Time Cover: Trump and Immigrant Child Crying Sums Up the Travesty that Unfolded This Past Week!

Dear Commons Community,

This past week was a travesty for America’s image to the world.  The culprits here were President Donald Trump and his controversial policy of separating immigrant children from parents.  The new cover of TIME magazine cuts straight to the point: A small, crying girl being stared down by the leader of the free world.

Trump had initially responded to criticisms by claiming that it was not in his power to reverse the family separation policy, which his own administration had implemented. Under public pressure, Trump on Tuesday issued an executive order to do exactly that.

Today’s TIME cover juxtaposes a cutout photo of US president Trump in profile, with another cutout from a well-known image of a family being detained at the US-Mexico border. That original picture was captured by Getty photographer John Moore. In its original form, it showed the two-year-old girl reacting to her mother’s detention by a border agent in Texas. She is looking up at the agent, and the whole scene takes place in the desert, presumably illuminated by headlights.

In the illustration employed by TIME, the child looks with horror at Donald Trump, rather than the border patrol officer—effectively revealing the real power behind the family separation tactic. With both law enforcement and mother abstracted from the picture, the cover prompts readers to mull the ultimate consequences of a policy that separated 2,300 children from their parents, and puts Trump, the power behind the policy, face-to-face with his most smallest victims.

For shame,  President Trump!


Border Patrol Agents Detain Migrants Near US-Mexico Border
The original image. (John Moore/Getty Images)















Veteran Republican Strategist Steve Smith Renounces His GOP Membership!

Image result for steve smith republican strategist

Dear Commons Community,

Veteran strategist and former presidential campaign manager for John McCain in 2012, Steve Schmidt, renounced his Republican Party membership yesterday and pledged to vote for Democrats in an effort to preserve “what is right and decent” in the United States.  In a series of scathing tweets, Schmidt blasted the GOP as “corrupt, indecent and immoral” and “fully the party of Trump.”

“It is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders,” tweeted Schmidt, an MSNBC political analyst who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and our values.”

29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

It is corrupt, indecent and immoral. With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders. This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

Humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated. Our country is in trouble. Our politics are badly broken. The first step to a

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

Season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda. I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency.

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

On Ronald Reagan’s grave are these words. “ I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” He would be ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest while this corrupt government

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

Establishes internment camps for babies. Everyone of these complicit leaders will carry this shame through history. There legacies will be ones of well earned ignominy. They have disgraced their country and brought dishonor to the Party of Lincoln.

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

I have spent much of my life working in GOP politics. I have always believed that both parties were two of the most important institutions to the advancement of human freedom and dignity in the history of the world. Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

This Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies. That party is the Democratic Party.

— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018

Schmidt, who served as an adviser in the George W. Bush White House, strongly condemned the Trump administration’s policy of separating families caught illegally crossing the border into the U.S.

“This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history,” he tweeted. “It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated.”

Schmidt, who said in July that Trump had the “impulse control of a little child,” joins a growing chorus of political pundits and lawmakers to rebuke the administration’s practice of separating children from parents facing prosecution for illegally crossing the border.

Welcome commentary from someone who was a Republican insider.


Trump Considering Merging Departments of Education and Labor!

Dear Commons Community,

Education Week is reporting that the Trump administration is considering a merger of the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Labor.  The proposal would be part of a larger plan to overhaul the federal government.  As reported:

“The proposal, would fit into the president’s push, first outlined in an executive order issued last year, to overhaul the federal government, eliminate what the administration considers unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and programs, and merge functions.  

Administration officials are also considering the more limited step of moving some programs in the Labor Department over to the Education Department, sources say. The programs that would most likely get shifted to the Education Department include initiatives in the Employment and Training Agency that deal with workforce training for young people, including Job Corps and YouthBuild. The New York Times reported earlier this year that the Education Department may acquire several programs from the Labor Department.

The plan is still in broad strokes, with the finer policy details yet to be determined. The combined agency could be called the Department of Education and the Workforce.

