Category Archives: Education

What Do the Changes to the SAT Really Mean?

In college, I took an intro-level microeconomics course with a professor who had taught for a long time at the university. Every few years (even though it seemed like an annual ritual), he would put out a “new edition” of his microeconomics textbook, slap a new cover photo on it, and jack up the price – all while requiring students to buy the newest edition.

So, was this “new edition” really all that new?

Of course not. None of my classmates nor I ever found any major (or even minor) differences between the editions. It was still an overpriced textbook, and requiring the newest edition really only helped boost the professor’s textbook royalties.

Naturally, when the College Board announced “major changes” to the SAT, I thought back to my intro to econ course. How “major” are these changes to the SAT really? Is reverting back to the 1600 scale truly all that new?

The answer to these questions depends on your frame of reference:

Now, we know what most of the media thinks about these latest developments with the SAT:

  • CBS called the announcement “sweeping changes
  • The New York Times called them “major changes” (Note: An updated headline has now removed the phrase “major changes” from the title, but the URL still reflects the original title)
  • NBC News labeled them “big changes
  • The Wall Street Journal said that the College Board “shakes up” the SAT

You get the picture.

In large part due to this deluge of news coverage calling the changes such “big news,” I went on a bit of a Twitter rant to point out that the new developments were not, in fact, all that major. Here are a few highlights:

The truth is: the SAT is a charade. For all the College Board’s talk about “delivering opportunities” and making college more accessible for students, the SAT represents an unnecessary — and useless — barrier on the road to college.

Just last month, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) released a report that found virtually no difference in college completion rates for students, regardless of whether they submitted SAT scores or not. The study affirmed what previous research had already found: including or not including the SAT (or ACT, for that matter) in college admissions considerations really doesn’t make much of a difference.

So then, why do the SAT and ACT remain such a major part of the college admissions web? There are a couple of factors, but at the root of these is one common denominator — money.

Consider that the test prep industry generates over $1 billion each year (this doesn’t even include the profits from actual testing), and consider that the SAT is better at predicting a student’s socioeconomic background than his or her college success.

So, while the news of this week has focused on the College Board and what it has done to retool the SAT, the deeper issues that impede college access still remain. The true culprits in this equation are the colleges and universities that still feed into the testing frenzy, allowing concerns over institutional prestige and rankings to cloud their ability to enact truly impactful policies for expanding access.

When colleges and universities require the SAT or ACT, families with the means to put their children through test prep courses are at an even greater advantage over low-income and even many middle-income families who simply cannot afford such extraneous luxuries. Frankly, what does it say about the test itself when an entire industry is built around prepping students for it? And, truthfully, a nice PR move like partnering with the Khan Academy is nothing but a band-aid solution to a much deeper issue (and what does it say about the Khan Academy, too?).

It’s time to throw out an anachronistic component of college admissions that is doing nothing but driving an academic arms race among higher education institutions. Instead, let’s focus our efforts on real, substantive issues such as trimming the costs of administrative bloat, addressing the mountainous student debt bubble, and boosting declining state investment in higher education. The bigger news focus this week should have been on efforts such as the new Higher Ed, Not Debt initiative launched by a number of education champions, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

But, instead, we’ve been hearing all about this “new SAT.” As a higher education access and affordability advocate, I could certainly break down the ways in which the changes to the SAT might impact how we work with students as they prepare for and apply to college. But that’s for another day, since — as a higher education access and affordability advocate — I also feel the need to point out when the discussion is heading in the wrong directions.

And that’s the point — because, in the grand scheme of things, until we really shake our college admissions processes free of these measurement tools of privilege and focus on true systemic ways to increase access for low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students, changes to the SAT really aren’t that major after all.

