GCSE examinations in 2023 will mainly return to pre-pandemic arrangements, after several years of disruption due to Covid-19.
Dr Jo Saxton from Ofqual said "I can confirm that, in 2023, we will return to pre-pandemic grading as the next step in getting back to normal.
"But giving the 2023 cohort some protection against any impact of COVID-19 disruption is the right thing to do.
"Students in the 2023 cohort have not experienced national school and college closures during their 2-year courses of study, but we know they have experienced some disruption.
“That’s why we’re putting in place some protection for this cohort.”
Return to full curriculum
Grade boundaries for 2023 examinations will be guided by the grades achieved by cohorts of students in pre-pandemic years, alongside prior attainment data. Dr Saxton said this “means the 2023 cohort will be protected in grading terms if their exam performance is a little lower than before the pandemic.”
In May the Department for Education confirmed that there would be a return to full curriculum coverage in examinations for all GCSE subjects.
Advance information of exam content will no longer be provided, but students taking GCSE maths, physics and combined science will have formulae and equation sheets.
Picture this: you're a student diligently preparing for your board exams, only to watch as the dates shift repeatedly with the unpredictable tides.
The Bangladesh education boards' penchant for altering exam schedules even after providing official routines imposes an unreliable structure on students that casts shadows over their meticulous plans for their education and future. Study routines are disrupted, stress is intensified, and students' ability to perform their best is hindered.
This has been a regular occurrence for generations of students.
Sometimes it feels like the education boards are adrift, seemingly oblivious to the seasonal shifts and socio-political currents shaping the country. From cancelling summer vacation to retracting an entire subject from a board exam, the lack of foresight and planning is palpable. They act as though the ebb and flow of the weather and political factors are distant shores beyond their purview. This disregard for the contextual backdrop of public life contributes to students' ever-mounting stress as they weather these ever-changing storms without a reliable compass.
The capricious winds are most keenly felt when the syllabus itself becomes inconsistent. The habit of altering the syllabus mid-year, and in latest memory, even a mere two weeks before the official exams, is a stark reminder of the chaos around us. Students are left wrongfooted, grappling with anxiety and confusion as we attempt to recalibrate our preparations to align with these new demands. The wasted time and effort invested in studying material that no longer holds relevance adds an extra layer of frustration and further erodes confidence.
This impact extends beyond academics. The pressure of dealing with these uncertainties often takes a toll on our mental health. Tragically, there is a perpetual rise in teen suicides in Bangladesh. Although mental healthcare is a relevant discussion among today's youth, there are hardly any tools for us to seek help, let alone ones that are easily accessible. The deteriorating mental health of young individuals is often attributed to academic stress, further highlighting the urgent need for change.
Teachers, while well-intentioned, often struggle to provide adequate mental health support. Their generalised approach fails to address individual needs, leaving many of us feeling ignored and misunderstood.
Part of the problem lies in societal expectations. Our society's emphasis on academic success burdens our students, who are pushed to meet lofty standards. The resulting stress and fear of falling short can lead to feelings of inadequacy, compounding the mental toll already exacted by the uncertainties of the education system. Failure to live up to these unrealistically high standards results in shame and judgment from families and communities.
The uncertainty extends to new heights at the college level, where the absence of a prescribed textbook forces students to navigate a labyrinth of options. The lack of guidance on which book to follow for our syllabus creates a predicament akin to walking blindfolded through a maze. The many available publications and the diversity of choices mean that some students will inevitably miss out on crucial information. This disparity in learning materials undermines the principle of fair and standardised education, perpetuating an unequal playing field where success is determined by chance.
Recently, the students of the HSC batch of 2023 took matters into their hands, protesting against the board just three weeks before they were expected to appear for the official exam. This highlights the growing frustration and helplessness students feel in the face of a system that seems indifferent to their well-being.
On top of that, the education boards lack transparency and tend to make sweeping academic decisions without giving students the time needed to prepare. This does more harm than good, as it powers our already tiresome frustrations at learning about things that could hit us at the worst possible time.
The lack of stability in an academic year also deprives us of normal teenage experiences. The relentless pursuit of academic excellence in a backdrop of uncertainty leaves little room for us to explore our interests and passions. Instead of the joys of youth, personal growth, and self-exploration with our friends, we set out on lonely journeys to overcome our peers and reach the top.
