Friday, March 02, 2018

Why Conservatives Must Be Part of Reforming School safety

As school safety discussions ramp up across the nation, a state legislator who is a survivor of the Columbine massacre is proposing legislation that would end gun-free zones.

Leading the charge is Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a student at the high school in Columbine, Colorado, at the time of the 1999 shooting. He advocates that willing teachers have the ability to arm themselves and have concealed carry permits.

Neville, a Republican, told The Daily Signal that he hopes to “end this crazy policy of gun-free zones that I think just invites criminals to do harm to our students.”

Last week, however, the Colorado House rejected Neville’s proposal and similar bills in the wake of a gunman’s rampage Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

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Neville has personal experience with school shootings. Now in his mid-30s, he was a sophomore at Columbine High School when two fellow students opened fire there in 1999, killing 13.

The Daily Signal interviewed Neville on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, one day after he was invited to speak with President Donald Trump at the White House.

“What I’ve been presenting, as a former Columbine student I take this very personal, is that we end that policy [of gun-free zones] and we actually allow our teachers to defend our students,” he said. 

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a Columbine High School sophomore at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, is pushing legislation that he says would protect students -- by getting rid of gun restrictions in schools.

Neville said Trump is open to the idea of commonsense solutions to gun violence.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were also present at the White House meeting.

The problem encompasses more than guns, Neville said. The two Columbine perpetrators also wanted to explode a bomb, he noted. 

“I don’t think raising the age limit, I don’t think banning an assault weapon is going to work,” Neville said. “I think the only thing that’s truly going to work is allowing our teachers, teachers who want …  to defend our students.”

His personal experience prompted him to take action.

The Columbine shooting left a “huge impression,” he said. He recalled a distraught father coming up to him in search of his missing son. He later found out that the student had died.

“For me now as a father, I never want to go through what that father went through, and don’t want my kids to have to go through what I went through.”

Although the Colorado House didn’t pass his legislation, he has received growing support for his ideas, including from former Columbine classmates.

“It’s kind of incredible that I have so many former classmates reaching out to me saying that they support this,” Neville said. “And we had three people [who were fellow survivors] testify on the bill when I supported it in Colorado on Wednesday night that came out.”

“And their stories, I’ll be honest with you, are much more compelling than mine,” he said. “We had one student who was actually in the [school] library and was shot.”

Neville added:

I’ll tell you, for every one student that came out publicly supportive of the bill, there was at least 30, if not more, students who support it. But because of the anti-gun opposition, which is so organized and so well-funded, has been so just vitriolic about it, they’re scared to come out.

Neville said he remains confident that his proposal to end gun-free zones, allowing teachers to be armed, would produce real results.

“I think that would also deter these from happening from the get-go, because the person is going to think twice and they’re going to know that they aren’t going to go in unopposed,” he said. “They’re going to face fierce opposition once they hit that school door. They’re going to think twice and not even do it in the first place.”


Schools Safer Now Than They Were in 1990s, According to New Study

According to a new study, school shootings have declined since the early 1990s. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law, and public policy at Northeastern University.

“The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,” Fox also said.

“The Three R’s of School Shootings: Risk, Readiness, and Response” is a new study that dives into the numbers of mass shootings at schools in the United States.

According to the Northeastern News write-up of study, “four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than [are] today, Fox said.”

The study defines a “multiple victim” shooting as having at least four victims and at least two deaths, not including the assailant. Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings. Of those, eight were mass shootings—which involve four or more deaths, excluding the assailant.

Authors of the study suggested that school intruder drills, requiring ID cards for entry, and metal detectors have been largely ineffective.

“[School intruder drills] just serve to alarm students and make them think it’s something that’s common,” said Emma Fridel, a doctoral student who helped write the study with Fox.

As for metal detectors, a school shooter in Minnesota killed the guard at the entryway of the metal detector in 2005 and another shooter killed and injured children on a playground rather than entering the school in 1989. In 1998, two students pulled the fire alarm and shot students as they exited the school.

Increasing mental health resources could possibly help deter mass shooting, Fridel suggested, pointing out the high student-to-student counselor ratio.

“You might have students in a very large school who are troubled but who are basically flying under the radar because you have one guidance counselor for 400 students,” she said.

“Notwithstanding the occasional multiple-fatality shooting that takes place at one of the 100,000 public schools across America, the nation’s schools are safe. Over the past quarter-century, on average about 10 students are slain in school shootings annually,” wrote Fox for USA Today earlier this month. “Compare the school fatality rate with the more than 100 school-age children accidentally killed each year riding their bikes or walking to school. ”

The data Fox and Fridel utilized came from the FBI, Gun Violence Archive, Congressional Research Service, and others.


Students from China, India and Nepal surge at Australian universities despite jobs squeeze etc.


Chinese and Indian students have not been deterred by negative media coverage or reports of racist attacks, and are flocking to Australian universities in record numbers.

New statistics show amost 190,000 foreigners applied to study in Australia between July and December, an increase of 14.1 per cent on the same period in 2016, with Indian applicants surging by 32 per cent and Chinese applicants by 13 per cent. Nepal overtook Brazil as the third-largest source of applicants, rising by 46 per cent to nearly 12,000 prospective students.

More than 90 per cent of applicants were granted student visas, with 41,000 - a quarter of all student visas issued in the quarter - going to Chinese nationals. A further 20,000 were Indian nationals. The grant rate for Chinese applicants steadily declined over the course of 2017 from 98.3 per cent to 93.8 per cent. In total, the number of student visas granted rose by 7 per cent.

International students pay huge fees to study in Australia and have become an enormous source of income for universities, particularly the Group of Eight, to the extent that education has become the country's third-biggest export market.

Critics have raised concerns at the level of Chinese influence in Australian universities, with students sometimes objecting to course material covering China and its government. Such matters, as well as physical attacks on Chinese students, have received prominent coverage in local and overseas Chinese media.

Last month Beijing issued a safety warning for Chinese students in Australia and provided phone numbers in case of emergency.

But the figures released this week by the Department of Home Affairs show Chinese interest in an Australian higher education has only continued to grow. The 12.9 per cent increase in applications from Chinese nationals was far higher in July-December 2017 than the same period in 2016 (6.7 per cent) and 2015 (5.6 per cent).

Over the past 10 years, Nepal has grown exponentially as a source of international students, initially spurred by the decade-long Maoist insurgency and subsequent word of mouth. Nepalese media have identified Sydney's Victoria University and Western Sydney University as major destinations for Nepalese students, and Auburn has become Sydney's hub for Nepalese-speakers.

However, the figures released by the government this week also show signs of a jobs squeeze for international students after graduation. The number of graduates moving straight into skilled work has crashed following the Turnbull government's changes to the temporary 457 visa, which will be abolished and replaced this month.

Just 3000 graduates transitioned to a 457, a decline of 50 per cent on the same period in 2016, while the number who moved on to a 189 or 190 skilled visa also fell. Instead, there was a 30 per cent increase in students moving on to a 485 "temporary graduate" visa, which allows them to work in Australia but is not a guarantee of skilled labour. There was also an 11.5 per cent rise in the number of graduates who moved on to a tourist visa.

Er-Kai Wang, associate lecturer in migration at the Australian National University, said the 485 visa still offered a "window of opportunity" for permanent residency, but it was easier on the 457. "That was a pathway for a lot of people to get into permanent residency – which was probably one of the things that the government was a bit suspicious about," she said.

Last year the Turnbull government slashed the number of occupations eligible for the 457 visa, which this month will be replaced by the similar but stricter temporary Skills Shortage visa.

