Category Archives: Education

The Problems With Media Coverage of the Vietnam War Were Only Increased by the Ken Burns PBS Documentary

by: john harrison

The true story of the Vietnam War is dying out. The men that made that history like those before them are now rapidly becoming history themselves. While the Vietnam War was incredibly poorly covered by print journalism, it was well photographed. Those photographs and particularly the information that has come out from North Vietnam since the Vietnam War ended have already given lie to many of the most popular myths about the war. Unfortunately, there are many more myths are still out there, still getting in the way of the real story of what was the Vietnam War.

Except for a few venturesome souls, even Ken Burns agreed in his recent documentary that the print journalists covering the Vietnam War mostly stayed safe in Saigon. They did not really go out and cover the war like the intrepid journalists of World War II. That was particularly true during the Tet Offensive. It is hard to say you are covering a war when you do not really ever go look at it, but that did seem to bother these journalists.

I think that this may have been the first war where it was specifically dangerous to just be a journalist. That is, not only were they subject to the same risks as everybody else in a war zone; the journalists themselves were also purposefully targeted. The photographers had always had that risk, so they did not care. According to Ken Burns the print journalists in the Vietnam War did not respond as well. There were of course numerous exceptions, but they, and their work, was generally ignored.

Part of the problem with sifting out the truth today is that these print journalists covering the Vietnam War were and are very smart. They knew that the winds of public approval would change sometime, because these winds always change. So, they planted a few bombs for later use when people complained about the pervasive bias in their coverage.

For example, before he left Vietnam after covering some of the Tet Offensive there, Walter Cronkite did say in one report that MACV had said that the VC were taking a beating in the Tet ’68 battles still going on. However, when he got home to New York in his one and only editorial comment, a major announcement that was itself big news, on the progress of the Vietnam War Cronkite said that the people that were saying that the VC were taking a beating in the Tet battles were the same ones that had misled America so many times before about the Vietnam War and that they should not be believed again. It was classic, “have my cake and eat it too” journalism. When he was attacked years after the war for bias in his coverage, Cronkite immediately trotted this quote out as evidence of the contrary but ignored his later, much more highly covered, editorial.

As someone who had reported on and lived through the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, Cronkite above all the other journalists reporting on the war should have known better. As America’s greatest living journalist, Cronkite should have done better. He should have done his job.

More recently, someone has analyzed the editorial content of the major newspapers during the Vietnam War and determined to their satisfaction that by far most of them supported the Vietnam War editorially. I don’t know whether that is true or not, but it is utterly irrelevant. It was the reporting on the Vietnam War that was defective, not the editorials. It was the constant claims of a “credibility gap” by the people covering the war from the comfort, and relative safety, of Saigon that was the problem.

These reporters, many of whom had never studied war, who had never gone to the field to look at the war for themselves, who were appalled by the bloody detritus that war churned up constantly, chose to simply disbelieve official reports and to substitute their own judgements. Just like Ken Burns, who presented only those veterans who were now ashamed, or dissatisfied in some way with their Vietnam service in his “documentary” when every poll shows that well above 80% of the veterans who actually served in Vietnam were proud of their service, these reporters too built a case, rather than filed a report on the Vietnam War.

There is a big difference between building a case and conducting a through investigation of facts as a reporter, and that singular difference is the principle problem with almost all of the reporting, and many of the books on the Vietnam War. It is not their “point of view” that is the problem, it is actual, willful, bias based on almost uniform ignorance of the war itself. No-one can reliably report on a battle in Phan Thiet from the rooftop bar of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, but that is what they demonstrably tried to do. Unfortunately, having made these ridiculous reports, they now feel compelled to defend them.

In a way it is similar to when the complaints started coming out about problems with the initial M16 rifle. The Army, in reply to numerous articles in several newspapers, put out a much hyped report that the M16 was X times more likely to fire the first shot than the vaunted AK47. All true, but that is a test of ammunition reliability, not a test of rifle reliability.

The problem with the first M16s surfaced only with the second or third shot, and they surfaced a lot. The true test of a rifle’s reliability is its ability to fire X rounds without a failure in a simulated combat situation. Had they made that test, the AK47 would have blown the M16 out the door. The AK probably still would, but even that does not make it a better infantry weapon, things like accuracy, rifle weight, weight of ammunition, bullet performance, ergonomics, ease of maintenance, etc., all come into play then. So, both sides played the same game, building a case rather than telling the truth.

The people making the M16/AK47 tests knew that they were functionally lying, they were after all real experts, but they did it anyway, just like Cronkite did when he made his famous “editorial comment”, just like Ken Burns did when he limited his “Vietnam War veterans” in his PBS documentary to only those of the anti-war persuasion even though they had to be harder to find.

It is a very real problem for actual historians of the Vietnam War that there is this sort of overlay of total crap out there, some from both sides, that they have to sift through to find the real stories still hidden down there somewhere, and now the real stories are all dying out as the Vietnam veterans ever more rapidly disappear.

 

At least one true story of our time in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive can be found in my new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive which is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; https://www.amazon.com/Steel-Rain-Tet-Offensive-1968/dp/1977045448/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1517494115&sr=1-1-catcorr

 

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A Question of Honor, or the lack thereof

A Question of Honor,

or the lack thereof

by: john harrison

Serious athletes should avoid at least three of of the Ivy League universities in the future. So should all serious students intent on an education. Real gentlemen and real ladies need not apply, they will not be welcome there.

New Jersey’s Princeton University has suspended its entire men’s Swim Team over the offensive content on a team message service. This marked the third such action against an Ivy League athletic squad since this November, 2016. The move comes after New York’s Columbia University suspended its wrestling team and Harvard University in Massachusetts canceled its men’s soccer season.

