Monday, December 05, 2022

Why British Labour’s schools plan is damaging – and full of hypocrisy

The Labour Party’s education policy is damaging to the nation and highly hypocritical. It is one of several good reasons for discontented Tories to reject any suggestion that they might lend their votes to Sir Keir Starmer as a protest against their own party’s recent failures.

Let us start with the hypocrisy. Labour’s high command likes to please the party’s class-war Left by making rude noises about private schools. It is a cheap and easy way of keeping the Corbynites quiet. Yet despite having been in power, often with large majorities, for much of the post-war period, it has never significantly curbed private education.

Far from it. Labour’s biggest single education policy, the abolition of state grammar schools, was a huge shot in the arm for fee-paying schools. These had been failing quite badly by comparison with state grammars.

But as the grammars disappeared from most of the country, Britain’s independent schools welcomed thousands of new customers. These were parents so discontented with low standards at the new comprehensives that they were prepared to pay through the nose to do better.

Now Sir Keir is threatening to impose VAT on independent schools, a ferocious use of the tax system. This would not punish the rich. They can shrug it off. But it would hurt those who have sacrificed pleasures and luxuries because they think education is more important.

The plan is crowd-pleasing and dogmatic. By forcing families to send their children to hard-pressed state schools, it is likely to damage the state system.

And now comes more hypocrisy. Labour has – in practice – always admitted that private education has important good qualities. Several of its most notable figures – Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskell, Tony Blair – attended such schools. Several Labour politicians of the 1960s era sent their children to private schools. Even now it happens. The maverick Left-winger Diane Abbott sent her son to a private school.

Sir Keir himself, thanks to the system of direct grant schools which his party abolished, attended what was in effect a private school (and has now fully become one), though his parents never needed to pay fees. And now we learn that Sir Keir has been playing the elaborate Game of Homes, by which socialists publicly opposed to privileged private schools wangle their children into exceptional state schools.

This is privilege too. For in this way they can retain their Left-wing purity, but without suffering the low-quality education which many users of the more normal parts of the state system still endure. In this case, the primary school attended by the Labour leader’s children at one stage had a catchment area extending just 182 yards from the school itself.

It has been described locally as a ‘state-run prep school for the middle class’. Their secondary school, similarly, is in an area of North London much favoured by Left-wing grandees. It has seen its catchment area shrink in recent years, inevitably making it more socially exclusive.

This sort of behaviour is not at all unusual among senior Labour figures who somehow manage to live in the often very expensive catchment areas of unusually good London state primary and secondary schools.

Others – such as the Blairs – use religious affiliation to achieve the same result. When Labour’s elite are content to send their children to ordinary state schools without such manoeuvres, we will know that they truly believe in their own education policies.

Until then, Labour should not punish the strivers who, like the socialist upper deck, seek to escape what Labour’s own spin doctor Alastair Campbell once called the bog standard comprehensives of Britain.


California teacher who outraged parents with BDSM materials claims it helped kids' identity development

A California teacher who boasted about a "queer library" which contained sexually explicit content, including information on BDSM/kink and orgies, said the books helped students "figur[e] out who they are."

The English teacher at San Juan Hills High, previously identified on the school's website as Danielle Serio, is known as "Flint." Fox News Digital found that Flint posted repeatedly on TikTok about sexually explicit books, which the district was later forced to respond to amid parents' outrage.

The school district previously claimed in an email to parents that the content was only available to a specific club – but that did not appear to be the case. The library was positioned in Flint's classroom, and it was available to all students, according to Flint's own commentary before Fox News Digital's story.

In a video posted on November 21, Flint discussed the outrage surrounding the "queer classroom library."

"People get really mad about my queer library. I have like 200 titles that are specific to the LGBT community that I've been curating for over eight years. Don't get me wrong, my students love that library. It has been very helpful for many students figuring out who they are, how to relate to their peers," she said.

"Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Being Trans…" discussed BDSM, fetishes and a kink social media networking site.

"I find the BDSM/kink community to be extremely open-minded and welcoming in every way; it's a place of sexual liberation," the book stated. "There is often more blanket level of acceptance of transgender people within the kink/BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) scenes and sites such as FetLife."

FetLife is a social media networking site for the "kink community."

Another book called "This Book is Gay" discusses the casual hookup site "Grindr" and includes detailed information on how to have anal and "girl on girl" sex.

"We all want to have sex with loads of people," the book states. "[T]he prostate gland… feels amazing when massaged. Lots of men, gay or straight, like how this feels."

"Let's talk about dildos: I think a lot of people assume that where there is no penis, a desperate sexual void is created, out of which something [bleep] shaped must ultimately slot in order to satisfy," the book continued. "I've only every slept with two women who enjoyed using dildos. I hate wearing a strap-on. I've only every done it once and NEVER AGAIN!"

It also included information on sex parties and orgies.

"Saunas, or 'bath houses,' are dotted all over the country, and they are perfectly legal. People (many saunas run lesbian nights) pay some money to enter and then have a bit of a sauna and some random sex. Again, this is fine as long as you're safe."

Another book, "The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality," also discusses kink and fetishes as well as "tucking" – the process of hiding one's penis and "whorephobia" – stigma against prostitutes.

Following outrage from parents in the district, an email was sent out, which was obtained by Fox News Digital, that claimed the books were only part of an extracurricular club. The district also asked for "civility."

"We are aware of a news article questioning the appropriateness of books that were in a student club library," the district said. "The books referenced were available through a high school extra-curricular club and are not instructional materials. However, we have initiated a review of these books, which are currently not available to students."

Fox News Digital asked about the status of the review but did not immediately receive a response.

"There shouldn't be porn allowed in classrooms," David Averell, a parent in the district, told Fox News Digital. "What was in the classroom pretty much made me sick."

It wasn't the first time Flint responded to criticism following the controversy. On another occasion, Flint questioned whether "waves of criticism" against the teacher were legitimate.

"So as a trans teacher with a pretty public platform, there will often be waves of criticism that I know better than to internalize. Every once in a while there will be that little voice that says something like, ‘What if they are right? What if all my efforts on this Earth are all for naught.’ In those moments, it is helpful to step back, take myself way out of it," Flint said.

On another occasion, Flint said, "I want people who follow me to know that I believe very much in what I'm doing, and I think my history as a teacher speaks for itself."


Australia: ‘We changed everything’: How 56 schools transformed their teaching and boosted results

In Rebecca Brady’s kindergarten classroom students answer a string of rapid-fire questions about nouns and verbs as they hop between coloured hula-hoops splayed on the floor.

The energetic exchange means easily distracted six-year-olds barely have time to look away before Brady pulls their attention to the next exercise. They are captivated.

“It’s playful and fun, but the teacher is in control and leading the lesson,” she explains.

For the past two years, her school, St Bernard’s primary just south of Batemans Bay, has been in the midst of a classroom revolution.

“We’ve changed our whole approach to teaching. We use a lot of repetition, fast-paced learning and intense explicit instruction; behaviour is improving, and the children are so engaged. It’s been a huge turnaround. Kids don’t have time to disengage.”

Brady is one of hundreds of teachers across 56 Catholic schools in NSW and the ACT that have embraced “high-impact” explicit instruction, an approach partly embedded in old-school teaching methods. It shuns student-led and inquiry-based learning in favour of a direct, traditional instruction style.

Behind the teaching overhaul is Ross Fox, the head of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, who fours years ago decided stagnating academic results across his stable of schools required urgent attention. He called on Lorraine Hammond, an influential explicit teaching advocate from Edith Cowan University, who has implemented “high-impact instruction programs” at more than 50 schools in Western Australia and the Kimberley region.

