Education August 10, 2017: Harvard University tops Forbes America’s Top College 2017 for the first time

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

In their tenth annual ranking of America’s Top 100 Colleges 2018 Forbes finally crowned America’s most coveted and oldest university handing Harvard University their first top spot on the ranking. Wikipedia Commons

There is a new king on the top of Forbes Magazine national ranking of American colleges and universities. On August 2, 2017, Forbes released their tenth annual ranking of America’s Top 100 Colleges finally crowning America’s most coveted and oldest university, Harvard University in the top spot. This year’s top public school is the United States Naval Academy, while the University of California, Berkeley is the top public school non-military. The ranking heavily relies on return on investment with the subheading the 600+ schools worth the investment. The ranking looks at the top colleges but also includes separate lists for Top Public and Private Colleges as well as top colleges in the country’s four regions.

This year’s overall top three represents high school seniors’ university wish list with Harvard number one, followed by last year’s top college Stanford in second and Yale University in third. As Forbes pointed out, Harvard “is the gold standard of American higher education” and it finally “lives up to its reputation and tops the list as the best in the U.S.” Harvard does the best when it comes to the rubrics Forbes uses. Forbes indicates that 87% graduate” in four years and 97% in six years.” Harvard graduates have a “mid-career median salary of $123,000 and a median debt of some $7,500.”

The top ten radically changed from last year’s ranking with Ivy League and major prestigious research universities dominating. The nation’s most selective school Stanford drops from the top spot to second place. Yale moves three spots to the third position. Princeton University drops one place from third to fourth. Rounding out the top five is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which stagnates and remains at fifth. As for the rest the California Institute of Technology, Caltech moves up 33 spots to the top ten, placing in at sixth, as does the University of Pennsylvania into the top ten at seventh, and Duke University is also a new entry at eighth. Brown University is down one to nine while 2015 former top college Pomona moves down four from sixth to tenth.

Forbes also ranks separately, private and public colleges and the best amongst the country’s four regions, Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. The “gold standard” Harvard also tops the private colleges’ list, with “coveted” Stanford slipping to second place. As Forbes points out, Harvard and Stanford “are, undoubtedly, the two foremost universities in the country today and spar with each other for the finest students, professors and researchers.” Yale University is again third, followed by Princeton University in fourth, MIT in fifth and CalTech in sixth mirroring the top six in the overall top colleges ranking list. As for the rest of the top ten, the University of Pennsylvania is in seventh, followed by Duke University (8), Brown (9) and Pomona College in tenth.

The new top public school is the U.S. Naval Academy, beating the U.S. Military Academy, who has held the top spot since 2014, and now slips to second. The top non-military school is public university U.C. Berkeley at third. The public colleges top ten is divided almost evenly between military academies and flagship and research state schools. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor move up to fourth place and surprisingly overtakes the University of Virginia, which slips to fifth. The U.S. Air Force Academy comes in at sixth falling three spots, the only military academy to do so. In seventh is the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, while eighth goes to the University of California-Los Angeles. In ninth is list newcomer the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, who last year was number 61. In tenth place is the “second oldest” college in the College of William and Mary.

The regional ranking with the highest median on “the overall FORBES Top Colleges list” is the Northeast where the Ivies reside. As Forbes highlights the region is “Home to many of the nation’s oldest and most renowned universities, the Northeast is an academic goldmine. The entire top ten is filled with Ivy League colleges and those Liberal Arts Colleges that belong to the little Ivies. Harvard is also perched atop the Northeast ranking, and with Stanford out of the mix, Yale moves up to second place, while Princeton moves up to third, followed by MIT in fourth and the University of Pennsylvania in fifth. Except for Williams College at the eighth spot, the rest of the top ten is filled with Ivies, Brown (6), Dartmouth College (7), Columbia University (9), and Cornell in tenth.

In the South, Duke University is again the top “Southern College,” after losing the title last year, by falling into second place. Four North Carolina schools in the top ten, but Virginia takes top honors with the most schools in the top 25. Duke is also the only southern school also appearing in the overall top ten. In second place is another private school, Rice University, “the Harvard of the South.” Another private school Vanderbilt University is in third. All three are in the overall top 30, with Rice at number 22 and Vanderbilt at 27. Private liberal arts college, Washington and Lee University is in fourth and Davidson College reaches the fifth spot. The University of Virginia comes in at sixth and is the top Southern public school and one of three in the top ten. As for the rest of the top ten, in seventh place is the College of William and Mary, in eighth is Wake Forest University. In the ninth spot is Emory University and in tenth place is the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

In the Midwest, the top college is the University of Chicago, who ranks at number 16 overall. It has been years since U of Chicago topped the Midwestern schools. Notre Dame University falls to second place after reigning the list in the past two years, Notre Dame is number 26 overall. The list represents a mix of top tier universities and liberal arts colleges, but the top ten only has two public schools represented. In third place is Northwestern University; followed by Washington University in St Louis in fourth and rounding out the top five is Carleton College. The highest-ranking public school is in sixth place with the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In seventh place is Oberlin College, followed by Grinnell College (8) and Kenyon College (9). In tenth place is public school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Stanford University dominates the Western schools, the country’s most selective university and most coveted tops the list by a long shot. The western rankings’ top three are all in the overall top ten, represent a mix of private, public top tier universities and private liberal arts, and STEM colleges. In second place is Caltech and Pomona College is third. In fourth place is Claremont McKenna College, and rounding out the top five is Harvey Mudd College. The top Western public school is the University of California, Berkeley at sixth place, followed by the topped ranked Western military college, the U.S. Air Force Academy in seventh. Scripps Colleges comes in the eighth spot, while University of Southern California (9) and the University of California, Los Angeles (10 complete the top ten.

In recent years, Liberal Arts Colleges dominated Forbes’s overall ranking, topping the list in 2014 with Williams College and in 2015 with Pomona College and keeping the top ten split with the Ivies up to last year. This year, only Pomona hangs on in the top ten, while the Ivies see the return to the spotlight along with the “highly selective private” universities. STEM and “research-oriented universities” are gaining in the ranking over Liberal Arts Colleges, notably with MIT and Caltech both entering the top ten. Military academies also do well in Forbes ranking with The U.S. Naval Academy surpassing usual top school the U.S. Military Academy for the last spot in the top 20. Forbes also notes bigger public universities are faring better than some of the smaller private schools. The Northeast “dominates” the top 25 with 17 colleges, while the West has five and the Midwest only has two colleges represented.

Forbes like US News weighs graduation and retention rates high in the listing’s methodology. Forbes grades each college on four categories “quality academics and student satisfaction, on-time graduation rates, low student debt and high earning potential and career success. These top ranking schools have the right combination of “age, location, endowment and low debt for students.” Like US News, Forbes is riding the wave of ranking the best value colleges, determining Return on Investment, ROI. Forbes worked with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) to determine “What are students getting out of college.”

Caroline Howard, “Digital Managing Editor, Forbes Media” commented on Forbes’ goals with the America’s Top Colleges ranking. Howard explained, “Before you become a college student, you need to think like a graduate. Our goal is to showcase the colleges and universities that deliver the best return on your education investment dollars: low student debt, on-time graduation, quality academics, high earning potential and career success.”

Forbes’s America’s Top Colleges’ overall top ten:
1. Harvard University (4)
2. Stanford University (1)
3. Yale University (6)
4. Princeton University (3)
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5)
6. California Institute of Technology (39)
7. University of Pennsylvania
8. Duke University
9. Brown University (8)
10. Pomona College (7)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 31, 2017: UC Irvine rescinds admission offers to 500 freshmen because of over enrollment

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

 

The University of California, Irvine revoked nearly 500 offers of admissions because of over enrollment, leaving students with very few options just two months before the start of the fall semester. Wikipedia Commons

Nearly 500 incoming freshmen accepted to the University of California Irvine are facing the worst nightmare of their academic careers less than two months before the start of the fall semester. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report on Friday, July 28, 2017, that the UC campus rescinded the admission of 499 incoming students. The university sent the letters last week and the admissions office gave minor or no real reason for the revocation of the admission offers. The university, however, had more students accepting offers of admissions this year than expected. Most including students and the news media believe over enrollment is the only reason UC Irvine is causing a nightmare for these students.

The majority of students were given reasons such as not filing their final transcripts by the due date or bad senior grades. The LA Times notes, “290 of them for transcript issues and the rest for poor senior-year grades, according to campus data.” Students, however, said according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the reasons were “insufficient or nonexistent.” One student claimed the admission office just said they had “violated a freshman admission requirement,” without elaborating or clarifying. Many of the students who were accused of not sending their transcripts in time even if they had have proof they did. The students now have two choices appeal or change their plans for the fall with community college being almost the only option at this point in the summer.

The university claims they can invoke offers of admissions for the following reasons, “not graduating with their high school diploma,” not maintaining in their senior year a “weighted 3.0 senior-year grade-point average, having “Ds or Fs in UC-approved courses” and not “meeting deadlines for submitting all official high school and college transcripts and test scores.” The number of rescission notices at other University of California campus was minute in comparison UCLA revoked seven admissions, UC San Diego revoked nine, and in the previous two years, UC Davis revoked an average of 150 admission offers where most were because of senior final grades.

Thomas Parham, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs issued a statement on Friday. Parham explained, “Acceptance into all University of California campuses is provisional, contingent on meeting the contractual terms and conditions that were clearly outlined in your original admissions offer.”

UC Irvine accepted 850 more students than they originally planned for the Class of 2021. In total, According to the LA Times, “7,100 of the 31,103 freshmen who were offered admission to UC-Irvine had accepted it by May.” The university originally hoped their incoming freshman class would consist of approximately 6,250 students. Tom Vasich, “a spokesman for the university,” told the New York Times on Friday, “This is not a typical year. More students than we expected accepted admission to the university.”

A petition was created to object to the revoked admissions notices. According to the LA Times by Thursday, “640 students, relatives, alumni and community members” signed. The petition read, “We are so sorry that UCI admin has decided to ruin students lives…. They NEED to be held accountable for their actions, and they need to know that we will not just sit back and allow them to take advantage of students.”

The cruel predicament UC Irvine put students admitted to their school was rather unprecedented. There have been many well-publicized horror stories of universities sending offers of admissions by mistake, but not rescinding genuine acceptances on mass. In recent years, each cycle there are stories of universities making computer error, accessing the wrong lists and sending out offers of admissions to thousands of students, before retracting and claiming they were all by accident. The New York Times lists recent mistaken admissions controversies at “Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in 2017, at Tulane University in 2016, and at Carnegie Mellon University in 2015.” In 2009, the UC San Diego sent 28,000 acceptances by error, the campus sent admission offers to all 46,000 applicants instead of just the 18,000 students they admitted.

All of these mistaken acceptances either happened in the early admission cycle or regular cycle, but before students accepted offers of admissions on May 1. Students still had the opportunity to apply or accept other university admission offers. This year, Harvard University caused an uproar after the university revoked admissions for 10 freshmen for inappropriate behavior in mid-April. According to CNN, the ten students posted “explicit memes via a Facebook chat group,” which was “an offshoot of the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group affiliated with the university.”

According to the student paper the Harvard Crimson, the group “mocked sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children.” Harvard Admissions Office let the students know, “As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.” The situation at UC Irvine was radically different since none of the admitted students had done anything, which would cause revoking admission.

The UC Irvine students are most left without options so late in the season; if they want to continue their education, they will have to consider community college and then transferring to a university, or try again this upcoming admission cycle. Even more tragic is the many of the students that UC Irvine rescinded admission fall under the category of minorities, from low-income families, or first of their families to attend college, one student was even a former marine. So far 64 of the 265 that filed appealed have been successful in getting their admissions reinstated.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics July 23, 2017: America deeply polarized as Trump presidency hits six-month mark

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump’s polls at the six-month mark shows discontent especially among Democrats. President Donald J. Trump | July 20, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As President Donald Trump’s hits the six-month mark of his presidency, polarization in the nation is at an all-time high. ABC News and Washington Post released a new poll on Sunday, July 16, 2017, that looked at Trump’s approval rating and followed up with another poll released on Monday, July 17 examining his presidential behavior including his Twitter habits. A Gallup Poll released on July 21, also showed how Trump’s approval rating is below 40 percent mostly because he lacks almost any support from Democrats. According to the new ABC News poll, only 36 percent of Americans “approve of Trump’s job performance,” while the Gallup Poll has Trump approval rating for his second quarter as president at 38.8 percent. The results show that Trump is the most unpopular president at this point in his presidency than any other president in the last 70 years of polling mostly because the nation is the most polarized over Trump than ever in history.

