In Print and On the Air

In an April 12 commentary in the Washington Post, Hoover Institution Fellows PETER BERKOWITZ and MICHAEL McFAUL argued that universities must do more to educate Americans and train experts about the Arab Middle East. "It is embarrassing how little our universities have changed" since Sept. 11, 2001, they wrote. "Today, there is not one tenured professor in the departments of political science at Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago or Yale universities who specializes in the politics of the wider Middle East. This abdication of responsibility is more than an educational problem: It also poses a threat to our national security." Berkowitz and McFaul, who is also an associate professor of political science, said scholars should be placed within the established faculties of universities to avoid the kind of "intellectual ghettoization" promoted by campus studies centers. Colleges should avoid concentrating resources on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Berkowitz and McFaul wrote, and should try to keep teaching and inquiry as nonpolitical as possible.

Education Professor MICHAEL KIRST told the Sacramento Bee April 13 that he has never seen teachers so angry about a state governor since Arnold Schwarzenegger stunned their unions three months ago by proposing to give schools $2 billion less than he had once promised and suggesting a raft of ballot initiatives that would threaten teachers' jobs and financial security. "There has never been a period when the teachers' organization was publicly picketing the governor, using various kinds of public demonstrations, and running ads against the governor of this length and intensity," Kirst said. But Schwarzenegger's supporters say teachers are angry because no politician before him has had the guts to withstand their public scolding. "If you want to make big changes in education, like introducing pay for performance … they will fight you to the death," said TERRY MOE, professor of political science and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. The California Teachers Association, he said, "has been intimidating politicians for a long time, and I think it's good he's taking them on."

NEIL CALDER, communications director at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is trying to spruce up the reputation of physicists, who often conjure up images of socially inept geniuses and "guys with bad hair," the San Jose Mercury News reported April 14. In recently launched blogs and magazines, physicists around the country are mixing the social with the science. "There's been a realization," Calder said, "that in a society obsessed with image, style, this is important." But when physicist CAOLIONN O'CONNELL is at a party, she chitchats about celebrities and current events to postpone the question: What do you do for a living? "If I mention it first, people tend to leave the conversation quickly," she said. "Celebrity gossip is so much more topical than plasma wakefield acceleration."