However, collective punishment is simply wrong. It is both absolutely wrong headed and utterly ignoble to knowingly punish innocent people on purpose, no matter how noble the aim, no matter how pure the goal. The ends do not justify the means. How often must we relearn this? It is basic to a civilized society. One would have hoped that a truly great university would have understood this. Sadly, one would have been wrong, three times in a row.

Common sense tells anyone that collective punishment is lazy, counterproductive and particularly unfair to those who follow the rules. Clearly common sense, ethics and even simple morality are in short supply even at the highest levels at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia universities.

In Discipline with Dignity, a respected classroom management book by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, the conclusion is clear: “Group punishments are almost always ineffective. They generate resentment in the innocent students who learn to think that they might as well break the rules because they will be punished anyway, and they teach the rule violators that they will not have to take responsibility for their actions. Focus instead on teaching correct behavior through natural and logical consequences.” It is extraordinary that Columbia, Princeton and Harvard need to relearn this.

Let us remember again that the ends never justify the means. Mussolini may well have made the trains run on time. Togo may well have wanted to solve the critical Japanese problem of lack of natural resources. And, Stalin may have been a sincere communist. However, what all three of these have in common is that they all, along with Hitler and all the other despots from the beginning of time, repeatedly engaged in collective punishment. Collective punishment is a weapon, it is a preferred tool, of a tyrant. Innocence is not only not a defense, it is not even relevant.

Collective punishment, is absolutely banned under international law. Think about that for a minute. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is defined as a war crime. What have Columbia, Harvard and Princeton done? Where is the outrage?

Anyone that goes to Princeton, Harvard or Columbia do so at the risk of their athletic career, and their much more importantly, of their very soul. They will not be taught to excel, they will be taught that only power matters, not law, not morality, not ethics, just raw power.

If the problem at these universities was really an entire team culture issue, then that is a coach problem and easily solvable. A team should reflect the culture of the university. Unfortunately, it seems that the Harvard soccer team, the Princeton swim team and the Columbia wrestling team do reflect what can only be described as an abusive culture at these universities, and in the worst possible way.

The leaders of these three universities should be ashamed. The NCAA should investigate and punish these universities for their reprehensible actions. They have dishonored themselves and their universities in the most basic of ways. Of all of the people in America, they should have known better. We trusted them with our youth. They have abused our trust, and our children.

 

Dog Bites Man, Man Bites Back

Dog Bites Man, Man Bites Back

by john harrison

Two items of interest, both almost hidden in the news this morning (4/28/2016). People Magazine and other sources are reporting that Harvard has fielded the first openly transgender man to compete in NCAA Division 1 sports. The second is that a House Committee has passed legislation requiring women to register for the draft.

The law of unintended consequences is about to bite back hard. While it may well be true that it would would be strange even for an adolescent male to claim female gender identity just to peek at women in the bathroom, it goes way to far not to recognize that there are a lot of second tier male athletes that could make a lot of money, get into a lot of colleges that would otherwise be closed, if they competed in college level sports as a woman. A transgender competing as a man just opened that door.

While Bobby Riggs lost a famous tennis match against Billie Jean King years ago, nonetheless he could have made a lot of money playing as a woman on the woman’s tennis tour. Others will see this as an opportunity and act on it. All of the advances women have made in sports due to Title 9 are now at risk. Think if Caitlyn Jenner competed, probably even today.

The opening of the draft to women is the logical result of opening all combat positions in the armed services to women. While some expected that putting women in combat positions would lead to the end of the draft for everybody, the exact opposite is now moving forward in Congress.

The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation requiring women to register for the draft. In 1981 the Supreme Court ruled that since women were banned from combat positions anyway, it was not discriminatory to require only men to register for the draft. Anyone with knowledge of that case recognized that opening combat positions to women placed young women at risk of being drafted for those same positions.

It may still happen that that the draft will be abolished rather than add women to the lists. On the other hand we live in a dangerous world; we are in a shooting war in at least some sense in the Middle East already; but our armed force strength is relatively low and going lower. People think that the draft was instituted to raise large armies and in part that is true, but most of all it was created to deliver reliably the exact number of men that could be trained at any given time. It does not overstate the case to say that in the future a president may well be faced with the horrific choice of either bringing back the draft for everybody or to go nuclear on the battlefield.

The two leading presidential candidates who will deal with these important issues for all of us are Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump. I for one am more sanguinary than sanguine about our prospects.

On Going To War

On Going To War

by: john harrison

Several of my former students at Bishop O’Connell High School have asked me about serving in the military. In particular the ones that are soon to be commissioned, but also some now already in the service want to know more about my experience with  leading men in combat who in many cases are much older than they are, and are certainly much more experienced than they are. Understandably, the ones headed to Iraq or Afghanistan are always very concerned about how they will react to combat, to battle. This is what I have told them.

I was commissioned at 20 years old. My Platoon Sergeant, Jim Bunn, was 34 at the time. Not only did he have many years of experience in the Army, he had already been to Vietnam. How then do you become the “leader” of such men?

It gets worse, while I had completed a year and a half of college. One of the men in my platoon, a Specialist 4, had two masters degrees. While that is not as likely in today’s all volunteer Army, you will still constantly have people serving under you who are smarter than you are, and who know more about what they are doing than you do. How do you deal with that and remain the leader?

What I had was years of study of military history and even more important I had Officer Candidate School or OCS. I was also very lucky in the men around me, both above me and below, and in the Army’s system of command. One of the things that you will realize very quickly as a junior officer is that in spite of ignorance in some areas, there are still many things that you know that no one else in the platoon knows no matter what their experience or age. More important, you are their platoon leader, and this makes all the difference. 

While it is the real job of a platoon sergeant to train his platoon leader without the platoon leader knowing, that does not mean he knows everything. The platoon sergeant may never have actually called in an airstrike, or artillery, or dust-off. He may know a lot about how to make C-Rations (MRE’s ancestor) palatable in the field, or how to motivate young men, but he may never have had a chance to research a subject overnight sufficient to give a good class on it the next day and about lots of other things that a platoon leader must be able to do.

