Friday, May 19, 2017

Leave the Kids Alone, Progressives

Should elementary school kids be performing plays about "gender identity"? The question should answer itself.

An outburst of sanity occurred Ontario, Canada: The Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) canceled performances of a play about gender identity booked in five elementary schools — withstanding the inevitable accusations of “transphobia” that followed.

The play, “Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures,” was produced by the St. Catharines-based Carousel Playhouse, an organization that touts its commitment to “inclusive and diverse stories that contribute to a dialogue about how youth interact with their peers, their friends, their families, teachers, education system and society at large.” One of their listed “community partners” is Pride Niagara, which identifies itself as a “celebration of Niagara’s sexual and gender diverse community and its supporters.”

Thus it should surprise no one that the play features an eight-year-old boy who dresses as a girl and questions his gender. And given the progressive appetite for indoctrinating children, it should be even less surprising is that it was scheduled to be shown to students in the first though fourth grades.

In fact, it was shown in one Catholic grade school, and officials there came to the conclusion that the material was not age appropriate. A statement released by the district also explained the play “was not originally presented as a play about gender identity.”

NCDSB education director John Crocco echoed that sentiment, insisting the play was “not age-appropriate for a predominantly primary audience.” But he apparently felt compelled to defend the cancellations with the usual boilerplate bromides. Thus, while he explained the board’s decision to defer showing the play “was to afford time for further discussion and preparation with age-appropriate students and how the message links to curriculum expectations,” he insisted the board was “fully inclusive, accepting and supportive,” and in alignment with recent changes to the Ontario Ministry of Education’s health and physical education curriculum.

It’s a curriculum “based on the principles of inclusive education” in which “all students, parents, caregivers, and other members of the school community — regardless of ancestry, culture, ethnicity, sex, physical or intellectual ability, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or other factors — are welcomed, included, treated fairly, and respected. Diversity is valued, and all members of the school community feel safe, comfortable, and accepted” [emphasis added].

Including gender identity means the school district — taking its directives from openly-gay Premier Kathleen Wynn and her Liberal Party — has completely capitulated to the LGBT community’s transgender agenda. The one where chromosomal reality is irrelevant and self-identification is the only factor determining whether one is male or female.

Furthermore, impatience is part of that agenda. As Crocco reveals, the curriculum that speaks to “cultural values, beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc,” isn’t supposed to be imposed on students until Grade 3. Nonetheless “students in Grade 1 and 2” attended the play’s performance at Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School.

The subsequent cancellations have drawn the predictable fire from those who believe one either kowtows to the LGBT agenda or one is a bigot for refusing to do so. Carousel Playhouse artistic director Jessica Carmichael and playwright Mark Crawford posted open letters at the theater’s website, replete with the requisite board-bashing epithets. Carmichael was concerned the cancellations “may be based on misinformation, grown out of fear, intolerance, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny,” while Crawford insisted he was apprehensive “when the motivating factor for canceling performances of this play is a few adults' own fear, prejudice, and hatred.”

Campaign Life Coalition member Clinton Somerton, a staunch opponent of the government-imposed curriculum, defended the NCDSB’s decision. “Pope Francis condemned attempts to indoctrinate children into gender ideology, expressing outrage over such sexual propaganda by saying ‘Today children — children! — are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. … And this is terrible!’” Somerton explained, adding that the board “was wisely following the Holy Father’s guidance by protecting its students from the psycho-sexual molestation of this theatre group’s propaganda-in-a-play.”

He also had some sage advice for faint-hearted people like Crocco and others, insisting they “should not to be afraid of the bludgeon-words ‘homophobe,’ ‘transphobe’ and the like, that are too often used to intimidate decent people into silence and acquiescence to the mental and spiritual molestation of their children. On the contrary, he wrote, "NCDSB needs to be bold and outspoken in its commitment to protecting children, and in calling out these pan-sexual ideologues as child abusers.”

By contrast Carmichael, who insists the board knew what the play is about, also insisted the Liberal Party’s curriculum begins in Grade 1, and that “gender nonconformity” and “gender fluidity” are parts of it.

She further asserts Catholic schools cannot resist it. “They are publicly funded, they can’t just make their own decisions, otherwise they shouldn’t be taking public funding, because this is mandated across the board,” she declared. “It’s something they have to uphold in their schools; they can’t pick and choose how they are going to do that.”

Tanya Granic Allen, executive director of the Ontario-based parents' rights group Parents As First Educator, wasn’t buying it. “It’s appalling for any school board, let alone a Catholic one, to use a cutesy play to force gender ideology, and whatever the latest social fad is, on kids who are nowhere near equipped to process this information,” she stated.

Unfortunately, indoctrinating children too young to think for themselves is the agenda. One that begs an essential question: How can the LGBT agenda simply be imposed on entire school systems, turning them into what Fox News columnist Todd Starnes refers to as “playgrounds for the gender and sex revolutionaries?”

“Playgrounds” is a very apropos description of an agenda where puberty blockers for boys as young as 12 and girls as young as 10 are recommended by Boston Children’s Hospital endocrinologist Norman Spack — despite extensive data collated by Dr. James Cantor revealing 60-90% of trans-kids change their minds upon entering adulthood. Administering life-altering hormones to children, knowing a substantial to vast majority will no longer need them, reeks of medical malpractice. And the reality that 41% of transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to only 4.6% of the general public, suggests a large degree of mental instability among transgender individuals.

Yet schools should be normalizing transgenderism in the minds of children?

Abiding the LGBT agenda and the authoritarian way it is imposed can only happen when parents would rather surrender their own children to a politically correct worldview than defend traditional family values.

Values for which no apology whatsoever is necessary.

“It is our collective failure to resist the sexual militants that has allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where such groups can virtually demand access to little children while fearful adults stand gaping and blinking helplessly,” Carmichael warns.

Schools should not be repositories for un-rebuttable progressive ideology, which is every bit as faith-based and proselytizing as any religion. Should it thus require the same court-mandated religious restrictions with regard to schools? When a school nurse can’t give an aspirin to a minor without parental permission — but can direct that same child to an abortion clinic without parental knowledge — perhaps it’s an idea that needs exploring.


Special dress code for blacks?  No equality?

Black students at a Malden charter school who wear their hair in braids are facing detention and suspension by administrators who say the hairstyles violate the school’s dress code. Parents describe the crackdown as racist.

Colleen Cook, whose twin 15-year-old daughters, Deanna and Mya, attend the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, said Thursday evening that her children have served multiple detentions since last week and could be suspended.

“They teach them at a very high academic level and I appreciate that, and that’s why they go to the school,” Cook said. “But, unfortunately, they don’t have any sensitivity to diversity at all.”

Two other mothers said their black or biracial children had been subjected to discipline or questioning over their hairstyles — braids with extensions — which the parents describe as important expressions of culture.

The school issued a statement defending its actions, saying that Mystic Valley Charter serves a diverse population and that many students go on to attend top colleges and universities.

“One important reason for our students’ success is that we purposefully promote equity by focusing on what unites our students and reducing visible gaps between those of different means,” the statement said.

“Our policies, including those governing student appearance and attire, foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion, or materialism,” the statement said. “Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success.”