Trump’s approval rate numbers are his lowest and six points lower than they were in April when he reached 100 days of his presidency. Trump has only a 36 percent approval rating in the new ABC News / Washington Post poll entitled “Six months in, the latest poll reveals a record low for Trump,” but a 58 percent disapproval rating. Americans however, approve of the president’s handling of the economy, 43 to 41 percent. According to the Gallup poll entitled “Trump Sets New Low for Second-Quarter Job Approval” Trump’s approval rating for the second quarter of his presidency from April 20 to July 19, is 38.8 percent. In his first quarter, Trump’s approval rating was 41.3 percent. Until President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May his daily tracking approval rating remained in the low 40s, but since then it has remained for the most part in the high 30s.

The only other modern president with such a low poll number at the six-month mark of their presidency was Gerald Ford with a higher, 39 percent in January 1975. Ford, however, was not elected, he became president after Republican Richard Nixon resigned from office, and he faced a backlash for pardoning the disgraced president over the Watergate scandal. Trump also makes a record for highest disapproval rate at the six-month mark, beating President Bill Clinton whose disapproval rating was 51 percent in July 1993.

Gallup does not include Ford in their list and claims Trump’s numbers at this time are closest to Clinton, who had a 44 percent approval rating. The rest of the post-World War II presidents saw over 50 percent approval ratings at the six-month mark, with the average at 62 percent. Looking at all presidential quarters Trump ranks 250th out of 287 quarters. The lower numbers were recorded in later parts of the embattled Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush presidencies.

The gap between Republicans and Democrats’ approval of the president is astounding. According to ABC News, 90 percent of Conservative Republicans and 82 percent of Republicans, in general, approve of the president’s job performance. Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove, with only 11 percent approving. Not many independents approve of the president either with only 32 percent feeling that way.

The Gallup poll shows an even more dramatic partisan divide, only 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump, which is the lowest opposing party support in the modern history of presidential polling. Trump has support from 85 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Independents. As Gallup indicates that is a 77 percent difference from members of either party. Gallup notes, “The high degree of political polarization in Trump’s approval ratings is one major reason why his overall ratings are historically low. Presidential job approval ratings have become increasingly polarized in recent presidential administrations, but the degree of party separation in Trump’s ratings reaches new extremes.”

Trump has had historically low approval ratings because he has not any support from Democrats, partisan support is key to higher approval ratings. The last two presidents Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush had about 30 percent from the opposing parties. Obama had 28 percent of Republican approving his job in 2009, and Bush had 30 percent of Democrats in 2001, despite another contentious election, which was decided by the Supreme Court. Trump has a low approval rating from independents, lower than from previous presidents, where the average at 53 percent, only Carter had low support, with only 42 percent.

The partisan polarization has grown exponentially since Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency, before and since the 1950s opposing parties used to give a high approval rating to new presidents, a minimum of over 40 percent. The situation changed with Clinton, who received just over 20 percent support from Republicans. Independents also abandoned Clinton with only 44 percent approving of him in 1993. Trump has a problem with Independents as well, with only 36 percent supporting him. Fortunately, for President Trump he has overwhelming support from his party, with 86 percent support whereas the average since 1953 has been 82 percent.

The ABC News poll also looked at Americans’ view of the issues that have plagued Trump ‘s presidency and cause his lagging numbers, the Russia election interference controversy, and the embattled Obama repeal and replace bill going through Congress. The public does not approve of the president’s son, “Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and campaign manager, Paul Manafort” having met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign to gain Intel on opponent Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. The revelation and the Trump Jr.’s emails detailing the meeting set-up confirm that the Trump campaign was talking to Russia and looking for their help.

According to the poll, 63 percent of Americans found the meeting inappropriate. Americans now overwhelmingly believe Russia interfered in the presidential election with 60 percent responding that way, but 40 percent do not think there was any interference. Republicans, however, do not believe Russia helped Trump’s campaign with only 9 percent feeling that way. Meanwhile, a slight majority 52 percent believe the president is interfering with the investigation, while 37 percent believe he is not interfering.

In general, a majority, 55 percent of Americans do not believe Trump is succeeding in his agenda and campaign promises, while only 38 percent say he is making “progress.” One of the president’s biggest campaign promises to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law is also turning into the young presidency’s biggest failure. Although the House of Representatives passed a bill, the American Health Care Act on the second try, the Senate was not satisfied with it. This past month, the Senate failed with two incarnations of the Better Care Act, without either going to a floor debate and vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell than planned to put to a vote a years old House bill that only repeals the health care and replace in two years time., that idea has not garnered enough support for a vote. Trump, however, is demanding that the Senate not only repeal Obamacare but also replace it before the August recess or else the recess should be canceled. Now the Senate with a vote on the House bill and will add amendments.

According to the ABC News poll, Americans prefer keeping Obamacare to any alternative; Congressional Republicans are floating 50–24 percent. The House and Senate bills both cut Medicaid funding for the states. The cuts were the main reason Republican senators came out against the bill, and they were in good company. According to the ABC News poll, 63 to 27 percent of Americans believe, “it’s more important to provide health care coverage for low-income Americans than to cut taxes.”

Americans are not very confident about the president representing the country on the world’s stage either. Around 75 percent of Americans do not trust the president to “negotiate with other world leaders” especially Russia’s Vladimir Putin. While 48 percent of Americans think, the country’s world image and reputation are weaker under Trump with only 27 percent saying, “it has gotten stronger.”

The mirror image is about the same, the world does not like Trump very much. According to a recent Pew Research Survey published on June 26, and entitled “U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership” of the over 37 nations surveyed only 22 percent have confidence in President Trump, while 74 percent have no confidence. The numbers are a sharp contrast to those of Democratic President Barack Obama, where it was the reverse, 64 percent had confidence versus 23 percent saying no confidence at the end of his term in January. The favorable view of the US is also in decline, now it is only 49 percent with a 39 percent unfavorable view. When Obama left office, there was a 20-point difference, with a 69 percent favorable view and a 26 percent unfavorable view. Of the 37 countries polled, only Israel and Russia had a better opinion on Trump’s leadership versus Obama.

Democrats claim that the reason for disapproving President Trump’s job performance has less to do with what he does in office and more to do with his personality and character. Gallup and ABC News/ Washington Post conducted separate polls looking at the way Americans view the president personally. Gallup released their poll “Trump Disapproval Rooted in Character Concerns” on July 13, and according to findings, 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s personality and character, with previous presidents’ disapproval was grounded in policies and job performance.

According to Gallup, only 12 percent base their disapproval on Trump’s performance as president, with 16 percent basing it on policies and issues, but an overwhelming amount of 65 percent say it is his personality and personal characteristics. For Obama at the six-month mark, it was the reverse with 65 percent disapproving of him because of his policies, while it was split with George W. Bush between policies at 31 percent and performance at 43 percent.

Apparently, Trump’s personality was a benefit on the campaign trail but a hindrance to the presidency. As Gallup analyzes, “Trump’s unique personal style, brashness, and disregard for conventional political norms and discourse — while clearly a negative for many during the campaign — helped him stand out from other Republican contenders and ultimately contributed to his victory in November.”

Gallup broke it down and found that under character and personality related, 29 percent disapprove of President Trump because he comes across as “Not presidential/Bad temperament/Arrogant/Obnoxious,” 10 percent say he is “Inexperienced/Doesn’t know what he is doing.” Every other reason was all under 10 percent including “Looking out for himself/Doesn’t consider people’s needs,” “Use of social media/Twitter” and “Untrustworthy” all at 6 percent.

Although 16 percent of Americans cite issues and policies as their reason for disapproving the president, no single issue ranked at over 4 percent including foreign policy and health care, which only garnered 3 percent. According to the poll, 12 percent disapprove of Trump because of broad performance, yet no single reason registered above 7 percent, with the most saying it is because they “Disagree with what he is doing/Doing a poor job.”

In contrast, the reasons Americans approve of the president are almost evenly distributed among the three categories, 38 percent for broad performance, 33 percent for issues and policies and 24 percent for personality and personal characteristics. Only under broad performance does Trump get double digits for specific reasons, the highest is at 12 percent for “Doing a good job/best he can under difficult circumstances,” 11 percent for “Keeping his promises” and 10 percent for “does what is best for America.” The remainder is in the single digits for every category and they represent broad and general reasons.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll entitled “Public to Trump: Lay off Twitter (POLL)” also looked at Trump’s personality finding similar negative responses as Gallup’s poll. As ABC News noted, “70 percent say he’s acted in an unpresidential manner since taking office, 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model and 67 percent disapprove of his use of Twitter.” Additionally, 57 percent “also say that the more they hear about Trump the less they like him, vs. 29 percent who like him more.” While 56 percent find his unpresidential behavior has a negative impact and is “damaging to the presidency overall.” Here even 38 percent of Republicans claim Trump has not behaved presidential. Only 24 percent of respondents find Trump’s behavior presidential.

Although Trump calls Twitter, his way to deliver his message directly to the American public while bypassing the news media, 67 percent of Americans disapprove of him using the social media site. Looking further at the president’s Twitter post, 68 percent said the tweets were inappropriate, 65 percent find them insulting, while 52 percent went further claiming the president’s tweets are dangerous. In contrast, of those supporting Trump’s tweets, 41 percent found them “interesting,” 36 percent “effective” and 21 percent went as far as saying they were “refreshing.”

Democrats, in particular, do not like or personally approve of the president and they also want him impeached a hope and call that started even before he entered the office and has only gotten louder since he fired Comey. A Monmouth University poll published on July 17, finds that only 39 percent approve of the president, while 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump. The poll asked about impeachment especially with the anger surrounding Trump’s son meeting with Russian operatives.

The poll says 40 percent of Americans want the president impeached over the Russia campaign interference controversy. Democrats represent the majority calling for impeachment with 70 percent, followed by 32 percent of independents and only 12 percent of Republicans. In 1973 at the start of the Watergate scandal, only 24 percent of Americans wanted President Richard Nixon impeached. A majority of Americans also found the Russia meeting “not appropriate” with 59 percent saying that, consisting of “86 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents, and 28 percent of Republicans.”

To be fair, the ABC News and Washington Post poll does not have a truly fair and bipartisan pool, which they surveyed. According to their methodology the poll was skewed with responses from 35% Democrats, 35% independents and only 23% Republicans. Naturally, Democrats and Democratically leaning Independents oppose Trump; they have never given him a chance since he was elected. For an entirely, non-biased survey, those responding had to be even distributing and independents had to be truly independent not leaning towards either party.

Americans do not feel any better about the Democrats than the y do about Trump, according to the ABC News / Washington Post poll, a majority of 52 percent said the Democrats “just stands against Trump.” Of Americans that feel that way about the party, 27 percent are Democrats, 55 percent are independents” and 82 percent are Republicans. Americans do feel Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote would not have been better than Trump. A new Bloomberg poll released on July 18, gave Trump a 41 percent approval rating, but Clinton had only a 39 percent approval rating. After a campaign, the losing party nominee’s ratings usually improve, but not Clinton partially because Trump keeps attacking her. Still, 20 percent of Clinton voters now say they did not like her and have an unfavorable view of her but only 6 percent of Trump voters feel the same.

In general, Americans are discontent with the current political situation, whether it is Trump, the Democrats, or the resistance movement. We are facing a political malaise not seen since the 1970s when Democrat Jimmy Carter named a speech those fateful and politically fatal words in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s ouster from the presidency earlier in the decade. On July 15, 1979, Carter delivered his Malaise speech to the nation, “The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America….” His words could easily describe the problem the nation faces again today.

The United States now too is facing a crisis of confidence, but it is a crisis because of partisanship. Three different polls Gallup, Reuters, and even the Conservative Rasmussen Reports all indicate that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied and believe the country is going on the wrong track, direction. According to the latest from Gallup from July 5–9, 2017, only 27 percent of Americans are satisfied with the country direction, while 71 percent are dissatisfied, up from 27 percent the month before. There have been lower numbers even in President Barack Obama’s time, in July 2016, October 2013, and from July 2011 to January 2012. The most recent Reuters poll published on July 20, has 58.8 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, with only 25.8 percent saying the country is moving in the right direction. The Rasmussen poll published on July 17, had similar results with 33 percent of respondents saying, “The country is heading in the right direction,” down from the mid- 40s when Trump first assumed office.

The partisanship is getting so extreme Democrats have no tolerance to speak even with Trump voters and supporters. A new Pew Research Center survey, entitled “Since Trump’s Election, Increased Attention to Politics — Especially Among Women” published on July 20, examined how Americans’ relationship to politics and friendships from opposing parties has affected them since Trump’s election. According to the poll, 47 percent of liberal Democrats find that if they had a friend that supported Trump it would put “a strain on their friendship.” Of all Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, 35 percent say it causes a strain. The feeling is worst among White and College educated Democrats with 40 percent and 44 percent feeling that way.

