National Universities Where the Most Students Live on Campus
1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. California Institute of
4. Columbia University
5. Stanford University
6. Massachusetts Institute of
7. St. Mary’s University of
8. Yale University
9. Dartmouth College
10. Vanderbilt University
US News and World Report
How much are college students learning?, Ben Wildavsky, CNN, April 18
Oh, No, Not Another College Tour!, Marek Fuchs, WSJ, April 17
The Many Ways in Which The New Book About the Duke Lacrosse Case is Wrong, Stuart Taylor Jr., New Republic, April 15
No Silver Bullet, Hunter R. Boylan, Inside Higher Ed, March 18
Duke Lax Redux, Jonathan Last, April 17
How Much Regulation Is Just Right?, David R. Anderson, Inside Higher Ed, April 17
MORE COMMENTARIES >>>
Texas Leads the Way on Higher-Ed Accountability
By Thomas K. Lindsay
For years, Washington
has failed to make universities accountable to the students and taxpayers
funding them. This failure was epitomized by the 2008
Higher Education Opportunity Act, which forbade the Department of Education
from creating a "student unit record system, an education bar code system, or
any other system that tracks individual students over time." The bill, argued the New America
Foundation's Kevin Carey, sought to "prevent public officials from asking
honest questions about what, exactly, taxpayers are getting in exchange for
their support." Though both
Republicans and Democrats have recently called for accountability measures on
the federal side, it's unclear that they'll make progress anytime soon.
Washington has failed, however, Texas already has succeeded. When it comes to Texas
public higher education, knowing the truth could make you free--debt-free, that
is, or, if not entirely free of debt, perhaps less burdened with it than the
average college graduate today. Continue reading...
April 18, 2014
The other day, the New
York Times published
a lengthy investigative piece on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
Much of the article, written by Walt Bogdanich, has little to do with higher
education, per se--the Tallahassee Police Department comes across very poorly. Winston
come across even worse, since the Times reveals
that he was involved in an incident with a second woman. The incident is
described in extremely vague terms, but does not appear to have been an alleged
sexual assault; that said, it's hard to believe that Winston could have won the
Heisman Trophy if this article had appeared last November instead of this week.
treatment of Florida State, however, is more problematic. The Times doesn't challenge the local
prosecutor's conclusion that there wasn't probable cause to bring charges
against Winston--meaning that any fair disciplinary tribunal at FSU could not
have found him guilty, even under the preponderance-of-evidence standard. Yet
the paper seems eager to raise questions about the university's response,
perhaps to fit the article's frame, prepped by myriad pieces from Richard Perez-Pena:
that "the case has unfolded as colleges and
universities across the country are facing rising criticism over how they deal
with sexual assault, as well as questions about whether athletes sometimes
receive preferential treatment."
The Times' lengthy article cites two
additional cases other than Winston's. The first was mentioned only in passing,
but appeared to reveal that the university treated sexual assault allegations
seriously: "A Times review of sexual assault complaints handled by the campus police
last year found that in one case, officers asked for the Potbelly's [a local
bar] video when they were trying to identify a suspected assailant who had been
seen at the bar." The article does not discuss anything more about the case.
The second involved a complaint from a
mother of a student, who claimed that her daughter had been sexually assaulted
at a fraternity. The mother said that "the university should take a harder
stand on the men who are identified as having committed rapes." But the next line
in the article reveals that "according to the campus police, the student had
said she did not want officers to investigate the case." Even in these due
process-unfriendly times on college campuses, universities can't punish
students without even the semblance of an investigation.
also published a chart showing that Florida State reported, on average,
fewer sexual assaults than institutions of comparable size. But the university
had a plausible response, noting that "83 percent of FSU's students
live off-campus, where incidents are handled by the Tallahassee Police
Department and are not required to be reported as part of the university's
annual campus crime statistics." It's not clear why the Times didn't include this information; its chart includes bar
graphs for around 30 schools, but identifies only two of them.
What about the Winston case? At best,
here the Times paints an ambivalent
picture regarding FSU. It describes the incident with the second woman, and
includes the following passage: "A month before the rape
accusation became public, the university's victim advocate learned that a
second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Mr. Winston,
according to the prosecutor's office. The woman did not call it rape -- she did
not say 'no' . . . The victim advocate
was concerned enough about the episode to have alerted Mr. Winston's first
This isn't the action of a university administration
giving preferential treatment to a student accused of sexual assault; if anything,
it's the reverse, but what would be expected from an administrator
ideologically sympathetic to a claim that rape allegations are always true.
