Disowning FERPA

by John J. Miller on October 23, 2014 · 0 comments

in Blog Posts

Former senator James Buckley–brother of WFB!–has replied to my recent article on Hillsdale College’s Parents Weekend, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

As the author of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa), I found John J. Miller’s “Pay Tuition, but Don’t Ask How the Young Scholar Is Doing” (Cross Country, Oct. 18) on its current application both illuminating and distressing—illuminating in his description of how the legislation has compromised the exercise of parental responsibilities, and distressing in what it tells us of the ways in which administrative interpretations can skewer a central purpose of an act of Congress.

One of Ferpa’s major objectives was to ensure that parents had access to school records relating to their children. In recognition of the fact that on reaching age 18 offspring acquire the rights of adults, the act specifically provides (as Mr. Miller points out) that parents have the right to view the grades of college students who remain their dependents for tax purposes. To suggest that parents may receive their 18-year-old children’s grades but cannot discuss their work with their teachers is absurd. Parents’ responsibilities and legitimate concerns do not come to a halt on a child’s 18th birthday.

James L. Buckley

Sharon, Conn.

Separately, here’s an excellent interview with Buckley on how to shrink the federal government.


Dr. Faustus

by John J. Miller on October 19, 2014 · 0 comments

in Blog Posts

My latest “Masterpiece” column in the Wall Street Journal is on “Doctor Faustus,” by Christopher Marlowe:

The central event of “Doctor Faustus” is well known: a deal with the devil. In this first “Faustian bargain,” the title character sells his soul in exchange for living his next 24 years “in all voluptuousness.” This is the opposite of deferred gratification. It’s deferred damnation, and Marlowe’s play about power, knowledge and fate fueled a narrative tradition that runs through Milton’s Satan and Goethe’s “Faust” to “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band.


Meet the Parents

October 17, 2014

Here’s my Wall Street Journal article on professors and parents: On Saturday I’ll do something that only a handful of professors in the country may do: meet the parents. It’s Parents Weekend at Hillsdale College, a small liberal-arts school in southern Michigan. All morning, in a series of 10-minute sessions, my colleagues and I will [...]

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The Other President

October 13, 2014

The First Assassin includes about four references to Jefferson Davis. The president of the Confederate States is not an actual character in my novel, as Abraham Lincoln is. Yet he’s the subject of a new book by the great Civil War historian James M. McPherson, who assesses Davis as a commander-in-chief. Listen to our NRO [...]

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Oh, the Humanities!

October 6, 2014

My article on the practical benefits of an education in the humanities is in the new National Review: As the cost of college continues to rise, the humanities have gone on the defensive. Parents and students increasingly worry about the “return on investment” they’ll receive from tuition payments that can soar into six figures. In [...]

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Sign of Leo

September 14, 2014

My NRO podcast with Catherine Zuckert about Leo Strauss is here. Last year, I wrote a story for National Review on Harry Jaffa, who is one of Strauss’s best-known students.

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