Patterico's Pontifications

9/17/2020

Betsy DeVos Won’t Let Princeton’s Self-Admitted Racism Slide

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:06 pm



[guest post by JVW]

For my money, Betsy DeVos has emerged as the absolute star of the Trump Administration (which, to be sure, isn’t exactly a Dream Team of administrative talent). This is sweet justice, because no cabinet member was met with so much coordinated hatred from a powerful left-wing advocacy group (teacher’s unions), nor so much snide carping from smug and tedious leftists who hate her because she’s wealthy and because she refuses to sing from the hymn book of John Dewey and Michel Foucault. She has put up with the slings and arrows from the obnoxious educrats, yet to the degree possible in our sclerotic federal government she has undertaken the work of making a clean break from Barack Obama’s weak policies and malevolent campus politics.

So I have nothing but respect for Secretary DeVos, who won’t abide by the ongoing and pervasive racism that exists at some of our oldest and most elite institutions of higher education. No, this time I’m not talking about how Asian-American kids are screwed in the admissions process; I refer here today to the recent disclosure by the president of Princeton University (the alma mater of Michelle Robinson Obama!), Christopher Eisgruber (’83), that racism at the school is “systemic” and “embedded.” In the spirit of institutional self-flagellation, Mr. Eisgruber acknowledged (with bold emphasis added by me):

Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies. Race-based inequities in America’s health care, policing, education, and employment systems affect profoundly the lives of our staff, students, and faculty of color.

Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself. For example, Princeton inherits from earlier generations at least nine departments and programs organized around European languages and culture, but only a single, relatively small program in African studies.

Having confessed to the crime, Old Nassau shouldn’t have been surprised that the government might want to take a look-see, to further determine if the university hasn’t engaged in fraud of some sort or other. So, according to the Washington Examiner, a letter went out from Secretary DeVos outlining the steps the department planned to take. The Examiner quotes the letter as follows:

Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false,” the letter reads. “The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made. Finally, the Department is further concerned Princeton’s many nondiscrimination and equal opportunity claims to students, parents, and consumers in the market for education certificates may have been false, misleading, and actionable substantial misrepresentations in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(3)(B) and 34 CFR 668.71(c). Therefore, the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, in consultation with the Department’s Office of the General Counsel, is opening this investigation.

The Examiner article goes on to explain what Princeton might expect next:

What the Department seeks to obtain from its investigation is what evidence Princeton used in its determination that the university is racist, including all the records regarding Eisgruber’s letter and a “spreadsheet identifying each person who has, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, been excluded from participation in, been denied the benefits of, or been subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance as a result of the Princeton racism or ‘damage’ referenced in the President’s Letter.” Eisgruber and a “designated corporate representative” must sit for interviews under oath, and Princeton must also respond to written questions regarding the matter.

Multiple people familiar with the matter have confirmed the letter’s validity and assert that this investigation is not political. Instead, they insist that the department has a legal obligation to investigate a supposedly self-admitted violation of federal civil rights protections.

The Education Department regularly investigates universities for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act in their handling of campus sexual assault and misconduct allegations. This investigation, while not identical, could prove similar.

Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander. I can’t wait for Princeton’s lawyers to explain to the Education Department that Mr. Eisgruber didn’t really mean what he wrote in his open letter to the community.

Three cheers for Secretary DeVos.

– JVW

48 Responses to “Betsy DeVos Won’t Let Princeton’s Self-Admitted Racism Slide”

  1. Of course I don’t buy the contention that this investigation is not political. But I don’t really care, because it’s quite obvious that everything going on in Washington these days — and as far back as I can remember, for that matter — is highly political.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. It is to make one laugh…

    B.A. DuBois (80f588)

  3. Great post.

    Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself. For example, Princeton inherits from earlier generations at least nine departments and programs organized around European languages and culture, but only a single, relatively small program in African studies.

    Clearly the only possible remedy is: Shut down all but one department centered on European anything, and transition the others into African studies.

    Dana (292df6)

  4. hahahaha

    Great post as usual.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  5. Lol.

    Bolivar di griz (d4a914)

  6. watch what you wish for.

    you go’n be woke now

    Brion Mitchell (18e8bb)

  7. This gives new meaning to “Go Woke, Go Broke.”

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  8. If you are a black scholar and you got turned down for a position at Princeton — or hell, if you were a black cafeteria worker and got turned down for a job — would President Eisgruber’s letter be enough of an admission of guilt for you to bring a racial discrimination lawsuit? At the very least, would Princeton be wise to settle with you rather than litigate it in court?

    JVW (ee64e4)

  9. I mean, you figure Princeton’s lawyers would have carefully edited his words before letting him release the letter, but in these crazy times where virtual signaling is the highest priority. . .

    JVW (ee64e4)

  10. Wow. Never seen a bluff that big get called.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  11. Really? We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution? This seems incredibly problematic.

    Further, I’m an educator and I must say, I’ve found Ms. DeVos wholly insufficient. I would have REALLY liked to see a stronger federal response to getting education up and running in a distance-learning world. I was very disappointed they dropped the ball and students, teachers, and parents are paying for it.

    Nate (5efffe)

  12. This is like a 1960s Chinese man making a big-character poster criticizing himself, and hanging it out his window so as to ward off the Red Guards.

    norcal (a5428a)

  13. Oh. My. And they will indeed expose racism, but not the racism they admitted.

    They were getting all set to further disadvantage Asians, whites, people with money, etc, and now they are going to have to admit that their past racism was, in fact, in favor of those groups they wanted to be more biased towards.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  14. I wonder how long it will be before these elite schools start to lose some of their cachet.

    norcal (a5428a)

  15. Really? We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution?

    Well, I don’t know about you, Nate, but I sure am. And no, it’s not a “linguistic gotcha” — if these woke institutions are serious that they have had an ongoing and pervasive bias against minority students then why should they not be held accountable for it? And on the other hand, if this was just sheer virtue signaling in order to get themselves right with the SJW mob then they deserve to be exposed for this kind of mealy-mouth mendacity.

    Further, I’m an educator and I must say, I’ve found Ms. DeVos wholly insufficient. I would have REALLY liked to see a stronger federal response to getting education up and running in a distance-learning world. I was very disappointed they dropped the ball and students, teachers, and parents are paying for it.

    I suppose that’s a fundamental difference in outlook between the two of us. I don’t think we ought to have a big federal bureaucracy running the show for school districts spread across 50 states and 350 million citizens. Every state has a state department of education along with some higher education institution which trains teachers. You mean to tell me that all of them with their paid staffers and regulatory powers needed the soft hands of Uncle Sam in far-off Washington DC to guide them through this crisis? I am dismayed to learn that the education establishment is apparently even more dysfunctional and helpless than I had been led to believe.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  16. And, of course, Ms. DeVos gets credit for tearing up the Dear Colleague Letter on Title IX.

    Paul Montagu (1fbb64)

  17. The Department of Education has never been necessary to anything. It’s make-work for unemployables, like 75% of the so-called educational system in this country.

    Betsy DeVos has more money than Croesus. She should have left the phony-baloney job for some poor nebbish who actually needs it.

    nk (1d9030)

  18. Betsy DeVos has more money than Croesus. She should have left the phony-baloney job for some poor nebbish who actually needs it.

    I’ll agree with you 100% that the DOE is unnecessary. That said, if it has to be led by someone I would prefer a leader from outside of the stale education establishment like Betsy DeVos rather than a happy-talk enabler like Arne Duncan.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  19. @11 Under federalism, the federal government’s function is to do what the states cannot do, like providing for the common defense, creating immigration policy, and printing money. Are you saying that the states are not capable of handling education?

    Creating a federal Department of Education was a colossal mistake. If we have to be stuck with this boondoggle, I’m glad somebody like DeVos is running it.

    norcal (a5428a)

  20. JVW,

    I did not see your comment before I posted mine. I am not a hack. I promise!

    norcal (a5428a)

  21. I did not see your comment before I posted mine. I am not a hack. I promise!

    I’m flattered. Great minds, and all the rest of that cliche.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  22. @21 :)

    norcal (a5428a)

  23. They dont seem to impart useful skills andthey get more expensive each year.

    Bolivar di griz (d4a914)

  24. Further, I’m an educator

    “educator” is a word that education administrators use to hide the fact that they are administrators.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  25. getting education up and running in a distance-learning world.