Of those graduates who were on the increasingly-popular 485 temporary graduate visa, about 6000 transitioned to a skilled migrant visa - a decline of 13.7 per cent on the same period in 2016.

Despite the lure of an Australian job and pathway to permanent residency, Ms Wang noted a large number of foreign students who study in Australia "are wanting to study and then go home".


Thursday, March 01, 2018

Teachers Who Insult The Military Are The Lowest Of The Low

Teaching is about as old as civilization itself. Parents start filling this role from day one of a child's birth - supplemented by other adults as the child matures. Teachers help mold a child's thinking and values in life.

The worst thing one can do is undermine that evolving value system, unless a student is embarking upon the wrong moral path.

Enter California's El Rancho High School history teacher Gregory Salcido and one of his senior students, Victor Quinonez.

Recently, as Quinonez walked to the front of the classroom to turn in an assignment, Salcido saw the 17-year old wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt. His teacher immediately queried Quinonez about his decision to enter the Marine Corps after graduation. Quinonez courteously explained why, triggering a rant by his teacher - one Quinonez surreptitiously taped after returning to his desk.

Proud of his family's military tradition - his father and two uncles having served as Marines - Quinonez wanted to serve as well. All three relatives clearly were role models for the young student. They shared with him the challenges faced in the Marines, the esprit de corps encountered as a band of brothers and the pride of serving one's country. Through his family, Quinonez embraced as life values honor, courage and service to country. For six minutes, Salcido demeaned those values.

Salcido, mocking those now serving overseas as failures, said, "Think about the people who you know are over there - your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever - they're dumbs**ts. They're not high-level thinkers. They're not academic people. They're not intellectual people. They're the freaking lowest of our low."

Alluding to the world's oldest profession, Salcido further added: "I don't understand why we let the military guys come over here and recruit you at school. We don't let pimps come in the school."

Salcido managed to include racial slurs against Asians during his tirade: "We couldn't beat the Vietnamese, they are a bunch of people this big throwing rice at us, and we couldn't beat them."

He then advised Quinonez not to join the Marines and instructed him never to wear the sweatshirt to class again. Salcido exhibited to the entire class every element of teacher incompetency one in the profession could possibly demonstrate.

Asked about Salcido's comments during an interview, White House Chief of Staff, retired Marine General John Kelly, minced no words. He said the teacher "ought to go to Hell." One can understand Kelly's anger:  one of his two sons who served in the Marine Corps was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, Salcido also never heard a speech Kelly delivered only days after his son's death, entitled "Six Seconds to Live." Kelly spoke about two sons of other parents - young Marines whose last six seconds of life were caught on security camera footage. They were Corporal Jonathan Yale, 22, and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 20.

The two, along with several Iraqi soldiers, were guarding entry to a compound occupied jointly by US Marines and Iraqi soldiers. Suddenly, a truck raced toward the gate, failing to stop despite commands to do so. Realizing this was a suicide bomber trying to detonate the truck inside the compound, the Iraqi guards ran to seek safety. Yale and Haerter, knowing they remained the last line of defense protecting their comrades, held their ground. Putting out a wall of fire, they killed the driver. However, as the truck exploded outside the compound, both Marines were killed. Their unflinching courage in the face of imminent death to protect those depending on them to do so was incredible. Both were posthumously awarded the Nation's third highest combat medal-the Silver Star.

Salcido's unprofessionalism in demeaning a student's desire to serve his country was despicable. And, this is not first time his behavior has been at issue. In 2010, he was temporarily suspended for allegedly making inappropriate racial comments.

What should be most telling about Salcido's perspective on life is the comment he posted after receiving numerous text messages about his comments gaining national attention.

After stating he just "got out of an excellent musical...I turned my phone back on to unexpectedly see a storm. I don't think it's wise for me to make any specific comments, but I want my friends, family, and students to know we are fine and we respect the rights of free expression for all individuals."

There was not a word of apology for his outrageous comments or for attempting to destroy a young student's life dream. No, for Salcido, it was all about him and how he was doing.

While Salcido's comments reach an all-time low for someone with teaching credentials, there does seem to be a lack of understanding by educators for those choosing to serve in the military. One veteran tells the story of his disappointment with a teacher's response after proudly sharing he had been accepted at West Point. The response was, "You're a smart guy. You don't have to join the military. You should go to college, instead." This veteran added, "What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing."

With only 0.45 percent of our population serving today in the war on terrorism, this is not what our prospective young warriors need to be hearing from those they look up to as teachers.

In his speech, Kelly said of those serving in uniform, "All are heroes for simply stepping forward, and we as a people owe a debt we can never fully pay."

Salcido needs to take a step backward and reassess what he can do to contribute to society. It definitely is not teaching.


Why the Left Opposes Arming Teachers
Why does the Left oppose allowing a small number of highly trained teachers and other adults who work at schools to arm themselves?

When asked, its response is consistent: “It’s a crazy idea.” And “We need fewer guns, not more guns.”

A New York Times editorial offered the following argument against having any armed teachers: “Nationwide statistics on police shooting accuracy are not to be found. But if New York is typical, analyses show that its officers hit their targets only one-third of the time. And during gunfights, when the adrenaline is really pumping, that accuracy can drop to as low as 13 percent.”

But if that is an argument against armed teachers, why isn’t it an argument against armed police?

And that argument was Aristotelian compared to this one from a Los Angeles Times editorial: “If a pistol-strapping chemistry teacher had grabbed her .45 and unloaded on today’s gunman after he killed, what, one student? Three? Five? That would be good news?”

Of course, no murder is “good news.” But to most of us, one or three or five as compared with 17 murdered is good news. Only those who think it isn’t good news think permitting some teachers and other school staff to be armed is a bad idea.

Beyond such arguments, the Left rarely, if ever, explains why allowing some teachers and other adults in a school to be armed is a crazy idea. They merely assert it as a self-evident truth.

But, of course, it’s not a self-evident truth. On the contrary, having some adults who work at schools be trained in the responsible use of guns makes so much sense that the Left’s blanket opposition seems puzzling.

It shouldn’t be. On the question of taking up arms against evil, the Left is very consistent.

The Left almost always opposes fighting evil and almost always works to disarm the good who want to fight.

This is as true on the national level as it is on the personal.

Those old enough to remember the Cold War will remember that the Left constantly called for a “nuclear freeze,” including a unilateral freeze by Western countries. Likewise, the European Left mounted huge demonstrations against America bringing Pershing 2 missiles into Western Europe. No matter how violent the Soviet Union was, the Left always opposed a strong Western military. The Left mocked then-President Ronald Reagan’s call for an anti-ballistic missile defense system; it couldn’t understand why Americans would think being able to protect America from incoming ballistic missiles was a good and moral idea. The Left so effectively derided the idea, mockingly dubbing it “Star Wars,” that few knew its real name: the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

So, too, the Left universally condemns Israeli attacks on those who seek not merely to defeat Israel but to exterminate it. The Left around the world condemned Israel’s military responses to Hamas launching missiles at Israeli civilian targets. It declared Israel’s counterattacks “disproportionate” — because more Gazans were killed than Israelis. Never mind which party was the aggressor or which party targeted civilians. Had the Left been as active in the 1940s, it surely would have condemned the Allies for their bombing of Germany and Japan; after all, far more German and Japanese civilians were killed in Allied bombing raids than Allied civilians were killed in German bombing raids. Now that was really “disproportionate.”

