When Green Goes Too Far on Campus

Many American universities are now “going green.” To some extent, this makes sense. Universities are huge enterprises that stand to save hundred of thousands of dollars by cutting down on waste, using energy more wisely, and making better use of the resources they already have instead of always insisting on new, better, and more of everything. When green is frugal, it should be welcomed on campus.

But in many cases campus greening, now called “sustainability,” goes far beyond smart moves to use resources more wisely. It has become a matter of religion.

Jesse Saffron catalogs one North Carolina school’s foray into sustainability in today’s article for the Pope Center. He writes:

“North Carolina State University (NCSU) provides an illustration of the problem. An especially pernicious brand of environmentalism—‘sustainability’—is on the verge of becoming an unstated, but very real, part of the school’s mission. University leaders are developing an aggressive public relations campaign and curriculum change that could create a system in which students are inculcated in social justice, environmental justice, and progressivism—all of which are tenets of sustainability.”

In short, the campus “Sustainability Council” seeks to replace debate with dogma, making sustainability a part of everything the school does.

Saffron warns, “Left unchecked, this seemingly harmless movement (which has a strong presence at other North Carolina universities, too) could sow the seeds of social upheaval by turning hearts and minds away from the principles of a free society.”

Read the whole article here.

Intolerance in the Academy

Last week, a new finding about ideological imbalance made headlines all over the country. According to Matt Woessner, an associate professor of political science and public policy at Penn State Harrisburg, liberal professors now outnumber their conservative counterparts by a ratio of roughly 5 to 1. Daniel Klein, a professor of economics at George Mason University, said the imbalance might be even worse than that—with faculty who vote Democratic outnumbering those who vote Republican by 9 to 1 or even 10 to 1.

Those inside the academy respond that the imbalance doesn’t matter since professors leave their ideology out of their work.

But Jonathan Anomaly, a lecturer and research professor with the Duke/UNC Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, recently discovered that this is not the case. In today’s article for the Pope Center, Anomaly describes his experience with what he calls “The New Creationists,” those who “use Darwin as a bludgeon against the old creationists, but then reject scientific conclusions when they conflict with their political convictions.”

These academics rejected an article by Anomaly for his suggestion that biology may play a role in explaining some differences between men and women and between different ethnic and racial groups.

Moreover, they were very nasty about it—hurling insults at academics that Anomaly cited, including Steven Pinker, E.O. Wilson, and Jonathan Haidt. Read Anomaly’s full account of his interaction with these “New Creationists” here.

Group Looks at N.C. Counties’ Suspect Voter Registration Numbers

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), headed up by J. Christian Adams, has sent statutory notice letters to 37 counties in several states – including North Carolina, informing them that they appear to not be complying with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).  Here is an example of the letter sent to election officials in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The PILF news release says that publicly-available data showed that the counties either had “more registered voters than eligible living citizens, or a number of registrants that is implausibly high.”

Below are the North Carolina counties receiving notices – the list includes the top five counties in terms of voter registration in the state. If you live in one of these 12 counties, now is a good time to get involved and contact the members of the local Board to see what is being done about these serious problems.

Brunswick
Buncombe
Cabarrus
Chatham
Dare
Durham
Forsyth
Guilford
Mecklenburg
Orange
Union
Wake

This isn’t the first time PILF has sent notices to counties around the country.

“In August 2015, PILF sent notice letters to 141 counties across the country with more registrants than people alive. PILF has since filed litigation in federal court against two of these counties whose voter rolls had become corrupted.  The first suit, against Clarke County, Mississippi, resulted in a consent decree that will force local election officials to begin removing ineligible voters prior to 2016 election. The other, against Noxubee County, Mississippi, is still pending.

The latest set of letters brings the grand total to 178 counties that may be violating federal law. Recent studies estimate the number of inaccurate or invalid voter registrations may exceed 20 million.”

The PILF release also stated that they had “also asked officials in New Hampshire and Wisconsin to provide information about efforts to detect non-citizens and prevent aliens from participating in elections in those states.”

I just wish they had asked the same question of North Carolina.

Update – A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA

You may remember the legislation that started out as a license plate bill for retired registers of deeds in March of 2015, but mysteriously became the “Hemp Bill” on September 28, 2015 and was ratified the next day. All this, just two days before the end of last year’s marathon legislative session. Civitas looked at the way the bill was introduced and the characters behind the resulting legislation in an article titled, A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA.

While the rushed-through legislation made industrial hemp production legal in North Carolina four months ago, this News and Observer article suggests that they haven’t raised the $200,000 in private funds needed to support the operations of the Commission. The N&O article implied that the commission will be appointed after the money is raised. This leaves us to wonder; just who is responsible for raising the money? Here is how the legislation reads:

  • 106-568.54. Limitations. The Commission shall not meet or undertake any of its powers and duties under this Article until it has obtained funding from sources other than State funds of at least two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) to support operations of the Commission. Funding from non-State sources for the Commission’s activities may be returned to the donor or funder if not spent or.

