Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Davidson Does Grading

Cathy Davidson occupies a unique place in the history of Duke’s response to the lacrosse case. Widely perceived as among the more moderate of the Group of 88, Davidson humiliated herself by penning the first apologia for the Group’s action. In her January 2007 op-ed, the Duke English professor invented a past that never existed, claiming that in the first two weeks after the case broke—a time when both local and national coverage was overwhelmingly slanted against the lacrosse players—the media was in fact “rampant” with “racist and sexist remarks,” with those intent on “defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann . . . reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women.”

Davidson, in short, revealed herself to be either a shameless fabricator or (much more likely) someone so steeped in the groupthink atmosphere that dominates Duke’s humanities departments that she actually believed that the early media coverage was favorable to the lacrosse players. When reality clashed with her own words, the Group of 88’er retreated to fulminations against those she labeled “hooligans.”

Davidson was back in the news this week, courtesy of a column by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. The topic? The former administrator’s . . . unusual . . . approach upon her return to the classroom. Asserted Davidson, “I loved returning to teaching last year after several years in administration . . . except for the grading.”

Most faculty members don’t particularly like grading. And the issue of how to link grading to measuring a student’s overall performance isn’t an easy one. In my undergraduate classes, I normally use a mixture of exams, papers, reading-based quizzes, group assignments, and participation.

How did the 88’er respond to the problem of coming back to the classroom but not much wanting to grade students’ work? “I'm trying out a new point system. Do all the work, you get an A. Don't need an A? Don't have time to do all the work? No problem. You can aim for and earn a B. There will be a chart. You do the assignment satisfactorily, you get the points.”

And how to evaluate whether a student has done the work? “Since I already have structured my seminar (it worked brilliantly last year) so that two students lead us in every class, they can now also read all the class blogs (as they used to) and pass judgment on whether they are satisfactory.”

Those concerned with the issue of grade inflation would doubtless raise eyebrows at this clause from Davidson’s grading policy: “Revision and resubmission results in full points. Everyone who chooses to do the work to the satisfaction of his or her collaborative peers in the course will receive an A.” What about the course exam? “In lieu of a final exam, students will write an evaluation of the class.”

A cynical person might wonder if Davidson’s scheme is nothing more than an attempt by a professor who earns a six-figure salary and teaches no more than four courses annually to get out of grading, a task that she admittedly deems unpleasant.

But Davidson denies a claim of laziness, and instead posits that her approach represents cutting-edge pedagogy—a strategy necessary for “21st century” education, as opposed to a “Machine Age” approach. “I can't think,” writes she, “of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluate learning than by assigning a grade. It turns learning (which should be a deep pleasure, setting up for a lifetime of curiosity) into a crass competition.” (Competition, it’s worth noting, is something strongly frowned upon by politically correct pedagogues in the contemporary academy.) Moreover, the 88’er adds, “every study [emphasis added] of peer review among students shows that students perform at a higher level, and with more care, when they know they are being evaluated by their peers than when they know only the teacher and the TA will be grading.” Davidson doesn’t cite any studies in her syllabus, nor does she explain how she has consulted every study on this topic.

Davidson’s pedagogical colleagues rave about her approach—and also offer a glimpse of the race/class/gender agenda behind the Group of 88’er’s scheme.

NYU professor Lisa Duggan (whose website describes her first research interest as “queer and feminist theory”) tells Davidson that she has “done something like this with my big undergrad class, Intersections: Race, Gender & Sexuality [of course] in US History, for years now. [Students] do all the work, at a ‘good faith’ level of quality (earning a check [!!] from their TA), show up on time to all classes and participate in discussion sections—they get an A. Grades scale down from there. The greatest thing about it is that many students without previous educational privilege *love* it and often do extremely well when not being judged in the usual way—reading a book a week, writing response papers every week, and ultimately participating at grad student level. Entitled students who try to skate by on a good prose style do not like it at all... :>). “

In other words, the Davidson/Duggan scheme improves the grades of “students without previous educational privilege” and disadvantages students who write well. What happens if those “students without previous educational privilege” might expect to leave college having received instruction on how to write at a high level? Well, apparently, they’re out of luck.

Riché Richardson, one of Davidson’s former graduate students who now teaches in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University (where she is a colleague of none other than Grant Farred), pays fealty to Davidson’s “brilliant pedagogical vision” and her “courage.” Indeed, for Richardson, “knowing [Davidson] has been a blessing.”

Having been thus blessed, Richardson apparently doesn’t see the need to explain why Davidson’s “professor-doesn’t-grade” scheme is a good idea. Richardson did, however, find the time to inform IHE readers that she was “tenured (with unanimous votes in my departments) in both the University of California and the Ivy League.”

One IHE commenter pointed out the obvious: “If students need to take upper level courses which require they understand facts, this method likely fails.”

But facts, in Cathy Davidson’s world, are malleable things. After all, this is the same professor who told us all it was a fact that media coverage in the first two weeks of the lacrosse case was “rampant” with “racist and sexist remarks,” with those intent on “defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann . . . reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women.”

[Hat tip: C.G., L.H.]

79 comments:

AMac said...

(1) Some day, one of Prof. Davidson's loved ones might be diagnosed with cancer. Is she willing to engage an oncologist who attended a med school where grades were handed out in this way?

(2) On her next First-Class trip to a typical Sexual-Politics Academic Conference, is the professor willing to board an airplane designed by engineers who were evaluated according to the Davidson Method?

Of course, the systems that are in place generally prevent incompetents from practicing in fields like this. Thus, the elite is spared from experiencing the real-world consequences of their fanciful ideas.

As are we all.

