University of Iowa Investigating Cheating in Online Classes!

Dear Commons Community,

The University of Iowa is launching an investigation into cheating in its online classes.  The issue has long been a concern in academia as more and more colleges have begun offering online education. As reported by the Associated Press:

“The University of Iowa says it is investigating whether more than 30 students cheated in online classes by having others take exams for them.

The school said Friday that it is reviewing each case of possible academic misconduct and will take disciplinary action against any students who are guilty.

The issue came to light after potential irregularities were identified by ProctorU, a company the university uses to provide identity verification for online courses.

ProctorU said that discrepancies in identification were provided by test-takers in one or more exams and in some cases, in multiple courses.

The school says sanctions could include expulsion or suspension.”

The cheating issue will continue to raise its head in online education but let’s not forget that cheating has always been an issue in traditional, on-ground courses also.


Donald Trump Paid No Income Taxes in the 1970s!

Dear Commons Community,

The last time information from Donald Trump’s income-tax returns was made public, he  paid the federal government $0 in income taxes as reported by several media sources including ABC News and The Washington Post.

Trump, who has declined to release his tax returns during the campaign season, incurred no tax liability in 1978 and 1979, New Jersey gambling regulators found, when they looked into his tax returns and personal finances in connection with the Trump Plaza Corporation’s 1981 application for a casino license.

Trump claimed negative income in both those years: losses of $406,379 in 1978 and $3,443,560 in 1979. In 1975, 1976, and 1977, he claimed $76,210, $24,594, and $118,530 in income, respectively, paying $18,714, $10,832, and $42,386 in federal taxes, according to the document, the Report to the Casino Control Commission.

The regulators “did not ascertain any inconsistent or questionable matters” in Trump’s returns, they wrote.

The findings were included in a report obtained by ABC News and verified by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. Although the regulators viewed Trump’s tax returns from 1975 to 1979, they did not include the actual returns in their report to the commission.

Today, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Trump regularly denounces corporate executives for using loopholes and “false deductions” to “get away with murder” when it comes to avoiding taxes.

“They make a fortune. They pay no tax,” Trump said last year on CBS.

The contrast highlights a potentially awkward challenge for Trump.

He has built a political identity around his reputation as a financial whiz, even bragging about his ability to game the tax code to pay as little as possible to the government — a practice he has called the “American way.” Moreover, he has aggressively pursued tax breaks and other government supports to bolster his real estate empire. But that history threatens to collide with his efforts to woo working-class voters who resent that they often pay higher tax rates than the wealthy who benefit from special loopholes.



The Secret Life of the Doctoral Student!

Dear Commons Community,

Below is a short piece entitled, The Secret Life of the Doctoral Student,  written by Katie Rose Guest Pryal,  a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education and a former clinical associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  It rightly suggests that faculty have to be alert to signs of distress in our students.  While the article focuses on doctoral students, it might apply to all students.



The Secret Life of the Doctoral Student

Katie Rose Guest Pryal

The Chronicle of Higher Education Vita Section


When I was in graduate school in English, my fellow students and I worked hard on our studies. We worked hard to earn our graduate stipends, teaching three or more courses a year. Many of us also worked extra jobs to make ends meet — at Starbucks, law firms, used book stores, and more. Many of us partied like it was 1999. (It was not, in fact, 1999. It was the early aughts.)

Now and then, some of us struggled personally — with addiction, mental illness, cognitive issues, major health crises and tragedies, and domestic violence.

We kept these struggles among ourselves. We didn’t want our professors and advisers to know about our less-than-perfect private lives. We didn’t want them to know if a fellow student was drinking too much or struggling with a bad relationship. Instead, we graduate students huddled together and helped each other privately. We didn’t want to risk hurting a fellow graduate student’s reputation in the department.

Because that’s what was at stake: our reputations. We put on our professional masks for seminars, teaching, and meetings with advisers. And we kept up a barrier, for as long as we could, between what we knew was going on among “us” and what “they” would know about it. We believed “they,” for the most part, didn’t want to know.

We were living a secret life about which our professors knew very little.

Why a Secret Life?

