Thursday, August 18, 2022

UK: Now universities are more likely to reject you if you're better off in bid to 'widen participation' across social scale

The usual Leftist bigotry

Universities have been accused of social engineering after it emerged that poor students enjoyed a better rate of offers for places than their richer peers.

Ahead of A-level results day, Ucas, the admissions body, said deprived youngsters had been put first this year to try to 'widen participation'.

For the first time ever, universities have been provided with data on free school meals to help them select the poorest applicants, it was revealed yesterday.

And new figures show the offer rate for the most disadvantaged students was 75 per cent, against 73 per cent for the most advantaged.

Rates for both groups were 78 per cent last year, meaning the well-off suffered a bigger drop than the poor.

Universities are prioritising low-income students following heavy pressure to appear less elitist.

Some are giving students offers up to two grades below their standard requirement, meaning they can snap a place with a lower level of achievement.

But critics said it was unfair to penalise students because of family background. Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'Free-school meals is an unfair and discriminatory system for identifying children from under-privileged backgrounds.

'Lowering entrance qualifications for children on free-school meals is a form of social engineering and amounts to an admission that our schools cannot get them up to the required standard.

'We need to ensure that all children achieve their full potential, regardless of background.'

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: 'I do wish regulators would respect the autonomy of universities and leave them free to make their best judgements as to the potential of students.

'Prioritising people on social background to the detriment of those who have greater achievement will be bad for those admitted who can't keep up.

'To prioritise equality over merit, in my view, is not right.

'Socially engineering in this way is wholly bad. Universities should be left to select on merit to the benefit of the students, to the benefit of the universities and to the benefit of the country.'

The trend was revealed yesterday by Clare Marchant, Ucas chief executive, who said many universities are keen on making 'contextual offers'.

This means taking into account the barriers a student has overcome to get grades, and whether they deserve a place over someone who did not face barriers.

This year, the overall offer rate decreased because of a squeeze on places – but advantaged students missed out the most.

It comes after the Daily Mail reported yesterday that school-leavers face double heartbreak this week as tens of thousands are expected to lose their university places and then struggle to find a replacement due to unusually fierce demand for clearing courses.

Mrs Marchant said: 'We know proportionately the most disadvantaged students have effectively been put first in this whole offer-making piece.

'So that offer-making rate has dropped less proportionately for those disadvantaged students, as opposed to advantaged students.

'That's in the context of this year being the first real summer that we've seen the use of that individual free school meals data that we made available.'

Free school meal figures from the Department for Education were provided to universities with students' permission.

Next year, Ucas will help students provide information such as being estranged from parents.

An Institute for Fiscal Studies report yesterday found the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers has seen virtually no change in two decades and the pandemic has 'significantly worsened overall outcomes'.

Failure is baked in from an early age, research economist and report author Imran Tahir said.


Yes they enrich campus life, but it's time for a cap on foreign students in our universities, writes law professor Andrew Tettenborn

My day job is teaching international maritime law at the University of Swansea, so largely a non-political world.

But I also have a second career as a commentator, posting on social media and writing columns like this.

And to that end, I've sometimes had cause to mention China's repression — its genocide, even — of its Muslim Uighur minority, its actions in Taiwan, and the rest of Beijing's ugly catalogue of human-rights abuses.

Normally, my work as a law professor and as a polemicist are worlds apart. But not always.

A couple of years ago, an acquaintance told me that she had learnt that a local representative of the Chinese Communist Party in Dalian, a city of 7.5 million people in eastern China, regarded me as not entirely trustworthy.


At the time, I was due to deliver a series of lectures on Zoom — my audience including many students in China.

I then received a chilling email. It told me with tact and menace that some people in China would like a discreet preview of my slides — people I clearly understood to be Communist Party officials.

I had nothing to hide, and so complied. Perhaps, I reasoned, one of my students came from that city — and was being watched by the authorities.

So I read yesterday's story in the Daily Mail with interest. The number of foreign-born students at British universities has exploded.

As recently as 2006, the proportion of foreign students enrolling at elite 'Russell Group' universities was 12 per cent.

By last year, this had risen to 23 per cent — meaning that, effectively, one in four students at British universities is now a foreign national.

What accounts for this huge surge? The answer is obvious. A British student pays perhaps £9,000 in annual fees to their university, but international students shell out £24,000 on average.

That's a massive sum over three or four years, especially once you add accommodation costs.

At some universities, the figures are truly eye-opening. Some 54 per cent of undergraduates at the prestigious London School of Economics and University College London are now from overseas.

St Andrews takes in more almost 40 per cent, while more than a third of undergraduates at Manchester and Edinburgh hail from abroad.

My own institution, Swansea, welcomes 4,000 of its 20,000-strong student body as foreign visitors — and they make an incomparable difference to campus life.

As at every British university, many of those international students are there on merit alone.

But it is high time that Britain addressed these extraordinary numbers.

After all, every place given to an undergraduate from far-flung climes is a space denied a British teenager who has worked hard to get top exam results but whose efforts count for nothing against a chequebook-waving international student.

The fact is that our university places, especially in our finest institutions, are increasingly being auctioned off to the highest bidders.

And that is far more likely to be a young person from Shanghai than from Sherborne, and from Beijing than Bradford.


Cancelling Student Debt Would Undermine Inflation Reduction Act

The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will reduce budget deficits by roughly $275 billion while pushing fiscal policy in the right direction to assist the Federal Reserve in its fight against inflation. However, a possible announcement from the White House to offer across-the-board student debt cancellation could undermine the bill’s disinflationary gains and deficit reduction.

Simply extending the current repayment pause through the end of the year would cost $20 billion – equivalent to the total deficit reduction from the first six years of the IRA, by our rough estimates. Cancelling $10,000 per person of student debt for households making below $300,000 a year would cost roughly $230 billion. Combined, these policies would consume nearly ten years of deficit reduction from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Debt cancellation would also wipe out the disinflationary benefits of the IRA. The Congressional Budget Office, Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Moody’s Analytics all found the IRA would have virtually no effect on inflation in the near term at the macroeconomic level. Our analysis is somewhat more optimistic since the bill’s micro-economic effects and side deals related to permitting and energy explorations can put downward pressure on prices.

However, debt cancellation would boost near-term inflation far more than the IRA will lower it. We previously estimated that a one-year pause could add up to 20 basis points to the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) inflation rate. Using a similar analytical method, $10,000 of debt cancellation could add 15 basis points up front and create additional inflationary pressure over time.

The IRA gave Washington an opportunity to show it was finally serious about helping the Federal Reserve tackle inflation and begin to address our $24 trillion national debt.

Broad student debt cancellation – whether by extending the pause, forgiving balances, or both – would undermine the benefits of the IRA and demonstrate a lack of seriousness in addressing our nation’s economic challenges.




Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Lawmakers to Investigate Sexual Abuse in Junior R.O.T.C. Programs

Congressional investigators have opened a review of sexual misconduct in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program of the U.S. military in the wake of reports that dozens of teenage girls had been abused at the hands of their instructors.

In a letter sent on Monday to military leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, the lawmakers said they were seeking information on how many misconduct reports had been received, how they had been investigated and how often the military inspected school J.R.O.T.C. programs.

