Tuesday, January 25, 2022



For Parents, School Choice Provides Hope

There’s a local coffee shop that has become a hub for people working from home who also want to get out a bit. As we all sit in front of our computers, taking calls and working from large community tables, it never fails that someone, usually a parent, sees my “Love Your School” logo—and asks me what I do.

“I help families learn about their education options. Do you have kids?”

Without a second thought, a conversation has begun, and parents begin to share about their kids and their concerns, curious if I might be able to offer some hope for their situation.

I love these conversations—because I do have hope to offer. Its name? School choice.

Parents worrying about their children’s futures is nothing new, but the last two years have compounded those worries and added a dose of fear.

“Will my child ever catch up? Why are they still struggling so much? How can I afford all these extra tutors? I think they need an evaluation, but everyone says they’ll grow out of it. I’m so worried about my child’s future, I think about it all the time.”

In addition to new challenges brought on by COVID-19, parents also have concerns about what their children are being taught in the classroom.

Our nonprofit, Love Your School, recently helped the Neagra family, who were looking for a new school. When I asked why they were searching, the family explained that policies related to the handling of COVID-19 and “radical social education being taught to our elementary students” necessitated a change.

They were so thankful that they could access an Empowerment Scholarship Account (also known as an “education savings account”) because they were in a D-rated school district.

They, like so many other families we work with, never knew until the last couple of months that they even had this option in Arizona. How many other families are drowning in the same worry and fear over their children’s futures but are left with no knowledge of their education choices at all?

Just a few weeks ago, another team member and I set up a table outside of a popular grocery store in South Phoenix, Arizona. “Hola! ¿Tienen niños?” we’d ask, as folks popped in for lunch at the taco shop just inside. The number of conversations we had on an average Tuesday lunch hour was almost unbelievable.

Sure, we had cold Jarritos in our branded koozies for the taking, but that was barely of interest. The possibility that we had something to offer these families who were clearly already thinking about their kid’s education was the draw. The thought that someone might listen to their story and provide ideas, options, and hope for their child’s current situation or struggle was the appeal.

Thankfully, hope is just what we had—along with some branded swag.

As we celebrate National School Choice Week, we should share with anyone that will listen the opportunities that school choice provides. We should plan events, make phone calls, and wear our yellow scarves to bring awareness to all of the incredible education options that families have access to across the United States.

I’m reminded of all the families I’ve met the last few years who felt they got a second chance for their kids because of school choice policies, my own included. I credit an education savings account to helping my two oldest boys get the therapy and curriculum they needed so they could learn to read.

I can’t imagine our lives or their future without these opportunities.

This National School Choice Week, when everyone is looking for hope, school choice advocates have the opportunity to give it. This week, and every week after.

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California mom takes legal action against school district 'after two teachers secretly manipulated her daughter, 11, into believing she was a transgender boy and gave tips on how to bind her breasts'

A California mother is taking legal action against a school district, claiming that two teachers secretly manipulated her 11-year-old daughter into believing she was a transgender boy.

Jessica Konen filed a legal claim against Spreckels Union School District last Wednesday - with that claim a likely precursor to a lawsuit. She alleges that Buena Vista Middle School teachers Lori Caldeira and Kelly Baraki 'planted a seed' in her daughter's head that she was bisexual, then went on to convince the youngster that she was actually a transgender boy.

Konen also claims that Caldeira and Baraki - who ran the school's 'You Be You' equality club - provided information for her daughter on how to bind her breasts to stop them developing. She says the school kept her in the dark about what was going on until a December 2019 meeting.

After schools closed and went remote during COVID in March 2020, Konen says her daughter, who has not been named, was once again happy to identify as a girl when away from the influence of the teachers and school bosses she is now on the verge of suing.

Caldeira and Baraki are also said to have 'stalked' social media for children they believed may have been transgender, but insist uncovered communications between them were only made in jest.

A legal claim filed Wednesday states that Spreckels Union School District was responsible for 'extreme and outrageous conduct' that led the student on a path toward transitioning as a boy and drove a wedge between mother and child. Konen is being assisted in her claim by free speech group The Center for American Liberty.

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon told DailyMail.com that since filing the case, she's heard from parents across multiple states, who describe 'secretive trans grooming' by school officials - similar to what Konen has claimed.

One of Konen's chief complaints was that she was kept in the dark by the school about her daughter's participation in the club, literature teachers provided, and a 'gender support plan' created by administrators.

'Parents are supposed to have access to all the educational records of their children,' said Dhillon, who filed the case. 'The concept that the schools have a right to be running secret, don't-tell-your-parents clubs and don't-tell-your-parents programs and actively coaching children how to mutilate themselves, which is you know, not growing your breasts, is certainly not consistent with California law.'

I’ve heard from parents in other areas who describe similar secretive trans grooming by school officials. Did this happen to your family?

While Konen said her daughter had revealed she was bisexual, the mother was unaware she was identifying as a boy until she was called to a meeting at the Buena Vista Middle School principal´s office in December 2019 when her daughter was in 7th grade.

She wasn't told the purpose of the meeting until her daughter entered the room and sat across a table from her and teacher Lori Caldeira broke the news.

'I literally was caught off guard. I was blindsided,' Konen said. 'I didn't even know what to feel like because I didn´t even know where it came from.'

She said her daughter was also caught by surprise. She had told teachers she wanted to notify her mom, but didn't know they set the meeting up that day.

Konen said she gave the school permission to use a boy's name for attendance purposes and tried to be supportive, but it was difficult.

When schools went to remote learning during the pandemic in March 2020, Konen said her daughter began returning to her 'old self' and now uses her given name.

But it wasn't until this fall that Konen began to question how her daughter got on the path to a different identity, after an article by journalist Abigail Shrier circulated around town.

Shier's book, Irreversible Damage, has documented the explosion in children claiming to be transgender - particularly the sharp rise in girls claiming they are actually boys.

The tome has railed against decisions to prescribe young children with hormone therapy, or push them towards a path of gender reassignment surgery. Shier has won multiple awards for the book, but has also been met with howls of outrage from some pro-transgender campaigners over what they claim is baseless scaremongering.

In a leaked recording from a California Teachers Association conference, Caldeira and Kelly Baraki were quoted discussing how they kept meetings private and 'stalked' students online for recruits.

'When we were doing our virtual learning - we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren't doing school work,' Baraki said. 'One of them was googling 'Trans Day of Visibility.' And we're like, 'Check.' We're going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.'