There are all sorts of parts to the job of being a good platoon leader. At first there are some you will be good at and some you will suck at. However, it is still without question, the all-time, best job I have ever had, 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry, Platoon Leader.

You are expected to make mistakes, but your men, and in particular your platoon sergeant want you to be good at your job. They want to laugh at the other guy’s lieutenant, not their lieutenant. In a good platoon they will help you, they will also try to hide your mistakes from those above, and you will make a lot of mistakes. If you listen, particularly to your platoon sergeant, they will help you to act correctly, but the decisions and the responsibility for those decisions will always be yours.

I was very lucky. My first battalion commander, Col. John P. Geraci, was good enough to be recently enshrined in the Ranger Hall of Fame, my first First Sergeant, MSg Theron “Bull” Gergen was already a celebrity in the world of Rangers when I met him and was one of the first enshrined there. Cap. Thomas Gaffney was my first CO, but it was his second war. I had competence and hard won experience all around me. As I said my Platoon Sergeant, Jim Bunn had only recently returned from Vietnam when he joined the platoon. You may have to search for it, but real experience is available if you look.

However, you still need to be careful because some people seem to feel feel that they are building themselves up when they are tearing others down.  While only a moron would believe that this is true, or useful, these people exist in every service. They are the beetles of doubt. Avoid them. 

Hazing for example does not prove you are tough, it proves that you are undisciplined.  Any officer or NCO that lets himself or the men under his command be hazed should be fired, plain and simple.  If I saw it. I would relieve the officer or NCO on the spot, and so would any competent officer.  Why, because hazing has nothing to do with making people better. It has everything to do with allowing some people to feel superior by abusing their authority.  Those kinds of people should not have authority.

Multiple tours proves nothing.  Assuming they are trained, the best soldiers in history were generally pretty good the first time they fought and got better thereafter.  But, everyone has a limit, too.  If you go to war often enough, you will be killed, and over time when men recognize this, it changes them. In any event what did they do during those tours? What happened during those tours? What did they experience, besides just being there?

Even participation in a big battle prove nothing.  As far as the individual infantryman is concerned, a big battle is when they individually have to fight as hard as they can to stay alive.  A squad can undergo as much or more in a single squad action as they would in a big battle that perhaps makes the history books, or the evening news.  In any event, a squad in a big battle might be pulling the shit burning detail the whole time.  While they would know a lot about burning shit, their actual knowledge of battle would be limited. What did they do in that battle? How is it relevant now?

That said, everyone needs to be shot at the first time and they are different thereafter because then they are a veteran.  They know something about them self that others do not know about themselves. When I say shot at, I mean exactly that, not riding around in a truck when a bomb goes off, or sitting in a bunker at a base camp under attack, but out in the field in a combat infantry platoon, or tank squadron fighting an enemy that is trying to kill you, and that is pretty good at it. Then you are a real combat veteran. It is your reaction to the enemy fire that is important, not so much the fire itself. 

The stuff I have read about actions Iraq and Afghanistan, leads me to believe that very few of those who have served in these regions are actually what I would call “combat veterans”.  But, that was also true of Vietnam and every other American war.  There were less than 60,000 trigger pullers in Vietnam when there were over 550,000 troops there.  Probably about 90% of the jobs are still held by REMFs. 

We need the people in the rear, so while I have pulled their chain, I am not really deprecating them, but they are not infantry/tanker/artillery veterans no matter what their MOS.  No matter how many tours they served unless it was in a unit that actually fought the enemy they are not combat veterans. It is doing an infantryman’s job under fire, not just being under fire, that is important.

Anyone in the military who has not been in actual combat wonders how they will react when the bullets fly.  Unfortunately, there is only one way to find out.  Generally after the first jitters are over the problem is not a lack of courage, but actually an excess of bravery.  It needs to be tempered.  Green troops often take too many risks and thereby suffer too many casualties. 

One of the things I was always proud of was that while my platoon suffered a lot of casualties, they were spread over multiple actions over several months.  We did not do stupid, we killed the right people and in general did not allow them to kill us. 

In a sense combat is very much like basketball in that it is a team sport.  Anybody not working on building the team, making the team better has no place in the military.  Anybody who is putting down a fellow soldier, rather than sharing hard earned experience probably has little real experience to share and is not a real soldier however many tours they may have.

It is not how many doors did they kick down, but how many doors did they kick down that had an enemy inside with a machine gun pointed at the door. What did they do then? What did the man covering the entry do? Those are the real questions.

As far as how good is the Army of today, I do not know, but I would be very surprised if they are not better than in Vietnam and WW II if only because they are much better educated.   For example, less than half of the Marines in WW II had a high school degree now almost all do. Education does make a difference.

While being an “infantryman” is easy, being a good infantryman that can go upon today’s very lethal battlefields with a reasonable expectation of both accomplishing your mission and coming back is a rather more difficult proposition. It takes brains. It takes the ability to learn and apply skills that many times you do not even know you have. It takes courage, both the courage to act and the courage not to act even though you may know down deep in you soul that all you want in the world right then is to be able to do one thing, just one thing. However, you do not do that one thing, you do what you are supposed to do instead. When you have done that, you are a combat Infantryman.   

Being really good Infantry is a learned skill.  It is not easy. It is not simple.  It is not just issuing a guy a rifle and expecting them to know what they are doing.  There are a lot of little things that make the difference between living and dying. If you do not know those little things and do not do them almost as second nature then you are not very likely to survive. It is really that simple.

Audi Murphy, the most decorated soldier in World War II was a farm boy. As was Medal of Honor winning Sgt. Alvin York from World War I. In training, the Army only spends relatively a few hours on the rifle range and shoots relatively a few rounds. In the past America was famous for fielding armies of men that could shoot and shoot well. However, that was mostly because they brought that skill with them to the service.