“Any school that takes up a teacher-led approach to instruction will achieve outstanding results because learning to read, write and spell are not naturally occurring processes,” says Hammond.

Teachers and principals from the Canberra Goulburn archdiocese visited Western Australia to see how explicit teaching, regular assessment and phonics-based reading programs were being rolled out at a handful of schools there.

“I felt a huge moral imperative to turn things around. We had to think deeply about why what we were doing in the past wasn’t translating into improved results, particularly in reading,” Fox says.

“If you want students to know something, you tell them. We know there is a way the brain learns, a science behind it, and effective classroom instruction involves breaking down information into small chunks and then building on that, rather than letting the student lead their learning.

“This approach is one way we can try and close the equity gap in student outcomes,” he says.

The 56 schools are at the end of their second year adopting the explicit, evidence-based teaching approach, known as the Catalyst program, and internal analysis of NAPLAN results shows promising signs.

“Our primary schools are showing statistically significant improvement in NAPLAN reading between 2019 and 2022 for year 3 and year 5. And results have improved relative to NSW averages, particularly for reading,” Fox says.

At St Bernard’s, where a quarter of students are from a disadvantaged background, this year’s NAPLAN results are even more pronounced: 94 per cent of year 5 students achieved the top four bands for reading. In 2017, this was just 69 per cent.

Almost 90 per cent of students achieved in the top four bands for year 5 numeracy, compared to 73 per cent in 2017.

“Before we changed everything we were throwing too much information at the kids at once. Children can only process new information when broken down in pieces and then building on that. It’s how knowledge is moved to long-term memory,” Brady, who has been a teacher for a decade, says.

Fox believes one of the key changes has been improved co-operation across the schools, largely due to the common approach and schools and teachers are now learning from each other.

“Previously we had half of school cohorts in tutoring and intervention programs. Dramatically improving results was the only option,” he says.

All the classrooms across the system are simple: desks generally face the front of the room – rather than in huddled groups – and the teacher instructs from the front of the room.

“Quite a few of our schools have had to buy new furniture because a lot of it was designed to have pupils facing each other,” Fox says.

“Teachers need to keep control of students’ attention. You don’t want children looking and talking to their friends unnecessarily as part of the lesson. Desks are now lined in rows, student face the front, and they frequently use small whiteboards to answer teacher questions to demonstrate they’ve understood a concept.”

The changes adopted at Fox’s schools are aligned with the phonics-based approach taken in NSW primary schools, which is embedded in its new kindergarten to year 2 curriculum, after internal Department of Education research found balanced literacy to be less effective.

NSW students improved in primary school reading in the latest NAPLAN results, and are ranked in the top three jurisdictions by mean scores in all domains.

“At St Bernard’s there is a sense of order and rigour in their teaching. It has it transformed the academic lives of the students but changed the culture of the school too,” says Hammond




Sunday, December 04, 2022

The College Admissions Process Has Changed in a Big Way

The pandemic affected nearly every facet of life—college included. The changes are going beyond what seems to be an endless freeze on student loan payments and virtual learning. It's also upended the traditional admissions process, which of course, determines who has the privilege of stepping foot on campus.

And despite health restrictions getting rolled back in most places in the country, this looks to be a change that could last well beyond the pandemic.

According to the nonprofit that publishes the Common Application, only 4 percent of colleges now require applicants submit SAT or ACT test scores, which has long provided colleges and universities with a standard metric with which to evaluate academic ability and, in some cases, scholarship eligibility. And fewer than half of early applicants submitted them this fall.

This is a significant change from where things stood pre-pandemic.

The data point could mark a watershed moment in admissions, college advisers say, when a pandemic pause in SAT and ACT testing requirements evolved into something more permanent.

Just three years ago, 78 percent of applicants included test scores in their early Common App submissions, a round of admissions that ends Nov. 1.

The share of applicants reporting SAT or ACT scores plunged in 2020, as COVID-19 shuttered testing sites and drove hundreds of colleges to adopt “test-optional” admissions.

Many observers expected the testing requirement to return as restrictions lifted. It hasn’t.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in the share of colleges on the Common App that don’t require a test score,” said Preston Magouirk, senior manager of research and analytics at Common App.

More than 1,800 colleges are “test-optional” this year, including most elite public and private campuses, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest.

Common App data shows that only 4 percent of colleges require test scores for applications this fall, down from 55 percent in pre-pandemic 2019. The group includes a handful of technical universities and Florida’s state university system. (The Hill)

Admissions experts don't think the trend will reverse course, either.

"I think it's harder to go back," Jed Applerouth, founder of Applerouth Tutoring Services in Atlanta, told The Hill. "When you go test-optional, you have the freedom to build the class you want to build."

While the "test-optional" movement began long before 2020—Bowdoin College started it back in 1970—it picked up steam in the 2000s "amid concerns about equity," according to The Hill.

The trend has also gone beyond undergraduate schools. A council of the American Bar Association voted last month to scrap the LSAT and other standardized testing requirements for admissions starting in 2025.

Diversity has emerged as a central focus of the current testing debate, with the ABA receiving nearly 120 public comments on the matter. Some have called the LSAT a roadblock to building a diverse legal profession while others argued that it is an equalizer that helps underprivileged aspiring lawyers.

Without the testing requirement, admissions offices might place more weight on undergraduate grade-point averages, recommendations or the prestige of an applicants' undergraduate university — which are more subjective factors that could hurt the chances of diverse candidates, the 60 law deans warned in their letter to the ABA. (Reuters)

The proposed rule change heads to a vote in February before the ABA's House of Delegates.


'Just Enjoying All the Confusion': Deviant Elementary School Teacher Admits What the Real Agenda Is

Transgender music teacher Blaine Banghart works with elementary school students in the Caddo Parish district of Shreveport, Louisiana.

He has come under fire from concerned parents after proudly admitting in two early November Facebook posts that he’s “just enjoying all the confusion” he’s causing his students over his gender identity.

The nonbinary educator, whom students address as Mx. Banghart (not a typo), wrote, “I’m not allowed to tell kids I’m trans or non-binary or that I’m not a girl. I showed up today with a new haircut and presenting much more masc than usual. The kids are all confused and asking why I have a mustache if I’m a girl, if I’m Mr. Banghart now, why am I trying to look like a boy, etc.”

He continued, “I’m just ignoring questions/redirecting so I don’t get in trouble. Though some of the reactions are hurtful (I’m not mad — they’re kids and don’t mean harm), I’m mostly just enjoying all the confusion about ‘what’ I am. Wondering what they’re going to do when I have the mustache AND a skirt later this week lol.”

Funny, huh?

In a second post, Banghart said, “I just had a parent ask me my preferred adjectives because she wanted to comment on one of my photos, but she wanted to use words that I liked hearing for myself. That’s the kind of allyship that I need, A plus.”

This wasn’t the first time parents have spoken up about Banghart’s attire and his interactions with students. Fox News Digital reported that, during a Caddo Parish School Board meeting held in March, parents expressed concern about a video posted to TikTok in which he voiced his frustration over his “inability to be out at work.”

The district’s chief technology officer, Keith Hanson, defended Banghart at that meeting. According to Fox, Hanson said, “I have never spoken here as a citizen or parent of a student, but I am here today because this is important to me, my family and, most importantly, to her [Banghart]. Let everyone see on public record that there are good people here ready to defend other good people from vile, bigoted hate.”