Students in other countries often benefit from robust support systems, but many of us in Bangladesh lack proper guidance and mentorship during our board year. The absence of career counsellors or academic advisors further compounds our struggles.
Educational boards are one of the most crucial institutions to shaping our country in an ever-evolving world. And yet, their impulsive and abrupt changes to our curricula and schedules exacerbate a bleak picture of a future where personal growth and academic sincerity are fading values. If we don't move to change this soon, we will only see our failures compound year upon year, taking its toll on generations to come.
This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.
When the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards changed the process for grading a section of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, they hoped it would decrease student stress and reduce the emphasis on scores in the decision process for residency placement.
But a year and a half after the transition, some medical school students and faculty are unsure if the change was effective and are concerned that it may have amplified inequities among students.
The reform, which went into effect in January 2022, shifted the first of three exams required for a medical license from a traditional numerical scoring to a pass-fail model.
The exam, USMLE Step 1, is a grueling eight-hour assessment of students’ knowledge of basic medical sciences, including anatomy, biochemistry, immunology and pharmacology. It is typically taken at the end of the second year of medical school. The high-stakes exam was known for inducing high levels of stress in students because it was used as a primary evaluation metric for medical residency placements.
The NBME and the FSMB, co-sponsors of the exam, said the switch to pass-fail aimed to “address concerns about Step 1 scores impacting student well-being,” “reduce the overemphasis” on exam results and promote a more holistic residency selection process.
However, many students and medical school faculty now say that removing scores has simply shifted stress to the second exam and put additional pressure on students to differentiate themselves through research and extracurricular opportunities, which will take time away from their studies and amplify pre-existing inequalities in medical education.
“I think most people agree with the concept and think that it’s a step in the right direction, which I also agree with,” said Natasha Topolski, a sixth-year student pursuing an M.D. and Ph.D. at McGovern Medical School in Houston. “But still being stressed in that period is a very real thing … Step 1 isn’t the root of the problem. It’s a symptom.”
Topolski, who is also chair of the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section, said her stress levels were still high when she took the exam last year under the pass-fail model.
“If you fail, residency programs know. You’re allowed to retake it, but they know and that’s this black mark,” Topolski said, noting that numerical scores provided students a chance to show improvement on the second exam. “They just see that I failed and then I passed eventually … I think that’s where a lot of the anxiety still comes from.”
Topolski said she’s heard many peers say the stress “just gets pushed to Step 2,” which is still scored and is now expected to be used as an evaluation metric for residency placements.
Abbigayle Willgruber-Rawls, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine–Bowling Green, intends to apply for an ear, nose and throat residency this fall. But she pushed her Step 2 test date back from June to August to have more time to study because she’s panic her score won’t be high enough to get accepted into the highly competitive specialty.
“It really puts a lot of pressure on different aspects of medical education that maybe we wouldn’t have stressed so much about initially if we had that numeric Step 1 score,” she said.
A study published in Medical Science Educator in February indicated many students are still feeling stressed despite the change to pass-fail.
The study was conducted by medical residents at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and compared the stress levels of students there who took the first portion of the exam both before and after the transition to pass-fail. Results showed that although exam-specific stress rates for pass-fail students were significantly lower than their scored peers during the first two years of medical school, the difference “disappeared” when students reached the “dedicated study period” in the months immediately before the exam.
Medical school faculty members and administrators are also concerned. In a latest survey of about 250 medical school officials conducted by TrueLearn, a third-party USMLE test-preparation company, only about 39 percent said they believed the switch would lessen test takers’ stress levels. However, about 56 percent of respondents expressed concerns that students would spend less time preparing for the exam as a result of the shift to a pass-fail model.
Dr. Rance McClain, who was dean at the Arkansas Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine until June, agreed that the change to pass-fail shifted students’ stress to the second part of the exam. Unlike Step 1, for which students are typically granted several months of “unhindered” time to study, he noted that Step 2 is often taken during students’ fourth-year clinical rotations.
“Now they put a lot more pressure on themselves for Step 2, when they don’t have that time and ability to study the way they now think they should,” he said. “We’re very concerned about our students taking away valuable clinical learning experiences trying to go back and study.”