Fighting evil is the Left’s Achilles heel. As I have repeatedly noted, the Left fights little evils, or even non-evils, rather than great evils.

With regard to fighting communism in the 20th century and today fighting radical Islamic terror and Islamist treatment of women, the Stalinist North Korean regime, the Holocaust-denying and Holocaust-planning theocracy of Iran, the Syrian mass murderers and the violent crime in America, the Left is either silent or appeasing. And, of course, it works constantly to weaken the American military, the world’s greatest force against evil.

But the Left does direct its fighting spirit against Confederate statues, schools with the name of slave owners (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), carbon emissions, income inequality, “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” any limitation on abortion, Columbus Day, “Islamophobia,” Israeli settlements, “Russian collusion” and the like. Against these minimal or nonexistent evils, the Left is ferocious.

That is why the Left opposes enabling some teachers and other adults in schools to carry arms in order to possibly stop a mass murderer: The Left doesn’t fight evil; it fights those who do. Just as the Left hated anti-communists, hates opponents of Islamism and hates Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (far more than the Iranian ayatollahs), it hates those who wish to see teachers and others voluntarily armed take down the murderers of our children.


Canada: The social justice revolution has taken the law schools. This won't end well

What is a law school for? According to the University of Windsor, revolution. Earlier this month, Windsor’s law school released a statement on the jury verdict that acquitted Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley of the second-degree murder of Coulton Boushie. According to the statement, the Canadian legal system is oppressive. “Canada has used law to perpetuate violence against Indigenous Peoples,” it states, “a reinvention of our legal system is necessary.”

The statement reveals how legal education has lost its way. One could be forgiven for thinking that the purpose of law schools was to train lawyers to understand legal principles and to think logically and critically. Instead, some law schools portray themselves as political actors working for a cause. At Windsor’s law school, “we strive toward social justice. We take that commitment seriously.” Indeed they do. So do other law schools in Canada, some more explicitly than others. Social justice means defeating oppression and righting historical wrongs — by favouring or blaming people as members of groups, and by undermining Western legal principles such as the rule of law, equal application of the law, presumption of innocence, and freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion.

Numerous criticisms have been levied at the all-white jury verdict in the Stanley case. Some have advocated limiting an accused’s right to peremptory challenges in jury selection. These objections are short-sighted. All accused have a limited right to dismiss potential jurors. As criminal defence lawyer Sean Robichaud explained to Canadian Lawyer magazine after the verdict, Indigenous people are over-represented as accused persons in the criminal justice system, and curbing peremptory challenges to ensure that juries represent victims would prejudice their interests.

There is an old saying that at any trial there are four versions of the truth: what the prosecution says, what the accused says, what the jury finds, and what actually happened. I have no idea what transpired at that farm in Saskatchewan. But Windsor’s law professors seem to know — an impressive feat, since they were neither at the scene nor in the courtroom to hear the evidence. Due process exists, in part, to protect us all from the self-righteousness of mobs.

One might expect Justin Trudeau and his ministers to jump on ideological bandwagons, but it is telling when law schools want to ride along too. Windsor’s says that “the law’s response to Coulton Boushie’s death is tragic, unnecessary and unacceptable.” Boushie’s death was indeed tragic and unnecessary, but the law’s response was not. Even the lawyer for Boushie’s family, Chris Murphy, said that “based on the evidence, the submissions made and the charges that the judge gave to the jury, a route of acquittal was a possibility.”

Human history is rife with oppression. Women were oppressed when only men could own property, slaves when they had no right to liberty, Indigenous people when they were forced to attend residential schools. Oppression results when some people do not have the same legal rights as others. But today’s law schools resist the idea of equal application of the law and openly advocate progressive policies. For instance, when Trinity Western University, an independent religious institution that receives no government funding beyond its charitable status, proposed to open a law school, the established schools urged provincial law societies to ban TWU’s graduates on the grounds that its community covenant did not reflect progressive values. The law societies in Ontario and B.C. obliged. The Supreme Court’s decision on TWU’s challenge of those decisions is pending.

Law schools may not need to preach revolution much longer. If you haven’t noticed, the tipping point is near. Courts and academics are transforming the Charter of Rights and Freedoms from a roster of fundamental liberties into a social-justice charter that justifies curbing individual freedoms instead of protecting them. The words of section 15(1) of the Charter, which guarantee that “every individual is equal before and under the law,” suggest that the same rules should apply to everyone. However, the Supreme Court has held that the law can nevertheless treat people differently if doing so produces equal outcomes, and that treating people the same — for instance, requiring the same qualifications from a minority job applicant as from others — might even violate section 15(1) if it produces unequal results.

Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982 entrenches varying rights for different groups of aboriginal people. Courts may impose more lenient penalties on Indigenous accused pursuant to the Criminal Code and the Gladue principles, under which “the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders” may be taken into account. New rules require those accused of sexual assault to disclose information to the prosecution, such as emails sent by the complainant to the accused, so as to limit the ability of the defence to cross-examine (violating the principle that the burden of disclosure lies upon the Crown rather than the defence). The Law Society of Ontario has begun to compel its members to expressly acknowledge an obligation to promote progressive values. Individual liberties are no longer fundamental. Everyone is not subject to the same rules. The legal ground is shifting.

Not all law professors endorse the path that we are on, and fortunately they can still choose what to teach in their own courses. Not all lawyers or judges agree either. Many have kept their heads. Give them credit for thinking for themselves. After all, they probably went to a Canadian law school.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wheaton College Wins Huge Court Battle Over Obama’s Birth Control Mandate

A judge ruled Thursday the government would violate federal civil rights laws if it forced Wheaton College to provide services like contraceptives in its health care plans against its religious beliefs, and granted a permanent injunction against it.

When the Obama administration instituted a contraceptive mandate several years ago through the Health and Human Services department, Wheaton College was one of the dozens of organizations to immediately oppose it. Wheaton, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, often referred to as the “Harvard of Christian schools,” argued being forced to pay for the contraceptives would violate its religious rights. The permanent injunction bars the government from ever forcing the school to pay.

This is the first district court order offering permanent protection from the HHS mandate after the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Zubik v. Burwell, which said that the government could not fine religious groups for following their faith and said it could find other ways to provide services to the women who want them. The injunction not only protects them from Obama’s “old” mandate, but from any similar, future mandates as well.

Attorney Diana Verm, an attorney with Becket, the non-profit organization which represented Wheaton along with another firm, and also Little Sisters of the Poor, in their fight against the HHS mandate, told me in an e-mail, “The district court had ruled against Wheaton before because of prior court of appeals precedent that has since been overturned by the Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, where the Supreme Court told the government it could not fine groups like the Little Sisters and Wheaton College for following their faith.”

A portion of the injunction says, “After reconsideration of their position, Defendants now agree that enforcement of the currently operative rules regarding the “contraceptive mandate” against employers with sincerely held religious objections would violate RFRA, and thus do not oppose Wheaton’s renewed motion for injunctive and declaratory relief.”

Wheaton College’s values are steeped in Christian tradition. Originally founded in 1860 by prominent abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, the motto, “For Christ and His Kingdom” guides everything it does. Thus, in 2012, after receiving no response from HHS about its concerns regarding the mandate, Wheaton filed a lawsuit to defend its right to run its school according to its religious principles, not unlike, various other, similar, religious organizations.

In a statement, Phillip Ryken, president of Wheaton College said, “We are grateful to God that the court recognized Wheaton’s religious identity and protected our ability to affirm the sanctity of human life. The government should never have tried to force us to provide drugs and services against our faith, but that episode is now behind us.”