It appears that Hanson is misconstruing Banghart’s motives. This so-called “educator” is openly admitting that he enjoys confusing children about gender and sexuality. And this may arguably be the left’s true agenda. It sure appears that way.

Banghart was hired to teach music to Caddo Parish elementary school students. Educating them on his perception of gender identity was never part of his job description. His delight over confusing young and impressionable students about his own gender dysphoria is contemptible.

The Western Journal reached out to the school district for comment. Here is their response: “Caddo Parish Public Schools cannot comment on personnel matters regarding individual employees of the school system.”

Imagine some of these students competing in the real world 20 years from now with individuals who’ve been educated in more traditional school systems. They will be insisting that men can get pregnant and that sometimes doctors are wrong when they determine the sex of a newborn baby. This will put them at a serious disadvantage.

Gender ideology, the idea that gender is a fluid construct rather than an undeniable biological fact, has made its way into just about every part of our culture. The pandemic forced the public to face wokeism head-on. Parents became aware, some for the very first time, of how deeply the woke worldview had already infected public school curricula.

The left has celebrated the transgender movement in the United States unabashedly, praising gender-confused individuals for their courage and passing policies to cement “gender identity” into our legal code as well as our national discourse.

This pathetic bow to the woke will not end well. What if some of these individuals have been misdiagnosed? What if, rather than suffering from gender dysphoria, they are actually struggling with trauma, depression or something else?

How far will it go? A middle school parent with whom I chatted recently said her children’s public school has normalized “furries.” She told me: “Furries go to school acting like cats or dogs. They literally meow or woof, and their teachers must treat them like animals. They have their own litter box in the bathroom and everything.”

It almost makes me pine for the days of bullying. Imagine how middle school students would have dealt with a “furry” 10 or 15 years ago. But, I suppose, if children are allowed to decide their gender, why not let them decide their species as well?

This is a dangerous ideology and, if left unchecked, the consequences for America’s children, adults and society as a whole will be grievous.


What I Saw Attending College in ‘The People’s Republic of Boulder’

Decades ago, KGB spy Yuri Bezmenov defected to America and exposed a four-step plan the Soviets engineered to bring down the United States: demoralization, destabilization, crisis, and normalization. Demoralization was the first and most critical step, and it involved infiltrating the institutions upon which our society was built.

Although the Soviet Union is long gone, demoralization is still occurring in the United States, but it’s coming from within, especially from our academic institutions. I know this firsthand because I almost became another demoralized, nihilistic American youth until I learned to turn my left-leaning college experience to my benefit.

I attended the University of Colorado Boulder—in a place so far ideologically left that Coloradans jokingly refer to the town as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.” On the surface, it looked like a typical college campus with sororities, fraternities, and students busily rushing around campus trying to get to their destinations. Students had that adventurous attitude that comes with being away from home for the first time.

However, I was able to quickly pick up on the subliminal messaging in my introductory classes intended to push students toward the left. And the messaging became increasingly more blatant and extreme as my undergraduate career progressed.

For example, my Sociology 101 professor delivered his lectures as if he were matter-of-factly lecturing on various theories, thinkers, and ideas of the field, but he skillfully and ever so cunningly was steering 400 students to think as Marx did.

I specifically remember how he got almost the entire class to agree with his proposition that employees and employers are inherently in conflict with each other because while one group is interested in trying to increase its compensation, the other is actively attempting to lower it. Of course, there was absolutely no mention of thinkers such as Thomas Sowell who thoroughly debunked that Marxist viewpoint.

What was most alarming to me as a 19-year-old college student was just how unthinkingly my peers accepted the professor’s argumentation without much, if any, challenge.

By the time I became a senior in college, I witnessed a professor declare to the class his allegiance to Foucauldian ideology (i.e., an oppressor versus oppressed worldview expressed by power dynamics) by stating, “I’m a Michel Foucault fanboy.” When this professor suggested that being white automatically made a person a racist, my classmates simply nodded their heads, accepting such nonsensical statements as truth.

What solidified all this indoctrination in such young impressionable minds was when my fellow students were generously rewarded with high scores for their repetition and slow acceptance of the leftist worldview. This is how the process of demoralizing thousands of young people at just one of the many “places of higher learning” throughout our nation takes place.

With the nonstop bombardment of woke messaging coming at college students, how can they possibly hope to maintain the will to keep pursuing their degrees, let alone keep their sanity?

The answer lies within a human being’s power of interpretation. According to the ancient stoics, the only things in the world that we have total control over are our own actions, our reactions to outside stimuli, and the way we interpret our experiences. This wisdom is directly applicable to—and necessary for—the survival and thriving of an open-minded college student.

Although I had a choice to view my college experience as a dreadful slog through the thick mire of extreme leftist ideology with its divisive messaging, I decided to treat this experience as an opportunity to learn as much as I could about what makes people so possessed with such a negative worldview. In other words, I treated my college years as an observational research project.

I attended each class with this mindset, and, in a very short time, I was able to make my classes significantly more interesting—all because of how I chose to think about them.

This is what my advice is to students sitting in a classroom right now, trying to keep their eyes open because they’re so bored of being on the receiving end of incessant propaganda: Remain critically engaged without becoming sentimental about well-crafted messaging directed to arouse feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Also, view your experience as an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the process of demoralization works in practice.

For those who reject this extreme ideology because of its destructive nature that divides people into “us versus them” categories, treat this as an opportunity to learn about how and what your ideological opponents think and what their plans for the future are.

In other words, do what the ancient Chinese warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu would do: The more you look at it from their perspective, the more you are preparing yourself to effectively counter your opposition—and the better you are preparing yourself to win on the ideological battlefield.




Saturday, December 03, 2022

Ceasefire! School board members call a truce after a year of equity battles

After a year of fighting over equity policies following the election of four conservatives, the school board of an affluent Denver suburb is calling for unity.

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – After a tumultuous year fraught with fights over equity, recall efforts, lawsuits and the contentious firing of the superintendent, a Denver suburb’s school board has made a push for unity for the sake of the community.

"I'm pleased the board has been able to come together on many important issues that are key and central for our students," Susan Meek, a director on the Douglas County Board of Education, told Fox News. "It's our job as board members to do everything possible to bring our community together."

Four conservative directors were elected in 2021 after running on platforms opposing the district’s newly imposed equity policy and its COVID-19 policies. But the board has encountered controversy after controversy since then.

"If you had to summarize why I ran in one little soundbite, it would be restoring parent role and voice in education," said Mike Peterson, the school board president and one of the conservatives elected last year. "Whatever we can do to make parents feel respected, heard and put them back in partnership with our teachers who also need to be respected and heard, I think it will be good for the district."

One thousand teachers walked out after the conservative members successfully voted to fire the superintendent, which came after the four had discussions behind closed doors. A judge, as a result, put an injunction against the four conservatives and required them to follow Colorado’s open meeting laws.

A recall effort was also launched.

"Our students deserve to be in a district where the community comes together regardless of the political affiliations," Meek told Fox News. "And unfortunately, that's something that our district has struggled with in the past decade or so, and partisan politics kind of seeping into the board elections."

Still, both Meek and Peterson both emphasized their commitment to moving forward and working together, though the two noted that split votes were ongoing.

"We have the humility to learn from the past, whether that's how certain things were done or to constantly evolve and reconsider what we can do better," Peterson said. "I think that's going to be the key to our success."

Earlier this year, the board came together to send two items to the November ballot: a $450 million bond to build, maintain and expand schools and a $60 million mill levy override — effectively a property tax increase — to give staff a raise. Though both measures failed, all seven campaigned for the initiatives.