    The problems are mostly technical, and mostly the fault of bureaucratic systems unable to get anything done until there have been 73 committee meetings. If the administration had gotten involved, it still wouldn’t work, but the bureaucracies would have someone else to blame.

    Oh, wait, they are blaming the administration anyway for not doing the job for the locals that the locals should have done. Not that the locals would have let them do it.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  26. Every state has a state department of education along with some higher education institution which trains teachers. You mean to tell me that all of them with their paid staffers and regulatory powers needed the soft hands of Uncle Sam in far-off Washington DC to guide them through this crisis? I am dismayed to learn that the education establishment is apparently even more dysfunctional and helpless than I had been led to believe.

    Once upon a time, local school boards ran schools. But then we got the Department of Education, which of course meant each state had to have IT’S own apparatus to talk to them and administer programs to control help local districts. Now each teacher has to teach to the national test and paper flows are the primary product of the education system, not learning. This is reflected in test scores, which means that more control from the top must be applied until the situation improves.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  27. JVW, the reason I call it linguistic (and I stand by it) is that the word racism has incredibly broad meaning, and is clearly used with one meaning by the school (racism in the structural sense) vs what one might want a government to stop (racism in the institutional sense).

    Someone saying, “we need to address structural racism that affects our institution” is not admitting to institutional racism.

    I’m not calling for the federal government to run the show for districts everywhere. Curriculum writing is a massive effort that usually takes many man-years to create. We are in an unprecedented time when large swaths of the country are having to produce entire new curriculum on the spot. For my part, I’m spending about 6 hours per day writing curriculum, and it’s not as good as it would be if I had 20 hours per day to do so. Having a single fall-back virtual curriculum produced in a centralized collaboration as a fall-back (not mandated use) would have improved the outcomes for students at greatly reduced cost.

    I promise you 10 excellent calculus teachers working over the summer to produce a curriculum for a virtual learning AP Calculus class would have gone a lot better than having the tens of thousands of calculus teachers each try to come up with it on their own. There are some times for a centralized government to act, and this was one of them.

    nate_w (5efffe)

  28. I should point out I got an EXCELLENT education in public schools despite attending schools in 6 different school districts, K-12. They were all good schools. Of course, that was almost 50 ears ago. Much has been ruined since.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  29. We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution?

    Live by the sword…

    Most private colleges would shrivel up and die if the government were to cut them off. Let’s see what Princeton chooses.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  30. Hey Nate:

    First of all, I’m sorry that your comments keep getting caught up in the filter. I can’t seem to figure out why that is: your email address and IP address do not appear on the blocked or moderated list and it doesn’t seem you are using any forbidden words. I’ll try to investigate more if this turns out to be an ongoing problem.

    I don’t agree with you that the word “racism” had a broad meaning. In fact, I think the work that activists are doing to continually trying to broaden it — in essence denuding it of its traditional meaning and turning into just a lazy epithet for something they don’t like — is one of the biggest problems. Princeton contended in their letter that, and here I’ll quote, “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society,” and then in the next sentence, “race-based inequities in America’s health care, policing, education, and employment systems affect profoundly the lives of our staff, students, and faculty of color.” I think that makes it pretty clear that Princeton believes (1) racism exists on their campus and (2) it is affecting their students, faculty, and staff. Guilty as charged, your honor!

    I don’t mean to be super-dismissive of the efforts that teachers have put in to adapt to distance learning. I have a number of friends who are teachers, so I have heard first-hand of the struggles they have faced. And though I am not a fan at all of the Department of Education, I do believe that one legitimate use for it would be as a national clearing house for ideas and resources that can be shared nationwide. But that could be accomplished with probably 1/100th of the current DOE staffing level.

    Let’s take your example of calculus, since I am very familiar with what goes on in that particular discipline. I can assure you that there are several excellent online resources that could be brought to bear in the teaching of the course, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the textbook in use at the school already offers online homework, an interactive e-book, online apps, and plenty of resources that can form the nucleus of an online course. And as I suggested above, a call to your friendly state department of education or even to the math department that the local university probably could have helped get a teacher started in building that course. Even calling your textbook publisher’s rep might have lined you up with an online training session for using that sort of material; I know the publishers spent a huge chunk of the summer putting that sort of training together.

