Semi Annual Bruce Fleming "Close the Academy" Troll.

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by MN-Dad-2016, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    It's that time of year again for Professor Bruce Fleming (Naval Academy) to explain why the Academies are a waste of funds. This time it's West Points turn. See https://thefederalist.com/2017/10/1...itary-academies-become-disneyland-politicians

    As a taxpayer, I am not saying that he doesn't have some legitimate points. But I do have a hard time believing this: "we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board." and goes on to say: " I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks.". I'd be shocked to learn if this was true. Over the years, I've read enough of the Professors rants to realize he is heavily biased.

    I do agree with part of his assertion when he discusses selectivity. "When I was on the Admissions Board, we considered about 4,500 applications for about 1,800 admits. That’s not the 7 to 8 percent “most selective” statistics the brass continue to report to U.S. News and World Report and the U.S. Department of Education. " The Academies do have a way of fudging the numbers to make it sound more impressive to get admitted than it really is.

    I will say, I didn't appreciate his attempting to discredit the "best and brightest" and lump nearly all Academy students into being average. A quick google will show a plethora of Academy graduates that have become leaders and incredibly successful outside of the military. Furthermore, if Professor Fleming was "all that", maybe he would have found a more rewarding career. If he was a better writer, maybe he would be successful enough to quit his day job. Instead, he publicly blasts his employer every 6 months. Possibly in an attempt to gain visibility for these "engaging" books like this classic: "Disappointment or the Light of Common Day." buying https://www.brucefleming.net/collec...sappointment-or-the-light-of-common-day-print you can buy them here https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=bruce+fleming . There have been a total of 13 Amazon reviews for all of his books. It seems that he is an underachiever.

    I'm all for conversation discussing ways to save $$'s on the military. But it's blatantly obvious to me that he exaggerates to the point of distortion. I bet he would quit his Naval Academy job if he was offered a spot at Harvard or Stanford. But I predict he isn't a good enough writer or professor. He's not the "best and brightest". Of course, who wants to hire a Debbie downer?

    I digress....
     
  2. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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  3. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    As a taxpayer, I am not saying that he doesn't have some legitimate points. But I do have a hard time believing this: "we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board." and goes on to say: " I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks.".


    Based on USMA's class of 2015 stats for ACT scores, only 2% of students had an English ACT score in the 16 - 20 range and there were no ACT math scores below 21. To me, this contradicts the statment about 'routinely admitting athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens.' Truly, those with low scores are a very small minority. The overwhelming majority fit into the 26 - 26 range. Hardly illiterates.
    http://www.usma.edu/classes/siteassets/sitepages/2015/2015profile.pdf - see page 2 of this document
     
  4. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

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    I believe his point is that USMA routinely admits recruited athletes with such low scores that would otherwise disqualify any other candidate. What do think the recruited athlete:everyone else ratio in that 2%? I believe LTC Heffington taught something in the social sciences which would require lengthy reading and writing assignments as well as essay exams. This would be particularly challenging to the low scorers and even more frustrating for anyone trying to teach these kids along with the high academic achievers.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    Not even good enough to be Military Disney WORLD, he has to label them Military Disneyland?

    Now that’s just offensive.
     
  6. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    The frustration over the preferential treatment of recruited athletes vs everyone else is certainly an ongoing issue at most colleges and universities. It's certainly not unique to the Service academies. Clearly top brass thinks that some athletes are worth it (at the cost of having to report lower SAT/ACT scores) and since I have no say in the matter, my opinion isn't even worth 2 cents.

    That said, I was deeply frustrated about how football players at my university were treated (amazing special privileges that the rest of us had no access to) when I was a student and this has continued at this school until this day.
     
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  7. Ravens

    Ravens Member

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    Football and Men's Basketball pay the bills. The reason there are 25+ D1 sports at most universities is because of these two sports. It takes revenue to operate and as long as the players are bringing in TV and sponsorship money, they will be treated like kings. The Academies need to get back to what they truly were intended to be......a D3 school (emphasizing academics over athletics) with D1 money (thanks taxpayers).
     
  8. cb7893

    cb7893 5-Year Member

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    Unfortunately, they only pay their own bills at a few schools.
     