Most professors have a vision of how an ideal graduate student performs. When I was in graduate school, some professors even told us, in great detail, descriptions of their ideal. Some of us believed that if we deviated from that ideal, we would have trouble getting funding or finding jobs. We were often proven right: With few exceptions, the closer we tracked the ideal, the more we were rewarded.

Likewise, we believed that if a friend deviated from the ideal, it was our duty to help that friend get back on track. We circled the proverbial wagons and helped each other as best we could. Help included giving a woman who’d lost her home to an unstable partner a place to sleep — and keeping her secret from faculty who might see her as an unstable victim if they found out. It included helping a friend with his seminar papers when he was having cognitive difficulties. In retrospect — knowing what I know now about disability — his cognitive difficulties would likely have been aided by disability services had he sought those accommodations. But seeking accommodations when you aren’t an undergraduate can be rough, indeed.

After teaching at the graduate level for many years, I realize that faculty, for the most part, aren’t equipped to know about graduate students’ struggles. Put simply, most professors are not prepared to aid students in distress. If indeed it’s true that graduate students in the United States (and elsewhere) are struggling with mental health and addiction issues at high rates — and it appears that it is — then we need to rethink whether graduate schools have a duty to accept the full person (the nonideal) and whether departments are inadvertently creating disabling environments in which graduate students feel forced to hide their struggles to everyone’s detriment.

A Professor’s Point of View

I interviewed a fellow professor to seek another viewpoint on this issue. Maggie (a pseudonym), a humanities professor at a large, research university, works in a department with many graduate students. She directs dissertations and sits on dissertation committees — the total number of graduate students whose work she closely advises hovers in the double-digits. Indeed, I selected her as an interview subject because of her close involvement with a large number of graduate students.

I asked her first about whether she received training — either in graduate school or on the job— in how to help graduate students struggling with personal crises. “There is little to no training that focuses on graduate students in particular, either in graduate school or as part of professional development for faculty,” she noted. “Most faculty, I’d say, don’t really know what to do or how to handle students in distress.”

Furthermore, in her department, graduate students tend to keep their struggles secret from faculty until the secrets can’t be kept any more: “In my department, we often only find out about these kinds of issues when it reaches a crisis point.” She described one incident in which a faculty member “found out that a graduate student hadn’t been attending any classes for … weeks,” and “didn’t respond to phone calls or emails.” Only after someone actually went to the student’s apartment did the professor realize that the student was dealing with severe depression and had dropped out of the program. The department “could have maybe helped the student and the student might still be enrolled,” she said, had they known of the problem earlier.

What Maggie describes is similar to my own memories from graduate school. We all tried to handle problems privately until they were too big for us to handle any more. Sometimes — similar to the situation in Maggie’s department — our fear of reprisals had terrible consequences.

Maggie gave another example: Upon finding “out that a student had been staying in his office … instead of going back to his apartment because he was afraid of harming himself,” faculty took him to the local hospital and perhaps saved his life. “This was another case where faculty only found out when it had reached a crisis point.” Basically, Maggie said, “I don’t think faculty have a good sense of what their graduate students are going through unless it reaches one of these boiling points.”

Break the Silence

How can faculty help break down barriers of communication to encourage students to come forward? How can we encourage communication before a crisis becomes a crisis? After all, as Maggie pointed out, “At least in my experience, the majority of faculty would want to know about issues affecting their students’ lives and would be willing to help. They just don’t always find out about what is going on until things have gotten very serious.”

So what can faculty do to help students understand it’s OK to come forward?

First, show students that you’re willing to help. At a basic level, for example, put a sign on your office door — “I’m a friend of neurodiversity”— that indicates your openness to discussing unconventional struggles. Then see what happens. Students with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and more might, with luck, decide that they can trust you with their secrets. You don’t have to be an expert to help students in distress. You just have to be willing to listen and know whom to call for help.

Second, during orientation, have faculty and senior graduate students talk openly about collaboration in personal — not just professional — challenges. From Day 1, establish, a culture in which these struggles are shared among faculty, staff, and students. Build trust by promising students that they won’t be penalized for failing to meet some fictional “ideal” model of graduate student. And then, keep that promise.


New U.S. GAO Report: American Schools Increasingly Separate and Unequal!