Thoughts on NYT Op-Ed re: Teacher Professionalization

I don’t normally write on non-higher ed issues in education, but this recent New York Times op-ed piece entitled “Teachers: Will We Ever Learn” has gotten a fair amount of traction on the interwebs. In fact, I heard about it in several emails from friends and colleagues who care about education issues as much as I do, so I thought I’d share my response to some of the key sections of the op-ed (which I encourage you to read in full):

In April 1983, a federal commission warned in a famous report, “A Nation at Risk,” that American education was a “rising tide of mediocrity.” The alarm it sounded about declining competitiveness touched off a tidal wave of reforms: state standards, charter schools, alternative teacher-certification programs, more money, more test-based “accountability” and, since 2001, two big federal programs, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

But while there have been pockets of improvement, particularly among children in elementary school, America’s overall performance in K-12 education remains stubbornly mediocre. Continue reading Thoughts on NYT Op-Ed re: Teacher Professionalization

Obama FY2014 Budget Proposal: Implications for Higher Ed

The Obama administration just released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014, and the Twittersphere tweeted and retweeted all over itself, highlighting budget details and how they might affect certain programs. This blog post won’t look at the overall budget (or even all education issues) but instead will focus on its impact on higher education. Although not every one of these proposals will actually come to be, it’s still worth fleshing out the juiciest higher education highlights (details on pages 82-84 of that link).

Provide $1 Billion for Race to the Top Focused on Curbing College Tuition

Proposing a higher ed Race to the Top (RTTT) competition isn’t entirely new. The Obama Administration also included it in its budget proposal last year; however, it failed to make the final cut. With college affordability in arguably no better shape a year later, there is hope that a higher ed RTTT may actually happen this year.

Create a First in the World Fund to Spur Innovation to Boost College Affordability

The proposal sets aside $260 million to incentivize new ways of delivering higher education and increasing postsecondary access and affordability. This seems to be geared toward exploring more ways to build on massive open online courses (MOOCs) and community organizations focusing on college access issues. The idea here has also been proposed before, but it has likewise not been funded.

Boosting Campus-Based Aid Programs Based on Enrollment and Graduation Rates Among Low-Income Students

This proposal directs more than $10 billion toward Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work Study, and Perkins Loans. Part of this boost includes a $150 million increase for the Federal Work Study program to double the number of participants over five years. Perhaps most interestingly, this idea proposes reforms that would tie the amount of campus-based aid to institutions’ efforts to enroll and graduate low-income students.

Lock In Student Loan Interest Rates at Market-Based Rates

Current student loan interest ranges from 3.4% to 6.8%, depending on the program. The proposal suggests tying interest rates to the government’s cost of borrowing, which means interest rates would likely be tied to 10-year Treasury notes and include additional rates of 0.93% for subsidized Stafford loans, 2.93% for unsubsidized Stafford loans, and 3.93% for loans for parents and graduate students. The rate on new loans would be set each year based on the market rate.

Maintain Pell Grant Maximum Award at $5,645 Through 2015-16

As the Department of Ed’s document of highlights notes, the Pell Grant maximum award has increased by $915 since 2008, which is welcome news for low-income and lower-middle-income undergraduate students. As I’ve written before, part of the challenge of maintaining Pell Grant funding is ensuring fiscal sustainability for its long-term viability.

Provide Funding for Further Research on Student Aid for Postsecondary Education

The proposal calls for $9 million for upgrades to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to improve federal data on postsecondary students. It also proposes $8 million for more frequent surveys of postsecondary students to gather data on who receives student aid, enrollment patterns, and graduation rates for those who receive federal financial aid. Finally, it includes $67 million for research and evaluation of federal student aid.

Of these main higher ed highlights, the one that will get the most noise is likely the proposal tying student loan interest rates to market-based interest rates, as Libby Nelson of Inside Higher Education noted:

More interesting, though, is the second half of her tweet, which predicts that the campus-based aid idea of tying funding to outcomes for low-income students might actually receive the most pushback. In considering all of these proposals, I would have to agree with this assessment, because institutions rely heavily on these aid programs to retain their students.