  9. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    Also, "paying the bills" depends on the college. Read http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/sports/wp/2015/11/23/running-up-the-bills/?utm_term=.f996eb0971fe

    Sparknotes (or Cliffnotes if you are my age): per the article, "“College sports is big business, and it’s a very poorly run big business.” and "Billions in, and (more) billions out".
     
  10. Humey

    Humey Member

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    Let’s be honest while the athletes do get special privileges while attending , the student athlete especially in football and basketball are taken advantages by the colleges. In no way does the scholarship they receive compare to the money the schools make off them . Even more importantly, there studies suffer because of the sports with high percentages never graduating or graduating with a major that will get them a job at McDonald. Then there is major injuries that can ruin a life with the school having no responsibility for it. For those who go pro, sure it is worthwhile , but how many actually ever make to the professional leagues . So sure we feel jealous that we don’t get same privileges they do , but then again we don’t have to study and do homework along with training 20 hours a week along with individual practice and then travel time to a different school for game day
     
  11. USMA 1994

    USMA 1994 Member

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    I think everyone is jumping to the assumption that the 2% of low ACT scores is just from athletes. I would suggest that this 2% number has just as many prior service candidates than it has athletes. I had classmates that were prior service and struggled with grads the entire four years but made great officers. It also contains a few very under-represented minorities that the academy wants.
     
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  12. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    There are many D1 sports that practice 20+ hours a week and travel. Those students also have to figure out a way to study and graduate. They too can have a serious injuries. At the academy, if you are heavily involved with a sport, you are able to get out of a lot of time consuming military exercises/responsibilities. Our son was at the Airfield 20+ hours a week, traveled heavily, and did rather well at the Academy. He missed several weeks of school his last year traveling. If he was a D1 Football or Basketball player, I would expect him to excel at academics. In fact, 2 of the 32 2017 Rhodes scholarship winners were D1 athletes; one was a football player http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources...a-student-athletes-named-2017-rhodes-scholars. So playing football or basketball doesn't mean a worthless degree or not finishing unless the building blocks were missing during K-12. If that was the case, they were doomed for a career at McDonalds because they weren't smart enough to begin with. So someone else let them down (society/their parents or themselves); not the college that gave them a free education.

    Regarding taken advantage of. If you enter college with the mindset of the student taking advantage of every opportunity given to them, then it is a two way street.
    Agreed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
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  13. USMA 1994

    USMA 1994 Member

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    I also think it is important to say that there are a few individuals who may receive preferential status at the academy, in the service and in corporate america. Regardless of your own feelings, diversity is sought out by most organizations. Diversity candidates need to meet the standards but do get certain advantages in areas as an organization looks to maintain or increase that diversity. Today we are discussing D1 athletes, but I am sure that the same discussions were directed at women 30 years ago, African Americans 50 years ago and anyone that was not a WASP 100 years ago, only if we had social media 100 years ago. 99% of cadets are super individuals dedicating the next 10 years of their live's serving our great nation. Let's focus on that for a change.
     
  14. Humey

    Humey Member

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    I wasnt implying that the other D-1 sports dont have 20 hours of practice. What most of them dont get is concussions, broken arms and legs, life time of pain and possible addiction and paralysis due to contact sport like football although I would imagine it happens in sports like soccer. I was talking about football and basketball because those make money for the colleges. Colleges arent televising baseball, soccer, tennis and swimming meets. The fact that some of the athletes achieve great academic achievements doesn't mean that is the standard. Stanford football is made up of guys who are also good students. I dont think however that is then norm through college world. I cant comment about the academies as I have never attended and dont follow their sports. However, there seems to be people complaining that the athletes at the academies come in with less than spectacular grades and scores and have issues doing well in school. Assuming this is true, then the academies are also trying playing the same game as everyone else. Improving their sports program by allowing great athletes in who arent the best students. Finally never said that just because you are a football player you will have a worthless degree. However, just for example, I watched on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel about football and basketball teams from the Historically Black Colleges who are paid by huge powerhouse football teams to play them during the season. These teams travel all around the country with kids spending weeks out of school. The worst part is that these teams have no chance of winning and due to the size of the players, the athletes from the HBC schools get hurt. One of the players from the HBC colleges was talking about how they have little time to study and because his classes are made up of Tennis, Golf and other random sport, he will graduate but he wont have any skills to get a job. This is of course an extreme end of what happens. I guess my final point is that you are sharing example of people who excel both in athletics and academics and while it shows both can be done, my guess is that it is the exception and not the norm. Which brings me back to my original point, no matter how unfair that the athletes seem to have advantages while in school, most of them will pay for it in one form or another
     
  15. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    The Academies put the cadets under constant stressful situations and intentionally disrupt their schedules. It forces them to struggle. In fact, Professor Fleming's semi-annual rants often talk about sleep deprived students. In his mind, they are unable to learn. I disagree. Most cadets can learn how to handle the stress while others cannot. In our sons particular case, he enjoyed it and it forced him to get much better at his time management. Yea, he too fell asleep standing up and class. But in the end, it forced him to reach deeper and figure out a way to work smarter.