For now.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, for this parents spend $50000 plus per year. Sharp eyes and kind but insightful and extensive commentary on volumes of written student material is IMO the primary avenue to a really worthwhile academic experience. Fine writing, so completely fundamental to academics, becomes another badge of privilege for Ms. Davidson. Good grief. Why not just help all students to become fine writers? Isn't that her job? And aren't grades really prods to help accomplish that goal?

http://redgenesbluegenes.com/

The above links to an incomplete but interesting view of the 4th Amendment for anyone still wondering whether Mr. Gates has a real case against Cambridge or Mr. Crowley. Scroll down to the July 26 entry. The argument is that even with probable cause, the police cannot enter a home uninvited absent "exigent circumstances." I believe the "exigent circumstances" were there. Others, like the author, Randy Cohen, and Judge Napolitano obviously disagree. I continue to think Mr. Gates has a very weak case and would be making a big mistake to file a lawsuit.

Observer

Anonymous said...

This is truly laughable. Participation in such infantile structures could turn a "curious" mind to self-immolation.

Anonymous said...

In my day, we called this a gut course-see the "Official Preppy Handbook" for examples

Anonymous said...

What an absolute joke -- these ass-clowns smear the entire Academy. Were I a parent paying Duke tuition I'd issue a "stop-payment" order on every tuition check possible. Were I a kid at Duke I'd begin the transfer process immediately. As a faculty member I have already asked our admissions office to review transcripts from any and all applicants with any Duke degree with exceptional rigor. Grades--such as what Duke's Porf. Davidson "bestows"--will be apporpriately discounted in the graduate admissions process.

Duke 1965 said...

While one of Cathy Davidson's motives may well be simple laziness, another motive might be to make the course so easy that enrollment will soar among students anxious to find a "crib" course among the more challenging Duke offerings, thereby ensuring that the course (and Ms. Davidson's career) continues.

Ever wonder why so many lacrosse players take these courses? Busy athletes are expert at finding the "crib" courses so necessary when one has a difficult major and hours of team practices. If you want to find the easiest courses, follow the jocks.

Jim in San Diego said...

Where was this grading system when I was in graduate school? Or University? Or High School? Or Elementary School?

The last time I remember being "graded" like this was nursery school.

Fitting, I suppose.

But, it solves the problem of how to graduate students who cannot think, read, or write.

No more pesky "qualifications", to succeed at a Davidson-taught course.

What school did you say benefitted from employing this teacher and her peculiar pedagogy? Oh, yes, that one.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

"But you HAVE to hire me! I'm a graduate of the Davidson/Duggan course on how to write good!"

Anonymous said...

I recently read where a graduate was suing her university because she could not find a job. Well, perhaps her degree was rendered useless and she graduated without a marketable skill and unqualified to enter the workforce because of the practices now employed by the academy, such as those of the "professors" mentioned in this post. Very sad commentary. Steve in New Mexico

Anonymous said...

This type of grading is being pushed throughout education. I teach at the high school level, and I've sat through workshops put on by Dept. of Education employees who instructed us on how to organize our instruction and grading much as Cathy Davidson does. It's not "cutting edge" if it's being pushed on high school teachers. And it doesn't work. High school students cannot adequately assess their peers' work, and I'd be willing to wager college students (even those at places like Duke)can't either. Students need teachers who can teach them to organize their thoughts and write coherent, grammatically correct prose. I'll be spending many hours this upcoming school year at night and on weekends grading essays that aren't particularly good at the beginning of the year, but that improve significantly over the course of the school year. And I'll feel like I earned my decidedly non-six figure salary.

JLW in Ohio

f1guyus said...

Wait 'till Ms Davidsons students get out in the real world and find out there's no Santa Claus.

Anonymous said...

Dear JLW: Keep doing exactly what you are doing and when you go to bed at night, please feel pleased and satisfied with the contribution you are making. You are a real American hero. Best Wishes. Steve in New Mexico

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty good approach to grading in those cases where the professor knows less than the students.

Gary Packwood said...

JLW in Ohio 8/4/09 4:36 PM said…

…This type of grading is being pushed throughout education. I teach at the high school level, and I've sat through workshops put on by Dept. of Education employees who instructed us on how to organize our instruction and grading much as Cathy Davidson does. It's not "cutting edge" if it's being pushed on high school teachers. And it doesn't work.

::
This is an important message from JLW and I will take the time to read it several times.

I will also begin to ask some rather pointed questions about our school curriculum here in Houston.

Thanks JLW. Your work is appreciated.
::
GP

William L. Anderson said...

There you go, K.C., driving me to drink again! Guess I will have to re-evaluate my grading procedures!

Anonymous said...

When the class topic has no intellectual or academic content, what is there to grade?

Anonymous said...

"I'd be willing to wager college students (even those at places like Duke)can't either."

Of course they can't. They don't know enough about the subject. And if they did, they wouldn't need her course.

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

I get it now. What has taken me so long?

The Angry Studies Departments new, "cutting edge" approach to grading: the angrier the student, the higher the grade. No tests are required. No written papers are expected. No texts are to be read.No class presentations are to be made. No lectures are presented.

Attending each class with a decided facial scowl and a gutteral growl at the establishment is sufficient for an "A" in any Angry Studies course.

An "A+" reqires spewed epithets while entering and exiting the classroom.

Hey, wait a minute. Since we no longer recognize "class" distinctions, all so-called courses will be held in "rooms".

Is this a script for a Three Stooges movie or what?

Anonymous said...

Where was this grading system when I was taking physics, chemistry, and math? Or, for that matter, English and history (where we learned about dead white guys and such)? I guess I am just tooooo old.

Bill Alexander

Anonymous said...

I'm an appellate court judge, with two law clerks. Over the years, I've a number of applicants from Duke, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Davidson and like schools, many of whom had been English majors in college.

Based upon some of the poor grammar in writing samples that have been submitted by some of the applicants, I began asking, during interviews, "do you know what a gerund is?"

Almost always, my question draws a blank stare, as the applicant hears a new word.

When I was in school, years ago, there were rules of grammar which had to be followed for speech to be correct. Now, some rules have been tossed, such as that requiring subject-pronoun agreement.

The sliming of the grammar rules would seem to fit right in with relaxed and non-judgmental grading practices which are intended to raise self-esteem,regardless of how undeserved.

