Playing Chikin

The chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A is owned by devout Christians who close their stores on Sundays and give lots of money to Christian causes.  The company gave some free sandwiches to a meeting of a “pro-family” group.  Since that group opposes gay marriage–even though Chick-fil-A has not said anything about that issue–some bloggers are calling for a boycott.

This is an especially big deal on university campuses, where Chick-fil-A has a presence.  Peter Wood sees the efforts to boycott the chain and to kick it off campus as symptomatic of some other trends in higher education:

Because of Chick-fil-A’s support for pro-family causes, it has recently run afoul of some gay bloggers who have called for a boycott of the restaurant chain. And as The New York Times reports, “Students at some universities have also begun trying to get the chain removed from campuses.”. . .

Students, of course, are well within their rights to criticize the company and to circulate petitions, and Chik-fil-A is well within its rights to support pro-family causes even as it pursues business opportunities on college and university campuses.  . . .I don’t see a free-speech issue emerging in this controversy. But I do see another instance of aggressive intolerance in higher education towards those who uphold traditional social values.

So far as I can tell, no one has accused Chick-fil-A of discriminating against gays and lesbians in its employment practices or its customer service. The incident that sparked the boycott campaign was a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A restaurant’s provision of sandwiches and brownies to a marriage seminar put on by the Pennsylvania Family Institute—a group that opposes gay marriage and has been characterized by activists as anti-gay. The seminar in Harrisburg is “The Art of Marriage:  Getting to the Heart of God’s Design.”

Presumably Chick-fil-A contributes to other groups that hold similar views. Does that really provide a sound reason to those who favor gay marriage to drive Chick-fil-A off campus?I think not. The campaign is unwise because it seeks to punish and stigmatize those with whom the protesters disagree. The ideal of the campus as a place where people debate their differences by means of rational arguments and well-vetted evidence has been on a downward trajectory for decades. Kicking Chick-fil-A off campus is a reductio ad absurdum of the now-common tactic of roaring at your supposed opponents. The company, after all, isn’t busy on campus promoting an anti-gay marriage agenda. It’s just selling chicken sandwiches.

Protests like the one aimed at Chick-fil-A are partly or even mostly attempts to exhibit the power of the protesters. That aim has nothing to do with winning the argument—is gay marriage a good social policy or a mistaken one?—and everything to do with controlling the narrative. Only those who agree with the protesters are granted a legitimate voice hereafter. Roar loud enough and you may intimidate the target, but that’s of less importance than pumping up excitement among followers and creating a secondary wave of self-censorship among others who correctly surmise that it is dangerous to disagree.

via Is Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay? – Innovations – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Do you think gays are overplaying their hand?  They get legal rights, civil unions, in many places since they have the moral high ground same-sex marriage.  Do they need to persecute people who do not agree with them?

HT:  tODD

Patrick Henry College in the news

I work at Patrick Henry College, where I am a literature professor and the provost, in charge of both the academic program and student life.  Once again, we won the national moot court championship (in which teams of two argue a case against another team before a panel of judges in a pretend-appeals court hearing).  Virtually all of these winners, including the amazing Harris brothers, are or have been my students, and I’m very proud of them:

Building on an increasingly formidable legacy of success in collegiate legal debate, Patrick Henry College traveled to New Orleans, January 14-15, and brought home the College’s fifth national moot court championship in the past seven years. The victory at the ACMA 2011 National tournament at Tulane University Law School was PHC’s third championship in a row, eclipsing the only other time an ACMA competitor has won back-to-back championships—PHC itself, in 2005 and 2006, when the College won its first two national titles.

First place this past weekend went to the College’s already high-profile team of Alex and Brett Harris, best-selling authors of Do Hard Things and co-founders of The Rebelution.com, competing in their first year of formal collegiate moot court. The Harris brothers defeated the team of Willem Daniel and Rachel Shonebarger from the College of Wooster, PHC’s stiff perennial competition at nationals. . . .

Third place went to Jonathan Carden and Joanna Griffith, who, interestingly, beat the Harris brothers in the qualifying regional tournament in Tampa, Florida. Two other PHC teams, Blake Meadows and Kayla Griesemer and Bridget Degnan and Tate Deems, made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” quarterfinals, the latter duo losing to the eventual second-place team from the College of Wooster. . . .

Another PHC tournament highlight was the outstanding individual orator performances of freshman Blake Meadows and junior Bridget Degnan, who won first and third place speaking trophies, respectively. Meadows won the top speaker trophy with a record-breaking 396.83 points out of a potential 400 points, while Degnan also broke the previous record with 386 points.

via Patrick Henry College.

And yet this news on our campus yesterday was somewhat overshadowed in the public eye by the further news that the 2011 Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is one of our recently-admitted applicants and will be attending here once her “reign” is over.  (Our web site got 25,000 hits, once Miss Scanlan, or I should say Miss America, told reporters after her coronation that she was coming here.)

Quarter of Army recruits can’t pass entrance exam

We apparently no longer have universal education in this country.  Even high school graduates cannot be assumed to have even the most basic educational skills.  That’s what the army is finding.  At least the army is maintaining its educational standards:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report by The Education Trust bolsters a growing worry among military and education leaders that the pool of young people qualified for military service will grow too small.

“Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career – and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told The Associated Press. “I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America’s underperforming education system.”