They said that instructors in the J.R.O.T.C. program, which provides training in leadership, marksmanship and civic responsibility in about 3,500 high schools around the country, served as trusted representatives of the military in their local communities.

“Every incident of sexual abuse or harassment committed by a J.R.O.T.C. instructor is a betrayal of that trust,” wrote Representative Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Representative Stephen Lynch, who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on national security.

The New York Times reported last month that J.R.O.T.C. programs had repeatedly become a place where decorated veterans — retired as officers or noncommissioned officers — preyed on teenage students. The Times identified, over a five-year period, at least 33 J.R.O.T.C. instructors who had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving students, along with many others who were accused of misconduct but never charged.

Many victims said they had turned to J.R.O.T.C. in high school for stability in their lives or as a pathway to military service, only to find that instructors exploited their position to take advantage of the students.

Founded more than a century ago, J.R.O.T.C. has expanded to enroll hundreds of thousands of students each year. Cadets are provided instruction in military ranks and procedures, as well as in more general topics such as public speaking and financial planning.

J.R.O.T.C. leaders point to research indicating that the program has had a positive effect on school attendance and graduation rates, and many cadets praise the program for providing vital lessons and experiences during formative years.

But The Times found that the instructors operated with weak oversight. While they were certified by individual branches of the military to take the jobs in schools, the military overseers did little to investigate problems or monitor the conduct of instructors, leaving that to the schools. The program often operates on the fringes of school campuses, with extracurricular activities after school hours or away from campus that are difficult for school administrators to monitor.

In several cases identified by The Times, instructors who were criminally charged with misconduct had already been the subject of prior complaints.


Biden school lunch policy has wider implications for religious schools

The Biden administration’s redefinition of “sex” in Title IX leaves kids’ school lunches in jeopardy.

That was an urgent problem for Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa, Florida.

On the school’s behalf, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration and the state’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, Nikki Fried, who administers the National School Lunch Program in Florida.

Under Title IX, participating schools agree not to discriminate based on sex. Grant Park Christian Academy, which serves low-income, minority families, fully complies with that requirement.

But the Biden administration redefined “sex” under Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This new mandate applies to all school activities, including restrooms, dress codes, hiring, and pronoun usage.

Because of the school’s religious beliefs, it simply could not comply with the mandate.

Now, thanks to Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawsuit, the Biden administration and Commissioner Fried have approved Grant Park Christian Academy’s application for funding to continue serving free meals to the school’s students. And that couldn’t have happened without the support of people like you.

The Biden administration also granted the school’s request for a religious exemption to the mandate. And on Friday, the administration said it would automatically respect exemptions for all religious schools if the schools’ beliefs conflicted with the new Title IX mandate.

“While it shouldn’t have taken a federal lawsuit,” says ADF Legal Counsel Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, who represents the school, “at least now, all religious schools like Grant Park Christian Academy who rely on the USDA’s funding to serve nutritious meals to kids in need can continue this vital service in their communities.”

This is a victory for Grant Park Christian Academy and all religious schools. But the Biden administration’s attacks on freedom are far from over.

The Biden administration says this mandate applies to all schools that participate in the national school lunch program. In other words, schools cannot receive money to feed needy children unless they embrace the Biden administration’s extreme ideology about gender.

All secular schools, including charter, public, and private schools, are subject to the mandate and are being hurt by the Biden administration’s unlawful rewriting of Title IX.


CA School Will Cost $250M to Rebuild After Partial Collapse

California govt. corruption behind this?

Part of a 20-year-old California high school building collapsed and now the state must pay $250 million to rebuild it.

Thankfully, students were at home from pandemic school closures on June 16, 2020, when “8 tons of concrete and metal roofing came crashing down without warning onto the concourse leading into the main classroom building at Lynwood High School,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

The collapse came without warning and the school district found that the main three-story building, with 110 classrooms, wasn’t salvageable and must be demolished.

A new classroom building and other necessary repairs will cost $250 million, the newspaper reported. On top of the state funds, the school district spent about $16.2 million on relocating students and on a structural investigation.

How could a building that’s only 20 years old collapse out of nowhere? “The review showed that the shoddy workmanship that led to the collapse of the ceiling above the concourse was pervasive,” The LA times reported.

Covered outdoor hallways had the same flaws, with any section having the potential to collapse at any time. Instead of having firm bracing every 10 feet, the entire 30-foot span concourse roofing had only one brace.

And the unsupported sections didn’t have a continuous beam going across the entire span but two beams that met in the middle and were connected together without bracing at the connection point. “The contractor that built the school — this is the first school they built and the last one they built from the information that we’ve gotten,” said Gregory Fromm, assistant superintendent of business services, who added that the contractor has long been out of business, the newspaper reported.

The obvious question: Why did school officials award the school-building contract to a company that had never built a school?

In addition, in a legal settlement about 20 years ago, the district agreed to accept the school as-is and not pursue any future claims against the contractor.




Tuesday, August 16, 2022

NYC parents want to oust principal they say ‘sullied’ school’s reputation

More than 100 parents signed onto a letter this summer to replace embattled Manhattan School for Children principal Claire Lowenstein, who The Post reported in November was hit with her second no-confidence vote in just two years.

“We are a large coalition of concerned P.S. 333/MSC parents who are working to make sure our school is once again a warm, supportive environment,” reads the letter, obtained by The Post.

“We do not think this is possible with the current principal.”

The families allege that Lowenstein has “sullied” the school’s reputation in the neighborhood and among prospective staff. They accuse her administration of “actively hostile” relationships with parents of special education students, and of “documented racism.”

Dozens of teachers have left the school, serving grades K-8, since the principal’s arrival in fall 2014, according to the parents’ letter. The Department of Education ignored multiple requests for the precise figure.

Student enrollment has also dropped by the hundreds — from 760 students in 2014-15, the under-fire principal’s first year, to 501, according to city data. The DOE projects it will lose another 94 students next school year.

Mom Kate Dominus, who signed the letter, told The Post she transferred one of her children out of PS 333 for middle school, and wishes she moved the other kid, too. Dominus said her son was bullied and received little support from Lowenstein.

“This is a woman who told me this was a public education — and what was I expecting?” said Dominus, who noted, “I’m a product of a New York City public education!”

Fellow parent Jonathan Goldman said a suspected conflict with the principal led his child’s first-grade teacher to quit with just 24-hours notice.

Students in his kid’s class were moved to other homerooms, which ballooned to rosters of around 30 students each, angering parents, he recalled.

“The first grade parents were on fire this year,” Goldman said. “As a group, they are furious.”

Adams Pinckney, another of the letter’s signatories, said his son’s special education teacher was suddenly pulled from the classroom in September with no more than a weekend’s notice.

“That was the start of one bombshell after another, when there was no opportunity for response or dialogue,” Pinckney said. “The ‘conversation’ was either so unresponsive, or so cursory to be almost insulting. Like come on, we don’t need a platitude.”

Pinckney’s son has an individualized education plan (IEP) for classes that were co-taught by general and special education teachers. The rising second grader — nicknamed the “mayor of the school,” because he often shakes hands — loves going to class but started to fall nearly a year behind in math, the dad said.

“We tried to be patient and understanding — we’re coming out of the pandemic,” Pinckney said. But after waiting almost a full school year to replace the special education teacher, “We decided we’ve been too patient for too long.”

