Recently in Education Category


Finally, a university, the University of Chicago, speaks up for the role of an academic institution, as a place of inquiry, of questioning, of different ideas, of discomfit sometimes, a place where critical thinking is to be developed.

Below is Professor Thomas Sowell's congratulations to the University of Chicago. Below that is a link to the original op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and the WSJ editorial about it.

A Gem in Chicago
By Dr. Thomas Sowell

August 30, 2016

We have gotten so used to seeing college presidents and other academic "leaders" caving in to so many outrageous demands from little gangs of bullying students that it is a long overdue surprise to see a sign that at least one major university has shown some backbone.

Dr. Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, has spoken out in the plainest language against the stifling of opinions that differ from political correctness, on campuses across the country.

"Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university," Dr. Zimmer said.

"Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons," he said. Demands have been made that assigned readings in some courses be eliminated because they "might make some students uncomfortable."

Worst of all, such demands "have been supported by university administrators," Dr. Zimmer pointed out.

By contrast with many other colleges and universities where speech codes restrict what students can and cannot say, freshmen students entering the University of Chicago have been informed by a letter from the Dean of Students that "freedom of expression" is one of that institution's "defining characteristics."

The Dean of Students spelled it out: "Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others."

That such things need to be said is a painful commentary on the academic world in general. It is doubtful if any such declaration or policy could be made at any of the Ivy League universities, which are bastions of political correctness.

At Harvard, not only have invited speakers been shouted down and sometimes assaulted, even a Harvard professor's classroom was invaded by disruptive students who didn't like what he was teaching. Such things have also happened at Berkeley and other elite institutions across the country, as well as at less renowned institutions.

The uniqueness of the University of Chicago is not something new. Back in the 1960s, as campus riots spread across the country, and academic administrators caved in to even the most outrageous demands, dozens of disruptive students were simply expelled from the University of Chicago and dozens more were put on probation. As Professor George J. Stigler, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, said, "our faculty united behind the expulsion of a large number of young barbarians."

But such faculty support required a sense of mission, beyond a quiet life on campus in which to pursue one's own career. Even as grade inflation soared, and failing grades virtually disappeared in some colleges and universities across the country, that was not true among professors of economics who had been trained at the University of Chicago.

A survey in the economics department at Cornell University, during a year in the 1960s when I taught there, showed that the only students who received a failing grade in any economics course that year were students who took courses taught by professors who were trained at the University of Chicago.

In later years, when I gave failing grades to one-fourth of my class at UCLA, I discovered that this was not at all unusual in UCLA's economics department, which had a sizable contingent of economists trained at the University of Chicago. We also opposed many politically correct policies of the UCLA administration.

One of the many name-calling responses to people who do not go along with political correctness is to use the all-purpose smear, "racism." But the first time I saw a white professor at a white university with a black secretary, it was Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago in 1960 — four years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Years earlier, the first black tenured professor at an elite white university was Allison Davis at the University of Chicago. But who cares about facts in these politically correct times?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

President Zimmer's op-ed in the WSJ

WSJ editorial praising the U of Chicago's president and Dean



To end the year, we present some practical and compelling thinking about the need for conservatives to seize the initiative if the country is to be saved. Liberal fascism has restricted our freedoms and impaired our economy with unnecessary heavy handed intervention. Liberal policies have killed human initiative and worsened the condition of the poor, particularly that of black Americans.

Dr. Thomas Sowell grew up poor in Harlem, dropped out of high school, but graduated from Harvard and acquired a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago. He attributes his success to perseverance.

Dr. Sowell's columns are read widely in newspapers all over the country and online. He is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Peter Robinson interviews Dr. Sowell on the occasion of the publication of his Fifth Edition of his best-selling book "Basic Economics." You won't find a better or more enjoyable 50 minutes of education than this.

Click in the lower right corner for full screen and Escape to return to the smaller size.



Condoleezza Rice condemned Democrats for playing the race card in this month's elections, calling it "appalling."

She also addresses the habit of too many blacks to make outcasts of blacks who try to improve themselves and "don't act black enough." Quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is the most recent example, being accused of acting white by his fellow black teammates. To his credit, Charles Barkley spoke up in Wilson's defense and blasted those blacks who peddle such "crap."

Such talk does a great deal of damage to young black people, who wind up preferring jive talk and baseball caps worn backwards to fitting in at school and working hard to get ahead.

What a role model Condi Rice is for young blacks, if they will only heed her. They need to be encouraged to believe that the same if not better opportunities lie ahead for them that were there for her when she was growing up in the segregated South.

It starts with the right kind of education. And too much of public school education is effectively controlled by public teachers unions whose first priority is themselves, not the students. Competition in choice through vouchers is the beginning of the answer, as Senator Tim Scott champions.

High on the Republican agenda in 2015 should be increasing school choice and other opportunities for the poor to advance themselves.



WSJ Ferguson.jpg
We've seen Ferguson before, in Detroit, 1967.