My brother is a former Marine and an excellent pistol shot. He says that it takes about 5,000 rounds to make a really good pistol shot. It is not likely that you will have the opportunity to shoot that much in the military. In addition, today with the demonization of guns in America very few have had any experience with guns when they enter the service. You will not be getting a platoon full of Alvin Yorks and Audi Murphys. Most of them will not be able to shoot that well at first, and some may even be afraid of the weapon that they carry. That could get them, and you killed.

If you are going to teach other men how to shoot, you need to know yourself. Volunteer for range duty every chance you get. Hang out with people that know how to shoot. It may literally save your life and the lives of men in your platoon. Go to the range. Shoot. Listen. Learn. Practice. Shoot.

The next point is a little more difficult but no less important. While it is necessary to be able to hit a target, it is even more necessary to identify that target first. Both Murphy and York were boyhood hunters. You cannot buy that experience; you cannot even train it; you must experience it and that takes time. Make the time.

Whenever I walk outside to this day, I look for good machine-gun positions, good sniper positions. I look for places I would hide, or I would hide my platoon even though I have not led a platoon in 50 years. However, if you have ever been shot at in the military you will do it too, and you will do it for the rest of your life. Strangely, my wife Sandy, who has never hunted, sees far more than I do when we walk in the woods, so it is a talent as well as a craft that can be practiced. Either way, practice it. You will be surprised at what you see, at how much better you get.

I always felt that I was extraordinarily lucky in the Army.  My battalion trained together as a unit for 6 months before we deployed.  The battalion CO, Col. Geraci, was a Marine in World War II, an Army platoon leader in in Korea, and had already served two tours in Special Forces A teams in Vietnam before he was our commander.  My company commander, Cap. Gaffney, had earned a battlefield commission in Korea, was riffed back to sergeant, made Sergeant Major in Special Forces, served in “A” Teams in Vietnam, and then came back as a Captain to take us to Vietnam. I have already mentioned our First Sergeant, Bull Gergen and my Platoon Sergeant Jim Bunn. These were all men that you could learn from.

And when we were done training, I thought we could kick anybody’s ass which is probably why I once attacked a Mainforce VC battalion with my platoon. Kicked their asses too even though we could not destroy them. Too many to kill, although we and the United States Air Force did our level best all day one day trying to kill them all.

You are not really feeling inadequate if you feel doubt about your ability to fit in to this life.  You are feeling being untested, and you will feel that way until you are shot at doing your job.  It is an essential part of the job. And, while you are correct now that you are untested, after that you will be a veteran, a combat veteran.

I think that the most important thing that I could tell you is to be prepared to improvise. We spent almost all of our time training on how to patrol, on doing ambushes and counter ambush drills, and most of all on how to fight in the jungle. However, we spent almost all of our time actually fighting, doing it in the cities during Tet ‘68. The two have little in common.

Nobody in the battalion had ever done what the Army called then, Fighting In a Built-up Area. Nobody in the battalion was an expert at it when we first did it. I actually used more ideas that I got from watching Victory At Sea and other WW II documentaries as a kid than I did from my Army training. The one thing I learned is that if it works, it is not a stupid idea. In Vietnam we used to take our helmets off, hold them up and move them around for the enemy to shoot at so we could find out where they were hiding. It worked, because unlike us, they had not watched hours of cowboy shows and war movies. If it works, do it, then do it again.

As I said, the best job I have ever had in my life was that of being a second lieutenant, infantry, platoon leader. Best job by far. In that I envy you.  Good luck.

 

The story of our time in Vietnam during Tet where I learned the above can be found in my new book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive which is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; https://www.amazon.com/Steel-Rain-Tet-Offensive-1968/dp/1977045448/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1517494115&sr=1-1-catcorr

The 100+ Top Colleges and Universities

By john harrison

This list of the 100+ top colleges and universities was created by the government from data collected from students with federal loans, i.e., that is to say most, but not all university students today. Unlike other “best college” lists that you may have seen, this list is based on hard facts, no opinions, no prejudice, and the order of the schools was determined by how much their graduates make 10 years after graduation. Rather than a Value Added Tax, it is in a special sense a Value Added Assessment of a college education.

As many commentators are now discovering, many colleges are simply a bad choice from a purely economic perspective. Even a quick review of the governments data shows that there are a lot of colleges whose graduates earn less than a high school graduate on average earns. While that does not mean that a college education was necessarily a “bad choice” even for these students, since a poet for example rarely earns as much as high school graduate, it does mandate a look at the economics of higher education. As this government report shows, at most universities, that often shocking tuition sticker price, is simply a lie.

Other than Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford, in that order, these top universities generally fall into one or more of four categories. Most of the truly top universities specialize in training their students: 1. to become an entrepreneur (Babson College); 2. to work in a health or medical related field (MCPHS University); 3. to work in a science/engineering field (MIT); 4. or, they are technical schools preparing their graduates for very specific jobs. (U. S. Merchant Marine Academy)

Many of these top universities are still very small schools, some with few of the trappings of a classic American College experience. They may not have a football team at all, much less be an NCAA Division 1 powerhouse, but they are earning powerhouses for their graduates.

And finally, many of these universities have names that you may never have heard of before. They are not just small, in some cases, they are also obscure and very small. However, their graduates make money, sometimes lots of money, and in many cases these universities charge much less than the national average tuition. Yes, there are real bargains out there if you look, and sometimes more important, if your student fits into a specific category, college can be free or almost free. All of the service academies are excellent schools and they are all free of monetary charge. At the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, tuition is only $4,275 but it ranks 4th in 10 year earnings just after #3, MIT. That is not shabby at all.