Another father, who asked for anonymity as he navigates a contentious custody battle, accused the school of switching his son’s address in its records at the mother’s request.

But the change, which placed the son as living in New Jersey, temporarily shut him out of the city’s Summer Rising program that the parents were relying on for child care.

“I was begging her just to make things fair,” he said of the principal. “I wasn’t asking for more — just follow the rules until this is done.”

“I’m not some deadbeat dad who’s not part of his life,” said the parent, who is black and Hispanic, and believes the incident was racially tinged. “She was treating me like I had no rights as a father.”

Lowenstein’s union denied the allegations made in the letter.

“As we have stated in the past, Principal Lowenstein is a highly effective and dedicated school leader, and PS 333 has performed well under her tenure,” said Craig DiFalco, a spokesperson for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

Chyann Tull, a spokesperson for the DOE, said in a statement that the department is working with families and school staff.

“Our new district superintendent actively engages with families and the rest of the school community to implement interventions that best serve everyone,” she said. “We will continue to collaborate with staff and families to ensure that all students are receiving the high quality care and education that they deserve, while keeping them at the center of planning.

“Every student deserves a supportive and trustworthy learning environment,” the statement added.

Lowenstein could not be reached for comment.


America’s kids unmasked two years later: Examining COVID mandate consequences as students return to class

As a new school year starts ramping up, many children nationwide will experience their first day back to school without mask requirements or other COVID-related mandates for the first time in more than two years.

At the start of the new school year in 2021, around 75% of U.S. schools required masking for students or teachers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Now, only a handful of schools are requiring masks.

But for many, the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic remains. That is especially true in California, where schools implemented some of the strictest COVID policies in the country. The state was also among the last to reopen its schools.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which begins the new school year Monday, nearly reimposed mask mandates and testing over the summer but dropped them amid major pushback.

Multiple parents who spoke with Fox News Digital said they were relieved that mask mandates have been dropped but say the impact of the past 2 ½ years of COVID policies lingers.

"Isolating children, especially in Los Angeles, socially, academically and emotionally from their peers has had detrimental effects, the likes of which we are only beginning to feel," Daniella Bloom, whose children attend school in the Los Angeles area, told Fox News Digital.

"When you isolate children away from a seven-hour school day, where there are no sports and no social curricular activities, they have no choice but to turn to their electronics," Bloom said. "And there is only darkness there, as they are already vulnerable and going through puberty and susceptible to a lot of groupthink and conformity."

Bloom said kids who are introverted and perhaps prone to anxiety have used the masks as a way to hide from the world.

The masks, she said, "have gotten them very comfortable to not being exposed to the world."

Another parent, Kristina Irvin, said her oldest son, who was in middle school when COVID hit, went from being a straight-A honors student to "getting all Fs."

"It was two years of lost time," Irvin said. "He literally wouldn’t care. And the thing that got me was the teachers didn’t care. He would show me on the Zoom videos, the teachers would be slurping up spaghetti … and then another teacher would be changing a newborn diaper – just a kid screaming in the background. So, it wasn’t conducive to learning."

Irvin said she was more hopeful for the year ahead but added, "The fight is not over."

Another parent in the Los Angeles area told Fox News Digital she watched her kids go down a "rabbit hole" of social isolation and depression during the pandemic.

"I kept getting so afraid that I’d walk into his room and he wouldn’t be with me anymore. He was so depressed. I remember him going into tears because he was so lonely," she said.

Another one of her children finished his senior year as COVID hit and began college at Chapman University in Orange County the following school year. But he spiraled into a bout of depression and heavy drug use, not making it through his first semester.

Lance Christensen, who is running for superintendent of public instruction and has five children of his own in public school, said the "hopelessness and despair" set in when children realized what they were losing.

"It wasn't until kids started having this — these long bouts of depression and despair — where they thought, 'If I'm not going to go back to school, if I can't play baseball, if I can't go to the homecoming dance, or if I can't be in the school play, finish playing my music to get that scholarship' — the hopelessness and despair were pretty dramatic," he said.

Christensen told Fox News Digital he’s seen, within his own network, "dozens and dozens of kids" whose depression and anxiety skyrocketed.

"I personally know kids who have killed themselves. I know other kids who have attempted suicide in very dramatic ways," he said.


A new contract between public schools and the teachers' union in the city of Minneapolis is causing outrage because it may see white teachers laid off at the expense of teachers of color

The stipulation is part of a new agreement starting in spring 2023 between the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Minneapolis Public Schools ending a two-week long teachers' strike.

Part of the agreement was an attempt to re-format how the school district hires and keeps teachers of color.

The new contract says that, while teachers subject to layoffs or relocations will typically be done based off seniority, they may go outside the order to avoid doing that to a teacher who is 'a member of a population underrepresented'.

This prioritizing may also apply to bring back teachers who were laid off should re-hires occur.

Teachers' unions typically support the Democratic Party, with Minnesota Federation of Teachers President Greta Callahan having posed for a photo with progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, along with fellow squad members Rashida Tliab, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush while supporting Omar's nearly ill-fated primary bid last week.

The move was met with a swift backlash, with an economics professor branding it 'racism in action'.

The contract states: 'The District shall deprioritize the more senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population, in order to recall a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers'.

Both school district and teachers' union leaders say this makes the city one of the only in the country that does what's called 'seniority-disrupting'.

The agreement could prove important very soon, given that the district is likely to cut jobs because of budget reductions due to lower enrollments, according to ABC News 4.

The new contract also calls for the development of 'anti-bias anti-racist' staff advisory councils.

They are supposed to focus, according to the contract, on: 'reducing inequitable practices and behaviors in our learning places and spaces as well as supporting educators, specifically educators of color, in navigating and disrupting our district as a predominantly white institution'.

The stipulation was first hinted at back in March when an agreement was first struck, citing the fact that the most senior teachers in Minneapolis are majority white and people of color were typically the first on the chopping block when layoffs happened.

The deal that ended the Minneapolis' teachers strike in March
The contract that ended a two-week strike was initially agreed to in March, according to MPR News.

At the time, union leaders called the contract 'historic' and cited gains for education support professionals, caps on class sizes, more nurses in schools and mental health professionals.

The deal brought hourly pay to $19 per hour for the lowest paid education support professionals, a raise of about $4 per hour and $11,000 a year.

The new deal also included double the number of nurses and counselors in elementary schools as well as a social worker in every building.

Union reps told MPR News at the time that this protected about 'half' of the teachers of color in the district.

Some conservative activists were outrage, including public school reform activist Christopher Rufo.

He tweeted: 'This is the inevitable endpoint of 'equity''.

On Fox News' Hannity Monday night, contributors Leo Terrell and Clay Travis both hammered the agreement.

Terrell, a civil rights attorney who is black, said: 'It's racist. It's discriminatory, it's illegal. It should be invalidated immediately. I read what the union says. They said they want students to have teachers that look like them. Wrong. The students need teachers who will educate them. Educate. Not what they look like!'

Sportswriter Travis, who runs the website Outkick the Coverage, agreed: 'Yeah, of course it would. And I agree with everything Leo said. Look, the foundation of the Democrat party now is two things, Sean. It is everything is racist, and America is an awful place. That is basically everything that the Democrats believe, and if you drill down essentially every policy that they advocate for, that's what it is at its essence'.

Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also criticized the deal, tweeting: 'This is racist. This is illegal. This is another example of why government unions should be eliminated'.




Monday, August 15, 2022

NYC schools to ramp up safety protocols for new academic year

The New York City Department of Education is ramping up safety protocols for the new school year, The Post has learned.

The new measures range from new technology to more school safety staffers — and come after violence in the Big Apple put schools on lockdown in the spring.

“We’ve met with triple digit numbers of vendors around different safety enhancements and applications that they recommend that we use to fortify our safety in our schools,” Mark Rampersant, security director at the DOE, told parents this week.

Rampersant, at the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, introduced an internal application for real-time emergency notifications between principals and parents.

“We heard from parents around notification, and timeframe by which you get notified by your schools when something like a lockdown, shelter-in-place or an evacuation transpires,” he said. “We heard you when you said principals need to do a better job of making notification.”

The application also allows Schools Chancellor David Banks to contact families, and can be used for weather emergencies like snow days.

The DOE is also introducing a prototype so the public schools can lock their front doors, while giving first responders access to the building in case of emergency.

City officials began to seriously consider bolting the main entryways after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers this spring.

“We believe that we have a prototype that we are introducing to our schools as we write new policy regarding what it looks like to actually lock the front doors,” Rampersant said.

The DOE is also investing in personnel, including $9 million in federal stimulus funds to put volunteer violence interrupters from local nonprofits on the city’s payroll.

“We thought fitting, why would we not employ these folks and bring them into our schools to help us ensure the safety and security for our students, staff and our visitors?” said Rampersant.

Meanwhile, a second class of school safety agents under the Adams administration will graduate later this month, adding 200 staffers in time for reopening. After that, another 250 will go into the academy for 17 weeks of training, he said.

Greg Floyd, the president of Teamsters Local 237, which represents the city’s school safety agents, estimated the current class is closer to 175 agents — and does little to add more hands on deck systemwide.

“I’m sure about 175 may have retired since the school year ended,” said Floyd, who gets retiree reports on a 2-3 month delay. “You go through the math with people who don’t know the math — and it’s good that you have another class — but you don’t say how many people retired.”

Floyd gauged that there is still a 2,000-agent shortage, compared to the workforce’s numbers pre-pandemic and the height of the movement to defund police.

He added that all agents were required to take active shooter trainings in the wake of the Texas mass school shooting.

“That’s new,” Floyd said. “But what they really need is help now — not for an active shooter. They need help for everyday weapon prevention.”

Thousands of weapons were recovered in the public schools last school year, which Banks attributed to students’ concerns about their safety on their way to and from the school buildings.

Floyd also questioned the timing of the announcements and not yet looping in the school safety agents, with the first day of school just around the corner.

“All I hear is ‘we’re looking at,’ ‘we’re looking at.’ But I don’t see the results of ‘looking at,’ and school’s going to start,” he said.

The Department of Education will have more to share soon, officials said, adding that schools and families will be the first to know about new protocols.


Welcome to college — let the indoctrination begin!

It’s August, meaning millions of bright-eyed, fresh-faced kids are heading off to college to be indoctrinated.

At Northwestern University, the process begins with the student newspaper’s guide to activist groups. The Daily Northwestern’s Orientation Issue, handed out to incoming freshmen for free, helpfully lists seven groups new Wildcats might want to join. Just seven.

There’s NU Community Not Cops, which calls for the abolition of the campus police department. Students Organizing for Labor Rights, which has students pushing campus employees to unionize. NU Dissenters, which calls for the university to divest from any “war profiteers” including Boeing and Lockheed Martin. And Fossil Free NU, which “fights for climate and environmental justice, based in anti-racist and abolitionist praxis.”

Or you could tap a keg with a group dedicated to destroying Israel.

The Students for Justice in Palestine “raise awareness for violence committed against Palestinian people by Israeli forces” — skipping, we imagine, the constant rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel. SJP brags that it got 60 students to walk out of a speech by Andrew Yang, because why listen to anyone with whom you disagree? They boycotted Sabra, because why let any Israeli company do business?

In November of last year, Community Not Cops, Students for Justice in Palestine, NU Dissenters and Fossil Free NU “stormed” the field during a football game in protest (considering Northwestern went 1-8 in the Big Ten, they were probably happy for the break). What does Fossil Free NU have to do with Israel? The group “sees environmental justice work as tied to other forms of resistance.”

Sadly, Northwestern is indicative of what’s going on at many universities, which are awash in “intersectional” progressive dogma. You must believe in the Green New Deal, and defunding the police, and Palestinians’ “right to return” — code for the end of Israel as a Jewish state — and you must believe them all, no exceptions. Each gets an uncritical hearing in the student press. Anyone else gets shouted down or protested.

No surprise, then, that universities are producing the sort of young, white, illiberal, censorious urban voters whose voting bloc elects the Squad and drags the Democratic Party even further left.

So: Welcome, class of ’26. We have just one piece of advice. The most important thing to learn in college is how to think for yourself.


Colleges, Parents Fight in Court Over Tuition Charged During Pandemic Closures

Colleges and universities faced a barrage of lawsuits in the peak pandemic days of 2020 after schools shut down their campuses and moved classes online while charging students their usual tuition rates.

Two years later, the Covid-19 tuition wars are building toward a decisive phase.

A number of courts have issued rulings that provided a boost to students and parents seeking refunds, including last week in a case against a small private university in California. That decision followed a recent federal appeals court ruling that allowed claims to proceed against Loyola University Chicago. But those rulings stand in tension with other decisions for schools that said students don’t have valid claims. Pending cases from higher-level courts could bring more clarity.

The cases could turn on what specific promises schools made to students about in-person education—and whether students suffered any harm in the switch to remote classes, said Benjamin J. Hinks, a Boston-area employment and higher-education lawyer who has followed the litigation.

“We’re definitely seeing a trend towards plaintiff-friendly rulings at the pretrial stages,” Mr. Hinks said. “However, these are hard-fought cases, and the fight is not over for universities.”

Most of the cases revolve around the academic spring semester of 2020, when emergency quarantine measures in the period before vaccines forced the country’s higher-education industry to suspend in-person classes and close their physical campuses, barring access to laboratories, dormitories, libraries, student centers and athletic facilities.

At many schools, academia’s temporary move to virtual learning didn’t come with any discounts to tuition or student service fees. But it left a trail of hundreds of lawsuits in federal and state courts demanding restitution.

Legally, the battle isn’t so much about whether an online learning experience is inferior. Judges aren’t supposed to make judgments about academic quality under long-held doctrine insulating schools from lawsuits alleging “educational malpractice.”

Plaintiffs have argued that schools were contractually obligated to deliver an in-person education and unfairly kept all their money.

“Universities are wonderful places, but students are paying a lot of money. They paid for in-person access to campus, in-person education and all the amenities promised to them when they signed up, and they didn’t get that,” said Ellen Noteware, an attorney representing the plaintiffs suing Loyola.

“People just didn’t get the experience they thought they were paying for,” she said.

The litigation has turned on complex interpretations of state contract law and questions about what exactly colleges and universities promised students when they enrolled.