School officials were not available for interviews Thursday evening, a spokesman said.

Cook said the school’s policy against braids that include hair extensions — additional hair that is woven in — disproportionately affects black children. Cook and her husband adopted five black children — all siblings — and four have attended Mystic Valley since kindergarten, she said.

Cook said her two daughters who are facing discipline for their hairstyles are good students: Mya is in the National Honor Society, with a 3.79 grade point average, while Deanna has a 3.3 grade point average.

More than 40 percent of students in the school are people of color, including 17 percent who are black, according to the latest annual ranking from U.S. News & World Report.

The school’s student handbook states that hair extensions are prohibited, as are hair coloring, makeup, nail polish, and tattoos.

Cook said she understands a policy that bans nail polish and hair color, rules that would affect children equally. But she said the policy against hair extensions seems aimed at black children.

Braided hair, Cook said, “gives them pride. They want to partake in their culture.”

Cook said her daughters had worn braids before and never encountered objections from the school. Administrators suddenly cracked down in late April, after students returned from spring break, she said.

“They marched black and biracial children down the hall” to inspect their hair, she said.

Cook said her daughters, who declined to remove their braids, have been forced to serve detention an hour before school starts each day, and nearly an hour afterward. They also have been kicked out of after-school sports and banned from the prom, she said. The actions have been particularly hard on Deanna, a runner on the school’s track team.

Cook said she has called two civil rights groups — the NAACP and the state’s Anti-Defamation League — seeking help. The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that fights anti-Semitism and other expressions of hate, has set up a meeting with school administrators on Friday, Cook said. Officials with the Anti-Defamation League could not be reached Thursday evening.

The punishment for some other girls of color at the school has been even more severe.

Annette Namuddu said she received a call from school administrators last week saying her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren Kayondo, initially would have to serve detention. When her daughter refused to remove the braids this week, the detention became a suspension, the mother said.

“It’s discrimination,” Namuddu said. “I see white kids with colored hair and you are not supposed to color your hair, and they walk around like it’s nothing.”

“I don’t get it,” Namuddu said.

Namuddu said her daughter has been coming home from school and crying, saying she feels the school is picking on black children.

“My daughter is a good student. Never gets in trouble,” Namuddu said. “Lauren was having difficulty in mathematics, but they should be helping her out instead of putting her in detention.”

Kathy Granderson said her 14-year-old daughter, Jaden, a freshman at the school, was one of about 20 girls taken down to administrators’ offices last week and asked whether their braids contained any “fake” hair. Granderson said about half of the girls ended up getting detentions, but her daughter, who is biracial, did not.

“This is not right, and you have to take a stand for your children,” she said. “I don’t want my daughter and son [to] think they aren’t good enough.”


Scotland: Students fill teacher gaps as class behaviour worsens

A poor public image, high workloads and low wages are said to be putting people off teaching.  Student indiscipline more likely

A shortage of teachers in Scottish schools is damaging pupils’ behaviour and ability to learn while unqualified trainees are being relied upon to lead classes, MSPs have been warned.

The Scottish parliament’s education committee, which is investigating a staffing shortfall in schools, was told by one local council that children had been sent home because of a lack of staff and that “something has clearly gone drastically wrong”.

It was also warned that parents were increasingly unhappy about the situation, giving rise to complaints about the lack of continuity in their children’s school experience.

Moray council said that six years ago, its schools received up to 200 applications for a teaching post teaching posts and there “seemed to be a limitless availability of supply cover”.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Washington Post urges colleges to censor speech if someone thinks it’s racist

Does The Washington Post editorial board have the slightest familiarity with First Amendment precedents?

In response to the racist-banana incident at the private American University – now under investigation by the U.S. attorney in D.C. as well as the FBI – the editorial board has declared that all colleges should censor students if someone thinks their speech or behavior is racist:

Two-bit provocations such as hanging nooses on campuses play on emotions made raw in the wake of a presidential campaign that featured the vilification of minorities and barely veiled race-baiting. For university administrators, the challenge is to address that legitimate pain with sensitivity and make crystal clear that racist signs, symbols and speech are off-limits.

UCLA Law Prof. Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment scholar, doesn’t try to explain away what appears to be a clear and chilling call for censorship from a legendary newspaper. He writes in his own Post column today:

This is an editorial, the product of carefully considered labor on the part of a group of people, not an extemporaneous remark …

And the editorial’s proposal is an awful idea. At public universities, it would violate the First Amendment; at private universities, it would violate many of the universities’ stated commitments to open debate, as well as basic principles of academic freedom.

The editorial board has no clue how wide a swath of speech it would be implicating, according to Volokh: Claims of “whites being an oppressor race” could just as easily be punished as bananas found hanging from makeshift nooses.

The same goes for criticizing Islam as illiberal, calling for stricter immigration limits or condemning Israeli policies:

All such advocacy that runs against university administrators’ political views would be deterred when “university administrators” “make crystal clear” that “racist … speech” — racist in the views of whatever disciplinary committee is making decisions — is “off-limits.”

Hans Bader, former lawyer in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, said in an email today the Post has reached the “opposite extreme” from its past position:

Once upon a time it called for Congress to pass Congressman Henry Hyde’s bill to ban campus speech codes even at private campuses. Of course, that was years ago, when moderate Democrats still existed. …

I guess free speech no longer matters in an “era defined by trigger warnings and safe spaces.”  Forget that pesky First Amendment thing.

Brookings Institution scholar Stuart Taylor, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, responded to Volokh’s post:

This is huge, and horrible. The Washington Post has — for the first time, as best I can tell — attacked the core of free speech and the First Amendment. Perhaps when Trump attacks the First Amendment by filing a billion-dollar libel suit against the Post, it will come to regret its role in tearing down our constitutional protections.

Another commenter noted the Post could be hoist with its own petard because of a “hate-filled rant” it published in 2013:

[The op-ed was] accusing whites of committing virtually all mass murders, when in fact, whites, who are three-quarters of the U.S. population, actually commit slightly less than their share of mass murders (moreover, about half of all murders in the U.S. are committed by blacks, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and Justice Department data). …

The Washington Post has also published other racist op-eds, such as one arguing that blacks should be given 5/3 of the votes give to whites, to make up for the racist 3/5 compromise in the original constitution.


War on Campus

Don't look to college "leaders" to defend free speech and shut down the rioters. It doesn't work that way. Universities almost always collapse in the face of student protest, even though the numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of the institutions. So it was in the sixties, and so it is again today.

Half a century ago, in the sixties, major universities retreated in the face of anti-Vietnam War, anti-ROTC, and anti-"racist" demonstrations on "top" campuses from Yale and Columbia to Wisconsin and Stanford. New politically inspired departments (Black Studies for example) were created, and professors, including some of the country's most distinguished, were prevented from teaching. At Cornell, the brilliant Walter Berns, quit in disgust

    after the faculty, "having jettisoned every vestige of academic freedom," Professor Berns said, reversed itself and granted amnesty to black students who had seized the student union building. Some denounced dissenting professors as racists and threatened them with violence.