More broadly, the incident raises a question (basically unexplored by the Times): if universities are compelled to
investigate, why aren't they given the tools for the job, such as subpoena
power? In this instance, the Times seems
to chastise FSU for not conducting a more thorough inquiry that the student
herself did not want.
The Times also
criticizes FSU for acting "in apparent violation
of federal law" by not "promptly investigat[ing] . . . the rape accusation." A
bit later in the article, Bogdanich observes, "If cases are reported, the
university is obligated to investigate, regardless of what the police do." How universities are supposed to conduct
parallel investigations (reaffirmed by OCR in the SUNY settlement) to police of criminal events--and the substantial
drawbacks this mandate creates--is not something that the Times cares to explore. That's a story that wouldn't fit into the
April 17, 2014
couldn't miss the eye-catching headline on Diane Ravitch's influential blog: "Schneider Schools Sol
Stern on the Common Core." Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana
teacher, is one of Ravitch's loyal allies in the education-reform wars. Ravitch
thinks she's a great investigator and often cites her work. Actually, what
Schneider excels at is promulgating conspiracy theories and using
guilt-by-association to discredit those with whom she disagrees--such as
supporters of the Common Core State Standards, whom she accuses of being duped
and bribed by a corporate, anti-public school conspiracy led by Bill Gates,
with an assist from President Barack Obama.
denunciation of one of my recent articles
here defending the Common Core characteristically didn't engage with my
arguments, but it did provide a list of my nefarious "connections" and
"involvements" with conservative organizations. With trumpets blaring,
Schneider announced that the Manhattan Institute, where I am a senior fellow,
has "a board of trustees noticeably heavy on hedge fund managers" and
that "it should come as no surprise that MI promotes 'economic
choice'; 'market-oriented policies,' and 'free market ideas.'" (Schneider
doesn't seem to have noticed that most supporters of free markets in education
actually oppose the Common Core.) She also levies the bizarre allegation that
"MI is a cousin to the [conservative] American Legislative Exchange Council
(ALEC)." In another feat of investigative journalism, Schneider offers an
inside scoop about me and my wife: "Stern is not a teacher, nor has he ever
been a teacher. But he is married to a Manhattan, NY, high school teacher.
Not sure if she is under the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS)." And
I'm not sure what that even means.
of my defects, according to Schneider, is that I have written favorably about E.D. Hirsch's Core
Knowledge curriculum. She doesn't explain what's wrong with
the Hirsch curriculum but instead alleges that Core Knowledge "was purchased by
Rupert Murdoch's Amplify in 2013." If that were true, it would be considered a
hanging offense in Schneider and Ravitch's leftist circles, because Amplify is
a "for-profit" company and Rupert Murdoch is, you know, Rupert Murdoch. But the
Murdoch allegation is false. Schneider probably borrowed it from Ravitch, who
published it on her blog last year before retracting the claim when confronted
with the truth--that the Core Knowledge curriculum was licensed to Amplify for
the sole purpose of distributing it to schools around the country (a good thing
for American children.)
it wouldn't occur to me to respond to Schneider's fact-deprived attack--except
that it appeared on Ravitch's blog, which reaches tens of thousands of readers
on some days. Ravitch is also the leader of a new left-wing education movement
that has effectively exploited parental and teacher discontent with the Common
Core Standards. It says something significant about the cause Ravitch now
champions that she approves of Schneider's methods and uses them herself in
criticizing my politically incorrect views on education reform.
Schneider, Ravitch believes that readers need to know the highlights of my life
story and my affiliations in order to evaluate properly my position on the
Common Core. She begins by noting that we first met when we were fellows at the
Manhattan Institute, which is true. She then goes on to assert as an
uncontested fact that after serving as "an editor at the leftwing Ramparts"
in the 1960s, I "had a political-ideological conversion experience" and "became
a zealous conservative." My transition from leftist radicalism toward a rather
moderate conservatism took place gradually over many years and involved several
important issues, including the defense of Israel, education, racial politics,
and the failures of the welfare state. Tagging me as a "zealous" conservative
is a calculated move on Ravitch's part. I am no more zealous about conservative
ideas than Ravitch was when she served in the administration of the first
President Bush. Like her, I support gay rights, abortion rights and other
liberal positions. Indeed, if I really were a zealous conservative, I probably
wouldn't support the Common Core.