Sunday, August 14, 2022

Fascism in an American university

In a stirring recent address to the students of the startup University of Austin, Bari Weiss described the ideology that has taken over America’s institutions of higher education: “Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with dis-invitation and de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion with exclusion. Excellence with equity.” To change this calamitous development requires nothing less than a revolution.

All successful revolutions start with local rebellions, and one has been taking place over the last year at Princeton University—the prestigious institution where I have taught mathematics and made my home for the last 35 years, but which is being destroyed from within by an administration committed to the ideology that Weiss accurately identified.

The saga has been well documented in these pages: In July 2020, tenured classics professor Joshua Katz published an article criticizing several illiberal demands made by a large number of Princeton faculty members to correct the university’s alleged “systemic racism,” including the creation of a “committee composed entirely of faculty that would oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty ...”

For his criticism of these demands, and for referring to a by-then-defunct student organization, the Black Justice League (BJL), as “a small local terrorist organization that made life miserable for the students (including the many Black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands,” Katz was smeared as a racist by the university in its own freshman orientation program, then fired earlier this year on what is recognized by every sane observer as a pretext: a disputed accusation from a former student with whom Katz had a consensual sexual affair in 2006-07—for which he was already punished in 2018—that Katz had discouraged her from seeking mental health care.

The university maintains that the decision to fire Katz had nothing to do with his criticism of illiberal faculty and students in 2020, nor anything to do with the student affair for which he’d already been suspended without pay for a year. Despite the obvious appearance of cracking down on the protected speech of a tenured faculty member and subjecting him to double jeopardy, Princeton claims that Katz’s firing had only to do with an unproven allegation from a recently aggrieved former lover.

Even the most generous and sympathetic interpretation of the university’s actions can no longer avoid the conclusion that it is, quite simply, lying through its teeth. And so, in the interest of shedding more light on the character of this administration, and of bolstering the principles of free speech, transparency, and academic integrity which have been compromised at Princeton under the watch of President Christopher Eisgruber, I have decided to publish the email correspondence I conducted with him between October 2021 and July 2022. The full exchange, which is too long to reprint here, can be viewed on the website of Princetonians for Free Speech. But I will draw the attention of interested readers to a few key points:

When seven colleagues and I filed a formal complaint with the university’s grievance system about the defamation of Katz in last fall’s freshman orientation program, “To Be Known and Heard: Systemic Racism and Princeton University,” it was dismissed in a report by Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter and Vice President of Human Resources Lianne Sullivan-Crowley on grounds that, to take one grotesque example, Katz’s speech was not a “protected characteristic” such as “race, creed, color, sex, gender identity.” When we requested reconsideration from Eisgruber, he referred the matter to the new dean of the faculty, Gene Jarrett, who declined to question the judgments of Minter and Sullivan-Crowley, but noted our right to appeal the matter to the Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal (CCFA).

We did just that, and on April 19, 2022, the CCFA issued a judgment: first, agreeing that our complaint should not have been dismissed; second, ruling unanimously against Minter and Sullivan-Crowley on the points we raised; and third, recommending a full, independent investigation into the smearing of Katz—which we believed to be a case of deliberate, targeted harassment by the administration to retaliate against his use of protected speech. In the words of the ruling:

The CCFA unanimously recommends that Prof. Klainerman’s complaint receive a full investigation. We are sending the complaint back to the Vice Provost Minter for further consideration. In light of Prof. Klainerman’s concerns about potential conflict of interest, we believe it would strengthen any final determinations of the investigation if an office or offices outside of Vice Provost Minter’s participates in further deliberations of this complaint ...

Immediately after I received the CCFA judgment, I wrote to Eisgruber reiterating our demand for the appointment of an independent investigator. He replied on April 22: “As always, the University will carefully evaluate and consider the CCFA’s advisory opinion and will engage with the committee on the matter if and as appropriate.” After more than two months, on July 8, and after many fruitless personal attempts to find out what action, if any, would be taken on the CCFA report (I had, for example, written to members of Princeton’s Board of Trustees), I received the following in an email from Eisgruber:

I am writing with regard to the University’s response to the CCFA’s report of April 19, 2022, concerning your appeal related to some of the reference and teaching materials included in the To Be Known and Heard virtual gallery. As I recently advised the CCFA, the University, after receiving the committee’s advisory opinion, conducted another review of this matter that included additional fact-finding. This additional review confirmed that none of the exceptions enumerated in the Statement on Freedom of Expression apply to the materials at issue. Because the website and its authors enjoy the full protection of that statement, no disciplinary action against the staff involved in the website’s creation is warranted or permissible under University policy.

I replied on July 10 asking for a copy of the review on which Eisgruber had based his decision. I also requested that we, the group of eight complainants, be given an opportunity to present our case in person to the Board of Trustees or the appropriate committee of the board at its next meeting. In his response four days later, Eisgruber dismissed my requests with the claim that “we generally do not disclose details about internal matters involving University employees absent a compelling need to do so.” He also wrote: “The Board’s role, however, does not include hearing appeals from individual faculty members who are disappointed in the University’s decision not to pursue discipline against other employees.” In conclusion, he said, “this matter has been adjudicated by the University and is now closed.”

There are two points to note in this exchange. First, Eisgruber came to the extraordinary conclusion that the free speech protections denied to a faculty member nevertheless extended to administrators who used university resources to smear and harass a member of the academic community to a captive audience of incoming students with no possibility of rebuttal. These smears, it’s worth noting, included the deliberate doctoring of a quotation from Katz’s 2020 article and statements such as, “[Katz] seems not to regard people like me [a Black professor] as essential features, or persons, of Princeton” and “[Katz’s views are] fundamentally incompatible with our mission and values as educators.” I believe that Eisgruber is the first university president in America to impose what might be called the Joseph McCarthy interpretation of the First Amendment.

Second, Eisgruber’s claim that he has the ability and indeed the obligation to deny the official complainants the right to know how the university reached its decision to ignore the CCFA judgment has no justification in Princeton’s rules and regulations, and raises suspicions of a possible cover-up—an unavoidable impression Eisgruber evidently felt comfortable conveying. The unsupported claim of “additional fact-finding” is likewise impossible to understand. If additional facts were found, why is no one—neither the complainants nor the CCFA—permitted to see them or even know what they are?

These are not issues of “individual faculty members who are disappointed in the University’s decision not to pursue discipline against other employees,” as Eisgruber dismissively stated, but of free speech, academic freedom, fairness, and accountability. By empowering university bureaucrats to decide which members of the campus community are racist, which acts qualify as racism, what punishments are necessary, and which decisions cannot be appealed, Eisgruber appears to have one-upped the repugnant faculty letter of July 2020 demanding a committee to “oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty.” He has indeed constituted such a committee: not under the aegis of faculty itself, but under the menacing administrative Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Eisgruber is the first university president in America to impose what might be called the Joseph McCarthy interpretation of the First Amendment.

It is painfully obvious by now that Katz’s only real crime was his criticism of the 2020 faculty letter, which made him the first member of the Princeton community who publicly objected to Eisgruber’s attempts to replace freedom of thought, speech, inquiry, and association with fashionable woke fanaticism. Katz had to be punished as an example to the rest of us not to interfere with the university’s plans to remake itself as a factory of partisan ideology.