And so it goes. A decade later, students had conquered positions on committees hiring tenured professors. Stephan Thernstrom at Harvard, for example, was blocked from teaching his famous course on the antebellum South on the outrageous grounds that no white man could deal fairly and completely with black history.

It was already obvious in the sixties that the protesters intended to undo the civil rights revolution, well demonstrated by the call for separate dormitories for black students. This was nothing less than the reimposition of segregation within the university. The demand that students choose their own professors was cut from the same detestable ideological cloth. Back then, such demands came from a minority of students, faculty, and administrators. Today, that minority is larger, and their world view far more commonplace. That is why there are so few conservative profs around, and why those that do have jobs pretend to be leftists until they get tenure, when, they tell themselves, they can start teaching and writing what they really believe.

Easier said than done. Survival on campus isn't just a matter of job security. It's rather reminiscent, as William Jacobson observes in a thoughtful essay, of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when professors were publicly humiliated for violations of Mao's political correctness.

    The early phases of the Cultural Revolution were centered on China's schools. In the summer of 1966, the Communist Party leadership proclaimed that some of China's educators were members of the exploiting classes, who were poisoning students with their capitalist ideology. Indeed, the educated classes in general were marked as targets of the revolution.

    The leadership gave Communist youth known as Red Guards the green light to remove educators from their jobs and punish them...

There are several similarities between student demonstrators here, and the Chinese Red Guards, of which I think the most important is that neither is/was spontaneous. Both mobs were following orders from their political masters, and many of the Americans appear to have been paid and trained.

The spread of censorship in the United States, along with the imposition of political correctness, is not limited to the universities. It is well-established in high schools as well.  Barely more than half of our high-school teachers favor free speech, when it is likely to offend others, or violate the official dogmas.

Nor is censorship just a feature of the educational system, as is easy to see from the monochromatic hues of most all social media sites and "news" publications, whether the dead-tree versions or the digital pages. In this environment, it's going to be very difficult for scholars, pundits, and teachers to tear off their liberal masks and declare themselves free thinkers. They can be purged, tenure or not. Let's see what happens to Bret Stephens, now at the New York Times. It's a significant test case.

So the clashes on campus are just part of a much bigger fight. A very important part, to be sure, and we are already seeing its consequences: with each graduating class, our college grads are more politically homogeneous and less informed. It's easy to see this in the many uninformed statements from our political class. Obama made some totally uninformed statements in his Cairo speech early in his first term, and many of Trump's gaffes are equally ignorant. If our leaders do not know the history of allies and enemies, it will be hard for them to design and conduct strategy to prevail in the current global war.

This will last long after the rioters calm down, even if the First Amendment survives.


Scotland's First Minister admits failures in her education policies

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that teaching in schools does not focus enough on the basic skills of reading or writing.

The first minister, who has faced pressure over her stewardship of education since a survey last week found that fewer than half of 13 and 14-year-old children could write to the required standard, said that reforms would be introduced because results in some areas were “not good enough”.

She said that the Curriculum for Excellence introduced in 2010 had been designed to help young people become “good citizens” and “make sense of the world”, rather than simply to absorb facts and figures. However, she said she had received advice that there should be more time spent on maths and writing


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Real Educational Choice Debate

The core issue of the public-policy debate about school choice is not money. It’s the competing visions over who has the right and responsibility for the education and upbringing of children. The premise of the U.S. Department of Education, which was restored to a Cabinet-level department in 1979, is that the government knows best.

That is not a new idea. Speaking a year before the department was originally created in 1867, Rep. Samuel Moulton of Illinois said it would be “a pure fountain from which a pure stream can be poured upon all the States. We want a controlling head by which the conflicting systems in the different States can be harmonized, by which there can be uniformity. ... I take the high ground that every child (is) entitled to an education at the hands of somebody, and that this ought not be left to the caprice of individuals or (the) States so far as we have any power to regulate it.”

Flash forward more than 150 years. On April 7 Arizona enacted what is being hailed as “the most expansive choice program in the country”: a universal education savings account (ESA) program that will be phased in over the next few school years to include all students.

The concept behind the program is simple. Parents who don’t want to send their children to public, district or charter schools can simply inform the state of their preference, and 90 percent of the state base funding that would have gone to one of those schools is deposited into their children’s ESAs instead. That would be approximately $5,600 for each non-disabled student. Students from low-income families would receive 100 percent of the state base funding.

ESA funds may be used to pay for tuition, textbooks, online courses, tutoring, special-education therapies and other educational expenses. Parents can roll over unused funds for future educational expenses. Regular expense reporting and auditing will help ensure that parents use the money as intended.

Most important, putting parents in charge will empower them to choose not just where but how their children are educated, which will allow unprecedented customization of education.

This is a far cry from the one-size-fits-all vision animating the Department of Education. Parental choice challenges the reigning notion of who the real education experts are: it favors parents over far-off government bureaucrats. That in a nutshell is the real education debate—not money, since parental choice programs offer families options that are far less costly than public schools.

Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb exposes as smoke and mirrors the doomsday predictions that parental choice programs would “starve” public, that is, government-managed, schools. In fact, Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that the newly enacted ESA program will save the state $3.4 million in fiscal year 2021. Robb’s column is particularly timely since Arizona is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its flagship tax-credit scholarship program, which also makes all Arizona students eligible for privately financed tuition scholarships.

As Robb explains, the arguments over money have always been a “diversion.” He writes, “Instead, the debate is rooted in different views of the role of government in educating children. The government, through the coercive power of taxation, establishes a central pool of resources for the education of students.”

Those who favor parental choice “believe that the pool should be used to provide the best educational opportunity for each child as determined by their parents. ... The focus should be on what is best for each child individually.”

In contrast, Robb writes, parental choice opponents “believe that some children should be used by the government as sociological chess pieces. Their access to the common pool should be limited to the schools ... opponents believe they should be attending, even if their parents believe (those schools are) suboptimal.”

In other words, government control at all cost.

But if quality education is the priority, then we need to put the real experts back in charge—children’s parents.


Trump Education Secretary DeVos Says It’s Time to ‘Start Fresh’ on Higher Education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated during a speech in Salt Lake City on Tuesday that instead of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, lawmakers should consider a “fresh start.”

Yes, Congress should consider alternatives to the Higher Education Act, which authorizes all federal higher education spending such as student loans and grants.

Enacted in 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson, the Higher Education Act has undergone countless amendments that pass problems on to future generations. As the secretary said, “Why wouldn’t we start afresh and talk about what we need in this century and beyond for educating and helping our young people learn?”

Indeed, higher education badly needs to be adapted to the changing requirements of the American workforce. Here are just a few ways that Congress can give the higher education sector the fresh start it so badly needs.

Decouple Federal Financing From Accreditation

The federal government’s control over our accreditation system is not a particularly popular topic, but it has dramatic consequences on the ability of American universities to thrive and innovate.

The federal government currently has sole discretion in the recognition of accreditors, who then serve as gatekeepers of federal student aid and other institutional financing. This solidifies the federal government’s ability to determine which education is worthy of accreditation and which is not. Unfortunately, this de facto federal system of accreditation has limited the ability of the higher education sector to grow and adapt to the changing needs of our workforce and the economy.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., have put forward the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act (HERO), which would allow states to opt out of the current federal accrediting structure.