Medical school officials are also concerned that as students look for new ways to differentiate themselves from peers in residency applications, more emphasis will be placed on factors such as research experience and extracurricular involvement. They worry this will amplify pre-existing inequities in the residency placement process, making it harder for students who are not attending elite institutions to be accepted into their top-choice programs.
“Students from these disadvantaged backgrounds, who may not have access to others who are physicians or scientists, they may not have those opportunities to volunteer and shadow or have research opportunities to really help embellish their résumés as they’re applying for these residency programs,” said Dr. Yolanda Lawson, president of the National Medical Association, an organization that represents African American physicians.
Dr. Jonathan Waters, a professor of anesthesiology and biomedical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been “heavily involved” in selecting residents and fellows in the past. He believes research is more about who you know than what you know and that it isn’t the same caliber “screening tool” as a USMLE score.
“Various professors have different expectations for medical students and the roles that they play in research … you can be a nice guy and have a professor take good care of you,” Dr. Waters said. “I don’t see it as making up for the rigor of having to study for an exam with the pressure that goes along with it.”
Mark Speicher, a senior vice president at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, voiced similar concerns. He said research and extracurricular opportunities can be harder to access at rural, regional institutions and osteopathic medical schools, which are sometimes viewed as less rigorous. Students of color and first-generation students may also face barriers.
“There is some basis to think that the USMLE was not equitable across all demographic groups, but at least it was a known target,” Speicher said. “If I’m a first-generation college student, I knew how to prepare for the USMLE. But how am I supposed to get a research opportunity that ends with a publication?”
The USMLE, and the boards that oversee it, acknowledged some of the concerns in a statement more than a year before the change went into effect, but they moved forward with it anyway.
Joe Knickrehm, a USMLE spokesperson, said in an email that the decision was made “after nearly two years of careful evaluation” and it “is only one action that can help Boost this process.”
He implied that it was up to medical schools to address student stress.
“We encourage other organizations in undergraduate and graduate medical education to identify solutions to optimize the transition from medical school to residency,” he wrote.
The American Association of Medical Colleges declined to comment on the impact of the change. Other medical associations, including the National Resident Matching Program and the American Medical Association, acknowledged concerns but said it was too early to fully assess the scenario.
The American Medical Association described the numerical score as “detrimental” and said it “created a parallel curriculum to prepare for the exam,” which “distracted medical students from developing teamwork and communication skills.” The association also noted that the first cohort in which a majority of students took the exam under the pass-fail model will be applying for residencies this fall, after which the full impact of the exam on students’ acceptance to residency programs could be better gauged.
“There is concern voiced by the community about how these changes the determination of who programs want to invite for interviews and select for residency programs” Donna Lamb, president and CEO of the National Resident Matching Program, said in an email. However, “Anecdotal input is somewhat limiting, and so I consider it cautiously.”
“This is a new process that the National Board of Medical Examiners and others are working to better understand,” she said.
Arkansas high schools with AP African American Studies on the course list are scrambling today after learning the class won’t count toward graduation requirements, and that the state Department of Education is warning that teaching the class might violate a newly codified prohibition on “indoctrination.”
The Little Rock School District’s Central High had 95 students signed up for AP African American Studies for this school year, spread over four separate classes. Teachers there learned the class status was in flux on Friday, but got little clarification over the weekend. Teachers in five other Arkansas high schools planning to offer the course — North Little Rock Center Of Excellence, eStem High School, Jacksonville High School, The Academies at Jonesboro High School and North Little Rock High School — were left in a similar lurch.
The first bell of the school year had already rung when the Arkansas Department of Education released its official statement, dashing any hopes that a class focused on African American history and experiences could go on without becoming a culture war and political battleground.
“The department encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions or indoctrination,” the statement said.
The department’s statement goes on to say that because the class is still relatively new, its curriculum not yet finalized by the College Board, teaching it could put educators in legal jeopardy.
“Without clarity, we cannot approve a pilot that may unintentionally put a teacher at risk of violating Arkansas law,” it said.
And so, on the first day of school for most of Arkansas’s public school students, teachers and administrators were pondering next steps.