Given all of this, maybe I should ask applicants, "Do you know what a gerund be?"

miramar said...

Since Professor Davidson is unwilling to meet the minimum expectations for a college professor at any school in the country, does this mean that parents will receive a reimbursement for the tuition they pay for their children to attend her class? Why should anyone pay to have students lead the class and do the grading?

Anonymous said...

http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/37/37.F3d.1240.93-3356.html

The above link goes to a case that explains more about what is required for police to conduct a warrantless entry of a property. This is an extremely interesting case which distinguishes between "exigent circumstances"--which are required for entry if the police intend to pursue the rightful occupant of the house into his home without a warrant--and "emergency circumstances" (more applicable to the Gates/Crowley situation) where the police gain entry to the home because of an emergency situation unrelated to any intended pursuit of the legal occupant and then arrest the legal occupant. You will enjoy reading this case, and it clears up some confusion about warrantless entries.

Redgenesbluegenes (link above) is pretty far off base in the legal analysis for the Gates/Crowley situation.

I am even more confident that Gates has a pitiful case against Cambridge and Mr. Crowley...

Observer

Anonymous said...

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/454282/skip_gates_and_the_post_racial_project

This is a link to interesting commentary on Henry Louis Gates. Unlike this kind piece, there is a lot of "progressive" commentary out there that really disparages Mr. Gates. No doubt about it, a number of black intellectuals consider Mr. Gates an Uncle Tom, even if they don't say it that way. Mr. Gates may be hounded by his peers into filing a lawsuit.

Apologies to the academics here who no doubt already were aware of this particular academic tempest.

Observer

No justice, no peace said...

Inre: Miramar at 12:14, "Why should anyone pay to have students lead the class and do the grading?"

Because a Campus Culture Initiative, or something similar would mandate these types of classes.

Anonymous said...

You may be interested to know that Charlotte Pierce-Baker is now Interim Director of Vanderbilt's Women's Studies program. Also, she is a participant in the Robert Penn Warren Center Fellow's program called "New Directions in Trauma Studies." Below is a bio taken from a website for the Center.

-snip-

CHARLOTTE PIERCE-BAKER is professor of women’s and gender studies, with a secondary appointment in the department of English. She is an active participant in on-going activities of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt and author of the highly regarded Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape. Pierce-Baker lectures widely, in the U.S. and abroad, on issues regarding women and violence. Her teaching emphasizes the connection between theory and praxis in her specialty areas of trauma, literature, and sociolinguistics. She is an activist-scholar whose current work-inprogress is a family memoir about her son’s struggle with bipolar disorder. During her fellowship year, she also plans, with Warren Center colleague Linda Manning, to create a course and syllabus that will bridge their two disciplines of psychology and the humanities.

-snip-

No comment.

Observer

Carmine Burton said...

8/5/09 12:00pm - Given all of this, maybe I should ask applicants, "Do you know what a gerund be?"

Gerund? Sure, I know him. He's my cuz.

William L. Anderson said...

We had to learn all about the parts of speech at Baylor School in Chattanooga, and Mr. Roy Ashley, my senior English teacher, made us memorize and recite his grammar syllabus. (The noun is the name of a person, place, or thing.)

A gerund is a verb form used as a noun. For example, "Fishing is a great way to enjoy our summers in Garrett County." "Fishing" is the gerund.

Unfortunately, as the good judge has noted, grammar is seen as "oppressive," along with about everything else that makes sense in academe. That the "angry studies" are given such high praise at places like Duke and Harvard is proof of the results of this "dumbing down" of education.

Anonymous said...

To KC or others reading this discussion,

Do you know if Duke (or the English Department) has a grading policy applicable to seminars? Do you know if Duke (or the English Department) has made public statements to prospective students or prospective employers about the credibility of grades? If so, does Prof. Davidson's "Do all the work, you get an A" grading approach comport with that policy or statement?

To similar effect, do you know if Duke (or the English Department) has a policy towards grade inflation? A "Do all the work, you get an A" grading approach seems to define grade inflation.

Anonymous said...

KC Johnson said..."After all, this is the same professor who told us all it was a fact that media coverage in the first two weeks of the lacrosse case was “rampant” with “racist and sexist remarks,” with those intent on “defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann . . . reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women.”"

By combining quotes from two different paragraphs in her op-ed and inserting your words ("with those intent on") into this mix, I don't believe it gives a fair representation of what Cathy Davidson was getting at.

Anonymous said...

This is a taught technique for fostering groupthink and having people come to accept a position they initially do not support. It avoids having to reason and circumvents problems where the facts do not lead to the desired end state for the participants.
The only thing that is new is that the class grade is being explicitly and totally linked to participating in this -- a form of brainwashing.

Anonymous said...

Thank the Lord both my children went to MIT where there is no grade inflation.

Gus W.

Gerunderwear said...

To Anonymous at 8:08 p.m.

Here's what Ms. Davidson -- John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Ruth F. Devarney Professor of English -- actually wrote on January 5, 2007.

"The ad said that we faculty were listening to the anguish of students who felt demeaned by racist and sexist remarks swirling around in the media and on the campus quad in the aftermath of what happened on March 13 in the lacrosse house. The insults, at that time, were rampant. It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women. Many black students at Duke disappeared into humiliation and rage as the lacrosse players were being elevated to the status of martyrs, innocent victims of reverse racism."

What do you think she was getting at?

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are still those of us out there laboring for much less than Ms. Davidson, who read every student's work and "mark it up" so that the student, who one hopes will read the comments, will endeavor to read, analyze, and write more cogently the next time. That is one of the most important duties of a teacher - to lead/guide a student from one level of understanding to the next. One does not do that by abrogating that responsibility to other members of the class. (If they were so expert why is Ms. Davidson receiving monies while they pay her salary?)

