not orthogonal ideas. How refresshing. On the surface, the director of the CAOE seems a cut above many of the social justice "scholars" at SCSU who seem to prefer (a) Rhetoric over Reason, (b) Evisceration of alternative views over rational Evaluation of ideas, (c) Damage to the professsional reputations of those with whom they disagree over DATA, and (d) to give many excuses for being unable to publish.

I have NO idea if this is a legitimate source or if it may just be another voice among the choir of modern day McCarthyites. But it does look like a site folks should be aware of. I would like to suggest that the "scholars" of social justice at SCSU check out this site in an effort to provide a more scholarly foundation to their political or scholarly agendas. It looks like the center (which may just be one scholar) is willing to provide mentoring/editiorial review services to scholars of anti-oppressive education who seek to publish in this field (See the quote from the web page below).

It was always my hope (that was never realized) that the SCSU social justice crowd would base their arguements and positions on a more evidence-based foundation. I for one would have enjoyed spirited evidence-based or theoretically-organized discourse with those with whom I disagree. Like many I know at SCSU (some who are members of this blog), we all welcome the exchange of long as the exchange is among a true community of scholars.

I would like to request that someone from this blog cross-post this message to the SCSU list on my behalf. Kind of like a voice "out of the past."

Kevin "still proud to be a member of the old SCSU APSY Dept" McGrew

Note: the following text comes from the CAOE web page.

Conducting and publishing research on anti-oppressive education are of critical importance. Yet, such research does not often receive adequate support in educational communities. While some researchers have ample resources to support the development and dissemination of their research, others do not. The Center for Anti-Oppressive Education addresses this inequity by creating opportunities for researchers to receive various forms of editorial support for their research.

CAOE will arrange for experienced researchers, editors, and/or reviewers to provide constructive, detailed feedback to researchers on manuscripts that they wish to revise and submit to journals for possible publication. Researchers in the field of anti-oppressive education--from novice graduate students to experienced faculty members--are invited to arrange for this service.

On another axis-of-evil front, National Review has this letter from Tehran by a woman working on her doctorate in Tehran. What gets me here is that this would be exactly the person most liberals would defend if she were not in Iran. It is irrelevant to the left to day who the oppressed are. All that matters is getting those whom they see as oppressors.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The FIRE has announced that the case at St. Louis University has been solved. The group Law Students Pro-Life is now recognized on their campus. FIRE has been very effective in standing up for the rights of student and faculty. Cruise their site to see what else they've managed to accomplish.

Monday, October 14, 2002

And before any of you go all squishy over my dislike of that video, might I suggest that the timing, following the disaster in Bali, which even the Indonesians think is the work of al-Qaeda, is a little bit off? No? Here, let's have Tim Blair explain it to you.

So today there's an advert on the campus listserv for a speaker critical of the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The speaker's visit is sponsored by "Pax Christi St. Cloud, Campus Ministry of the College of Saint Benedict, and Benedictines for Peace." Funny; if I say Merry Christmas on the listserv I'm insensitive, but leftists can advertise for things happening in a monastery.

This woman who is speaking is a member of the School of the Americas Watch. They protest the use of the WHISC to train Latin American military and police. I have some sympathy for them, but consider this: If it was School of the Middle East, training soldiers to look out and fight for Islamoterrorists, do you think the message of the SOAW would be any different? No, me neither.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

King makes a very good point about testing being able to provide positive information. I spent 10 years as a school psychologist (8 in St. Cloud), 10 years as a professor at SCSU, and have spent the major portion of my last 10 years engaged in the development of standardized tests (see for info). Well constructed standardized tests, when developed in accordance with established test standards, typically provide reliable and valid information. They are only the messengers.

