1. FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, notes that a University of Idaho professor, in order to avoid charges of insensitivity, is now asking his students to sign a waiver acknowledging that some of the films he will show contain offensive material. I have signed waivers for dangerous activities, waivers of liability for taking part in a volleyball tournament and other waivers for all sorts of reasons, but an "offensive material" waiver just tells me that we have gone too far on college campuses. From the post:
In a university culture where the avoidance of offense is considered a sacred principle on many campuses, it’s not surprising that Professor Dennis West would hit on a method already commonly used when engaging in nearly any activity that comes with even a minimal amount of risk. It’s sad that showing films to students can now be considered a risky activity, but it’s not surprising. Episodes like the University of New Hampshire’s reaction to a joking flyer, or Gonzaga’s classification of a flyer as hate speech simply because the flyer contained the word “hate,” make it clear that film professors—who sometimes show graphic, violent, or even merely political films—do indeed have something to worry about. This is a sad commentary on today’s academic culture.FIRE specializes in reporting on issues involving individual rights in colleges and universities. Want to know what a speech code is, FIRE has your answer and more. A vital resource for anyone attending college.
2. Joe Williams at the Chalkboard has his take on a recent NY Times Magazine article on efforts in New York to close the achievement gap. The article is now on my reading list, but Williams also includes links to other viewpoints.
I read the article on a flight from NYC to LA, and perhaps because I had been thinking of AFT Ed's question to me last week, I kept honing in on other issues surrounding the sometimes complicated trade-offs we see with meaningful reform efforts. Specifically, I thought about what happens when we support efforts to create high-achieving schools for our weakest students and those schools end up being so successful that the families of higher-achieving students start to flock there, as the article describes happening at KIPP.Joe Williams is the author of one of my favorite education books, Cheating Our Kids.
3. In the weeks and months leading up to the election, there was a great deal of concern about the use of electronic voting machines. A number of very smart people took opposite sides of the argument. But one of the clearest, non-legal arguements I have read in a while comes from Erick at RedState.
4. I have often pointed out some of the dichotomies within the Democratic party, but the GOP is not without its own internal squabbles. Liz Mair, who writes at at GOPProgress.com notes that the war within the GOP is between Social Conservatives and moderates within the party. Liz, a pretty vocal moderate, says the Social conservatives cost the GOP the election. But in reality, I think that not sticking to principles costs the GOP the election.
5. With a journalist wife, she and I often clash about how the media is doing with reporting in general and reporting about international affirs specifically. She insists to me that reporters are doing a good job and I note that as a former classmate of Jayson Blair, she may want to reconsider what doing a good job means. (and then I spend a few hours in the dog house). But Rick Moran has a good commentary on what the whole "burning Sunnis" story really means:
The changing nature of journalism in America means that to a large extent, reporters are almost as incurious about the world as their readers. What would it have cost to pick up the phone and call CENTCOM? The PA officers there got back to Curt within a few hours with the info that contradicted the AP story. Better yet, duplicating Curt’s work, how much trouble would it have been to Google up Capt. Jamil Hussein? Would the fact that he appeared as a source for AP so many times over the previous months raised a red flag in any newsroom in America? I doubt it.As alwasy, enjoy.
I think the difference between journalists today and those of 20 or 30 years ago is that reporters used to have a thirst for knowledge, an “itch” that could never be scratched. They attacked a story, constantly challenging assumptions, digging ever deeper to see if there was anything else there. They did it not necessarily because they were afraid they were wrong but rather because they were afraid they were missing the true essence of the story.
But the shocking incuriousness of the media who left the vetting of this story to AP and allowed it to appear in newspapers across the country proves that times indeed have changed. Publishers and editors used to stand by everything that appeared in their publication. But how can they do that today if they don’t make even the most cursory of efforts to see that what is printed actually happened.