While A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA did not weigh in on the merits of the bill, we did raise questions as to the process and the cast of characters that played such a major role including Bruce Perlowin, a notorious drug dealer, his wife – a KGB spy, Republican leadership, consultants and lobbyists – all with major stakes in the success of the resulting legislation.

CLF Defeats Government’s Motion to Dismiss in Wind Energy Case

In September, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) filed suit against the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on behalf of a Perquimans County couple. At issue is whether DEQ broke the law when it informed Iberdrola Renewables that its Amazon Wind Farm East would not be subjected to state regulatory standards. Soon after the filing, the Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss and supporting memoranda, to which CLF responded on November 19.

Today, Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter of the Office of Administrative Hearings denied the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the case will continue because the petitioners have standing to bring the suit. Barring an appeal of her decision, the case will head to a hearing on the merits in the spring.

Joining CLF on the case is Dr. David Schnare of the DC-based Energy & Environmental Legal Institute, who was admitted on a pro hac vice basis earlier this fall.

Stay tuned for further updates on this and other CLF cases.

Reuters Lied about Trump in NC

I’m a cynical old conservative who’s seen a lot, and even I am taken aback when I see the news media lying about something I’ve seen with my own eyes.

A Reuters report is headlined on CBS: “Black Lives Matter protestors cut off Donald Trump in North Carolina.”

A single vulgar word is the most accurate response, but in a perhaps vain attempt to uphold some standards, I’ll only say: that report can only be a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans.

I was there. I was even much closer to Trump than the official media representatives. The Reuters account is wrong.

At several points, some jerks with signs interrupted Trump by shouting. They were booed by the crowd — but the booing was less angry that what you will hear at most sporting events.

First, it is one more indication that Black Lives Matter is a proto-fascist movement. The street fighters and mobs are merely the first symptom that democracy is under attack. Some people wanted to hear Trump, many, I would guess, out of curiosity. If he was truly a bad man, the Left should want him to open his mouth more often so people could discern the truth about him.

So the demonstrations showed:

  1. Black Lives Matter is inherently anti-democratic. They do not believe that ordinary people can or should make their own judgements.
  2. Trump must be a real threat to them. The protests only underscored Trump’s claims. That they cared enough only added to his credibility.

As I wrote on my own blog, it also highlights the incompetence of the Left. The protests only added a bit of drama to the scene that underscored Trump’s messages, and fired up the crowd.

The Reuters report said he got annoyed. Frankly, I think he gets annoyed a lot anyway. Most of the time, he just grinned smugly while the protestors were hustled out. Rather than break up his talk, the interludes gave him time to rest. His voice was hoarse, and apparently he is not a person who switches easily to a soft tone.

If his remarks were shorter than usual, it may be that he just wanted to conserve his vocal chords.

Anyway, among other things, Reuters doesn’t grasp what it is Trump does. He doesn’t have a set talk; he riffs on events, throwing out a lot of his tag lines. There’s no structure; there’s no timeline. He’s, obviously, not your typical pol. He is there to galvanize supporters, not bore them with PowerPoint presentations. He’s more like a comedian or musician who comes out, plays some of his big hits, improvises a little, does an encore or two, then get on the bus for the next show.

BTW, Trump called this in advance. He said the media would make a big deal out of the protestors, and that they would mock him no matter what he did: as scary if he threw them out, as weak if he didn’t.

In other words, this report is bogus. It’s plainly a deliberate attempt to distort the news. I was there, however. I can assure you this report is a fraud.

New Research Suggests: Kidney Damage in Lupus Patients Can Be Stem By Exercise

New research implies, regular physical exercise may decrease kidney harm in people who have lupus while stress may have the opposite impact.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that triggers your body to attack and damage vital organs like the kidneys.

But according to a new research conducted by treadmills review team, which included two mice tests and a just a bit different human trial, offers new strategies that might help other patients with lupus to avoid the same fate.

Within the first trial, only 45 percent of mice with the lupus that did modest exercise (45 minutes of home treadmill walking per day) possessed severe inflammatory damage to the kidneys, compared against 88 percent of those that didn’t exercise.

In another test, mice with lupus that were put through daily stress experienced significant raises in inflammatory kidney destruction compared to the ones that didn’t have stress, according to the Treadmill Review Guru researchers.

“If we observe similar results in human being studies, this could imply that stress decrease and a daily program of physical therapy using an inversion table should be considered as interventional strategies to be utilized alongside current medical treatment,” said research analyst Travis Gafford of Treadmill Guru.

“We’ve shown on the molecular level that both exercise and stress can impact swelling by regulation of the immune system, which may give a unique opportunity to help people suffering from the chronic inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus,” Travis added.

Ed Next Poll results released

Yesterday Education Next released results of the 2015 its annual national Poll on School Reform. Find the results here and Ed Next’s analysis, here.)

The Ed Next Poll is a treasure trove of interesting data on a variety of topics including: what do people think of their schools; which subjects do parents want emphasized; school spending; school choice, Common Core State Standards, school personnel policies and school discipline.

