Archive | December, 2016

Pledge of Allegiance, Part II

27 Dec

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” (4 U.S.C. § 4, 2013).

Flag 2

That last clause – “with liberty and justice for all” — troubles me.  Is that really true?  It is especially troubling when obstacles have been placed between individuals and liberty and justice for all.  This litany is entirely too long:

  • 1662 – Hartford Witchcraft Trials (Wigington, 2016).
  • 1692 – Salem Witchcraft Trials (Wigington, 2016; Staff, 2010).
  • 1830 – President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act allowing the president to negotiate the removal of Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi (WGBH – PBS Online, n.d.).
  • 1838-1839 – Even though the Cherokee attempted “to assimilate [into] Anglo culture and practice while preserving some aspects of their traditional language and beliefs” they were evicted from their tribal lands in Georgia and marched to Oklahoma ( Staff, 2009).
  • 1841 – “The first three women – Mary Hosford (later Fisher), Elizabeth Smith Prall (later Russell), and Mary Caroline Rudd (later Allen – to earn and receive their bachelor’s degree in the United States got them from Oberlin College” (Oberlin Heritage Center, n.d.).
  • 1851 – “[T]he Cheyennes, Arapahos, Sioux, Crows, and other tribes met at Fort Laramie with representatives of the United States and agreed to permit the Americans to establish roads and military posts across their territory. *     *     *    [T]he plains Indians did not relinquish any rights or claims to their lands” (Brown, 1970, p. 68).    Yet, 10 years later the Territory of Colorado was created and efforts began to move the plains Indians toward reservations (Brown, 1970).
  • 1857 – The United States Supreme Court decides the Dred Scott case which “affirm[s] the right of slave owners to take their slaves into the Western territories, thereby negating the doctrine of popular sovereignty” which was one of the lynchpins of the Missouri Compromise of 1850 ( Staff, 2009).
  • 1865 – Congress creates the Freedman’s Bureau “to dispense relief to both white and black refugees in the South, provide medical care and education, and redistribute ‘abandoned’ lands to former slaves” ( Staff, 2009, para. 2).  Sadly, the Freedman’s Bureau’s efforts were frustrated through general hostility and terror organizations ( Staff, 2009).
  • 1840-1910 – “Rebecca A. Fried, a high-school student at Sidwell Friends school in Washington, D.C., has found overwhelming evidence that the [No Irish Need Apply] signs were very real and prevalent”  (Egan, 2015, para. 5).
  • 1887-1934 – Indian tribal land ownership “declined from 138 million to 47 million acres” in an attempt to integrate Indians into mainstream society with the passage of the Dawes Severalty Act which ended tribal government and communal ownership of land ( Staff, 2009, para. 5).
  • 1890 – The Ghost Dance, which had tenets that were similar to Christianity, “spread across the West on almost every Indian reservation … like a prairie fire under a high wind” was ordered stopped by the government (Brown, 1970, p. 436; Cozzens, 2016).
  • 1896 – Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, determines that “separate but equal” public facilities are constitutional; this was later declared unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), as it related to educational institutions.
  • 1913 – Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of a pencil factory where the body of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found, was tried and convicted of the crime even though another man had confessed to the crime and there was no evidence to support the conviction.  A mob who broke into the prison farm where he was incarcerated, transported him to the hometown of Mary Phagan, and hanged him.  “Thousands of Jewish residents in Atlanta were forced to flee the city because the police refused to stop the lynch mob” ( Staff, 2009, para. 5).
  • 1917 – Women stage a silent protest in front of the White House seeking the right to vote (P. Harrington, personal communication, April 12, 2016).
  • 1920-1922 – Prior to 1920, sex could be a factor in determining whether a person could vote.  The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is adopted providing that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex” and the constitutionality of the 19th Amendment was unanimously affirmed by the United States Supreme Court ( Staff, 2010).
  • 1942 – “President Franklin D. Roosevelt sign[ed] Executive Order 9066 … order[ing] the removal of resident enemy aliens from parts of the West vaguely identified as military areas” ( Staff, 2009).
  • 1965 – Voter protest marches such as the march to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act which “is considered one of the most important civil rights laws in U.S. history” (McCray, 2016, para. 2).  President Johnson said, “There is no issue of States rights or national rights.  There is only the struggle for human rights” (Keillor, 2016, para. 16). Yet, voting rights continue to be under attack (McCray, 2016).
  • 1969 – Police confront gay rights advocates outside the Stonewall Inn (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016).
  • 1970 – Four students are killed and eight wounded during an anti-war protest at Kent State University (Kifner, 1970).
  • 1990 – “[W]omen earn about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men … [and] after narrowing for decades, the gender pay gap has remained essentially stuck since the 1990s”  (Reeves & Joo, 2016).
  • 2004 – “First legal same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts” ( Staff, 2004).
  • 2001-2014 – “[H]igher income [is] associated with greater longevity, and differences in life expectancy across income groups increased over time” (Chetty, et al., 2016, para. 86).
  • 2011-2012 – “In public schools in the United States, black children are twice as likely as white children to be subject to corporal punishment” (Startz, 2016, para. 1).