Republicans are feeling in a good and forgiving mood with their party controlling the White House and only 13 percent say it would “strain on a friendship” if a Democratic friend voted for Hillary Clinton. Never mind a friendship, the partisan sentiment has become so toxic that “68 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters say they find it “stressful and frustrating” to talk to people who have a different opinion of Trump. About half — 52 percent — of Republican and GOP-leaning voters say the same.”

Americans are deeply polarized and unsatisfied with the current state of politics, with Democrats bearing the biggest burden and negative attitudes. The problem is that do not realize that the toxic atmosphere is just as bad as they deem the president is or even worse because it causes tensions in normal interactions. The deep polarization and negativity are not necessary, the economy is doing well and growing, the country and Americans are prospering even with Trump as president.

As long as the United States exists, one party will occupy the White House, while the other sits out on the sidelines. However, the Constitution guarantees elections for president every four years and for Congress every two years, guarantees freedoms for its citizens and a checks balance on each of the three branches of government. No matter Trump’s personality and character, nothing can affect the Constitution. If Americans are dissatisfied, they have put their efforts and strengths toward the next election rather than remain negative. As the polls indicate, no matter Trump’s future in the White House, he will go down in his as the most polarizing president to date.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 17, 2017: Concordia University’s policies purposely delay graduation dates

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Concordia University is plagued with enrollment issues delaying students’ graduations and potentially ruining their prospects for graduate and professional school. Wikipedia Commons

We are now in the summer with this year’s convocation ceremonies celebrating university graduates just ended, while new incoming students anticipate the start of their higher education journey. However, how many students who start university end up at the finish line? The question is the reason why graduation rates are an important part of choosing a university, but some universities hide their problems. One such school is Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Concordia has long faced questions about their graduation rates, but now a reason has emerged, the University has been purposely pushing students to delay graduation.

An April 9, 2017, article by local Montreal radio station CJAD entitled “Over Enrollment Blamed for Class Crunch at Concordia” exposed that the university has over enrollment issues in key requirement courses. Instead of dealing with the longtime issue, undergraduate advisors are convincing students to delay graduation by taking a reduced course load, which ruins students’ graduate school prospects if they look to go outside of Concordia. The psychology department is not the only department experiencing these types of problems they happen elsewhere within the university. The issue is also not exclusively a problem plaguing undergraduate students, deterrence tactics also common at the graduate level.

The report by CJAD and authored by reporter Shuyee Lee delved into some of the reasons there are problems with Concordia graduation rates, over enrollment in courses and advisors telling students to take lighter course loads. In what has been going on “for years” unreported, students face problems enrolling in popular courses that are also part of the major or specialization requirements to graduate or even proceed with next level courses. The courses often offered once a year do not have enough spaces, filled up quickly, and have long waitlists, in the end, many students are shut out. Students have to take longer to graduate and fulfill their requirements. The even problem, the university’s cover-up, many academic advisors are trying to convince students to take lighter course loads, make the students believe it is better for their academic future to do so.

One of Concordia’s most popular majors, Psychology was highlighted in CJAD’s report. Student Paolo Drago, the representative for the Concordia’s Undergraduate Psychology Association spoke to CJAD about the problems within his department, he and fellow students face. Drago explained, “Some courses are only offered once a year, by a particular professor, so you can imagine people who want to take a specialization class that really caters to what they want to research or study, they might not be able to get into that class for a whole year because the class is full, it’s usually a class of 60 so they start lagging behind on the classes they want to take.”

Concordia might be able to keep students enrolled longer and garner additional fees, but it is to the academic detriment of its students. Delays in graduation, taking longer than the average time to complete a degree and taking lighter course loads are frowned at in graduate and professional applications. Students trying to be admitted into law, medicine, and graduate programs at other universities are having problems being admitted and the explanation, they were only listening to the advisor’s does not work. Drago told CJAD, “People are kind of blindsided when they start applying and they don’t get accepted, ‘Well, I did everything the academic advisor told me to do and it’s not paying dividends.’”

Instead of finding solutions, the university’s faculty and administration are denying that there are even any problems. Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota denied there are any over enrollment issues. Mota said, “There are a few programs where opening extra sections of a course is a challenge.” Still, the university plans to increase the minimum average for acceptance to their psychology program, and increase course sizes for the popular required courses. Nevertheless, what about the greater problems in other programs that was not part of CJAD’s report?

This is not the first time Concordia faced a controversy about graduation rates. In 2014, Concordia faced a controversy when the Montreal’s French language paper La Presse wrote an expose claiming a drastic fall in the university undergraduate graduation rate. Concordia quickly pressured La Presse to retract the story. In the original story published on January 3, 2014, entitled “ PLUS DE LA MOITIÉ DES ÉTUDIANTS DE CONCORDIA NE DÉCROCHENT PAS LEUR DIPLÔME “ reporter Hugo Pilon-Larose claimed that only 48 percent of students who started degrees in 2006 had completed them by 2012. The number was a fall from the 75 percent, who had started their degrees in 2001 and finished them by 2007. The troubling number was supposed because of the higher proportion of international students and part-time students.

The university was outraged, almost immediately La Presse was forced to retract their original article. Another article was published four days later on January 7, 2014, entitled, “Taux d’obtention de diplôme: Concordia maintient le cap” and written by Pilon-Larose. The New correction article now claimed that Concordia’s 2007 graduation rate was 75.5 percent and 2012, and it was 74.2 percent for students who commenced their studies six years before. Benoit-Antoine Bacon, vice-president, and vice-president of academic affairs at Concordia University boasted about the rate in the revision. Bacon said, “Our graduation rate is close to or even above the national average. We are very satisfied. But we can always do better, and we are working hard to increase it. But to do so, we face financial and academic challenges.”

In comparison, the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) a comprehensive school like Concordia had a 68.7 rate in 2007 and 71.3 percent in 2012. McGill University and Université de Montréal (UdeM), the city’s medical and doctoral schools had higher rates. McGill had 84 percent in 2012 for students starting in 2006, lower than in 2007 when they had 86 percent graduation rate for students who commenced their studies 2001. Université de Montréal (UdeM) graduation during the same period dropped only slightly from 80.2 percent in 2007 to 79.4 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, Concordia countered with a correction to LaPresse’s story. The university claimed that LaPresse compared full-time rates from 1999 to part-time rates for 2012 leading to the discrepancies. Concordia indicated that the full-time rate is down only slightly from 74.5 percent to 74.2 percent whereas for all cycles is down 75% to 75.9%.

The truth is the graduation rate is much higher than La Presse’s number but not nearly as high as Concordia claims. University rankings claim the number is in fact, nearly 5 percent lower that Concordia boasts. Maclean’s Magazine profiled Concordia in 2016 for their annual university ranking where Concordia held the tenth position in the Comprehensive University category. According to Maclean’s Concordia has only a 70.5 percent graduation rate, but an 85.9 percent retention rate, showing students keep going and going at Concordia without completing their degrees.

Aside from clarifying the La Presse controversy, Concordia does not publish graduation rates only the number of graduates each year and the number of students enrolled each academic year.
In 2011–12, there were 35,848 undergraduates, 23,390 full-time and 12,458 part-time enrolled at the university. There were also 7,314 graduate students, 5,294 full-time and 2,020 part-time. Meanwhile, that year 4,889 undergraduate received the diplomas, and 1,593 graduating students graduated. In 2015–16, there were 35,616 undergraduate students; the divisions between full and part-time were not disclosed. Meanwhile, 5,213 undergraduates received a diploma and 1,901 graduate students. Although there are more students graduating in the previous academic year, no data was released to indicate when they started their studies and how long it took them to graduate.

Concordia does fare well in world university rankings, partly because they are a comprehensive university focusing or some professional and graduate degrees, but are not a full research, medical doctoral university. In Canada, according to Maclean’s Concordia is 10th in the comprehensive category. On the world stage, the university cannot compete with Canada’s bigger names.

According to the 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings released in June, Concordia is 431–400, having moved up 30 spots. In comparison, the University of Toronto is now Canada’s top university in the QS ranking replacing McGill coming at number 31. McGill is now second in Canada at number 32. Although McGill ranks first in Canadian rankings in international ones the University of Toronto usual takes that honor. Canada’s third University in the top 100, the University of British Columbia is now number 52. In Canada, Concordia was in 16th place of all Canadian schools.

Meanwhile, in the Times Higher Education’s (THE) 2017 World University Rankings, Concordia came at between 501–600 th position. The school did better in the 2017 Young University Rankings, were ranked in the 101–150 th position. The University of Toronto again topped the Canadian universities on the list. The University of Toronto took the Number 22 position. The University of British Columbia was tied for 36, while McGill University was number 42.

The revelation of Concordia’s deterrence methods came close to home. I had two degrees from the neighboring McGill University before entering Concordia University. I had a BA in History and Art History and a Masters in Library and Information Studies before starting a second Masters degree in Judaic Studies with a thesis, at Concordia’s Religion Department from the start I was pushed to relax my course load. I came with plans to move full speed ahead and finish the program in two years and then on for a doctorate, but at every turn, there were obstacles that slowed me down. The following is my own experiences and observances while I was a student at Concordia.

At McGill, I completed a Masters degree by course and finishing the 48-credit degree in two years by taking a full load of four courses each semester. In Concordia, I was cautioned to take only two courses a required seminar and independent course in my first semester. In my first semester, I tried to stay strict with deadlines but saw professors being lax about deadlines as if it was not unusual, and it was not. For final research papers in seminars and independent courses my professors routinely recommended continuances that lasted up to two months into the next semester. With weekly readings and some short writing assignments throughout the semester it becomes easy to need the extra time a complete a research paper for a course, and if you start down that path, you continually need the extra time.

The research papers I completed for each course were sometimes upward to 50 pages in final presentation form. With the sheer amount of research for the papers plus reading throughout the semester, it is easy to take advantage of light course loads and extensions because they are approved and even advised by the faculty and your program advisor. Students fall into the trap, made so easy by your department but it ends up being destructive to graduating on time and realizing your academic goals.

Another unreported problem in Concordia is the amount of time it takes graduate students to complete their degree. A warning sign was hearing how long some of the students in the Religion Department were taking for their degrees, an average four years for the masters and upward to ten years for the doctorate. Concordia gives longer maximums for completing a graduate degree than neighboring McGill. The longer maximum time for full-time students is a leading indicator is would take longer to complete the degrees. The masters’ degree I was enrolled in the Religion Department resembled more of a mini-doctorate program at that time, with not only a thesis but also two comprehensive exams, it was impossible to complete it in the usual two years a Master’s degree should take. The degree has now been curtailed with the comprehensive exams removed as a requirement.

Concordia’s graduate programs have students paying a set schedule of fees regardless of the number of credits a student takes each semester. Therefore, one can take two courses and still be a full-time student. After the degree is paid, and if a student has not completed their degree they pay continuance fees. In comparison to Concordia’s, fee schedule, at McGill even in graduate study students pay by the number of credits per semester. In the end, after the three years, I completely paid off my degree plus three semesters of continuance fees, but with only 18 credits completed on my transcript.

Another way to deter students was making them repeat courses they had previously received credit for at another university. I faced another added burden, unlike the majority of students in my program I came with a Masters degree already under my belt, something the department repeatedly tried to forget. Whereas in McGill if a student already completed a research methods course, they were exempted from the requirement, it was the opposite in Concordia. I had taken an entire degree on research methodology, librarians are expert researchers, the ones helping students conduct research and find sources in the academic libraries, but the department was insistent I take a repetitive course or would not graduate.

The research methods course consisted of visits to the libraries and archives to hear about how to research. During my MLIS programs, I worked in libraries. Prior to entering Concordia, I had just put on an exhibition of a collection I cataloged in Canadian Jewish history as part of work I did at McGill’s University Archives. The department ignored that I completed a degree in research at the nation’s preeminent university. In my experience, the entire cycle was one I could not escape except leave the program without graduating. Therefore, after three years, 18 credits, an unsubmitted completed thesis, and a 3.95 CGPA I left Concordia’s MA in Judaic Studies program.

Like CJAD’s report on the psychology department’s deterrence methods, my experience was more the fault of the Religion Department than the university’s policies although they did facilitate them since departments have more control over graduate students and programs. As I observed a majority of the graduate students accepted to the Masters and even the Doctorate program came from different disciplines. I came from a related one history and was focusing on American Jewish history, but did not have Judaic or Jewish studies major beforehand. Other students came from even more different degrees and disciplines. Sometimes the students were required to take extra courses to obtain a background other times not, like me.