Some of the main findings include:

  • When the general public is asked to rate the schools in their community, 52 percent of the schools receive an A (11%)  or B (41%). When asked to rate the public schools in the nation as a whole, only 23 percent received an A (2%) or B (21%).
  • Parents want increased emphasis on character and creativity. Parents desired focus on those topics is almost double their desired focus on reading or math.  For an extended discussion on this topic see Jay Greene’s, Ed Next Poll Shows Character is Important.
  • Support for Common Core State Standards continues to slide. While the current drop (4 points) is less than the 12 point drop between 2013 and 2014. However it also means support for CCSS is not below 50 percent.  Teacher support for Common Core Standards has plummeted from 76 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2015.
  • Parents support testing; 67 percent of the general public favors required annual federal testing in reading and math; that compares with 66 percent of parents and 47 percent of teachers.
  • Support for charter schools – while still above 50 percent—is  slipping. Public support declined from 54 to 51 in the previous year.
  • Public support for government vouchers for low income students to attend private schools declined from 37 percent (2014) to 34 percent (2015).
  • Fifty-nine percent of the public opposes letting parents decide whether to have their children take annual tests in math and reading. This compares to 52 percent of parents and 57 percent of teachers.
  • The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of a law that levies an agency fee against teachers who refuse to join the unions.   Fifty-six percent of the public side with the teacher and favor ending the use of agency fees; 50 percent of teachers also want to end the practice.

Kentucky results: Common Core standards don’t enhance college readiness

A lot of eyes are on Kentucky these days.  Mostly because the state implemented Common Core standards before other states. Hence, what happens – or doesn’t happen — in Kentucky may be harbinger of things to come elsewhere as well.

So when Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute blogged earlier this week on Truth in American Education’s web site about Kentucky’s disappointing test scores you can bet the article drew interest.

Innes raises the $64,000 question: Does common core improve college readiness in Kentucky?

If it does, shouldn’t there be a noticeable uptick in college readiness scores?

That’s not what Innes found.

Using test results from Kentucky EXPLORE State Trends 2015  PLAN State Trends 2015 and PLAN assessments — tests designed to give a good indication if students in eighth or tenth grade will eventually be college ready — Innes writes:

The 2014-15 school year EXPLORE test results for Common Core subjects of English, math and reading are all uniformly lower than in several previous years.  For example: English has been in steady decline for the past two years, Reading performance is notably lower now than just last year and actually is also lower than results for all but one year since 2009-10 as well.

Math performance also dropped from 2013-14 and with only one exception, the 2014-15 math Benchmark performance is worse than the  performance in any of the previous five years.

These decays in performance in Common Core subjects raise concerns about the true functioning of Common Core in the Bluegrass State. The latest scores from the 2014-15 term are for the fourth year of full Common Core operation in Kentucky and the state’s education program should be stabilizing. We should not see such decay on a true college readiness test if Common Core is really working in Kentucky. However the graph above indicates that at the eighth grade level, at least, Common Core in Kentucky has a problem.

Things only look slightly better for Common Core in the PLAN results. While math has shown some improvement, both English and reading scores also decayed in the 2014-15 school term

Though Innes doesn’t analyze ACT scores, I took a quick peek at Kentucky’s scores. If Common Core standards are positively impacting students, wouldn’t we expect scores would start to rise?  Kentucky’s composite score increased half a point in the last four years. Subject scores improved modestly varying from increases of two-tenths to four tenths of a percentage point.  Also noteworthy is the percentage of students who met all four college readiness benchmarks. In the last four years the percentage increased from 16 to 19 percent. Percentages in English, mathematics and science all increased slightly but the percentage for Reading declined over the last four years.

These scores while they signify modest improvements, hardly reflect the uptick that Common Core advocates said the standards would deliver.

It’s difficult to get a reading on the same impacts in North Carolina, since North Carolina only required 100 percent of students to take the ACT exam in 2013, at the same time Common Core standards were going into the classroom.

If Kentucky is leading the way on Common Core, initial results don’t look good.

NC Senate May Vote to Ignore Draconian EPA Restrictions

From the N&O:

Lawmakers in Raleigh could decide Wednesday whether North Carolina will become one of a handful of states that will ignore new federal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.

The expected debate in the state Senate could make North Carolina a testing ground for the nation’s first attempt to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose the limits next month, giving states a year to come up with compliance strategies or default to a plan created by the EPA.

The state Senate is set to debate the EPA requirement that North Carolina reduce the emissions by nearly 40 percent by 2030. The state House voted three months ago to direct state environmental authorities to develop a compliance plan, but a Senate committee last week scrapped that idea. If the Senate plots a new policy course to do little or nothing, the issue would have to go back to the House to become state law.

One of the leading critics of the new EPA restrictions is Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, saying the EPA rules are like “forcing a round peg into a square hole.”

A study released in January of this year concluded that the unprecedented new EPA rules would have significantly negative effects on NC, including a loss of more than 32,000 jobs, a fall in disposable income of $3.5 billion and sharply higher electricity rates for homeowners and industrial users.