Neither Caldeira nor Baraki could be reached by The Associated Press for comment. Caldeira told the San Francisco Chronicle the quotes were accurate but taken out of context or misrepresented. The stalking comment was a joke, she said.

Caldeira, who has been awarded as a role model for inclusion, defended their work, saying students set the agenda and the teachers were there to provide honest and fair answers to their questions.

The teachers were placed on administrative leave in November. They had attended the conference on their own time, but the district said, 'many of the comments and themes stated in the article are alarming, concerning, disappointing' and didn't reflect their policies.

The district hired a law firm to investigate, which is ongoing, and the UBU club was suspended.

Konen was applauded when she blasted school board members at a meeting in December, saying the teachers took away her ability to parent.

Superintendent Eric Tarallo said the legal claim would be addressed in the judicial system and personnel policies prevented him from revealing if the teachers were back at school. He said the district was reviewing and updating policies on student clubs.

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Unvaccinated Students Corralled into Separate Pen at LA High School

There have long been some very serious concerns about the way in which vaccinated people would treat unvaccinated folks here in the United States, and it’s a sad reality that some of even the more bizarre predictions have come true.

We’ve seen the unvaccinated among us ostracized, belittled, discriminated against, and segregated against, often with the backing of the government itself.

Now, at a charter school in Los Angeles, an incredibly poignant and stomach-turning facet of this prejudice has been put on display.

Parents and students at a Los Angeles charter school have filed a lawsuit to stop a vaccine mandate that allegedly prevented unvaccinated children from attending class.

The children said they felt “segregated” and “discriminated against.”

“Female students were segregated, harassed, and threatened with suspension just for trying to participate in their classes, and we will prove in court that this is unjust and unlawful,” Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe, a nonprofit organization that is representing the students and parents in a lawsuit against the school, told Fox News Digital on Sunday.

The situation was a dramatic one:

Let Them Breathe shared videos of the students protesting after New West Charter School allegedly refused to let them in when school reopened on Jan. 18, 2022. The organization claimed that the students were segregated “behind barriers.”

“We’re being refused of the right to attend school,” one student claims in a video. “We feel segregated and discriminated against,” adds another.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Monday, January 24, 2022



Denver School Teaches Elementary Schoolers to Support BLM, Be Queer Affirming and to Disrupt Nuclear Family

Centennial Elementary School in Denver, Colorado will teach its kindergarten and first-grade students how they can support Black Lives Matter, affirm queer and transgender individuals and disrupt the nuclear family as part of its "Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action."

The school outlines the "Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles" that will guide its instruction. The guide, obtained by nonprofit group Parents Defending Education, includes definitions of a number of terms, including "restorative justice," "diversity," "transgender affirming" and "queer affirming."

Also among the principles defined were "globalism," described in the guide as "our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the global black family," and "Loving Engagement," which the guide says is "the commitment to practice justice, liberation and peace."

Additionally, the instruction guide defined "Black Women" as "the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness," and "Black Families," which creates "a space that is family friendly and free from patriarchal practices."

Centennial Elementary School also vows to teach students its definition of "Black Villages," the disruption of "western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the 'collective village' that takes care of each other."

Its FAQ page on BLM, citing an advisory opinion from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, said that "supporting BLM is not political." The page also insists that its teachings are age-appropriate and that BLM is not being taught or promoted to its students, but rather, "BLM Principles" are used to "drive kid-friendly conversations about the importance of valuing and respecting diversity." Included at the bottom of the FAQ page is a link directing to a website focusing on teachings from author Ibram X. Kendi's book, "How to Be an Antiracist."

On its equity page, the school refers to itself as an "inclusive school" and says that its staff "believes that each child can positively contribute to our community because of their unique culture, background and perspectives. We believe that true diversity and inclusion in service of equity starts with us."

This comes after Centennial Elementary School came under scrutiny last month for hosting a monthly "families of color playground night" after a picture of the school promoting the event on its sign was shared on social media.

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NYC schools Chancellor David Banks clears way for new DOE team

Schools Chancellor David Banks has begun clearing out the executives under his predecessors and replacing them with his own team — vowing more “dramatic changes” at the city Department of Education in the coming months.

At least seven top officials under ex-chancellors Richard Carranza and Meisha Porter have already left the DOE, and six will remain for the time being – but in lower-level positions with less pay.

“I’m committed to drastic change,” Banks told The Post, saying he plans more personnel moves to cut and streamline the massive DOE bureaucracy.

“The intention here is to save millions of dollars for the system that gets pushed closer to schools,” he said. “I’m not here to placate and make people feel good. I came here at the behest of the mayor to bring real change, and it is coming.”

Mayor Adams’ schools boss, who completed three weeks on the job Friday, has assembled a seven-member cabinet, down from 15 in the former DOE administration.

In some cases, their salaries are higher than previously paid to top DOE execs. For instance, newcomers Daniel Weisberg, first deputy chancellor, and Desmond Blackburn, deputy chancellor for school leadership – a newly created post – will each make $265,000 a year. Blackburn was CEO of a national non-profit, the New Teacher Center.

“I’m really starting to reduce the number of people who report to the chancellor, reducing the size of the cabinet, giving larger portfolios,” said Banks, who will get the same pay as Carranza and Porter, $363,346.

Among the changes:

–Marisol Rosales, promoted by Porter last August to senior deputy chancellor with a $241,000 salary, was demoted to “special advisor” in the school support division with a pay cut. She agreed to leave “at a date certain” — by the end of next year, sources said.

–Lashawn Robinson, former Deputy Chancellor for School Climate and Wellness, who made $236,000 last year, was demoted to ”senior director for strategic Initiatives,” under Blackburn with a reduced salary.

In a similar title, Banks appointed Jawana Johnson Chief of School Culture, Climate and Well-Being. Johnson previously served as Chief Achievement Officer at the Eagle Academy Foundation, which supported six public schools founded by Banks. Her salary: $222,972.

Banks named Carolyne Quintana as Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, with a $241,000 salary. Quintana, a former DOE teacher and principal in the Bronx, will oversee all academics as well as support for early childhood education, students with disabilities, and multi-language learners.

The DOE did not provide the salary reductions for Rosales, Robinson and others who received a cut in pay.

In another major appointment, Banks named Karine Apollon the Chief Diversity Officer, with a $222,972 salary.

She will oversee a first-ever Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Such offices have sprung up in many other school districts, colleges and corporations, but often with broader, controversial progressive mandates.

The DOE’s office will be “narrowly focused,” Banks said, on contracting more businesses owned by women and minorities, and hiring more staffers of color.