In the Little Rock School District, the status of the class remains undetermined for now. District spokeswoman Pamela Smith provided this statement:
Over this past weekend, we received word that the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will only offer local credit for the course. Since that time, our superintendent, Dr. Jermall Wright, has been in direct communication with officials from the ADE to explore options that will allow our students to fully benefit from this course despite ADE’s decision.
Our top priority is always the well-being and academic success of our students. At this time, we are weighing the options provided to us with the staff at Central High School and will decide the next steps within 24-48 hours. Rest assured, we are actively working to ensure that our students continue to receive a well-rounded education that includes diverse perspectives and meaningful learning opportunities.
Across the river, the North Little Rock School District was reportedly considering offering the course in a non-AP format. Students would not qualify for the GPA bump that AP classes provide, but could potentially still take the AP exam and qualify for college credit.
The College Board, which crafts curricula and assessments for Advanced Placement courses, indicated they were similarly blindsided by the 11th-hour move to scrub the course from Arkansas’s list of recognized credits just days before the school year began. The course is not indoctrination, nor is it half-formed, they wrote.
Their statement contradicts some of the arguments Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva reportedly made to Little Rock Superintendent Jermall Wright during a phone call over the weekend.
Here’s the College Board’s full statement:
College Board is committed to providing an unflinching encounter with the facts of African American history and culture, and rejects the notion that the AP African American Studies course is indoctrination in any form.
This pilot of a college-level course is rooted in the work of 300 scholars and includes facts of African-American experiences in the United States through primary sources that incorporate a combination of history, English, music, and more. Individual AP teachers use the guiding course framework to develop their own curriculum and instruction for their classes. Our development committee of scholars, AP teachers, and other experts are finalizing the framework for this course, and it will be released publicly later this year.
More than 200 colleges and universities nationally have already signed on to provide college credit, including the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, the flagship institution of the University of Arkansas System. Early credit support for the pilot course has surpassed expectations, and it is our strong expectation that many more colleges will provide credit when an official review is completed in the spring.
College Board has had an excellent working relationship with the Arkansas Department of Education for many years which has resulted in expanding access to AP across the state. Six schools were slated to participate in this second year of the pilot of this transformative course. Among them is Central High School, a site vital to the country’s civil rights movement, and its Little Rock 9 and their role in public school desegregation efforts are covered in the class.
On this first day of school, we share in their surprise, confusion, and disappointment at this new guidance that the course won’t count toward graduation credits or weighted the same as other AP courses offered in the state.
Throughout the first pilot year, we heard countless stories from the classroom about how this course opened minds, changed lives, and provided a much richer understanding of the country.Arkansas teachers and students have done extraordinary classroom work in AP African American Studies that has been celebrated in local, regional and national media, and their excellent work should be allowed to continue this school year.
As administrators, teachers and students decide what to do now, opposition grows. A number of groups are already getting loud about the state’s disruptive and destabilizing last-minute decision that came after teachers received specialized training over the summer to teach the course and students had their schedules set up for the year.
Former teacher and state Sen. Joyce Elliott called on state Board of Education members to step in and ensure the course will be recognized on the same level of other AP courses.
The NAACP and the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus condemned the move, calling it discriminatory and an attack on civil rights.
The Young Democrats of Arkansas launched a petition asking the education department to honor the class for full credit. Membership of the Young Democrats include students who took the course at Central High last year during its first pilot year, an experience that had them on the lookout for shenanigans just like this.
“We are deeply saddened, but not surprised, to hear of the restriction placed on the offering of AP African American studies in Arkansas,” Vivian Day said. “We, the students at Central, feel cheated by the lack of transparency from the Department of Education and hurt by the clear effect this decision will have on schools such as ours. As someone who took the class last year, I know firsthand how political attacks manage to undermine the ability of students to learn valuable information about the history and culture of African Americans. The explanation provided by the Secretary of Education to the Little Rock School District cannot justify the sudden reversal of policy which occurred late last week.”
Jacksonville High School teacher Julia Gardner did not mince words about the message sent by the state. “By denying them the opportunity to learn about the history and experiences of African Americans through the critical lens that College Board offers, this action perpetuates harmful stereotypes and perpetuates systemic racism within our education system. It is crucial that we fight against such blatant attempts to stifle knowledge and ensure that our students have access to a well-rounded education that accurately reflects our diverse community.”