"We've been able to find common ground on the board, and that's what we've been trying to emphasize," Peterson told Fox News. He said having a more normal school year after facing strict COVID-19 protocols has been particularly helpful.


University of California strike is massive example of how Golden State problems are warning to rest of nation

Once again, California is showing us the future — and it’s wracked with labor strife, high prices, government bloat and abject failure. And nowhere is this more apparent than in California’s government education system.

Some 48,000 unionized graduate student workers at 10 University of California campuses went on strike three weeks ago, demanding "significantly higher wages, expanded childcare subsidies, enhanced health coverage and other benefits," according to a CalMatters report.

Meanwhile, government elementary schools in the lockdown-happy state dominated by teachers unions saw math and reading test scores plummet.

These problems connect to the larger left-wing project across the nation, portending failure elsewhere.

In the 1970s, America saw a huge uptick in union strikes as double-digit inflation under President Jimmy Carter eroded wages. The higher wages won by unions in turn fed into more inflation since productivity gains didn’t cover the increase in pay. It was a vicious cycle that pushed some manufacturing to foreign lands.

California is seeing the same phenomenon, leading the nation with the largest strike this year due, in part, to it being America’s third-most-expensive state in which to live. It trails only Hawaii and Massachusetts, with prices for basic necessities like rent, gasoline, electricity and food averaging some 39% higher than the national average.

With inflation at 40-year highs, people are finding it harder to makes ends meet. As a result, labor strikes, like the one in the University of California system, will become more widespread.

The vaunted UC system employs 48,000 unionized students to teach, grade papers, and conduct research. That might make some wonder what it is exactly that tenured professors do all day other than dream up new woke nightmares to visit upon the nation in coming years. As underemployed as professors might be, university administrators are far less productive.

By 2014, administrators at UC campuses outnumbered faculty, having grown by 60% over a decade during which student enrollment increased by 22% and the number of faculty went up by 8%. A study at UC Berkeley found 11 layers of management with 471 managers in charge of just one person. The number of direct reports per supervisor in the private sector ranges from six to 11. There’s a good chance a few of those 471 managers are Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) chiefs with a social media assistant.

Is it any wonder that inflation-adjusted tuition at state-run universities almost tripled from 2000 to 2020?

This administrative bloat has been fed by virtually limitless federal student loans with almost 43 million borrowers now owing more than $1.7 trillion. According to Andrew Gillen, Ph.D., a senior policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the average student graduating with a bachelor’s degree carries almost $24,000 in debt.


Regulator downgrades hundreds of outstanding schools in England

Most of the outstanding schools in England inspected last year have been downgraded, according to a report from the schools watchdog.

Some of them had not been looked at for 15 years and many would have experienced "significant change" such as new head teachers, Ofsted said.

But the National Education Union (NEU) said Ofsted's findings were "frequently unreliable".

The Department for Education said most schools remained good or outstanding.

Between 2012 and 2020, schools judged outstanding were revisited only if specific concerns were raised.

Ofsted said 80% of outstanding schools it had revisited last year had been downgraded - 308 primary and secondary schools.

Most were bumped down to good - but 17% were told they needed improvement and 4% were inadequate.

Are you affected by issues covered in this story? Get in touch.

David, a father from Middlesex who asked the BBC to use his first name only, said his son's secondary school was among those that had been downgraded.

He said the school was marked down for "trivial" things, such as selling Design and Technology equipment because of a lack of uptake in the subject - whereas academic attainment remained strong.

It made him question whether Ofsted's grading methods were "fit for purpose".

But Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said regular inspection gave parents "confidence in the quality of their child's school".

Ofsted said it had prioritised schools that had gone the longest without inspection, when it had been deciding which schools to look at last year.

On average, the schools it visited had not been inspected for 13 years - but some had gone as long as 15 without an inspection.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Spielman said: "These are the schools that have gone longest without being inspected, so are probably slightly more likely not to remain outstanding."

She said it was important for parents to understand that most of the schools have remained "good", but said it was "concerning that quite a significant number have been marked as needing improvement".

There was no target for the number of outstanding schools, she said.

Asked later by MPs whether there had been too many outstanding ratings previously, Ms Spielman said: "The numbers had got very high, uncomfortably high." And the old system of inspections "perhaps looked more to process than substance




Thursday, December 01, 2022

The Finnish example

In considering the article below, some caution is needed. One should, for instance, not mistake the initial results from a policy change for the final effects. Finland was for some time a world leader in education results on the PISA criteria but it has slipped back to sixth place recently

There are also ways in which Finns are different. Psychologically, they are famously taciturn for intstance. That may help Finns to minimize conflict

Sociologically, all Finns are clearly aware of their heroic struggles with the Soviets. That clearly fosters a sense of brotherhood among them -- something very conducive to acceptance of socialist policies

So what works well in Finland might not transfer well to other societies

The leader of the nation ranked as the happiest in the world arrives in Australia on Thursday, and it presents a great opportunity.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet his Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, on Friday and will surely be interested to learn more about Finland’s success and how it might apply to Australia.

Finland has led moves towards emphasising wellbeing in economic decisions, of the kind that Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers has commenced since Labor took office in May.

Finland is famous for its well-resourced schooling and equality in education funding. This contrasts with the considerable inequalities that remain in Australian school funding almost a decade after the Gonski review’s call for change. Those recommendations lie dormant.

Finnish experience shows that equality between schools – a mutual striving for all schools to be good schools – is the best way to lift a nation’s educational excellence. That collective striving relies on valuing, trusting and fairly rewarding the teachers in those schools.

People will obviously be happier if allowed to pursue what they really want to do with their lives, rather than be pushed into an occupation their parents or others deem to be of suitable status. Encouraging those who choose different vocational paths from a professional career, for instance, contributes to Finland’s happiness. Being in a trade such as a plumber, electrician or carpenter is more valued than here.

Students in Finland are encouraged to follow their natural curiosity. We learn most effectively through trial and error. In Australia, there is too great a requirement for competitive high-stakes testing. This leads to the recitation of pre-prepared “right answers”. It causes anxiety for young people, but it also fails to foster creativity and innovation.

Finland has a remarkable history of innovation, due in part to its strong investment in research and development, which has helped it establish niches of design and production excellence for export. The best-known example is the Nokia company, which dominated global mobile phone production for more than a decade. Australia can learn from this approach to rectify our own underinvestment.

Gender equality is also advanced in Finland. Prime Minister Marin has spearheaded initiatives to increase paternity leave. Last year, paid parental leave in Finland was extended to 14 months, of which almost seven months is allocated for fathers. While some of that paternity leave can be transferred to mothers, most has to be taken by fathers for the family to gain the full entitlement. This “use it or lose it” minimum requirement is the only proven way to lift men’s role in caring for their children.

The new Australian government has made a welcome decision to extend paid parental leave to six months. However, it still needs to demonstrate how fathers will be encouraged to actually take that leave. That will support more mothers to return full-time to the workforce. The proportion of women in full-time jobs in Australia is 20 percentage points below Finland.

Finland is also the least corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International. It stands at equal No. 1 on that index, alongside Denmark and Jacinda Ardern’s New Zealand, who Sanna Marin met on Wednesday. Australia languishes at No. 18, underlining the need for the National Anti-Corruption Commission being legislated in our federal parliament this week.