    And one last bit, and I don’t really mean this to come off sounding snotty so apologies if it does, but it seems to me that pretty much all teachers kept their jobs through the pandemic. Indeed, in California where I live the state has prohibited districts from enacting any layoffs until next spring at the earliest. So I know that teachers were hit with a good amount of extra work in putting together their classes and taking them online, but they at least kept their jobs, their benefits, and their paychecks, unlike so many other people in private enterprise. And as such, there’s a limit to how much sympathy I have for the extra work that was forced upon them.

    But I do hope your experience with online teaching goes well and I am sure you and your students will get the hang of it and quickly turn it into a positive learning experience for all.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  31. Thanks for looking into the filter for me. I’ve been wondering about it for a really long time. I was pretty sure I’d never done anything warranting moderation, but….

    I’m having trouble seeing how the exact quotes you use aren’t clearly in line with my argument: Princeton is saying “racism exists everywhere in our country, and Princeteon, as a part of our country, is not immune from such racism.” I agree that they believe (1) racism exists on their campus (but not anymore than anywhere else) and (2) it is affecting their students, faculty, and staff (but again, no more than anyone else). It’s like a preacher saying “Sin and the damage it does to people nevertheless persist in our congregation as in our society” and you saying “Well thank goodness the federal government is going after that self-admitted sinful church! They even admitted it!”

    I agree that my request of the DOE here requires next to nothing as a percentage of their funding, and I am not interested in defending the department against general charges of bloat. As to your points on limited sympathy for teachers, I agree! I don’t think teachers are anywhere near first in line for the “who’s had their lives most torched” award during this pandemic. But one not need pity teachers to look for ways to help kids learn more at lower cost.

    nate_w (5efffe)

  32. The letter you linked, dated November 5, 2014 and signed by the Director of the Education Department’s Civil Rights Office, pertains to an investigation of three sexual harassment complaints.

    Dave (1bb933)

  33. The letter you linked, dated November 5, 2014 and signed by the Director of the Education Department’s Civil Rights Office, pertains to an investigation of three sexual harassment complaints.

    Ah, thanks. I noticed that earlier and meant to remove that link before publishing the post.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  34. I didn’t see any evidence in the real letter that the action against Princeton had anything to do with DeVos, who is the type of political hack with no job qualifications whatsoever (apart from marrying a billionaire and helping line a lot of politicians’ pockets) that you would rail against if she were a Democrat…

    Dave (1bb933)

  35. I will admit that the scenario is amusing though.

    I imagine Princeton’s response will be that they were in legal compliance, but that they aspire to a higher standard than the minimum required by law.

    That may be a tough sell, since the statutory requirements are not minimal but absolute. I don’t see any real alternative though (but a halfway decent lawyer probably would…).

    Princeton can’t be the only institution to make this sort of public confession, so it will be odd if other universities aren’t written up.

    Dave (1bb933)

  36. I didn’t see any evidence in the real letter that the action against Princeton had anything to do with DeVos, who is the type of political hack with no job qualifications whatsoever (apart from marrying a billionaire and helping line a lot of politicians’ pockets) that you would rail against if she were a Democrat…

    How does it work, Dave? The secretary is in charge of the department when you’re looking to cast blame but decidedly not in charge of the department when credit is to be apportioned? Yeah, her name wasn’t on the letter but it came from her department and I’m guessing she gave the go-ahead for pursuing this line of action. Perhaps it will turn out this is all the work of some rogue lawyer and Sec. DeVos will disavow the letter, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

    As to her qualifications, should the Secretary of Education always come from the bowels of the academic educrat establishment and be greased in because of fealty to the teachers’ unions and devotion to growing the department and assuming more and more regulatory power? Should she be a termed-out politician who has compiled a voting record acceptable to her party and the establishment and would otherwise have to find a job in the scary private sector? It seems that Betsy DeVos has spent years on various boards of private schools, charter schools, and charter school foundations, and she was on the board of Jeb Bush’s education think tank. That makes her at least as qualified to serve as Secretary of Education as Barack Obama was qualified to serve as President of the United States.