A majority in the department were also mature students returning to school after years in other professions. A minority were students continuing through the different academic cycles, I was one of the youngest in the program despite having completed another Masters before. I frequently saw favoritism for the mature students. Favoritism, in general, ran rampant, and it had nothing to do with grades or GPAs, rather personality but also research interests. Unlike psychology, religion is not usually a popular discipline; especially Judaic studies where there were only a handful of graduate students. University politics plays a factor, allocation of funding from the university depends on departmental enrollment. Promises of fellowships and awards attracted students like me for the money but mostly the prestige and honor. Keeping students in the department longer makes a larger student population. All these factors and some external ones were a recipe for students to take longer completing their degrees.

The reveal in CJAD’s report just touches on advisors recommending reduced course loads. Unfortunately, the advice is even more detrimental to graduate programs. Concordia’s policies do everything possible to slow down graduate students making them spend double the time and money. Departments are pushing students to take longer to graduate to increase their number of students and make sure the university collects more fees and that they get larger budgets. Instead of finding solutions, the administration chooses to ignore or better yet shut down any report that might indicate a problem at the university. LaPresse quickly withdrew their story in 2014 and CJAD’s report in April never went further with a followed up or covered by any other news outlet.

As their graduate rates suggest, maybe a majority of Concordia University’s students eventually graduate, others are fed up with the high costs, lengthy times and slow career movement. Either way, students are the ones that lose out from the university and department politics and policies. Longer times to graduate at the undergraduate or graduate level give students wishing to continue their studies little options outside of Concordia, which seems an intentional part of the cycle. For those who discontinue their studies, they are left few choices to continue graduate school, except return to Concordia or years of explaining why they did not complete their degree. Now at least thanks to CJAD’s reporting students and ex-students do not feel alone, it a common unresolved occurrence at Concordia one that desperately needs remedying.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education June 15, 2017: Harvard again tops Times Higher Education’s World Reputation Rankings for seventh-year

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The crown jewel of the Ivy League, Harvard University again is the world most prestigious university reputation wise. Photo: Harvard.edu 

When it comes to reputation, no university in the world can surpass Harvard, who is again the top university. On Thursday, June 14, 2017, The Times Higher Education released their seventh annual World Reputation Ranking with Harvard University remaining in the top spot for six years in a row. The top three are all American universities, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the second place, and Stanford University in third. British universities round out the top five with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford both tied for fourth place.

There was little movement in the top 10. There was one big change The University of Chicago moves up two into the top 10 and the ninth spot bumping out Ivy League Columbia University, which falls from ninth to 12th place. The only other change is the University of Oxford moves up to tie with fellow British school The University of Cambridge.

Otherwise, Harvard remains on top as Forbes points out, “Harvard can, as of this month, claim another distinction: the most reputable institution of higher learning on Earth-an honor it has enjoyed for the past six years.” For the six of the past seven years; MIT has been in second place. Eight of the top 10 were American universities, including Stanford University, Princeton University, Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology and new entry the University of Chicago.

The ranking is considered, “the definitive list of the world’s most prestigious universities.” Phil Baty, the rankings editor for THE, explains, “Reputation is the global currency of higher education. It may be subjective; it may not always be fair, but it matters deeply.” THE’s World Reputation Rankings “have become a major fixture in the higher education calendar — serving as a yearly global academic brand audit and attracting news headlines across the world.”

The ranking is international, with 19 countries represented in the top 100 universities. The United States has the most schools in the ranking but one less this year, with 42 institutions represented and Harvard the top ranking. American universities, however, are seeing a decline, with 20 schools falling in the ranking and only eight improving their positions. In the second place, the United Kingdom has the second most universities with 10, and the University of Cambridge and Oxford University tied at fourth, as the country’s the top school.

The THE is blaming Donald Trump being elected President of the United States and Brexit, for American and British schools losing prestige. THE rankings editor, Phil Baty pointed out about American institutions’ decline, “Claiming 42 places in the top 100 list (one fewer than last year), the US is the most-represented country in the table. But it will have to watch out for the rise of Asia as several of the continent’s higher education stars overtake well-established American powerhouses. Overall 20 of the U.S.’s 42 representatives have declined since last year and only eight have improved; the rest are stagnant.”

The other factor is the rise of Asian universities. The top Asian university is the University of Japan sitting at number 11, barely outside the top ten. There are also two other Asian schools in the top 20, China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University at the number 14 and 17 positions. Since 2011, Tsinghua moved up 21 spots, while Peking moved up 26 spots, both incredible leaps.

As THE indicates the University of Japan ranks higher than Ivy League Columbia University, and that Tsinghua University and Peking University are leading Imperial College London, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, two Ivy League universities and a prestigious British school. THE writer Ellie Bothwell comments in the press release, “China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University both leapfrogged the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University in the table this year while the University of Tokyo now has a stronger reputation than Columbia University. Meanwhile, Seoul National University is now considered more prestigious than the University of California, Davis.”

The three Asian universities fare better than any European institutions, where the top school ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich is only 22. European universities are also “losing ground” to Asian schools. China has six schools in the top 100 and Japan also has six ranking as does Germany, the European country with the most universities in the top 100. Both China and Japan had each one more school ranking in the top 100 than last year, while in 2015’s ranking, Japan and China had only two universities each in the top 100.

Canada has three universities in the top 100, with the University of Toronto, the country’s top school falls one to number 24. Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia is in second place in the country drops three spots to number 40. McGill University, which usually ranks as the top university in Canadian rankings, is only third in THE’s World Reputation Ranking of all Canadian schools, and also lost ground moving down three spots to tie for number 42 with the University of California, San Francisco, and LMU Munich.

The rankings are entirely based on the opinion of the institutions, as THE explains, “The rankings are entirely subjective — they are based purely on an annual opinion survey.” The methodology for determining the rankings consists of sending the survey to “more than 10,000 top scholars from around the world. Each academic was asked to name up to 15 universities that they believe are the best for research and teaching in their discipline. Votes for institutions based on research prowess were given twice the weight of those for teaching.”

THE’s Reputation Ranking mirrors THE’s World University Rankings in that most of the top 10 are the same but in vastly different spots. The biggest difference is that Yale University is included within the Reputation Ranking’s top 10, but misses it as 12th place in the World Ranking. While ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, which is number 9 in the world ranking is absent from the Reputation Ranking top 10 and does not even hit the top 20. The World Ranking is far more objective than the perception of reputation and relies on factors including “teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.”

Top 10 World Reputation Rankings

2017 reputation rank — 2016 reputation rank — Institution Country — 2016–17 WUR position

1, 1 Harvard University, United States, 6
2, 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States 5
3, 3 Stanford University, United States, 3
4, 4 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 4
4, 5 University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 1
6, 6 University of California, Berkeley, United States, 10
7, 7 Princeton University, United States, 7
8, 8 Yale University, United States, 12
9, 11 University of Chicago 10
10, 9 California Institute of Technology, United States, 2

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 11, 2017: Princeton University again best ROI topping MONEY’s Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Princeton University is again MONEY’s top school in their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017, proving the Ivy League school also has a good Return on Investment for their graduates. Wikipedia Commons

If high school seniors and their parents are looking for the best return on investment in choosing a college MONEY Magazine just named Princeton University the best value for the buck among Americans colleges. Princeton was also MONEY’s top school last year. Time’s MONEY Magazine released on Monday, July 10, 2017, their annual Best Colleges for your Money for 2017. MONEY’s rankings differ from the majority of university rankings that are published each year in that factor in costs and ROI as some of the most important factors leading to a far more diverse top ten than any other ranking, filled with the Ivy League, private and public colleges and universities dubbed by MONEY as the “Paycheck League.” MONEY, PayScale and Kiplinger’s release annual rankings focusing on value and ROI all have diverse universities in the top spots. These rankings aim to give students a different perspective on the financial and investment aspects than the majority of rankings that focus just on academics and reputation.

This year’s top ten saw a major shake-up from 2016 with the exception of the top spot belonging to Princeton. Many of the schools have dropped out completely from the top 10, while others moved up or down drastically. This year’s number two the City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College catapulted to the top ten replacing the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who moves down to third place. In fourth place is the University of California at Berkeley, who moved up one after tying for fifth place last year. Last year’s fourth place school Rice University moves out of the top ten to 12th place.

This year two schools vie for fifth place the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University. UCLA is a new arrival to the top ten moving up 15 from number 20, while the country’s most selective college Stanford University moves up five from the tenth spot. Last year Brigham Young University, Provo tied for fifth with Berkley, this year it drops from the top ten drastically to number 105. The University of California at Irvine moves up to take seventh place from number 16 last year. Last year’s number seven Amherst College moves down over 20 spots to number 28.

In the eighth position is QS World University Ranking leader Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) moving into the top ten from 11th place in 2016. Last year’s eighth-place the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art tumbled this year not only out of the top ten but out of the top 100 to number 124. At number nine is the University of California at Davis the third University of California system school featured in the top ten. UC Davis moves up from number 17. Last year’s ninth place school, the University of Virginia — Main Campus moved down to number 11. Harvard University, one of the most coveted of the Ivy League world and national leader sees one of its lowest rankings on MONEY’s list falling from third to tenth place.

MONEY ranking is the most well known, PayScale and Kiplinger’s also release rankings focusing on value and ROI all have a different mix of colleges at the top of their list than other rankings. Ann Rossbach, president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association explained why this type of ranking is important. Rossbach told MONEY, “Families are really looking for, return on investment. They want to know the real numbers.” The top school on MONEY’s list are coined “the Paycheck League” by the magazine, “Nowadays, bragging rights are going to colleges in what we’ll dub the “Paycheck League”-schools that the real numbers show to provide a boost in the job market.”

For their methodology MONEY examined 711 colleges, up six from 2016. The magazine looks at 27 indicators that compromise three major areas that “measure educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.” The 711 colleges had to meet certain criteria, have a minimum of 500 students, data to analyze, not be in “financial distress,” have to have a median graduation rate or “valued added” rate. Under quality of education, there were minimum requirements, including a “six-year graduation rate, value-added graduation rate, peer quality, instructor quality” and minimum “financial troubles.”

Under affordability MONEY examined “Net price of a degree, debt, Student loan repayment and default risk, Value-added student loan repayment measures and Affordability for low-income students.” Under outcomes or alumni success looking at “graduates’ earnings, Earnings adjusted by majors, college scorecard 10-year earnings, estimated market value of alumni’s average job skills, value-added earnings, job meaning and socio-economic mobility index.” Socio-economic mobility index is a new indicator the magazine added this year. MONEY “used statistical techniques to turn all the data points into a single score and ranked the schools based on those scores.”

Other ROI rankings include PayScale who released their annual ROI Report: Best Value Colleges on May 3. PayScale had the United States Merchant Marine Academy as the top school followed by Harvey Mudd College in second and then MIT in third. In fourth place were SUNY Maritime College and Colorado School of Mines in coming in fifth place. As part of their methodology, PayScale examines the costs to attend the college and then the return how much a graduate will make in the 20 years after graduation.

Kiplinger’s released their Best College Values 2017 in December 2016 where Swarthmore College topped the list. Coming in second was Davidson College, third Princeton, fourth Duke University and rounding out the top five was Washington and Lee University. As Kiplinger’s points out their methodology revolves around their “definition of best value: a blend of academic quality and affordability.” Kiplinger’s defines their academic requirements as a “competitive admission rate, a high four-year graduation rate, and a low student-faculty ratio.” Affordability consists of “schools with a reasonable price tag, generous financial aid for students who qualify, and low student debt at graduation.” They also look at “future earnings data” determining the average salary for a graduate ten years after completing their degree.”

MONEY’s top ten Best Colleges for Your Money 2017

1. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (1)
Annual price without aid: $65,300
Annual price with aid: $19,300
Early career earnings: $67,600
2. City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College, New York, New York
Annual price without aid: $31,400
Annual price with aid: $9,800
Early career earnings: $51,600
3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan (2)
Annual price without aid: $29,500
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $61,200
4. University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California (5 tied)
Annual price without aid: $37,200
Annual price with aid: $17,900
Early career earnings: $62,100
5. University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Annual price without aid: $35,300
Annual price with aid: $14,900
Early career earnings: $53,300
5. Stanford University, Stanford, California (10)
Annual price without aid: $68,100
Annual price with aid: $20,800
Early career earnings: $70,300
7. University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California (16)
Annual price without aid: $33,900
Annual price with aid: $15,800
Early career earnings: $52,000
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts (11)
Annual price without aid: $67,800
Annual price with aid: $23,400
Early career earnings: $77,000
9. University of California at Davis, Davis, California (17)
Annual price without aid: $36,300
Annual price with aid: $18,200
Early career earnings: $53,000
10. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (3)
Annual price without aid: $68,600
Annual price with aid: $17,000
Early career earnings: $65,000

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education July 9, 2017: MIT remains the world’s best UK slides in 2018 QS World University Rankings

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

For the sixth consecutive time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is sitting on the top of the QS World University Rankings’ Top Universities, MIT.edu

The 2018 university ranking season is getting an early start as Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) pushed up the release of their annual world university rankings. For the sixth year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is sitting on the top of the QS World University Rankings’ annual Top Universities. QS World University Rankings released their 2018 edition on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, and for the first time in the ranking’s history the top four are all American schools, with MIT, Stanford, Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology sweeping the top spots.