The complex and laborious issue regarding the HHS contraceptive mandate went to the Supreme Court five times; each time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting religious groups. The most promising thing about this current order, in terms of religious liberty, is that the judge essentially admits federal government violated the law when it demanded organizations provide contraception in the first place, and that’s why the judge granted temporary protection to religious objectors. Hopefully other judges will follow suit and declare injunctions for the other organizations in limbo, who still oppose the mandate, and are waiting for similar recognition and protection of their religious rights.


Progressive Policies Put Schools at Risk

Amidst the media-orchestrated hysteria emanating from those who believe gun control will solve America’s mass shooting problem, one of the principal questions being asked is whether children have the right to attend school without fearing for their lives. Tragically, for a nation that has abided progressive ideology for far too long, it’s the wrong question. The more accurate question: How much danger is one willing to put one’s child in to satisfy progressive orthodoxy?

As the Miami Herald reveals, the Florida killer had widely recognized behavioral problems. “Teachers and other students said he kicked doors, cursed at teachers, fought with and threatened classmates and brought a backpack with bullets to school,” the paper reported. “He collected a string of discipline for profanity, disobedience, insubordination, and disruption.”

How did the system handle him? In 2014, administrators transferred him to a school for children with emotional disabilities. Two years later, they changed course and put him back in Marjory Stoneman Douglas. A year later, he was banished again for disciplinary reasons, and ended up being “toggled between three other alternative placements,” as the Herald puts it.

Notice the missing element here — he was never expelled. “Under federal law, [he] had a right to a ‘free and appropriate’ education at a public school near him,” the paper explains. “His classmates had a right to an education free of fear. Their rights often collided.”

Does this mean expulsion no longer exists? According to, schools can expel a student for a number of reasons. In fact, the Gun-Free Schools Act requires any student bringing a gun to a school to be expelled for a minimum of one year. Moreover, states can decide what other types of misconduct may precipitate expulsion, including distributing medication, harassing or bullying other students, or continually defying teachers.

The catch? The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in programs that receive financial assistance from the federal government. Section 504 requires the aforementioned “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) be provided to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction — regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.

Furthermore, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that education to take place in the “least restrictive environment” possible. It also provides special protections for disabled students facing expulsion, requiring school officials to follow special procedures that include a hearing to determine if the misconduct was directly related to the student’s disability. If that is the case, a special education team must develop, or modify, a behavioral intervention plan.

With regard to violent students like the perpetrator in Parkland, these laws are problematic. Yet they are only half the problem. A 2017 column by Jeffery Benzing addressed the other half, noting that Broward County “used to rank No. 1 at sending students to their state’s juvenile justice system,” he explained. “The stats troubled Broward County leaders, and they responded with a bold solution: Lower arrests by not making arrests.”

Broward compiled a list of 12 misdemeanor offenses no longer requiring police notification. They included criminal mischief, vandalism and non-violent incidents involving alcohol, marijuana or drug paraphernalia. The program was championed as a move away from a “zero tolerance” policy critics labeled a “school to prison pipeline.”

It gets worse. “One particular motivation behind programs like Broward County’s was the pressure from multiple sources to reduce the statistical disparity between black and Hispanic student arrests on one hand and white and Asian student arrests on the other,” reveals columnist Jack Cashill. Based solely on his last name, the Parkland killer “became a statistical Hispanic,” Cashill adds. “As such, authorities at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland had every reason not to report his troubling and likely criminal behavior to the police.”

Broward wasn’t the only county under pressure. In 2014, the Obama administration sent out a Dear Colleague letter whose subject was the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline. Issued by the DOJ and the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, the letter made it clear that an aggressive “disparate impact” approach would be taken with regard to disciplining minority students.

In short, schools that meted out a “disproportionate number” of disciplinary measures to minority students, relative to their percentage of the school population, could be charged with discrimination under Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Thus, the Obama administration and Broward County officials made sure many kids couldn’t even be disciplined, much less arrested, for egregious behavior.

That “see no evil if its statistically problematic” approach was heartily embraced by a thoroughly politicized Broward County Sheriff’s Department, whose conduct before and after the shooting was nothing short of appalling. But that didn’t stop Sheriff Scott Israel from showing up at CNN’s NRA bash-fest in a despicable attempt to the shift the blame from his department’s criminal incompetence to guns — wholly oblivious to the irony that no better case for self-defense could be made than his own department’s cowardice and ineptitude.

The bigger picture? America no longer has reform schools where youthful offenders were once sent instead of prison. We have “alternative schools,” along with efforts to maintain all but the most incorrigible students at home. We also have court-monitored probation, curfews and other programs.

All of them appear to have one overriding concern: don’t stigmatize anyone.

Yet at what point does the attempt to avoid stigmatizing a child make it clear to the same child that despicable behavior doesn’t engender serious consequences?

“This is a systemic problem we have that isn’t about blaming one agency or the other,” insisted Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

How about blaming an ideology, Mr. Runcie? Beginning in the 1960s, progressives assured Americans they could “do their own thing,” and that “God is dead.” While religious leaders receded, lawyers and therapists stepped up. “Good and evil” became “legal and illegal,” or “well and unwell.”

In process, shame and objective truth were obliterated.

Thus, it is unsurprising that nothing has been more shameless and less truthful than the avalanche of progressive virtue-signaling with regard to gun control.

America desperately needs culture control. But while it continues to metastasize, the nation needs short-term and long term solutions for protecting vulnerable school children.

Short-term, we need armed, qualified security guards and/or teachers at every school in the nation. Those who disagree are progressive fantasists who live in a dream world. In the real world, they must be ignored.

Long-term solutions? The restoration of a public school system where civics and virtue are integral parts of the curriculum. One where disciplinary procedures are clear and apply equally to everyone. One where respect for teachers is paramount, and one where children are taught how to think, not what to think.

Every serious problem this nation has can be tied to the failing state of our public schools. And when those schools seek to blame the parents for those failures, they need reminding that they “educated” the parents — and the politicians and the celebrities, etc., etc. — as well.

A fish may rot from the head down, but a culture rots from the roots up. It’s time to root progressive ideology out of our public schools.


Australia: Aspiring doctors begin Macquarie's 'cash grab' $250,000 medical degree

Amid outrage and controversy, Australia's newest full-fee medical school opened its doors on Monday, welcoming about 50 fresh-faced students who have the ability to cough up $250,000 for the privilege.

While they too welcomed the aspiring doctors, the Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) and Australian Medical Association (AMA) lambasted Macquarie University for its "short-sighted cash grab", saying the degree didn't come with a guarantee of an internship and would cause greater bottle necks in the training system.

“The pipeline is stretched and bursting; in 2016 we had 200 medical graduates left without an internship which you need to become a qualified doctor,” said AMSA president Alex Farrell.
Alex Farrell, president of Australian Medical Students' Association, says the opening of Macquarie University's new medical school is not a good thing.

Alex Farrell, president of Australian Medical Students' Association, says the opening of Macquarie University's new medical school is not a good thing.

“Macquarie University is irresponsibly profiting from the dreams of young students [because] these students may end up with a six-figure debt and no job.”

On Monday, the public university kicked off its four-year, graduate-entry Doctor of Medicine program. It welcomed 50 domestic students, which is 10 more than its aim.

But the university failed to hit its target of 20 international students, enrolling only three for the 2018 cohort and leaving a funding gap of more than $1.75 million over four years, according to AMSA.