Black-owned businesses get less than one percent of DOE contracts, he said. “The numbers are just horrible. We can do better than that in a city as diverse as New York.”

The DEI office will not get involved in academics, he said.

“This is not about creating a curriculum that’s controversial,” Banks said in a nod to the furor over Critical Race Theory, the concept that racism is embedded in legal and other systems.

A spokeswoman for IntegrateNYC, a group opposed to de facto segregation in city schools, is disappointed the office will not tackle matters such as admission “screens” for high schools, Gifted & Talented classes or other selective programs.

“It’s concerning – the omission or absence of the pillars we’ve been working on for so long,” said communications director Seba Uchida, a 2019 Bronx HS of Science grad.

A School Diversity Advisory Group appointed by former Mayor de Blasio called on him in February 2019 to name a Chief Integration Officer. DeBlasio never did, and Banks has no plans to do so, DOE spokespersons said.

But Banks has created another new title – Chief of Student Pathways, naming Jade Grieve to the post to oversee all college and career readiness, and work-based learning. Grieve last worked at Bloomberg Philanthropies in career and technical education, and previously served as senior advisor to the Prime Minister of Education in Australia.

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Dramatic rise in Australian children registered for home schooling

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the trend to withdraw children from formal education with a record 9000 students now registered for home schooling in NSW, a jump of nearly 30 per cent.

Figures reported at NSW budget estimates reveal 8981 children were registered for home schooling as of October 31 last year, a 28 per cent increase on the 7032 registered at the end of 2020.

Home schooling has been rising in popularity for several years but spiked dramatically after the pandemic started – with 19 per cent growth in 2019, compared with an average 13 per cent for the three years before that.

Home Education Association president Karen Chegwidden said there were many reasons the pandemic was driving the trend. Having children at home during lockdown made some families realise they like the lifestyle of having their kids at home, while others were alarmed by their child’s lack of progress in mainstream schooling.

Vaccines were another big issue, Ms Chegwidden said. Those who were vaccine-hesitant were worried their child would be vaccinated against their will, while others would not send their child to school until they were fully vaccinated.

“Then there are just the people who are sick of the disruption – the idea that one day kids go back to school and the next day it’s closed because of COVID and the school is being cleaned is making life impossible to manage,” she said. “Kids are stressed out and parents are stressed out and that’s really reflective of a lot of families.“

Budget estimates reveal of those parents who provided a reason for home schooling, one in four identified their child’s special learning needs. Only 1 per cent said it was because of bullying.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the pandemic had shifted the dynamics of education for students learning with a disability and remote learning during lockdown had been a challenge for some of these children and their families.

“I understand why some families have shifted to a permanent home schooling approach,” Ms Mitchell said. “I hope this year is the first in two years that we could call a normal school year. I also hope that we can begin to bring some of the students back to the classroom who have opted for home schooling over the past 24 months.”

Physical Disability Council of NSW chief executive Serena Ovens said the figures would include many children with a high risk of complications from COVID-19.

“If someone is known to be at high risk of severe illness or death with COVID then some parents will absolutely make that choice, and you can’t blame them,” Ms Ovens said.

Of the children registered for home schooling, 2874 were in western Sydney and 1099 were from the Hunter region, which includes Newcastle. This could reflect the fact that they are populous regions with a high number of students enrolled overall.

Labor education spokeswoman Prue Car said it could also reflect an under-investment in education in the rapidly growing outer western suburbs, and the government needed to determine if this was driving a push to home schooling.

“There are suburbs with overcrowded schools, suburbs with no schools five to 10 years after people have moved in, and a shortage of teachers,” Ms Car said. “It’s pretty alarming if parents feel they don’t have a choice because every child deserves a quality public school in their area.”

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Sunday, January 23, 2022


School Board Clams up When Father Asks About Daughter’s Sexual Assault

Virginia schools continue to face issues with sexual assault cover-ups and denials. In Prince William County, one father brought up the issue after his daughter was assaulted, but the school board was silent.

Jeff Darr stood up at a school board meeting on Wednesday and informed the members that his 13-year-old daughter had been assaulted.

“I was wondering if you all could explain to me how the policies and procedures are for the administrators to handle that situation,” Darr said in the school board meeting.

He was met with silence from the board members. “Does anybody have any answers?” Darr asked again.

Babur Lateef, chairman at-large of the school board, finally answered by telling him that “we typically don’t go and have a back-and-forth here” and that he should address the board via email or make an appointment.

Darr said he didn’t understand. “So where do you find the rules and regulations at?” he said, again asking where administrators could find the correct procedures for handling sexual assaults in school.

In response, he was told to step aside and someone would address his questions. Meanwhile, a security officer approached him and appeared to put his arm on Darr’s back.

But the father said he wanted to make this public so that everyone could be informed and that was why he showed up for the school board meeting.

“So, we won’t be answering you, but you can certainly keep asking,” Lateef said.

Darr asked again for the definition of sexual assault. “I want to know the school’s definition of sexual assault, because my daughter was told … that if it’s above the clothes, it’s not sexual assault,” Darr said, as he got choked up.

“And that’s the way the county does the kids here? It’s messed up,” he said.

“That’s my daughter, and no one wants to do nothing about it. Suspend a boy for one day for improper touching, and I don’t think that’s right,” Darr said. “So somebody needs to do something. Somebody needs to look into the matter and do something.”

He added, “I’m pretty sure if it’s happened to her, it’s happened to plenty of children here. It’s ridiculous.”

WTTG -TV followed up by reaching out to the Prince William County Police Department, which said it was aware of a sexual assault that happened in November during a Hylton High School field trip.

The department said that a “thorough police investigation was conducted into the accusation.”

Diana Gulotta, the director of communications for Prince William County Schools, released a statement Friday, according to WTTG.

“PWCS takes any act of sexual assault or violence seriously and such acts will not be tolerated,” she said. “PWCS has specific procedures and highly trained personnel to assist students and parents in resolving claims that involve certain forms of unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature as required by Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

“School administration learned of this incident on the day it is alleged to have occurred and notified law enforcement. The PWCS Title IX office has taken action to investigate the allegations and to offer supportive measures consistent with legal requirements.

“That process is still ongoing. For student privacy reasons, we cannot share information about the alleged incident, the investigation, or any findings, discipline or other actions that may result. PWCS administrators are working with the family of the complainant to respond to their concerns.”

Throughout the past several months, other sexual assaults in Virginia schools have come to light. Loudoun County schools were widely criticized over the gross mishandling of assaults perpetrated by a 15-year-old student.