  • 2016 – “American Muslims are far more integrated than Muslims in Europe.  According to a 2011 Pew Research Poll, only 20 percent of American Muslims surveyed would prefer to ‘be distinct’ than to ‘adopt American customs.’ Half say that many of their friends are non-Muslim.  Almost 80 percent rate their community an (sic) ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ place to live.  Banning Muslim immigration would almost certainly undermine this.  A 2014 study found that Muslim immigrants in states that experiences more anti-Muslim hate crimes were less likely to intermarry with non-Muslims and learn English.  Trump’s demonization of Muslims has already fostered more of these anti-Muslim attacks, and were he to try to implement his ban on Muslim immigration, Islamophobia would likely spike even higher, undermining the very integration of American Muslims that help keeps America safe” (Beinart, 2016, paras. 7-8).
  • 2016 – Sexism is alive and well in virtual reality (Harvey, 2016).
  • 2016 – A college professor “claim[s] … that ‘Israeli and Zionist Jews’ were behind the September 11 terrorist attacks, in 2001, and the Charlie Hedbo attacks, in Paris last year” (Fernandes, 2016).  Given the community’s civil rights history for “rais[ing] consciousness nationwide regarding the anti-slavery movement,” (GlobalMotion Media, Inc., 2013) this might well be considered sacrilegious.
  • 2016 – “[L]ow- income children who grow up in states with greater income inequality drop out of high school at higher rates than their peers living in states with less income inequality (that is, states with smaller gaps between the bottom of the income ladder and the rungs above) (Dews, 2016, para. 3).
  • 2016 – “Young black men playing basketball and football for the country’s top college teams are graduating at lower rates than black male students at the same schools – despite having financial and academic support that removes common hurdles preventing many undergraduates from earning a degree” (Whack, 2016, para. 1).
  • 2016 – “Working women pay a high price simply for being female.  Over the course of a 40-year career, a woman will earn upwards of $430,000 less than her male counterpart ….  And that’s if she happens to be white.  For African-American, Latina, and Native American women, the losses are even steeper”  (O’Connor, 2016, para. 1).
  • 2016 – “Poverty is typically defined in terms of a lack of adequate income, especially in U.S. policy debates.  But the experience of poverty goes well beyond household finances, and can include a lack of education, work, access to healthcare, or distressed neighborhood conditions.  These additional dimensions of poverty can be layered on top of income poverty; they can also put those who are not income-poor at a disadvantage” (Reeves, Rodrigue, & Kneebone, How 5 dimensions of poverty stack up, and who’s at the greatest risk, 2016, para. 1).

There are many more instances. Apparently, we have a long way to go before there truly is “liberty and justice for all.”

Just think about it!


4 U.S.C. § 4. (2013).

Beinart, P. (2016, March 23). What Trump Got Right About Brussels. Retrieved from The Atlantic:

Brown, D. (1970). Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Picador.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

Chetty, R., Stepner, M., Abraham, S., Lin, S., Scuderi, B., Turner, N., . . . Cutler, D. (2016, April 10). The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014. Retrieved from JAMA:

Cozzens, P. (2016). The Earth is Weeping. New York City: Penguin Random House.