You can read the Young Democrats’ full release and sign their petition here.
(Editor’s note: INVISION Magazine has partnered with Marshall B. Ketchum University to examine the field of optometry. This column is the third installment in the monthly series.)
Deciding where to go to college isn’t easy. There are any number of important choices to consider. And each demand thoughtful consideration.
During my more than 25 years in higher education, including roles as a faculty member and in various leadership capacities focused on student admissions and success here at Marshall B. Ketchum University, I’ve witnessed a spectrum of choices that prospective students have faced when selecting their path in optometry education.
I’ve also noted a few pressure points that might inadvertently impede the journey toward future achievements in the optical industry.
If you are (or you know of someone who is) in the process of deciding where to pursue your optometry degree, here are some questions to help guide your thinking as you analyze your options.
(1) What is the quality of the education I will receive at this institution?Advertisement
Any accredited optometry program can grant you a degree. But if you are looking for a truly high-quality education to go along with that certification, you need to dig deeper to get a sense of the value that accolade can provide.
What are the college’s graduation rates? What are the college’s pass rates for National Board Exams. How do those rates compare to the national average? You can find this information through objective research.
However, don’t overlook talking with people you know. For example, mentors or an optometrist you are shadowing are great resources when uncovering the perception of a particular school’s quality.
(2) How does it feel on campus?
It is crucial to visit the campus of every institution you are considering. This is a place where you will be spending the next four years of your life, and you can only find out so much online!
During your visit, you can get a feel for the campus and the overall campus community. This is an opportunity to determine if the college aligns with who you are as an academic and person.Advertisement
Ask yourself: Do the campus and community have what you want and need?
One of the questions I always ask perspective students is: Can you see yourself there?
(3) What kind of clinical education does the institution provide?
At the core of a strong education in optometry is the clinical experience. This is where you first put into practice everything you are learning within the classroom.
It is very important to look at a prospective institution’s clinical program to assess things like how early students get to go to a clinic. When do they first start seeing patients? Do they offer community service opportunities? And what type of external rotations does the school offer?
Another area to look at is whether clinical experiences are in specific specialties, such as pediatric optometry, vision therapy, or contact lenses. This is especially important if you are interested in specializing.Advertisement
(4) What is the area and surrounding community like?
Some students like to stay close to family for the stability it provides as they pursue a rigorous course of study. Other students see graduate education as an opportunity to spread their wings and live in an area of the country that they’re completely unfamiliar with.
Either way, my simple piece of advice is to follow your heart and soul, whether it’s a spirit of adventure or the steadiness of familiarity. Think about the culture and the “vibe” of a place, and, once more, ask yourself that question: Can I see myself living here?
(5) What are the relationships like at this institution?
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it’s vital to find out if the school does a good job of fostering relationships and the types of relationships they cultivate for students.
These are relationships between faculty and students, between classmates, support staff and students, and, of course, the institution and their alumni.
Not only do strong relationships lead to a richer and more rewarding educational experience, they also can help you build connections in the profession as you continue to seek opportunities to advance toward your degree.
If there is one common mistake that I see most often when it comes to finding the right optometry college, it is potential students who approach the decision with a mindset that is too narrow!
For example, they focus on finding the closest school to them or on the school with the lowest tuition. As a result, they exclude the previously mentioned important factors of decision-making. While you might be at a close, convenient school with very low tuition, you may find that you’re still not happy there.
More than anything, you should strive to take a holistic approach to this very big decision. If you have reached the stage where you’re choosing optometry schools, then there’s no doubt that you’re excited and committed to the profession of optometry.
So, at that point, as you weigh the pros and cons and consider all the possibilities, ask yourself one final question:
Which community is going to help me become the kind of doctor I want to be?
About the author: Dr. Carmen Barnhardt is the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at Marshall B. Ketchum University.
Previously, she served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs where she established the Student Achievement Center, Student Leadership Certificate program and other student services.
Dr. Barnhardt has been a faculty member at the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) since 1996. She received her Doctor of Optometry and residency certificate in Pediatric Optometry and Vision Therapy from SCCO. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry and in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and a Diplomate in the Pediatric, Binocular Vision and Perception Section of the AAO.