Darr’s public questioning of the school board was very reasonable, but he was brushed aside. This should be causing serious concern for all parents with children in Prince William County schools.

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Virginia Woman Charged After Threatening to Show Up to Child's School with Guns in Protest of Mask Mandate

A Virginia woman was charged by police after she threatened to bring loaded firearms to her child's school over the district's mask mandate.

Amelia Ruffner King was charged Friday night with a violation of a Virginia statute stating that oral threats of bodily harm on school property are not allowed, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

She was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond, and police will have an increased presence at the school on Monday, according to the Luray Police Department.

During a Page County School Board meeting held Thursday to discuss Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) executive order allowing parents to opt-out of mask requirements, King blasted the board over the mask mandate that was still in place, video footage shows.

"My child — my children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on. All right, that's not happening. And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready to — I will call every—," King explained before she was interrupted by school officials.

She then left the podium and said, "I'll see y'all on Monday."

King later apologized to the board members in an email read aloud during the meeting by one of the board members.

"I in no way meant to imply 'all guns loaded' as in actual firearms, but rather all resources I can muster to make sure that my children get [sic] to attend school without masks. My sincere apologies for my poor choice in words," King's email read.

She also said in her email that she contacted the sheriff's office to "explain herself."

Page County School Superintendent Antonia Fox and Page County School Board Chair Megan Gordon wrote in a joint statement Friday that King's remarks "were perceived by many to be threatening in nature" and that the district "does not take these kinds of statements lightly."

"Not only do comments such as these go against everything we wish to model for our students, they go against the very nature of how we as a community should interact with each other," the statement reads. "Violence and threats are never acceptable or appropriate. This kind of behavior is not tolerated from our students, faculty staff, nor will it be tolerated by parents or guests of our school division."

The school board voted in a 4-2 decision to make masks optional after the Thursday meeting in which King made her comments. This comes just ahead of Youngkin's executive order taking effect on Monday.

Luray Police Chief Bow Cook said that King apologized for her comments and is cooperating with law enforcement.

"The statement that was made absolutely caused public alarm, the parent that made the statement realized that, and immediately contacted law enforcement to apologize because the statement was not intended the way it was perceived," Cook said in a Friday afternoon statement posted to Facebook. "The safety of the students and school staff are our number one priority, we are working diligently with the Page County School Board to ensure proper measures have been put in place for their safety."

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ACLU Comes Out in Support of Keeping Parents in the Dark on What Their Children Are Learning

The ACLU has evolved from a champion of liberties into a champion of authoritarianism

When it comes to transparency and the fundamental rights of parents to know what's in their children's curriculum, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking a disappointing stance.

On Friday, the ACLU tweeted out an article by Tyler Kingkade with NBC News, "They fought critical race theory. Now they’re focusing on ‘curriculum transparency.’"

The tweet also claims that "Curriculum transparency bills are just thinly veiled attempts at chilling teachers and students from learning and talking about race and gender in schools."

People were quick to point out that by taking such a position, the ACLU is supporting government secrecy when it comes to what public schools are teaching and how they are potentially indoctrinating students.

Ultimately, though, the article provides a one-sided view, especially when it comes to what kind of materials parents seek to get rid of:

“People are going to disagree on a lot of these issues,” said Matt Beienburg, the Goldwater Institute’s director of education policy. “Transparency is something I think that at least allows for that conversation to know what is being taught. Everybody should be able to rally around the fact that we shouldn’t be teaching something in secret.”

But teachers, their unions and free speech advocates say the proposals would excessively scrutinize daily classwork and would lead teachers to pre-emptively pull potentially contentious materials to avoid drawing criticism. Parents and legislators have already started campaigns to remove books dealing with race and gender, citing passages they find obscene, after they found out that the books were available in school libraries and classrooms.

Kingkade fails to mention that books parents "find obscene" and that, at least in Fairfax, Virginia, have gone through a back-and-forth battle of whether to remove, deal with pedophilia and graphic depictions of sexual acts in graphic novels.

While Manhattan Institute fellow and CRT opponent Christopher Rufo's tweets are referenced, much of the commentary mentioned in the article is from Democrats who oppose such transparency and rant and rave using typical talking points like blaming Fox News:

But Democratic legislators pushed back. Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Frankel argued in legislative hearings in October that the proposal was an invitation to “the book burners and the anti-maskers to harass our schools and harass our teachers.”

“This bill isn’t about transparency for parents,” Frankel said at the time. “It’s about bringing the fights that get started on Fox News to the kindergarten classroom near you.”

When it comes to what the ACLU thinks about teaching CRT? It's included in the First Amendment, they claim.

This is hardly the only recent move from the ACLU that would seem antithetical to their very purpose.

For instance, in September, David Cole and Daniel Mach, their national legal director and director of Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, respectively, penned an opinion piece advocating for vaccine mandates. ACLU tweeted it out from their official account.

Later that month, they also edited the words of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on women and abortion, who founded the ACLU Women's Rights Project in 1972, to make the language more gender-neutral.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Saturday, January 22, 2022



‘Progressive education’ faces a steep learning curve

CLAIRE LEHMANN

As the summer holidays wind up and children return to the classroom in coming weeks, debates about education are likely to heat up – and for good reason.

Schools in Australia have been intermittently closed over the past two years, with pupils in Melbourne and Sydney spending the bulk of last year at home in front of a computer screen. The impact of school closures on educational outcomes is not yet known, but it is likely that a concerning trend will have been accelerated.

Every three years, an organisation called PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment) tests a randomly selected sample of pupils from OECD countries to assess levels of education around the world. The most recent set of results, released in 2019, confirmed that standards in Australian education were in decline, with 41 per cent of our 15-year-olds failing to meet what are considered minimum standards for reading, and 20 per cent being functionally illiterate.

Why? Education researcher and primary school teacher Greg Ashman believes Australia’s educational decline is in large part due to a suite of teaching methods loosely described as “progressive education”. Progressive education is not synonymous with progressive politics; rather, it is an approach to teaching that prioritises skills-based learning over memorisation.

In The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge writes: “Up through the 19th and early 20th centuries, a classical education often included rote memorisation of long poems in foreign languages, which strengthened auditory memory (hence thinking in language) and an almost fanatical ­attention to handwriting, which probably helped strengthen motor capacities and thus not only helped handwriting but added speed and fluency to reading and speaking. Often a great deal of attention was paid to exact elocution and to perfecting the pronunciation of words. Then in the 1960s educators dropped such traditional exercises from the curriculum because they were too rigid, boring, and ‘not relevant’. But the loss of these drills has been costly; they may have been the only opportunity these students had to systematically exercise the brain function that gives us fluency and grace with symbols.”