States could recognize their own accreditors, including members of the business community. The legislation would also allow states to break apart the current binary accrediting model, and let the business community, trade groups, nonprofits, and other entities to put their stamp of approval on individually credentialed courses or curricula.

These reforms would give students a better idea of the market value of the education they are receiving, grant more flexibility with student loan dollars, and create a pipeline between the universities and the job market.

Consolidate Federal Lending

Under the Obama administration, the federal government dramatically increased its role in originating and servicing student loans. The near-monopoly that the federal government now has over the student loan market presents many problems, the most pressing of which is mounting evidence suggesting federal aid leads to increases in college tuition.

As my colleague Jamie Hall and I discuss in our recent report, the five current federal loan programs should be collapsed into a single loan option under the current terms of the Graduate Stafford Loan. Additionally, Congress should place an annual and lifetime cap on student lending, thereby restoring fiscal responsibility to the loan program. We anticipate such reforms would lead to savings of $33 billion over the next 10 years.

Remove Burdensome Regulations

Under the Obama administration, several burdensome regulations were placed on institutions of higher education, particularly those in the for-profit sector.

Regulations should at the very least be sector neutral in their application, but a better approach would be to remove these barriers to innovation altogether.

Borrower defense to repayment, for example, opens institutions up to being sued by students who feel they have been defrauded by their university (a potentially slippery slope in the future). While longstanding institutions with large endowments may be better insulated from this regulation, new actors who are trying to build their business will have trouble coming up with the line of credit required to protect against such suits.

This is just one example of the many ways that burdensome regulations drain resources from universities and distract from the business of educating students.

In considering the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, policymakers should follow DeVos’ advice and develop new policy proposals that will help improve the quality of higher education while putting downward pressure on prices. These reforms would be a significant step in achieving that goal.


School choice is the only real choice for states

By Natalia Castro

Democrats love school choice, that is, as long as only their students get to choose. Luckily, President Donald Trump is leveling the playing field for students in his backyard, with hopes that legislators around the country will do the same.

Trump and Congress acted early this month to increase funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — the only federally funded voucher program in the nation and largely viewed as a case study for the success of school choice.

And we know it works, because even Democrats who traditionally oppose this legislation have skirted the rules to get their children into it. Two appointed officials working for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) are currently under investigation for providing the mayor’s office members preferential treatment to avoid the lottery system and attend voucher schools.

This is no surprise considering Vice President Mike Pence explained, “While only 69 percent of D.C. public-school students graduated from high school last year, a stunning 98 percent of scholarship recipients walked across the stage to receive their diploma. And 86 percent of those graduates were accepted into college to continue their education and to continue climbing the ladder of opportunity.”

The D.C. program has had resounding success, and it is not alone. Programs that incentivize school choice, from vouchers to charter schools, have had success in local districts across the country.

In Indiana, a state with one of the most accessible voucher programs for impoverished students, more than half of the states voucher recipients have never had to attend a public school. The Washington Post of Dec. 2016 found that, “Indiana’s program has succeeded in reaching children who otherwise would not have the chance to attend private schools,” noting its assistance particularly to students with disabilities who often fall behind in traditional school settings.

Indiana’s program has been consistently funded since 2011; allowing the state to provide vouchers to students with household incomes up to 150 percent of the free and reduced price lunch guideline, students with Individual Education Plans (IEP) and students whose neighborhood public school is assigned an F rating.

By providing greater choice to parents, Republican legislators in Indiana have vastly improved students access to quality education.

The Boston Globe provided a four-part series detailing the success of charter schools in Boston. The series found the success of these schools most startling; charter schools produced 11 percent more graduates than Boston public schools, with a student body made of 43 percent students in poverty.

Charter schools and voucher programs have broken the gates of generational poverty, while federal education policy affecting states has consistently fallen flat.

No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Act both attempted to federalize education but only reduced parent, teacher, and students choice, thus, limiting access and control of education.

The answer is clear — let states handle education. And states should implement school choice policies.

It has worked in D.C., it has worked in Indiana, it has worked in Boston, and countless other districts across the country.

In 2016, the Fordham Institute published the worst cities in the country for school choice — ranking Albany, Austin, Pittsburg, and Charlotte as the worst.

With Republican state legislators in Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina there is no reason for these states to continue failing their students.

Charter schools and voucher programs work. The evidence is clear and the people want school choice, so these legislators need to provide it. A solution is not going to come from the federal government, state governments must accept their responsibility and follow the Presidents trend.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Segregation at Harvard

Two days before Courtney Woods dresses in a cap and gown for Harvard’s traditional commencement, she will don a stole made of African kente cloth and address the crowd at a somewhat different event: a graduation ceremony for black students.

Student organizers said the event, called Black Commencement 2017, is the first universitywide ceremony for black students at Harvard and is designed to celebrate their unique struggles and achievements at an elite institution that has been grappling with its historic ties to slavery.

More than 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend the ceremony, which will be held May 23 at Holmes Field, near the Harvard Law School campus. The event will feature speeches by black students, alumni, and administrators.

“I can only imagine how special I will feel when I walk across that stage and be able to honor my identity and my struggle at Harvard,” said Woods, who is completing a master’s degree at the Graduate School of Education. “I know this is exactly what students like me need to be inspired as we leave this place as emerging global leaders.”

Similar ceremonies have been held for Harvard undergraduates as well as for students at Stanford, Columbia, Temple, and other campuses. On May 23, Harvard will also hold its third annual graduation ceremony for students of Latin American descent.

The ceremony for black students was created during a period of heightened activism related to racism on college campuses and in the country at large — from the Black Lives Matter movement to the increased focus on “micro-aggressions,” passing comments that seem to trivialize or marginalize the experiences of minorities.

At Harvard, the campus has also undergone a season of soul-searching.

Last year, Drew Faust, university president, and Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who is a civil rights icon, unveiled a plaque commemorating four slaves who had been owned by Harvard presidents. The university also agreed to redesign the Harvard Law School shield, which was modeled on the family crest of an 18th-century slaveholder.

Woods said the black graduation ceremony will recognize that history, as well as the challenges that black students face today, including what she called a lack of social, emotional, and academic support. In 2015, 5 percent of the 7,595 degrees that Harvard awarded went to black students.

“Your parents, your colleagues, and those who are there in the audience are there to celebrate you because they know your common struggle,” Woods said. “There’s a shared history, there’s a shared struggle, there’s a shared identity.”

Black graduation events have sometimes sparked criticism that they are divisive.

But the ceremony is “not about segregation,” said Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, which is organizing the event. Students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds may attend, he said, and the black students taking part in the ceremony also plan to attend the university’s official commencement on May 25 in Harvard Yard.

“The primary reason we wanted to do this is we really wanted to come together to celebrate Harvard black excellence and brilliance,” said Huggins, who is graduating from the Kennedy School. “This is really an opportunity for students to build fellowship and build a community.”

Every graduate at the event will receive a stole made of kente cloth, as a symbol of their African heritage. And while there will be tributes to the students’ successes, some of the speakers also plan to bluntly confront the challenges facing the black community, said Jillian Simons, a law school student who is incoming president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance.