The total cost of a college degree can be staggering, but so can the reward be for a graduate of the top schools. However, like buying a car, or worse a cell phone plan, determining the real cost vs. sticker price of a college education is difficult if not impossible for the average person. One thing is clear almost immediately from this data, price, or tuition, is almost entirely irrelevant to getting a good education for a career in a lucrative field.

Equally clear, if you can get into Harvard, Georgetown, or Stanford—go. The return on your investment will be repaid many times over in future earnings no matter what tuition you actually pay. In any event according to the government, the average tuition actually paid at Harvard is only $14,049, making it at Number 7 in 10 year earnings one of the bargains of the century.

Like the low average tuition at many state schools, Georgia Tech at $11,053, these average tuitions in the list must be examined closely. If you are in-state, the tuition even at a famous world class university can be almost reasonable. While UCLA’s average tuition is $13,723, its in state rate is even less and this is truly a great university.

However, if you are out of state, the tuition at that state university can be as expensive as at any private university. In fact many state schools are using the higher tuition paid by out of state students to make up for cuts in state funding. A few out of state student paying two or even three times the tuition paid by an in-state student can mean a lot of extra money for the school.

Harvard like most of the Ivies (i.e., Princeton, $8,413) grants considerable tuition assistance to many of its students, thus they have a low average tuition. A full ride scholarship or two can really bring the tuition average down. At Number 57 on the list, Washington University in St. Louis, the tuition is $33,484, but the average tuition at number 56, University of California—Berkeley, is less than half that at $13,769. Ten years out, a Berkeley graduate can expect to earn $400 a year more than a graduate from Washington University in St. Louis even though they will have paid $80,000 less in tuition to get their degree.

Tuition expense then is relative. Many, particularly those students in demand for some reason, can and do actually bargain with schools on the net tuition that they will have to pay. While some colleges will deny it, they often offer more financial aid to first year students in order to get them in the door and then raise the tuition, or lower the assistance later. The University of Dayton, so far alone among institutions of higher learning, has forsworn the practice. The important point is that you have the most economic leverage to negotiate about tuition before you enroll. Use it.

Given that the total cost of a college education can easily amount to $250,000 or more for a single student, it is only reasonable to ask what are you going to get for all of this money? Look at the list and see what others have gotten. It surprised me, and I think it will surprise you as well.

So, first you need to choose a university; then you need to get in; and you really need to graduate. Finally, you need to pay for it.

The chance of getting in to one of these universities varies across the board as well. Unless you are an extraordinary student, or rich, or famous, or come from a powerful family, getting into Harvard or Georgetown likely will remain a dream. However, many of the other schools on this list are much easier to get into. Particularly many of the higher priced universities listed are becoming easier to get into as the pool of college applicants shrinks. A realistic student will be able to pick a school that fits their academic profile, SATs, grades, class rank, their bank account and their educational objective.

A final consideration on graduation rates, graduation rates are more important, and are much more varied among even academically similar universities than is generally realized. At Harvard and Georgetown, pretty much, if you can get in, you will almost certainly graduate. The universities that are most selective are also the ones that do the best job at getting their students to graduate. Most are well into the 90 percentile. Whether this is because the are very good at selecting students that will thrive at their kind of school, or they are actually good at educating them is irrelevant, that ever so valuable degree is more likely to be obtained there than any place else.

While you can get just as good an education and earning potential at a school with a low graduation rate, in fact the low graduation rate may be there in order to protect academic standards, it has to be harder to graduate in such an environment, but many prospective students ignore this risk. Ask about the graduation rate.

It should be noted that the list shows what graduates of these schools have earned 10 years after graduation, but not what people are studying today? Are they related? Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford and many more schools have been around for a long time and have very consistent records of success, some of the universities on the list are newer. Some specialize in lower income occupational fields like teaching rather than training doctors or nurses. All of these factors influence the data collected.

In addition, there are very few universities at the top of earnings, only 14 have graduates averaging above $80,000 per year 10 years out; there are many more in the middle and some very respected institutions at the bottom. Part of this can be explained by the occupation choices of the universities’ students and by the economic environment near these universities where the graduates found jobs.

Importantly though, many of those in the middle earning tiers are surprisingly affordable and some are relatively easy to get into as well. Look around the list and be surprised.

Good Luck.