Aside from the Pell Grant highlight (which doesn’t propose anything new), none of the other proposals are as closely tied to direct student funding as the campus-based aid programs. By this, I mean that the RTTT and First in the World competitions would both provide additional funding that institutions and states would not already have received under current budget formulas.

The budget also calls for making the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) permanent, which would provide up to $2,500 for higher education costs. The threshold for eligibility is higher, which includes more middle-income households (who tend to benefit more from tax credits like this  anyway), and it allows for book expenses and is available for the first four years of college.

While other areas of the Obama budget might have clear winners and losers, it’s hard to say whether higher ed is a winner or loser IF (and it really is only an “if”) all of these proposals are ultimately funded (which is entirely unlikely). In this scenario where each proposal is indeed funded, I would probably lean slightly toward higher ed being more of a loser than winner, given that student loan interest rates will likely increase using market-based rates, and campus-based aid programs might become more limited if tied to low-income student outcomes while college tuition is likely to continue to rise. On this last point though, the goal of the higher ed-focused RTTT is to contain tuition increases, but I have a hard time seeing enough substantial funding from states to offset the increases that have occurred in recent years.

Instead, I probably share more of the sentiment that Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, expressed in his statement on the Obama budget: while it rightly focuses its proposals on addressing college affordability, some of the deeper-rooted issues may be best resolved through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (which Congress is supposed to reauthorize this year). While I do hope that the renewal of the HEA can provide long-term solutions for student loans, student aid programs, and college affordability, the question is whether Congress will actually reauthorize it on-time (they delayed the last reauthorization from 2003 to 2008).

Whether through the final budget for Fiscal Year 2014 or the reauthorization of the HEA, it’s clear that college affordability should be a priority to ensure that all students have the chance to pursue postsecondary education if they so desire.

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“Did you get into Harvard?!?”

Every spring, the title question is inevitably posed by wide-eyed, sleep-deprived high school seniors to their peers. The rat race otherwise known as the college admissions process in the United States is nearing its end (too slowly, for some).

In a guest post on Valerie Strauss’s The Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post, Liz Willen from The Hechinger Report (shout out to Teachers College, Columbia University!) brilliantly captured the ritualistic process to which rankings-obsessed teens and parents around the country subject themselves year after year:

Listen closely, and the list of rejected valedictorians, team captains and accomplished test-takers will go on and on. You may even hear navel-gazing parents and students who received too many thin envelopes ask themselves, “Where did we go wrong?”

Willen’s point, however, is that this whole hubbub we (yes, I’m guilty of it, too) have built up throughout the academic year is completely wrong-headed, in terms of how it portrays higher education and in relation to what higher education actually means.

English: Teacher's College 2004 2004 Christoph...
English: Teacher’s College, 2004. Christopher Matta, free to use for any purpose. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my regular bus to Teachers College the other day, the quiet space I occupied alone in the back was suddenly overrun by high school seniors speaking much too loudly for a public space. Initially annoyed at having my peace and quiet disturbed, I became intrigued at the banter thrown around from one corner of the bus to another.

Student A: You applied to Harvard?? You know only like 6% get admitted, right?!

Student B: I know…

Student A: That means, if you filled up this bus with 100 people, only 6 people would get in!

Conversations like these are precisely the target of Ms. Willen’s post:

We go wrong by engaging in this wrong-headed, waste-of-time conversation at all, and by comparing our kids’ test scores and GPAs, their merits and drawbacks. Sure, it’s seductive to be drawn into side-by-side comparisons and speculate about the “secret formula” for getting into top schools like Brown University, where 28,919 applicants vied for acceptances that totaled just 2,649.

Even the new movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, Admission, has contributed to this cycle of hair-pulling and eye-gouging.

In the new comedy Admission, the Princeton admissions officer played by Tina Fey is repeatedly asked to divulge that formula.

“Just be yourself,” Fey falsely answers. The film illustrates how largely unsuccessful such advice is by showing a parade of accomplished applicants falling through the floor of Princeton’s committee room and into oblivion.