Dear Commons Community,

The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report this past Tuesday (May 17th) that found that American schools are increasingly becoming more segregated. It has been 62 years since Brown v. Board of Education made segregated schools unconstitutional. Yet the number of black students attending separate and unequal institutions is on the rise, according to the U.S. GAO report. In addition, these institutions also routinely fail to provide students of color with the same resources given to their white counterparts.


“The percentage of K-12 public schools in the United States with students who are poor and are mostly Black or Hispanic is growing and these schools share a number of challenging characteristics. From school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 (the most recent data available), the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent, according to GAO’s analysis of data from the Department of Education (Education). These schools were the most racially and economically concentrated: 75 to 100 percent of the students were Black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a commonly used indicator of poverty. GAO’s analysis of Education data also found that compared with other schools, these schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science, and college preparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in 9th grade, suspended, or expelled.”

The law no longer condones segregated schooling like it did in the days before Brown, but an insidious system of stratified schooling exists all the same. What’s more, the report says governmental agencies such as the Department of Education and Department of Justice are not doing all they could to dismantle this system.

“More than 60 years after the Brown decision, our work shows that disparities in education persist and are particularly acute among schools with the highest concentrations of minority and poor students.” the report’s conclusion says.

This backwards procession toward  school resegregation is a relatively new phenomenon after years of progress during the late 1960s,’70s and ’80s. While advancements were slow in the immediate years following Brown, legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped speed up desegregation. However, court decisions and federal inaction during the late ’80s and ’90s helped undo much of this progress.


Electronic Classroom Charter School:  80 Percent Dropout Rate – Worst in the Country!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a featured article today questioning the operations of the Electronic Classroom – an online charter school – that has an 80 percent dropout rate.   Citing mostly government sources, the article comments that the owner of the Electronic Classrom is cashing in on public funding to profit handsomely even in light of mediocre performance.  Here is an excerpt:

“The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school based in Columbus, Ohio, graduated 2,371 students last spring. At the commencement ceremony, a student speaker triumphantly told her classmates that the group was “the single-largest graduating high school class in the nation.”

What she did not say was this: Despite the huge number of graduates — this year, the school is on track to graduate 2,300 — more students drop out of the Electronic Classroom or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country, according to federal data. For every 100 students who graduate on time, 80 do not.

Even as the national on-time graduation rate has hit a record high of 82 percent, publicly funded online schools like the Electronic Classroom have become the new dropout factories.

These schools take on students with unorthodox needs — like serious medical problems or experiences with bullying — that traditional districts may find difficult to meet. But with no physical classrooms and high pupil-to-teacher ratios, they cannot provide support in person. 

“If you’re disconnected or struggling or you haven’t done well in school before, it’s going to be tough to succeed in this environment,” said Robert Balfanz, the director of the Everyone Graduates Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Baltimore.

Virtual schools have experienced explosive growth nationwide in recent years, financed mostly by state money. But according to a report released on Tuesday by America’s Promise Alliance, a consortium of education advocacy groups, the average graduation rate at online schools is 40 percent.

Few states have as many students in e-schools as Ohio. Online charter schools here are educating one out of every 26 high school students, yet their graduation rates are worse than those in the state’s most impoverished cities, including Cleveland and Youngstown.

With 17,000 pupils, most in high school, the Electronic Classroom is the largest online school in the state. Students and teachers work from home on computers, communicating by email or on the school’s web platform at distances that can be hundreds of miles apart. 

In 2014, the school’s graduation rate did not even reach 39 percent. Because of this poor record, as well as concerns about student performance on standardized tests, the school is now under “corrective action” by a state regulator, which is determining its next steps. 

But while some students may not have found success at the school, the Electronic Classroom has richly rewarded private companies affiliated with its founder, William Lager, a software executive.

When students enroll in the Electronic Classroom or in other online charters, a proportion of the state money allotted for each pupil is redirected from traditional school districts to the cyberschools. At the Electronic Classroom, which Mr. Lager founded in 2000, the money has been used to help enrich for-profit companies that he leads. Those companies provide school services, including instructional materials and public relations.

For example, in the 2014 fiscal year, the last year for which federal tax filings were available, the school paid the companies associated with Mr. Lager nearly $23 million, or about one-fifth of the nearly $115 million in government funds it took in.