Meanwhile, Brexit is affecting British universities with 51 institutions losing ground in the rankings by at least one spot. There are 76 British universities in this year’s ranking. As QS indicates, “This includes 11 of the 16 ranked Russell Group universities.” The top ranking British university comes in only in fifth place with Cambridge University, which fell by one spot from last year. Cambridge is followed by Oxford, which holds on to the sixth place, UCL, the University College of London also holds on to the seventh place. The last British school to rank in the top ten is the Imperial College of London, which falls one to land in ninth place.

The top 10 shows an almost even balance between American and British universities with one continental European institution Switzerland’s ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at tenth place falling two spots, but still breaking up what had been for years an exclusive club dominated by the Americans and British. “Academic reputation” is the most important determining factor for the lists, and it is reflected by the universities represented in the ranking.

This year there are five American (MIT (1), Stanford (2), Harvard (3), Caltech (4), the University of Chicago (9)). And four British universities (Cambridge (5), Oxford (6), University College of London (7), Imperial College of London (9)) in the top 10. The top Ivy League school on the list is Harvard at №3 remaining in the same place for two years in a row. For the second year, a British school does not occupy one of the top three spots and now four spots. Britain’s leading school, the University of Cambridge, moves down, one to fifth place.

Two of the four British universities in the top 10 moved down a spot from last year, showing a troubling trend for British universities throughout the ranking. Meanwhile, there are 11 American universities in the top 20, while there are five British universities in the top 20. In this year’s edition, there are four universities outside of the US and the UK in the top 20, two from Switzerland, and two from Singapore.

The QS World University Rankings consistently include more non-US and on-UK universities in the top 20 than any of the other international rankings. There are 81 countries represented in the ranking of 959 schools 25 more than last year’s edition. The United States has the most universities in the ranking top 200 with a quarter, 48 schools, Great Britain follows in second place with 30 of the top 200 universities.

Despite Britain’s strong showing, British schools are ranking lower than last year, mostly of concerns regarding Brexit, including attracting students and funding. According to Forbes, “38 of its 48 representatives in the top 400 have lost ground.” Last year there were three schools from London in the top 20, now there are only two. Additionally, British universities have been suffering from funding cuts.

The top university outside the UK is Switzerland’s ETH Zürich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology moves down two from number 8 to 10. ETH Zurich is considered “the top university in continental Europe” in many worlds and global rankings. The top Asian University is now NanyangTechnological University (NTU) in Singapore at number 11 moving up two from last year and bumping The National University of Singapore (NUS) from the top Asian university. NUS moved down, three to number 15. Australia’s Australian National University is the top ranking university from the Australasia region moving up two to reach the top 20 at number 20.

Universities in emerging economies countries continue to rise in the rankings. China has six universities in the top 100, up from four. India has three schools featured in the top 200. The Universidad de Buenos Aires is Latin America’s top school coming at number 75. Russia also tops the top 100 for the first time with Lomonosov Moscow State University at number 95.

Canada features three universities in the top 50; the same three universities are Canada’s top institutions in all international rankings. McGill University loses its top spot in Canada falling two to number 32. The University of Toronto is now Canada top university in the QS ranking after it moved up five from number 36 to 31. Although McGill ranks first in Canadian rankings in international ones the University of Toronto usual takes that honor. Canada’s third university in the top 100, the University of British Columbia tumbled in the ranking down seven from number 45 to 52.

Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS Intelligence Unit, who also compiled the ranking, explained why MIT dominates the ranking. Sowter remarked in the official press release, “MIT is the nucleus of an unrivaled innovation ecosystem. Companies created by its alumni enjoyed combined revenues of $2 trillion, making them the equivalent of the world’s 11th largest economy. However, their continued dominance at the top should not obscure a changing landscape elsewhere, with other US and UK institutions making way for the best of Russia, China, and India — among others.”

QS World University Rankings was originally a collaboration between the education and career company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) with the Times Higher Education (THE) to create a world university ranking in 2003. For five years the listing was published on THE, with QS supplying the data. In 2010, Times Higher Education decided to break off the partnership and pair up with Thomson Reuters to produce their ranking list. The decision was mostly because of the heavy reliance of using peer reviews to determine the rankings. The QS World University Rankings first appeared in its present format in 2010.

The ranking methodology looks at six indicators in giving marks to each university. The six indicators include, “academic reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.” Each university is accessed on four factors: “research, teaching, employability, and internationalization.”
The QS World University Ranking changed their methodology last year to focus more heavily on research. There is now more reliance on “citations per faculty, making that indicator weight 20 percent of the final score.” QS is using their data from Scopus, “the world’s largest database of research abstracts and citations.” The ranking’s reliance on citation numbers pushes the balance for universities with an active life and natural science programs because academics in those fields have “higher citation rates than in the arts, humanities or social sciences.

The list is highly regarded, but controversial, because they rely on academic peer reviews to rank the universities, others factors include faculty-student ratio, citations by faculty, recruiter review, and internationalism. A recent article from “The Online Citizen” called the “QS ranking downright shady and unethical.” The article questioned the results, the methodology and those chosen to respond to the surveys used to compile the data. The author claims the ranking has an anti-American bias in favor of European and Asian universities. The author found particular issue with Asian universities outranking Ivy League universities” Princeton, Cornell, Yale, and Columbia” and prestigious public and private schools like Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley. The author questioned the disproportionate percentage of surveys coming from small countries while only 10 percent of respondents came from the US.

The World University Rankings list looks at over 950 schools. The ranking includes some sub-lists looking at more specific issues or geographic areas including; By FacultyAsiaLatin AmericaBRICS countries; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Best Student CitiesBy Subject, and also the top 50 universities under 50 years old.

QS World University Rankings Top Universities 2017/18 top 10:

1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States (1)
2 Stanford University, United States (2)
3 Harvard University, United States (3)
4 California Institute of Technology (Caltech), United States (5)
5 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (4)
6 University of Oxford, United Kingdom (5)
7 UCL (University College London), United Kingdom (7)
8 Imperial College London, United Kingdom (9)
9 University of Chicago, United States (10)
10 ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland (8)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics June 25, 2017: Two different models allow Bush and Obama’s post-presidential popularity to surge

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POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

George W. Bush sees his post-presidential favorable rating surge eight years after leaving office.

Wikipedia

Now that Republican Donald Trump is president, the American public finds themselves missing a simpler time when another Republican occupied the White House former President George W. Bush. A new poll released by Gallup on Monday, June 19, 2017, has Bush’s post-presidency popularity surging. The poll shows Bush seeing a seven percent increase in his favorable rating from the 2016 poll, from 52 percent to 59 percent, putting him closer to other former president’s popularity including the latest arrival to the club, Barack Obama. Both former presidents have chosen two radically different models for their post-presidencies, Bush’s choice to stay out of politics is the main reason his popularity has risen so much since he left office over eight years ago as the most unpopular president in recent history.

According to the latest Gallup poll of “favorable views of former presidents,” Bush has a 59 percent favorable rating. Bush has gained ground, in the over eight years since he left office. Bush left the White House with the second lowest approval rating of all presidents in the post-World War II era with only 34 percent approval and 35 percent favorable rating and even reached 25 percent. The peaks and lows of Bush favorable view in office range from 87 percent just after 9/11 in 2001 to 32 percent in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis.

The groups that seem the most nostalgic for Bush are Democrats and independents, as Gallup pointed out, “his favorable rating has nearly doubled among political independents to 56% and has increased fourfold among Democrats to 41%.” Bush is doing well with Republicans but does not have a high of a favorable rating as he should have. Only 82 percent of Republicans see Bush favorably, only an increase of 10 percent since he left office when 72 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably.

Bush’s favorable rating is also skewed among specific demographics. He maintains his popularity among women more than among men, 60 to 56 percent, and whites over nonwhites 64 to 47 percent. Americans in the two age brackets above 35, 35 to 54 and 55 and plus view Bush with a similar 64 and 65 percent favorable rating. However, Bush still has not won over Millenials, with only 42 percent of young adults viewing him favorably.

Although it seemed unlikely in 2009, Bush is nearly as popular as Democrat Barack Obama. Obama has a 63 percent favorable rating, up five points since he left office in January. Gallup noted that Obama’s favorable rating average in both presidential terms was 54 percent. His highs and lows, however, were never as drastic as Bush’s. At his height, Obama had a 59 percent favorable rating in March 2009. At his lowest Obama’s favorable rating was at 42 percent, polled just after the 2014 midterm election, when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. Obama has always been popular with a large percentage of the public, and rating high among all demographics, Republicans, however, still view him negatively. Only 22 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the most recent former president, but an overwhelming 95 percent of Democrats view Obama favorably.

Recently Bush also saw his historical reputation rise. In February C-SPAN released their third survey ranking of American presidents entitled “Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership,” Bush’s rise was only slight, moving up three from 36th place to the 33rd position. Bush united the country in the aftermath of the worst terror attack on American soil in history when on September 11, 2001; radical terrorist group Al-Qaida used planes that hit the Pentagon in Washington, and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing over 3,000 Americans. After the attack, Bush made records with both his approval and favorable rating according to Gallup.

Bush’s counter attack, initiating over decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, divided the country and mostly resulted in Bush falling out of favor with voters. The unpopular foreign wars coupled with domestic policy mistakes, including the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the worst economic and housing collapse since the Great Depression led to Bush’s low ranking despite being a two-term president with the highest record approval rating from 2001 on record. Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor and C-SPAN historical advisory board member, commented, “The survey is surprisingly good news for George W. Bush, who shot up a few notches.”

After the divisiveness of Bush, Barack Obama came onto the scene, and he was elected in 2008 on a campaign pledge of hope and change. In his first foray in the presidential ranking, Obama was placed in the generous position of 12th. Obama earned the third spot in the category “equal justice for all” and seventh place “moral authority,” eighth for “economic management” and tenth place for “public persuasion.” Obama’s stature among historians counters his ranking in the public opinion polls where he only ranked ninth out of the twelve postwar presidents based on his term average.

Obama’s success was most in domestic policy, as he remained mired up for years in Bush’s wars in the Middle East before withdrawing all troops later in his presidency. Obama was able to turn the economy around with the help of his stimulus plan passed by a Democratic Congress, but it took six years for any actual recovery. Obama was the first president to succeed and provide health insurance coverage for practically all Americans with his Affordable Care Act, the program known as Obamacare.

Obama, however, failed in pursuit of his other goal, immigration reform, creating a legal pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants most of whom came from Latin American countries. Legislation in Congress stalled in the Senate, and Obama’s attempts at going it alone in a limited form through executive actions were struck down by the Supreme Court. Obama will be most remembered for his soaring rhetoric, advancement rights for LGBT Americans and being the first African-American president elected in American history.

Partisan divisions, however, grew in the country under Obama, who, despite promises to unite divided more during his tenure, where he was according to polls the polarizing president in history. His constant wars with the Republican House voted in 2010 and Senate voted in 2014 did nothing to help the partisan divide. Obama was the first black president, however, race relations deteriorated during his tenure, as police violence against Africans Americans rose.

The public’s perception of Bush is improving, largely because he has stayed out of political discourse since leaving office. Historian and Bush biographer Jean Edward Smith has remarked in a 2016 Washington Post article, “George W. Bush was not a good president. As a former president, he’s been exemplary. Bush has provided a model for anyone leaving the Oval Office.” Despite, his successor, Obama constantly criticizing Bush during his first years in office, Bush has never replied or criticized back. In fact, except for supporting his brother, Jeb Bush’s 2016 run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Bush has stayed clear of politics. Bush avoided every congressional and presidential election until 2016 but spoke via video to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Instead, Bush’s post-presidency has been consumed by his presidential center The George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, “with the exception of immigration reform,” he advocates for fighting AIDS in Africa and fundraising for veterans of the two wars started in his presidency, whom he feels a personal responsibility. Bush also authored books, including his presidential memoirs, “Decision Points,” published in 2010 and a biography of his father, former President George H. W. Bush, “41” published in 2014. Bush has also continued the tradition of post-presidential speeches.