The most widely valued skills in progressive education are not fluency and grace with language or mathematics, but the higher order skills of critical thinking and problem solving. An article published by the ABC on Monday, “Could our education system be more engaging and fun for our kids? These schools think so and are giving it a crack”, reflects this approach well:

“Students and educators spend parts of their days outside school grounds, exploring local parks and beaches and interacting with the community. They have reading and maths lessons on the beach … Ms Nuss (Principal of the Village School at Coolangatta) started to question why school couldn’t be more like kindergarten … Why can’t children wear tutus to school? Take their shoes off in the classroom? … Our unofficial motto is ‘Failing Forward’. We fail almost everyday at something; as long as we can learn from it, it was a good fail or lesson.”

This may all sound harmless in and of itself, but there is no evidence wearing tutus or taking shoes off helps children learn to read and write and memorise their times tables.

Another teacher profiled in the article reports that “There are fabulous teachers trying to make their classrooms more relevant and engaging, and schools adopting programs to enhance skills and more real-life experiences, but there are still many, many classrooms that have a teacher at the front of the room, kids sitting in rows being asked to regurgitate information without thinking, analysing, critically or creatively problem solving to come up with solutions”.

The problem with such an assertion is that there is no evidence critical thinking and problem solving are skills that can actually be taught. Psychologists suspect we can only think critically about a subject after we have accrued some deep knowledge in it. This makes intuitive sense. To think critically about 19th century English literature you would need to have read Dickens, the Brontes, Hardy and more. To think critically about trigonometry, you would need to have developed some deep mathematical knowledge. Critical thinking does not occur in a vacuum.

The notion that critical thinking is a skill that cuts across domains is a fallacious one. Ex­pertise in one area often corresponds with blindness and ignorance in another. Such epistemic overconfidence leads epidemiologists to pontificate on racism and medical doctors to sound off about climate change.

It is often argued today that memorising facts is redundant because knowledge is just a couple of clicks away. This may be true, but as our digital information ecosystems continue to be polluted with propaganda and disinformation, it is not an ideal scenario to have children searching the web for ­reliable sources. Ideally, children would accrue a foundation in the basic disciplines before venturing into the Wild West of the internet.

The educational mania for soft skills comes from a place of good intent. We all want our children to be able to communicate well, think creatively, critically and solve problems. We all want our children to be able to adapt to novel environments and find solutions that are not immediately obvious. Nobody wants their child to sit inside a dusty classroom rote-learning arbitrary facts they will have no use for later in life.

However, children only get one shot at school. The schooling years are some of the most important years of their lives, and time squandered during this period can never be regained.

If teachers want their pupils to think critically, the first step is helping them to build a deep foundation of knowledge that enables them to do so.

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Facemasks no longer required in English classrooms

The move, announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, comes alongside the immediate lifting of guidance advising people to work from home if possible.

And Boris Johnson said the legal requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate is set to be axed by March 24 - and earlier if possible.

He said that in future, the virus would be treated like flu.

It comes after Covid-19 infection levels fell in three of the four UK nations for the first time since early December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Mr Johnson said this data showed that while there were some places where cases were likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, “our scientists believe it is likely that the omicron wave has now peaked nationally”.

Face coverings will not be required for teachers or pupils in classrooms from Thursday, and no longer needed in communal areas from next Thursday, when the Plan B rules expire.

Union leaders reacted with anger on Wednesday, accusing the Prime Minister of flouting his “duty of care” to teachers.

The UK’s largest teacher union warned last night against lifting restrictions “too quickly” saying that this could lead to “more disruption” for schools.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, [the] Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educate them.”

She acknowledged that Covid-19 cases in secondary schools had fallen but said it was “uncertain” that this trend would continue since children had only been back in the classroom a few weeks following the Christmas break.

However, recent polling by parent voice charity Parentkind found that almost two thirds of parents of secondary school children are not in favour of face masks in the classroom.

Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, said: “Face-to-face education for all students has consistently been my priority, and that is why I am removing face coverings from classrooms – as promised – on the earliest possible date, making sure there is as little disruption to students’ learning as possible.”

Business leaders expressed relief about the end of guidance advising people to work from home, with hopes that the change - which takes immediate effect - could spur economic recovery.

The Prime Minister said the moves over the next week, which will also see the end to mandatory Covid-19 passes, will return the country to Plan A.

Plans to bring Britain closer to normality by spring
But he signalled an intention to go further, and bring Britain closer to normality by spring.

He told the Commons: “There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.

“The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24, at which point I very much expect not to renew them. Indeed, were the data to allow, I’d like to seek a vote in this House to bring that date forward.”

The Prime Minister promised a “long-term strategy for living with Covid-19” which would “protect our liberty and avoid restrictions in future by relying instead on medical advances”.

On the use of face coverings, Mr Johnson said: “In the country at large, we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, but we will trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.”

On Wednesday night, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said Britain had reached a moment “we can all be proud of”, adding: “I’d always said that we’d open up the country as soon as the data supports it.”

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Could the art of handwriting be lost forever due to technology?

Handwriting could “go the way of Latin and Greek” and be “lost within a generation”, a leading author has warned after news that a major exams board was set to trial digital exams at dozens of schools.

Colm Toibin, famous for penning novels such as Brooklyn and The Testament of Mary, said that “it would be a huge loss if [handwriting] were to go”, and called learning to write an “an identity-forming business”.

AQA, Britain’s largest exams board and the provider of three-fifths of all GCSE and A-levels in England, announced on Monday that it was trialling online exams for GCSE maths and English at 60 to 100 schools this summer.

If successful, the programme would be rolled out across most subjects, although Colin Hughes, the chief executive of AQA, told The Times that the board would keep some written exams to protect handwriting from dying out.

“I would be very reluctant to move to a situation where students could get through the whole system without ever actually having to show that they can write something down using a pen and paper,” he said.

He also claimed that online exams would be much greener than shipping millions of exam papers around the country before collecting them all again in Milton Keynes to digitise them.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Tobin suggested that opting for convenience could kill off handwriting and its esoteric charms.

“If you began to say everything would be much more efficient on a laptop, [handwriting] would go eventually, it would within a generation, almost disappear,” he said, adding: “It goes the way of Latin and Greek.”

He also lamented the loss of handwriting as a marker of identity, adding: “You would know when a letter came from someone, oh that’s from Auntie so-and-so, that’s her handwriting.”