Unfortunately, the cassroom/grading procedure adopted by Ms. Davidson is not new. In the early seventies, I took an educational psychology class (required if one wanted to achieve a degee in education - I have a minor since that was the least I could get away with in order to be a teacher) - at the expensive liberal arts college that exhausted a fair portion of my parents' income. The class was taught by two youngish professors (gentlemen) who announced the first evening of class that we would be learning to understand what we liked and did not like about school as that would make us "good teachers". The class would consist of discussions, readings (no written work save the exam), and we would grade ourselves at the end. I was a junior who had, in the time honored college mindset, more important things to do with my evening time than to sit around and bs with students who wanted to delve into their personal educational histories. Plus, I knew already what I liked (academic rigor, writing, challenge) and what I did not like (bs on the order of that class) about school. Therefore, I skipped class for the entire semester (I had a sorority sister who attended religiously - she was an education major) only to show up for the final exam. The sole question on the exam had to do with what one liked and did not like about the education process of elementary and secondary schools with specific reference to one's own schooling experience. And then, we were to grade ourselves. I of course, gave myself an A+.

Needless to say, I did sweat a little until grades were posted (I was a little worried that the professors had lied about grading procedures) and I saw that I had indeed received the grade I had awarded myself. I later told my parents who were livid. Whether they said something to the administration I do not know but, given the time period and their natural inclinations, doubtful.

Often, students learn in spite of their teachers. One can only hope that those students who find themselves in Ms. Davidson's class learn a good lesson on how not to teach and grade.

cks

Debrah said...

"By combining quotes from two different paragraphs in her op-ed and inserting your words ('with those intent on') into this mix, I don't believe it gives a fair representation of what Cathy Davidson was getting at."

******************************

I believe it provides a perfect illustration of Davidson's methods of operation.

Loose with the facts.

Low on logic.

Dungeon-level standards.

In short, another biting analysis.

He never loses the touch, does he?

Anonymous said...

By combining quotes from two different paragraphs in her op-ed and inserting your words ("with those intent on") into this mix, I don't believe it gives a fair representation of what Cathy Davidson was getting at.

Would you be able to explain why you don't think the representation is fair? It seems fair to me.

If one quote was Davidson talking about those who defended the accused players, and the other quote was Davidson talking about commenters on the case who made racist and sexist remarks and invoked racist and sexist stereotypes, then you might have a point. But if what Davidson actually did is put forth her view that those who defended the accused players did so with racist and sexist remarks and stereotypes, then there is no misrepresentation in constructing a concise summary of this view by combining quotations from the multiple times she chose to express this view.

Debrah said...

Something from Davidson that's particularly amusing:

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Funi: On Finding Myself in Japan (Dutton/Penguin, 1993.

What's the fascination with Japan?

I recall that a few other Gang of 88 "scholars" went tripping to Japan and wrote about it as if it were some life-altering experience.

More pedantic affectation.

However, I hardly think that Davidson found herself there.

Performance and compulsive attention to details are the way the Japanese operate.

Whatever Davidson found on her journey obviously didn't take.

Anonymous said...

Found on Counterpunch:


Let's All Have a Beer:
Why the Media and the "General Public" Bought Sgt. Crowley's Story


By ISHMAEL REED

http://www.counterpunch.org/reed08062009.html

Finally, a journalist who isn't willing to tom.

Calls Uncle Bill Cosby, Frank Serpico and Stuart Taylor(among many others) for their crude racism and grovel-to-the-pigs-no-matter-what fascism.

Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

To 8:08 PM: Ok, I'll bite. If you do not thing Professor Johnson is giving a "fair representation" of what pseudo-teacher, Cathy Davidson, was "getting at" when she repeatedly attacked the national media, the LAX players, the LAX team and its coach, then pray tell us, what was she trying to say ("getting at") ?

Debrah said...

Yikes!

I actually dreamed about crazy Claire Potter last night.

Perhaps because she unceremoniously deleted my comment correcting her post the other day.

LOL!!!

I wouldn't want her to get the wrong idea about the Diva persuasion......or anything.

Anonymous said...

Only in the humanities!!

Gary Packwood said...

cks 8/6/09...said

...
...one of the most important duties of a teacher - to lead/guide a student from one level of understanding to the next.
...
::
Excellent! Yes, that is the central issue which is overlooked by many. Setting expectations is what you are doing and you probably can't imagine doing anything else.

But what if teachers/professors have a political agenda rather than expectations for their students?

I would have enjoyed reviewing a course syllabus from Prof. Davidson's before she was hired. Our chat about the need to establish expectations would have been rather direct.

And I would have required that she re-submit before we finish with her interview. Which of course, she would not done...and we then, would have dodged that bullet.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

Davidson's words... "It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women."

Johnson's version... ..."with those intent on “defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann . . . reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women.”"

I don't have a problem seeing the difference between the actual quote compared to the way Johnson presents it. If the original is bad enough, why make it worse?

KC Johnson said...

To the 7.07:

Many thanks for your writing advice--though writing advice is generally less likely to persuade when offered anonymously. I'm sure, however, you had your reasons to offer your commentary under the cloak of anonymity.

Over the course of the blog, I frequently have quoted from other sources. My usual practice has not been to quote the entire material, but to quote selectively and to provide a link so that interested readers (such as yourself) can read the original.

I'm glad to see that you availed yourself of that opportunity.

It is unclear if you are the previous anonymous 8.08 commenter. A number of commenters have asked what, precisely, that commenter thought Davidson was saying in the quoted material. I notice that you have declined to answer that question. I also notice that you declined to explain "the difference between the actual quote compared to the way Johnson presents it." It's my sense that when making an argument, simple assertions--such as the one you made in the quoted item above--are less persuasive than actual explanations. Moreover, your note that "I [emphasis added] don't have a problem seeing the difference" is an unusual structure, since you have provided no basis for readers of the blog to determine who you are.

A Duke Dad said...

To the 7:07 Grammartician :

I, too, fail to see the distinction that is so obvious to you.

Kindly explain the difference between the two versions.

Thanking you in advance for your kind elucidation of this point, which will not only expand my insight, but also will dispel any images of trolldom.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your response. It is as if your reply to an anonymous poster necessitated a stereotype like that "cloak of anonymity" phrase.

