Merit and equity: Mutually exclusive

TOC’s need to mention Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron is accelerating. It’s time to convert “bergeron” to a verb.

A recent example from Beth Mitchneck (professor emerita at the University of Arizona), and Jessi L. Smith (associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado.)
We Must Name Systemic Changes in Support of DEI

DIE is diversity, equity and inclusion. I don’t think “associate vice chancellor” is a particularly diverse, equitable, or inclusive title, but within the article’s context “professor emerita” is most amusing:

Most of the academy functions by using a narrow definition of merit limited to a neoliberal view of the university: that merit is indicated by obtaining funding dollars or by producing lots of peer-reviewed journals or juried exhibits in prestigious outlets that garner a high number of citations or visits. Some institutions also include attracting many doctoral students or obtaining high numbers of student credit hours in their definitions of success…

Admitting that the normative definitions of success and merit are in and of themselves barriers to achieving the goals of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion is necessary but not sufficient to create change.

Far be it from me to disagree that Universities’ metrics are corrupt, but to suggest the soaring growth in employment of administrative positions in diversity, equity and inclusion is ineffective must be heretical.

Four years ago The University of Michigan already had:

nearly 100 diversity administrators, more than 25 of them earning over $100,000 a year (see chart below). Collectively, they cost the University of Michigan, with fringe benefits, about $11 million annually. Adding in other costs such as travel and office space expenses, the total cost rises to perhaps $14 million, or $300 for every enrolled student at the U of M in the fall semester 2017.

If this level of DIE oversight hasn’t solved the problem, what would?

Professors Mitchneck and Smith make some hand waving attempts to specify the metrics they would find meritorious, but mostly it’s subjective.

Beth suggested in a recent webinar that we move toward impact portfolios, modeled in part on the portfolios that artists routinely produce, that would demonstrate the ways in which our work as defined by institutional missions has indeed contributed to achieving those missions. For example, Utrecht University has just announced a new faculty recognition and rewards system that aligns with institutional values about open science and excludes the use of impact factors.

While these examples stand out for the good, that is, in many ways, the problem. While we can point to the few institutions that are trying to change merit structures, many others seem resistant to change. Why is that? Do people fear that tenure will go away? Maybe. We believe that fear would be unwarranted if we developed more equitable procedures, practices and policies that reflected the true diversity of the research and societal impacts that our institutional missions espouse. It is time to start living those missions.

TOC is always ready to help. The number of papers published, number of citations of those papers, number of doctoral students attracted, and number of grants received don’t tell the whole story of a professor’s value. Especially in the social sciences, huge numbers of junk papers are published and cited. Quality is lacking.

But ‘impact portfolios’ of diversity? Inclusion? Equity? Haven’t we been trying that? The UofM horde of DIE enforcers is typical. If they don’t have as much merit as the professors upon whom they turn their gimlet eyes, maybe we could fire the entire diversity cadre and enhance the salaries and job security of the profs based on existing metrics. Salaries and job security, after all, are what they’re on about.

To reinforce the logic (can I say that?) of this plan, let’s look at how the University of California-Davis advertises for an assistant professor of sustainable aquaculture and coastal systems. It lays out the productivity metrics essential to the educational mission these DIE martinets enforce.

Note that there are 18 words about research and teaching in the job description above and 176 words (in bold) about a candidate’s commitment to DIE (diversity, inclusion, and equity).

(Thanks to Mark Perry for both examples.)

Some dismiss proposals such as Mitchneck’s and Smith’s as mere left-wing academiot nattering. Not that it isn’t left-wing academiot nattering. But it is not “mere.” This is redefining the word “merit” the same way they redefined “equity;” as “Equal Outcome.” However “merit” is interpreted, we’ll know we failed if everyone doesn’t come out equal.

There are many other head shaking instances of this clap-trap most of us ignore, but the evidence that we should pay close attention has become overwhelming. An excellent example is Jordan Peterson’s objection to compelled pronoun usage in 2016. Peterson was vilified as a transphobe, and his suggestion that the full legal weight of the State would be brought to bear was mocked. Now, various institutions are mandating the use of ‘zir,’ or whatever the flavor of the day is.