Asked about his own writing habits, Tobin said he wrote all his own novels in longhand form. “It sort of matters to me that I’m actually making the letters, that I can touch the paper, that I’m somehow more deeply involved,” he said.

In contrast, recent research has found that much of the general public has almost no need for the scratch of pen against notepad, let alone extended longhand writing.

A survey of 2,000 people last September found that one in 10 people had not put pen to paper in over a year, while a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds had never written a letter or kept a diary.

The ability to write clearly is not directly linked to literacy, despite popular perceptions, although a 2014 study found improved recall from people who handwrote notes during lectures.

The study’s author’s hypothesised that the slower nature of handwriting forces individuals to paraphrase and therefore mentally process spoken

For all the author’s gloom, there are some signs that the public shares his affection for the personal nature of handwriting. In 2019, when the British Museum put on an exhibition on writing, it asked visitors how they expected to send a birthday card in 2069.

The top answer: a handwritten card.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Friday, January 21, 2022



Dems Refuse to Clap When Youngkin Says Parents Have a Right to Be Involved in Child’s Education

One gets used to watching things like the annual State of the Union address where the president says something his party’s lawmakers like and they applaud and maybe stand while the opposition sits and sulks.

It’s political theater — theater that is sometimes funny, sometimes a trigger for eye-rolling and sometimes inspiring.

And sometimes the theater sends a message that is alarming.

That was the case when Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, delivered his State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the state’s General Assembly on Monday in Richmond.

In his speech, Youngkin called for raises for teachers. As expected, Republicans and Democrats alike rose and applauded.

He then said parents are responsible for their children’s education and care and the state will protect that.

“We must also recognize that the people most responsible for a child’s education are parents,” the new governor said.

“My message to parents is this: You have a fundamental right enshrined in law by this General Assembly to make decisions with regard to your child’s upbringing, education and care, and we will protect and reassert that right,” he said.

On the Republican side of the assembly: a standing ovation. On the Democrat side: crickets.

Obviously, Democratic lawmakers are opposed — as are their comrades in the Justice Department who suggested parents who are deeply concerned with their children’s education might be domestic terrorists.

Yet, in their silence, look what these Democrats are protesting: the right of parents to decide their child’s “upbringing, education and care.”

That covers just about everything, including how parents make judgments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be fair, Democrats might have been sitting on their hands because their guy, Terry McAuliffe, before being defeated at the polls by Youngkin in November, had literally said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

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British parents fight back after schools vowed to force pupils to wear masks

Parents have launched a campaign to prevent ‘overzealous’ schools from imposing masks in schools after teaching unions threatened to derail Boris Johnson’s easing of Covid curbs.

Head teachers in England are set to ignore the Prime Minister’s bonfire of Plan B restrictions by compelling pupils to keep covering their faces in classrooms.

Britain’s big teaching unions have accused the embattled Tory leader of making the decision to save his own political career as he handles the fallout from ‘Partygate’, rather than basing it on ‘sound public health and scientific advice’.

The National Education Union warned against lifting Omicron measures ‘too quickly’, claiming it could lead to ‘more disruption’ for schools.

Its general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called the removal of masks ‘premature’, adding: ‘Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, (the) Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educate them.’

Geoff Barton, the ASCL’s boss, said: ‘There is a danger that we are heading once again for a situation in which the Government gives the impression that the crisis is over when in actual fact there is huge disruption continuing to take place in education’.

Parent group UsForThem, which campaigned to get classrooms reopened during the pandemic, has now urged its supporters to bombard MPs and ministers with letters to ‘stop overzealous local public health authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools’.

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Leading Australian universities want to return to physical learning

University of Melbourne Provost Professor Nicola Phillips said the majority of coursework subjects would be available on campus and a number of events and activities were planned to help re-engage students in university life.

“Our approach will look forward to the future rather than back to pre-pandemic arrangements, offering on-campus and face-to-face learning enhanced by the best use of technology,” she said.

A Monash University spokesman said students would return to physical learning and campus events in semester one.

“Provision will be made for online delivery of units for those students offshore and unable to re-enter Australia before the start of the semester, and for those who choose to travel and commence on-campus education at a later date,” he said.

Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said teaching would return to campus at the start of semester but online learning would be available to those who needed it, including staff and students in isolation.

“We’re finalising the details for our return to campus next month and our focus is firmly on bringing classroom teaching back to campus,” he said.

“I view this as an essential part of the ANU experience – and I know our students feel the same.”

The University of Queensland aims to return as much as possible to physical classes but a spokeswoman said some online learning would remain. “As the Covid-19 situation evolves, the university expects to continue a mix of face-to-face and online learning when semester begins on 21 February, with the goal of returning to as much face-to-face learning as soon as possible,” she said.

In Western Australia, which endured the pandemic relatively unscathed until recently, about three-quarters of University of Western Australia students were able to attend face-to-face classes in 2021. A spokeswoman said UWA planned a “flexible approach” to learning in 2022 to ensure the health and safety of staff and students as well as complying with state government health advice.

“To manage this, we have established a Covid management team to co-ordinate flexible responses to teaching/learning, campus management, student support, working arrangements and ongoing public health measures, as required,” she said.

In NSW, where Covid case numbers are highest, both the University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney have yet to confirm back-to-physical learning plans.

A University of Sydney spokeswoman said plans for the delivery of semester one would be released in early February but the strong preference was for teaching to return to campus.

“Of course, we also have a responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students and so we are monitoring the evolving situation closely to determine whether that will be possible,” she said.

A UTS spokeswoman said detailed planning was under way for on-campus sporting, social and cultural activities but said lectures were always intended to be online.

“At UTS we have always planned for lectures (where they are largely a one-way delivery of information) to be online and will shortly be announcing our plans for the ways in which our other learning experiences will be organised in a reactivated campus in combination with quality online learning,” she said.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Thursday, January 20, 2022


Youngkin Says Liberals are “Obfuscating” on CRT and that Its Tenets are Still Being Taught

According to the Old Dominion’s newly-installed Governor, Glenn Youngkin, a politician that won largely because of the left’s pushing of CRT and transgenderism on Virginia’s schools, the leftists that claim CRT isn’t being taught are just “obfuscating” and, though they might be taught under different names, its tenets are still being taught.

Those comments came when Governor Youngkin appeared on Fox News Sunday and discussed Critical Race Theory and its presence in schools with host John Roberts (not the SCOTUS judge).