The effect of the low eligibility rate might not be noticeable now – the Department of Defense says it is meeting its recruitment goals – but that could change as the economy improves, said retired Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett.

“If you can’t get the people that you need, there’s a potential for a decline in your readiness,” said Barnett, who is part of the group Mission: Readiness, a coalition of retired military leaders working to bring awareness to the high ineligibility rates.

The report by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. Questions are often basic, such as: “If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?”

The military exam results are also worrisome because the test is given to a limited pool of people: Pentagon data shows that 75 percent of those aged 17 to 24 don’t even qualify to take the test because they are physically unfit, have a criminal record or didn’t graduate high school.

Educators expressed dismay that so many high school graduates are unable to pass a test of basic skills.

“It’s surprising and shocking that we are still having students who are walking across the stage who really don’t deserve to be and haven’t earned that right,” said Tim Callahan with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, a group that represents more than 80,000 educators.

via Nearly 1 in 4 fails Army entrance exam | Tulsa World.

Church & family values go up with education

Used to, college graduates went to church less than the moderately educated.  For some reason, though, this has changed.  Along with church-going, higher education is also associated now with stronger families.

In the 1970s, the moderately educated — blue-collar, working-class Americans with high school diplomas or some college — were more likely to go to church every week than people with college degrees.

That has now reversed: Today 34 percent of college graduates attend weekly religious services, compared with 28 percent of moderately educated Americans, said the report, which was jointly issued by the NMP and Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

Many highly educated Americans might have “progressive views on social issues in general,” said Mr. Wilcox, but “when it comes to their own lives, they are increasingly adopting a marriage mindset and acting accordingly.”

The implications for the nation are sobering, said the report.

Most Americans (58 percent) are moderately educated. As they retreat from faith and marriage as a way of life, these families look more like the “fragile” ones led by the least educated, wrote Mr. Wilcox.

If this “downscale” trend continues, “it is likely that we will witness the emergence of a new society,” in which marriage and its socioeconomic successes, happiness and stability will be enjoyed primarily by the “upscale,” i.e., highly educated, he wrote. . . .

This year’s report highlighted several areas in which educational achievement was shown to make a big difference in family life:

• Highly educated Americans are far less likely to have a baby out of wedlock than moderately educated Americans (6 percent versus 44 percent).

• Highly educated Americans are more likely to say they are “very happy” in their marriages, compared with the moderately educated (69 percent v. 57 percent).

• Rates for divorce or separation in the first 10 years of marriage has declined among the highly educated (15 percent to 11 percent), but increased slightly for moderately educated (36 percent up to 37 percent).

• Teens from homes with college-graduate parents were far more likely to say they would be embarrassed by an unwed pregnancy compared with teens from homes with less-educated parents (76 percent versus 61 percent).

• Since the 1970s, teenage girls, age 14, of highly educated mothers were even more likely to be living with both their parents (81 percent, up from 80 percent). But 14-year-old girls whose mothers were moderately educated were far less likely to be living with both their parents (58 percent, down from 74 percent.)

via ‘Faith gap’ seen among married – Washington Times.

How do you account for this?

HT:Joe Carter

Revolt of the children

A 16-year-old boy in the Netherlands was arrested for bringing down the MasterCard and Visa websites in retaliation for their refusing to process payments for Wikileaks. More young hackers are promising more attacks.

In the meantime, British university students have been rioting in protest of that country’s new austerity program, which includes raising tuition rates to a fraction of what American students pay. The British students, notorious for their political apathy previously, are breaking windows, smashing shops, burning cars, and assaulting police officers. They even attacked Prince Charles and his wife as they were driving by, smashing a window in their car. See TUITION FEES VOTE PROTEST: Charles and Camilla’s car attacked as thousands of students descend on Parliament | Mail Online.

So will young people–unused to any kind of austerity, indignant at established authority,and able to use the internet really well–rise up and overthrow the adult world?

U.S. test scores vs. China’s

International testing data shows that American high schoolers perform at a distinctly mediocre level in reading, math, and science.  Our future imperial masters, though, scored at the very top.

After a decade of intensive efforts to improve its schools, the United States posted these results in a new global survey of 15-year-old student achievement: average in reading, average in science and slightly below average in math.

Those middling scores lagged significantly behind results from several countries in Europe and Asia in the report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to be made public Tuesday.

South Korea is an emerging academic powerhouse. Finland and Singapore continue to flex their muscles. And the Chinese city of Shanghai, participating for the first time in the Program for International Student Assessment, topped the 2009 rankings of dozens of countries and a handful of sub-national regions.

via International test score data show U.S. firmly mid-pack.

The top five in reading:  (1)  Shanghai-China (2) South Korea (3) Finland (4) Hong Kong-China (5) Singapore.  The USA ranked 17.

The top five in math:  (1) Shanghai-China (2) Singapore (3) Hong Kong-China (4) South Korea (5) Taiwain.  The USA ranked 31.

The top five in science:  (1) Shanghai-China (2) Finland (3) Hong Kong-China (4) Singapore (5) Japan.  The USA ranked 23.

Would this not be evidence of American decline and Asian ascendancy?  (Also, I suppose, Finnish ascendancy?)  Any ideas about what we could do to become eduationally competitive again?  Keeping in mind everything that hasn’t worked?


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