Dews, F. (2016, March 10). How ‘economic dispair’ affects high school graduation rates for America’s poorest students. Retrieved from Brookings:

Egan, C. (2015, October 2). High schooler proves “No Irish Need Apply” signs existed despite denials. Retrieved from IrishCentral:

Fernandes, R. (2016, March 7). Oberlin Board Condemns Professor’s ‘Abhorrent’ Social-Media Posts. Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Tickler:

GlobalMotion Media, Inc. (2013). On the Trial to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in Oberlin, OH. Retrieved from EveryTrail:

Harvey, D. (2016, February 25). Is Virtual Realty Sexist? Retrieved from CO.Design: Staff. (2004, May 17). May 17, 2004: First legal same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts. Retrieved from Staff. (2009, April 26). April 26, 1913: Girl murdered in pencil factory. Retrieved from Staff. (2009, April 28). April 28, 1897: Chickasaw and Choctaw abandon communal lands. Retrieved from Staff. (2009, February 21). Cherokee receive their first printing press. Retrieved from Staff. (2009, February 19). FDR signs Executive Order 9066. Retrieved from This Day in History: Staff. (2009, March 3). Freedman’s Bureau created. Retrieved from Today in History: Staff. (2009, March 6). March 6, 1857: Dred Scott decision. Retrieved from Staff. (2010, February 27). February 27, 1922: Supreme Court Defends Women’s Voting Rights. Retrieved from Staff. (2010, March 1). March 1, 1692: Salem Witch Hunt Begins. Retrieved from

Keillor, G. (2016, March 7). The Writer’s Almanac for Mar. 7, 2016. Retrieved from The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor:

Kifner, J. (1970, May 4). 4 Kent State Students Killed by Troops. Retrieved from The New York Times:

McCray, R. (2016, March 6). 51 Years After Bloody Sunday, Voting Rights Are Still Out of Reach. Retrieved from Takepart:

Oberlin Heritage Center. (n.d.). Oberlin History Timeline (1833-Present). Retrieved from Oberlin History Frequently Asked Questions aand Timeline:

O’Connor, C. (2016, April 12). Men Offered Higher Pay Than Women for the Same Job 69% of Time, Study Shows. Retrieved from Forbes:

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)

Reeves, R. V., & Joo, N. (2016, March 7). Occupational Hazard? The future of the gender pay gap. Retrieved from Brookings: Social Mobility Memos:

Reeves, R. V., Rodrigue, E., & Kneebone, E. (2016, April 14). How 5 dimensions of poverty stack up, and who’s at the greatest risk. Retrieved from Brookings:

Startz, D. (2016, January 14). Schools, black children, and corporal punishment. Retrieved from The Brown Center Chalkboard — The Brookings Institute:

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2016, June 27). Stonewall riots. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica:

WGBH – PBS Online. (n.d.). Indian Removal 1814-1858. Retrieved from Africans for America Judgment Day:

Whack, E. H. (2016, March 15). Blacks playing men’s hoops, football lag behind in degrees. Retrieved from AP: The Big Story:

Wigington, P. (2016, February 27). The 1662 Hartford Witch Trials. Retrieved from About Religion:





College Contracts with Students

19 Dec

Did you ever consider the contracts involved in higher education?  Oh, I’m not talking about those between the institution and its employees but rather between the institution and our students.

Clearly, when a student enrolls, pays tuition, and attends class there is a contractual relationship with the university and the terms of this contract may be found in the handbook, catalog, and other guidelines supplied by the university.  Bleicher v. Univ. of Cincinnati College of Med., 78 Ohio App.3d 302 (10th Dist. 1992).  I suspect that those other guidelines supplied by the university could include class syllabi.

Syllabi contains plenty of information:


Perhaps a statement regarding whether the course is part of the Transfer Assurance Guide or Transfer Module programs will be included.

It’s all good information.

It’s a great roadmap for the course.

There’s an expectation that the student will obey the terms.  Is the instructor willing to adhere to these terms as well?

Many instructors began an academic term in academic bliss.  The expectation exists that all events as laid out in the syllabus will occur without problem or conflict.  But then life intervenes:

  • Illness
  • Sitter problems
  • Transportation difficulties
  • Court appearances
  • Production challenges
  • Tardiness
  • Laziness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Individual education plans (a contract modification)

How instructors respond to these events affects the enforceability of your agreement with the students.