Unfortunately, the movie perpetuates Ivy League angst, promoting the wrong conversation in a country where community colleges enroll more than half of the students in higher education—and where the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year college degree is just 38.7 percent.

How often have we heard this statement of “just be yourself?” Few colleges I know of actually say that, though. (For more on the waste-of-time conversation that Ms. Willen points out, these three words recently got lots of play after a satirical WSJ op-ed by a high school senior and a subsequently swift response via Gawker.)

College access and affordability issues have long been the focus of my research, and as such, it’s what I’ve written about. But, the real conversation about college admissions that Ms. Willen notes is absolutely a critical dialogue: it’s not about where you go to college; it’s about what you do in college.

While the general perception is that having a degree from an Ivy League school, Stanford, or MIT automatically trumps a degree from most other institutions, the truth is our focus should be on the substance of the degrees and not the degrees themselves.

And until all the guidance, mentorship, and training that we can offer high school students truly helps them and their families embrace substance over style as a key outcome of higher education, we’ll be having this same conversation next spring.

It looks like we have some work to do.

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2013 March Madness: College Costs-Style

While college basketball fans scramble to finish their office pool brackets and aim for wads of money via [insert any major sports website here], one site has taken a decidedly different approach to filling out their 2013 NCAA bracket.

Using the latest stats and figures from Peterson’s and Collegedata.com, Abe Sauer broke down the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tournament field by highest annual college tuition and crowned 11th-seeded Bucknell as the 2013 NCAA Champion with a whopping annual tuition of $45,132!

While tuition is certainly an important determinant in choosing a college, looking at the average net price (what you pay after grants and scholarships are subtracted from the college or university’s cost of attendance) might be a more interesting way of looking at the field. Plus, net price only accounts for financial aid you do NOT have to pay back, so student loans are not part of this equation.

Using the Department of Education’s College Scorecard developed by the College Affordability and Transparency Center and a nifty NCAA Bracket template from Google, here’s what the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tournament field based on estimated Annual Net Price would look like:

Midwest Bracket

West Bracket

East Bracket

South Bracket

Final Four

Based on estimated Annual Net Price, Saint Louis ran away with the championship, costing its students a mind-boggling $32,430 AFTER grants and scholarships have been subtracted from the annual cost of attendance. (If you’re wondering, Bucknell didn’t even make it out of the first round! That’s a bit misleading though, since Bucknell still has the third-highest Annual Net Price in the East behind Butler and Marquette, who rank above Bucknell by only about $300.)

In terms of actual basketball, Saint Louis may actually have a more realistic shot as a No. 4 seed than the 11th-seeded Bucknell to win the actual NCAA championship, if history proves correct. No No. 11 seed has ever won the championship or even made it to the championship game. On the other hand, only one No. 4 seed has ever won the championship (Arizona in 1997).

In all seriousness, though, skyrocketing college costs are no laughing matter. Given that these numbers show how much students must pay (read: borrow) AFTER they’ve exhausted scholarships and grants, there’s already a great need to boost student financial aid and implement more student-friendly policies. If perhaps more schools followed New Mexico State’s lead (estimated annual net price: $2,344), we might actually be able to curb the growing student debt bubble a bit.

Until then, happy March Madness!

Hat tip to @mollywaldron for the original story.

Let’s Make Sure Financial Aid Actually Aids Students

If Congress doesn’t get its act together and pass legislation to avoid the 5% across-the-board cuts to the federal budget (aka the “sequester”), the higher education world will suffer through even more painful rounds of budget cuts. The Chronicle of Higher Education has this story covered:

“Thousands of researchers will lose their jobs, thousands of students will lose their financial aid, and thousands of unemployed workers will be turned away from college work-force programs.”

At a time when it seems like having a college degree is necessary for even the lowest-level jobs, these are troubling developments indeed:

“Though Pell Grants would be exempt from the sequester this year, Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants would not. Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has told lawmakers his department will make 33,000 fewer work-study awards and 71,000 fewer supplemental grants next year if the cuts take effect.”

