Free Speech

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by fishbowl, May 24, 2010.

  1. fishbowl

    fishbowl Member

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    Just read this article by following the link at USNA.com:

    https://www.usna.com/SSLPage.aspx?RSS=acad&referrer=&pid=10511

    It is a USNA English professor's opinion about how the service academies seem to be wallowing in mediocrity. I think I have seen a thread or two on this topic before, and maybe even some opinions on this professor, but it is the comments from alum after the article that are troubling. I'm a firm supporter of free speech, but this is not something that I really want my child to read with I-day only about 6 weeks away. Was wondering whether others had some constructive feedback.
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    First, this was on the Naval Academy Alumni website - go to Alumni websites and the comments will run the gamut. None are "official" USNA comments.

    Are you looking for folks to confirm or repudiate the comments?

    Prof Fleming can say what he wants because he has tenure. The Naval Academy grants tenure to their civilian professors, while West Point does not.
    Grads of USNA and other academies are free to offer their own opinion.

    Soon after I-Day, your son will learn of the good the bad and the ugly - this is true of every service academy (or college for that matter). Probably he will also realize the good far far outweighs the bad and the ugly.
     
  4. OnceAMarine

    OnceAMarine New Member

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    Fishbowl,
    Prof. Fleming has been saying the same things for over 2 decades. You can agree or disagree, one of the great things about this Nation. You can do a quick search and find untold numbers of op-eds/blogs/posts from those on either side. It is what it is.

    I would like to offer you some advice and I hope you take it in the spirit intended, which is a spirit of goodwill and best wishes for you and your soon to be plebe. Do not try to shield your "child" from anything. In six weeks she will raise her right hand and swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is a solemn oath and a bigger commitment than most realize. At that point she belongs to the government and the Naval Service and she is no longer a child but an emancipated adult answerable to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and all it entails. If you are worried that one op-ed piece (or a hundred for that matter) is enough to change her mind then maybe it's time to do some soul-searching before I-Day. This isn't "college", they are not here to lay the groundwork for "a good job" and it isn't supposed to be easy. Regardless of all the "global force for good" ads you see on television, the role of the Navy and Marine Corps is to prosecute warfare - and your soon to be plebe, upon graduation and commissioning, will be expected to do her part. The Academy has been doing this for over a century and a half - if she has the right stuff she will do just fine.
     
  5. fishbowl

    fishbowl Member

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    Yes, there is the part about varsity athletes in there as well, which seems par for the course at any Div I school - athletes get better/more lenient treatment for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the scholarship investment at a non-academy school. I appreciate the feedback also. It really does come down to our children making the most of the opportunities and training afforded them at the academy and then extending that to the fleet upon graduation.
     
  6. goldfarb1

    goldfarb1 Candidate

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    Completely agree with OnceAMarine's comments. Fleming is loaded with fuel for these articles, and it seems like everyother month he's got a new article popping up for debate on this forum. Agree with Fleming, disagree with him, hate him, love him....that's your choice, and niether here nor there.

    But you have to understand a fundamental aspect of Fleming's arguments when reading his stuff. He basically critiques military education (officer and enlisted, or lack thereof for enlisted) in several areas....cost, diversity, and ROTC as a better route. Fleming does have some validity to these statements.

    But IMO his most fundamental argument of all, is that academics are directly connected with being a good leader. Meaning if you are an A student, you are a good leader. Simple as that. Now of course I can pull examples from the internet and history, flat out disproving that. But its really not my point in this. What I am saying to you is this. The United States Naval Academy, and any other service academy for that matter are not civilian colleges. They are niether state schools, nor ivy league schools. In fact calling them colleges would only cover 50% of what they really are.

    I say this to make the point that USNA isn't just there to make your child the world's number one academic scholar. Academics are one factor in the millions of qualities of a leader. Of course a leader needs to have knowledge. But it is what one does with knowledge that makes one an exceptional leader. That is what the service acadmies provide; the tools necessary to use the knowledge they've learned to lead our country.

