Silent Sam Protest Takes Hold: No Grades

The College Fix:

Teaching assistants at the University of North Carolina have threatened to hold up to 2,200 grades if school officials do not reconsider their plan for the controversial “Silent Sam” statue.

This past Monday, UNC officials announced the memorial to Confederate soldiers would be housed in a new campus facility. That evening, protesters took to the streets to voice their displeasure.

On Friday, activists announced online that 79 teaching assistants had signed a petition in opposition to the Silent Sam plan, and indicated they would “withhold [the] grades” if Chancellor Carol Folt and the UNC Board of Trustees did not relent.

Tuition and fees to attend: $23,810.

Somehow I figure that students who attend the university should get grades. Of course, actual professors might have to submit the grades, and wow, that’s a lot of work.

Not Motivated by Racial Bias…

…but I’d say it was motivated in part by cluelessness.

The Washington Post:

A cloth figure was suspended on a rope hanging from a tree Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, alarming people who saw it and who then shared images of it on social media.

University officials were notified Tuesday of “noosed figures” hanging from a tree outside an arts building on campus, according to Buffie Stephens, a university spokeswoman. The university’s department of police and public safety investigated and found it was an art project submitted by a student of color for an end-of-semester assignment. “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest the project was motivated by racial bias,” university officials wrote in a message to campus.

Source. Sorry about the WTF reference.

Quote of the Day

Public school teachers expressed dissatisfaction with their salaries and treatment by elected officials by staging mass walkouts and protests in a number of states, such as Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, to name a few.

Meanwhile, a number of reformers were reflecting inwardly and asking hard questions about the state of education reform, including current and future challenges. It is not a stretch to say there’s plenty of frustration and angst among both groups these days. — Executive Summary, 2018 Schooling in America report by EdChoice.

As the name indicates, this is a group which advocates for school choice. That said, the summary is worth a read though the report is 80 pages.

Some of Us Are Chronically Absent

NC Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission meets this week and they’ll hear a report about chronically absent teachers. 

For the purpose of the research, teachers in North Carolina who used 10 or more non-consecutive sick days in an academic year as “chronically absent”.  that seems fair, since those of us who suddenly get sick for a week or so are not counted.
Guess what? 22.6% of all teachers met this definition in 2016-2017. That’s 22,121 teachers.
That’s kind of a lot.
It’s hard to see, but the greatest number of chronically absent teachers is in schools which earned poor grades overall. Schools where chronic absenteeism is rare are scoring better.
So are the schools failing because teachers are calling out? Or are teachers calling out because they work at a failing school?

Were You Taught by Stephen Shipps at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts?

Update: I just spoke to Mort Meisner, who is a public relations person for Steven Shipps.

Shipps has no comment on the student newspaper story.  Zero.

Update #2:

Deadline reports that Shipps is on leave from his job as chairman of the stringed instrument instruction and stepped down as director of the Strings Preparatory Academy, a university-affiliated academy is for local middle and high school musicians.


Original post:

The student-run newspaper at the University of Michigan is running an article accusing a University of Michigan professor with sexual misconduct.

A Michigan Daily investigation unearthed previously undisclosed allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against Shipps. These reports span nearly 40 years, from Fall 1978 to a University-affiliated summer program in the last five years.

The music professor and future dean at Michigan taught at UNC from 1980 to 1989.

Shipps taught at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts — known then as the North Carolina School of the Arts before a 2008 name change — prior to coming to the University of Michigan. The Daily spoke with a former North Carolina School of the Arts college student, who wished to remain anonymous, citing professional and privacy concerns. She currently serves as the associate principal second (the second-ranked member of the second violin section) in a full-time professional orchestra. In this article, she will be referred to as Meghan.

You can read the accusations here.  The allegations are not ambiguous. They involve unwanted touching and kissing.

According to her account, as she walked into Shipps’s studio that evening, the lights were dimmed. After she put down her violin, she says Shipps moved behind her and locked the door to his office.

It goes on.  I prefer not to go farther here.

The authors say they’ve interviewed numerous victims. Most are anonymous sources or pseudonymous sources.

Though many of the women in this article have gone on to achieve great career success, they described their interactions with Shipps as having forever changed their views on student-teacher interaction and their perception of the larger professional music community.

Maureen O’Boyle, for example, currently teaches violin at the University of Tulsa, where she is an associate professor of music. She described her experiences with Shipps as having affected her to this day, both in her private instruction and in her general interaction with students.

I’ve sent an email to the professor Monday, but have not heard back.

The author paints a picture of an entire profession in which there is a massive power imbalance: Professors and deans serve as judges of talent at competitions, and can affect a young person’s career in major ways.

I’m getting sick of these stories.  I established a few Google Alerts to feed me ideas for the blog. “Reading teacher” gets me a few articles a day.  The Google Alert “teacher rape” always delivers 5-8 articles, every day, world wide.