In any case, the main issue is no longer the firing of Katz but rather the abuse of power and likely cover-up for which we, the small group of faculty members, complainants, and CCFA members, are powerless to redress. I therefore call on the Princeton alumni to take up their responsibility as the real trustees of their beloved university, and to help expand our little faculty mutiny into a true revolution. If alumni do not raise their voices and place conditions on their wallets, there is indeed no hope, and Princeton’s erstwhile status as the envy of the academic world will be lost forever. If, however, alumni demand reform by making clear that their continued public and financial support will be tied to the revival of real education and scholarship at the expense of the “social justice” bureaucracy, our cherished institution will have a future.


UK: Hard-left academics are accused of stifling free speech on campus with 'witch hunt' against staff over gender beliefs

Hard-left academics launched a 'witch-hunt' against colleagues over differing opinions on gender identity, it was claimed last night.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) vowed to draw up a list of university backroom staff they suspected of having 'gender-critical beliefs', according to leaked meeting minutes.

The revelation sparked outrage, with some employees accusing the group of stifling free speech on campuses.

Minutes seen by the Times reportedly show that the union was looking to email a survey on the issue to LGBT members.

This would 'get information about gender critical equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) consultants...employed in HR departments of various institutions', the paper reports.

Suggested questions included asking members if they were aware of their institution employing EDI consultants and demanding they be named.

Furthermore, it vowed to 'inform branches' if HR staff and consultants were found to be gender critical.

However, the union insists that while it surveyed LGBT members as part of its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, it didn't ask about the views of EDI colleagues, not did it 'make or keep lists of staff with gender-critical views'.

Nevertheless, academic sources have reacted furiously to the revelations.

One told the Times: 'These minutes are compelling evidence that UCU is seeking to discriminate against and harass members who believe in sex.'

Last year, feminist philosopher Kathleen Stock has quit her job at the University of Sussex after students carried out a 'bullying and harassment' campaign to oust her from her position over a row about transgender rights.

Professor Stock, 48, an expert in gender and sexual orientation, had been branded a 'transphobe' by some outraged students who called for her to be fired.

Posters put up in the tunnel from Falmer station to the university's campus earlier this month said she 'makes trans students unsafe' and 'we're not paying £9,250 a year for transphobia'.

Banners saying 'Stock Out' had also been held alongside burning flares and scores of people were criticising her online under the Twitter hashtag #ShameOnSussexUni.

The University's Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell had strongly defended her 'untrammelled' right to 'say what she thinks', whilst more than 200 academics from other universities signed a letter calling out alleged abuse from 'trans activist bullies'.

But Professor Stock announced on Twitter that she was 'sad to announce' she was leaving her position, and added that she hoped 'other institutions can learn from this'.


Are students really too fragile for Shakespeare?

What’s the point of a university? Regrettably, that’s a genuine question. The censorship and trigger warnings that are rife on British campuses make it hard to work out what our formerly esteemed institutions of higher education are for anymore, now that free speech, intellectual challenge and the pursuit of truth have become deeply unfashionable.

Hundreds of freedom-of-information requests were sent out by the Times to officials across 140 UK universities. The responses found that trigger warnings, telling students that certain works might be upsetting or even traumatising, have been applied to more than 1,000 texts. At least ten universities have even removed books from reading lists or made them optional out of concerns they might ‘harm’ students.

Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Underground Railroad, was among the books affected. It was removed from an English course at the University of Essex over its ‘graphic description of violence and abuse of slavery’. Miss Julie, the classic play by August Strindberg, has been ‘permanently withdrawn’ from a literature module at the University of Sussex because it contains discussion of suicide.

Other texts have been made optional on account of their ‘challenging’ content. At Nottingham Trent, students of French no longer have to study Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine whose staff were gunned down by Islamists seven years ago. Why? Because academics decided the magazine was ‘racist, sexist, bigoted, (and) Islamophobic’.

Some of the trigger warnings slapped on books are downright comical. Aberdeen has put one on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for ‘classism’ and labelled Chaucer ‘emotionally challenging’. Not to be outdone, Greenwich warns students that Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four ‘contains self-injurious behaviour, suicide, animal cruelty’. But what about the whole totalitarianism thing?

Those who insist such measures are essential to looking after ‘vulnerable’ students haven’t been paying attention. Trigger warnings, as a therapeutic intervention to help those suffering genuine mental distress, are woefully misguided. There is no proper evidence that they work. And as a general tool in education, they’re a disaster: in effect they urge students not to read certain books and institutionalise the idea that students cannot deal with challenging material.

The books that are being dropped or covered in warnings are fascinating. Take the case of the University of Essex and The Underground Railroad, which was published in 2016. A contemporary book by an African-American author has been binned because his depiction of the horrors of slavery might upset some privileged English students. There is no better indication of how confused and unprogressive campus censorship is than that.

Naturally, academics are dismissing the investigation. They say that a few universities messing about with reading lists does not a free-speech crisis make, blithely ignoring the more than 1,000 trigger warnings that have been uncovered. They also turn a blind eye to official data showing a sharp rise in no-platforming on campus. Instead the backlash to these trigger warnings has been dismissed as a right-wing culture war.

This response by universities only underlines their critics’ point: that these once great seats of learning have become glorified crèches. Universities have completely lost sight of their founding principles. They now function, all but explicitly, as communities of the like-minded and as therapeutic spaces in which fragile souls can shelter from the supposed awfulness of the world. Opposing views are discouraged and students are spared the indignity of reading a ‘challenging’ book.

Without freedom of speech, without intellectual courage, you do not have a university. Those who run higher education desperately need to be reminded of that.




Friday, August 12, 2022

The Activist Network Infusing Gender Ideology Into K-12

Radical gender theory has made sudden inroads in America’s schools. Many parents have watched in confusion as their children repeat the movement’s slogans and adopt synthetic sexual identities such as “non-binary,” “pansexual,” and “genderqueer.” The next question for many families is: Where does this surge in left-wing sexual ideology come from? One answer: from a network of professional activists, who have smuggled university-style gender theory into more than 4,000 schools under the cover of “gender and sexuality” clubs, or GSAs.

The main national organization behind this campaign, the GSA Network, is a professionally staffed nonprofit with a multimillion-dollar annual budget. GSA Network serves as an umbrella organization for more than 4,000 “gender and sexuality alliances” across 40 states. Once called the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the group rebranded in 2016, reflecting a new focus on “the limits of a binary gender system.” The individual chapters, which operate in elementary, middle, and high schools, often use the language of “LGBTQ inclusion” and “anti-bullying” in their public relations, but behind the scenes, the central organization is driven by pure left-wing radicalism that extends far beyond sexuality.

According to the organization’s publicly accessible materials and administrative documents, the GSA Network’s ideology follows the basic framework of radical gender theory: white European men created an oppressive system based on capitalism, white supremacy, and “heteronormativity”—that is, the promotion of heterosexuality, the male-female binary, and bourgeois family norms. In order to fight back, racial and sexual minorities must unite under the banner of “intersectionality” and dismantle the interlocking “systems of oppression.”

The GSA Network isn’t subtle about its political objectives. In a manifesto, the organization calls for the “abolition of the police,” the “abolition of borders and ICE,” the payment of “reparations” to minorities, the “decolonization” of native lands, the end of “global white supremacy,” and the overthrow of the “cisgender heterosexual patriarchy.” The organization is also explicitly anti-capitalist: its literature is littered with references to “anti-capitalism” and, during one board meeting, its leaders fantasized about what life would be like “after capitalism falls.”