US Capitol
There might be some late nights here coming up…
[Photo via U.S. House of Representatives]
Besides this whole fiasco with the sequester though, Congress has some other higher ed-related legislative business to take care of in 2013: The Higher Education Act of 1965 is up for reauthorization. Judging by the sluggish pace at which the last reauthorization was passed (the 2003 reauthorization finally got passed…in 2008), we might be seeing the 2013 HEA reauthorization get pushed back for a while.

Let’s imagine, though, that the 113th Congress will actually do its job and reauthorize the HEA on time (ok, sorry, I didn’t mean to make you laugh there). But before it does, there are a few ideas Congress needs to hear first about overhauling the federal student financial aid system.

It could start with what I would consider “low-hanging fruit”: Continue reading Let’s Make Sure Financial Aid Actually Aids Students

TEDx SIPA revisited

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAz0bOtfVfE]

Last Sunday, I posted a not entirely positive review of TEDx SIPA. At one point, I took issue with a speaker’s depiction of the Peace Corps:

Later, a SIPA student passionately critiqued the Peace Corps model, declaring, “Grateful as I am for my experience in the Peace Corps, I recognize that the developing world cannot just be a training ground for young, idealistic Americans. The problems in communities like the one I lived in are far too serious for that.” And yet he was speaking at a conference created entirely for young, idealistic (and often inexperienced) Americans interested in solving enormous global problems — the type whose very presence at TEDx signalled their personal enthusiasm for the brand of fifteen-minute bursts of inspiration in which the speaker was participating himself. Indeed, his extrapolation of his own disillusionment with his two-year volunteering effort in South Africa into an ardent condemnation of the entire Peace Corps’ allegedly flawed practices was itself a case study in misplaced idealism.

It appears I wasn’t the only one. Today, SIPA’s student-run newspaper The Morningside Post (disclosure: I am its opinion editor) ran a piece by Audrey Huse that zeroed in on the Peace Corps talk’s flaws:

I’m surprised Mr. Kortava finished his two years, and I commend him for it. But it seems he thought he was going to South Africa to singlehandedly halt the HIV epidemic, and such high expectations can lead to disillusion and disappointment. The TEDx event did not seem an appropriate venue to vent his frustrations. The TEDx  platform is intended to present innovative ideas worth spreading. If there was one in Kortava’s talk, I missed it.

Granted, Kortava’s is hardly the first critique of the Peace Corps, nor will it be the last. (It’s also not the first time he’s done it himself, either.) But I wasn’t primarily interested in discussing the specific merits of the Peace Corps in my previous post. I was bothered more by Kortava’s overly simplistic take on it, and the way in which that “quick fix” attitude permeated so many of the speeches I heard during the TEDx conference that day.

Anyway, my friend and flatmate Andres Lizcano Rodriguez — who, incidentally, runs a very cool blog of his own — took issue with some of my comments. With his permission, I’ve reproduced portions of his response here:

I think you’re being a big, arrogant ass. Of course there’s a problem in fitting everything into a 17-minute presentation. The fact is, most of the world does not consist of Ivy League grad students, and not everyone can simply digest complicated critiques or fact-based lectures and policy analysis.

I’m not sure those Krugman graphs would be for everyone. I think your critique is in large part a critique of the ascendant pop-intellectual craze, but what is the problem with making intellectuality a popular thing? TEDx conferences will never be intellectual activities, but that isn’t their goal in the first place. (I think…and I hope.) They’re meant to motivate you to start considering something that you might not have known about, or seen in the same way, before. All the “goddamn assholes” that already know all this stuff aren’t representative of the broader population.

(By the way, the Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa makes a similar point to yours — not about TED talks but about culture. He keeps whining about the fact that everybody can be an artist or writer now, and that that has diminished the quality….all because he seems to feel that the intellectual aristocracy is threatened.)

Additionally, I think you’re underestimating the importance of passion and empowerment. Granted, it’s a big US-American cliché — I also despise all this “OMG that was so inspiring” stuff — but it’s not like that everywhere in the world.