It has always bothered me how educational personal will tout high test scores (and, thus, implicity endorse the value of the tests), but then denigrate the tests when the scores are low. Yes....we must all be cognizant that they only sample a limited portion of the complete domain of human competence. For example, one of the best established models of personal competence (Greenspan's model) includes the broad domains of physical and emotional competence, and social, practical, and conceptual intelligence. Standardized group achievement tests only sample a portion of the conceptual intelligence domain. But, they do it relatively well according to established psychometric standards for group tests. They are only one indicator. The main problem is not with this one indicator, it is the failure of the educational system to also measure indicators in these other domains. The National Center on Education Outcomes, at the University of Minnesota, through a lengthy stakeholder consensus building process, developed a nice outcome model for evaluation education within a broader framework. I would suggest that educators spend less time marginalizng the standardized achievement tests and instead focus on broadening the accountability/measurement system to include other domains.

One of the major reasons for the anti-testing movement is the fact that standardized test results have become a favorite tool of politically driven educational reform. When testing becomes "high stakes", the whole testing enterprise is jeapordized and the tests themselves become a misguided target.

Finally, both as a consumer (parent) of test results and a professional who has made a career of administering or developing such tests, I'm appalled at that lack of knowledge educators have with regard to basic measurement concepts. The only way to evaluate student growth and progress is via measurement, in all it's various formal and informal forms. Based on my experience at SCSU, I believe that a fundamental reason for the lack of appropriate knowledge of educational measurement tools is due to the scant attention it is given in higher education. Teacher preparation programs should insist that teachers in training become very knowledgeable consumers of educatonal assessment information. Higher education has dropped the ball on this one....and thus......the negative comments made in response to individuals like King are often made by individuals with a limited understanding of the currency of measurement (which is now the currency of educational reform).

Kevin "still proud to have been a member of the real APSY dept" McGrew

Thursday, October 10, 2002

In case you missed it, TownHall ran a series of articles by Thomas Sowell on the research on race and IQ. It was a three part series: Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. He summarizes the problems so well. In the concluding piece he writes:
Nowhere else in the world was such a literature of justification of slavery produced as in the antebellum South, because nowhere else was slavery under such sustained attack. An especially virulent racism arose to try to justify slavery, and this racism lasted long after slavery itself was gone.

That history and its painful consequences are undeniable. But, in a world where whole nations have in effect raised their IQs by 20 points in one generation, it is time for black "leaders" and white "friends" to stop trying to discredit the tests and get on with the job of improving the skills that the tests measure.

A number of black schools, even in rundown ghettos, have already reached or exceeded national norms on tests, so there is no question that it can be done. The question is whether it will in fact be done, on a large enough scale to change the abysmal educational results in too many predominantly black schools.

And still the people from District 742 are mailing me how wrong I am about testing, when in fact the data can support so much good to say about some schools.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

One of my (and I think Jack's) abiding complaints is why the Nazis get more bad press than the Soviets. Parapundit has an answer, and I think it's pretty compelling. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

There's a letter on the campus listserv today to support the local levy referendum for the school district. Why this passes the test for not being political advertising (which listserv rules prohibit) is unclear, but I'd rather focus on the lack of merit in the current plan.

Caroline Hoxby, an education economist at Harvard, writes in a paper called The Low Cost of Accountability that the cost of accountability in any state has not totaled more than $34 per pupil (in Delaware -- the national cost is well under $20). The cost of reducing class sizes by 10% (about 2 students per classroom) is about $615 and the cost of raising teacher salaries by 10% is about $437.

So where does the money in the district's plan go? (Link needs Acrobat Reader.) Of the $4.5 million per year, only $50,000 (for 10,400 students) goes to assessment. (Get past the first page of the plan, where they bury assessment in a load of other expenditures and make it look much bigger than it really is.) That's 1/7th the expenditure on instructional supplies. It's 1/20th what will be spent on reducing class size (read: hire more teachers) and most of the rest means paying teachers more for what used to be called "preparation" and now is called things like "enhance curriculum services" or "enhance staff development" (read: pay teachers more.) And it's little more than 1/3rd of the cost of a new principal, also embedded in the plan. Even the advert placed by the FA today includes the statement from the levy drive's chair that the levy "...will mean hiring additional staff and lowering targeted class sizes; it will allow funding of activities vital to the development of young people; it will allow some restoration of curriculum development and staff development programs; it will restore some of the district�s budget reserve..."