Dr. Barnhardt completed a master’s program in education at California State University, Fullerton and a Graduate Certificate in Student Affairs Administration at Colorado State University.
Her areas of interest include student leadership development, student support systems including academic and professional development, learning resources and advocating for health care students with disabilities, health education, promotion and prevention.
“If you look at the list of (New College majors), there’s one outlier, and it’s gender studies. … It’s not within the liberal arts, and it’s more of an ideological movement than an academic discipline.” This is how Matthew Spalding, a member of the New College board of trustees, justified his vote earlier this month to begin the process of eliminating the gender studies area of concentration, the equivalent to majors at other colleges.
But how do these and further statements made by Spalding and Christopher Rufo — another recently appointed board member — stand up to a critical examination, of the sort conducted by the original proponents of the “liberal arts”?
From the 13th century, a “liberally” or “freely” educated student was expected to master seven specific fields of study, with a fundamental grounding in the “trivium” — grammar, logic and rhetoric — extended to further development in the “quadrivium” — arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. Training in the trivium would render a student proficient in words and the language arts, before he could move on to investigate nature through numbers, since each of the elements of the quadrivium, including music, were expressed through numerals.
Therefore, when someone describes an area of concentration as an “outlier,” he should be prepared to back up that assertion by using logical reasoning and comparative data. On its webpages, New College currently lists 51 areas of concentration, and it also invites a prospective student to “pursue a joint concentration in two fields, minor in a secondary concentration or design your own area of concentration.”
The website of Hillsdale College — where Spalding is also Kirby Professor in Constitutional Government and dean of the graduate school of government, among other titles — lists 47 majors and minors. Among the majors that are available in this “traditional or classical” liberal arts college are accounting, entrepreneurship, exercise science, financial management, general business, marketing, physical education, sport management and sport psychology. None of these majors, worthy as they certainly are, is listed on the New College page.
A modern liberal arts curriculum should not, of course, be restricted to the original “artes liberales,” but my own discipline (history) did not become a professionalized academic subject until the 1880s and even the term “major” did not appear in university catalogs before 1877. However, if one wishes to determine what does, and does not, constitute today’s “liberal arts,” I believe that the ideal organization to study is Phi Beta Kappa.
Founded by five students at the College of William & Mary in December 1776, the “nation’s most prestigious honor society” is, according to its website, “grounded in liberal — as in the Latin word for ‘free’ — arts and sciences learning and freedom of inquiry.” As a proud initiate in Phi Beta Kappa (Ohio University, 1991), donor to the organization and attendee at the last triennial meeting in 2021, I am delighted that Phi Beta Kappa has not only established a chapter at my university (the University of South Florida) but has also taken strong stances to protect academic freedom, specifically in Florida and especially in this year.
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While New College has not yet been invited to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, it is striking that neither has Spalding’s Hillsdale College — an explicitly liberal arts institution that was founded in 1844. According to Phi Beta Kappa’s online chapter directory, the state of Michigan, where Hillsdale is based, presently contains eight chapters at four private colleges and four public universities.
A quick search of the four private colleges’ websites reveals that each one offers a major, a minor, or both in gender studies. In alphabetical order, these are Albion College (founded in 1835), with a major in women’s, gender and sexuality studies; Alma College (founded in 1886), with a minor in women’s and gender studies; Hope College (a “private Christian liberal arts college” chartered in 1866), with a major in women’s and gender studies; and Kalamazoo College (founded by Baptists, like Hillsdale, in 1833), with its women, gender and sexuality major.
If the vaunted plan for New College’s future is to turn it into the “Hillsdale of the South,” in part by stripping it of its gender studies major, the prospect of achieving recognition by Phi Beta Kappa would seem to be receding further into the distance.
In addition to abusing logical and comparative reasoning, Spalding has also made a mockery of the arts of grammar and rhetoric. In the board meeting, he asserted that the gender studies program at New College is “a mishmosh of things — if you read the website, I have no idea what it’s about, it’s very confused.” (For what it’s worth, the word, from Middle English, is more often pronounced “mishmash.”) I would invite everyone to read this website, https://www.ncf.edu/programs/gender-studies/, which I find a model of clarity, especially in its lists of helpful online resources (including a dedicated Twitter page), “potential career pathways,” “recent courses” and “recent theses.”