Obama's economy, overburdened with regulations, has sputtered and stalled, resulting in high unemployment in black neighborhoods. But even if there were jobs, "Just 5% of African-American students meet the ACT's college readiness benchmark in all four subject areas: English, reading, math and science." The unholy alliance between the Democratic Party and public teachers' unions has produced "crumbling" inner city school systems. The result, no skills, no jobs. No jobs, no skills, The Democrats have betrayed their most loyal voting block, African-American voters.

Ferguson, USA

50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a Ferguson doesn't need to happen.
By Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

It has been 50 years since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Across that half century, the condition of inner-city black life in America has consumed immeasurable amounts of the nation's public and private spending, litigation, academic study, cultural output and opinion. And yet everything about Ferguson is familiar.

A poor neighborhood has erupted over a police killing, protesters are in the streets, civil-rights leaders are everywhere, local businesses have been looted and cameramen are recording the most familiar image of all—young black men in a state of rage. Eventually Ferguson will subside as a daily news story, and then life in this small town in the middle of the country will return to being what it was.

We've seen these pictures before: the urban in riot in Detroit, 1967. AP
What we are seeing in Ferguson occurred on a larger scale in Detroit and Newark in 1967, in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965, and in a neighborhood called Hough on the east side of Cleveland in 1966. Some argue that Detroit and Newark never recovered.

We will leave it to others to plumb the riddles of whether racism and injustice create the Fergusons of America. A question more open to the possibility of an answer is: Why don't more young guys in places like Ferguson have a job to occupy their days?

The short answer is, they don't work because there is no work. And anyway, who would hire them? President Barack Obama explained all this in February when he announced the "My Brother's Keeper" Initiative.

"As a black student," Mr. Obama said, "you are far less likely than a white student to be able to read proficiently by the time you are in fourth grade. By the time you reach high school, you're far more likely to have been suspended or expelled." And the future? "Fewer young black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men. And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults." All indisputable.

The goal of "My Brother's Keeper," Mr. Obama said, is to find out "what works," and then build on what works.

But we know what works. The build-out is simply waiting for a head contractor to get the job done.

When the president announced this initiative in February, the progressive website Think Progress produced an article that includes one eye-popping chart. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it shows the unemployment rate for black youth from 2007-2012. In November 2009 it hit 49.1%. It has declined to about 35%, but remains twice the rate for young whites.

The article also noted the massive shortfall in educational preparedness: "Just 5% of African-American students meet the ACT's college readiness benchmark in all four subject areas: English, reading, math and science."

Connect the dots: What younger black men need is a decent job and the education necessary to get and hold that job. Absent that, normal life is impossible, for them or for their neighborhoods.

More dots: Last August, the Pew Research Center published a report, also documenting that the "black unemployment rate is consistently twice that of whites." Gaze, however, at Pew's chart of unemployment by race based on seasonally adjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 1954 to 2013. It reveals what works.

Peak unemployment for all blacks hit 19.5% in 1983, after a deep recession. Then it plummeted, to about 11%. These were the boom years of the Reagan presidency, when economic growth hit 7% in 1984 and averaged 3.6%. Following a recession in the early 1990s, that strong-growth trend continued during Bill Clinton's presidency, and black unemployment fell further, below 10%.

The postrecession growth rate for the first five years of the Obama presidency was below 2%, and joblessness for young black men is unprecedented. Something, obviously, isn't working.

Good growth is half of what works. Without a functional education, holding a job, or improving on the one you've got, is nearly impossible. Ferguson's school system, the Washington Post's visiting reporters noted Tuesday, "is crumbling."

The decline of inner-city public schools is the greatest, most bitterly ironic social tragedy in the 50 years since passage of the liberating civil-rights acts. But what works here is no longer an unsolvable mystery. It is the alternatives that emerged to the defunct public system—charters schools and voucher-supported parochial schools. Over the past 20 years, these options, born in desperation, have forced their way into the schools mix. Freed of politicized, sludge-like central bureaucracies, they've proven they can teach kids and send them into the workforce.

Economic growth is nonpartisan. But inner-city public education is totally partisan. Democratic politicians made a Faustian bargain with the teachers unions, and the souls carried away have been the black children in those doomed schools.

What America's Fergusons need—from L.A. to Detroit to New York—is a president, and a party, obsessed with growth and messianic about giving a kid what he needs to hold the job that growth provides. Maybe by the 100th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.



General William H. McRaven gave a memorable commencement address at the University of Texas this spring that deserves to be read and reread: "Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training."

SEALs Lessons for Life - commencement address U Texas McRaven.pdf



Condoleezza Rice reminds us that an equal opportunity future for our present and future generations depends on education. She calls the challenge to provide quality education the civil rights issue of our times. She's right. Public charter schools and vouchers for private schools should be available to all, not just the wealthy.


Contact: Diane Bronsdon 508 945 9218
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