It seems unlikely a radical merger of the Education and Labor Departments would make it through Congress. Past attempts to eliminate the Education Department, including one in the early 1980s when President Ronald Reagan took office, and another in the mid-1990s, when Congress flipped to Republican control, haven’t gotten very far.

And back in the mid-1990s, former Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wisc., also proposed combining the two agencies. His plan never came to fruition.

Currently, the Education Department is funded at more than $70 billion and employs nearly 4,000 people. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed her own plan to transform and streamline the agency, including a big shake-up of the office that oversees K-12 policy. And Trump has pitched cutting the agency’s budget by 5 percent, and eliminating a slew of programs, including for teacher training and afterschool.

An advocate for district leaders doesn’t think a merger of the Education and Labor Departments would help the feds serve schools better.

“The concept of merging USED into another agency is not new, and more an exercise in process and distraction than substance or merit,” said Noelle Ellerson Ng, the associate executive director for policy and advocacy at the AASA, the School Superintendents Association in an email. “A reorganization of this magnitude would be a significant bureaucratic cost that would more likely resemble shuffling deck chairs instead of streamlining services or increasing efficiencies. Further, the timing of this idea emerging just as leaders, educators, and constituents across the country express strong opposition to and deep concern with the Trump administration’s policy to separate families is either very poorly timed and/or  a poorly veiled distraction tactic.”

The National Education Association, a 3 million-member union, also suggested the timing of the announcement could be intended to draw attention from the “humanitarian crisis” along the Mexican border, in the wake of outrage over the administration’s push to separate undocumented immigrants from their children.”

This merger is not likely to happen anytime soon. As the article indicates the Congress especially the Senate would not go for it.  


Video: Hidden Children Holocaust Survivors Speak Out on Border Separations!



Dear Commons Community,

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement today on behalf of The Hidden Child Foundation, a group of ‘hidden children’ of the Holocaust who felt strongly compelled to oppose the Trump Administration’s expanded “zero tolerance” policy for migrants seeking to cross the border, which has led to thousands of children being separated from their parents.  The accounts of the two survivors in the above video say it all:

“Let’s get back to our values because this is not what America stands for.”

And the policy separating migrant children from parents is “unconscionable.”


Frustration Leads to Faculty Revolt at U. Mass Boston!

Dear Commons Community,

It has been a tumultuous year at the University of Massachusetts at Boston capped by a canceled search for a new chancellor.  As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“In April 2017, the sitting chancellor, J. Keith Motley, announced he was stepping down after a decade in the position. Motley had deep connections to the city, where he had lived since he studied at Northeastern University, in the 1970s.

He was widely credited with building the university’s reputation both in the city and nationally. During his tenure, money for research increased by 50 percent, the university earned a higher Carnegie Classification, and it drew 25 percent more students. Motley also led the university to develop an ambitious, $700-million construction plan that included a new science building and, for the first time, dormitories.

Sharon Lamb, a professor of counseling and school psychology, said Motley was trying to change the narrative about the university, from one that served only disadvantaged urban students into one with broader appeal and greater emphasis on research.

But by the time he stepped down, he was being blamed for a $30-million deficit in the university’s operating budget. An audit in November found that under Motley’s leadership, the university had provided sloppy oversight of spending and had treated its budget “as a ‘guideline’ and not an ‘operational reality.’”

A report by a group of unionized staff and faculty members, however, blamed the deficit primarily on faulty accounting by the system and on administrative bloat.

To replace Motley, Martin T. Meehan, the U. Mass system president  chose Barry Mills as interim chancellor. Mills was a former corporate lawyer in Manhattan and, from 2001 to 2015, was president of Bowdoin College, a small, selective, liberal-arts institution in rural Maine.

Faculty members were skeptical, at first, that Mills would fit in and understand the culture at a university so different from Bowdoin, said C. Heike Schotten, an associate professor of political science and the incoming chair of the Faculty Council’s executive committee. But his leadership style was more transparent than that of his predecessor, Schotten said, and he seemed to develop a real affection and respect for the college.