When statues of Columbus were attacked, those who it said it wouldn’t stop there – that Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington were next – were mocked. Well, in Wisconsin a statue titled “Forward” was torn down because it included an American flag in the same riot where the statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg (a Norwegian immigrant and abolitionist who fought for the North in the Civil War) was toppled. They’ve removed a 70-ton boulder from the Madison campus, which, over 90 years ago, a newspaper referred to, once, using a slur for blacks.

The usual suspects were calling for removal of a Lincoln statue a year ago.

Our National Archive has placed a “harmful language” warning on the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
National Archive recommends removing ‘charters of freedom’ description from founding documents | Daily Mail Online

If merit must be redefined, let’s be very, very careful about it. And objective, not fashionable.

Corruptarky

Charles Murray reviews a leftwing tome on the topic in the Claremont Review of Books: Meritocracy’s Cost

Check it out and come back.

Jordan Peterson frequently points out that hierarchies are natural and inevitable, from lobster fights to human IQ, and that hierarchies tend to corruption. This is the framework for “absolute power corrupts…”

The question is not how we eliminate the inevitable, but how we control the consequences.

Harrison Bergeron is an example of what happens when a corrupt hierarchy is put in charge of eliminating hierarchies.

Freedom of conscience is the fundamental human method of hierarchical control. Which is why corrupt hierarchies attack free speech and institute thought police. You can’t say “All Lives Matter,” “Trans males are not women,” or “Let’s try ivermectin.”

The corruption in our governing meritocracies, by which I mean the academic, military, political, economic, and cultural Anointed* – concentrated in, and supported by, our major population centers – threatens to bring down the Republic.

What is to be Done?
-V. Lenin, 1902

*Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, 1996

“…the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”

“Systemic processes tend to reward people for making decisions that turn out to be right—creating great resentment among the anointed, who feel themselves entitled to rewards for being articulate, politically active, and morally fervent.”

“. . ideology. . . is an instrument of power; a defense mechanism against information; a pretext for eluding moral constraints in doing or approving evil with a clean conscience; and finally, a way of banning the criterion of experience, that is, of completely eliminating or indefinitely postponing the pragmatic criteria of success and failure. —Jean-François Revel1”

“What is seldom part of the vision of the anointed is a concept of ordinary people as autonomous decision makers free to reject any vision and to seek their own well-being through whatever social processes they choose. Thus, when those with the prevailing vision speak of the family—if only to defuse their adversaries’ emphasis on family values—they tend to conceive of the family as a recipient institution for government largess or guidance, rather than as a decision-making institution determining for itself how children shall be raised and with what values.”

“The vision of the anointed is one in which ills as poverty, irresponsible sex, and crime derive primarily from ‘society,’ rather than from individual choices and behavior. To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by ‘society.”

Child abuse

A good exercise for your local school board: They prepare by reading the article linked below, and then invite parents to a subsequent public debate among the school board members. Maybe it’s framed as, “Resolved: This article is disinformation.”

Or, put it on the school’s website and invite public comment.

Harrison Bergeron is mentioned. It’s short. Read it if you haven’t.

The Two-Front War on Academic Standards

“Pulling one student down the ladder doesn’t make it any easier for the students below to climb. But let’s suppose that the stated goal of equity is actually earnest. Wouldn’t we expect to see an effort to pull the lower students up – to give them a hand? Theoretically, yes. But in reality, there is no serious effort to raise standards at the bottom of the performance distribution. Instead, we reduce the standards or eliminate them entirely, giving these students the boot. If there are no standards, there can be no failure, nor can there be any blame for the failure. This is the second front in the war: “helping” students who struggle by eliminating all expectations of them.”

An essential tenet of identity politics. Unless policy is based on the collective, there might be a revival of individual responsibility – which The Smithsonian assures us is ‘racist.’

“Who could possibly benefit from forcing Zaila Avant-Garde to take the same math class as a student who can’t do basic arithmetic?”

Teacher’s unions, Democrats, BLM/CRT advocates, and other enemies of individualism, initiative, and equal treatment of individuals. And enemies of freedom of speech, the right to personal defense, equality of opportunity, and free markets.

That’s who.

I want Zaila Avant-Garde to invent faster than light travel and discover the principles of gravity control. The difference between me and the anti-human cultists in our nation’s schools of ‘Education’ is that I can imagine the boundless heroic potential of homo sapiens’ imagination. And I don’t care about the skin color or sex of the person who helps maximize Ms. Avant-Garde’s potential. She represents the most important resource we can have, and the only resource which we can increase indefinitely.