    If you truly are contemplating your soon to be plebe at the Academy, consider this. The Naval Academy has been producing leaders since 1845. 165 years of experience has proven that the Academy is successful. Call up any recent article on the internet and lookup the heroic actions of academy grad's in Iraq and Afghanistan. To me that is proof enough.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    About those varsity athletes - they get special treatment at D-III schools too.
    All the *fuss* is only because the football team is *too good*. Trust me if they had been losing for the past 5 years it would be a different story.
    There are many Varsity athletes who are excellent students and in demanding majors.

    Here is one example of a recruited athlete that Fleming forgets about:
    http://www.navysports.com/sports/m-wrestl/spec-rel/050610aaa.html

     
  8. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Actually, when the football team was losing with regularity, some blamed it on the presence of women at USNA. Yes, I'm serious. Apparently, women watered down the school which led to . . . a less talented football team.:confused:

    In any event, Prof. Fleming has always been vocal with his comments. You can agree or disagree . . . his views are unlikely to change.
     
  9. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Actually, Professor Fleming's argument is a lot more "in-depth" than that, but winning at the D1 level plays a huge part of his argument.

    It has much to do with his seeing D-1 football players taking and re-taking remedial-level courses that other plebes/mids are not taking, some being allowed to stay an extra year to graduate.

    It has much to do with his seeing revenue-generating D1-caliber football players admitted with SAT scores that are far below the norm, thus taking the place of an otherwise more qualified candidate, for the sake of winning football game$.

    It has much to do with a two-tired punishment/honor system where the misdeeds of the varsity D-1 athlete are given chance after chance, in circumstances where the non D-1 athlete would be shown the gate.

    USNA releases (or at least they used to) the profiles of SAT scores and class rankings. I believe the class of 2012 was the latest to have the data published. Take a look at the number of plebes who were ranked in the bottom 40% of their class - how many do you think were not D-1 athletes?

    How many non-D1 athlete applicants with ~520 math and ~520 verbal SAT scores do you think were admitted to the USNA? I'd like to see that data.

    How many non-D1 revenue-generating athletes at USNA have ever been allowed to stay after 300+ demerits and a positive drug test? (I'd guess zero - if you're on the sailing team and you test positive for drugs, I'd guess you're out the door without ever having your case appealed from the Dant to the Supe). You can swim fast? You can pin you man? You can dive well? None of that will keep you there after popping up + for reefer. However, 7.3 yards per carry gets a free pass. Go Navy, Beat Army!

    Interestingly enough, reading the comments form current USNA mids, USNA alumni, and USAFA cadets (who are seeing the same issues out in CoSprings), you find that none of them are disputing Professor Fleming's statements. Those who protest Fleming usually raise other issues and/or red herrings rather than dispute the core of his argument - two tierd admissions, two-tiered punishments.

    PS - wrestling is not a revenue-generating sport. I'm pretty sure Professor Fleming is talking about NCAA D1 Football and Basketball (the ones that generate revenue) when he mentions D1 "athletes" at USNA.
     
  10. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    If the USNA did not believe that better students made better leaders they would not put so much emphasis on high school academics / standardized testing for admissions purposes. Are these the only factors that are considered or important? No, but IMHO they carry more weight together than the PT test or interview.

    Seems strangely "convenient" that the argument about academics not being that important of a predictor of leadership only occurs when we are discussing "special" consideration for groups with low academics. Has anybody on this forum ever said to a academy candidate: "Don't worry about your GPA or SAT scores on your application, they're not that important of a predictor of your leadership skills. Just nail the PT test / interview and the USNA will recognize your true leadership potential"?

    One last point: All the athletes at the USNA did not have substandard (by USNA standards) high school GPAs and standardized test scores. Nor does every URM that is admitted. How many mids at the USNA that are neither a recruited athlete or a URM have lower than the USNA average high school GPAs and test scores?
     