Not that all his decisions were popular. In Mills’s efforts to close the university’s budget deficit, he made unpopular cuts even as the costly campus face-lift continued. More than three dozen staff members were laid off, and dozens more faculty members took early retirement. In addition, Mills closed a day-care center that served the children of some staff members and students. The university also cut spending for 17 academic centers, such as the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences.

Mills’s tenure has also been unexpectedly brief: Appointed in an interim capacity in July 2017, he announced in October that he would step down at the end of the spring semester to make way for a new permanent chancellor.

On top of everything else, in March the system’s flagship, in Amherst, announced that it was buying the 70-acre campus of Mount Ida College, just 10 miles from the Boston campus. To some faculty members on the Boston campus, the message was that the wealthy, majority-white flagship could spend money that wasn’t available to the urban campus that serves low-income students of color.

The announcement of the Mount Ida sale was the final straw for faculty members. On May 15 the faculty at Boston voted no confidence in Meehan and in the system’s Board of Trustees. Less than a week later, with the announcement of a new chancellor just days away, the faculty lashed out again, with a collective letter declaring that none of the finalists were up to the job.

“You have to view that action as part of the much larger context,” said Richard M. Freeland, who served for more than 20 years in various posts on the Boston campus. “The faculty were feeling neglected, ignored, and to some degree abused,” said Freeland, the state’s commissioner of higher education from 2008 to 2015.

While faculty dissatisfaction focused on the qualifications of the candidates for chancellor, an underlying concern was that the search process had excluded the concerns of faculty members, said Lamb, the counseling professor. Only two of the search committee’s 15 members were professors.

And the cuts in the staff and in programs made many people question whether the university was abandoning its mission to serve the community at the expense of meeting its bottom line, she said.

Lamb, who also serves on the Faculty Council’s executive committee, said she and others are now ready to put the chancellor-search backlash behind them, and look for ways to work with the new interim chancellor, Katherine S. Newman, who had been serving as the system’s senior vice president for academic affairs.

Meehan, too, is emphasizing cooperation, as he seeks to help the Boston campus pay for its building expenses. “We need to better coordinate our ask for more state money,” Meehan said in an interview.

Last week Meehan met with the executive committee of the Faculty Council, and sent a letter to state legislators detailing the construction costs that the state could pay. Those include $80 million to shore up the underground garage, which sits below three other buildings; $260 million to safeguard utilities; and $70 million for a new parking garage.

Schotten, who will be the committee’s chair in September, also says it’s time to move forward, But she sees the upheaval as a win.

“We dared to take our place at the table for shared governance and provide feedback,” said Schotten “That threw a wrench into the works. I think the faculty did all the right things, and we have gotten President Meehan to have the right priorities for our campus.”

The faculty were right to take the actions they did.  We hope that one of our great public urban univeristies can now move forward.


Laura Bush on Separating Children from Parents:  Calls Trump Policy “Cruel” and “Immoral”!

Dear Commons Community,

Former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration’s separation of children from their parents along the border in an op-ed yesterday in The Washington Post.  Mrs. Bush wrote:

“The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders. I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,”

As reported in the Business Insider:

“In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy towards migrants crossing the US border illegally, which leads to adults being tried as criminals and thus losing custody of their children. In that time, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents leading to crowded facilities and devastating scenes.

In an op-ed published Sunday in The Washington Post, Laura Bush said the policy “breaks my heart.”

“Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.”

Bush then said the detention facilities being used to house thousands of children are “eerily reminiscent” of the internment camps that held 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, and are “now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Bush highlighted how this internment affects individuals mentally and physically. Japanese Americans who were interned, half of whom were children, are now more than twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease and even die prematurely.

Separating children from caregivers can also cause irreversible harm that affects a child’s ability to cope and self-soothe, which can lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

“Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place,” Bush wrote.