During the show, Roberts asked “Critics of your position, including former President Obama, say, look, Critical Race Theory is not being taught in schools and that this was merely a trumped-up, phony culture war. What do you say to that? And what does your executive order actually do in terms of Critical Race Theory?”

Youngkin quickly responded, demolishing that lie and speaking the truth about what’s really going on with CRT, saying: “Anyone who thinks that the concepts that underpin Critical Race Theory are not in our schools hasn’t been in our schools.

The curriculum has moved in a very opaque way that has hidden a lot of this from parents. And so we, in fact, are going to increase transparency so that parents can actually see what’s being taught in schools.

We’re not going to teach our children to view everything through a lens of race. Yes, we will teach all history. The good and the bad. Because we can’t know where we’re going unless we know where we have come from.

But to actually teach our children that one group is advantaged and another is disadvantaged simply because of the color of their skin cuts across everything we know to be true.”

Roberts then asked, “Is it your contention that Critical Race Theory is being taught in Virginia public schools?”

Youngkin, responding in a thoughtful way that exposed both that he has studied the issue and how the left is trying to sneak CRT concepts into the schools, said:

“There’s not a course called critical race theory. All the principles of Critical Race Theory, the fundamental building blocks of actually accusing one group of being oppressors and another of being oppressed, of actually burdening children today for the sins of the past, for teaching our children to judge one another based on the color of their skin. Yes, that does exist in Virginia schools today. And that’s why I have signed the executive orders yesterday to make sure that we get it out of our schools.

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Parents Sued California After It Required Aztec Prayer in Public Schools: State Now Agrees to Settlement

California education authorities have agreed to drop a policy encouraging public school students to pray to Aztec gods in response to a lawsuit filed months ago by angry parents.

Among Aztec religious practices were the cutting out of human hearts and the flaying of victims and the wearing of their skin.

Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and special counsel for the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, said the “Aztec prayers at issue—which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces—were not being taught as poetry or history.”

Rather, the California State Board of Education’s nearly 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) “instructed students to chant the prayers for emotional nourishment after a ‘lesson that may be emotionally taxing or even when student engagement may appear to be low.’ The idea was to use them as prayers,” said Jonna, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

The launch of the ESMC made California “the first state in the nation to offer a statewide ethnic studies model for educators,” the board boasted on March 18, 2021, when the curriculum was adopted.

“California’s students have been telling us for years that they need to see themselves and their stories represented in the classroom,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said at the time. “Today’s historic action gives schools the opportunity to uplift the histories and voices of marginalized communities in ways that help our state and nation achieve racial justice and create lasting change.”

The ESMC contained a section on “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers.” Among these was the In Lak Ech Affirmation, which calls upon five Aztec deities—Tezkatlipoka (God of the Night Sky), Quetzalcoatl (God of the Morning and Evening Star), Huitzilopochtli (God of Sun and War), Xipe Totek (God of Spring), and Hunab Ku (God of the Universe). The pagan prayers address the deities both by name and traditional titles, recognize them as sources of power and knowledge, invoke their assistance, and offer thanks.

According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, even after the settlement, the ESMC “is still deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy.” The Aztec chant component demonstrated “the politicized championing of critical consciousness, social justice, transformative resistance, liberation and anti-colonial movements in the state-sanctioned teachings of ethnic studies.”

But Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CERF), a nonprofit organization that is one of the plaintiffs, said the settlement gives him hope.

“We are encouraged by this important, hard-fought victory,” Xu said in a statement.

“Our state has simply gone too far in attempts to promote fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies, even those that disregard established constitutional principles. Endorsing religious chants in the state curriculum is one glaring example,” he said.

“To improve California public education, we need more people to stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils. At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education!”

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 3 in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, by the Thomas More Society, as previously reported. The plaintiffs argued that the ESMC constituted an impermissible governmental endorsement of the Aztec religion.

According to the legal complaint, the State Board of Education appointed R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a co-author of the 2019 book “Rethinking Ethnic Studies,” to chair a panel to develop the ESMC. In his book, Cuauhtin “demonstrates an animus towards Christianity and Catholicism—claiming that Christians committed ‘theocide’ (i.e., killing gods) against indigenous tribes.”

Sociocultural anthropologist Alan Sandstrom, an expert in the culture, religion, and rituals of Mesoamerican peoples, told the court the In Lak Ech Affirmation “is a modern creation that borrows elements of the Aztec religion. It would be of no real value in learning about the Aztec people or culture of the past or today.”

In the settlement agreement, the California authorities didn’t admit wrongdoing but agreed to remove the In Lak Ech Affirmation and the Ashe Affirmation from the Yoruba religion from the ESMC.

Yoruba is “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian vodou or voodoo,” according to the Thomas More Society. It reportedly has 100 million believers worldwide in West Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and in Caribbean nations.

The settlement provides that the California Department of Education and the board will pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers $100,000, “representing a payment toward Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with the Action.”

The two state entities will also issue a public notice to all California school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education about the changed policy, and they agreed not to encourage the use of the two challenged chants in California public schools.

Jonna told The Epoch Times via email that this is “a major victory in the fight to restore sanity in California’s public schools.”

“There is still much work to do—and our team will continue to monitor developments and be prepared to file new lawsuits when necessary.”

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U Kentucky hands out KN95 masks

With omicron cases on the rise, the University of Kentucky is offering two free KN95 masks to members of the campus community.

As the spring semester begins, UK continues to require masking in all indoor spaces across the campus, regardless of vaccination status. In a campus-wide email on Jan. 3, university president Eli Capilouto announced that UK had purchased two KN95 masks "for everyone who comes to campus," following the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information about masking protocols.

Although the CDC's webpage outlining mask options has not been altered since September 2021, the government is considering changing recommendations to suggest people wear respirators, such as N95s or KN95s, instead of single-layer cloth masks. According to the CDC, respirators like these undergo testing to meet international standards, making them a higher quality mask.

For UK students who live on campus, KN95 masks were distributed during dorm move-in after winter break. Non-residential students are able to pick theirs up at several on-campus locations using their linkblue ID.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022



It’s up to parents to ensure their children have the normal and free childhood they deserve

It’s 2022 but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s still 2020—especially if you have children enrolled in K-12 district schooling. Some parents are grappling this week with a return to, or threat of, remote learning first introduced nearly two years ago.

Fear of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus is leading school officials across the country to once again shutter schools. In Cleveland, for example, this first week of school for the new year is entirely remote for public school students. Several districts throughout Ohio are following suit, while others are re-imposing 2020 virus-related restrictions or extending the holiday break into this week.