Of the all his post-presidential activities the one that has defined Bush the most is that he has taken up painting as former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill before him and inspired by Churchill. What began as a hobby has emerged as a second career and fundraising source. Bush has displayed at his library portraits of the leaders he dealt with as president, most recently the former president made a book “Portraits in Courage” featuring portraits of veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, all of the funds which went to his presidential center. Although art critics have not all liked Bush’s paintings, it has definitely softened his image with the public. Bush is pleased and even happier about his post-presidential career, having expressed, “I think part of having a fulfilling life is to be challenged. I’m challenged on the golf course, I’m challenged to stay fit, and I’m challenged by my paintings…I am happy.”

In the five months of his post-presidency, Obama, on the contrary, has criticized his successor and his policies repeatedly urged resistance and protest and taken the limelight away by meeting foreign leaders. Still, according to a recent Politico article entitled, “Obama’s carefully political post-presidency” “Obama also intends to play a more active role in politics than many former presidents, he is insistent on not being the leader of the opposition. He feels he’s done. And he feels it wouldn’t work, anyway.” The Boston Globe noted Obama’s post-presidency is the opposite. The Globe writes, “In political retirement, he can choose which battles he wants to fight. Though if Obama enjoys it, he might usher in a new model for former presidents.”

Although Obama’s post-presidency is being described as non-political his actions prove otherwise, sometimes giving the impression he does not realize he is no longer the president. Just a week after leaving office, he released a statement praising the protests against Trump’s inauguration and criticizing the new president’s travel and refugee ban executive action. Obama received a backlash for his comments and then took a three-month vacation before his next public event in April. In the interim announcements from the former president revolved around vacation sightings, his and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoirs deal for $65-million with Penguin Random House and the design of his presidential library and center.

Since then Obama has some more restraint criticizing the new administration’s policies, but not mentioning Trump’s name. Obama endorsed his former labor secretary Tom Perez’s quest to become the chairman of the Democratic Party. The former president received the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s annual Profiles in Courage Award. Obama then spoke at the University of Chicago in his first public speech of his post-presidential career. Obama has also caused waves with his post-presidential speaking fees receiving $400,000 for a planned address for Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald, a far cry from Bush’s $100,000 to $150,000 average fee.

Former President Obama’s continued forays on the international stage have seemed more invasive. In early May, Obama endorsed centrist Emanuel Macron in France’s presidential election. Obama then delivered a speech at Seed and Chips a food innovation summit in Italy where he urged citizens to vote, giving an unnamed swipe at his successor which garnered him $2.5 million.

Later, Obama took a tour of Europe at the same time as President Trump’s first official trip abroad. Obama met with German President Angela Merkel hours before she was to meet with Trump. Afterward, Obama visited Prince Harry at Kensington Palace in the United Kingdom. In the beginning of June, Obama spoke at Montreal’s Board of Trade and then had a much-publicized dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where headlines highlighted their continued bromance. All Obama’s meetings undermined new President Trump, who is still working to forge relationships with world leaders.

Publicly, Obama has repeatedly spoken out against President Trump’s policy decisions. First Obama criticized, Trump’s announcement that he was pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Obama expressed, “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Most recently, Obama criticized the Senate revised health care bill that would repeal and replace Obama’s crowning legislative achievement the Affordable Care Act signed in 2010 and known as Obamacare. The former president indicated in a Facebook post, “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

As Obama’s popularity continues to soar post-presidency, it has less to his actions, but more to do with the Democrats still having a vacuum in party leadership since he left office. The party is directionless with no clear message to counter President Trump and recently lost five special Congressional elections, not faring too well for the 2018 midterm elections. In contrast, Bush’s popularity is rising for the opposite reason he has stayed out of politics and the conflicts rising above them.

The two recent former presidents are following two vastly different models for their post-presidency. Bush, the Republican looked to follow fellow Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Obama, the Democrat is following the actions of fellow Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. According to historian Jean Edward Smith, Bush is following the more historically appropriate model. Smith commended Bush, “That is exactly what an ex-president should do. While in office, a president dominates the nation’s political discourse. But after leaving the White House, that time is over, and he or she should move to the sidelines.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

History June 14, 2017: The moment civil rights history altered forever: Kennedy’s June 11 address to the nation

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HISTORY

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

John F. Kennedy delivering the Civil Rights Address (Wikimedia Commons)

On This Day in History June 11, 1963… President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address on civil rights to the nation from the White House Oval Office paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Recently, two days in June 1963 have been highlighted as part the pantheon of major turning points in American history. The recently published “Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Changed History” by award-winning journalist and Canadian political author Andrew Cohen in 2014 highlighted the importance of those two days to both the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War and the Kennedy presidency.

Cohen emphasized the magnitude of the events and particularly two speeches Kennedy delivered one on foreign policy at the commencement at American University and the other televised to the nations advancing civil rights. Cohen explained, “To the calendar, June 10 and June 11, 1963, was late spring; to history, it was high summer. Great forces converged and smaller ones emerged over these forty-eight hours, bracketed by two imperishable speeches. One produced an arms treaty, the first of the Cold War. The other produced a civil rights law, the most important of its time” (p. 19)

Cohen indicated the importance of those dates in the Kennedy Presidency, but a recent op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal by author Joel Engel went further. Engel in his article entitled “Three Days That Changed the World, Not That the World Noticed” elevated the significance of three days in June 1963 as major turning points in history. Engel noted, “History is in part the observation of consequential days, tragic and joyous. Americans celebrate July 4 and commemorate Sept. 11. We remember Dec. 7 and honor June 6. In those four days, major events bore consequences that changed the world. But at no time in American history have there been three days like June 10–12, 1963, during which several unrelated events altered the nation’s course as surely as had the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

June 11 and 12, 1963 represented a tide that turned in the battle African-Americans had been waging to obtain civil and equal rights in the United States. All the more significant, 1963 was the bicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation were in the midst of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln granted freedom to America’s slaves. Freedom did not mean equality, although initially through Reconstruction African-Americans saw gains with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution soon segregationist Jim Crow laws segregating African-American settled in throughout the South leaving a new form of bondage.

Throughout, African-Americans were slowly fighting back, primarily with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded in 1909; the best way to move forward was within the court system. Any gains were minimal until a major victory in the Supreme Court by the landmark ruling of the Brown v Board of Education. The decision declared separate segregated school, were not equal but also illegal.

A legal victory was not a practical one; the south remained unwilling to desegregate their schools, and only 10 percent of schools desegregated by the end of the decade. Desegregation took a turn when in 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent the National Guard to “enforce the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.” Afterward, desegregation sped up in public schools, but in every other way of life, it remained at a standstill. In 1960 and 1961, sit-ins and freedom rides attempted to desegregate lunch counters and buses. The gains remained modest under Democrat John F. Kennedy’s presidency despite the sympathetic rhetoric, but only minor action.

The spring of 1963 was paving the way to those two fateful days that would lead to a turning point. The push for desegregation gained momentum with the rise of a charismatic and eloquent leader; Montgomery, Alabama, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King’s non-violent protests became a hallmark of the civil rights movement, and integral part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which King helped found in 1957, and also served as president. King gained prominence as the leader of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott in the winter of 1955–56 at just 26.

In the interim, King’s movement would continue to make news, but King again made headlines in the spring of 1963 with a string of protests in Birmingham, Alabama, which King called “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.” Throughout the spring, from April 3 to May 10, King along with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and James Bevel of the SCLC led activists in the Birmingham campaign, who protested with sit-ins, marches and a boycott, most leading to clashes with the local police.

One of the most notable occurred on Good Friday, April 12, 1963, where King was arrested for his 13th time. King would remain in jail for a week staying longer than necessary mostly to publicize the movement. There he wrote his famous treatise “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the letter was a response to a letter eight religious leaders wrote criticizing him in Birmingham’s newspaper. King defended the movement’s methods and criticizing the leaders saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” President Kennedy eventually intervened leading to King’s release on April 20.

The demonstrations continued and the violent tactics of Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor, continued. On May 2, what was later dubbed the “Children’s Crusade,” protest led to nearly 1000 arrests and Connor used “fire hoses and police dogs” on the young school age protesters. The televised images gripped the nation with the New York Times publishing a photo of dogs attacking a 17-year-old student on their front page. At the time Kennedy remarked, “The other problem is the problem of civil rights… What a disaster that picture is. That picture is not only in America but all around the world.”

There was a brief moment of peace, on May 11, civil rights leaders and city and business owners in Birmingham signed the “Birmingham Truce Agreement.” The deal allowed for a “partial desegregation (of fitting rooms, water fountains, and lunch counters in retail stores).” Additionally, those arrested during the campaign would be released, and there would be the creation of a Committee on Racial Problems and Employment.

On the evening of May 11, segregationists most probably members of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama targeted civil rights leaders with bombs including the home of Rev. A. D. King, movement leader, King’s brother and the Gaston Motel, where King was staying and held a press conference the day before. The non-violence espoused by King turned to violent protests and riots later in the evening.

The violence forced President Kennedy to act; he sent “troops to an Alabama air base” and began the process of “drafting” a proposed civil rights bill to send to Congress. Addressing the nation, Kennedy balked at addressing the larger issue at hand, civil rights. Instead, while addressing the nation Kennedy said, “This Government will do whatever must be done to preserve order, to protect the lives of its citizens, and to uphold the law of the land.” (Brinkley, 106) The morality of civil rights would have to wait a month.

Still, according to historian Nicholas Andrew Bryant in his highly critical book, “The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality,” (2006) Kennedy refused to bring about legislation throughout the Birmingham Campaign, and only considered action after the riots broke out. Bryant, who examined the Kennedy civil rights legacy throughout his entire political career, questioned why it took the president over two years to get to the issue and pursue legislation.

Sheldon M. Stern points out that according to Bryant Kennedy had “a willingness to make important symbolic gestures about race and civil rights, coupled with a reluctance to take political risks.” (Hoberek, 79) Bryant also concluded Kennedy’s civil rights record showed a “symbolic approach to the race problem meant that many of the changes he ushered in were largely cosmetic.” (Hoberek, 85) Historian Alan Brinkley writing his biography John F. Kennedy as part of the American Presidents Series concurs, writing that towards civil rights Kennedy had a “pattern of rhetorical activism followed by resistance and delay began on his very first day in office.”

The pivotal moment that changed Kennedy perception on civil rights was viewing African-Americans fighting back with the May 11 race riots. Kennedy could no longer sit idly by; civil rights had also become law and order issues that he could not let go unresolved. Bryant analyzes in his book, “It was the black-on-white violence of May 11 — not the publication of the startling photograph a week earlier — that represented the real watershed in Kennedy’s thinking, and the turning point in administration policy. Kennedy had grown used to segregationist attacks against civil rights protesters. But he — along with his brother and other administration officials — was far more troubled by black mobs running amok.” (Bryant, 393)

A taped conversation between the president and his brother and Attorney General Robert Kennedy from the Oval Office confirmed his motivation. Kennedy indicated on May 12, “First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation up to Congress this week as our response…As a means of providing relief, we have to have legislation.”

June 11, 1963, was a busy day for the civil rights movement. Earlier, Alabama Governor and strong segregationist George Wallace delivered his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door Speech.” Alabama was the only state that still did not desegregate their schools, Democrat Wallace entered office earlier in the year promising “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace was unyielding refusing to negotiate and compromise with the Kennedy Administration, hoping instead for a confrontation that would elevate his status, while diminishing Kennedy in the Deep South.

On June 11, Wallace physically prevented two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from completing their registration at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wallace literally stood in front of the school’s Foster Auditorium door blocking Malone and Hood from entering. Wallace attempted to prevent the university’s integration despite a court order the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

When Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach asked Wallace to move aside, he refused. Instead, Wallace delivered his infamous speech on states’ rights. Wallace called the desegregation an “unwelcomed, unwarranted and force-induced intrusion upon the campus” and “a frightful example of the expression of the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of this state.” (Brinkley, 109) Katzenbach then contacted President Kennedy.

President Kennedy again was forced to federalize the Alabama National Guard Executive Order 11111 to end the conflict. Kennedy issued Presidential Proclamation 3542 to force Wallace to comply and allow the students to enter the university building and complete their registration. Four hours later Wallace finally moved aside after being by Guard General Henry Graham, allowing for the integration of the University. Wallace made national headlines upping his profile, but also forcing Kennedy’s hand that he had no choice left but to announce his intentions to introduce a civil rights bill to Congress.