After describing how some staff at detention centers have reportedly been ordered to not touch or comfort children, the former first lady also recalled the time in 1989 her mother-in-law and then-first lady Barbara Bush picked up and soothed a dying baby in a home for children with HIV/AIDS.

“She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel. She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion and love,” she wrote.

“People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer,” she added. “In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”

Well-stated, Mrs. Bush!


The Danger of JUUL and E-Cigarettes to Minors!

Dear Commons Community,

I missed this story reported on earlier this year, however, a segment on one of the network news channels yesterday alerted viewers to a growing problem among young people’s use of e-cigarettes.  It seems one brand, JUUL, is particularly popular.   Juul is an electronic device (pictured above)  that turns liquid — usually containing nicotine — into an inhalable vapor. It resembles a small computer flash drive and provides teenagers a discreet way to vape at school and in public. Parents, teachers and principals say they are struggling to control the booming trend.  Below is an article reporting on the issue courtesy of U.S. News and World Report.



FDA Warns Retailers Not to Sell Juul E-Cigarette to Kids

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on underage use of a popular e-cigarette brand.

April 24, 2018

“Federal health officials on Tuesday announced a nationwide crackdown on underage use of a popular e-cigarette brand following months of complaints from parents, politicians and school administrators.

The Food and Drug Administration issued warnings to 40 retail and online stores as part of a month-long operation against illegal sales of Juul to children. Investigators targeted 7-Eleven locations, Shell gas stations and Cumberland Farms convenience stores as well as vaping shops.

FDA regulators also asked manufacturer Juul Labs to turn over documents about the design, marketing and ingredients of its product. The rare request focuses on whether certain product features are specifically appealing to young people.

Like other e-cigarettes, Juul is an electronic device that turns liquid — usually containing nicotine — into an inhalable vapor.

Thanks in part to its resemblance to a small computer flash drive, Juul has become popular with some teenagers as a discreet way to vape at school and in public. Parents, teachers and principals say they are struggling to control the booming trend.

“The bathroom is the main source of it,” said Maureen Byrne, the principal of Dublin High School near San Francisco. “As students become more comfortable, we have seen it in classrooms and on campus even out in the open.”

Health advocates have worried about the popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on adult smoking rates in the future. A recent government-commissioned report found “substantial evidence” that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the current “blitz” targeting Juul will continue through the end of the month, with additional actions in coming weeks.

“This isn’t the only product that we’re looking at, and this isn’t the only action we’re going to be taking to target youth access to tobacco products, and e-cigarettes, in particular,” Gottlieb said in an interview. He named several other brands of concern, including KandyPens and myblu.

Juul sales have exploded over the past two years, accounting for 55 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes, according to recent industry figures. That’s up from just 5 percent of the market in 2016.

The San Francisco-based company said in a statement it agrees with the FDA that underage use of its products is “unacceptable.”

“We already have in place programs to identify and act upon these violations at retail and online marketplaces, and we will have more aggressive plans to announce in the coming days,” the statement read.

Juul Labs says it monitors retailers to ensure they are following the law. Its age verification system searches public records and sometimes requires customers to upload a photo ID.

E-cigarettes have grown into a $4 billion industry in the U.S. despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they are helpful in helping smokers quit cigarettes.

That’s the sales pitch made by Juul and many other e-cigarette manufacturers: “Juul delivers nicotine satisfaction akin to a cigarette in a format that’s as simple and easy to use,” states the company’s website. A Juul “starter kit” can be ordered online for $49.99. The company’s website is intended to only sell to customers ages 21 and up.

Chaz Nuttycombe, an 18-year-old who has never tried vaping, says it’s prevalent at his school, Hanover High near Richmond, Virginia.

“They’re not doing cigarettes because that’s not really hip,” he said. “I think my generation has been educated on what’s in a cigarette, the poisons and whatnot.”