# Name Location Tuition       % that Grad-uates       Annual pay 10 years out
1 MCPHS University (formerly, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) Boston, MA $34,345 73% $116,400
2 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Albany, NY $29,600 71% $110,600
3 MIT Cambridge, MA $21,816 93% $91,600
4 U. S. Merchant Marine Academy Kings Point, NY $4,275 75% $89,000
5 St. Paul’s School of Nursing-Queens Rego Park, NY $29,587 79% $88,700
6 St. Paul’s School of Nursing Staten Island, NY $21,937 71% $88,200
7 Harvard University Cambridge, MA $14,049 97% $87,200
8 University of the Sciences Philadelphia, PA $25,883 73% $85,800
9 Babson College Wellesley, MA $28,057 90% $85,500
10 Georgetown University Washington, DC $27,801 93% $83,300
11 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ $30,808 78% $82,800
12 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY $32,986 85% $81,700
13 California Maritime Academy Vallejo, CA $16,974 58% $81,100
14 Stanford University Stanford, CA $15,713 95% $80,900
15 Massachusetts Maritime Academy Buzzards Bay, MA $16,546 64% $79,500
16 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, IN $33,087 75% $78,900
17 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA $24,311 90% $78,600
18 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA $22,948 96% $78,200
19 Washington & Lee University Lexington, VA $23,916 90% $77,600
19 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA $33,483 82% $77,600
20 SUNY Maritime College Throggs Neck, NY $17,815 48% $77,300
21 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA $29,418 87% $76,800
22 Duke University Durham, NC $28,058 94% $76,700
23 Princeton, University Princeton, NJ $8,413 96% $75,100
24 Bentley, University Waltham, MA $29,886 86% $74,900
24 Kettering University Flint, MI $30,683 59% $74,900
25 Maine Maritime Academy Castine, ME $19,687 76% $74,700
25 Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO $24,980 68% $74,700
26 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $25,667 93% $74,000
26 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA $11,053 81% $74,000
27 University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO $13,954 43% $73,800
28 Villanova University Villanova, PA $33,371 89% $73,700
29 Polytechnic Institute of New York Brooklyn, NY $26,141 60% $73,500
30 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY $22,672 94% $72,900
31 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA $33,386 87% $72,000
32 Cornell, University Ithaca, NY $26,484 93% $70,900
33 Lafayette College Easton, PA $30,804 90% $69,800
34 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN $27,845 95% $69,400
35 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD $26,596 92% $69,200
36 Fairfield, University Fairfield, CT $35,212 81% $69,000
37 Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA $33,419 91% $68,800
38 Clarkson University Potsdam, NY $25,431 71% $68,400
39 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL $18,984 65% $68,200
40 Tufts University Medford, MA $29,271 92% $67,800
41 Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA $34,956 85% $67,700
42 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH $29,587 95% $67,100
43 Boston College Boston, MA $33,070 92% $67,000
43 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH $25,341 79% $67,000
44 University of the Pacific Stockton, CA $30,318 57% $66,400
45 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA $28,352 91% $66,100
46 Yale University New Haven, CT $16,743 97% $66,000
47 Milwaukee School of Engineering Milwaukee, WI $21,336 56% $65,700
48 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, Mo $21,336 64% $65,500
49 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ $17,467 56% $65,300
50 George Washington University Washington, DC $30,206 80% $64,500
51 Northwestern University Evanston, IL $28,544 94% $64,100
52 College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA $32,118 92% $63,700
53 Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA $22,957 92% $63,600
53 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY $25,584 74% $63,600
54 Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science Los Angeles, CA $22,741 62% $63,000
55 University of Chicago Chicago, IL $25,335 92% $62,800
56 University of California- Berkeley Berkeley, CA $13,769 91% $62,700
57 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO $33,484 94% $62,300
58 Loyola University Maryland Baltimore, MD $36,046 84% $62,100
59 Bryant University Smithfield, RI $32,984 81% $61,900
60 Union College Schenectady, NY $32,533 86% $61,800
61 Colgate University Hamilton, NY $17,711 90% $61,500
62 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA $24,446 81% $61,400
63 Drexel University Philadephia, PA $33,742 67% $61,100
64 Wake Forest University Winston Salem, NC $34,139 87% $61,000
64 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA $31,915 68% $61,000
65 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN $17,340 92% $60,900
65 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA $17,112 71% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL $34,497 58% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott Prescott, AZ $35,470 57% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Daytona Beach, FL $17,890 50% $60,900
66 University of Richmond Richmond, VA $24,505 84% $60,800
66 Boston University Boston, MA $34,603 84% $60,800
67 Northeastern University Boston, MA $31,500 81% $60,100
67 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI $14,446 65% $60,100
68 Rice University Houston, TX $16,730 92% $59,900
69 Brown University Providence, RI $25,005 95% $59,700
70 University of California-San Diego La Jolla, CA $14,421 86% $59,600
70 Providence College Providence, RI $34,841 86% $59,600
71 University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA $13,723 91% $59,200
72 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD $16,299 83% $59,100
73 St Joseph’s College of Nursing at St Joseph’s Hospital Health Center Syracuse, NY $16,769 68% $59,000
73 Emory University Atlanta, GA $28,463 89% $59,000
73 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA $33,876 65% 59,000
74 Capitol College Laurel, MD $19,406 36% $58,900
75 Brandeis University Waltham, MA $29,578 90% $58,800
75 New York University New York, NY $37,971 84% $58,800
75 Stonehill College Easton, MA $30,743 83% $58,800
76 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA $17,149 93% $58,600
77 Davidson College Davidson, NC $19,143 92% $58,500
77 Saint Joseph’s University Philadelphia, PA $32,823 79% $58,500
77 Crouse Hospital College of Nursing Syracuse, NY $12,223 49% $58,500
78 SUNY at Binghamton Vestal, NY $16,541 80% $58,400
78 Pace University-New York New York, NY $24,961 53% $58,400
79 Williams College Williamstown, MA $20,935 96% $58,100
80 University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD $16,780 38% $58,000
81 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $16,287 90% $57,900
81 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA $19,993 83% $57,900
82 Creighton University Omaha, NE $26,521 75% $57,800
83 Mount Carmel College of Nursing Columbus, OH $22,871 63% $57,700
84 Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY $22,986 64% $57,500
85 Barnard College New York, NY $26,487 90% $57,400
85 Brigham Young University-Provo Provo, UT $13,070 78% $57,400
86 Hamilton College Clinton, NY $19,961 92% $57,300
87 Kettering College Kettering, OH $17,483 60% $57,200
88 University of California-Davis Davis, CA $15,054 81% $57,100
89 George Mason University Fairfax, VA $18,305 66% $57,000
90 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY $25,155 63% $56,900
91 Amherst College Amherst, MA $19,449 95% $56,800
91 The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ $21,976 86% $56,800
92 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA $21,930 92% $56,700
92 Laboure College Milton, MA $28,130 33% $56,700
93 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL $18,798 84% $56,600
93 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY $28,912 81% $56,600
93 Virginia Military Institute Lexington, VA $17,802 74% $56,600
94 College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA $24,377 90% $56,400
94 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT $35,159 76% $56,400
95 University of San Diego San Diego, CA $31,593 75% $56,300
96 Trinity College Hartford, CT $26,419 85% $56,100
97 University of Scranton Scranton, PA $32,228 83% $56,000
97 Muhlenberg College Allentown, PA $29,528 86% $56,000
98 American University Washington, DC $33,437 78% $55,900
99 Saint Johns University Collegeville, MN $22,866 78% $55,900
100 University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA $11,944 86% $55,800

See even more schools at: https://collegescorecard.ed.gov

This Mockingbird Was Fired, Not Killed

By: john harrison

My lawsuit against Bishop O’Connell High School was tried over three days in front of Judge Daniel Fiore II in Arlington Circuit Court. Rather than face a jury and admit that although Bishop O’Connell had acknowledged months before that it owed me $1,570.40 in salary that it still refused to pay almost three years after it was due, on the first day of trial the school finally agreed to just pay me the back salary it still owed.

