Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How Title IX became an ideological battering ram

Do we really need to litigate every school dress code in federal court? The ACLU and the National Women’s Law Center think so. They argue that rules against inappropriate attire perpetuate “gender stereotypes” in violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Since its passage in 1972, Title IX has unleashed a flood of opportunity for women and girls in the classroom and on the playing field. Today, on almost every available metric, high school girls significantly outperform boys. Women now constitute 56 percent of students in college, where (on average) they earn better grades than men. They outnumber men in graduate school, earn a larger share of doctoral degrees, and are enrolling in both law school and medical school in greater numbers than men.

The past four and a half decades have, moreover, witnessed an explosion of women’s high school and college sports. Indeed, without Title IX, we likely would not have seen multiple US gold medal victories in women’s soccer and ice hockey.

In short, Title IX has been an incredible success. Unfortunately, however, the law that was intended to break down barriers to opportunity is now being misused to change the way students and teachers think about gender generally.

On college campuses today, activists use Title IX as a means to shut down and punish opinions that some women find “triggering.” College administrators invoke the law to investigate, without due process, the murky he-said/she-said of drunken hook-ups. And during the Obama years, the Department of Education relied on Title IX to demand that every primary and secondary school in the country allow students to use the locker-room and bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

So how did a simple prohibition against sex discrimination morph into a labyrinth of federal mandates on everything from political speech and sex between students to high school bathrooms and dress-codes?

The answer is, in part, ideological. Despite the stunning educational progress that women have made since the 1970s, some activists believe that female students remain the victims of institutional sexism and unconscious bias. And they seek to use the power of the federal government to promote their version of social justice and change gender norms.

In his new book, “Transforming Title IX: Regulating Gender Equality in Education,” Boston College professor Shep Melnick explains this new paradigm and tells how bureaucratic overreach, congressional inertia, and unwarranted judicial deference have all contributed to its growth.

Melnick traces the way the Department of Education used “policy guidances” and “Dear Colleague” letters to broaden the scope of Title IX without legal authority or public input. Rather than pass official regulations (which require notice and public comment), unelected bureaucrats simply wrote letters announcing novel interpretations of the law.

At the same time, Education Department officials shifted from investigating specific allegations of discrimination to proactively searching for “institutional bias.” These tactics allowed the department to extract from schools far-reaching settlement agreements requiring gender-related training (read: reeducation) for their entire workforces and student bodies.

Melnick, however, does not blame the bureaucrats for the entirety of this ideological mission-creep. He also criticizes the courts (for deferring too often to the Education Department’s legally spurious interpretations) and Congress (for failing to override administrative abuses of power).

Perhaps surprisingly, Melnick is no conservative. To the contrary, he is a liberal Democrat who isn’t sure he’s “ever met a Trump voter.” But he feels strongly that rule-making by “guidance” is anti-democratic. And he does not think that manipulating Title IX is the best way to resolve new and controversial social issues.

As such, Melnick joins a growing chorus of principled liberal voices, including feminist scholar Laura Kipnis, former federal judge Nancy Gertner, legal affairs reporter Stuart Taylor, and Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk, who have opposed the use of Title IX to chill speech, deny due process, and prevent educators from resolving controversial issues without litigation.

Hopefully, the people responsible for enforcing Title IX are listening. Title IX was passed to ensure that schools provide male and female students with equal educational opportunities, not to give kids license to dress however they please.


A Beacon (High School) of Moral Relativism

Some NYC students observed a moment of silence for Palestinian "victims" of violence.

Few things warm the cockles of progressive hearts more than moral relativism. And few things make them prouder than inculcating children with that odious concept. Thus it should surprise no one that students at Beacon High School in Manhattan were asked to observe a moment of silence for the Palestinian “victims” of the violence that took place in Gaza last week.

One outraged father cut through the nonsense inflicted on his child. “I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,” said the father, who is Jewish. Another student’s mother was equally illuminating. “I just don’t think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists,” she said. “What if it was Islamic terrorists in ISIS? No school would be having that over the loudspeaker.”

But it was Islamic terrorists the school was honoring. Hamas was designated by the State Department as a terrorist group on Oct. 8, 1997, and last Wednesday, Hamas official Salah Bardawil admitted that 50 of the 62 Palestinians reported killed during the Gaza border riots were members of that group. Other casualties were claimed by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another designated terror organization.

Moreover, a rioter captured by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) revealed the contemptible machinations Hamas undertakes to maintain the victimist narrative — the one swallowed whole by a purposefully uncurious media. “They tell women to go forward,” he explained. “They say to the woman: Go ahead, you are a woman, and the Israeli army does not shoot at women. They tell small children: Go ahead, the army does not shoot at small children. They tell a child to go ahead and he goes, it’s a little boy. They deceive him.”

It’s not the first time. In 2014, during the war between Hamas and Israel, Hamas finally admitted to using schools and hospitals in the Gaza Strip to launch rocket attacks on Israel, effectively turning those locations into human shields. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad claimed the terrorist group made every effort to keep civilians away from the violence but that “there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with.”

Mistakes? In a July 8, 2014, interview on Al Aqsa TV, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri insisted that sacrificing innocents attests to the “character of our noble jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and blood.”