    Would it blow your mind if I were to tell you that we’ve had Secretaries of Defense who didn’t serve in the military?

    JVW (ee64e4)

  37. How does it work, Dave? The secretary is in charge of the department when you’re looking to cast blame but decidedly not in charge of the department when credit is to be apportioned?

    Reading your posts, I was sure it was the other way around…

    Would it blow your mind if I were to tell you that we’ve had Secretaries of Defense who didn’t serve in the military?

    Have we had one whose only work experience was political fund-raising?

    Dave (1bb933)

  38. Princeton will be hoping to run out the clock, and a HUH victory.

    mg (8cbc69)

  39. Really? We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution?

    A private institution that takes millions of dollars from the federal government, despite having what I believe is the second highest endowment of all U.S. universities, running in the billions. If you take money from Uncle Sam, and promise you are not racist when you do so, and then your president admits to being racist, then yes, Uncle Sam needs to look into it.

    There is this legal thing called fraud. Long pre-dates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    Perhaps their lawyers will come up with a brilliant linguistic defense. (And who am I to take bread out of the mouths of lawyers?) But, yes, I want the govt. to at least investigate.

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  40. Really? We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution?

    Well, I don’t know about you, Nate, but I sure am. And no, it’s not a “linguistic gotcha” — if these woke institutions are serious that they have had an ongoing and pervasive bias against minority students then why should they not be held accountable for it? And on the other hand, if this was just sheer virtue signaling in order to get themselves right with the SJW mob then they deserve to be exposed for this kind of mealy-mouth mendacity.

    It’s good and funny when the government uses federal power to punish people we don’t like for things they’ve said.

    But there’s a pretext if we squint hard enough. so it’s all good.

    Time123 (ae9d89)

  41. JVW…great, GREAT post.

    And your response too at:
    JVW (ee64e4) — 9/17/2020 @ 10:38 pm

    I really don’t have much to add, other than letting you know that I’m knodding my head vigorously at every one of your sentences.

    I know it’s next to near impossible to get Congress to defund/remove bloated departments such as DOE. I’m wondering if the next best thing, is to advocate to MOVE federal departments out of DC to the lower 48 states.

    Dept of Education in Tennessee would be just as effective.

    Dept of Energy in New Mexico could work.

    …and so forth.

    DC is becoming more like Panem in Hunger Games, or Mos Eisley in Star Wars…

    whembly (c30c83)

  42. scaling back DOE would be great. They drive a lot of the administrative bloat in college education.

    Time123 (ae9d89)

  43. In my town, distance learning has been a total bust. The curriculum might have been a problem as nate suggests, but that doesn’t really matter as students cannot reliably connect and participate.

    The school’s connection, designed for occasional low-bandwidth traffic withered and died when faced with constant video traffic. While in some places this is blamed on poor home internet connections, this was happening to students with robust broadband (>100Mbs inbound, >10Mbs outbound), which should have proved adequate had the school’s (or perhaps the teacher’s home’s) internet connection and/or software been able to handle the load.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  44. Dept of Energy in New Mexico could work.

    Alamogordo.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  45. Although, any agency you moved to NM would prove a windfall to employees, since it is a very low-cost state. It is actually hard to find ABQ apartments costing more than $1500/month for example.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  46. @45 I would think that for most agencies, moving the department out of DC would be a windfall to employees.

    whembly (c30c83)

  47. “Really? We are cheering what is, in effect, a linguistic gotcha by the government on a private institution? This seems incredibly problematic.”
    __ _

    lolololololololololololol

    I think a university president stating that the school has and still is discriminating based on race is a bit more problematic than using the wrong pronouns or the countless other micro aggressions claimed to marginalize those not wanted in the conversation at universities, in media and in society.

    This has been a tool of the Left for decades.

    But just the fact that this question could be asked is hilarious.

    Look for a new chair in Critical Race Theory at Princeton.
    _

    harkin (a7d74f)

  48. Bo Winegard
    @EPoe187

    Virtue signaling: Even our institution is plagued by systemic racism, but if you take our words seriously enough to hold us accountable, then you are being coercive ideologues.
    __ _

    harkin (a7d74f)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3539 secs.