You said:

There is a clear line connecting the type of thinking exemplified by TEDx and that of similarly grandiose but ill-informed ventures like the “Kony 2012” campaign. It’s not passion that’s lacking. But passion is dangerous in the hands of an institution that encourages superficial speech-giving and a daylong mutual back-scratch with an adoring audience.

But passion and self-esteem actually lack in many places. In my college in Bogotá — an elite university — we were not told all the time, like we are here, that we would be the future leaders of our country, that we could do everything we wanted, etc. etc. And thus I was often surrounded by many people — who were much smarter and more competent than I was — who didn’t dare to do anything because they didn’t feel they could actually achieve their goals. Most people had never actually considered that they could “dream big.”

Essentially, here are my points:

1. I think you’re misinterpreting the objective of a TED talk and, if interpreted differently, it could actually be of greater value to a broad audience than you’ve given it credit for.

2. I think you’re underestimating the importance of inspiration, empowerment, and passion.

After watching the above video, he summarized:

While we all agree on his points, nothing is being done about them. And I think part of the reason for this is that there are not enough people reminding us of his points. Meanwhile, there are tons of people (such as our own Office of Career Services) telling us all day long (in other formats) that we need to find a job at Goldman Sachs or the World Bank. Maybe it would be more efficient if TED opened offices at the big schools and scared the hell out of people so that they started behaving correctly. The point is that people need to be reminded of these big ideas, even if they already know them.

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My problem with TEDx

krugman
Battle of the Beards: Paul Krugman eyes his sometime bête noire, Ben Bernanke. TEDx talk at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Friday, February 15, 2013.)

It wasn’t until after all the speeches had ended and everyone was mingling around the makeshift bar outside that I finally made the connection: TEDx is just like church.

I can’t remember the first time I heard about TED, the conference series that emerged into the spotlight rather suddenly several years ago and has become a staple of the socially conscious set ever since. But I distinctly recall feeling mounting skepticism with each new mention of the organization, which was often expressed in near-mythic terms and was almost always unqualifiedly positive.

The first full talk I recall actually watching myself was Dutch General and then-Chief of Defence Peter van Uhm’s TEDx speech in the Netherlands in 2011. I’d been assigned the video for a graduate class in January of last year. The course was on the American military, and the TEDx talk I’d been instructed to watch was titled “Why I Chose the Gun.” Here’s how it started:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, thank you for giving me an applause before I even started. As the highest military commander of the Netherlands, with troops stationed around the world, I’m really honored to be here today. When I look around this TEDx Amsterdam venue, I see a very special audience: you are the reason why I said yes to the invitation to come here today. When I look around, I see people who want to make a contribution. I see people who want to make a better world — by doing groundbreaking scientific work, by creating impressive works of art, by writing critical articles or inspiring books, by starting up sustainable businesses. And you all have chosen your own instruments to fulfill this mission of creating a better world.

This, as I would soon discover, was as perfect a microcosm of the TED experience (TEDxperience?) as one could find. First, the establishment of his credentials; then, the obligatory salute to the audience; and, finally, the ode to the transcendent ideal of “a better world.” Continue reading My problem with TEDx

Obama Calls for Expansion of Early Childhood Services

Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Alex Wong/Getty Images.

President Obama has been busy in the last few days rousing thousands of early childhood practitioners and advocates with his call for high-quality pre-k for all low- and moderate-income families. The administration has clarified parts of the plan, which have answered some questions and opened some new ones. The proposal is the biggest push for early childhood services since Head Start in the 1960s, a federally funded pre-k program to serve low-income families.