Finland has consistently pursued social democratic policies, the kind that Australia needs to revive if it is to boost its happiness, educational achievement and gender equality. Marin’s visit should provoke us to ponder the question: Do we want to become even more like America, or be more like Finland? We are poised between those two poles on so many indicators.

Measurements have shown, for instance, that an American with tertiary-educated parents is almost seven times more likely to enter tertiary education than a fellow citizen whose parents had no post-school education. In England, the difference is six times and in Australia, it is four times. In Finland, however, you are almost no more likely to get a tertiary education simply because your parents did. Finland has thus created extraordinary intergenerational opportunities for people from less privileged family backgrounds, based on genuine merit.

Australia can learn from this to further realise the full talents of our people to achieve what they want according to their interests and abilities. Our success, indeed our happiness, need not be determined by inherited advantage.


Stanford is investigating its OWN president - a 'world leader in the study of brain development' - over allegations papers he co-authored contain multiple photoshopped images and manipulated data

Stanford's president in under investigation over allegations papers he co-authored contain doctored data and images.

The school announced the probe Tuesday and said it would be investigating allegations of scientific misconduct involving the university's head staffer, Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

The declaration came after posts on an online forum challenged the authenticity of multiple images published in papers coauthored by the Tessier-Lavigne, who assumed the position of president in 2016.

The postings were then reported by the Stanford Daily, the university newspaper, on Tuesday - along with several other allegations of suspected manipulations in Tessier-Lavigne's work.

Tessier-Lavigne, described by Stanford as a 'world leader in the study of brain development and repair,' has had a lucrative tenure at the school, adding $12.1billion to its endowment and reversing an unpopular plan to nix its 11 sports teams.

After the allegations were aired, prominent science research publisher the European Microbiology Organization Journal said it would also be investigating the staffer, saying it was 'looking into' discrepancies in a research paper he penned in 2018.

The papers in question were also funded by taxpayers in the form of government grants, raising serious questions about the staffer's integrity.

A prominent biologist familiar with Tessier-Lavigne's work has since come out to say that several scientific papers written by the president contained 'a lot of visible errors,' and content 'suggestive (of) an intention to mislead.'

Elisabeth Bik, a nationally recognized expert in image analysis and research integrity, told the East Bay Times upon analyzing the paper that 'one cannot really say that all the problems that we found are pointing towards misconduct.'

She added: 'But there definitely are some problems - and they're real,'

Experts who reviewed Tessier-Lavigne's research at the request of The Daily agreed with Bik's analysis, pointed out that three papers in prominent research journals Science and Nature also contained 'serious problems.'

Scientific misconduct researchers who reviewed the papers, The Daily claimed, contained images that had been 'photoshopped,' as well as manipulated data.

On Tuesday evening in a statement, Tessier-Lavigne said he welcomed the review and would cooperate with school officials.

'Scientific integrity is of the utmost importance both to the university and to me personally,' he said. 'I support this process and will fully cooperate with it, and I appreciate the oversight by the Board of Trustees.'

Initially, a Stanford spokesperson, rebuffed the school paper's story, asserting Tessier-Lavigne 'was not involved in any way in the generation or presentation of the panels that have been queried' in two of the aforementioned four papers.

Speaking to The Daily, spokesperson Dee Mostofi said that the issues present in the other two 'do not affect the data, results or interpretation of the papers.'

Bik told the Daily Tuesday that she did 'not agree with (the) statement that these issues have no bearing on the data or the results.'

Later that evening, the school appeared to walk back those claims, announcing that they would in fact open an investigation into the staffer, joining the European Microbiology Organization Journal in doing so.

One of the pieces under scrutiny was published in the journal, while the other three were found in 'Science' and 'Nature.' Two of those papers featured Tessier-Lavigne as the lead author.

Allegations of scientific misconduct regarding those papers repeatedly appeared on the online forum PubPeer, where users critique the contents of respected science journals over the last seven years, the Daily’s investigation found.

Stanford University spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Tessier-Lavigne, a native of Ontario, Canada, spent his early career researching degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s before transitioning to more administrative roles

Prior of his tenure at Stanford, he served as the president of Rockefeller University in New York City.

The contested research was conducted prior to his 2016 recruitment from New York to Stanford, with most centered on the study of the development of neural connections in the brain.

It was not immediately clear how long the investigations into Tessier-Lavigne would take. Both are currently underway.


Have the Anticapitalists Reached Harvard Business School?
Social justice joins discounted cash flows on the syllabus as essential knowledge for aspiring corporate leaders

At Harvard Business School, inside a seminar room with a smattering of button-down shirts and puffy fall jackets, a group of future corporate managers were talking about capitalism. What makes capitalism truly and purely capitalism? What are its essential components? Property rights. Financial markets.

“Maybe this is almost so foundational that it’s too much to put on the board — but scarcity?” said Andrew Gibbs, 32, a second-year student who came to Harvard by way of the military. “Would it be capitalism if people were comfortable?”

Prof. Debora Spar, who teaches the widely sought-after course “Capitalism and the State,” turned to Mr. Gibbs with the eye glimmer of an instructor who knows the conversation is about to get heated. “Would you go so far as to say a necessary condition for capitalism is scarcity, which is going to drive inequality?”

Mr. Gibbs paused, contemplating. “I would say so.”

On the blackboard it went: Capitalism. Scarcity. Inequality.

Every year, some 250,000 young people step off the treadmill of their jobs, many in consulting and private equity, to chase skills and credentials that will turbocharge their future roles in consulting and private equity — by going to business school. They study accounting and negotiation. They learn about D.C.F.s (discounted cash flows) and the three C’s (company, customers and competitors). They emerge with the ability to at least feign intimate knowledge of the godfather of shareholder primacy, referred to in one classroom as “our buddy Milton Friedman.”

But today’s business school students are also learning about corporate social obligations and how to rethink capitalism, a curriculum shift at elite institutions that reflects a change in corporate culture as a whole. Political leaders on the left and right are calling for business leaders to reconsider their societal responsibilities. On the left, they argue that business needs to play some role in confronting daunting global threats — a warming planet, fragile democracy. On the right, they chastise executives for distracting from profits by talking politics.

The corporate phenomenon of socially responsible investing, or E.S.G., has become a point of contention — as well as a $40 trillion industry. Elon Musk called it a “scam” after the S&P 500 removed Tesla from its Environmental, Social and Governance index last spring. Mike Pence, the former vice president, recently urged states to “rein in” E.S.G. BlackRock issued a letter in September trying to stave off critics by noting, essentially, that the investment firm’s focus on the environment wasn’t detracting from its core purpose: making money.

Meanwhile, many workers have spent recent years demanding that their employers take a more decisive stance on social issues like racial injustice and abortion.

Top-ranked business schools are stepping into the political arena. Harvard started its Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society last month. Nearly half of the Yale School of Management’s core curriculum is devoted to E.S.G. Next fall, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will start offering M.B.A. majors in diversity, equity and inclusion and in environmental, social and governance factors for business.

What happens at Harvard, Wharton and other elite campuses offers a small glimpse of the changes in the corporate realm. But at the same time, their graduates tend to have outsize influence on business, shaping the values and policies of the companies they may one day run.

Business schools are not generally known for their radicalism, but their students and faculty are grappling, sometimes ambivalently, with fast-changing expectations of business’s role in society. Most students are frank about the prestigious jobs they want, with hefty salaries attached. Now, though, they’re facing sharper questions from classmates about how to balance their ambitions with some sense of responsibility to the public good.