Ms Farrell said Macquarie University had made a “business move” and was concerned that other universities would follow suit and exploit the same loophole, which allows public universities to offer domestic, full-fee places for graduate-level programs.

“We know from overseas that high tertiary fees drive graduates into highly paid specialties, and away from areas of workforce shortage such as general practice or rural practice,” said Ms Farrell.

“In doing so, these programs, while lining the universities’ pockets, do a disservice to the public and the Australian healthcare system.”

But Professor Patrick McNeil, Macquarie University’s executive dean of medical and health sciences, told Fairfax Media that no university could guarantee an internship to any student at any program in Australia.

He said some of the graduates would receive post-degree training at MQ Health, the university’s medical centre. He rejected the suggestion the program would “clog the pipeline”.

“We don’t have an oversupply of graduates and in fact Australia imports nearly 3000 foreign trained doctors to Australia every year,” he said.

“Also, given the size of Australia’s population increase, the world’s not going to end because we’re graduating a small number of graduates.”

Professor McNeil said the fresh cohort was “incredibly excited, highly motivated” and their GPA and GAMSAT results were similar to that of their peers at University of Melbourne.

He revealed they had 500 applicants. The final cohort is made up of 30 women and 20 men, and the average age is 23.

AMA president Michael Gannon said he opposed the opening of new medical schools, expansion of student numbers and “what Macquarie represents”.

“We’re already seeing the states and territories struggling to provide internships for all medical graduates so we’re worried that a university will just decide to chase the funding and the prestige that comes with having a medical school without having any need to give consideration to what the product means at the end,” he said.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Damore, Diversity, and Disruption at PSU

I held my breath as the protesters stood up and began their walk-out. “Please, let it be peaceful,” I said to myself. In the weeks leading up to the event, we had received threats of violence. One person on social media said he would bring explosives. The university administration found the threats credible enough to send a team of armed campus police to patrol the lecture hall. As the protesters neared the exit, a woman suddenly lunged for the audio equipment, pulled leads out indiscriminately, and knocked some of the equipment to the floor. The microphones stopped working. Another protester shoved a student volunteer into the door.

What caused this extreme reaction?

Ex-Google engineer James Damore had been invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on diversity, held at Portland State University on February 17. As I had previously written in the Wall Street Journal, we were anticipating controversy. After the incident, however, the disruption and violent misconduct were downplayed. Willamette Week, a left-wing alternative newspaper, was dismissive: “[The Freethinkers] expected controversy. They warned of violence. None arrived.” Perhaps not the kind of violence that had been threatened, but there was intentional “criminal mischief,” hundreds of dollars in property damage, and unnecessary disruption lasting just over four minutes (not the 30 seconds the Willamette Week incorrectly reported).

Event organizers sought and obtained national media attention by claiming that the panel had been subjected to violent threats.

I belong to Freethinkers of PSU, the skeptic student group that organized the event and was responsible for inviting Damore. To correct the record, we didn’t warn of violence; those who threatened us did that. The paper’s scornful editorial surprised me, particularly given the timing of the event. Only days earlier the nation had learned that the Florida school shooter’s violent social media threats hadn’t been taken seriously. We weren’t about to take any unnecessary chances and nor were the campus police. Organizing a student event to discuss any topic — including diversity — should not be a safety hazard. In the present climate, however, security measures have become a regrettable necessity.

A protest campaign to hoard free tickets claimed more than half the seats, suppressing turnout. Nevertheless, surrounded by officers and protected by an entourage of private security, James Damore spoke to an audience of 270 people. He was joined on the panel by former Evergreen State professors Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, PSU philosophy professor Peter Boghossian, and critic of third wave intersectional feminism Helen Pluckrose.

Explaining what had moved him to write the “Google memo,” Damore said that he found the analyses of the company’s sex disparity, offered during a conference on diversity and inclusion, to be unsatisfactory. “They went through these different things, like microaggressions and unconscious bias, and said that is why we only have 20 percent women,” he recalled.

After the conference, Google solicited feedback from staff. Damore obliged with a ten page document entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo-Chamber,” in which he argued that sex differences on average may help explain the male/female disparity at the company. He also offered suggestions about how the workplace environment could change to appeal to more women. But when his memo was leaked to the press and published, it was stripped of important nuance and links to supporting data, and Damore was viciously mischaracterized as a misogynist and a racist.

“James argues, accurately, that there are differences between men and women,” evolutionary biologist Heather Heying said during the panel discussion. “This is a strange position to be in, to be arguing for something that is so universally and widely accepted in biology. . .You can be irritated by a lot of truths, but taking offense,” — here, Heying paused as hecklers shouted and began to walk out — “is a response that is a rejection of reality.”

A non-student protester then yanked the cables from the sound system and shoved the equipment to the ground, breaking an antenna. She was promptly detained by police. “[Damore’s] a piece of shit!” she screamed as she was issued a citation for criminal mischief in the second degree. “Even the women in there have been brainwashed!” Another protester stated: “Nazis are not welcome in civil society.”

Undeterred, Peter Boghossian said to the audience: “Fringe elements of society do not have the right to hold you hostage.” The speakers pressed on in spite of the disruption. First Boghossian and then Heying stood and projected their voices to the back of the auditorium. “If your belief system cannot stand up to scrutiny,” Heying told me later, “it is weak, and attacking those who say so will not change that fact.” Fortunately, the sound was restored just over four minutes later.

Heying explained how variation is distributed in the sexes. “Male and female aren’t a binary but they are strongly bimodal,” she said. “We cannot change what may be true at a societal level unless we understand why things are true.”

Helen Pluckrose added that denying the existence of sex differences may paradoxically help confirm sexist attitudes. “If we are assuming that the choices men make are the ultimate, best, absolute choices, [then] we are making men the default humans,” she said. “The areas that women dominate — healthcare, education, psychology, publishing — these are all hugely influential areas on society.”

In his closing remarks, Damore said that he doesn’t regret writing the memo but conceded that using technical language from psychology literature made his writing more susceptible to misinterpretation. “There are definitely still issues of discrimination happening in many sectors,” Damore said. “[But] men and women tend to approach the workplace differently so maybe if we changed the workplace then we could actually solve the problem.”

The discussion was followed by a Q&A. A PSU alumna from the women’s studies department complained that the stage-to-audience dynamic presented an intimidating power imbalance. “You guys are high [up]. You have microphones. We don’t,” she said. “This is perpetuating the status quo in the hierarchy.” Boghossian invited her to join him at his next (stageless) panel on intersectionality the following Monday. She didn’t come.

After the event, police and security escorted the speakers out of a back entrance. I caught up with them and asked for their reactions. Helen Pluckrose recalled what one of the police officers had told her: “So why are you so radical and extreme and dangerous that I have to escort you off campus? You seemed very reasonable to me.” She still doesn’t have an answer.

Reflecting on the evening’s events, the panelists discussed how they didn’t recognize the picture of themselves that the protesters were painting. “The mob acts against a fiction of its own creation,” Bret Weinstein told me.


In the battle for a deeply divided Britain, universities are now the front line

The Prime Minister has announced a year-long review into university funding. This followed Damian Hinds, in his first big outing as Education Secretary, saying that some courses may soon cost more than others.

From the noise around the issue, it seems, in the favoured phrase of indecisive politicians playing for time, that every option is on the table. A small cut in tuition fees; a big cut; a hypothecated tax; or a change in the interest rate paid on student debts or the level at which repayments begin. And that’s just the financing. The review will also consider types of degrees, their length, and the role of technology in delivering them.