“There’s an element of celebration and a very somber tone to it because of the things we’ve had to overcome,” she said.

Planning for the event started last July. The administration has been supportive, organizers said, and many of the graduate schools have donated money to help pay for the ceremony. The students said they have raised $27,000 so far.

While most of those attending are graduate students, organizers said they hope to expand the event to include more undergraduates next year. Black students make up just under 14 percent of the students accepted into Harvard’s undergraduate class of 2020.

“This is an opportunity to tell everyone that we’re here and we’re an important part of the culture at Harvard,” Huggins said. “And if you want to learn more about that, then come.”


Parents slam Ohio middle school after they suspended their seventh grade son for 10 DAYS because he 'liked' an Instagram photo of an airsoft gun

A seventh grader in Ohio was suspended from his middle school for 10 days after liking a photo of a gun on Instagram.

Zachary Bowlin was given the harsh punishment from staff at Edgewood Middle School in Trenton after he liked the social media post showing an airsoft gun that shoots pellets with the caption: 'Ready'.

'I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o'clock I liked it,' Zachary told WXIX. 'The next morning they called me down (to the office) patted me down and checked me for weapons.'

He told WCMH, 'I don't think I did anything wrong... Then, they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.'

The middle school student was sent home with a note to his parents about the cause of his suspension Thursday.

The letter said he was suspended for 'liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.'

His father, Martin Bowlin, said he was upset when his son came home.  'I was livid,' he told WCMH. 'He never shared, he never commented, never made a threatening post … [he] just liked it.'

His mother, Cindy Martin, took to Facebook to express her frustration with the situation. 'This sickens me! Not anywhere on the boys Instagram post did it say anything about taking a gun to school. This is a bunch of s*** if I ever seen any....... SMH,' she wrote.

'People wake up and teach your children right from wrong and teach them not to blow s*** out of proportion. 'Now 2 innocent harmless boys got in trouble over some pansy cry bag making s*** up!'  

Russ Fussnecker, the superintendent of Edgewood City Schools released a statement to WXIX that said: 'Concerning the recent social media posting of a gun with the caption "Ready", and the liking of this post by another student, the policy at Edgewood City Schools reads as follows:

'"The Board has a 'zero tolerance' of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students."

'Furthermore, the policy states: "Students are also subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct that occurs off school property when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process."

'As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken seriously, including those who "like" the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.'

Administrators at the school agreed to lift Zachary's suspension after speaking with his parents and he was allowed to go to school on Monday.

Cindy shared another post on Facebook after the suspension was lifted and wrote: 'Just wanted to let everyone know that the matter we been dealing with over our son 'liking' a picture on Instagram has been resolved. 'Zach is not in any trouble whatsoever, nothing of this matter will be on his school record, it will be like it never ever happened. 'He got to go back to school, he gets to attend his dance and all other school functions.

'I want to say THANK YOU so much to all of our family, friends and all of you who shared our son's story, thank for all of your support, suggestions and kind words, with​ all of you by our side it made things so much easier to get through!'


UK: The Marxist Revolution is alive and well - in your child's school

What are they teaching your children? Are they teaching them how to think – or what to think? Worse, are they monitoring you by trapping your children into answering intrusive questions about your private opinions?

Do you know? You may think that the crazy ideas of the hard Left are safely contained in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, or the Guardian newspaper.

But some recent disturbing letters from parents of school-age children made my stomach lurch. I saw in these accounts the gradually solidifying shape of a nasty new intolerance, state-financed and more or less unavoidable by anyone with school-age children.

First of all, for a flavour of the ideas encouraged in our schools, look at a recent competition for ‘gifted pupils’. Let’s say this was ‘somewhere in Southern England’. Its theme was ‘2016: A Pivotal Year In History’, which might seem harmless. But what were the 15-year-olds involved actually doing?

The competition brief allowed for a wide range of topics to be covered. Wide? Well, the winners discussed ‘prejudice in 2016’. What prejudice was that? ‘Incidents of hate crime after Brexit, Islamophobia and the media portrayal of these events.’ They also dealt with, yes, ‘gender, religious and racial equality’.

Can we really be planning to send more troops to Afghanistan, the most foolish and futile military and political mistake of modern times? It’s just for training, apparently. Well, last time it was going to happen without a shot being fired, until the sad convoys of flag-wrapped coffins began to come back.

Another team in this competition ‘highlighted’ the way in which David Bowie and Prince ‘made people start to question social convention on gender identity’. Others tackled ‘biased slants from certain media corporations’ by which I doubt they meant the BBC, and, of course, ‘climate change’ and immigration, those two tests of correctness and acceptability among the modern Left. Do you see a theme here? You should.

For not far away, in a different part of Southern England, another parent tells me that his daughter recently came home from primary school bearing a decorated poster with ALLAH across the middle. That parent says: ‘I have yet to see a similar poster with GOD or JESUS across it.’

His son, at a secondary school, is about to visit a mosque. So far there have been no visits to Christian churches. But it goes further than that.

At a recent parent-teacher meeting, which discussed ‘refugees’, the head teacher spoke of ‘these dark days’ since the EU referendum.

The boy has recently come home from school and – with a note of disapproval in his voice – asked his father: ‘Dad, why do you read the Daily Mail?’ It turns out that a teacher had asked the pupils how their parents had voted for in the referendum, and when one of the pupils said ‘Brexit’, this teacher had responded, in a disapproving tone, by asking: ‘Why did they vote for that?’

Let’s not exaggerate. These teachers are not (yet) reporting politically incorrect parents to the authorities. But what worries me is that all the preconditions for surveillance and indoctrination are there. Socially and morally conservative opinions are treated as phobias and heresies. Parents who hold such views are undermined by their children’s teachers.

Already, on the excuse of discouraging Islamic extremism, schools are licensed to probe into the minds of their pupils. Once you’ve allowed this for one supposedly ‘extreme’ opinion, it’s not a big shift to move on to others.

In the meantime, might these attitudes affect such things as the grading of coursework, job and university applications? I don’t doubt it.

Governments come and go, supposedly Left-wing and supposedly Right-wing – though the supposedly Right-wing ones usually turn out to be nothing of the kind. But in the schools, the universities and most of the public sector, the wild Marxist Cultural Revolution quietly continues its long march through the institutions.


Scotland: ‘Shameful’ figures reveal decline in school literacy

Standards of reading and writing in Scotland’s schools have fallen to “shameful” levels under the SNP, according to critics reacting to the publication of a damning official survey of literacy.

Just half of S2 pupils are now hitting or exceeding the expected level in writing, a significant decline compared to four years ago when almost two thirds were doing well or better.

Alongside the poor performance in writing, the proportion of pupils who can read well dropped in P4 by six percentage points and in P7 by two points between 2012 and 2016.

The findings of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) also suggest that no progress has been made in tackling a deep attainment gap between pupils from rich and poor families


Monday, May 15, 2017

'Burper' case headed for US Supreme Court

This whole thing arose because teachers these days are given so few disciplinary powers.  In times past there would have been no thought of calling the police to deal with a disciplinary problem

One of Neil Gorsuch's sharpest dissents as an appeals court judge came just six months before he was nominated for the US Supreme Court.