The plan, which I will henceforth refer to as “Obama-garten” (you’re welcome), proposes a four-pronged approach to supporting the development of young children through the expansion of high-quality pre-k access, full-day kindergarten, Early Head Start for infants to 3-year-olds, and a home visiting initiative. Many are pleased that the plan involves the under-three crowd, which is often neglected in U.S. policy. The details of the “new federal-state partnership” to expand high-quality pre-k to children up to 200% of the poverty line and incentivize states to “broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families” have yet to be fully explained, but my guess is that some pretty tasty looking carrots will be dangled in front of states in order for them to participate. And participate they should. In fact, a handful of states, both red and blue, have already pledged some kind of commitment to supporting young children and their families in the last few months, signaling increased readiness to beef-up their early childhood services.

Several elements of the plan need to be pulled apart and further explained to get a sense of whether the plan is feasible. Continue reading Obama Calls for Expansion of Early Childhood Services

Where is the outcry?

The New York Times reports on soccer team Beitar Jerusalem’s recruitment of two Muslim players — who aren’t even Arab; they’re from Chechnya — and the reaction of racist fans:

The team, Beitar Jerusalem, has long been linked to Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and for 15 years has been notorious for racism and violence, including an incident last spring in which fans stormed a local mall chanting “Death to Arabs” and beat up several Arab employees. Founded in 1936, it is the only one of Israel’s professional soccer teams never to have recruited an Arab player.

The current controversy concerns the team’s addition of two Muslim players from Chechnya. Although one is injured, the other is expected to play for the first time in a match on Sunday against a team from Sakhnin, an Arab-Israeli town.

In anticipation of the Muslim players’ arrival, some fans unfurled a banner at the team’s Jan. 26 game saying “Beitar Pure Forever.” Some critics said the banner was reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s expulsion of Jews from sport, and it led to nationwide soul-searching.

The greatest irony?

“We cannot accept such racist behavior,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “The Jewish people, who suffered excommunications and expulsions, need to represent a light unto the nations.”

There has long been a double standard in the American media in which blatant Israeli racism towards Arabs and Muslims is largely ignored — or, at best, excused as an outlier — while even the slightest hint of negative sentiments towards Israel — even if motivated primarily by political considerations — is reflexively excoriated as anti-Semitic.

Take, for example, the recent brouhaha at Brooklyn College, where a predictable uproar was fortunately insufficient to prevent the institution from holding an event featuring speakers who support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (B.D.S.) policies relating to Israel. Following the event, Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin blogged about a previous speaker at the school:

In March 2011, David Horowitz spoke at Brooklyn College. Someone yesterday brought to my attention this report from the event. A few highlights:

Given this context, it was all the more disturbing last night when I looked across the crowd and saw tears run down the face of a member of the Palestine Club as Horowitz said to the group of mostly nodding heads, “All through history people have been oppressed but no people has done what the Palestinians have done—no people has shown itself so morally sick as the Palestinians have.”

Horowitz, who admitted he had actually never even been to Israel, proceeded to give everyone a lesson in Middle East politics: according to him, Muslims in the Middle East are “Islamic Nazi’s” who “want to kill Jews, that’s their agenda.” He added later, “all Muslim associations are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The most revealing moment came when a young Arab-American woman directed a question to Horowitz and the audience: “You talk about Muslims as if you know them—We have a Muslim American Society, we have a Palestine Club [on campus]. I want to raise the question to any of the Jews in this room, and students, have you guys ever been threatened by a Muslim on campus or an Arab?” To this, the crowd almost unanimously spun around in their seats to face the young woman and replied “yes.” Someone shouted, “and we’re scared when we see Muslims on buses and airplanes too.”

Horowitz encouraged anti-Muslim hate by telling the crowd, “no other people have sunk so low as the Palestinians have and yet everybody is afraid to say this,” claiming that Muslims are a “protected species in this country” and that he’s “wait[ing] for the day when the good Muslims step forward.”

As Robin then asked:

First, how is it that the comments of Horowitz can be so easily admitted into the mansion of “the open exchange of ideas” while the comments of Butler and Barghouti [who spoke at the recent BDS event] seem to threaten the very foundation of that edifice?

It’s a good question, but not one we’re likely to see answered by traditional media establishments any time soon.