“By attempting to relieve disadvantaged minority students of discipline, rigor, and expectations in math and other subjects, the foot-soldiers of “equity” reveal they don’t believe these kids deserve to know the positive effects such values can have.”

No, of course, they don’t. I would say they are convinced those kids are incompetent, irredeemable wretches. Except they don’t even give them that much respect.

Jo Boaler treats the Bell Curve of student performance as a problem to be solved by destroying the extreme tail of high caliber minds, cynically using the other tail to advance the NEA’s sinecured rent seeking.

Don’t think “it can’t happen here.” Teachers college graduates have been exposed to the tender mercies of people like Boaler for decades.

Entrepreneur

Is this a great country or what? You can make lots of money telling people what a bunch of racists they are.

On July 9th, I posted a test I took designed to tell me if I am a racist. In my answers, I mentioned Thomas Sowell as a thinker I admired. Yesterday I followed up with a post linking to Sowell’s website.

I also mentioned Robin DiAngelo in that July 9th post as an example of someone who made racist remarks to which I have objected.

She’s become rich and infamous for one idea; turning the theme of Franz Kafka’s The Trial into a theory of white racism. It forms part of the canon of Critical Race Theory.

To summarize Kafka: “Any denial by an accused person serves as evidence of guilt.” In DiAngelo’s adaptation, whites who admit their racism prove her theory. Denying racism also proves her theory.

Whites are divided into two kinds of people: (a) those who admit they are guilty of thoughtcrime, and (b) those who are guilty of thoughtcrime because they will not admit to being guilty of thoughtcrime.

DiAngelo is doing well with this gig. She refused a $10,000 fee from UW-Madison last October for a prerecorded lecture (and apparently a virtual Q&A) at UW-Madison. She pointed out that the $12,750 she demanded was already a 15% discount. Nevertheless, DiAngelo’s haul “was 70 percent larger than what was given to the event’s other keynote speaker, black author Austin Channing Brown.

Read this entire FOIA’d email thread. Turns out DiAngelo levered her passive aggressive white privilege into displacing a ‘person of color,’ who would normally have given the speech. UW-Madison showed some angst about it. Hilarious.

No doubt, it’s lucrative. There’s enough demand for being convinced you are racist by means of a logical fallacy from wealthy, white, Progressive females, that it’s spun off other ventures. White women paying $2.5K for a dinner to learn how they’re racist

For your further edification, this piece by lefty Matt Taibbi (click ‘Let me read it first’ if you get a registration page), is a great analysis of Ms. DiAngelo’s schtick.

Our Endless Dinner With Robin DiAngelo

If you check out that post on Sowell (directly below) you’ll see her type described by T.S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Eric Hoffer, Dinesh D’Souza, and Sowell himself.

Acadissidents

It’s easy to despair over the state of education from kindergarten through university these days. From public school teachers union presidents calling for strikes against in-person teaching via selfies taken in pandemic ridden Caribbean resorts, to an explosion of private school curricula teaching Critical Race Theory, to university professors criticizing MLK’s vision of color blindness. It is easy to believe that this strident group of so-called Progressives face little opposition. They’ve taken control, but we’ll see that they aren’t unopposed.

Exactly how over-represented Woke faculty is in these institutions is disputed. Most studies of this relate to higher education, where many Progressive academics say it isn’t really a problem. For them, it’s not. And, of course, they say also that about teaching a 6 year old white skin is the new original sin.

Wokeness to the contrary notwithstanding, freedom of conscience is a much rarer privilege in the ivory tower than it used to be. The screaming fits about pronouns, safe spaces, and… anything, really, they don’t want to hear, indicates that reducing that freedom has not gone far enough for the culturally over-caffeinated.

This survey, for example, shows an alarming (p.5) state of affairs for a temple of advanced learning.

The selfie taking, CRT teaching, MLK revisionists will interpret this as “2/3 of college students feel they are free to speak about politics,” and as a good thing. Surely, there is at least a third of students who should just shut up.

I do wonder how any of the topics except maybe “Non-controversial” can be separated from politics. When tenured professors describe mathematics and Abraham Lincoln as racist, belief in biological sex as transphobic, gender as a limitless spectrum, and at least one religion as a colonialist evil, what is there that isn’t political? So, what questions did they ask to produce this chart?