Anonymous said...

Is Duke a state school?

Quasimodo said...

"Is Duke a state school?"

No, Duke is a private school. However, as a charitable institution which receives tax exemption, it is required to demonstrate responsible handling of its finances. Failure to do that might result in a state investigation (with mandated reforms) or revocation of its tax exempt status.

Spending millions on defending a few top administrative officials in a lawsuit might be considered an "irresponsible" use of donated funds, IMHO...

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to foster groupthink in a classroom how best to do it? Good question. Hmmm ... I'd have the group grade each other. The most efficient way to take independent thought out of the classroom is to have groups impose normative standards on discussion, assignments and, ultimately, grades. Groups hate individuality and love a popularity contest.

Moreover, it would be a great idea to take grading out of the hands of the one person in the classroom who is supposedly mature enough, proficent in the subject enough, and distant enough to provide an impartial, accurate and well-thought-out grade. What could possibly go wrong?

Duke students are smart enough to figure this out and work it so that they can maximize grades for the least amount of effort. Thankfully, the USDA grades the beef in the slaughterhouse and not the cows. I want a delicious steak, and it doesn't matter to me whether it comes from a friendly cow or a jerk cow. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

GP:

I would agree that when teachers set political agendas there is a problem. However, when a person does that, he/she is no longer a teacher, he/she is a propagandist.

A teacher's job is to encourage one to develop his/her own world view through a study of history, literature, etc. It is not to enforce one's view on an audience which is captive in the worst form - since the student's reception of the teacher's material determines that student's future by way of grades or by whether the teacher feels that the student meets the qualfication of a "true believer". Look at what happened to several of the lacrosse players at Duke following the false accusations of rape. That there were teachers who used their classroom as a bully pulpit and in at least one documented instance changed grades because of a professor's bias is just one such example.

The academy has a responsibility to see that its members (elementary, secondary, collegiate, and graduate) adhere to a high standard in the classroom. Unfortunately in too many cases the foxes are guarding the henhouse which allows teachers with political agendas to abuse the trust they have been given.
cks

Anonymous said...

Calls Uncle Bill Cosby, Frank Serpico and Stuart Taylor(among many others) for their crude racism and grovel-to-the-pigs-no-matter-what fascism.

It's an interesting piece but I'm afraid its factual inaccuracies make it "interesting" rather than "convincing". Actually, I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Reed by calling his piece "factually inaccurate"; the alternative is that Reed is being deliberately deceptive, specifying that Whalen did not say anything about two black men with back packs during her 911 call and hoping people won't remember that Crowley alsotalked with Whalen on her porch about her 911 call before entering Gates' house.

I also find particularly interesting Reed's distortion of Bill Cosby. Reed states "Bill Cosby is providing these opportunists with ammunition through his poor command of the facts." In reality, the situation is almost exactly the reverse: Bill Cosby stated that it was unwise for President Obama to leap to and declare a conclusion about who acted "stupidly" at a time when, by his own admission, Obama had a "poor command of the facts." That's just common sense, of course; it was unwise and it demonstrably gave ammunition to opportunists. But some people would like to let racial politics trump common sense, such that when a white man advises a white man not to declare a conclusion at a time when the basic facts of the matter are disputed, it's good advice, but if a white man gave the same advice to a black man it would be "crude racism" and if a black man gives the same advice to a black man it magically becomes "Uncle Tom-ing".

I always find it interesting to observe how many people who would pay lip service to the civil rights movements of the 1960s violently reject its end goal of all people being treated equally no matter what their color.

Anonymous said...

I've been wondering how this blog was going to "evolve" as the lawsuit winds down. Apparently it's really not that hard to imagine. KC will look to continue to vilify/ridicule 88ers whenever they appear in any sort of publication. Good times.

One of these days perhaps you and your followers will realize that this is a rather mean-spirited enterprise. Oh yes, I know, nothing can be as mean-spirited as what the LAX players were subjected to. Whatever you need to tell yourselves I guess.

A Duke Dad said...

8:39 AM said,

"...people who would pay lip service to the civil rights movements of the 1960s violently reject its end goal of all people being treated equally no matter what their color."

If we don't stop such dangerous thinking, then soon our children will
"live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The Hounds of TASSers'ville said...

Ironic that we should be discussing Davidson, who bemoaned her victim hood at the hands of bloggers and proponents of due process.

Meanwhile the climax of the ILL admission scandal has arrived, and Heidi Hurd, who reads like she could be the offspring of either Davidson or Mangum, becomes even more erratic regarding her role.

Step 1:
Commit Impropriety.

Step 2:
Claim you were misquoted or being "facetious."

Step 3:
Announce your elevation to victimhood and blame those who criticize you.

Sound familiar?

Posted by Hound No. 2
The Hounds of TASSersville

KC Johnson said...

To the 9.08:

Many thanks for the kind (if anonymous!) words.

I note you elected not to defend Prof. Davidson's grading scheme. I suppose engaging in ad hominem attacks is an easier task.

As for your ruminations about the topics of the blog, I should note that a grand total of two (2) of the most recent thirty-five (35) posts deal with recent writings of the Group of 88. Ad hominem attacks--even anonymous ones!--tend to be more effective when they at least have some factual basis on which to operate.

Anonymous said...

To 8:08 and 7:07

Does the word "obtuse" mean anything to you?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said here three days ago:

I'm an appellate court judge, with two law clerks. Over the years, I've a number of applicants from Duke, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Davidson and like schools, many of whom had been English majors in college.

Based upon some of the poor grammar in writing samples that have been submitted by some of the applicants, I began asking, during interviews, "do you know what a gerund is?"


Your honor, you made me sweat! I was a law clerk for the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court many years ago. When I read your question, I thought, "Oh my God, do I remember that? Ummmm ..." Anyway, I was greatly relieved to find that I did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund

Btw, I was a journalism major.

When I was in school, years ago, there were rules of grammar which had to be followed for speech to be correct. Now, some rules have been tossed, such as that requiring subject-pronoun agreement.