Kennedy’s address would have an adverse reaction on civil rights leaders. Just hours later in the early morning of June 12, Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. Evers was African-American civil rights activist and the field secretary for the Mississippi state NAACP, who earlier in the day demanded desegregation from local leaders. Byron De La Beckwith, who belonged to the segregated group the White Citizens’ Council, shot Evers in the back as he entered his home after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Although De La Beckwith was first arrested on June 21, 1963, for Evers’ murder, it took until 1994 for him to be convicted of the crime.

It was against this turmoil in the nation over civil rights that President Kennedy called and booked time on all three major networks for him to speak to the nation at 8 PM EDT on civil rights and the situation in Alabama. Kennedy decided the time was ripe to announce his intention to introduce civil rights legislation. As Cohen recounted, “The pretext was Tuscaloosa (today’s confrontation), the context was Birmingham (the unrest there elsewhere that spring), and the subtext was Washington (to make the case for legislation.)” (321)

It was a hastily drafted speech by Ted Sorensen in a mere two hours and revised by Kennedy. Sorenson looked back at past speeches he created for Kennedy on the issue, his own experience, and softened the rhetoric of the past few days. The president’s brother Bobby Kennedy was not pleased with Sorenson’s quickly written speech and even requested civil rights advisor Lee White to assist. The short time to draft the speech made Kennedy nervous, even doubtful if should even deliver it according to White’s observations.

Kennedy’s other poet laureate historian Arthur Schlesinger was nowhere to be found despite attempts to reach him when they did finally reach him it was too late for him to help with the speech. In the end, White did not add to the speech, but aide Louis Martin did, however, Sorenson never gave him authorship credit. The speech was not completed in time, and President Kennedy was receiving pages just as he was about to start. Kennedy determined Sorenson’s speech was too short, and he needed to fill up time, added eight paragraphs “off-the-cuff” (Cohen, 338) to the address, which is considered the best lines. The “moral issue” would be the speech’s overriding theme.

The President told Americans that segregation is a “moral issue” that is wrong. Kennedy stated; “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.” President Kennedy accomplished two points in his speech, the introduction of civil rights legislation, and the beginning of significant comprehensive school desegregation.

Kennedy pleaded to the American people that civil rights are the responsibility of all citizens; “It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all… Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.”

Kennedy specifically emphasized the lack of action since the Supreme Court’s decision in 1954. The landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case ended the legality of the separate but equal system. Kennedy lamented; “Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court’s decision 9 years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job. The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.”

In his speech, President Kennedy began an active pursuit of Congressional legislation that would end segregation. Kennedy laid out his legislative plans, “Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law…. I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public-hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.”

President Kennedy also introduced the pursuit of the vote for all African-Americans. The president stated, “Other features will be also requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But the legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” With his speech that night, Kennedy was pushing in motion not only the Civil Rights Act, but also the subsequent Voting Rights Act passed two years later in 1965 which guaranteed the vote to all Americans.

Kennedy concluded his 15-minute speech with a request for support from the American public for his sweeping and necessary proposals. The proposals were based on Constitutional rights for all Americans. Kennedy expressed to the nation, “Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents… This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.” Cohen described the speech as “a triumph. These were words written in haste for the ages. It was a knock-down, flat-out masterpiece.” (Cohen, 338) Meanwhile, historian Garth E. Pauley in “The Modern Presidency and Civil Rights” called the speech “the first sustained moral argument by an American President on civil rights.” (Hoberek, 77)

President Kennedy no longer wanted to be the bystander as Bryant called him, but he wanted to take his longtime rhetoric on civil rights and turn it into action. Kennedy told Arthur Schlesinger about his decision to move, then on the bill, he “thought more highly of American Presidents” who emphasized “concrete achievement rather than political education.” Kennedy’s civil rights speech as Cohen indicated, “was the moment a president pivoted. Kennedy was moving from detachment to engagement, from being a transactional president — as political scientists would classify leadership of a certain type a half century later — top a transformative one.” (Cohen, 338)

Kennedy submitted a civil rights bill to Congress the next week on June 19, which historian Robert Dallek in his biography of President Kennedy, an Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 described as “the most far-reaching civil rights bill in the country’s history.” (Dallek) The law would guarantee the right to vote for all with the minimum of a sixth-grade education, and end discrimination in all public and commercial facilities establishments and accommodations.

Kennedy also requested that the attorney general is granted expanded powers to implement school desegregation, asked to end job discrimination and create job training opportunities and a “community relations service.” Kennedy used the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution to justify the contents of his proposed bill.

The leader of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. approved of President Kennedy’s speech and described it as ‘the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president.’” Initially, King told Reverend Walter Fauntroy who he was watching the speech with, “can you believe that white man not only stepped up to the plate, he hit over the fence!” (Cohen, 339) Publicly King sent Kennedy a wire saying, “I have just listened to your speech to the nation. It was one of the most eloquent, profound and unequivocal pleas for justice and freedom of all men ever made by a president. You spoke passionately for the moral issues involved in the integration struggle.” (Cohen, 339) Kennedy, however, faced a tougher response from Congress.

Still, King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered on August 28, 1963, over two months later during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would eclipse Kennedy’s speech as the most relevant to advancing civil rights. Although a pivotal moment, the march attended by 200,000 to 300,000, concerned Kennedy who asked King to cancel it, fearing “a big show on the Capitol” would hinder the passage of the civil rights bill. Kennedy even refused to meet with the delegation of civil rights leaders at the White House before the march concerned it could cause demonstrations. Instead, Kennedy opted for meeting King and the other leaders of the major organizations after the march ended that day.

Kennedy was right, he would not see the civil rights bill his administration authored passed into law, or even debated and put to vote on the floor of Congress. President Kennedy continued pushing Congress to pass civil rights legislation with bipartisan support in the following months but to no avail. Civil rights were one of four bills, Kennedy wanted to be passed, but never did in his lifetime, the others were a “tax cut, federal aid to education, and Medicare.” (Cohen, 360) Kennedy’s agenda stalled mostly because of his civil rights bills that led to anger from Southern Democrats and in general from the south. Kennedy would be assassinated months later, on November 23, in Dallas, Texas leaving his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson from Texas to take over the mantle.

Pursuing civil rights, however, would become central to Kennedy’s legacy. Nevertheless, as Brinkley noted, there was a “harsh and often violent opposition that made it unlikely that his civil rights legislation would succeed soon. His tragic death, and the political skills of Lyndon Johnson, made possible the passage of civil rights and voting rights legislation. But John Kennedy — and the great movement that he finally embraced — was essential to great achievements.” (Brinkley, 112)

President Kennedy’s address to the nation on June 11 altered forever the direction of civil rights in the country. Historian Penial E. Joseph says it “might have been the single most important day in civil rights history.” Joseph also noted, “without the moral forcefulness of the June 11th speech, the bill might never have gone anywhere.” (Hoborek, 78) Without President Kennedy haven taken initial action with this speech and laying out his bold vision and plan to make a civil rights a reality for all Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never have passed and signed into law on July 2, 1964.

Sources:

Brinkley, Alan. John F. Kennedy. New York: Times Books, 2012.

Bryant, Nick. The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Cohen, Andrew. Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made History. [Toronto, Ontario]: Signal, McClelland & Stewart, 2016.

Dallek, Robert. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co, 2003.

Dallek, Robert. John F. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Hoberek, Andrew. The Cambridge Companion to John F. Kennedy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Joseph, Peniel E. “Kennedy’s Finest Moment,” The New York Times, June 10, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/opinion/kennedys-civil-rights-triumph.html. Accessed June 12, 2017.

Pauley, Garth E. The Modern Presidency & Civil Rights: Rhetoric on Race from Roosevelt to Nixon. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2001.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 2, 2017: Trump threatens government shutdown after Congress makes funding deal

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Photo

President Donald Trump is not satisfied with the budget deal Congress made this past weekend and he is threatening a government shutdown. On Tuesday morning, May 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted two posts calling for either changing the filibuster rules in the Senate or a government shutdown so the White House and Congressional Republicans could force a budget without heading to Democrats. Later in the day, Trump backtracked and praised the bill White House Rose Garden at an event honoring the Air Force Academy football team. The threat comes only two days after Congress made a bipartisan deal to fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year aimed at averting a government shutdown on the GOP’s watch.

The disgruntled president took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Congressional budget deal. Trump wrote in two tweets, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to the president’s concerns at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Ryan commiserated, “Look, we have a long ways to go between now and September, but I share the president’s frustration. I feel good about the wins we got with the administration in this bill.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the president’s request to change Senate legislative rules to prevent a filibuster at 60 votes to a simple majority. McConnell replied, “That will not happen.” Continuing, the Senate leader explained, “There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar.”

Later, President Trump seemed to have changed his mind about the bill hailing it as a victory. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed, “After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people.” Continuing the President said, “We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security and provides health care for our miners and school choice for our disadvantaged children.” Trump also praised the increase in funds allotted for border security, claiming, “We achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. So we have more money now for the border than we’ve gotten in 10 years,” Trump said. “The Democrats didn’t tell you that.”

At the White House Daily Press Briefing Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney rationalized the President’s first response to the budget deal. Mulvaney explained, “I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad. I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take.” The OMB Director did not take a possible government shutdown off the table, saying, “We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats are not going to behave any better than they have the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”

The bipartisan budget deal reached on Sunday evening, April 30, went against President Trump’s wishes in certain key areas. There was no down payment allotted for the proposed border wall with Mexico, an important campaign pledge for the president. Neither did the budget cut funding for Planned Parenthood, something the GOP has wanted to do for a long time. Trump also wanted to cut funding for Obamacare subsidies, the budget will cover them. Sanctuary cities will also remain funded much to the president’s chagrin.

The budget does increase funding to certain key areas. There is a $15 billion increase in military spending, with $1.5 billion going to border security. The National Institute of Health will see a bump of $2 billion in funding. The Environment Protection Agency’s funding remains almost the same, but more funding is going to clean energy and science. Additionally, $68 million goes to New York and Florida to reimburse them for their state spending to protect the president and his family.

The deal also allocates more money to solve some outstanding issues, including miners’ health insurance, Puerto Rico Medicaid, transit infrastructure grants, year-round Pell Grants and fighting the opioid epidemic. There were also funded increases for national disasters in California, West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans had to cave in to Democrats’ demands on “poison pills” to avert a government shutdown, which would have been disastrous for the GOP because they control Congress and the White House.

Congress was originally set to shut down on April 29, until they passed a short-term spending bill that lasts until Friday, May 5. The House passed the bill 382–30 on Friday, April 28, the Senate followed suit, and the president signed the bill soon after averting a shutdown with a day left to the deadline. Despite his opposition to the new omnibus bill that will fund the government through September, Trump has no plans to force a shutdown now and intends to sign the bill. A budget fight, however, looms over the 2018 fiscal year, and the government could see another shutdown in October.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics April 27, 2017: Trump sees lowest 100-day marks in recent history, but is the milestone that important?

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald Trump is planning a big rally to celebrate his first 100-days in office, as polls indicate that the new president has the worst 100-day mark approval rating in recent history. President Trump announced on Saturday, April 22, 2017, via Twitter a “big rally” in Pennsylvania on April 29, the same day as his presidency becomes 100- days old. Meanwhile, Three polls released this week, two on Sunday, April 23, ABC News/Washington Postand NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated Trump had a 42 and 41 percent approval rating. Days later, on Wednesday, April 26, CNN/ORC pollgave Trump a higher approval rating of 44 percent. Still, these polls show that Trump has the lowest approval rating of all elected post-World War II presidents at the 100-day mark, but does that benchmark really translate into presidential success.

The rally on Trump’s 100th day of his presidency will be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and is sponsored by his reelection campaign. The rally will also be on the same night as the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, which Trump has long said he will not attend because of his feud with the mainstream media over their coverage of him from the campaign through his presidency. On Saturday, April 22, the president tweeted his followers, announcing the event, “Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it.”

Neither Trump nor is campaign is billing the event as honoring the president’s 100-days. As Trump is approaching his 100-day mark, he is downing playing the importance of the milestone. The previous day, on April 21, Trump called the 100-days a “ridiculous standard.” The President tweeted, “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” A White House official commented the milestone is about the voters, not the news media. The official explained, “The media is trying to make this about them when — respectively it has nothing to do with you guys. It’s about focusing on the people.”

Three polls released this past week, gave the public a chance to grade the president. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday, April 23, saw Trump with only a 42 percent approval rating, with 53 percent of American disapproving of his job so far. People who voted for Trump, however, are not feeling buyer’s remorse, 96 percent say it was “the right thing to do,” while only two percent have any regrets.