Research shows that many e-cigarettes contain trace amounts of chemicals like formaldehyde, but it’s unclear whether they exist at levels that can cause long-term health problems. Most researchers agree any risks of e-cigarettes do not approach the long-established harms of traditional cigarettes, which cause cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

The FDA gained authority to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, but anti-smoking advocates have criticized the agency for not policing the space more aggressively to stop companies from appealing to underage users, particularly with flavors like mango, cool cucumber and creme brulee.

“These are very positive steps and demonstrate that FDA recognizes the problem of youth use is very serious,” said Matthew Myers, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “But they don’t address the biggest issue that the FDA is not been enforcing its own rules.”

Myers’ group contends that Juul and several other e-cigarette companies have recently launched new flavors and varieties without seeking FDA authorization. That step is mandatory under the FDA regulations put in place during the summer of 2016.


Maureen Dowd:  Happy Father’s Day to the Psychos on the Potomac!

Dear Commons Community,

In her column this morning,  Maureen Dowd on this Father’s Day takes aim at President Trump and the other psychopaths who are running Washington, D.C. these days. Here are a couple of excerpts.

“Psychopathy is defined in the study as a “Temperamental and Uninhibited Region.” Which is the perfect description of the Trump reality distortion field where we all now dwell.

The study notes that “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere” and that “the occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were C.E.O., lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant.”

So if a chief executive, salesman and media personality becomes a politician, he’s hitting four of the highest-risk categories….”

… The week was capped, naturally, with a Giuliani aria — “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Rudy told The Daily News in New York — and by the usual torrent of whiny, delusional, deceptive, self-exalting tweets by President Trump…

… Jonathan Swift said, “A wise man should have money in his head but not in his heart.” The Trumps have green running through their veins.

They have succeeded in superseding conflicts of interest with confluences of interest. Ethics bore this crew. The White House is just another business opportunity…

… We knew Trump was a skinflint and a grifter. But the New York attorney general deeply documented just how cheesy he and his children are with a suit accusing the Trump charitable foundation of illegal behavior and self-dealing. It was just what Trump always accused the Clintons of doing.

The supposed nonprofit was little more than a Trump piggy bank used to settle legal claims and pay off political backers. The good news for Trump was that the prosecutor proposed that he be banned from charitable activities — a fine excuse for someone who obviously wants nothing to do with charity…

… Asked by a Fox anchor what he was going to be doing on Father’s Day, the president replied, “I’m going to be actually calling North Korea.”

It makes sense if you think about it: A wannabe dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father talking to a real dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father.”

Happy Father’s Day!


Attorney General Jeff Sessions JustifiesTearing Immigrant Families Apart:  “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” 

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times is reporting today that the Trump administration had separated 1,995 children from parents facing criminal prosecution for unlawfully crossing the border over a six-week period that ended last month.  On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that the Bible justifies his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

“Concerns raised by our church friends about separating families” are not “not fair or logical,” he said in a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”  White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up Sessions’ claims later that day, calling it “very biblical to enforce the law.”  However, Christian leaders are pushing back against Sessions and Sanders for their reliance on the bible for their treatment of immigrant families.  Here are several comments compiled by the Huffington Post.

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety,” Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement. ”Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

“Disgraceful,” the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the late and influential Rev. Billy Graham and a supporter of President Donald Trump, said in a Tuesday interview. “It’s terrible to see families ripped apart, and I don’t support that one bit.”

“Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children,” reads a statement signed by Bishop Kenneth Carter, president of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.

“It makes my blood boil,” said Matthew Schlimm, a professor of the Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa. “Sessions has taken the passage from Romans 13 completely out of context. Immediately beforehand and afterwards, Paul urges readers to love others, including their enemies. Anyone with half an ounce of moral conviction knows that tearing children away from parents has nothing to do with love.”

Schlimm noted that people often misuse the Bible. In fact, the same passage Sessions cited has been used to justify slavery and Nazism.

“So, it’s not surprising that slave traders tore children away from their parents and tried to justify it with the Bible. Or that Nazis tore children away from their parents and tried to justify it with the Bible. Sessions follows the pattern of history,” he said. “What’s chilling is to think that we again live in such morally deranged times.”

