I’m delighted to learn that everything must be fine with America’s public schools, with student loans and debts, with the growth of community colleges, with affirmative action in our school communities, with a healthy diversity, school assaults and shootings, fair pay, teacher satisfaction and childcare issues.
I know this because otherwise, I would have no explanation for why Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would have time to interfere with the content of college abroad classes.
Last week, the Education Department ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake their Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools because it isn’t offering a positive-enough image of Judaism and Christianity in that part of the world.
The department is dictating what two colleges teaching students in Arab countries are serving up as part of a college recruitment course aimed at encouraging the region’s Muslim high school population to attend college.
That’s right. The department is now dictating what two colleges teaching students abroad in the middle of Arab countries and culture are serving up as part of a college recruitment course aimed at encouraging the region’s Muslim high school population to attend college.
This came to light in a letter to the universities published last week in the Federal Register. Robert King, assistant secretary for postsecondary education, said the course did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity. The New York Times, which described the entry into the content of a college course “rare,” indicated that the letter followed an inquiry into the Middle East program, asserting that it violated the standards of a federally supported program in international studies and foreign language programs.
Looking for Anti-Israel Bias
DeVos’ department has become increasingly aggressive in going after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education. The department’s civil rights head, Kenneth L. Marcus, has made pro-Israel advocacy a focus of his departmental work, leading efforts to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias.
The education department said that the North Carolina program is offering elementary and secondary school students “a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.” Too few of the Duke-U.N.C. programs focused on “the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Yazidis, Kurds, Druze and others,” the department said.
Now in pursuit of distance learning to be offered by American colleges, you might think that the education department would be concerned with protecting the independence of educators in areas like the Middle East, as opposed to dropping the hammer on a particular religious outlook. Secondly, if the department wanted to build American influence abroad, they might recognize what is involved in being a good guest in someone else’s country.
Of course, the education department thinks it has a say in what is taught because it has offered federal grants to these institutions.
Palestinian Groups Protest
Naturally, Palestinian rights groups accused the Education Department of intimidation and infringing on academic freedom.
The education department has involved itself in lots of campus discussions about boycotts and other political criticisms for renewed Israeli muscularity in taking Arab lands in the West Bank and other occupied territories.
The letter sent to the universities – who declined to comment – basically asserted that Title VI monies meant that foreign language instruction and area studies should be reflecting an American or western lean. In the letter, King criticized a conference focused on “love and desire in modern Iran” and another focused on Middle East film criticism, “programming that “appears to lack balance.” The department also criticized teacher training programs for focusing on issues like “unconscious bias, serving L.G.B.T.I.Q. youth in schools, culture and the media, diverse books for the classroom and more.” They said that it had a “startling lack of focus on geography, geopolitical issues, history and language.” DeVos ordered an investigation into how a course offering on “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities” fit within the federal funding guidelines.
The education department gave only days for the change to kick in before funding renewals are due.
How about the government either decide to support colleges or not and leave the teaching to those whose job it is.
Trump’s face-saving coronavirus response shows he cares more about rallies than governing
You wouldn’t think that disease, particularly a communicable disease like coronavirus, would have to be shoved through the partisan political machine that we are using for most issues these days. It’s not as if one side of the nation’s divide is in favor of more disease.
But the partisan tones are there, and to me, at least, that raises the fundamental issue about whether Team Trump even wants to govern, or just run political rallies.
--Donald Trump and some of his key spokesmen, like economic adviser Larry Kudlow, is saying everything is under control, not to worry. Calling an evening public press conference to assure that the American government has a good handle on the spread of disease in this country, Trump said things are in such control that he is asking Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the government’s response, and that Congress can do whatever it wants. Hmm, Czar Pence or even Dr. Pence; that’ll fix things. Actually, it feels as if the remarks about public health really are focused on Wall Street, which is overreacting through a plunge in stock values, and walk away from a public leadership role.
How the coronavirus has infected Trump’s presidency — and is spreading throughout the global economy
Nobody saw this coming. Turns out it may not be Bernie, Mike, Joe, Liz, Pete—or even Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff—who bring down Donald Trump.
While it’s still early, there are indications that the coronavirus is the pandemic that could torpedo, among other things, the booming economy Trump has always taken credit for and assumed would sweep him back into office in 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 2000 points Monday and Tuesday on coronavirus-fueled. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control warned Americans that they should “work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad” and outlined how schools and businesses should prepare if the virus spreads. San Francisco announced a state of emergency Tuesday.
Trump administration kills endangered species — and there’s a $2.3 million Bill Barr connection, too
Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service has pushed an endangered freshwater mussel closer to extinction in its efforts to placate an energy company where Attorney General Bill Barr was once on the board.
Dominion Energy and Duke Energy want to route the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Hackers Creek in West Virginia, the site of the endangered clubshell mussel. Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service authorized trying to rescue mussels which could be smothered by sediment from pipeline construction instead of rerouting the pipeline. Sixty-nine mussels were collected from the creek to be taken to the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery, and most of them died.