In her speech, Theresa May did nod to the fact that, for some young people, university is not the best option. Vocational training or going straight into a job might be better. But the force of her argument, and the focus of the review, is how to make university more affordable.

It follows Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees, which helped prove that if you want to activate a particular group of voters, addressing a major resentment is usually an effective way to go. Of course, the Labour leader does also believe in the principle of free education.

Corbyn’s policy and Hinds’s review – and to a lesser extent, May’s speech – are predicated on one of the great unspoken assumptions of postwar Britain, which is that sending ever more pupils to university is a noble social goal. I don’t for the purposes of this column take a view on whether that is correct. I do think it necessary to understand the origins and consequences of this pedagogical evolution.

In his seminal collection of 1928, Sceptical Essays, my hero, Bertrand Russell, wrote: “The interest of the state in education is very recent. It did not exist in antiquity or the Middle Ages.” As the state has become more involved in education, not least through taxes, so the principle function of the academy has mutated – from culture to economics.

In The Idea of a University (1854), Cardinal John Henry Newman said higher education was “a place of concourse, whither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge. You cannot have the best of every kind everywhere; you must go to some great city or emporium for it.” The ancient aim of university was mainly to transmit knowledge from one generation to another. Now, it is to increase returns in a competitive job market.

Over lunch last Friday, I discussed this with Jo Johnson, easily one of the most impressive brains in Conservative ranks and, until January, universities minister. He endorsed the looser grip a moneyed few now have on the sector. Between the Robbins Report of 1963 and the Dearing Report of 1997 – which both made recommendations for higher education – the number of students at university went from 200,000 to 1.6 million. It is now higher still.

We are living with the consequences. Of the two “masses” that reshaped postwar Britain, mass immigration gets the headlines, partly because we can see it. Mass higher education is less noted. But the key dividing line in British politics now is not left-right, open-closed, or rural-urban. It is graduate vs non-graduate. And the rapid decline in the status of non-graduate jobs explains much of our current climate.

With Brexit – as with Donald Trump in the US – the biggest predictor of voting behaviour was level of education. Look at the electoral map: the Remain vote and the Labour vote is now basically London plus the university towns. In the last election, even Canterbury – Canterbury! – voted Labour.

And why should graduates vote left, aside from their youth? The idea that Brexit or Trump voters are stupid is patronising rubbish. Graduates are more likely to have acquired the confidence and connections to negotiate a hyper-competitive global economy; be more comfortable with mobility, often having left their roots; and have mixed with people from various backgrounds, gaining a socially liberal disposition.

Viewed in this light, Momentum can be seen as a graduate-populist phenomenon. Populism is the practice of pitting the people against the elites, presuming the former have a single will, and inculcating a sense of betrayal among them. Momentum helps to express the betrayal felt by a generation of debt-laden graduates whose housing and job prospects are worse than their parents’.

History suggests that when the educated masses feel their future has been stolen, revolutions happen. In Britain, the silent evolution of our university sector, motivated by a noble egalitarianism, has perhaps unleashed something we are only just beginning to comprehend.


Australia: 'Growth mindset' just another platitude

We’re constantly told schools should go beyond literacy and numeracy, and instead focus on ‘21st century learning’ to educate ‘creative’ kids and prepare them for ‘jobs of the future’.

Basically, this is code for trying to get better student results without actually doing the hard yards in literacy and numeracy.

There is no silver bullet which magically makes kids get better grades. The best way to help students be prepared for the 21st century is to ensure they leave school good readers, fluent writers, and competent in maths. These are the fundamental skills people will always need to be successful.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t understand this. The NSW government’s recent submission to the ‘Gonski 2.0’ review called for less testing in schools in order to reduce student stress, and a focus on ‘non-cognitive skills’ and encouraging students to have a ‘growth mindset’.

Tests are necessary to find out if students are actually learning and to identify which students need more help. Furthermore, a recent OECD study found there is no link between student anxiety and frequency of testing. No one likes doing tests, but that doesn’t mean they’re generally harmful to mental health.

And focussing on ‘non-cognitive skills’ and creativity in school puts the cart before the horse. You need to master the fundamentals of a subject before you can be creative, and too many kids leave school without those fundamentals. Generic creativity or critical-thinking skills are practically impossible to teach or assess.

The truth is there is only a limited amount schools can teach. Consider the ‘growth mindset’ idea. A ‘growth mindset’ is having the positive attitude that if you work hard you will get better at whatever you are trying to do. But, while we want students to have a positive outlook like this, there is little evidence schools have the ability to instil this into students. This is primarily a role for parents.

Schools shouldn’t waste time and resources trying to achieve things they aren’t capable of doing. They should focus on their core purpose: giving students excellent literacy and numeracy skills.


Monday, February 26, 2018

A new high point of modern American education: Louisiana Student Investigated For Math Symbol, Classmates Thought It Looked Like A Gun

A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student’s homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.

On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.

Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun.

After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff’s office said could have sounded like a threat out of context.

Police searched the student’s home, where they found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities also wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm.

It seems the silly season on gun politics has reached a new level.


UK: Furious parents slam primary school for inviting DRAG QUEEN who calls herself 'Bristol's Resident S**g' and a troupe of cross-dressers to read stories about tolerance to the children

Furious parents have slammed a primary school for inviting a drag queen who calls herself 'Brisol's Resident S***' to read stories to children.

The performers are visiting the school to read tales about tolerance to the kids for World Book Day.

Parson Street Primary School in Bristol is welcoming the Drag Queen Story Time (DQST) organisation on March 1.

The team of six drag queens in the project have performed to over 2,000 children in the UK during the past eight months.

But a number of parents expressed concern about who the drag queens are and the age-appropriateness of the reading materials.  One mother claims one of the drag queens calls herself 'Bristol's Resident Slag',

She said: 'Lots of parents at the school are not happy about it but the headmaster says there's no negotiation.

'He said if we don't like it we should take our kids out of school on an unauthorised absence.

'There are books dotted around the school about sexuality, they learn a lot about LGBTQ+ in school and that's fine.

'But I just think it's gone too far now and the head is using his position of power and influence to push this information on the children.

'One of the drag queens refers to herself as Bristol's Resident S***, these are children of between four and 11 - they don't need to be exposed to that.

'They are adult entertainers, I just don't see how that is age appropriate'.

Several mothers also accused headteacher Jamie Barry of being 'vague' about which drag queens were attending the school and what stories they would be reading.

But the school stated it takes the safeguarding of its pupils to be their absolute priority.

It confirmed it has communicated information about DQST to the parents of the school prior to the event.

Parson Street Primary School recently won the Gold Best Practice award from LGBT education charity Educate & Celebrate.

Parents say they are also concerned whether or not the drag queens who volunteer with the self-funded organisation are DBS (police) checked.

But the organisation reassured many of the drag queens it uses are already DBS checked for jobs they have done previously as teachers and volunteers.

DQST organiser Tom Canham said: 'All of the reading material we use at our performances are specifically written for children, and cover all of the topics we engage with in an age-appropriate format.

Parson Street Primary School, the school that has invited the drag queens in to read stories to children    +3
Parson Street Primary School, the school that has invited the drag queens in to read stories to children

'If parents have any worries, especially in regards to age appropriateness then I encourage them to go on our Facebook page.

'It has all the books and authors we use at readings. It ranges from The Hungry Caterpillar to And Tango Makes Three.

'When you introduce tolerance at a young age they take it on board.

'Many of these children will not be LGBT themselves but they will at some point come into contact with someone who is.