The specific practices of the GSA Network and its affiliates rely on cult-like programming techniques. A toolkit instructs children recruited into the clubs to do the “self work” of analyzing “how [their] actions, lack of actions or privileges contribute to the ongoing marginalization” of the oppressed. After establishing a baseline of identity-based guilt, the children identify their position on the intersectional hierarchy and categorize themselves as part of “groups w/ systemic power (privilege)” or “groups w/ less or no systemic power (oppressed)” along the axes of race, sex, gender, and national origin. Straight, white, cisgender male citizens are deemed the ultimate oppressor; gay, black, trans women immigrants are the ultimate oppressed.

Next, children are encouraged to atone for their privileges and perform acts of penance. “Doing the self and collective work to analyze how we contribute to the oppression of Trans, Queer, Non-binary / Gender Non-Conforming, Black, Indigenous, youth of color is tough, but we must commit to dismantling these systems for collective liberation,” the organization says. Specifically, the adults leading the clubs are instructed to tell the “privileged” children that they must “implement the use of pronouns,” “offer a land acknowledgment,” “listen to the Trans community,” “center conversations around Black liberation,” and “use your privilege (and your physical and monetary resources) to support Trans, Queer, Non-binary / Gender Non-Conforming, Black, Indigenous people of color, issues, businesses, and projects.”

All this activity, the group believes, is best kept secret from parents. The GSA Network tells the adult club “advisors” that they should keep a child’s involvement in the club confidential. “Know the laws in your state around students’ privacy rights and what you do and don’t have to tell parents/guardians/families,” the organization says in its official handbook. “When calling youth, it may not be safe to mention ‘GSA club’ or another trans or queer reference. Alternatively, club leaders can say they are from a student leadership program.” In many school districts, teachers not only can encourage a child’s participation in a “gender and sexuality” club without notifying parents but can also facilitate a child’s gender or sexual transition, including the adoption of a new name and set of pronouns, with the default policy requiring teachers to keep it a secret from that child’s family.

This strategy of the “gender and sexuality” clubs is deeply cynical. As independent journalists Colin Wright and Christina Buttons have documented, many teachers who serve as adult “advisors” to these clubs are intentionally concealing the sexual and political nature of their activities from parents, deliberately misleading families with vague language about “acceptance, tolerance, diversity, and identity.” This might work in the short term, but in the long term, they are playing with fire. School districts that allow adult employees to discuss sexuality with children secretly are creating a dangerous system that could easily be exploited by child predators. Clinical psychologists are already raising the alarm, warning that some of these practices resemble the tactics of such predators.

One solution for this problem is total transparency and the restoration of parental authority. Schools should adopt policies that parents must be notified about their children’s participation in curricular and extracurricular activities involving sex, gender, and sexuality, with the default being that parents are required to opt in explicitly to any such programs. Furthermore, as Governor Ron DeSantis has done in Florida, state legislatures should ban all instruction on sex, gender, and sexuality in at least kindergarten through third grade. Beyond that, schools should be required to post all training and teaching materials on their websites so that parents can easily review all curriculum and documentation associated with gender and sexuality programs.


New York hands out worthless diplomas to high school ‘grads’

A new report by the New York Equity Coalition confirmed what this page has been saying for years: Lowered standards have inflated statewide high school graduation rates.

The statewide rate jumped to 86.1% last year, as the city’s rose to 82%. But the report notes that 70% of grads used at least one state test exemption to “earn” a 2021 diploma, after the Board of Regents and the State Department of Education seized on COVID to relax graduation standards. That’s up from just 10% in 2020.

Sebrone Johnson of the Urban League’s Rochester chapter, one of the groups in the Equity Coalition, told The Post that relying on these exemptions “devalues the very premise of the diploma.”

And they’re still at it: In May, the Board of Regents approved a “temporary” measure that lets high schoolers with failing scores of 50-64 on a Regents test appeal their score if they pass the classroom subject. This will lift graduation rates once again. After all, schools in New York City (at least) regularly get caught committing grade fraud to boost those rates.

Now parents are wising up to these games. No wonder families are abandoning the regular public schools in droves


Majority of Texas teachers are considering quitting: survey

A majority of Texas teachers are apparently on the verge of quitting, according to a new survey.

The study, which was conducted by the Texas State Teachers Association, says that 70% of the 688 teachers surveyed are seriously considering leaving their profession.

The number is the highest recorded by the TSTA, which has been tracking teachers' concerns in the Lone Star State for over four decades. The survey recorded that 53% of the teachers they asked considered leaving their jobs in 2018.

About 94% of surveyed teachers attested to the pandemic increasing stress in their professional lives, while 84% said their workload and planning requirements increased. Around 41% of respondents said they took on extra jobs throughout the year.

According to TSTA, the main reason is discord between Texas teachers and legislators – with teachers feeling they are not listened to or paid adequately.

"If situations don’t improve, if the political climate doesn’t improve and the members of the legislature don’t start spending more money on public education and teacher’s salaries, it may get worse," Texas State Teachers Association Clay Robison told KTBC. "The people that suffer are the school children. Their learning loss could get worse and that puts the future of Texas at risk."

"I think a lot of that [discord] built up and a lot of teachers said, ‘well, I’m out of here," Robison added.

The news comes as the U.S. experiences a teacher shortage, with districts from New York to Minnesota experiencing vacancies. DeKalb Independent School District in Texas shifted to a four-day weekly schedule on Monday. The district hopes that the extra day off will give teachers adequate time to prepare for the week.




Thursday, August 11, 2022

College Essay Prompts Get Absurd. ‘So Where Is Waldo, Really?’

This throws the door open to a lot of arbitrariness in admissions. Guess who is likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. SCOTUS looks likely to crack down on racial preferences in admissions. Enough said

Rachel Quaye-Asamoah is heading into her senior year at Brooklyn Technical High School in New York. She is eyeing several top-ranked colleges, and intends to major in economics. She is already preparing her personal statement for college applications, describing how her upbringing shaped her worldview around money and capitalism.

But some colleges, she is learning, are more apt to throw curveballs than gauge what applicants think of, say, budgets and bear markets.

Take the University of Chicago, which asks among its 2022-23 application essay questions: “What advice would a wisdom tooth have?”

“What am I supposed to do with that?” says Rachel, who is 16 years old and still weighing where she will apply.

Back-to-school season is approaching, and for many rising high-school seniors, so is the grinding process of applying to college. Most college applications—including the Common Application and the Coalition for College—opened on Monday. A key part of the frothing madness of college-admissions season: crafting the perfect essay.

Essays might now carry more weight in the increasingly competitive admissions process since about 72% of schools have already made college entrance exams optional next year, a shift away from standardized tests that accelerated during the pandemic.

These teenage treatises are a chance to shine creatively, and often, to stare bleary-eyed at a blank computer screen.

Advice offered by colleges makes clear the pitfalls.

“Proofread, proofread, proofread,” cautions Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., under essay tips on its website. “There’s a difference between ‘tutoring children’ and ‘torturing children’ and your spell-checker won’t catch that.”

Then there is the tortuous business of tackling the essay questions themselves. Some schools stick with fairly standard snoozers, such as “Why this college?” or “How did you learn from and overcome an obstacle?”