The closer the instructor stays to the letter of the syllabus the greater likelihood of strict enforcement.  As instructors sway towards greater flexibility problems occur.  It is analogous to landlord-tenant contracts that require rent to be paid by a specific date and the landlord commences to accept later and later payments only to discover that the conduct has superseded the written terms of the rental agreement.  Finkbeiner v. Lutz, 44 Ohio App.2d 223, 337 N.E.2d 655 (1st Dist. 1975).  Frankly there is even law that requires landlords to provide the tenants notice that late payments will no longer be accepted in order to return to the letter of the contract.  Lauch v. Monning, 15 Ohio App. 2d 112, 239 N.E.2d 675 (1st Dist. 1968).

I cringe when I hear faculty establishing definite due dates for assignments and then allowing late assignments throughout the term.  I have the same reaction when the teacher permits some, but not all, tests to be corrected for partial credit.  There always seems to be a return to the letter of the syllabus as the term concludes. It’s a situation simply awaiting the right set of facts.

Just think about it!



13 Dec

Perhaps I’ve become suspicious in my old age.  Perhaps I’m just skeptical.  Perhaps there’s a kernel of anger here.

Got a call from the community college student that I’ve been tutoring.  The student was terribly upset.  Apparently, after numerous assurances by the community college instructor that success in Beginning Algebra was within the student’s grasp, the student came up 0.3 points short of a passing grade.  Failure.

I will admit some doubts on my part:

  • Test performance has been less than outstanding, but make-ups for half credit were possible until the test just prior to the final.
  • Assignments, although there was a due date, were accepted when submitted without penalty except for the assignment that was due on the date of the final.
  • Addition of negative numbers caused confusion, e.g., (-8) + (-2) = ___. [1]
  • Any sort of arithmetic without a calculator was impossible, e.g., 5 x 5 = ___.[2]
  • Add any unknown only complicated the problem, e.g., x + x = ____[3] while x times x = ____[4].
  • Decimals were OK, but fractions were absolutely terrifying, e.g., 25¢ equals what decimal ___[5] and fractional equivalent ___[6] of $1.00.
  • How to convert a decimal into a percentage could be ascertained, e.g., 0.011 is what percent ___[7].
  • A negative number multiplied by a negative number, e.g., -2 time -2 =___[8].
  • A negative number multiplied by a positive number, e.g., -2 times 2 = ___[9].

On at least two occasions, I asked the student why Beginning Algebra instead of another course such as Prep for College Algebra or even a basic course in arithmetic.  Allegedly, placement testing recommended Beginning Algebra.  Frankly, I’m suspicious; however, if the placement test was multiple choice it is indeed possible to have placed high enough for this class.  The student is not dumb.  While working on algebra problems it was evident that the student is an excellent guesser because the student could provide the correct answer but couldn’t explain how that answer to ascertained.  (Perhaps the student’s mathematical background included that math training where close estimations and not exact answers were acceptable.)

I realize that it’s all about enrollment.

I accept that either grants or student loans finance higher education.

I acknowledge that in many instances secondary education is deficient because life skills aren’t taught or, in some cases, not even introduced.

I’m frustrated that students are awarded Certificates of Attendance instead of diplomas if the students can’t pass an arbitrary competency test.

I’m disgusted that as a taxpayer I pay for the same education time and time again either through property and income taxes to support the local school or through income taxes that are allocated for state and federal education grants and subsidies.

I’m angry and suspicious because this students wants an associate’s degree in a field that requires a substantial amount of arithmetic tempered with algebra and, perhaps, just a little calculus.

Was it just about getting another butt in the seat?

Wasn’t there any academic counseling involved to truly evaluate the placement test vis-à-vis this candidate and advise of the mathematical requirements of this academic program?

Why isn’t there a safety net to ensure this student’s success?  This could be early screening to identify students with academic challenges or tutors or academic counselors or procedures to allow students with academic or life challenges additional time to complete assignments.

I’m not advocating that everyone should receive an “A.”  There are already too many students and educators who believe that they are “practically perfect in very way” (Stevenson, 1964), and scream “bloody murder” if they don’t receive an “A.”  We ought, however, to work towards providing some measure of success for these students instead of providing hope and then snatching it away at the last moment.

Just think about it!


Stevenson, R. (Director). (1964). Mary Poppins [Motion Picture].


[1] -10

[2] 25

[3] 2x

[4] x2

[5] 0.25

[6] ¼

[7] 1.1%

[8] 4

[9] -4