Predictably, a 2015 UN inquiry blamed Israel for attacks on UN schools in Gaza. Yet the board of inquiry conceded that Hamas stored mortars and other weapons in at least three of those UN schools during the war — and fired rockets at Israel from two of them.
In a better world in 2014, Hamas thugs, along with their contemptible enablers in the mainstream media, the Democrat Party and the progressive movement might have been asked to explain why the terrorist group should be entitled to retaliation-free missile launches against the Jewish State, simply because they purposefully locate their launchers in an area to maximize Palestinian casualties. In a better world in 2018, they might have been asked why it’s acceptable for Hamas to pay Palestinians to riot, and to make sure women and children were pushed to the front of a throng of approximately 40,000 to 50,000 protesters, many of whom were attempting breach the Israeli border — while their more militant allies placed explosive devices at the fence and opened fire on IDF forces.

In this world? A tony NYC high school embraces moral bankruptcy masquerading as compassion.

Such faux virtue-signaling is hardly surprising. “The highly selective Hells Kitchen school tends to lean left,” the New York Post explains. “Students, some with the permission of their teachers, walked out of school in November 2016 to protest Donald Trump’s election.”

No doubt.

Nonetheless, junior Sophie Steinberg was somewhat perplexed by the school-wide announcement. “As a Jewish student, I could see a lot of my Jewish friends get very weird when the moment of silence started,” she said. “They don’t know how to feel. They don’t know how to fit into all of this.”

Feel? If anyone still wonders why American education has become an international laughingstock, look no further than the paradigm shift that occurred when schools dominated by progressive ideology began teaching children what to feel instead of how to think.

And if those feelings don’t align themselves with the progressive agenda? “More than anything, high school children fear not ‘fitting in,” writes columnist Rick Moran. “Leftist activists play on that fear by ostracizing anyone who might have a different opinion on any issue. This not-so-subtle form of pressure to conform to the dominant liberal view of the world discomfits children and prevents most of them from speaking out.”

It is a dominant liberal view backed by the New York City Department of Education. “We support civic engagement and advocacy amongst students, and encourage schools to provide inclusive environments where students are able to respectfully discuss current events,” declared DOE spokesman Doug Cohen in a statement.

Maybe they should discuss the reality that Hamas’s founding charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State.

It is not known whether the announcement, made by a student, was sanctioned by the school. Principal Ruth Lacey has not returned media requests for a comment, and parents who’ve reached out to Lacey said she’s been unresponsive. The Patriot Post also tried contacting her, but access to her voicemail was unavailable. She is also the only member of the faculty with an unpublished email address.

Pro-Israel group Zionist Organization of America plans to send a letter to the school demanding an apology. “It is disgraceful to mourn the death of Hamas terrorists,” said organization president Morton Klein.

At Beacon, “disgraceful” is apparently in the eye of the beholder. “A lot of us are really concerned with what Israel is doing,” stated junior student Matt Klass, who is Jewish. “I think there is some disparity in how the parents feel and how the students feel.” Despite having a large contingent of Jewish students, Klass further noted the school is sympathetic to Palestinians and a two-state solution.

The same two-state solution Palestinians themselves have rejected for decades.

Junior Rosie Hendricks thought the announcement “was fine,” but she felt students could have “given more context” about the history of the ongoing conflict.

Here’s more context. “When we talk about 'peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” stated Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, in an interview with Al Jazeera on May 13.

Only that part of the public that chooses to be deceived — along with an NYC Department of Education that likens rank propaganda to “civic discussion,” to defend a high school where the progressive agenda reigns supreme.


Australia: Victorian government crackdown aims to draw children back to local schools

Your kid will go to school where WE want, not where you want.  Typical Leftist authoritarianism

The Victorian education department is cracking down on schools that accept high numbers of enrolments from non-local students by refusing to provide portable classrooms.

The department told state schools this month that it would not deliver portable classrooms in 2019 to schools where more than 50% of students live outside the local catchment area.

The new rule will apply to about 15% of state schools, based on 2018 enrolment figures.

The aim is to funnel students back into under-capacity schools in preparation for an estimated 10% increase in the number of school-age children by 2021. The state needs to build an estimated 50 new schools to keep up with demand.

A department spokeswoman said the decision allowed the department to focus resources on schools facing enrolment pressures from local population growth.

“It’s important for all schools to take a common sense approach to managing enrolments from outside their local community so we don’t have schools lose vital play space,” she said.

But some parents have suggested it will take away choice.

Parents in Victoria are able to choose which public school to send their children to, provided the school prioritises local enrolments. It is a system that has seen some more popular schools overflow into portable classrooms to cope with out-of-area demand while other schools are under capacity, the Australian Education Union’s Victorian president, Meredith Peace, said.

According to a 2017 ombudsman’s report, more than half of all primary and secondary students at Victorian public schools in 2016 attended a school other than their local school.

Peace said it was a concerning trend that could increase inequality in the public school system.

“We risk ending up with a very stratified system, which is frankly not in anyone’s interests,” she told Guardian Australia.

“We don’t want to continue to see that [inequity] added to by this movement of what I think is a false notion of choice, because the reality is not everyone has a choice. The government has a responsibility to ensure that our state education system, regardless of where you live, provides your child with a properly resourced school that can offer high-quality education.”

Pearce said that the reputation of public schools was “fickle” and encouraged parents to visit their local schools during term to make their own assessment.

“Schools can get reputations for being good, bad, or otherwise often unfairly or with no basis,” she said. “It’s often based on hearsay from other people who may have their particular issues with that school.”


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