That's when he sided with a New Mexico seventh-grader who was handcuffed and arrested after his teacher said the student had disrupted gym class with fake burps.

Nearly a year later, Gorsuch sits on the nation's highest court and the boy's mother is asking the justices to take up her appeal. She's using Gorsuch's words to argue that she has a right to sue the officer who arrested her son.

The court could act as early as Monday, either to deny the case or take more time to decide.

Gorsuch said arresting a "class clown" for burping was going "a step too far".

Whether the Supreme Court ultimately takes the case or not may have nothing to do with Gorsuch. The justices have repeatedly turned away disputes over school disciplinary policies. Or they may decide it's not important enough for the court to intervene.

The incident began in 2011 when the student kept interrupting his PE class with fake burps. The teacher sent him into the hallway, where he continued burping and laughing as he leaned into the classroom entrance.

The teacher called for help on her school radio, and Arthur Acosta, a police officer assigned to the school, arrived and arrested him for violating a law that prohibits anyone from disrupting the education process. He handcuffed the boy and took him to the juvenile detention centre, where the boy stayed for an hour until he was picked up.

His mother, Annette Montano, sued school officials and police, arguing that arresting her 13-year-old son was unreasonable under the law. A federal judge ruled against her.


Teaching Racism in K-12 Classrooms

Leftist educators are corrupting the young

Teachers at Highlands Elementary, a school in Edina, Minnesota, are indoctrinating five-year-olds in order to radicalize them and encourage them to become activists obsessed with race.

Public school teachers across America already saturate students with information about racial injustice in America in a nonstop barrage of historic facts and ahistorical nonsense. And in the culture at large, the media, politicians, and the entertainment industry can’t stop talking about race. The last thing any young student in America needs is to be taught about is race. Race matters only to radicals.

Leftists believe you have to get ’em while they’re young and impressionable.

Marxist theorist Paolo Freire advocated in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that schools be used to inculcate radical values in students so they become agents of social change. Freire held that the so-called dominant pedagogy “silences” poor and minority children and that there is no such thing as a neutral educational system.

Joining Freire in his desire to use the educational system to level institutions is unrepentant communist terrorist and education theorist Bill Ayers, who has long advocated poisoning the minds of the young so they can agitate to fundamentally transform American society.

“If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to; the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon,” he said in 2012. “We have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom, the workplace, the shop, the farm.”

This brings us to Highlands Elementary, which is located in one of the most affluent cities in Minnesota. Its school district is among the best in the state, Daniel Lattier reports at Intellectual Takeout. Highlands students do well in standardized testing: more than 85 percent of its students are proficient in reading and math. 

But racial and social justice indoctrination have found their way onto the Highlands curriculum over the past year, according to Lattier. The phenomenon is not limited to Highlands, he adds. “[A] large percentage of students in public schools today are being trained to view the world primarily through the lenses of race, class, and gender.”

Katie Mahoney, who took over as principal of Highlands last fall, is proud of the school’s “Melanin Project.” She tweeted April 26: “Kindergarten tackles the Melanin project! @edinaschools @LeslieStageberg[.]” (Leslie Stageberg is a teacher.)

A poster made of construction paper is shown that reads, "Stop thinking your skin color is better than anyone elses[sic]! Everyone is Special!"

This message in itself isn’t sinister. American children shouldn’t be taught skin color is a mark of superiority, inferiority, or of anything in particular.

But one has to question the appropriateness of getting intellectually, emotionally immature Kindergarteners thinking about skin color at all, before they know how to think critically.

Why the rush?

It is to soften young minds in order to make the indoctrination process easier throughout students’ time in school. If a young child is already self-righteously hyperventilating about race and supposed systemic racism in America, it makes that child more susceptible to other leftist ideas.

The Highlands Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) wasn’t lying when it stated in the banner photo of its Facebook page that “Highlands is Planting Seeds of Change.”

Something else about the Melanin Project is disturbing. Discussions of melanin have an ugly pedigree. Racists are particularly fascinated by melanin.

Radical activists use melanin for political purposes, spewing pseudoscientific nonsense to create the illusion that their warped ideas about race somehow have an empirical basis in science. Melanin itself, a blanket term for a group of pigments, is the primary determinant of human skin color. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun triggers a process by which an amino acid called tyrosine becomes melanin, which protects the skin from sun damage. The thinking is that over time the more a population is exposed to the sun, the more melanin is generated and the darker their skin.

Leonard Jeffries Jr., a black studies professor at the City College of New York, is an influential thinker on the black racist Left. This Afrocentrist academic embraces “melanin theory,” maintaining that melanin possesses supernatural powers and makes those who have large quantities of it smarter and stronger than those who don’t. Blacks are therefore, peaceful and compassionate “sun people,” and are culturally and racially superior to whites, the violent, cruel “ice people.” Melanin empowers black people to “negotiate the vibrations of the universe and to deal with the ultraviolet rays of the sun," Jeffries says.

This fetishizing of human anatomy is surprisingly commonplace on the Left. The low-rent James Baldwin wannabe, Ta-Nehisi Coates, now the toast of bicoastal elites and academics, talks about “black bodies” as objects worthy of veneration without regard to the individuals occupying them. His phraseology is now boilerplate among members of the violent, racist Black Lives Matter movement.

Highlands was recently awarded a grant that will allow fourth- and fifth-graders to take part in the Stages Theatre Company’s “Perspectives on Peace” (PoP) project, Lattier notes. PoP is run by Nikki Swoboda, “whose directorial credits include: “Virgin Territory,” which “tak[es] a hard look at the ‘ideals’ of virginity and how those are perceived in society”; and “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle.”

PoP promotional material states that the project “illuminates current world events and broadens students’ attitudes toward tolerance, respect, understanding, and peace…” A promotional video for PoP that was linked to in an email sent to Highlands parents associates Black Lives Matter with “peace.”

At South View Middle School in Edina, older students are encouraged to get involved in something called Dare 2 Be Real. A presentation slide that begins with “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World! – Mahatma Gandhi” states:

    "Members of Dare 2 Be Real are students who are passionate about the topic of race. They seek to become anti-racists [sic] leaders in their lives at South View and beyond. In Dare 2 Be Real, we get real about this important, yet uncomfortable, topic and learn how to speak our truths".

Students can join the South View Environmental Group whose motto is given as, “Helping our school community make choices that are environmentally conscious and personally healthy.”

It is described as “a warm and welcoming group of young people who feel an urgent need to help improve the health of our planet and protect our natural world. We take on [a] mix of large group, small group, and individual projects to explore our personal passions, collaborate, and get as much done as possible!”

Among “[p]ast and present projects” are “[f]undraisers for endangered species” and “[p]resenting individual and group projects at an annual Earth Day Summit[.]”

Meanwhile, Principal Mahoney doesn’t exactly hide her ideology or intentions. She celebrates leftist indoctrination on Twitter and in blog posts.

