Monday Reading List: Campus Free Speech, First Generation Students, Creativity, and the NAACP

The NAACP voted this weekend to approve its resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools. From their official statement:

While we have reservations about charter schools, we recognize that many children attend traditional public schools that are inadequately and inequitably equipped to prepare them for the innovative and competitive environment they will face as adults. Underfunded and under-supported, these traditional public schools have much work to do to transform curriculum, prepare teachers, and give students the resources they need to have thriving careers in a technologically advanced society that is changing every year. There is no time to wait. Our children immediately deserve the best education we can provide.

Charles Cole III shared his reaction at The Huffington Post:

I would have preferred the NAACP to call out the entire system of education as it relates to Black people on the whole. Black parents, I am sorry that you will have to listen to non-Black people quote the NAACP to you as they basically tell you that you do not have the right to choose what you feel is best for your children. It bothers me to my core. Black parents, let me be clear, family. I don’t blindly trust any of these systems. 

While I have been watching this situation evolve, I have tried to avoid inserting my own voice in the conversation, while mostly sharing the range of perspectives among Black people. Brittany Packnett goes deeper on that question in a Facebook post:

If you are white, and are thinking of pressing the Share button on that NYT article calling the NAACP misguided, I also wonder what your answers to the following, totally sincere, not leading questions:
-when was the last time you cared about, shared or considered the perspectives of a black led or traditionally black organization,'including but not limited to the NAACP?
-do you listen intently to and share multiple black voices on issues like these?
-if yes, do you tend to listen more when they agree with you?
-what, genuinely, is your skin in the game? What 'seat' do you feel you have at that table?

I took some time to reflect on all of these questions, and I encourage my white readers to do the same.

In other news, Ruth Graham at The New York Times Magazine has a story about a professor at Wheaton College who was suspended for expressing solidarity with Muslims:

On Dec. 10, 2015, [Professor Larycla] Hawkins wrote a Facebook post that would set in motion the end of her employment at Wheaton. The post was 11 paragraphs, and it announced her intention to wear a hijab throughout the season of Advent, as a show of “embodied solidarity” with Muslims. Donald Trump had recently called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States, and the Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr., had mused publicly about how looser concealed-carry laws could help “end those Muslims.” “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins wrote in response. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God" ... It seemed odd to outsiders that Hawkins’s apparently straightforward and empathetic post could cause such turmoil in an intellectual environment, even a religious one. But conservative Wheaton alumni and parents found a litany of troubling political, cultural and theological implications in her post.

This piece is an interesting contribution to the question of whether universities are becoming inhospitable to certain kinds of speech. While the usual claim is that "Poitically Correct culture" stifles intellectual debate, I wonder if the PC police will be animated by this instance.

Speaking of higher education, Melissa Scholes Young, writing at The Atlantic, gets under the hood of what it means to be a first generation college student:

Colleges anticipate and define student categories—like low-income, first-generation, and minority—mostly based on voluntary Common Application data provided before a student ever arrives on campus. While students aren’t required to disclose their parents’ educational backgrounds—and many don’t—self-identified first-generation students are often linked to or assumed to have economic disadvantage. Students may also choose not to disclose their first-generation status; professors and classmates won’t know unless they claim the label. But labels that assume first-generation always correlates with low-income may get in the way of the more important conversation of how individuals relate to their college community and larger culture and foster feelings of resentment.

Young describes that while poverty is an important facet in the first generation experiences of many students, coming from a low-income background is not the only one. Issues of language, culture, belonging, and family support all seem to be factors as well. 

Finally, Adam Grant, the authort of the new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, shares ideas about how to raise children to be creative in this video. Watch it, and enjoy your day: