Monthly Archives: August 2017

or Teachers Working Through DACA

Jaime Ballesteros tried to contain his tears on Tuesday while teaching Brooklyn sixth graders about liquids, gases and solids. In between science classes at a charter school in East New York, he broke down at his desk.

The government had just canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which had granted temporary protection from deportation to immigrants brought to the country at a young age. Under DACA, as the program is known, they attended college and obtained work permits, and many went back into the profession that inspired them in the first place.

“The last three years that I have been teaching was like a world of possibility for me and my students,” said Mr. Ballesteros, 25, who is from the Philippines. “Today, I just didn’t feel that same level of hope.”

He was just one of the estimated 30,000 DACA recipients in New York who now face uncertain futures, according to statistics kept by the city. The Trump administration gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution, while allowing the DACA permits to last until they expire.

The jobs these DACA recipients, often known as Dreamers, do have a wide impact in New York, from small business owners to financial analysts to internet entrepreneurs and nurses. In May 2016, New York State allowed DACA recipients to get licenses for teaching and 57 other professions, after a 2015 appellate court decision paved the way in ruling that a DACA recipient from Staten Island, Cesar Vargas, could become a lawyer.

‘The Way to Survive It Was to Make A’s’

The road to Virginia Episcopal School was more secluded in those days, winding a few miles from the white section of segregated Lynchburg through a wood of maple and oak to the school’s rolling campus, shielded by trees and the more distant Blue Ridge Mountains. The usual stream of cars navigated the bends on the first day of school, white families ferrying their adolescent sons. Like nearly every other elite prep school in the South, it had been the boarding school’s tradition since its founding in 1916 that its teachers guide white boys toward its ideal of manhood — erudite, religious, resilient. But that afternoon of Sept. 8, 1967, a taxi pulled up the long driveway carrying a black teenager, Marvin Barnard. He had journeyed across the state, 120 miles by bus, from the black side of Richmond, unaccompanied, toting a single suitcase. In all of Virginia, a state whose lawmakers had responded to the 1954 court-ordered desegregation of public schools with a strategy of declared “massive resistance,” no black child had ever enrolled in a private boarding school. When Marvin stepped foot on V.E.S. ground, wearing a lightweight sport jacket, a white dress shirt, a modest necktie and a cap like the ones the Beatles were wearing, the white idyll was over.

Marvin had just turned 14 when he arrived, and at a little over five feet tall and 100 pounds, he was a tiny thing. His face was boyishly open, eyes and mouth big and bright, black hair that grew in waves toward a lopsided widow’s peak. His skin was yellow-brown. Marvin had the spirit of a bouncing ball, and back home in Richmond he’d kept his classmates and teachers laughing. In all his years of schooling, he’d never earned a grade other than A. The old couple who raised him, his aunt and uncle, had given him a dime for each perfect report, but money wasn’t Marvin’s motivation. He lived to please them, and after his aunt died when he was 12, Marvin lived to please his uncle. Going off to V.E.S. had delighted him and just about everyone else. “The neighbors and the other kids, they were just excited,” Marvin recalled. “The thing that gave me such a rush was that I could see it in their eyes. It’s like: ‘Well, you go, and you show them. You show them what you can do. You show them for us.’ ”

Another black boy, Bill Alexander, had also been sent that year. Bill had traveled by jet from his hometown, Nashville, to Washington and then on to Lynchburg aboard a propeller plane. He, too, was alone, though he brought more bags than Marvin, coming as he did from Nashville’s black middle class. At the airport, Bill hailed a taxi driven by a black cabby. “To Virginia Episcopal School,” Bill told him. But those were impossible words to the man’s ears. He took Bill to a black Baptist seminary instead. “I told the man, ‘No, I’m going to Virginia Episcopal School on V.E.S. Road,’ ” Bill told me. “He kinda looked at me. I must have said it two, three, four times before he drove all the way up to V.E.S.”

Betsy DeVos Says She Will Rewrite Rules on Campus Sex Assault

ARLINGTON, Va. — Saying that the Obama administration’s approach to policing campus sexual assault had “failed too many students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that her administration would rewrite the rules in an effort to protect both the victims of sexual assault and the accused.

Ms. DeVos did not say what changes she had in mind. But in a strongly worded speech, she made clear she believed that in an effort to protect victims, the previous administration had gone too far and forced colleges to adopt procedures that sometimes deprived accused students of their rights.

“Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach,” she said in an address at George Mason University in suburban Arlington, Va. “With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today.”

Advocates for assault victims reacted strongly and swiftly, as did Arne Duncan, who was education secretary during most of the Obama administration.

“This administration wants to take us back to the days when colleges swept sexual assault under the rug,” Mr. Duncan said in a statement. “Instead of building on important work to pursue justice, they are once again choosing politics over students, and students will pay the price.”

Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy for the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, noted that courts have reversed some punishments handed down by campus administrators.

“I think DeVos laid out a sensible, responsible approach to crafting a more measured policy that can better secure the rights of all involved,” he said.

In recent years, campuses across the country have been roiled by high-profile sexual assault cases. A scandal involving the Baylor University football team ultimately led to the removal of the school’s president, Kenneth W. Starr, the former independent counsel whose work led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

A 2015 survey of students at 27 schools, commissioned by the Association of American Universities, found that nearly one in four women had complained of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Advocates for victims seized on the study, but as with similar reports, it was criticized by some for overstating the problem, and even its authors acknowledged that it had limitations.

Though Ms. DeVos said she believed that accused students were often mistreated, she also said that victims were being ill-served by a quasi-judicial process that lacked the sophistication required for such sensitive matters.

Ms. DeVos repeatedly used the term “survivors,” a term often preferred by victims when speaking of sexual assault. And she also vowed that colleges would not return to the days when sexual assault complaints were ignored.

“One rape is one too many,” she said. “One assault is one too many. One aggressive act of harassment is one too many.”

But her remarks focused more heavily on the young men who, she said, were denied due process in campus proceedings, sometimes attempting suicide.

She referred to campus sexual misconduct hearings as “kangaroo courts” that forced administrators to act as “judge and jury.” Referring to scores of lawsuits filed by punished students, she said: “Survivors aren’t well served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused. And no student should be forced to sue their way to due process.”

She suggested that colleges had gone too far in other types of cases, too. In the speech, Ms. DeVos referred to a case at the University of Southern California in which the football team’s kicker, Matt Boermeester, was suspended from school and kicked off the squad after being investigated for physically assaulting his girlfriend. The girlfriend later spoke out in defense of Mr. Boermeester, saying no assault had happened.

In a statement Thursday, the university said it stood by its investigation, and that evidence from multiple witnesses suggested “an act of violence took place that violated our university codes of conduct and Title IX regulations.”

Private University in North Korea Reopens Despite Travel Ban

SEOUL, South Korea — The only foreign-funded private university in North Korea started a new semester on Monday, but without its usual American professors because of Washington’s ban on travel to the country, university officials said.

The travel ban, which took effect Friday, has threatened the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school in the North Korean capital that was financed by evangelical Christians abroad.

The university has been relying on 60 to 80 volunteer professors from the outside, about half of them Americans. It can no longer accept American volunteers unless it wins exemptions from the travel ban.

For now, the fall semester started with 20 to 25 non-American foreign volunteers, according to Colin McCulloch, the university’s director of external relations.

The university said in a statement that it was recruiting more non-American volunteers willing to teach there.

Under the travel restrictions, an American passport is no longer valid for travel to North Korea. Among the hardest hit were humanitarian workers who have been operating in the impoverished country.

Washington has said it would consider a one-time, special-validation visa for journalists, humanitarian workers, Red Cross officials and those who travel for “the national interest.” The Pyongyang university said it would apply for such a visa for American volunteers.

The university’s founding chairman, James Kim, and its chancellor, Park Chan-mo, both American passport- holders, visited the campus in August but had to leave last week before the travel ban went into effect, university officials said.

The United States announced the travel ban in July in response to the death of Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student who had been serving a 15-year sentence of hard labor in North Korea after being convicted of trying to steal a political poster. Mr. Warmbier, who was 22, died in June shortly after the North released him. He had been in a coma for more than a year.

The ban came into effect amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

The Pyongyang university was founded in 2010 with the goal of helping North Korea’s future elite learn the skills to modernize and open up the isolated country. It provides students with an education they cannot get elsewhere — computer science, agriculture, international finance and management, all conducted in English by an international faculty. Its Christian teachers are forbidden to preach.

But the university’s rare experiment came into question as two of its volunteers, both of them Korean-Americans, were detained this year by the North Korean authorities on vague charges of committing “hostile acts.”