Whether “this unusually large focus on social justice issues is a perennial theme at Highlands Elementary” or if it is the direct result of the hiring of Mahoney in 2016, is unclear, Lattier writes:

    "But one thing is clear: Mahoney is certainly a zealot for social justice issues. Almost every post she uploads to the school’s blog, “Wonder,” includes an “Equity Corner,” where she provides recommendations to teachers and parents for their further education". (Note: Mahoney is also prolific on the school's Facebook page.)

    Some of the many recommendations include…

    - an article from The Root titled “Yes, You Can Measure White Privilege.”

    - book resources for parents to use to talk with their children about race.

    - the student projects on activist groups at the Ashoka Changemaker Summit. (Highlands is listed as one of Ashoka’s “Changemaker Schools,” which share a commitment to helping children “master empathy.”) 

On Twitter, Principal Mahoney highlights a recent Technology and Information Services (TIES) conference for Minnesota educators, offering what Lattier calls “one more illustration that Highlands’ social justice curriculum is not specific to this school, but is becoming systemic in America’s education system.”

She posted a photo of a slide from a presentation by sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism without Racists, which urges the creation of “a large cohort of antiracist whites.”

Another slide Mahoney posted embraced the leftist idea that America is hopelessly racist:


    Racism refers to societies partially organized around the logic and practice of race (the problem of race in America has always been less about the apples, and more about the apple tree). In this sense, racism is always a structural or systemic problem reproduced through mechanisms and practices at all levels, including the ideological one.

    Why does it exist? Originally to justify colonialism, genocide, land dispossession, resource extraction, slavery, and labor extraction. Today it justifies those race-based inequalities that emerged in early modernity and remain part of our global landscape".

Not surprisingly, Mahoney recommends victimology porn such as Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School, by Monique W. Morris, and Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by Z.Z. Packer.

In a blog post about “changemaking communities,” Mahoney draws attention to The Mask You Live In, a documentary film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, current wife of California’s lieutenant governor and former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom (D). This piece of feminist agitprop features a parade of eunuchs apologizing for masculinity and demanding that something be done about their sex.

A trailer shows a defeated-looking retired NFL player Joe Ehrmann moaning, “The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to be a man.” Now a social justice warrior, Ehrmann rails against sports, saying, “The great myth in America today is that sports builds character.”

Asked what it means to be a man, Ehrmann sounds beaten-down and brainwashed.

    "I think it can only be defined by two things: One, it's your capacity to love and to be loved. Masculinity ought to be defined in terms of relationships. Second thing, it ought to be defined by commitment to a cause. All of us have a responsibility to give back, to make the world more fair, more just, more hospitable for every human being. So I think it's about relationships and commitments to a cause. That's the underline of all humanity — men and women"

Later in the post Principal Mahoney oozes about her school, calling it “an amazing community doing wonderful things every day for students, staff and families.”

    "We need to keep pushing what we know is right for children and we need to reach out and partner with other fabulous changemaking schools to keep learning, growing and building inspiration. We don't have to go it alone we have the community and they ALL want to grow with us and continue changemaking for all the right reasons- KIDS!"

Why do we need all this “changemaking” and why do our children have to be the vehicles for it?

Short answer: we don’t and they shouldn’t be.


Australia: Sydney teacher says Muslim pupils as young as 10 wore ISIS shirts to school, waved terrorist flags and circled around her reciting the Koran

A primary school teacher in Sydney's west has spoken of how radicalised Muslim boys wore ISIS shirts to class and circled around her menacingly reciting the Koran.

The woman, known by the pseudonym of Mrs A, told former federal Labor leader Mark Latham about the horror of being intimidated by students aged between 10 and 13.

'I had students coming into class flying flags from overseas, be it the Syrian flag and possibly the ISIS flag. It looked to me like the ISIS flag,' she told the Mark Latham Outsiders program.

'There was one occasion where a couple of boys had come to school wearing T-shirts that appeared to have the ISIS flag wording.'

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham interviewed the teacher about school radicalisation

On another occasion, a group of students circled her against a wall and began reciting the Koran, she claimed.

'That was quite scary and it wasn’t only scary for me but it was also quite intimidating for the other students,' she said.

'The other students were quite frightened, non-Islamic and Islamic students.’

The incidents, involving students in Years 5 and 6, occurred in 2014 as ISIS gained territory in Iraq and Syria.

The teacher, who has taught in the same area for the past decade, also endured students making threats to her with throat slitting gestures.

'Sometimes they would even make comments, "I can do this to you",' she said, demonstrating the intimidating finger movement.

She added that some students would 'constantly make threats to behead' her in class.

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday the incidents she described had taken place.

The teacher said the students' behaviour worsened after they had watched the ABC's children's current affairs program Behind The News.

'We would watch some programs at school, one of them being the ABC Behind The News program, which tended to have a bit of a sympathetic voice towards ISIS,' she said.

'If there was a segment about ISIS, or something to do with Islam, their behaviour seemed to have heightened. So I actually stopped watching it altogether.'

However, an ABC spokesman denounced the claim about Behind The News. 'Any such claim would be nonsensical and offensive,' he told Daily Mail Australia.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

UK: Malia Bouattia, who made controversial militantly pro-Palestinian comments, loses National Union of Students reelection bid

British university students have dumped a controversial leader of the National Union of Students who three years ago spoke out passionately in support of violent Palestinian “resistance,” insisted it should not be considered terrorism, and criticized the notion that “Palestine” could be freed by nonviolent action alone.

Malia Bouattia — the union’s first black female Muslim leader and an activist in the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement — was defeated by Shakira Martin by 402 votes to 272, just a year after being elected.

A spokesperson for the Union of Jewish Students told the London Jewish Chronicle, “We extend heartfelt congratulations to the newly elected NUS President Shakira Martin on her election win. In particular, Shakira’s election demonstrates a rejection of the divisive rhetoric used by the current president, Malia Bouattia, whose past antisemitic comments have remained problematic for Jewish students for over a year.”

In 2011, Bouattia wrote an article in which she described Birmingham as “something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education.”

In a 2014 speech, she suggested that British student activists should “take orders” from Palestinian terrorists.

In that address, Bouattia protested that in “mainstream Zionist-led media outlets… resistance is presented as an act of terrorism” and complained that this has “become an accepted discourse among too many.”

She went on to say it was “problematic” to view efforts to boycott Israel as an alternative to Palestinian “resistance,” and appeared to encourage engaging with terrorists, raising the possibility of “taking orders” to show solidarity.

In the wake of Bouattia’s election a year ago, three universities disaffiliated with the NUS and some 57 Jewish student leaders penned an open letter to the president-elect voicing concern that she is “creating an element of suspicion towards Jewish students on campus.”


SPME is deeply concerned by Dartmouth’s recent appointment of Professor Bruce Duthu, a pro-BDS supporter, as Dartmouth's Dean of Faculty

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is deeply concerned by the recent nomination of Professor Bruce Duthu, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College.

Duthu is a known supporter of BDS and was one of the signatories of the 2013 “Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions” issued by the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).