Trump’s numbers are better when it comes to how Americans view specific actions in his presidency. An overwhelming 73 percent of Americans seem to approve of Trump’s America first policy that has “pressured companies: into keeping jobs in the country. A majority of 53 percent sees Trump as a strong leader. Concerning foreign policy, Trump is getting middling grades with dealing with an aggressive North Korea, with 46 percent approving of his tactics. Despite some good numbers, no other president elected in the post-World War II has had such low approval rating at this point in their presidency.

Another poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday also does not give Trump good grades. The poll found that 46 percent of Americans say the Trump presidency is “off to a poor start,” only 35 percent say it has had a “good or great start,” while 19 percent are in between saying it is a “fair start.” The NBC/WSJ poll also gave Trump a worse approval rating than the ABC News / Washington Post poll with only 40 percent. Trump’s disapproval rating is almost the same at 54 percent. Trump does get some high marks for his foreign policy, 62 percent of Americans approve of his decisive military strikes against Syria after a chemical attack on their citizens, with 50 percent approving of his course against civil-war ridden country.

The CNN/ORC poll released another poll on Wednesday evening, April 26, which found that nearly the 100-day mark, Trump had a 44 percent approval rating and a 54 percent disapproval rating. Trump’s favorability numbers are around the same as his approval rating, with the American public having a 45 percent favorable view of the president and a 53 percent unfavorable view. The numbers are very much partisan, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the president with 85 percent saying so, while only 8 percent of Democrats say the same.

The poll was mostly negative, with a majority dissatisfied with Trump’s approach to the presidency in almost every facet. His approval ratings on some issues are as low as the 20s and 30s percent, and they have fallen since his election in November. Even his ability to change the country is now negative with only 48 percent believing he can versus 51 percent of Americans saying he cannot. The president, however, is even losing ground within his party with less satisfied with his actions and abilities on different fronts. CNN’s bleak poll indicates the honeymoon is over with Trump and the GOP and that there barely was one with the president and the majority of Americans.

CNN broke down their marks for Trump also by area; some Trump did better while others he lost ground since entering the office. The president has lost points in his handling of immigration and health care, because of his travel bans and his failed first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. On those issues, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s actions. Trump’s numbers are “steady” when it comes to “foreign affairs, national security and the role of commander-in-chief.” Trump is excelling with his handling of the military issues 52 percent approving, the way the country is going 54 percent and the economy at 54 percent approving.

Gallup Poll’s first quarter assessment of Trump’s presidency determined that the president’s average approval is 41 percent, while 46 percent of Americans voted for him. Trump’s approval rating is also approximately 20 percent lower than when other presidents completed their first 100-days, where the average since 1945 is 63 percent. Looking at each post-war president, the numbers show an even larger contrast. The highest showing was John F. Kennedy, who had almost double Trump’s approval rating with 81 percent in April 1961. The lowest numbers were still 17 points higher than Trump, when in April 1989; George H. W. Bush had a 58 percent approval rating.

According to Gallup, here is a rundown of the 100-day approval ratings of all elected presidents since World War II:

Barack Obama 63 Apr 2009
George W. Bush 61 Apr 2001
Bill Clinton 55 Apr 1993
George H.W. Bush 58 Apr 1989
Ronald Reagan 67 Apr 1981
Jimmy Carter 64 Apr 1977
Richard Nixon 62 Apr 1969
John Kennedy 81 Apr 1961
Dwight Eisenhower 74 Apr 1953

President Trump thinks his presidency is successful despite what polls and the press says. Trump has signed up to now 34 executive orders, more than any other president in recent history during their first 100-days. The president has had a Supreme Court Justice confirmed with Neil Gorsuch; on the world stage, he has met with many of the major leaders and asserted his military might in Syria and Afghanistan. Still, the president has not yet had any real legislative success with his major campaign promises, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, tax reform, travel and immigration ban, infrastructure plan or border wall with Mexico.

The White House boasts President Trump signed 28 new laws in first three months but most have minor, including repealing Obama-era rules, personal appointments, veterans’ recognitions, modifying programs, encouraging innovations in government agencies and one extension of an Obama era program. President Trump only saw one major bill extending health care choice for veterans, the tip of the iceberg to Trump’s lofty agenda.

Despite his protests, President Trump is planning a mad dash in the upcoming week before he reaches his 100th day. Congress failed to put the American Health Care Act to a vote in March, and but they plan to introduce the bill with amendments again this week this time with the Freedom Caucus’ endorsement. Trump also outlined his tax reform plan this week, and the White House announced that the president’s infrastructure plan has a summer deadline.

Trump’s major failure has been with his travel ban, which the administration will argue for the second time in Federal Appeals Court after an earlier ban and the present one saw injunctions halting their implementation. The president was also dealt a setback right before his 100-day when a federal judge struck down his attempt to defund sanctuary cities harboring illegal immigrants. The president’s greatest test has an April 29 deadline. President Trump will have a chance to prove his deal making skills and avert a government shutdown, the first budget showdown of his presidency.

The 100-day mark to gauge the early success or failures of the new president started with President Franklin Roosevelt (1933–1945). Roosevelt was elected in the midst of the Great Depression, with almost total economic and bank collapse and15 million or 20 percent of the American public unemployed. In this crisis, Roosevelt set the benchmark having signed 15 bills into law. Roosevelt marked his 100th day with a fireside chat, updating the American public recounted what he has accomplished in 3000 words. In his address Roosevelt explained, “I think that we all wanted the opportunity of a little quiet thought to examine and assimilate in a mental picture the crowding events of the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal…We have built a granite foundation in a period of confusion.”

Early success does not mean a successful presidency and neither does early failure doom the presidency. Everywhere you look, journalists and academics are giving Trump grades for this milestone period, and many are unkind as has been the case with coverage and analysis of Trump’s campaign, transition and now presidency.

Some historians do not see the 100-day mark as important. Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University recently told the Atlantic that grading a president at this early stage could be counterproductive. Zelizer analyzed, “Asking how presidents did in the first 100 days, usually tells us little about what is to come and might even create the exact political incentives we need to avoid.”

Meanwhile, Morton Keller, a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University, who wrote the article with Zelizer, concurs, and does not believe historians should rush to early judgments on a Trump presidency. Keller explained, “This is no time to attempt a conclusive assessment of what the Trump presidency is up to, and where it is heading. The media savants who explain politics to the masses appear to be quite certain of their positions, varied though they are. As historians, we are duty-bound to withhold judgment when the available evidence is as varied and conflicting as, just now, it is.”

Another historian that agrees the milestone is not indicative is Fredrik Logevall, “a presidential historian and an international affairs professor at Harvard University” Logevall spoke to the Washington Post telling them, “I think what history tells us is that it’s an arbitrary benchmark. It hasn’t correlated very much with subsequent success or failure. Whether an administration has success or not really depends on the four years, or eight years if you have two terms.”

Other historians are being harsher in their assessments. Presidential historian Robert Dallek told USA Today, “At this point, I’d give him essentially a failing grade.” Dallek pointed out, “There are no legislative accomplishments, zero,” the plan to repeal and replace the Obamacare “seems to be in suspended animation.” Dallek is probably making an extreme assessment than most. Even the mainstream media Trump calls fake news are running articles that share the view that 100-day s do not indicate the successes or failures of an entire presidency neither do they foreshadow what is to come.

While Roosevelt’s legislative accomplishments were unique, other presidents have passed lasting legislation in their first 100 days. Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969), Barack Obama (2009–2017), and George W. Bush (2001–2009). John son and Obama had the best legislative success, because their party, the Democrats concurrently controlled both Houses of Congress, and were popular with their party. Circumstances surrounding their entry to the presidency also made passing their agenda more urgent.

Johnson, who had been Senate Majority Leader when Kennedy tapped him for Vice President, was known as the Master of Senate. Johnson was the first of the two post-war presidents who were not elected; he came into power after Kennedy’s assassination. In his first 100-days, Johnson was able to ride the wave of pursuing Kennedy’s agenda and had legislative victories with most notably the Civil Rights Act. In his first 100 days after he was elected with a landslide victory in 1964, that saw Democratic control of Congress, Johnson continued to have legislative success with the bulk of his Great Society program, including, “the Voting Rights Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, immigration reform, and Medicare and Medicaid.” After the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Johnson became mired in Vietnam, which ended his legislative strike and any more expansion of his Great Society.

Obama was also able to catch the legislative magic in his first 100-days after his historic election becoming the first African-American president. After the 2008 election, Congress remained controlled by the Democrats, leading to a string of victories for the new president, including, “the Recovery Act, U.S. auto industry bailout, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and then a year later in 2010, his legacy making legislation the Affordable Care Act. Obama never had more legislative success after Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the 2010-midterm elections. Obama like Roosevelt inherited a country in economic turmoil, this time a Great Recession where Democrats gave him a blank check to pursue his agenda.

When the same party controls the White House, Congress a president can more easily pursue his legislative agenda, that was not the case with Carter, and neither is turning out to be with Trump. The reason, both were outsiders elected against the Washington establishment and then found resistance from within their party in Congress. In 1976, Carter was an outsider with an ambitious agenda that failed in his first 100-days, planned legislation included “tax reform, infrastructure, and energy independence.” Carter did not have the relationship with Congress, the Washington insiders he needed to make his campaign promises a reality. Trump is facing the same problem with the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare; he is facing resistance from not only Democrats but also different factions of the GOP, including the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

Both Clinton and George W. Bush had successes and failures early in their presidencies. In 1993, Clinton raised taxes with the help of a Democratic-controlled Congress but faced a backlash for his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military. In 2001, Bush cut taxes as Reagan did 20 years before and laid out the groundwork for his education legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush, however, was later blamed for the 9/11 terrorist attacks for not heeding the signs of a major terrorist attack on the nation. In 1981, Reagan successfully cut taxes, but his 100-days were rocked with an attempted assassination attempt two months after taking office, earning him goodwill with Congress, but cutting his accomplishments in that milestone period.

Foreign policy has been the cause of two post-war presidents stumbling in their first 100-days. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush faced tests too early in their presidencies that were failures. In 1961, Kennedy continued with his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower’s planned coup in Communist Cuba to get rid of its leader Fidel Castro. Kennedy’s Administration altered the original invasion plan and the “Bay of Pigs” became Kennedy’s biggest blunder of his new presidency coming just days before his 100th day. In 1989, Bush also was confronted with Cold War crises and his administration blundered. Bush had to deal with the Tiananmen Square massacre and then later in the year after a failed coup as Kennedy did, but this time, it was in Panama.

In 1993, Clinton probably faced the greatest national security threat in his first 100 days than any other post-World War II president. Just barely a month after Clinton assumed the presidency; terrorists bombed the garage in the World Trade Center in New York. The attack that killed six and injured 1000 saw the perpetrators face the criminal justice system. Clinton never wanted to acknowledge the attack as terrorism, which allowed al-Qaeda to ramp up their attacks on the US. Afterward, there were bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and then in 2000 on the USS Cole. Clinton responded with targeted missile attacks but never did more to solve the increasing problem and danger. Clinton’s actions after the attack might not have seemed like a failure at the time, but in retrospect, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Clinton’s inaction was the greatest 100-days failure because it led to the greatest terrorist attack on American soil.

In the post-World War period, only Ford fared worse in the polls than Trump at the 100-day mark, mostly because he pardoned Nixon after he resigned from the presidency in August 1974, which led to Ford assuming the office. While the other presidents’ had higher approval ratings than Trump does at the 100-day mark, most had some failures or setbacks in that early period and their major legislative successes and the policy that defined their presidencies came later, for other they never could recapture that early success. Periods of crises have led to the most productive first 100-days out of necessity, like Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama.

The problem is the benchmark Roosevelt created has pressured many of his successors, including Johnson, Nixon and even Trump. Despite his successes, Johnson wanted to pass the most legislation as possible; Nixon created the Hundred Days Group and during the campaign, Trump made his “Contract With the American Voter” in a speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The contract was “a 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.”

Trump promised in his contract, “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you.” Among those pledges were 10 bills including repealing and replacing Obamacare on his first day in office. The president’s goals were too lofty. Kennedy, although the youngest elected in the post-war period, he was also the wisest when it came to the presidential milestone. In his inaugural address, he expressed, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration … but let us begin.”

The 100-day mark is too early in a presidency to determine success or failure. Neither is looking at Roosevelt’s accomplishments a fair standard. Each presidency and their time are different. Trump was the only president in history to be elected without a political or military background. The first weeks were chaos not only from within the White House but the negative response from the press and public that made governing difficult. Now, cooler heads are prevailing and despite some negativity and bias, Trump is being treated, as a president should from the press, Democrats, and dissenters within the Republican Party. With that in mind, Trump’s next 100-days could be more worthy of watching and marking than his first.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.