Others get more eccentric, though—schools say—with a purpose.

Peter Wilson, the University of Chicago’s director of admissions, explained what whimsical prompts, such as the school’s wisdom-tooth query, can drill down and extract from the applicants: “How do they think? How do they play with ideas?” Off-the-wall prompts, which have long been a tradition at the school, also tell the applicant something about the university. “Constantly pushing boundaries and creativity, that’s the type of culture we create here.”

The University of Maryland, College Park, has asked students to detail their favorite thing about…last Tuesday. That’s a tough one if your Google Calendar shows a lot of white space. One college-admissions consulting blog advises, “If you laid in bed all day Tuesday, but went for a beautiful hike on Wednesday, write about the hike.” The school says it continues to ask that question, but changes the day each year.

Chapman University asks applicants to name one dish they would cook for the school’s admission team. Princeton University, meanwhile, has asked “What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?”

To get into Pomona College, last year’s seniors had to answer, in 50 words or less, “Marvel or DC? Pepsi or Coke? Instagram or TikTok? What’s your favorite ‘this or that’ and which side do you choose?”

The University of Vermont asks applicants: ‘Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?’

Wake Forest University has asked students to give a top 10 list with the theme of their choice. The University of Vermont asks applicants a brain freezer, related to a Vermont brand: “Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?” The school says about a quarter of its applicant pool chooses this prompt.

Ava Eros, who faced the essay question, picked the limited-edition “Chip Happens,” a chocolate-ice-cream base with fudge chips and swirls of potato chips. The combination served as a metaphor for her twists and turns in adolescence, from losing a track and field race to gaining self-confidence.

“Honestly, I’ve never tried Chip Happens before,” she says. “I usually get Half Baked.”

The University of Vermont accepted her but she chose to attend the University of Pittsburgh, where she will be a sophomore in the fall.

Rice University has a longstanding tradition—a prompt known as “The Box”—to ask applicants to submit a captionless image that appeals to them, in lieu of an essay.

Yvonne Romero DaSilva, vice president for enrollment at Rice, says more than a few applicants have sent a photo of rice—the actual grain.

“One might consider that clever,” she says. “But it’s been done so many times that it proves to be unoriginal.”

The University of Chicago might get Latin honors in unconventional essay prompts. Each year, applicants must answer one of a few essay questions. The queries are drawn from ideas submitted by admitted, current and former students.

Applicants can also dig through the school’s essay-prompt archives and pick questions from previous years, including: “Who does Sally sell her seashells to?” and “So where is Waldo, really?” One came from a student more than a decade ago: “Find x.”

More here:


Elite all-girls school in Nashville now admits anyone who identifies as female

Harpeth Hall, an elite girls school in Nashville, Tennessee, has implemented a new policy to allow applications from anyone who identifies as female, not just those who are biologically female.

In an email sent to parents, the school announced it would be following a new policy that allows biological males who identify as female to be admitted to the school, reported OutKick. The email included a “Gender Diversity Philosophy” document explaining the admissions policy.

“Harpeth Hall is a girls school. The school culture is unique and distinctly about girls, complete with the use of references to students as girls and young women and the collective use of female pronouns,” the Gender Diversity Philosophy read.

“Any student who identifies as a girl may apply to our school. Students who join and remain at Harpeth Hall do so because our mission as a school for girls resonates with them,” the document continues.

The document also stated that any student who “communicates a desire to be identified as male or adopt he/him pronouns” may not be served well at Harpeth Hall.

Harpeth Hall is not the only historically all-girls school to begin accepting biological males who identify as female. In 2016, Barnard College, an all-women’s college in New York City, implemented a policy to “consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.” The decision made Barnard the last of the traditional Seven Sisters colleges to update their admissions policies.

Harpeth Hall dates its history to 1865, and is an elite college-prep school for girls grades 5-12. Notable alumni of the school include actress Reese Witherspoon and singer Amy Grant.

Harpeth Hall did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.


Forget the fads: Australian Math teachers urged to focus on traditional teaching methods

Math teachers should ditch “faddish” practices and focus on proven methods such as using clear and detailed instruction and teaching algorithms.

A new report from the Centre for Independent Studies says that teachers are often misinformed about how students learn and what works in the classroom.

The report, Myths are Undermining Maths Teaching, calls for a focus on traditional education methods such as explicit teaching, involving the explanation and demonstration of new skills, instead of “inquiry-based learning”.

Opposing education academics say teachers should be able to use their professional judgment to decide the best teaching methods on a case-by-case basis.

Australian student achievement in the OECD-run Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has declined more steeply and consistently than any other country except Finland. This downward trend has been greatest in mathematics. Compared with the top-performer, Singapore, the Australian students who sat the most recent PISA test in 2018 were three years behind in maths.

The report was co-authored by Sarah Powell, an associate professor in the department of special education at the University of Texas. She said myths dominated the teaching of maths, harming students’ learning and leading to educational failure.

“They have become so commonplace because teachers are regularly misinformed about how students learn and what works in the classroom,” she said.

Among the “teaching myths” outlined in the report are that teaching algorithms is harmful, that timed assessments cause maths anxiety, that “productive struggle” is helpful for students, and that inquiry learning is the best approach.

Inquiry learning involves teachers starting with a range of scenarios, questions and problems for students to navigate, instead of presenting information or instruction directly.

“Helping teachers to substitute faddish and evidence-free practices with proven, effective teaching will lift outcomes of students,” Powell said.

The report argues in favour of explicitly teaching students mathematics skills first and later encouraging independent practice and application of skills.

“While some students may thrive with true inquiry-based learning, their success is an exception rather than the standard outcome,” the report said.

Australian Catholic University STEM research director Professor Vince Geiger said teachers should be able to incorporate both explicit teaching and inquiry learning into their teaching. He said the research paper appeared to be reflective of a very specific point of view.

“It does amaze me when people put these ideas up as a juxtaposition,” he said. “The best teachers I know take the position that you need to do some of both.”

Geiger said the PISA results indicated Australian students were not falling short in their procedural maths abilities but rather in reasoning and problem-solving.

“We’ve got to get our kids to be better at adaptive type thinking – taking what they learn in the classroom and being able to apply it in different situations and contexts and real-world situations,” he said. “Explicit teaching by itself won’t get them there.”

Debate over the merits of inquiry-based mathematics learning and explicit teaching split the profession during a recent debate about Australia’s proposed new national curriculum.

Northholm Grammar School head of mathematics Phil Waldron said his school had a strong focus on direct instruction, where every step of a maths problem was directly modelled by a teacher for students, which was producing excellent results.

“The report reinforces the idea that students’ understanding is developed by the teacher and that it’s easy for the teachers to take students’ knowledge for granted and therefore miss steps in instruction,” he said.

“The problem with inquiry learning is that students are often left to figure it out for themselves and it’s all based on prior understanding and contextual understanding for them.

“You always need a foundation, you can’t start with inquiry, students need a level of understanding before they start to think for themselves.”

Waldron said inquiry learning was promoted as best practice through his teacher training at university.

“I’ve been blessed with professional experience that was somewhat counter to what I walked away from university with,” he said. “And now the evidence is suggesting that what these older staff members were doing is, in fact, the best way.”