The levy comes a year after a larger levy was rejected by voters. The message people took from the rejection was that we wanted to know where the money was spent. Now we know -- it won't be spent on making teachers and the district accountable.

Monday, October 07, 2002

There's a rally on Wednesday here called "Stop the Hate, Start the Healing", which included this sentence.
this program is placed bang in the midst of everybody's anxieties about our nation's impending war against Iraq. It also happens to coincide with National Coming Out Week. Happy coincidences.
Happy indeed, particularly for Terrence McNally, who faces a fatwa for depicting Jesus Christ as a homosexual. So what will they celebrate at the rally? The swearing in of an openly gay Member of the Knesset? Or the PLO, which persecutes gays? Perhaps they could move the rally to a place that could use it.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page had this scary article last August about the Left's domination of college campuses. The most scary thing?

"The nearest thing to a conservative bastion is the Stanford Economics Department, where seven of 28 members (25%!) belong to the right."

Actually, that's not a surprise, for those of us who know Stanford. Most of the schools they put in this have economics departments that are probably left of the center of the profession's ideological spectrum (UCLA is probably an exception). I am quite certain that the economics department I'm in has a greater proportion than 25%; of the remainder, only one would be called a hard leftist. But it sure does feel like an island out here some days!

Unfortunately the article is not online; see the September issue of The American Enterprise, and particular the article by editor Karl Zinsmeister, for the poll in question.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

All are encouraged to read what's going on at other campuses elsewhere in the US at CampusNonsense. The editor and founder is a Minnesota guy, and we're happy to be linked on that page. Thanks!

Friday, October 04, 2002 is a site that is logging "students' reports about college and university courses and programs that in their opinion contain severe bias or amount to indoctrination." Just opened for business last week -- we hope they make it, though in one sense it's sad you have to have one of these.

Our first cross-ref! Many thanks to The Hoosier Review for the plug. You needn't go to Indiana to get good commentary and an example of what we at SCSU-scholars are looking for in rational discourse. Hit the link and have a read.

Let me comment briefly on where the debate with Ravi has gone. A professor in the marketing department here has divulged her difficult story of a lawsuit filed against the university because she was in an unfair, discriminatory manner by a faculty committee. Ravi himself was the president of the union at the time of her troubles. She eventually settled for an apology and some money. (Because this blog is seen off campus, I am not putting her name here unless she gives permission, and I haven't asked her for it.)

Ravi has defended his position on this suggesting that the mediation process was not appropriate to her situation. Now another faculty member with extensive experience in labor-management issues has come forward and suggested that is flat wrong. He makes one very good point, IMO. We're not a normal union, in the sense that a faculty union has extensive management rights which would never occur in a more traditional union setting. Thus, it's pretty clear in the traditional setting where one draws the line between what goes into mediation and what goes into grievance -- though one can use the mediation process in an attempt to forgo the more costly, more contentious mediation process. But in our setting, there's broad gray areas all over the place, particularly over these places where unions take on management rights. (I hope I've done his point justice. I know he'll tell me if I'm wrong.)

That still leaves us, however, with the problem that since one cannot tell what goes to grievance and what doesn't, the union can use a dual-track approach to shop for its best outcome. I sat in a presentation last year where an assistant to the university president tried to show a flowchart saying where each type of issue gets handled. She had a good idea, but I don't see anyone willing to obey those rules. Fighting multiple fronts with other people's money is still a winner for the union. The flowchart will fall to ashes, I predict.