Yes, and the most common is using "their" instead of "his" in an apparent attempt to politically correct our "sexist" language.

The sliming of the grammar rules would seem to fit right in with relaxed and non-judgmental grading practices which are intended to raise self-esteem,regardless of how undeserved.

As some say of the law, your honor, it's an unbroken web of civilizational degradation.

Given all of this, maybe I should ask applicants, "Do you know what a gerund be?"

I'm trying to think of a good question for you to ask law clerk applicants (besides being able to define a correlative conjunction).... If I can think of one, then I'll comment here again.

RRH

Anonymous said...

Lamebrain at 8/7/09 9:08 AM said:


-----------------
-----------------
I've been wondering how this blog was going to "evolve" as the lawsuit winds down. Apparently it's really not that hard to imagine. KC will look to continue to vilify/ridicule 88ers whenever they appear in any sort of publication. Good times.

One of these days perhaps you and your followers will realize that this is a rather mean-spirited enterprise. Oh yes, I know, nothing can be as mean-spirited as what the LAX players were subjected to. Whatever you need to tell yourselves I guess.
-----------------
-----------------


Vilify is, I believe, not at all accurate. Kindly quote and specify. If you choose.

Ridicule. The 88, and all who sail in her, self-ridicule. One recites a fact or two about the 88 and ridicule automatically precipitates out of the circumambient aether. Nobody to blame but themselves.

Mean-spirited!?! Pot, kettle.

Perhaps 'evolution' might produce a single argument, valid prima facie or even merely specious, in defense of the 88. So far we've had a thin gruel of ad hominem, question begging, post hoc and begging for quarter. Alas

Over time, 88 defenders may evolve some effective defenses. The best and simplest would be offensive maneuver and that has certainly been tried. To no apparent effect. Keep evolving. We'll be right here... waiting, hoping.

Anonymous said...

Davidson wasn't simply attempting to rewrite history or even distort the truth in her January 2007 op-ed piece. She was lying. There is a mountain of evidence:

EXHIBIT "A"

Back in January 2007, Professor Johnson authored a post entitled Apologia for a Disaster. The post is the single best "fisking" of the hoax, laying to waste Davidson's feeble rationalizations. I would encourage everyone to review that link for such gems as this: "In late March, when the idea for the Group of 88’s statement originated, who—either on Duke’s campus or in the media—was elevating the lacrosse players 'to the status of martyrs, innocent victims of reverse racism'"?

EXHIBIT "B"

Professor Johnson noted in his fisking that Davidson is a professor of English at Duke University. She is capable of writing truthful editorials. In other words, we're not dealing with an empty cookie jar and a toddler with chocolate on his hands vehemently denying culpability. Davidson has the tools and the maturity to write honestly.

EXHIBIT "C"

Davidson's reason for the "Listening ad" as stated in her editorial was to bring to light the poor,

"... students who felt demeaned by racist and sexist remarks swirling around in the media and on the campus quad in the aftermath of what happened on March 13 in the lacrosse house.

THE INSULTS, AT THAT TIME, WERE RAMPANT. It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women." (emphasis added).

Professor Johnson, in his fisking, notes how there was no time for rampant insults. The 88 published a week after the allegations became public. He also performed a lexis/nexis search to prove that there were no "insults" in the media.

Moreover, in the 842-word-long Listening ad, which contained 11 separate quotes from students, Lubiano wrote about exactly zero (0) current insults related to the media or Duke lacrosse backers -- even though these insults were supposedly "rampant" and "pernicious" and were the alleged raisons d'etre for writing it in the first place.

EXHIBIT "D"

On the contrary, Lubiano used The "student" quotes to rush to judgment against the lacrosse players:

"We want the absence of terror...." "If something like this happens to
me...." "Duke isn’t really responding to this. Not really. And this, what HAS HAPPENED, is a disaster. This is a social disaster." (emphasis added).

EXHIBIT "E"

Davidson had all the motivation in the world to lie in her January editorial. It was full CYA and save-your-reputation mode as the 88 were caught with their hands in that cookie jar playing the race card, brazenly grabbing power-grabbing, rushing to judgment and embarrassing the university. Also, there was the shame involved with the 88 providing, in a permanent record, intellectual and moral support for a false prosecution.

What little solace I can take from Davidson's writings is based on the fact that she and Piot and Zimmerman realize that what the 88 did was so singularly evil that they are now compelled to lie about it. There may be no conscience, but there's at least some awareness. MOO! Gregory

Quasimodo said...

"KC will look to continue to vilify/ridicule 88ers whenever they appear in any sort of publication."

Rather, their viewpoints, which they apparently continue to hold (having not learned anything from the lacrosse "teaching moment"), are certainly fair game for examination.

Anonymous said...

ha, KC and Bill Anderson have a "fan" who went to the trouble of getting a blogger.com alias (gerunderwear) to post on this site in this particular thread. you guys got a groupie! or is that stalker?

Anonymous said...

As a fan of great writing and great insights, if MOO! Gregory ever starts his own blog, I'll be a regular visitor.

RRH

Debrah said...

TO (9:08 AM)--

Zimmerman, is that you again?

Twisting sentences into pretzels as you use the new and curvy ones to invent a fleeting issue?

Recently, I tried to be civilized with you as your Harmony Zone entertained some minor bloodletting among the fora gladiators and gladiatorettes.

Even then....with the Diva exhibiting her magnanimous wonder....descending the winding staircase into the Harmony Zone for a test run of the pentatonic scale......

.......you continued to display your horns---(of the forehead variety)---when all was said and done.

Since you chose not to post my link announcing the Diva excitement about the latest news from her sexy Cyber King.....

......I suppose you might be venting a bit of Gang of 88 frustration by now.

In any case, (9:08), your taffy-pull-parsing of words has not been successful.

Anonymous said...