So, that was a clear win on Count I (Breach of Contract-Suit for Salary Due and Unpaid) of my lawsuit. Up until trial the school had been refusing to pay me the money it had already admitted that it owed months before unless I signed a confidentiality agreement keeping both payment of past due salary and the school’s refusal to pay back salary it had admitted owing a secret. Since I declined to keep these facts secret Bishop O’Connell would not agree to pay until the judge got on their case and they finally dropped their demand for a confidentiality agreement on the first day of trial. Score one for the good guys.

The result in Count II (Breach of Contract-Wrongful Termination) was not as good. Because they had handed me a check for the full amount due before the trial opened, the jury never learned that O’Connell had already admitted breaching my contract in Count I while they considered whether it had also breached it a second time under Count II.

Under Count II the Bishop O’Connell attorney urged the jury to find that under the contract the school had broad discretion to fire and that the student demonstrations, whether or not I had anything to do with those demonstrations, were a sufficient trigger to fire me.

In the alternative, she argued that it was important that the new assistant tennis coach/social studies teacher Mark Borgiasz had testified that he had seen three students, including Julie Olafsson one of the leaders of the student demonstration, enter my classroom at the beginning of first period and later at the end of first period he had seen them in the Chapel with the other demonstrators. She urged that the Borgiasz testimony allowed the jury to infer that I knew of and had encouraged the student demonstrations. Therefore, she said, the school was justified in firing me simply to help end the student demonstrations.

In any event, because the jury found for the school; and I did not get the $10,000 remaining on my contract when the school fired me.

Since the school did not even try for a motion to dismiss at the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case it was clear to everyone in the courtroom that the issue of whether the firing was proper needed to be rebutted by evidence from the school. The case was not going away. However, since juries do not have to explain their verdicts we will probably never know which of O’Connell’s arguments the jury bought.

Early in the trial the Bishop O’Connell attorney asked me when I was testifying whether it was true that I had asked Julie Olafsson to testify but that she had refused. My attorney objected and the judge directed me not to answer since the question was clearly improper under the rules. However, it was a nice bit of lawyer set up for Mr. Borgiasz’s testimony, since the school somehow knew that Julie had told me she could not come to the trial because of commitments at her college in North Carolina. While Julie and the others did not come to my classroom at the beginning of first period and then leave in time to get to join the student demonstrators in the chapel, and therefore Mr. Borgiasz’s testimony that he had seen them do that was wrong; any logician will tell you that it is impossible to prove a negative.

At the trial we learned that the students had been respectfully praying in the chapel on April 17th 2012 during 1st period when Dr. Vorbach broke the sanctuary and ordered them out. We also found out that my initial non-renewal and subsequent termination were all Dr. Vorbach’s ideas, not Ms Prebble’s. And, that the school believes that its contract gives it the discretion to fire a teacher even if the teacher had no part in whatever was causing the school’s problems. That really should give pause to every teacher still working at O’Connell.

Meanwhile, Superdance made less than $100,000 this year, or put another way, less than half of what it has made in the past, and the Soup drive struggles as well.  While Michael J. Donohue, a spokesman for the Arlington Catholic Diocese which owns and operates Bishop O’Connell, told the media after the student protest of my firing that, “change is difficult” I doubt that this was the kind of change he was looking forward to under the new administration at Bishop O’Connell.  It gets worse though.

Since Dr. Vorbach arrived at Bishop O’Connell, multiple serious scandals have plagued his administration. A senior Bishop O’Connell employee used a school check for a political contribution. This is improper for a 501(c) 3 institution and it imperiled the tax-exempt status of the entire Arlington Catholic Diocese.  If you believe the school’s explanation, it was technically an embezzlement of school funds. If that was true why does the employee still work there? Why does he still handle school funds? Why is he still authorized to sign school checks?

There have been repeated allegations of cheating by the Bishop O’Connell boys basketball program that it knowingly used an overage player, Junior Etou, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many have wondered why this diocese high school in Arlington, Virginia, would be recruiting even eligible high school basketball players from the over 6,500 miles away Democratic Republic of the Congo in the first place.

In addition, the school’s basketball program had a close association (they practiced in the Bishop O’Connell gym, they had their own key to the school, they supplied well over half of the varsity basketball players), with an AAU sports organization run by the now twice-convicted drug dealer, Curtis Malone.

According to Sports Illustrated, while this already convicted drug dealer was so closely associated with O’Connell he was convicted a second time of selling large quantities of both heroin and cocaine out of his home in Prince Georges County. Like several DC Assault players, Junior Etou lived in the drug dealer’s home while he was on the Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball team.

Another former DC Assault player, Michael Beasley, also lived with Curtis Malone at about the same time. While he made it to the NBA, Beasley has struggled with repeated drug related issues.

Worse, according to Deadspin one of the basketball players, supplied to the Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball team by the drug dealer’s sport organization DC Assault, had nonconsensual sex on school grounds with an underage Bishop O’Connell student. Worse still, another basketball player, also supplied to the school’s varsity basketball team by the drug dealer’s sport organization, took a video of the sex act on Bishop O’Connell school grounds and posted it on the internet. Unbelievably, Dr. Vorbach did not discipline either of the student varsity basketball players, nor fire an assistant coach, a coach, a teacher, or an administrator for failing to supervise students that they were responsible for while the students were on school grounds. Nor did he cut the Bishop O’Connell ties to the drug dealer’s sports organization. That is strange.

