This is a bit of a departure, a showcase for one of Ethics Alarms most active commenters (especially appreciated as the blog experiences boycotts, embargos, and Facebook blocking and other indignities), Michael R. The topic is the recent College Admission scandal, which has been covered here and here.
Michael, an educator, is well informed on this topic, and he shows it in three excellent Comments of the Day. And I forgive him for never, ever, making a typo.
The college scandal has many, many facets. What has caused standards to slip so low? Well, athletics obviously has a corrosive effect, with students admitted based on athletic ability instead of academic ability. The grade inflation has also greatly degraded college standards. The almost lack of education occurring in our high schools is another factor.
An overlooked factor, however, is the public higher ed systems’ oversupply of colleges. Public college policy has mainly been about votes and prestige, not actual societal need. This has resulted in a lot more colleges than the country actually needs. A typical example would be Local Community College. Well, the President of Local Community College would rather not be the laughingstock of the College President’s Club, so he petitions the state legislature to authorize his school to offer 4-year degrees. He states that his community deserves a 4-year school like (insert rival town here). This proposal is mainly decided on its political merits, not the needs of the state as a whole. It goes through, along with new funding for new facilities, new faculty, and more students for the Local State College. With all the Community Colleges becoming State Colleges, the presidents of the Regional State Colleges petition to become Regional State Universities. They point out the prestige and grant money they could get if they had graduate programs. This too, is granted based on political merit. The National Science Foundation is then pressured to remove funding from the traditional research schools and transfer it to the new State Universities amid allegations of elitism for favoring longstanding research schools with top-notch researchers over the new State Universities with no significant research results and they cave. Now, with no community colleges left, a new round of community colleges is constructed. This increases the number of seats for college students by 30% or so, but there are not more high school students graduating. This is repeated all over the country, so out-of-state students are not an option. The only reasonable option is to lower admissions standards. Once the admission standards are lowered, retention suffers and the faculty are ordered to improve retention and graduation rates. The only reasonable way to do this is to make the classes easier and the race to the bottom is on. Continue reading
1. Synchronicity! Note that today’s first post and yesterday’s last one (on “peer pressure”) essay are integrally related. I had thought, or hoped, that the latter would prompt considerable discussion, but to the contrary: all commenting has seemingly dried up. Surely Facebook’s embargo can’t be THAT effective. Well, I’ve never understood the ebb and flow here, and lately I understand it less than ever.
2. Nah, Democrats don’t want open borders! While House Democrat were in the midst of passing HR1, the entirely symbolic “elections reform” bill that is an open admission that loose election controls elect Democrats, Republicans forced a vote on proposed language stating: “Allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”
All but 6 Democrats voted against the addition. All but one Republican voted for it.
3. Stop making me defend Tucker Carlson! Media Matters, the one-way-only media watchdog that makes its opposite number “Newsbusters,” look like a paragon of objectivity by comparison, pulled a version of the Hader Gotcha! on Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson. Instead of unearthing old tweets to attack him, MM found audio of old interviews with Tampa shock jock “Bubba the Love Sponge” during which Carlson made some less than nuanced comments that Media Matters pronounced “misogynist” and “sexist.” Some were; most were not. Media Matters, like the party it swears allegiance to, is addicted to gender-baiting: Carlson’s belief that rape shield laws “totally unfair” is a valid opinion that many non-sexists, including me, agree with.
To Tucker’s credit, he responded to Media Matters’ hit with this statement: mailed to the Washington Post:
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”
Adds Althouse, “I’m resistant to getting excited about something somebody said years ago because somebody is telling me that’s what everyone is supposed to get excited about today.”
4. Speaking of Althouse...she does an epic job taking apart Democratic hopeful John Hickenlooper, until recently Governor of Colorado, who exposed himself on “Face the Nation” yesterday as a mealy-mouthed weenie who if he lasts until the debates, will be this cycle’s version of Lincoln Chaffee.
Here’s the cringe-producing transcript. Hickenlooper isn’t just mealy-mouthed (Ann’s description), he’s a coward. He wants to run as a moderate but is afraid to say he’s a moderate, choosing instead to argue against “labels.” The best is this part:
GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well try- if I’ve tried to avoid this all the labeling that goes on. You know, I mean…. I’m running for president because I believe I could beat Donald Trump… but I also believe that can bring us together on the other side and begin getting stuff done. And that’s one thing I think that I bring to the table is I’m a doer. I’m not someone who’s- I mean I’m a dreamer too and I- I believe in big visions….
Ethics Alarms used to have its own in-house atheist activist, and this is one of the times that I miss him: he would undoubtedly have a fascinating rebuttal to this Comment of the Day. I’m old enough to remember when Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the most hated woman in America for challenging the Constitutionality of school prayer, and winning. (Remind me to tell the story of the time I spoke to O’Hair on a call-in TV talk show, posing as God.) Although I have come to agree that she was right (she later said she wished she hadn’t raised the issue), it still seems to me that atheists are more obsessed with religion than most religious people are, and their passionate antipathy borders on the pathological. The SCOTUS case that sparked this COTD is a good example: is it really necessary to attack a nearly one hundred year old war memorial because the design is a cross?
Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on item #6 in the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools”:
This isn’t the first one of these cross lawsuits, as has been discussed here a few times, and it sure as the devil won’t be the last. The problem isn’t really even with atheism, at least as the title for those who never have believed or choose not to believe in any god or gods. The First Amendment’s about as clear as any law can be that no one here can be forced to believe or disbelieve anything. America is still over 70% religious, and those religious Americans are overwhelmingly Christian, though how strongly so is up for discussion. Those who belong to no particular religion vary almost as much as those who do, from people raised in whatever faith who just drifted away at some point in life and never went back, to those raised without any faith who just never bothered with it, to agnostics, who think the presence of God is beyond knowing, to those who think religion’s all a bunch of hooey and choose to have nothing to do with it. It’s a minority of non-believers who are actively hostile to religion, but, unfortunately, those are the ones that get all the press.
As someone who is at least nominally a Catholic, and as someone who strongly dislikes one particular faith (Islam) I will venture a guess that those who dislike religion generally feel and think about it the way I do about that one particular faith I dislike. We can also both marshal some arguments that sound compelling. I can say that Islamic thought is incompatible with the Western way of doing things, that their history is checkered and shows an unhealthy propensity to impose itself by violence, and that a lot of their holy scriptures are downright scary. However, those opposed to religion generally can also say that ancient religion generally isn’t compatible with a world of the internet and surgery and science, that religion doesn’t have the greatest history generally, and that most holy scriptures are problematic, including the Bible, which, at least in the Old Testament, got the most basic moral question, slavery, wrong. Of course all these arguments are simplistic as phrased, and aren’t so absolute when you look at them in more detail, but that takes time and thought. The difference is, though, if I speak out against Islam, (which I have) I have to tread carefully lest I be deemed a hater, while those who speak out against all religion are not deemed haters. Continue reading