Davidson said...There is also a different kind of social disaster in this incident, one that we didn't know about in April. I refer to a prosecutor who may well have acted unprofessionally, irresponsibly and unethically, possibly from the most cynical political motives. If it turns out that Mike Nifong has no evidence (as he insisted he did back in the spring), he will have betrayed the trust of an entire community and caused torment to these young men and their families. He will have added greater skepticism at every imaginable level to an already shaky legal system.

Sounds like she is capable of being reasonable. Perhaps what she was sasking in her actual words compared to the reworked quote was simply why do defenders of the Lacrosse players find it necessary to target the accusers race and social status. It is a legitimate question although I do not agree with her that that type of talk was prevalent in the media at this point in the case.

Gerunderwear said...

To Anonymous at 3:21.

What a silly comment.

I didn't "go to the trouble of getting a blogger.com alias" to post here.

Instead of clicking on the 'Anonymous' button like you did I simply clicked on the button directly above it that says 'Name' and made up a silly name instead. And then pressed 'Publish comment', just like you did.

Try it if you ever get tired of being an Anonymous. I can suggest a few appropriate names for you if you'd like.

Debrah said...

This is a most interesting column which I will cut into two posts.


Elliot Cramer: Racial Justice Act aims at problem that doesn't exist

By Elliot Cramer : Guest columnist
The Herald-Sun
Aug 6, 2009

I find it odd that David Baldus, a lawyer with no evident statistical expertise, should defend the use of statistics in his advocacy of the Racial Justice Act.

Claims of racial bias have always been admissible in Court. I recently spent over 100 hours on the Kidwell case in Durham where statistical "evidence" was presented. Although the data were badly flawed and the claim of discrimination was obviously false, I had to examine the defense's analyses in detail to identify what was done incorrectly. It took three weeks to obtain the computerized data file because a defense attorney said that she "wasn't going to help the State kill her client by doing my work".

At one time there was obvious discrimination in North Carolina; 91 African-Americans and only 28 whites were executed from 1941 to 61. Since then, only 13 African-Americans and 28 whites have been executed, a complete reversal from previous years. No longer can critics of the death penalty claim the same sort of discrimination that previously existed.

A different sort of racial discrimination is now claimed -- that murderers of African-Americans are less Likely to get the death penalty than murderers of whites. This is evidently discrimination against white murderers who almost exclusively kill whites. I testified in 1983 in the case of John Rook, a white man who brutally raped and murdered a white woman. His attorneys argued the death penalty was discriminatory because he would have been less likely to get the death penalty had he raped and murdered a African-American woman.

Baldus shockingly misquotes Antonin Scalia as saying: racial discrimination in capital punishment is "real, acknowledged in the decisions" of the Supreme Court, and "ineradicable." Actually Scalia spoke of the "unconscious operation of irrational sympathies and antipathies, including racial, upon jury decisions," a far cry from a belief in racial discrimination.

Baldus is best known for a horribly flawed study in Georgia. His conclusion was that murderers of whites were more likely to get the death penalty than murderers of blacks, the theory being that black life is undervalued. Since he found that 95 percent of the murderers of blacks were black themselves, the evident remedy is to execute more blacks. His study was rejected in a devastating critique by the District Court which is on my Web site.

As Baldus has noted elsewhere, most of the studies performed have found this same "race of victim" effect and no "race of murderer" effect. This is explained by the fact that white-victim murders are much more aggravated than black-victim murders and are thus more deserving of the death penalty.

For example, Baldus found that 34 percent of the white victim murders occurred during an armed robbery versus only 7 percent of the black victim murders. Attempts to statistically control for this by Baldus and others have been faulty. Nevertheless, this canard of racial discrimination is widely claimed. As Joseph Goebbels said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

The only North Carolina study Baldus cites is by UNC political science professor Isaac Unah, presented with great fanfare in a 2001 news conference. Contrary to statements made then, the data have never been made available, although I have requested them many times.



~snip~

Debrah said...

continued.......

Professor Unah has written three completely different papers using the same data, drawing different conclusions. For example, in 2003 he stated that "local prosecutors in the South, who once made race-conscious decisions concerning whom to prosecute for the death penalty, now appear race-neutral," contradicting earlier statements. None of these papers has been accepted for publication in the eight years since his press conference. His study is so flawed that no valid conclusions can be drawn.

As a statistician with many years of experience with death penalty issues, I do not believe that there is any evidence of racial discrimination in the death penalty in North Carolina. As R. A. Fisher, the founder of modern statistics, wrote: "the best causes tend to attract to their support the worst arguments." The Racial Justice Act will encourage more litigation in favor of white murderers like John Rook with false claims of discrimination, enriching lawyers and statistical consultants like me. This act serves no useful purpose.

Elliot Cramer is a retired UNC professor and statistical consultant, His Web site is www.unc.edu/~cramer/death.

No justice, no peace said...

Though speaking about the response to townhall "mobs", this blog post by David Boaz is more on point regarding the Klan of 88's body of "work".

I especially like this, "Some people on the left can’t see any excuse for opposition to collectivism except racism. (Which is, of course, as Ayn Rand said, “the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.”)"


The Boys Who Cried “Racist”

"It cannot be the case that every parody of a president who happens to be black is racist. And it is not good for democracy to try to counter every opposing argument with such a blood libel. The good news for advocates of limited government is that our opponents are displaying a striking lack of confidence in the actual arguments for their proposals. If they thought they could win a debate on nationalizing health care, or running trillion-dollar deficits, they wouldn’t need to reach for such smears."

William L. Anderson said...

I find it interesting that someone posted something from Counterpunch. Here is what Counterpunch had to say about the Duke Lacrosse Case after Nifong was disbarred:

http://www.counterpunch.org/stark07052007.html

...Nifong did possess significant evidence to pursue the rape case. There was a traumatized victim, the testimony of an examining nurse who said a rape had taken place, physical evidence of assault and disgusting e-mails that circulated among the Duke students--like one that read, "I've decided to have some strippers over and all are welcome. I plan on killing the bitches as the [sic] walk in and proceed to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke spandex."

As the mainstream media accounts increasingly sided with the student "victims" accused of rape, these undisputed facts were forgotten.