    My point was that the Academies are filled with students that have intense schedules and the majority of them thrive including football and basketball players. The student body is littered with D1 athletes that have jammed packed schedules as well as other cadets with equally difficult loads. The overwhelming majority of the basketball and football players are bright students and they figure out how to balance everything. For some, they need to drop their sport to focus on academics.
     
  16. USNA2021_Dad

    USNA2021_Dad Member

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    I believe the power of any institution, be it state, church, business, or otherwise, is directly proportional to its ability to deal with and accept dissent. I don't agree with many of his assertions and conclusions, but like many veterans on this site, I fought in combat to ensure/retain his right to say it. There are very few institutions with true student athletes anymore, and the USMA, USNA and USAFA (grad) are among them, along with my PhD alma mater, Stanford, where athletes actually have to go to challenging classes. So while there may be differing opinions on all these topics, I'm proud we all have the right to discuss, debate and criticize them.

    "Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion." Dwight D. Eisenhower
     
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  17. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    It is also an issue of whether the author is being objective or merely promoting their own agenda and bias. If someone starts with the assumption that X is bad (whatever X might be) and only manipulates or seeks out data to help support that assumption, then their conclusions have to be viewed with suspicion.

    If they do that over an extended period of time, then their credibility suffers.
     
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  18. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    Isn't that the New York Times' reporter/editor guidelines?:rolleyes:
     
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  19. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    ^^ It gets more complicated with the media in today's highly politically charged environment. Accusing the media of being 'too conservative' or 'too liberal' is more about the person making the accusation trying to discredit the media and muddy the waters rather then being an objective assessment of what the media is writing.
     
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  20. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    I am sure that the professor thinks that the academies are a waste of $$'s. IMHO, for a lot of cadets, I believe it to be the case. Therefore, I am in favor of discussing what's wrong with the academies and verifying that they are actually adding value. My beef with him is that I don't appreciate when he twists the data in order to "sell" his POV.

    • For instance, he often regurgitates that "leaders are born, not made". He is wrong. Anybody with experience beyond an English 101 professorship understands that leaders are born and leaders are made. See http://leadertoday.org/faq/mythborn.htm The academies sort for leaders out of the gate. Many of which start as leaders like sports captains, etc.

    • He is also bent on the metric of cadets who 5 and dive as if that was the norm. Often, he vents about their "free education". At USAFA for instance, 50% of the cadets are pilots and their payback is 9 years. My son for instance didn't pick a SA for ROI. In fact, his payback will be 9 years; 5 for USAFA plus 4 for medical school. He is currently attending Harvard (HMS) where his fellow students will make another $150K-$500K more per year. From an ROI perspective, that's terrible math and the tax payers won. But certainly there are grads that 5 and dive. I don't think they go into the academy with that mindset but rather see the red-tape and mismanagement of the military and they want out.

    • In the past, Mr. Flemming also discusses how the academy grads advanced degrees are underwhelming related to where they go to grad school. He should know that 95% of the graduates cannot put their commitment on hold and apply to any grad school that they want. Rather, 95% of the newly minted 2nd lieutenants often attend online courses. Meaning, the graduates are handcuffed and intentionally leaves that out of the conversation to make his point.

    I can go on and on. IMHO, desertion in the ranks are a good thing! But if I didn't believe in the academies mission and I worked there, I'd quit and find another job. But I get the feeling that the professor is trying to use his pulpit to gain visibility for his no-so-successful books. Which brings me to MY beef with the academies. They need to hold their teaching staff to higher levels of performance. Stanford got Ben Bernanke and Condoleezza Rice and MIT has Eric Lander and 50 other accomplished professors. IMHO, USNA got a not-so-well-read Junior college caliber English professor. The "best and brightest" deserve better. :p
     
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