  11. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Sorry Luigi59, seems we posted simultaneously. Although your post is far more eloquent than mine. :thumb:
     
  12. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Well said Luigi!

    See, I told you we could and probably do agree on many things!

    This was "dead on accurate!"

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  13. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Actually, Professor Fleming's argument is a lot more "in-depth" than that, but winning at the D1 level plays a huge part of his argument.
    Not really, he makes it simple.

    It has much to do with his seeing D-1 football players taking and re-taking remedial-level courses that other plebes/mids are not taking, some being allowed to stay an extra year to graduate.
    This happens to non D-1 athletes and also at other academies. Not unique to USNA nor athletes. You just don't hear about it.

    It has much to do with his seeing revenue-generating D1-caliber football players admitted with SAT scores that are far below the norm, thus taking the place of an otherwise more qualified candidate, for the sake of winning football game$.
    Revenue generating D-1 athletics support all the other athletics at the Academies. This is the "they are too good" argument. If they were losing no one would claim the athletes were there just for the dollars they bring in.

    It has much to do with a two-tired punishment/honor system where the misdeeds of the varsity D-1 athlete are given chance after chance, in circumstances where the non D-1 athlete would be shown the gate.
    You are taking one instance and extrapolating it to the rest. Basically saying - bad behavior by one should be cause to eliminate the entire team.

    USNA releases (or at least they used to) the profiles of SAT scores and class rankings. I believe the class of 2012 was the latest to have the data published. Take a look at the number of plebes who were ranked in the bottom 40% of their class - how many do you think were not D-1 athletes? Probably just as many who were D-1 athletes.

    How many non-D1 athlete applicants with ~520 math and ~520 verbal SAT scores do you think were admitted to the USNA? I'd like to see that data. I personally know one who is now a firstie. Just because you don't know any doesn't mean they are not there.

    How many non-D1 revenue-generating athletes at USNA have ever been allowed to stay after 300+ demerits and a positive drug test? (I'd guess zero - if you're on the sailing team and you test positive for drugs, I'd guess you're out the door without ever having your case appealed from the Dant to the Supe). You can swim fast? You can pin you man? You can dive well? None of that will keep you there after popping up + for reefer. However, 7.3 yards per carry gets a free pass. Go Navy, Beat Army! Don't know about demerits at USNA - is there a maximum before you are booted? Some cadets at West Point accumulate many. They seem to wear them as a badge of honor of sorts.


    Interestingly enough, reading the comments form current USNA mids, USNA alumni, and USAFA cadets (who are seeing the same issues out in CoSprings), you find that none of them are disputing Professor Fleming's statements. Those who protest Fleming usually raise other issues and/or red herrings rather than dispute the core of his argument - two tierd admissions, two-tiered punishments.
    The Academies have a long history of a divide between athletes and non-athletes. None of that is new.

    PS - wrestling is not a revenue-generating sport. I'm pretty sure Professor Fleming is talking about NCAA D1 Football and Basketball (the ones that generate revenue) when he mentions D1 "athletes" at USNA.
    How do you know? He certainly doesn't qualify his statements. When you say D-1 do you only mean Football and Basketball?
    I would think Lax would bring more money than Basketball.
     
  14. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Athletics are very important to the military. Probably Army more than Navy and Navy more than AF.
    You can't separate it. Being an athlete, in shape and competitive is an important attribute for a warrior. Leaders of warriors need to be athletic as well - even in our now technological war-fighting era.
    Competition and athletics instill a fighting spirit to win that is necessary in military leaders. Athletics is NOT going away from the Academies.
    The Academies also will not decrease the level of their competition by competing in D-3. It is just not going to happen, Marcus Curry or not.
    What has been shown is that when our military leaders go searching for future leaders they look at athletes - this is because the military has seen over generations that athletes and those with a natural athletic "spirit" have what it takes to be molded into a leader. Does it work out 100%? No. But it works way more often than not.
     

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