Here’s the question asked about each topic, where the topic (Race or Politics, for example) is in the blank ______.

Think about being at your school
in a class that was discussing a
controversial issue about _______.
How comfortable or reluctant
would you feel about speaking up
and giving your views on this topic?

How the hell can you tell what’s “controversial,” when “all lives matter,” is a racist statement; and what wasn’t controversial this morning suddenly is, because someone accuses you of cultural appropriation for wearing hoop earrings; or you use yesterday’s pronoun for someone who changed ‘gender’ overnight? And who knows when the discussion you were comfortable contemplating in a survey might go all pear shaped in a micro-aggression minute?*

The survey captures a squishy overall sentiment, and tells me not much about the real extent of the problem.

In today’s climate how does one distinguish a discussion about race, religion, gender, or sexuality from a political discussion? Survey takers did, or the percentages would be identical. The categorization is in the mind of the person surveyed, and is related to how “mainstream” they think their opinions are. How did they mentally segregate gay marriage? Sex or religion? It’s definitely about politics. I’d check all three boxes. In any case, that 1/5 to 1/3 of students are uncomfortable speaking about any of those topics is a massive failure of the institution they attend.

In terms of measuring faculty and administrative tendency to claim speech is literally violence, I’d suggest leftist party affiliation and political donations are a rough proxy. How many political donors and how much they give is an indicator of campus culture. Though, since voter registration and donations are public information, a sufficiently strong campus cancel-culture could skew results.

TOC’s “academiots” tag has 62 references as I write this. Today, I’ve added a new tag, “acadissidents,” because as few as there are, and as unreported their dissent, they deserve support and encouragement. You could start by joining the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in defense of UCSD professor Tom Smith at the first link below.

You could also periodically drop by Heterodox Academy, Hillsdale College. Legal Insurrection, New Discourses, Victor Davis Hanson, and Carpe Diem, to name just a few. Links to all in the blogroll.

A professor is under investigation for criticizing the Chinese government. Defend his rights with two clicks.

I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated

When the social justice mob came for me

You Have to Read This Letter

Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism

Professor Who Refused To Obey “Preferred Pronouns” Can Continue Lawsuit, Appeals Court Rules

The Targeting of Princeton Prof. Joshua Katz Continues

I try to stay aware of individual academics that might need financial support, and contribute a few dollars to them. This can be difficult, since GoFundMe will often cancel funding campaigns, but there are typically ways around that – like direct contributions through PayPal (not that PayPal isn’t “woke,” too).

There are people standing up for reason, at significant personal risk. We should have their backs. Many of them have experienced significant reprisals for exercising freedom of conscience; loss of employment, heavy legal expenses, doxxing, direct personal threats, and physical violence (see, for example, A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury) for daring to question SJW dogma.

*Since being on time is a white supremacist characteristic, maybe “minute” qualifies as a microagression.

The Dogmatic method

Contrast with Socratic.

From New York to California parents fear to criticize the Marxist indoctrination of their children.
The Miseducation of America’s Elites

In Los Angeles, teachers union leaders think their membership is so arrogant and stupid that teachers must be warned not to publicly flout their disdain for the CCP virus restrictions they use to avoid doing their jobs.
LA Teacher Warns Union Members Not To Post Vacation Pics While Classrooms Are Still Closed

In Virginia, a Wokerati K-12 unionist cabal conspires on Facebook to suppress the First Amendment rights of anyone questioning Critical Theory. Doxxing and hacking are encouraged. Sort of a cybernetic struggle session.
Loudoun County Anti-Racist Teachers Are Making Their Lists

And to prove the LA union leadership had a point, we turn to Chicago, where a teachers union grandee vacationed in a tropical, CDC designated CCP virus hotspot, and did exactly what they warned about.
Puerto Rico Swimsuit Selfie Is A Lesson On Chicago Teachers Union

Still in Chicago…
Chicago Teachers Union Prez Tells Members: Don’t Reveal You Got Vaccine If It Means You Return To School

Teachers unions are child abusers.

There’s talk about breaking up Facebook, but Facebook is only a symptom. We need to break up public employee unions. Especially those of teachers.

Then we might get more Facebook users who could think.