Continue reading "The Real Common Core Story" »
"As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore
College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: 'What
really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to
be hearing a diversity of opinion.' Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the
voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity...Young Erin
Ching at Swarthmore College has grasped the essential idea: it is not merely
that, as the Big Climate enforcers say, 'the science is settled', but so is
everything else, from abortion to gay marriage. So what's to talk about?
Universities are no longer institutions of inquiry but 'safe spaces' where
delicate flowers of diversity of race, sex, orientation, 'gender fluidity' and
everything else except diversity of thought have to be protected from exposure
to any unsafe ideas."
--Mark Steyn in The Observer
April 14, 2014
the Campus's recent
on the liberal arts' troubles was enlightening and timely. Many of the
contributors offered stirring defenses of a classical, liberal arts education
that emphasized the indispensability of the humanities to pursuing a rich and
vibrant intellectual life.
I'd like to add several points to the discussion.
Symposium contributors properly shared a deep worry about
the decline of the liberal arts in American higher education. As Cardinal John
Henry Newman so eloquently put it, a liberal education "aims at raising the
intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the
national taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed
aims to popular aspiration[.]" A populace that is not liberally educated is a
populace unfit for the demands of citizenship and serious engagement with the
world at large.
Surely, a liberal education is about more than career
preparation, and the notion that higher education is merely vocational training
must be fiercely resisted. But in a world in which workers will hold an average
of 11 different jobs
in the course of their working lives, and in which employers
themselves value a broad-based education over narrow vocational training, a
liberal education is also about
equipping students for productive lives in the workplace.
Finally, it is vital to remember that college and
university trustees, as well as intelligent
donors, can push back against curricular degeneration. By staying informed
about curricular requirements, demanding presidential and faculty action, and
asking for specific curricular changes, boards can exercise their fiduciary
responsibility to preserve a strong liberal arts curriculum. The Beazley
Foundation of Virginia has proven incredibly successful in incentivizing
schools to restore their core curricula and supporting them financially in
their efforts. Several
have strengthened their core requirements after Beazley imposed a moratorium
on its higher-ed grant-making pending colleges' development of a true core. ACTA works with college and
university trustees, as well as intelligent donors, because they can be the
Archimedean points by which we shift a whole university.
Though the status quo can often prove discouraging, it
isn't time to throw in the towel. As T.S. Eliot wrote, there are times when
"Virtues are forced upon us by our impudent crimes." It is still possible to
restore the central place of the liberal arts in higher education, if we will
only fight hard enough.
In an unexpected burst of common
sense, Oberlin College has tabled its new policy on "trigger warnings," the
alerts that were scheduled to be given to sensitive students about upcoming
class material that might traumatize them. The warnings directly concerned sex,
violence and racism, but were called for across the board "to anything that might cause
trauma," the Oberlin policy said. "Be aware of racism, classism, sexism,
heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.
Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have
lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or
Given this broad mandate, it was not
clear how professors could teach at all without delivering a blizzard of
warnings to ease student discomfort. And like many college policies these days,
it's not entirely clear whether the text was inadvertently close to satire or
just satire itself.
This past weekend, the Florida State football team held
its spring football game. Most of the media attention focused on quarterback
Jameis Winston, who had also spent much of his spring playing for the FSU
Winston, of course, is by this point also well-known for
events off the football field or the baseball diamond. In the midst of what
became a national championship season, local media broke the news that the previous
year, when he was a redshirt freshman, a woman had accused Winston of sexual
assault. The alleged event occurred off campus, in a building not owned by
Florida State. The Tallahassee Police Department conducted what could
charitably be described as a less-than-enthusiastic investigation, and the case
Amidst the sudden media attention, the case was turned
over to investigators from the local prosecutor's office; State's Attorney
Willie Meggs announced that he did not believe that he could obtain a
conviction of Winston. More important, he concluded
that there was no probable cause to believe a crime occurred.