Positively, Dartmouth economics professor Alan Gustman circulated a faculty-wide email expressing his grave concerns over Duthu's anti-Israel activism arguing that such a position should not be filled by an individual who is opposes to working with Israeli academics and institutions based on their national origin as Gustman states,

“In view of Dartmouth's anti-Semitic history and Professor Duthu's endorsement of the anti-Semitic BDS document, Dartmouth must not simply appoint Duthu to the position of Dean of the Faculty and ignore the implications of that appointment…Professor Duthu should either publicly disavow the full ramifications of the BDS positions he has publicly endorsed, or resign his position as Dean and return to his faculty position where expression of these views is sanctioned as academic freedom, but is not representative of Dartmouth College or its faculty.”

Gustman further stressed that Duthu “cannot, without contradiction, 1) assure council signers of the NAISA document and holders of their position of his support for action to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and at the same time 2) administer his job as Dean of the Faculty, while assuring Dartmouth that he will not take such action…

Given its history, Dartmouth cannot turn a blind eye to this contradiction. These issues must be directly and publicly addressed by the Dean, the President, and by the Board. Papering over hypocrisy and prejudice is no way to run an Ivy League College administration.”

SPME wholeheartedly concurs and echoes Professor Gustman concerns. 

As an academic organization, what is most troubling to SPME is that pro-BDS individuals like Duthu, engage with the topic of and Arab-Israeli conflict in a lopsided way, focusing exclusively on Israel. Critiquing only Israel among all the nations on earth—many countries where academics are denied even the ability to study, attend classes, or travel—is both counter-productive, since Israel guarantees individual and human rights of its own citizens and visitors, including its Arab citizens.

BDS goes counter to any acceptable academic discourse and is contrary to the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Moreover, academic boycotts are directly in opposition to decades of agreements between Israeli and Arab Palestinians, in which both sides pledged to negotiate a peaceful settlement and a commitment to a two state solution, but only Israel has repeatedly made concessions for peace.

Finally, viewing the Arab-Israeli conflict through the prism of BDS is dishonest, disingenuous and ahistorical something that hurts the academy at large. All of above, should cause President Phil Hanlon, Provost Carolyn Dever, and the entire Dartmouth Board of Trustees to seriously consider the serious ramifications of nominating pro-BDS individuals like Duthu and how such decisions reflect on the institution at large.

Via email from SPME

Education’s biggest trend: Why Australia's home taught kids are doing better

IT’S arguably the biggest trend in education and even teachers are shocked.

Home educated kids are outperforming their mainstream counterparts in just about every area, according to NAPLAN results and other studies. And more and more Aussie parents are taking their kids out of school.

No one is more surprised than Dr Rebecca English, from the Queensland University of Technology.

“I’m a teacher of two decades standing and I assumed that teachers knew better than parents how to teach.”

The shock for Dr English was to learn that lots of parents are doing better than teachers at educating children. This was “because of their ability to be able to individuate, and to draw on an incredible knowledge of what all parents know about their children’s likes”.

Home educator and casual high-school teacher Myfanwy Dibben says one of the reasons parents are taking their kids out of school is that teachers are not respected by parents or their students, which is leading to chaotic classrooms where teachers are often making children copy from the board because nothing else is possible.

Myf has been educating her 10-year-old daughter, Pi, for five years because of “the disengagement and disruptive environment of schools”.

Statistics are hard to come by, largely because most home educators are technically doing it illegally rather than face the invasive task of registering. Although only 14,510 students were registered as home educated in 2015, estimates of the actual number range from 25,000 to 55,000.

“This means three or four per cent of the population have been home schooled, Stuart Chapman, CEO of Christian based Homeschool WA, says.

“That’s almost mainstream. It is the fastest growing educational demographic in the country.”

But not everyone agrees. “It is still a tiny number of kids who are home schooled,” CEO of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Lisa Rogers said.

“I don’t have a problem with home schooling but it is a tough job. It’s highly unlikely that kids have parents who are able to teach the specialist content across all the curriculum domains,” she said.

“It’s a trade-off. It’s difficult for parents to deliver a quality education in terms of curriculum outcomes, but school isn’t just about curriculum content.”

And of course, not all parents can afford, nor have the desire to stay home and teach their kids.


There are three types of home educators: religious, libertarian and accidental teachers, whose children might have been bullied, have special needs or don’t fit for another reason.

Anita Webster* began teaching her two boys, Josh*, 12, and Lewis*, 10, at home this year. Josh, who is autistic, was bullied by his teacher. Josh’s desk was his special place but his teacher dumped everything from papers to a fish tank on it and eventually removed it so Josh was forced to sit on the floor by himself.

Anita says, “There was no safe space for Josh at his school, symbolically and in reality.”

“They’re focused on outcomes so the real needs of the students get lost.”

The experience has led Anita, who is an occupational therapist (OT), to “rethink OT”.

“I have realised that most of what we do as professional OTs is try to get children to go to school. That’s ridiculous. We should be asking what the best schooling option is for each child.”

Triana Parry was motivated to home educate a decade ago when her son’s local Steiner school in the Southern Highlands of NSW closed down but she had always liked the idea of home education.

Her son Kiahl, 17, has since entered the workforce and her two daughters, Elinor, 14, and Freya, 10, both elite ballerinas, “have totally thrived in a home school environment”.

The sisters have both trained with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia, a rare honour for a non-Russian.

Elinor is the youngest in her Bolshoi Academy class, by years, and plans to complete advanced diplomas in dance. Freya accompanied her sister and mother to Russia and, after impulsively auditioning, was accepted and spent a fortnight training with the Bolshoi dancers.

Triana, a music teacher, is able to integrate her daughters’ love of dancing into their curriculum. ”Being able to follow your children’s passions is really important,” she said.

This flexibility is the most important aspect of home education for Elinor and Freya. “If Freya isn’t able to move she can’t sit and focus,” Triana said. This is an issue many teachers would either not notice or be unable to address.

“Teachers are passionate about what they do but their students are not their children,” Triana explained. “Parents have a much deeper understanding of their needs.“


A lack of socialisation is often the main criticism of home educators, but these parents disagree.

“The impression of socialisation being a problem for home educators came about because of Christian minority groups keeping to themselves. In reality it has never been a problem,” says Myf.

“The issue is fitting it all in,” Triana says. Her children made lasting friendships through after-school activities, home-education gatherings and holiday workshops. “I just make sure I always get phone numbers.”

Myf’s home education network meets for three hours a week to, for instance, present science projects or refine circus skills.


Stuart Chapman, a former pastor, and his wife home educated their five children for 18 years. Three went to university to pursue professions. Two became tradies.

The Chapmans began home educating as there was no Christian school in the country WA town where they lived. “Most people’s reasoning for home schooling is multifaceted,” Stuart said.

“We didn’t want to have children to give them away for the best part of the day,” he said.

Stuart has observed numerous changes since he began home educating. “There is a stereotype. It used to be the Christian fundamentalist. Now it’s much more likely to be the child who is bullied or withdrawn,” he said.

Stuart maintains bullying is the single biggest reason for home educating. “But the big market nowadays is what I call crisis enrolment. This includes student refusals and special needs, particularly autism.”

“Schools do achieve their Number one aim, which is to enable parents to have two jobs and not look after their children,” he said.

Myf agrees.

“ It’s never been easier to home educate your child,” she said.

“Quite frankly the education ministers should be coming to home educators to find out what to do. We’re the innovators.”