Critics say the companies associated with Mr. Lager have not delivered much value. “I don’t begrudge people making money if they really can build a better mousetrap,” said Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state legislator and the education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, a Columbus think tank that is sharply critical of online charter schools.

“It’s clear that Mr. Lager has not done a service over all to kids, and certainly not appreciably better than even the most struggling school districts in the state,” Mr. Dyer added. “But he’s becoming incredibly wealthy doing a very mediocre job for kids.”

The article continues with an examination of Mr. Lager’s dealings with  the companies that provide services to his school.  In general, it paints a picture of greed and questionable practices that siphon public school funds off for private profit.


North Carolina Senator Proposes $500. Tuition for Five UNC Colleges!

Dear Commons Community,

A bill is working its way through the North Carolina Senate that would reduce college tuition to $500. per semester at five of the University of North Carolina colleges.   As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Since Republicans assumed the majority in North Carolina’s legislature six years ago, the state has become a sort of lab for unorthodox higher-education-reform proposals. Remember the bill that would have required all University of North Carolina professors to carry a 4/4 teaching load? Or the plan to route the weakest students admitted to the system’s campuses to community colleges first?

Lawmakers’ latest idea: Cut tuition for in-state students to $500 a semester at five UNC campuses, including four minority-serving institutions.

The price tag would be a welcome relief for many students. What’s less clear is whether the state would pick up all or some of the tab for the lost tuition revenue. The measure, Senate Bill 873, includes no mention of additional state money for those institutions. Its primary sponsor, Republican State Sen. Tom Apodaca, didn’t respond to The Chronicle’s request for comment — though he said last week that the low-tuition plan would cost between $60 million and $80 million and proposed that the money could come from the state’s general fund, according to The News & Observer.

The bill, introduced in the State Senate last week, is an attention-grabbing addition to a conversation about higher-education costs that is taking place in state legislatures nationwide. Several states have acted over the past several years to freeze public-college tuition for a year or two. In rare cases, states have even reduced tuition.

But no state has curbed costs as dramatically as the North Carolina bill would, college-affordability experts say, and virtually all of the recent measures that froze or cut tuition used extra state money to make up at least some of the difference.

The bill’s focus on minority-serving institutions has also stoked apprehension across a system stung by concerns of broad “right-sizing” .”

The article correctly comments that discussions about cutting college costs are on the agenda of state legislatures throughout the country.  In addition, proposals for free public college tuition that have surfaced during the current presidential primary cycle especially from Democrat Bernie Sanders, will serve to fuel more discussions about significantly reducing or eliminating college tuition.



Verizon Strike: More than Wages and Benefits!

Verizon Strikers

Dear Commons Community,

Verizon technicians and customer service reps on the company’s wireline phone business walked off the job more than two weeks ago. By modern U.S. standards, the work stoppage is massive — some 37,000 workers, stretching from the Northeast through the mid-Atlantic. The latest round of talks failed to broker a deal, and both sides are girded for a protracted battle. At this point, the fight is over much more than wages and benefits.  As reported in The Huffington Post:

“The current work stoppage marks the largest U.S. strike since the last time Verizon workers walked off the job, in 2011. Union membership in the U.S. is hovering near an all-time low of 6.7 percent in the private sector, compared to a post-war high above 30 percent. Strikes are both rarer and riskier than they used to be, given the deteriorated leverage of organized labor. Last year, there were just 12 major strikes, involving 47,000 workers. Two decades earlier, there were 31 of them, involving 192,000 workers.

On Thursday, Verizon offered what it deemed a “best and final offer,” which was rejected by the unions representing the workers, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. That offer included a 7.5 percent pay hike over the course of the contract — a one percent bump over what was previously offered — along with 401k and pension contributions, and health coverage that was only moderately more expensive than the current plan…

But those aren’t the real sticking points. According to Bob Master, political director at CWA, Verizon is willing to extend layoff protections to workers, but only if it can cut into seniority protections, and offer incentives that could help the company nudge unionized workers off the job.

“They are trying to get what they label as ‘flexibility,’ which undermines our job security and the fairness with which workers are treated,” Master said. “The attitude is, ‘We want to do with workers whatever we want.’… It’s ideological.”

Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, said the company wants the ability to offer retirement incentives for workers in areas where they are overstaffed, which they would need the unions to agree to. He said the packages they have in mind would provide $50,000 or more to workers to voluntarily leave the company. He said the unions don’t want to agree to that because it could shrink the union workforce.