Nevertheless, the lack of a toxicology report made it impossible to prove whether the victim was drugged at the "party" (which, besides the obvious trauma, would explain her contradictory and confused statements), and the lack of DNA evidence may simply have indicated the assailants used condoms.

There was no "exculpatory" evidence proving the innocence of the suspects. Instead, the case dissolved mostly because there was no "smoking gun."

*****************

I got into an argument with the editor of Counterpunch while both of us were attending a conference about this article.

As far as I am concerned, Counterpunch really has no credibility. It is a bunch of Marxists who like to make up stuff in order to pursue their wonderful goal of making the entire world like North Korea.

William L. Anderson said...

By the way, I had this piece on Lew Rockwell's page in answer to that horrible Counterpunch article:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson196.html

Debrah said...

The article referenced above is astounding.

And Mike Stark offers this about himself:

"As an antiwar activist going to school near Duke during the first Gulf War, I recall that it seemed like there was a connection between the Chapel Hill frat boys who pelted peace activists with ice-cold water balloons during winter vigils and the murder of the owner and manager of the left-wing Chapel Hill bookstore, Internationalist Books (found shot, nothing stolen, no suspect arrested). The frat boys' "fun" experience attacking activists may have been the casual expression of a deeper culture of violence."

This guy is one of those loonies who spends his days walking up and down Franklin Street, lounging inside coffee shops while nursing a cup for hours as he regales his fellow disheveled pontificators about the troubles of America.

Never mind that he has no proof that any fraternity had a thing to do with the death of the book store owner.

That store was located near a dangerous part of town on the west side.

A haven for transients ready to take advantage of the bounty of a thriving college town.

But for Stark, it's almost a certainty that "frat boys" had something to do with it..

He has never entertained the thought of what his freedom to live a cretin's life has cost others.

And as this article reveals, people like Stark get a schadenfreude spritz every time some fraternity guys or popular athletes run into bad luck.

Hideous to see how he believed Nifong's side of the charade.

Debrah said...

The LewRockwell article

Gary Packwood said...

KC said...

...But facts, in Cathy Davidson’s world, are malleable things.
::
Students in Cathy Davidson's world are left without the ability to discern the difference between facts and propaganda.

For example, Ten Million people have viewed this video on Youtube.com.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU

And we learned yesterday from a journalist with the BBC that the facts used throughout the video, are ...malleable things.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8189231.stm

How would these students learn to know when they are reading or hearing propaganda?
::
GP

af said...

In my classroom I have a poster which reads "In life, there are no makeup exams". I thought this put to rest what I have just read. Wrong!!
I am only thankful that this idea of grading takes place in "feminist and queer theory" classes and "Africana Studies". At least in classes that matter, this is not the status quo.
I cannot imagine going to a doctor, dentist, or engineer who graduated under this type of system. The only saving grace would come in the licensing tests--I don't know of any state that grades the way these professorial wannabes grade.
Heaven help the generation that graduates with these degrees. I always thought that this type of "education" only occurred in rip-off online schools (you know, the ones where you pay your money and they mail the diploma the next day).
This is just proof that university administrators don't give a flying flip about their reputations.

af said...

To the judge in the 8/5 12 pm post:
You will be "pleased" to know that the latest concept in English education encourages the use of testing papers to teachers rather than writing them out. I cn only magn d tchrs who hv 2 grd em. Cn u magn hvng 2 rd des pprs?

af said...

By combining quotes from two different paragraphs in her op-ed and inserting your words ("with those intent on") into this mix, I don't believe it gives a fair representation of what Cathy Davidson was getting at.

Let me guess, English is not your primary language?

Professor Johnson noted in his fisking that Davidson is a professor of English at Duke University. She is capable of writing truthful editorials. In other words, we're not dealing with an empty cookie jar and a toddler with chocolate on his hands vehemently denying culpability. Davidson has the tools and the maturity to write honestly

This is the empty cookie jar mentality. It is amazing to me that an "institution" of Duke's (former) reputation allows such to take place. Gregory has such a wonderful insight on the "good" professor.

It's time for her to Moove on!

Debrah said...

This is really quite shocking.

And nothing short of criminal.

The N&O has been doing some in-depth investigations into the Triangle universities inside the UNC system and the public has been getting a birds-eye view into the kind of money being put into the pockets of these people for laughable, non-existent duties.

The online version doesn't give you the same effect as this morning's print edition.

All their mugs, as well as those like the former UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser, are pictured in action.

(Moeser, with his straggly, muscle-atrophied body and shaved head--James Carville style---is shown playing his organ.)

LOL!!!

Check out how much he's currently being paid to teach one class.

All of the information in this article has always been open to the public; however, it's just never been given above-the-fold coverage in the paper before.

This is great stuff and these investigations have breathed new life into the N&O.....beginning with investigations into the practices of former Governor Mike Easley and his shyster wife.

Bad news for the local academy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, RRH! I'll get my own blog someday, but for now, there's too much entertainment to be had here and on a couple of sports blogs. If you want real, bare-knuckled political donnybrooks, there's nothing better than the off-topic section of a sports blog!

********************

To the anonymous person who seems to think that Professor Johnson should "move on" and tackle a different subject:

In less than 2 weeks, this blog has generated 3 posts and over 203 comments. That's almost 68 comments per posting. During the same time, John in Carolina has generated 10 posts that drew 52 comments. Likewise, the Reharmonizer has 0 new posts and only 13 new comments in the last 2 weeks.

Perhaps your anonymous admonition to move on is misplaced? Most importantly, I bet that nobody wants to leave until discovery and depositions start! MOO! Gregory

Debrah said...

The Sheepskin Effect

Michal said...

“The higher IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are . . . imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop.”

Excuse the language:

WHAT THE FUCK?! How dare some little bitch's organization piece of shit DARE run her slanderous trap like that AND stay in university?! What kind of soppy assholes do you guys have for admins? KICK THEM OUT! I'm sick of these spoiled little shits!