“We’re at Harvard Business School — it’s a bastion of capitalism,” said Ethan Rouen, who teaches the Harvard class “Reimagining Capitalism.” “I will say, though, that if you look at the courses being offered, the institutes being created and speakers we bring on campus, there is a huge demand both from the faculty and the students for rethinking the obligation of the corporation to society.”

Inside classrooms, the range of views on corporate political engagement has broadened in recent years, according to people across leading business schools. Assumptions long woven into the syllabus are open for questioning: the wisdom of maximizing profits, the idea that America’s version of capitalism is functioning properly.

“There’s a conscious shift happening with professors wanting us to question: Is profit the only thing corporations should care about? How should businesses use their influence?” said Chinedum Egbosimba, 27, who studied engineering and then worked at Bain & Company before winding up at Harvard Business School and in Ms. Spar’s class.

“The classic school of thinking that businesses should only make money is very much alive,” he continued. “But many of my classmates look at the world we have today and say, ‘Yeah, there’s clearly some things about this system we need to fix.’”

At Harvard, in “Capitalism and the State,” colloquially known as CATS, Ms. Spar asked her students to flip their name cards sideways if they felt globalization was ultimately a good system. She paced excitedly, cheetah-print shoes roving the classroom floor.

After some mumbling and paper shuffling, about 80 percent of the students flipped their placards, signaling a thumbs-up on globalization. Mr. Egbosimba disagreed. Leaning forward in his back-row seat, he asked his classmates to rethink the view that had given rise to the world as they knew it — the International Monetary Fund, Hyatt hotels around the world and McDonald’s golden arches at every airport.

“I’m from the global south, the old colonies of the West,” said Mr. Egbosimba, who grew up in Nigeria. “Maybe there’s some version of this idea that could have led to acceptance and peace, but it’s not the one we built. As a victim of it, I can say that with confidence.”

His classmate Alan Xie, 28, piped up in agreement. “The distrust of elites connected to capitalism undermines the whole globalization project,” he said. “We’ve actually imported illiberalism as a result of having nice stuff.”

Still, most of their classmates remained in favor of a globalized economy. Ms. Spar summed up their arguments succinctly: “We’ve got growth. We’ve got nice stuff,” she said. “It worked.”

To which Rachel Orol, 29, seated in the front row, replied: “It worked for us.”




Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Idaho murders: Law enforcement should not dismiss 'incel' angle, experts say

More than two weeks after four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their off-campus residence, police still have not identified a suspect or located a murder weapon.

Forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie said that the brutal nature of the murders, combined with the appearance of the victims as popular students on campus, leads him to believe that law enforcement should take a close look at the suspect potentially being an "incel."

Incel, which is short for involuntary celibate, refers to a misogynistic subculture of romantically frustrated men who frequently share their anger online about not being able to find a partner.

"There's a lot of hatred and anger that is evidenced in these crimes – the level of violence, the resolve, the obvious hostility in such a personal hands-on attack," Mohandie told Fox News Digital. "That is a lot of intensity. So it is not inconsistent with somebody that may have that kind of motivation. There's something hateful and rage filled about it."

Authorities believe the attack was "targeted," but they have not identified who was targeted or why they believe that to be the case. Additionally, Goncalves made statements before the murders that she "may have had a stalker," but authorities have not been able to corroborate those claims.

"These are kids, adult kids, living their life, experiencing happiness, being spontaneous and carefree. And that's going to stimulate somebody that either felt entitled to have had a relationship with one or more of them," Mohandie said.

"For individuals that feel on the outside looking in… that's going to create envy and hate."

Sarah Daly, a criminology researcher at Saint Vincent College who has studied the subculture of involuntary celibates, noted that it would be premature to say the killer in this case comes from the incel community, but the circumstances of the murders could potentially provide clues.

"I can certainly see how people might suspect an ‘incel killer’ in this case, particularly because the four victims are young and attractive, thus fitting the ‘Chad’ and ‘Stacy’ reference that incels often use on their forums," Daly told Fox News Digital.


Santa Comes Early with CUNY Exec Raises as Enrollment Drops

Two top City University of New York administrators each received $90,000 raises this year – as enrollment dropped.

Hector Batista, the public university system’s chief operating officer, saw his salary climb 27 percent from $330,000 to $420,000, and Derek Davis, the senior vice counsel and general counsel, saw a 30 percent gain from $300,000 to $390,000, according to The New York Post.

Batista also gets a car — driven by university police officers.

Two other executives, vice chancellors Doriane Gloria and Maria Junco Galletti, collected 15 percent pay raises. All the raises were retroactive to Dec. 31, 2021, approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees, The Post reported.

The hefty pay increases come as the university system saw a 10 percent drop in enrollments, from 271,000 in 2019 to 243,000 in 2021.

A CUNY spokesman told The Post that the school’s executive compensation plan needs to insure that “senior staff’s earnings are on par with other public higher education institutions locally and nationally.”

The spokesman acknowledged the raises come as enrollment has dropped.

"We are in a challenging job market and CUNY recognizes that it must remain competitive in order to recruit and retain talented leaders particularly as we work to boost pandemic-related enrollment drops and get New Yorkers the help they need to return to college."

Not everyone is happy with the raises. Adjunct professors, who teach many of CUNY’s classes, have made no secret that they are underpaid.

Penny Lewis, secretary of the faculty union, told The Post, “If the CUNY Board of Trustees believes management deserves raises this big, then surely our underpaid full-time faculty and staff, and our adjunct faculty who often struggle to afford even basic living expenses in NYC, deserve a substantial raise in the next contract.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul increased CUNY’s budget by $1.2 billion for FY 2023, to hire more full-time faculty, improve academic programs and services, cover capital projects, pay for operating costs, expand childcare services on campuses, and includes $110 million to increase fringe benefits for staff.


Baltimore Schools Head Collects $444,775 While Student Test Scores Suffer

While students in Baltimore’s public schools are suffering with some of the lowest test scores in the country, the head of the school district collected $444,775 in pay and other compensation during her contract year that ended on June 30, 2022.

Dr. Sonja Santelises, the school district’s CEO, earned a base salary of $333,125, the highest in the state among 24 public school districts, Fox45’s Project Baltimore, Chris Papst reported.

But she also received added compensation, including a $9,600 car allowance and $53,300 in “deferred compensation” toward retirement.

She also gets 59 paid days off a year — 38 vacation days, 18 sick days and three personal days. The almost 12 weeks of taxpayer-funded paid time off doesn’t include the 13 paid holidays throughout the year.

If Santelises doesn’t take her 12 weeks off, her contract allows her to be paid for most of the unused time.

During her last contract year, she was paid in cash $48,750 in unused paid leave. When that’s added to the rest of her compensation, Santelises collected a total of $444,775.

“It’s milking taxpayers like dairy cows,” CEO and founder Adam Andrzejewski told Project Baltimore. “We put a premium on those leaders, locally, that say they're going to educate our children. And so, we need to hold, at the end of the day, we need to hold them accountable.”

While her contract says she will be held accountable — the school board will evaluate the CEO, in part, on how she “demonstrated improvement in the academic performance of students in the City Schools” — graduation rates, attendance and college enrollment are lower than when the Santelises began overseeing the schools in 2016.




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Majority of top medical schools pushing critical race theory, new report finds: 'A false diagnosis'

A new report found that critical race theory instruction has infiltrated 58 of America's top 100 medical schools, with some teaching materials from inflammatory authors who have been accused of pushing open discrimination.