“That’s what it’s about,” Young said. “We’re not in the business of making sure the unions stay in business. We’re in the business of keeping solid jobs for our employees and helping this wireline unit to succeed.

“It’s not that we’re opposed to unions,” he added. “This is a business that has faced challenges.”

Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor research at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said the fight isn’t simply about “what’s cheaper” for the company.

“In the case of Verizon, I would say it is just as much about union avoidance,” Bronfenbrenner said. She noted that Verizon has fought back hard against CWA’s efforts to unionize employees on Verizon’s wireless side, which is non-union and growing.”

In solidarity with Verizon workers!



President Obama at Rutgers Commencement:  Donald Trump, Anti-Intellectualism, PC Culture!

Dear Commons Community,

This is commencement season and yesterday at Rutgers University, President Obama focused on Donald Trump,  anti-intellectualism, and PC culture that undermines free speech.  As reported by The Huffington Post:

“Though he avoided saying his name, nearly all of President Barack Obama’s commencement address at Rutgers University on Sunday was dedicated to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and his mix of anti-intellectualism and isolationism.

“In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue,” Obama told graduates at the New Jersey university. “It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real, or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

He added: “When our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods, and just making stuff up while actual experts are dismissed as elitist, then we’ve got a problem. The rejection of facts, the rejection of reason and science, that is the path to decline.”

As an example, Obama mentioned Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who threw a snowball on the floor of the U.S. Senate last December in an attempt to disprove scientific consensus on man-made climate change.

“Climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence,” he said, adding, “Imagine if your fifth-grade science teacher had seen that. He’d get a D!”

The president argued that building walls and closing borders would hurt America, anger its allies, and threaten the country’s ability to solve global problems like the Ebola virus.

“The world is more interconnected than ever before,” he said. “Building a wall won’t change that.”

Obama also waded into the debate over campus “PC culture,” chiding Rutgers students who protested former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a graduation speaker in 2014 as “misguided.”

“If you disagree with somebody, bring them in, ask them tough questions,” he said. “Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be afraid of somebody.”

He closed by urging students to be optimistic and engaged in the political process, saying that “cynicism is so easy, and cynics don’t accomplish much.”

“The system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it certainly isn’t as hopeless as you think,” he said.

Good advice!



Frank Bruni on Diversity at Elite Colleges!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni examines diversity issues at American elite colleges in his column today and offers critical analysis of what they are or are not doing.

“THERE’S a whole lot wrong with the conversation about including more low-income students at elite colleges, but let’s start here: The effort is too often framed as some do-gooder favor to those kids.

Hardly. It’s a favor to us all. It’s a plus for richer students, who are then exposed to a breadth of perspectives that lies at the heart of the truest, best education. With the right coaxing and mixing on campus, they become more fluent in diversity, which has professional benefits as well as the obvious civic and moral ones.

It’s a win for America and its imperiled promise of social mobility.

“Opportunity for people from every conceivable background is essential to a functioning democracy, and in this country we’re not providing enough of it,” Biddy Martin, the president of Amherst College, told me last week. “I also think it’s a waste not to develop talent in young people wherever it exists, and it exists everywhere.”

So what’s Amherst doing?

Over recent years, it has devoted significantly more energy and resources than it once did into identifying and recruiting promising students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It works with community-based organizations. It develops relationships with, and sends emissaries to, schools in poorer areas.

It has poured money into making sure that the financial needs of those students are fully met. In accepting transfer students, it has given priority to those coming from community colleges. And it has set up a variety of programs and services on campus to make sure that students without affluent, college-educated parents get any extra support they need.

As a result, about one in four students at Amherst, one of the country’s most venerated and selective institutions of higher education, qualifies for federal Pell grants, which are dedicated to low-income families. Just over a decade ago, fewer than one in seven students qualified for those grants.

This puts Amherst way, way ahead of most of its peers. Early this year, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation released a report on diversity at the nation’s 91 most competitive colleges as defined by Barron’s, which compiles information on higher education. The Cooke report found that fewer than one in 25 students at these schools came from families in the country’s lowest socioeconomic quartile, while nearly three in four came from families in the top quartile.