With so many of our faculty engaged in human rights and protesting the war in Iraq, I wonder how many have read this review of Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda? As quoted in OpinionJournal last night,
"Saddam also has a taste for virgins-who, among other desirable qualities, are thought to be less disease-prone. In one anecdote related by Hamza, a young woman who pleaded with the president for aid after the death of her father ended up losing her virginity after having been given a beauty makeover and left naked on a bed to await his (wordless) pleasure. Although she was let go with an envelope of money, other "young, beautiful, and flirtatious" women who have serviced Saddam find themselves retained as virtual slaves to clean the apartments of his nomenklatura. Or else not retained at all; Hamza tells of one who was discovered in a bathtub with her throat slit.".

Yes, Senator Wellstone, we should wait for France's permission to get rid of this guy.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Here's the link to the article Jack is discussing. (Note, the Chronicle makes you register for use of their website. Damned if I know why.) Who knows where this will lead? Next thing you know, we won't be able to advertise ROTC. Oh hey, wait!

 I've been reading the Chronicle article on the magazines in Atwood. It's yet another of those things that don't seem possible on a university campus, but are sadly true. "Cosmopolitan" is now the sort of thing that women shouldn't have to look at? They question if it's the university's responsibility to "protect" students from such images. Lord. These kids have been going past the Victoria's Secret's windows in the Mall since they could walk, they've seen several hundred movies with very explicit sex acts, they see a tv world full of sitcoms with explicit situations, and yet they are too gentle to see the cover of "Cosmopolitan."
The plus here is that there is nothing we could do or say that would make it more clear to students what idiots these people are than what they are doing themselves. I don't think we have to say much more; the pol-cor folks have followed the flaws in their philosophy to the extreme that makes it clear to everyone but them what a bizarre philosophy they are locked in to. Let's not say much more; let's just smuggle a copy of the Sears catalogue on campus and let them show how offended they are by the underwear ads.
How do we get this story to the folks at Cosmopolitan. They would think it's a hoot, and we might get even more national publicity for SCSU.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

I heard in a meeting today that we cut off enrollment this summer for the first time in ages. Is it because we're so popular? The Christian Science Monitor suggests a broader, more economic reason.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

I imagine some, including my fellow authors, are wondering what I liked about the letter Ravi sent to the SCSU discuss list. I think he makes two excellent points. First off, there is a natural tension between the grievance and mediation processes. Mediation, as practiced here, "provides an alternative means of addressing disputes and solving problems." It is not meant to be a substitute for grievances. So what happens? It gets to run alongside grievance. The petition for mediation tells that if you file for mediation, your grievance is put on hold. So it can be used not to really short-circuit the process, but to add another layer of potential negotiation. It seems to me that Ravi is saying that when we put in our strategic plan "The Mediation project should be given every opportunity to succeed since it fills a gap where conflicts cannot be resolved by grievance nor by Affirmative Action," that mediation is in fact establishing areas where the contract breaks down; when the contract is clear, use of mediation subverts the grievance process. (Non-SCSU readers might want to see the contract -- you'll need Adobe for this.)

Ravi also points out that the discrimination cases being discussed belong specifically to the legal environment, again unless the parties agree on something short of a trial. It seems to me that this recognition implies as well, and I think Ravi agrees, that expenses incurred on behalf of discrimination victims are not part of the enforcement of the contract. Discriminating against someone is wrong as a matter of law, not as a matter of the Master Contract. So expensive lawsuits in pursuit of discrimination claims may be seen as not something one can charge to fair-share dues paid by non-union members to the IFO.

Those are legal questions, and I'm not a lawyer. Send me mail if you think that's wrong.

One of the courses I teach here at SCSU is on sports economics. I never thought getting into it that Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education, would be so prominent in the course. But most of my students that are not economics majors turn out to be athletes, and to them Title IX is huge. This article by Katherine Kersten may help explain why.

Oh my, Kevin, hello! Thanks for joining us! And for those of you coming over from the SCSU-discuss list, welcome and give a scroll on down and see what you've been missing. As to what blogs are and do, Kev, see my entry from when Jack came on board.