"It's a great concern because what's going on here is the false diagnosis of a problem. The problem is that Black patients tend to do worse than White patients in a number of medical conditions," Do No Harm Chairman and former University of Pennsylvania associate dean Dr. Stanley Goldfarb said Tuesday on "Fox & Friends First."

"The diagnosis that's been made is that there's racism in health care that's producing this disparate outcome. The difficulty is, there's no evidence to prove that's true…"

MSNBC, CNN, ABC and more repeatedly pushed critical race theory ideology on TV while denying it exists Video

Goldfarb told Carley Shimkus he believes far more than 58 of the schools and perhaps all the top 100 medical schools have implemented ideas from the theory in their curricula.

"The AAMC [American Association of Medical Colleges], which is the governing body of medical education just put out an inventory that suggested that the vast majority of schools are engaging in this kind of activity," he said. found that many of the institutions included in the study contained mandatory instruction on materials from Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi, two authors whose material has come under scrutiny for allegedly divisive rhetoric.

Goldfarb, sounding off on Kendi's material in the curriculum, pointed to his argument for "present discrimination to remedy past discrimination and future discrimination to remedy present discrimination" and slammed its inclusion as a "terrible development."'s study also uncovered that some institutions mandate faculty and staff training rooted in critical race theory.

"[This curriculum] represents virtue signaling. It represents an attempt to go along with the current trends, but it doesn't represent an effort that's going to yield better outcomes for Black patients," Goldfarb said.

Goldfarb said the true problem behind poorer outcomes for Black patients could be resolved by improving "health literacy and education" to ensure patients understand the signs and symptoms of dangerous medical conditions before their issues progress.

"Better access and better health literacy would go a long way to solving the problem," he said.

"We have an invasion of critical race theory and all that it implies… I've been told that I should be canceled now and that I shouldn't be speaking about all these issues, and I've been left off an online textbook that I was an editor-in-chief of simply because of these ideas…

"They refuse to discuss this issue," he added.

Controversy surrounding critical race theory in colleges across the U.S. has erupted in recent years as institutions continue to push values of diversity and inclusion.
Dr. Nicole Saphier reveals how ‘woke’ medical school guidelines lower the bar for admissions Video

A report Fox News Digital recently obtained from Goldfarb's organization Do No Harm singled out the University of Florida's College of Medicine for implementing an allegedly "destructive" diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative rooted in critical race theory.

The push to ensure tomorrow's medical field is rife with "antiracists" focuses on "active recruitment" of underrepresented groups and curriculum focused on diversity, equity and recognizing implicit bias.

The medical school stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and features "Guidelines for Being a Strong White Ally."


Court rejects San Diego school district's COVID vaccine mandate

The California 4th District Court of Appeal ruled against the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 student vaccine requirement this week.

On Tuesday, the appellate court agreed with a lower court's ruling from last year that the school district does not have the authority to establish its own mandate.

The court rejected the district's several defenses of its mandate, including that it is in line with the responsibility to keep students safe, that programs can be created to meet "local needs" and that the mandate is not actually a mandate because it allows for students to do at-home independent study should they choose not to comply.

"We doubt that students and their parents perceive a real choice. For some, independent study would likely be a step backwards," it wrote.

San Diego Unified is examining the appeals court ruling and "will consider its next steps," district spokesperson Mike Murad said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

In May, the district decided to stay the mandate — which would have immediately required students ages 16 and up to get the shots in order to attend school in person and participate in extracurricular activities — until at least July 2023.
San Diego Unified School District signage is seen on a Navistar International Corp. school bus in San Diego, California, on July 9, 2020.

San Diego Unified School District signage is seen on a Navistar International Corp. school bus in San Diego, California, on July 9, 2020. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There were exemptions allowed for medical reasons, but not based on personal beliefs.

The mandate faced a legal challenge from the parent group "Let Them Choose," whiled filed a lawsuit in October 2021.
Protesters demonstrate outside the San Diego Unified School District office in San Diego, California, on Sept. 28, 2021.

Protesters demonstrate outside the San Diego Unified School District office in San Diego, California, on Sept. 28, 2021. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The group argued that the decision to mandate vaccines must be made at the state level and also needs to include a "personal belief exemption" — unless the state legislature acted to eliminate the exemption.

The district first adopted its vaccine mandate for students in September 2021.

It is one of several large school districts in California to announce such a mandate. Those with similar mandates include the Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and West Contra Costa Unified school districts.


American colleges join global protests against China's anti-COVID lockdown

Anti-lockdown protests have spread to multiple American universities, part of a growing global movement in support of protesters in China demonstrating against their country's "zero-COVID" policy.

Students from Columbia, Duke, North Carolina and the University of California Berkeley gathered for demonstrations in support of Chinese protesters in recent days, according to a report from France 24, expressing solidarity with a population that has seen its frustrations boil over amid over two years of strict COVID-19 prevention measures.

Chants of "Free China!" and "Xi Jinping, step down!" were heard at California Berkeley protests, with one protester holding a sign with a drawing of Chinese President Xi Jinping that read "Death to the dictator."

The scenes at American college campus come as Chinese authorities have launched a massive law enforcement response to protests that started last week and continued to intensify throughout the weekend across China, largely at least temporarily restoring order in the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai on Tuesday.

The protests originated after an apartment complex fire in the far-west region of the country resulted in the deaths of 10 people, an event that has been blamed on a delayed response by the local fire department amid continued lockdown policies.

Protesters took to the streets across the country to demand pandemic restrictions be eased, while others even called for the resignation of the country's top leaders.

The protests cap a tumultuous couple of months for the Chinese Communist regime, which has generated increased scrutiny over its mass internment of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang and continued threats toward neighboring Taiwan.

A protest organizer from China at Columbia, who only identified himself as Shawn, said he preferred to keep the school's demonstration focused on COVID policy and not other controversies.

"We know that may alienate a lot of people," the protester told Reuters.

However, the spread of campus protests is part of a larger movement across the globe, with some demonstrators in Washington,D.C., marching on the State Department and taking direct aim at the Chinese government's treatment of the country's Uyghur population.

"We want them to issue a formal statement condemning the loss of lives, Uyghur lives, and to call for full transparency on the real number of deaths that occurred," Salih Hudayar, one of 25 members of the city's Uyghur community who took part in the demonstration, said, according to France 24.

"We're hoping that the international community supports these protesters in demanding accountability from the Chinese government," she added.

Elsewhere in Washington, roughly 100 people gathered to demand greater freedoms for the Chinese people.

"(Officials) are borrowing the pretext of COVID, but using excessively strict lockdowns to control China's population. They disregarded human lives," said a Chinese student identified only as Chen. "I came here to grieve."




Sunday, November 27, 2022

Collegiate Alumni Donations: What Are We Giving To?

Adam Novak

I read a news report about a group of woke Yale students who burst into a panel discussion on civil liberties hosted by the Federalist Society on campus back in March and tried to shout down and intimidate the speakers—who had to be escorted out by the police.

This kind of activity on campus has become so commonplace it barely makes the news anymore. But it struck me, as a former fundraiser for universities, how this behavior—the result of the leftist ideology being taught on campus—is actually being funded largely by well-meaning alumni who donate to their alma maters in the hope that young people will receive the same solid education and values that they did.

What they don’t realize is that the colleges they give to are not the places they once were.

Now, I’m proud of the gifts I raised—the new scholarships, student resources, and research dollars I helped secure. I remain forever grateful to the donors who chose to part with their hard-earned resources to improve lives. But when I see that these colleges have ballooning “diversity, equity, and inclusion” staff salaries, coursework in critical race theory required for graduation, and campus activists bullying of conservatives, I worry the promise I made to those donors might not be kept by those universities.