“It’s outrageous,” Harold Levy, the foundation’s executive director, said when we discussed the issue recently. “What it says to me is that the working class is history at these schools, the middle class is on its way out the door and the upper class is dominating. And that’s not what the American dream is about.”

To push back at that, the foundation last year instituted the Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence, to be awarded annually to an elite college or university that defied that disparity. Amherst is this year’s winner, an announcement shared in advance with me.”

Bruni goes on to comment on practices that maintain the status quo and then offers some suggestions.

“Against this backdrop, elite colleges have been talking about de-emphasizing admissions criteria that are strictly numerical and prone to student-to-student comparison. These include standardized test scores — which are deeply flawed measures of college aptitude and predictors of college success — and the number of Advanced Placement classes that a student has taken in secondary school.

Top administrators from many elite schools signed their names to a report this year, “Turning the Tide,” that urged admissions officials to take into account the hardships that prevent many underprivileged kids from putting together the kinds of conventionally glittering transcripts that children of affluence do.

And a group of more than 90 schools, most of them highly selective, recently banded together as the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. It has its own application system, to be used for the first time during the coming admissions cycle, that includes free online tools meant to help children who don’t get much guidance. But there’s skepticism, widespread and warranted, about whether the tools will really do that.

Unprivileged children certainly need a boost, because the admission process has typically discriminated against them, as the Cooke Foundation has pointed out.

It smiles on children of the school’s alumni. It rewards the sorts of frequent interactions with a school or its alumni that an economically privileged kid is more likely to have. Poor kids often don’t get the same preparation for the SAT or ACT or take the exam as many times as rich kids.

Levy noted that the priority given to athletes actually cuts against poor kids, because a college fields teams in an array of sports — fencing, crew, water polo — beyond the few big ones that an inner-city school can afford.

The socioeconomic diversity at elite colleges is hardly the most vital concern about higher education. These colleges serve a small fraction of the country’s students.

But that diversity is important nonetheless. It’s a mirror of our values — in particular, of how well we own up to stacked decks and how willing we are to make adjustments.”

While Bruni focuses on mostly private elite colleges, there should also be concern among public higher education systems in California, New York, and North Carolina where financial pressures threaten programs and policies including those designed to maintain a commitment to diverse student populations.



Redacted 28 Pages of the 9/11 Report – The Story that is Not Going Away:

Dear Commons Community,

On April 24, 2016, the Obama administration announced that it would likely soon release at least part of a 28-page redacted portion of the congressional inquiry into 9/11.  It is alleged that this portion may shed light on possible Saudi connections to the attackers.  As reported by the AP:

“The documents, kept in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol, contain information from the joint congressional inquiry into “specific sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.”

Bob Graham, who was co-chairman of that bipartisan panel, and others say the documents point suspicion at the Saudis. The former Democratic senator from Florida says an administration official told him that intelligence officials will decide in the next several weeks whether to release at least parts of the documents. The disclosure would come at a time of strained U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a long-time American ally.

“I hope that decision is to honor the American people and make it available,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “The most important unanswered question of 9/11 is, did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported?”

Yesterday (May 13, 2016], it was reported that John F. Lehman, former secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan and Republican commissioner behind the 9/11 report, in an interview with the Guardian, called for full disclosure commenting:

“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” Lehman said in an interview, suggesting that the commission may have made a mistake by not stating that explicitly in its final report. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”

He was critical of a statement released late last month by the former chairman and vice-chairman of the commission, who urged the Obama administration to be cautious about releasing the full congressional report on the Saudis and 9/11 –“the 28 pages”, as they are widely known in Washington – because they contained “raw, unvetted” material that might smear innocent people. …

Lehman said Kean and Hamilton’s statement that only one Saudi government employee was “implicated” in supporting the hijackers in California and elsewhere was “a game of semantics” and that the commission had been aware of at least five Saudi government officials who were strongly suspected of involvement in the terrorists’ support network.”

If true, the release of the 28 pages—which could come as early as June—would put enormous public strain on our alliance with Saudi Arabia and call into question why our government for so long has run cover for the Saudis. It will be most embarrassing to President George W. Bush and the members of his administration at the time of the report.

We will know more if and when all of the 28 redacted pages are made public.