'We have an opportunity to provide our children with a better world in which to grow up, free from fear of rejection, or abuse, for being who they are.

'Drag Queen Story Time is proud to be working with fantastic organisations all across the country to help make that a reality.'

Head Mr Barry said: 'We are a community-focused school and lots of effort is put into working in partnership with parents.

'We understand the concerns that have been raised and have spoken with many of our community to reassure them of the appropriateness of the activities planned.

'Children are at the centre of all that we do at Parson Street so it is fantastic that so many of them are excited about March 1.

'We know that many of our parents are also equally as excited and they look forward to also joining us on the day.'

Parson Street Primary School is the first Bristol school to be awarded a Gold Practice Status for promoting equality and diversity.

Cllr Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills for Bristol City Council, said: 'We are very supportive of children engaging with different groups of people in an educational setting as it teaches them about accepting themselves and others.

'We know that good reading skills can help set children up for life and reduce inequalities.

'Our experience of welcoming Drag Queen Story Time in to our libraries was very positive and successful.'


Campus political correctness threatens our democracy and prosperity

American universities pose a terrible threat to our prosperity and democracy.

All college graduates should be well equipped at critical thinking — the capacity to reach measured conclusions from available statements and data, independent of preconceived notions.

Although essential at every level of professional work, employers find that facility lacking in about four in 10 graduates. As alarming, the College Learning Assessment Plus found four years of college often adds little to students’ analytical abilities, even at many prestigious institutions like the University of Texas.

In the 1950s, freshman composition was an arduous rite of passage. Each week, students wrote themes, which were rigorously graded for grammar and logical structure. They learned not merely how to bang a subject against a verb but also how to think clearly and put aside personal biases.

Gradually, such rigor has been removed from required undergraduate curricula. These days repeating faculties’ and administrators’ politically correct orthodoxy, and running off campus speakers whose views challenge their prejudices are what passes for intellectual competence.

In a less technical era, a general education — with a major in anthropology or history — was enough to launch a career. These days something more practical like software engineering or finance is required for most students to succeed.

Too often faculty and administrators dupe students with nostrums like “you can accomplish just about anything with a humanities degree” and offer examples of alumni in their 40s and 50s with enviable careers.

They don’t tell students that those alumni graduated into a more robust, less technologically demanding job market, and were better equipped, by virtue of more rigorous curricula, for self-directed continuing education.

America can’t expect to compete internationally with such ill-prepared citizens.

As importantly, universities are undermining American civic values of tolerance and respect for due process.

Broadly understood norms requiring faculty to abstain from the most hideous hate speech have morphed into expansive campus codes and tribunals — essentially required by a 2011 Obama administration directive to universities — that investigate faculty for posing ideas students decide are homophobic, racially charged or otherwise discomforting.

The slightest and most innocent turn of phrase — or ideas that cause students to question any form of political correctness — can land faculty in the dean’s office and cost them their jobs or at the very least leave the wrongfully accused marginalized and ostracized.

All reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition.

As a defensive mechanism, many instructors are removing material that challenges cultural norms, values and prejudices. A professor of film at CUNY has dropped “Birth of Nation” because it deals with racism and “Tootsie” because it brings up too many gender stereotypes.

Much is appropriately made of assaults on free speech, but those have morphed into broader attacks on the most essential element of academic freedom — the latitude to thoughtfully challenge — free from fear of retribution — widely accepted ideas about society and science.

In an op-ed, Professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander from the Universities of Pennsylvania and San Diego argued that the decline of a unifying culture that valued hard work, self-discipline, child rearing in stable marriages, service to employers and community, and respect for authority greatly contributes to poor economic and social conditions among working class whites and minorities. Colleagues responded with a firestorm of attacks and the usual invectives about racism.

Bowing to mob rule and embracing vigilantism in lieu of due process, the law school dean removed Professor Wax from a mandatory first-year course and asked her to take a leave of absence. Maybe it’s the dean and some of her colleagues who are in need of a time out.

America is unique among nations, because it was founded on the idea of the fundamental sanctity of individual liberty and freedom of thought, and not as a place defined by a specific ethnic, language or religious identity. All that is needed to become an American is to embrace this basic creed and take up the shared responsibility to preserve it.

It is difficult to see how a civilization that puts so much stock in those values and equal treatment under the law can long survive when its young people are required to embrace such intolerance and taught by example those accused of transgressions are entitled to no more due process than the mob rule of a fascist state.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

University of Notre Dame abandons Catholic teachings

Now not a place for Catholic parents to send their children to.  Doubtful that the whited sepulchre who runs it believes in anything at all

The University has announced it is to be the sole funder, unaccompanied proprietor, and director of distribution of what it has solemnly declared for years to be an immoral service. But the Holy Spirit is not a consequentialist. God does not want us to weigh up pros and cons of adhering to the moral truth. And the greatest respect we can show others is to bear faithful witness to the truth.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s prophetic affirmation (in Humanae vitae) of the Church’s perennial teaching that contraception is always morally wrong, it is perhaps fitting that contraception, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance even among Catholics, is much in the news. The news has mainly had to do with the Trump administration’s courageous decision to nullify the Obamacare “contraception” mandate, at least for those employers who conscientiously object to being made providers of drugs and devices including abortifacients, as well as the Pill, IUDs, and other simple contraceptives.

The administration’s new regulations provide a total exemption from any legal duty to pay for these drugs and devices or even to facilitate their use in a remote way. My employer, the University of Notre Dame, is eligible to take that exemption. In fact, along with many other religious institutions, Notre Dame sued the United States several years ago to secure precisely that relief. And note well: these institutions sued for total exemption, even though they were already beneficiaries of an Obama-era “accommodation” that relieved them of any duty to directly fund or distribute contraception or abortifacients.

In its lawsuit, Notre Dame cited chapter and verse of Church teaching. Its pleadings and supporting papers amounted to a sound, and at times moving, argument that it would betray the faith if it were to accept even the watered-down involvement of the “accommodation.” The University said, basically, that, to remain faithful to its beliefs, it could not be involved in any way whatsoever with a process designed to provide contraceptives to its employees, its students, or their dependents. Just so.

Yet, in spite of its sworn declarations that Catholic faith precludes doing so, the University announced in late 2017 that it would decline the proffered exemption and instead stay the course prescribed to it by the Obama administration. This decision surprised many observers (though, truth be told, not this one). Notre Dame’s choice came under withering public criticism, on and off campus, from (among others) the University Faculty for Life and the Sycamore Trust, an alumni group dedicated chiefly to encouraging Our Lady’s University to live up to its stated Catholic mission.

On February 7, the University changed course yet again. In a letter to the entire campus community, President John Jenkins, CSC, announced new “steps based on Catholic principles that nevertheless provide access to some of the coverage that members of our community seek.” In one “step” Notre Dame rightly repudiated any role in providing abortifacients (such as Plan B and ella) for, as Fr. Jenkins wrote, these things destroy “an innocent human life.”

Sadly, however, Fr. Jenkins chose to go all-in on contraceptives. He wrote: “the University will provide coverage in the University’s own insurance plans for simple contraceptives (i.e., drugs designed to prevent conception).” This “step” is really a giant leap into immorality. Under the Obama administration’s “accommodation,” Notre Dame did not directly fund contraception and was only peripherally involved in providing access to it. Now the University is to be sole funder and proprietor of a contraception giveaway, with only the logistics of it delegated by Notre Dame to its plan administrators. What it solemnly declared for years to be morally impossible is, suddenly, the substance of Notre Dame’s free choice.