The recounting of latest thesis titles also refutes Spalding’s claim that “gender studies does not grow out of the humanities … or of the sciences.” Of the nine thesis titles listed, six are clearly outgrowths of humanities or fine art disciplines, including history, music, art, dance, theater, and Spanish language and literature, and the other three derive from medicine, sociology and psychology.
And, if one wishes to see a true “mishmosh” of “confused” language, look no further than the essay Christopher Rufo published to his Substack, on the evening after the board vote, entitled “The Arc of Reform.” In the penultimate paragraph, Rufo writes, “The mission of New College of Florida is to restore classical liberal education and to revive the pursuit of transcendent truth — a mission ultimately incompatible with the disciplines of gender studies and queer theory, which are explicitly opposed to the classical conceptions of the true, the good and the beautiful. These postmodern, anti-normative lines of thought may be welcome at other universities, but they are not a requirement for a university as such.”
As a trained classicist, I think I recognize some glimmer of the ancient Greek “kalokagathos,” “the good and the beautiful,” but one would have to be a regular reader of Rufo’s words to strain out the kernels of “truth” he is pouring out here. It is ironic that the person who has accused gender studies of being “ideological activism” is a self-avowed activist obviously motivated by ideology. The source of this ideology? Perhaps it is Viktor Orbán, whose Danube Institute hosted Rufo in Budapest as a visiting fellow this March and April. Orbán, who has been in power since 2010, regularly employs antisemitic, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and is widely considered one of the most serious global threats to democracy. Should someone who has studied Orbán’s techniques so recently in his capital city be entrusted with overseeing the curriculum of any institution, especially one devoted to the public good?
Jonathan S. Perry is an associate professor of history at the Sarasota-Manatee Campus of the University of South Florida, and he also appeared as a contestant on the television program “Jeopardy!” in February 2023.
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York is facing two lawsuits stemming from his role as a board member for the online educational company, Chegg Inc., according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Two shareholders' lawsuits allege York and other members of the board covered up an online college exam cheating scandal during the COVID-19 pandemic and also engaged in insider trading. The scheme, colloquially known as "chegging," allowed college students to find the answers to test questions online using one of Chegg's services. The company's stock soared during the pandemic when colleges switched to virtual classrooms but plummeted once colleges resumed in-person classes.
The lawsuit claims the Chegg board gave false and misleading statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when the cheating scandal was discovered and insinuated that they perpetuated the practice. The company's stock price reached as high as $113.96 a share on Feb. 8, 2021, before it fell to $24.25 a share by November, per Yahoo Finance. It hasn't reached at least $30 a share since April 2022 and currently sits at less than $11 a share.
This is where the insider trading allegations come into play.
York and Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig are also accused of allegedly dumping company stock at the height of its market price before the scandal was discovered and without informing investors of an impending crash. The lawsuit claims York made $1.4 million after he sold 20,000 shares.
“York engaged in insider sales before the fraud was exposed,” one lawsuit claims. “As a trusted member of the board, he conducted little, if any, oversight of Chegg’s engagement in ... the cheating misconduct.
“His insider sales demonstrate his motive in facilitating and participating in the scheme."
York, whose parents own the 49ers, has worked for the team since he was hired as vice president in 2005. He became president and CEO of the 49ers in 2008 when his parents transitioned to co-chairs. York joined the board of Chegg in 2013.
“The latest securities-related lawsuits against Chegg, and in certain cases its board of directors, are without merit and Chegg is vigorously defending itself," a company spokesperson wrote in a statement. "Chegg takes academic integrity very seriously and has invested significant resources to protect it. Chegg has been helping millions of students learn and thrive for many years, including during the pandemic, creating a transformative digital learning platform to Boost outcomes.”
San Francisco 49ers spokesperson Brian Brokaw did not acknowledge the lawsuits in a statement to the Chronicle.
“The 49ers are proud of the work we accomplished with Chegg to provide scholarships for first-generation students," he wrote.
The 49ers partnered with Chegg in 2019 to hand out $100,000 in scholarships to first-generation college students in the Bay Area.