Stranger still, according to Deadspin again, at least six current Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball players come from the close ties the school still has to the successor to the convicted drug dealer’s sports organization, DC Premier. Unfortunately, DC Premier is run by the same men that had helped the twice convicted drug dealer Curtis Malone run DC Assault.

But, the theme Dr. Vorbach chose for the 2011-2012 school year had been “Integrity.”

While it would be nice to have won Count II as well as Count I, everyone that has had experience with jury trials knows that the fact that the judge allowed the jury to decide the issue means that it was an open question and therefore the result could have gone either way.

Katelyn Stoskus came back from college and testified for me. It takes guts to stand up to a skilled trial lawyer’s cross-examination, but Kate was superb. Andrew Mills also took two days off from work to testify, but the O’Connell witnesses admitted everything he was going to say under cross-examination so he finally got to watch the trial for a while. “Boomer” Buckreis and Ms Prebble were the most helpful O’Connell witnesses for us.

Other students and former students came by the courtroom to lend support as did several parents of students and former students as well. They all got a chance to see the American justice system at work.

I loved teaching the students at Bishop O’Connell; even Ms Prebble admitted at the trial that my classes had been “life changing” for many students. In fact everyone at the trial that said anything about my teaching was highly complimentary. I was humbled by the support that the students gave me after I was fired and I hope to continue the friendships we formed while I was there. I particularly want to thank Katelyn Stoskus, Andrew Mills, Julie Olfasson, Alexa Gennings, Maddy Lynch, and all of the others, students, parents and teachers, that supported me.

While Bishop O’Connell High School seems now to be in a downward spiral with enrollment dropping  to about two-thirds of what it was when I was there even though it now accepts nearly every student that applies, and it is still hemorrhaging most of its best and experienced teachers, it may yet recover and be again the almost mystical place of learning it once was. . .

Self-Plagiarism Cannot Be Defined, because it does not exist

by john harrison

The idea of “self-plagiarism” is an utter impossibility. Plagiarism, properly defined is nothing more, and nothing less, than the presenting the work of another as your own. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize) Presenting your own work, as your own work, can never be plagiarism. Most people who speak of “self plagiarism” are really complaining of is an author has reused their own work without noting that it had been used before. While it may be against an academic rule or contract, and therefore wrong to represent as new something that has been used before, it is still intellectually dishonest to call the re-use of a person’s own work “self plagiarism.”

Mischaracterizing a work as “new” may be a breach of an academic standard or of a contract, and at its worst; it may also be a lie. However, calling this “self- plagiarism” is at best simply another, and bigger lie. It is entirely disingenuous to engage in willful deceit merely to boot strap an accusation of potentially questionable conduct against another into something that sounds far worse than it is. Then, to pretend that it something that it cannot possibly be only adds to the insult. Not only does such a fabrication not discourage academic dishonesty assuming that the reuse of prior work is prohibited, it joins the dishonesty and it joins it at an even more intellectually degenerate level.

The term “bootstrap” comes from the idiom “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps,” which connotes getting out of a hole without anything to stand on. The idea of a “bootstrap” is to assume an unknown to be true for the purpose of allowing a discussion to proceed, it is not to assume a false proposition in order to prevail in an argument.

How you can discourage something by doing yourself precisely what you supposedly want to decry is beyond my ken. Because it is always a lie, even making a charge of “self plagiarism” lacks academic rigor, i. e., knowledge of the meaning of a technical term before use, and proper use thereafter. It also exhibits an appalling lack of intellectual integrity, knowingly using both a misrepresentation and a logical fallacy to advance an argument.

In 1988 John Fogerty, of Credence Clearwater Revival (aka CCR), was sued by his former label Fantasy Records for what amounted to a claim self-plagiarism, and actual copyright infringement. Fantasy owned the rights to the CCR song library and sound. Saul Zaentz, the owner of Fantasy, claimed that John Fogerty’s newly recorded song Old Man Down the Road was a musical copy of the CCR song Run Through the Jungle that Fantasy Records owned. However, the trial court made a landmark decision when it ruled that an artist cannot plagiarize himself. Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. (92-1750), 510 U.S. 517 (1994).

In this case neither Fogerty nor Fantasy was trying to prevent another artist from appropriating Fogerty’s or the CCR style, rather Fogerty wanted to protect his own right to use it. The court’s brief pretrial ruling addressed this by categorizing Fogerty’s, albeit distinctive, style as a legally unprotectable idea unless also embodied in an expression that had already been copyrighted and was thus entitled to copyright protection. Therefore, Fogerty could not be liable merely for employing his own style even after selling all of his previous works using that style to Fantasy Records. However, the court ruled that if an individual song or songs were substantially similar to a previous copyrighted song, then there could be actionable copyright infringement liability. Therefore, as a matter of law the court in effect ruled that while there could be copyright infringement even by an author of the work, there is no such thing as “self plagiarism.”

Even a charge of “self plagiarism”, since it is also always a lie it, always evidences a serious lack of academic integrity. That is, a charge of “self-plagerism” always includes a deliberate misstatement of a material fact with the clear intent that others rely on it.

Simply stated, real plagiarism always contains an element of moral turpitude on the part of the plagiarizer, but repeating or reusing prior work does not necessarily contain any imputation of moral turpitude on the part of the author. This is the lie. It is very important to note that, while it is possible that an author who has improperly reused their own work in violation of a rule against such use has simply made a mistake, the only explanation for a charge of “self-plagiarism” is that the maker of the charge intended to lie and then did so.