Charitable giving is a uniquely American thing. When a problem cannot be solved by the marketplace, rather than wait for the government to create a new, inefficient, expensive bureaucracy to fix something, Americans utilize their resources to try to help. This also happens in a few other countries, but never to the same degree. It is classic American exceptionalism.

A cardinal principle in fundraising ethics is to fulfill the wishes of a donor. When you give to your college, you expect the gift to fulfill the emotional and practical inspiration for the gift. Conservatives might be surprised to see how that money is actually spent.

Critical race theory originated on college campuses and has since infected almost every other American institution. This Marxist framework makes race the prism through which its proponents view all aspects of American life, categorizing individuals into groups of oppressors and victims. This is a distinctly anti-American idea.

The great civil rights leaders throughout American history have sought to resolve racial conflict through the framework of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. American sins like slavery and Jim Crow were expunged by exercising freedom of speech and assembly, and demonstrating that slavery and Jim Crow were antithetical to the founding principles of this country, even if some of the Framers themselves didn’t practice what they preached.

Critical race theorists, on the other hand, teach that racial injustice is part and parcel of America’s founding principles. In their eyes, America is fully a racist country, and American history and values are “toxic.” As hard as it is believe, those ideas now flourish in higher education and at colleges that once embraced academic integrity and free speech.

And it isn’t just in curriculums that include leftist scholars such as Angela Davis and the late Howard Zinn. Critical race theory is embedded into the institutional hierarchy of higher education. Racial bean counting is included in performance reviews across universities, monitored and controlled by diversity, equity, and inclusion offices.

This is what your gift to your alma mater is paying for.

DEI is now the fastest-growing “industry” in higher education. The salaries of academics—the ones teaching and conducting worthwhile research—have remained flat. Meanwhile, the DEI offices are growing exponentially. On today’s college campus, there are an average of 3.4 DEI staff members per every 100 tenured faculty. They are there to make sure these Marxist ideas are incorporated in every area and office in colleges and universities.

When that letter comes in the mail asking for another gift to your alma mater, that’s what you are paying for.

If you raise these concerns with your alma mater or child’s school, they may point to the existence of the campus conservative paper, a Christian campus outreach group, or a Jewish student group. Even if that’s the case, a portion of activity fees will still go toward operations—meaning that campus activists, encouraged by the DEI officers and deans of students, will still get their portion of your gift.

And I have a hunch the college administration does not make life very pleasant for conservative groups, especially if they have the audacity to criticize the DEI office or campus activists.

As a fundraiser for The Heritage Foundation, perhaps I’m a bit biased in suggesting conservative donors have a better shot at fulfilling their desire to build a freer, more prosperous country with us than their alma mater. But a conservative can have confidence knowing the gift at Heritage will be spent on the causes they believe in; namely, liberty, civil society, and a defense of the American way of life. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Charitable giving should fulfill the wish of a donor. Conservatives should carefully examine whether a college or university they support uses the money they send exactly the way they would wish.

If conservative speech, ideas, students, or faculty are not welcome at your alma mater—perhaps your own charitable dollars should go somewhere else.


‘Living hell’ and the destruction of academic freedom

If universities don’t protect free speech and open debate, they’re no better than finishing schools, if not outright propaganda factories — serving not the nation or the search for truth, but simply the dominant ideology. But that’s increasingly what US colleges have become, routinely closing the door to dissent by shutting down professors, researchers and students who challenge the received wisdom. How many still deserve the vast public support they still receive?

The latest example: Stanford professor of medicine Jay Bhattacharya, who with profs from Harvard and Oxford co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in 2020, early in the pandemic, flagging the huge cost of lockdowns, both medical and social.

Some 16,000 medical and public-health scientists (many of them highly credentialed), 47,000 medical practitioners and 871,000 “concerned citizens” signed on — making it plain that nothing resembling a scientific consensus endorsed the course much of the nation had taken.

Which infuriated the powers that be. Dr. Anthony Fauci, with huge grant-making powers as boss of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, slammed the declaration as “nonsense” — joined by other key public-health officials and prompting much of the media to ignore or even suppress the debate.

And the rulers of academia followed suit. As Bhattacharya said at a talk this month, his life soon became “a living hell” — and his university, Stanford, failed to back him. He not only got death threats and hate mail, he also faced a “deeply hostile work environment,” making clear that “academic freedom is dead.”

“If Stanford really, truly were committed to academic freedom,” it would’ve “worked to make sure that there were debates and discussions, seminars where these ideas were discussed,” he added.

Data on lockdowns and COVID deaths suggests Bhattacharya & Co. were right: Sweden, Finland and Norway, for example, rejected extended closures and saw notably less “excess mortality” than most other European nations. Here in America, largely open Florida fared as well or better than largely closed New York and California.

In short, Fauci and other public health leaders should’ve at least considered the possible dangers of their preferred course. “Shut up” isn’t supposed to be a winning argument in the scientific community.

Of course, academia’s been suppressing “heretics” for a long time now.

At Portland State, Peter Boghossian became a pariah just for calling attention to the lack of diversity of opinions on campus, a response that proved his point.

University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot had an MIT speech canceled and his name removed from academic papers and from a National Science Foundation grant proposal. His sin? Coauthoring an op-ed arguing that admissions policies should be based on merit.

American Historical Association President James Sweet felt forced to apologize for criticizing those who see history through current, fashionable politics, as The New York Times’ “1619 Project” did.

As of April, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education had logged 591 cases of retaliation toward profs with “unpopular” ideas since 2015. Medical schools have been forced to adopt woke policies and programs. Several polls have shown that even students in high school and college feel uncomfortable expressing their honest views in public.

It’s alarming: The last place cancel culture should flourish is on campus. Higher education is supposed to foster fresh thinking, not enforce any ideology except the classical liberal ideals of free and open debate. Universities can’t serve society as a whole if fear of backlash keeps brilliant thinkers from sharing their thoughts.

“Academia is supposed to encourage free thinking, not enforce one orthodoxy,” contends John Tomasi, the president of pro-free-thinking Heterodox Academy. “Great minds do not always think alike.”

No, unpopular ideas won’t always prove right — but even when wrong, they can expose faults in the previous consensus. And if they go unheard, true progress becomes impossible.


Major regret? See how these Americans feel about their college degrees after graduating

A Washington Post analysis found that nearly 40% of college graduates regretted their major. Americans in New York and Philadelphia had mixed feelings.

Americans in New York City and Philadelphia had mixed feelings on whether they regretted their college major.

"I was a criminal justice major and I regret it," one woman said through laughter. "I really don’t like it. I would have probably done art."

But another graduate said: "I majored in computer science, and I would keep the same major."

Nearly 40% of college graduates regret their majors, a Washington Post analysis found earlier this year. Among arts and humanities majors, nearly half wished they’d studied something else, while STEM graduates tended to feel they made the right choice.

"I realized that my major wasn’t very specific," an international business major told Fox News. "I don’t entirely regret it, but when I started applying for jobs, I realized it wasn’t like a specific field."

"Most of the jobs were looking for a specific field like data analysis or like software or like accounting majors," he continued.

Some suggested alternative paths.

"I think going to a trade school would probably be better off," one man said in Philadelphia. "I think right now the opportunities in that field are probably outstanding."

A few in the arts told Fox News they found their passion.

"I got a bachelor of fine arts in musical theater and I don’t regret it because that’s my job," one woman said. "I live here in New York. I’m a Broadway actor."