Ian Henderson, an associate professor of New Testament studies at McGill University in Montreal, said that no matter how people want to read into Romans 13, it does not mean that Christian citizens should not protest against bad laws or bad government.

“It is perfectly reasonable, indeed a duty and part of ‘submission,’ for Christian citizens to express their ‘concerns’ about whether the law and/or its administration are ethically defensible or politically useful,” he said. “For conservative Christians, this would especially be so when the law of the State seems to be attacking the biblical authority of the family.”

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, said Sessions’ actions are in fact the opposite of the Bible’s teachings about caring for the poor and being compassionate.

“I cannot imagine anyone in his or her right mind thinking Jesus would approve of ripping children from their parents,” Martin said in a Friday interview on MSNBC. “It goes against pretty much the entire Bible in the ethos of Jesus, and it’s deeply un-Christian.”

Glad to see members of the Christian hierarchy come out so clearly against Sessions.  

And Mr. Sessions and Ms. Sanders, let’s not forget to “Love thy neighbor as thyself!”


University of Chicago No Longer to Require SAT or ACT Scores!

Dear Commons Community,

The University of Chicago announced yesterday that it would no longer require applicants for the undergraduate college to submit standardized test scores.  While it will still allow applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores, university officials said they would let prospective undergraduates send transcripts on their own and submit video introductions and nontraditional materials to supplement their applications.  As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

“We were sending a message to students, with our own requirements, that one test basically identifies you,” said Jim Nondorf, vice president and dean of admissions at U. of C. “Despite the fact that we would say testing is only one piece of the application, that’s the first thing a college asks you. We wanted to really take a look at all our requirements and make sure they were fair to every group, that everybody, anybody could aspire to a place like UChicago.”

The decision marks a dramatic shift for the South Side university and establishes it as the first top-ranked, highly selective school to do away with requiring test scores. It continues a yearslong effort by the university to make it easier for first-generation, low-income and minority students to apply and get into the school. The university also announced it would boost financial aid opportunities, including free tuition for families making less than $125,000 and four-year scholarships for first-generation students.

At issue is the value of standardized test scores and what role they should play in admissions. Proponents say the tests provide consistent metrics that help control for variances among states, schools and curricula. Critics say those tests, which some families spend thousands of dollars to prepare for, do not accurately measure a student’s qualifications. They have doubted how effective a no-test policy actually helps diversify campus populations.

U. of C. leaders have long wanted to increase diversity on campus and said they hoped a test-optional policy, at minimum, will prevent students from assuming that anything less than an outstanding test score automatically takes them out of the running.

Of the first-time freshmen students enrolling last fall, 25 percent recorded perfect or nearly perfect ACT and SAT scores in reading, writing and math, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Those scores, while impressive, gave pause to Undergraduate Dean John Boyer, who said he feared that such an intense focus on test scores skews admissions in favor of higher-income students from upper-echelon high schools.

“There’s a big industry of test prep, and the system as it’s existed serves them very well,” Boyer said. “We’re allowing ZIP codes to basically define the future of American life.”

Dozens of four-year institutions have embraced making SAT and ACT scores optional, according to a database maintained by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a Massachusetts-based proponent of test-optional admissions that has criticized standardized testing.

Among the recent adopters is DePaul University, which stopped requiring test scores in 2012.

“Once we looked at a student’s grades and transcripts, the SAT and ACT added very little to explain how well they were going to do in college,” said Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “Four years of high school is a better predictor than three hours in a testing room.”

Still, the vast majority, and most Illinois schools — including the state’s public universities — require SAT or ACT scores from applicants. Zach Goldberg, spokesman for the College Board, said more than 85 percent of college applications are sent to schools requiring either SAT or ACT scores, and that even test-optional schools still require the test of some students.”

Glad to see another major university stopping the standardized testing insanity that has overtaken education.