The linkage between the criminal standard of probable
cause and the civil standard of preponderance-of-evidence (the requirement of
the "Dear Colleague" letter) isn't exact. But it's hard to argue that someone
whose conduct doesn't rise to the level of probable cause could be found guilty
under a preponderance-of-evidence threshold. So there would seem to be little
reason to believe that through any sort of fair proceeding at FSU, Winston
could have been found guilty.
Yet according to recent news reports, the ever-aggressive
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an inquiry into Florida State. In at
least one respect, this move is absurd: trained law enforcement officers, who
conducted a competent if belated investigation, concluded that Winston's
conduct did not rise to the level in which a university tribunal could possibly
have convicted him.
There are, however, two ways in which the Winston case
could be troubling. First, the somewhat desultory investigation seemingly
carried out by the Tallahassee Police could be used (at least by defenders of
the academic status quo) to undermine calls
for sexual assault cases to be investigated by competent law enforcement
officers--for rape to be treated as a crime--rather than untrained or poorly
trained college officials, or by college investigators subjected to ideological
pressure from the "rape culture" bureaucracy.
Second, at least based on available press reports
(Deadspin has been the most comprehensive), the Winston affair seems to be an
exception to the general rule on campus sexual assault matters. In general--as
we've seen at Yale, or Vassar, or St. Joe's, or Occidental--the ideological
climate on campus strongly tilts in favor of excessively aggressive prosecution
of sexual assault claims, with minimal or token respect for due process for the
accused student. It's possible, though, to imagine scenarios that go in the
other direction--a claim against the son of a major donor, perhaps; or one
directed against a star athlete at a school where athletics are very important.
to the Tampa Bay Times, the
accuser's attorney has claimed that Florida State held a disciplinary hearing
in the case without informing the accuser, a clear violation of the school's
procedures. (An FSU spokesperson denied the assertion.) Meanwhile, Deadspin
has a source claiming that Winston "basically took the fifth" in a
disciplinary hearing, thereby (it appears) failing to put up any defense--yet
wasn't punished by Florida State. Just as oddly, two of his (less talented)
teammates did receive some sort of punishment from Florida State.
It's possible that FSU's handling of the Winston
allegations did not conform to the university's guidelines. It's also possible
that the reporting--driven by sources, it seems, at least somewhat hostile to
Winston--has been incomplete. Either way, it's hard to argue that the Winston
case bears much resemblance to how the typical university handles the typical
sexual assault claim.
April 11, 2014
an old canard that Asian students outperform Americans on international tests
of math, science, and reading skills because
their schools emphasize rote memorization. In contrast, American schools are
said to foster creative thinking, which supposedly leads to better problem-solving skills.
new research upends this narrative. The New York Times reports that while American students score above the
average of those in the developed world on exams assessing problem-solving
skills, they trail countries like China, South Korea, and Japan. "Critics of
the rankings on international tests have tended to characterize the high
performance of Asian countries in particular as demonstrating the rote learning
of facts and formulas[,]" the Times writes, "But the problem-solving
results showed that students in the highest-performing nations were also able
to think flexibly."
news comes in light of another Times article highlighting the continued
relevance of the SAT to many employers.
Despite criticism of the test from the left and right,
it seems that "elite employers like McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company
and Goldman Sachs" still want to know job applicants' SAT scores.
does all this add up to?
the very least, it indicates that those who oppose higher standards of academic
excellence and standardized testing in the name of fostering critical thinking
and problem solving ought to temper their crusade. Bringing more
standardization to higher education by adopting stronger core curricula doesn't make our students less creative and
adaptive--it makes them better problem solvers.
entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, moreover, don't turn students into
test-taking robots, but unlike the grotesquely inflated transcripts from high
schools and colleges, they provide a reliable metric of academic strength and
weakness. And--remarkably--they do have predictive value that some very
successful and effective industries value. It is no surprise that the
Council for Aid to Education's new CLA+ exam had such
a warm reception from business and media. The nation is hungry for valid
and reliable ways to measure such core collegiate skills as formal writing,
analytical reasoning, and critical thinking.
choice between teaching hard skills and fostering problem solving is a false
one. So let's fight to keep standards high, use clear metrics, and raise a
generation of young people whose skills are rivaled by none.