Newark, New Jersey public schools announced they will be fully remote for the next two weeks, as did other districts throughout the state. Public schools in Atlanta will also be closed this week, reverting back to remote learning.

While New York City public schools have vowed to remain open, with enhanced virus testing, other districts in the state announced a return to remote learning, including the Mount Vernon Public Schools north of New York City which will be closed until “at least” January 18.

Washington, D.C. public schools plan to open for in-person learning this week after a two-day delay to allow all students and staff to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and the district warned that families should prepare for a shift to remote learning “throughout the semester, especially in the coming weeks,” according to NBC.

Just as in 2020, teachers unions are instrumental in pushing for the school closures. In Chicago, the teachers union expressed concern over public schools reopening this week and is preparing for a possible strike.

In Massachusetts, the state’s largest teachers union called for a delay in returning to in-person learning this week, and requested greater “flexibility” from the state to switch to remote learning. Several public school districts in the state announced they would be extending the holiday break, with plans to open later this week. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that more than 2,000 schools across the country will be closed for at least part of this week.

Parents Have Had Enough

While some parents, anxious about Omicron, likely applaud the effort to return to remote schooling and praise districts for their heightened coronavirus testing regimes and ongoing mitigation measures, other parents have had enough.

In a viral article last month, New York Post writer Karol Markowicz announced that she and her family are leaving their beloved New York City and its public schools for Florida, where schools have remained open and mask-free and children are able to experience a normal childhood. “The response to COVID-19 in New York, in particular where children are concerned, has driven our family out,” she wrote. “Children have been an afterthought, at best, and have had their childhoods casually destroyed by our heavy-handed, and ultimately ineffective, response. I can no longer subject my own kids to it.”

Markowicz is hardly alone. New data released by the US Census Bureau on December 21 reveal that Texas and Florida, two of the states that resisted burdensome coronavirus restrictions, saw the largest increase in population in 2021, while New York and California, among the states with the most oppressive virus-related policies, lost population. This migration pattern was apparent in other states as well in 2021, with areas imposing the strictest coronavirus policies losing population while freer states gained residents.

A recent Economist article points out that these southward mobility trends existed prior to 2020, as states such as Florida and Texas offer lower taxes, warmer weather, and greater housing affordability. But the COVID-19 response has accelerated these trends.

Parents such as Markowicz want to live in a place where their children can grow up freely, while entrepreneurs and shopkeepers want to make sure the state can’t suddenly shut down their businesses or force them to impose virus-related restrictions on their customers and employees. FEE’s new Fresh Start States project helps those migrating to freer states to embrace the principles that keep those states free, including the limited role of government in personal and economic affairs.

It’s not just southern states that are offering more freedom for families. In the Cato Institute’s 2021 Freedom in the 50 States report, New Hampshire took the top spot for personal and economic freedom, while New York scored at the bottom.
Public Schools Are Feeling the Exodus

Public schools in many big cities are feeling the exodus of families. According to a recent NPR analysis, Chicago Public Schools lost 14,000 students during the 2020/2021 academic year, and another 10,000 students this school year. Public schools in Los Angeles lost 17,000 students last year and another 9,000 this year, and New York City’s public schools lost 38,000 students last year and an additional 13,000 this year.

While some parents are fleeing cities and states with coronavirus mandates for their schoolchildren, others are fleeing schools altogether. Homeschooling continues to be a popular option for families, even as schools reopened for in-person learning this fall. After doubling in 2020 to more than 11 percent of the overall school-age population, the homeschooling rate remains historically high this year.

A recent report in Kansas, for example, shows homeschooling registrations tripled last year to more than 5,500 students and grew by an additional 2,250 this year, compared to 1,400 in a typical pre-pandemic year. Vermont shows a similar trend, with this year’s new homeschooling registrations nearly 40 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, on top of last year’s record increase.

As public schools across the country entertain a return to remote schooling this year, and double-down on testing, social distancing, and masking requirements for kids, more parents undoubtedly will exit their local schools for other education options. Whether it’s moving to a freer city or state, or pulling children out of school for homeschooling or microschooling, it’s up to parents to ensure their children have the normal and free childhood they deserve.

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Beyond K-12: Experts Explain How Woke Culture is Also Destroying Academia, Corporations, and the Military

Based on his 50 years of experience, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Jon Zubieta at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences believes “the most decisive defeat for common sense in our universities has been the introduction of offices for diversity, inclusiveness, and equity.”

“As an educator, I spend much of my day in contact with students,” Zubieta told The Epoch Times. “In my experience, the student population has undergone a sea change in attitude and general knowledge. Until fairly recently, these young scholars were inquisitive, ambitious and somewhat rebellious, and iconoclastic, as young people should be. These characteristics have been replaced by conformity to the woke orthodoxy, and heaven help you if you deviate. This docility is reinforced with what seems total ignorance of economics, civics, and the Western cultural heritage that provides the foundation for our society. In fact, it goes well beyond ignorance as it is manifested in antagonism toward the glories of western culture and civilization. We are a society that has become unmoored from its past; a society that has lost cultural confidence; in fact, a society that is now busily destroying its own cultural heritage.

“It was only ten years ago or so that I began to notice the encroachments of critical race theory-driven demands into the sciences,” he said, adding that the most obvious intrusion of the new wokeism was the mandatory diversity statement in proposals for NSF funding. “Back when I started my career, such a waste of proposal space would not have been tolerated. Now, an unsatisfactory diversity statement can get your proposal triaged without further review.”

Zubieta knows first-hand how “an unsatisfactory” statement can affect a career. In August 2020, Zubieta was placed on administrative leave following student complaints about his use of the terms “Wuhan Flu” and “Chinese Communist Party Virus” in his syllabus. He has since been reinstated.

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COVID and schools: Australia is about to feel the full brunt of its teacher shortage

The Omicron wave is likely to exacerbate Australia's existing teacher shortages and demanding workloads.

As school starts at the end of January and beginning of February across the country, many teachers will be at risk of contracting COVID. They will need to stay away from work, while others may choose to leave the profession altogether.

To address parental concerns about teacher absences, the Prime Minister recently announced teachers will no longer be required to isolate at home for seven days if they are close contacts, and if they don't have symptoms and return a negative rapid antigen test. But unions have slammed this relaxation of rules saying it will only add to safety concerns for teachers and children.

States and territories are putting together a plan to open schools safely, which is set to be released on Thursday. But for schools to operate effectively, and avoid remote learning, Australia must also have a long-term plan for recruiting and retaining teachers. This means lifting their professional status, improving work conditions and increasing pay.

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My other blogs: Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

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