Many on campus will congratulate Fr. Jenkins for a wise and even Solomonic decision. Many others will disagree, in silence. But there can be no doubt that Notre Dame, according to its own sworn declarations, has betrayed the Catholic faith. Fr. Jenkins and all others involved in making this fateful, gravely wrong choice should be rebuked. One expects that, now, the local bishop will have no choice but to publicly do so. Leave aside the prospect that anything Bishop Rhoades could do or say would cause Notre Dame yet again to change course. His duty to protect all the faithful in his care from this grave scandal will compel him to speak out.

Fr. Jenkins’s announcement is, however, worse than all that. The harm to so many persons’ minds, bodies, and souls unleashed by Notre Dame’s embrace of contraception is great, and perhaps incalculable. But, in the course of rationalizing his decision, Fr. Jenkins supplied a primer about how Catholics should make all sorts of morally important decisions that is not only mistaken, but catastrophic for the moral life.

Here is the relevant part of Fr. Jenkins’s announcement. First, he affirmed that contraception is “contrary to Catholic teaching.” But then he observed that “many [people on campus] conscientiously disagree with this particular teaching.” Fr. Jenkins wrote that Notre Dame “must be unwavering in our fidelity to our Catholic mission at Notre Dame, while we recognize that among the values in our Catholic tradition is a respect for other religious traditions and the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” He stated that a “tension exists between establishing policies in accord with Catholic teaching and respecting the religious traditions and decisions of the many members of our community.” This “tension” is particularly acute when it comes to healthcare. Fr. Jenkins also noted that, several years after submitting to the Obama accommodation, “some of those enrolled in our health plans—an increasingly diverse group—have come to rely on access to contraceptives through enrollment in our plans.” Ergo, according to the university president, Notre Dame will become a contraceptives distributor.

The grave and potentially disastrous error in Fr. Jenkins’s reasoning is that nothing in it has the slightest tendency to morally justify helping others—even people we respect deeply—to do what is morally wrong, even if they happen to believe otherwise. Our moral duty to respect others’ choices does not have anything to do with giving them the means to do evil. If the person working next to you shares his plan to, say, patronize a prostitute, it would be wrong to give him the cash to pay for it. There may be nothing you can do to stop a friend whom you generally respect from entering an adulterous relationship or from cooking the books of his small business. But surely one is morally bound not to give him the keys to one’s apartment for his assignations or to file a false tax return for him. Indeed, everything that Fr. Jenkins says about the campus community’s attitudes toward contraception would apply almost equally to abortifacients. Yet even he recognizes that paying for Plan B or ella would be wrong, no matter how much we might respect those who would take those drugs. The only reason Fr. Jenkins reversed course on February 7 was to eliminate the modest role Notre Dame played, per the Obamacare “accommodation,” in facilitating access to abortifacients. By that same measure of how much complicity in others’ immoral choices is too much, Notre Dame is much more obviously guilty of contraception than ever before.

In truth, one should not respect another’s specific immoral choice at all. Everyone’s immoral choices should be regretted, and their repetition discouraged, and their occurrences criticized appropriately. The word “respect” hardly leaps to mind to describe that complex of morally required responses. One can and should in general nonetheless respect the person whose immoral choice it is. Beyond that, speaking of “respecting” others’ immoral choices has to do with the moral and prudential limits on what one may, and may not, do to stop, or just to interfere in, their wrongdoing. Your adult brother might regularly use his laptop to access pornography. Anyone who respects him should remonstrate with him about his bad habit and dissuade him as best one can. It would be wrong, of course, out of “respect” to give him the web addresses where the sordid stuff he fancies can easily be found. But it would ordinarily be wrong, too, to take his laptop and throw it away. It would surely be wrong to lock him in his bedroom until he promised to stop.

As a matter of fact, Notre Dame’s practice until just a few years ago exhibited all the “respect” possibly due to those who want to contracept. Notre Dame rightly did nothing to make that immoral practice easier or cheaper. At the same time, Notre Dame did not discriminate in the workplace against those who chose to contracept. The University left everyone alone, if you will, to do as he or she wished in private.

The crucial mistake in Fr. Jenkins’s rationalization is to use the hazy fog generated by a sonorous phrase—“respecting” others—to cover up what he is really doing, which is to violate in and by his own deed the moral truth that he seems to affirm (that contraception is immoral). The central truth of the moral life is that everyone is invariably morally responsible for his or her own actions, no matter what others are doing or not doing. Neither Fr. Jenkins (nor I nor you) is permitted, much less obliged, by “respect” for any other persons to choose to aid their immoral plans, because doing so makes Fr. Jenkins (or me or you) guilty of that same immorality—just as Notre Dame itself alleged under oath in its lawsuit over the course of several years. Thus Fr. Jenkins has most regrettably muddied what it means to say that any norm of morality is, simply, true.

That Fr. Jenkins chose the other day to wrap his gross disservice to all who read his words in expressly Catholic refinements is especially scandalous. He wrote, earnestly, that this situation is one that demands discernment—something to which Pope Francis has called the Church in his various writings and addresses. Discernment, which has a long history in the Catholic spiritual tradition, is, of course, a process of weighing thoughtfully considerations for and against various courses of action. Yet it also demands prayerful attention to God’s guidance through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit is not a consequentialist. God does not want us to weigh up pros and cons of adhering to the moral truth. And the greatest respect we can show others is to bear faithful witness to that truth.


Horrific Sex Ed Curriculum Is Taking Over in This Virginia County, and Objectors Are Getting Steamrolled

I usually avoid really sick, appalling spectacles. I skip movies like “Saw.” But last Thursday I saw something worse. I went to the sex education committee meeting of the Fairfax County School Board. I have never seen anything as shocking.

Understand that I have sat through years of shocking meetings. My day job is monitoring and lobbying the United Nations. But I have never seen or heard anything like this. This meeting was a horror show. And a Soviet one at that.

The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee advises the Fairfax County School Board for the content of the sex education lessons taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

This group has come up with over 80 hours of sex education for these poor kids. And some of it is straight-up pornography.

Rich, Leftist, and Libertine

This school district in Northern Virginia, one of the largest and richest in the country, is among the most leftist in the country. No big surprise there. Twenty-five years ago, it was already promoting “Two Mommies” to the little tots.

But the sexual revolution ideology kicked into hyperspeed a few years ago. Fairfax leftists put transgender ideology into schools a full year before President Barack Obama’s Department of Education mandated it for the rest of the schools in the country.

Last year, the Trump administration canceled the mandate, though Fairfax County is clinging onto it.

This committee has long embraced the rest of the LGBT program. “Oral sex” is introduced to kids as young as 12. Thirteen-year-olds are told about “anal sex” 18 separate times in one year’s lessons.

The committee is made up of about two dozen people. They’re appointed by the overwhelmingly leftist Fairfax County School Board. Four voting members are students, chosen no doubt because they’re members of student LGBT clubs, and most other members appear to be teachers and administrators.

If the idea behind the committee is to get community input, why stack it with people on the county payroll?

The School Board’s Supreme Soviet

Last Thursday night, two regular citizen members of the committee tried to offer amendments to the curriculum. What happened to them is right out of the Politburo of the Supreme Soviet.

The subject was the phrase “sex assigned at birth,” which appears numerous times in the lessons. This is a politically charged slogan that teaches that it’s wrong for a delivery room doctor to say a penis means boy or a vagina means girl. A child should be left to his own gender choice later in life.

One citizen member made a motion to remove this phrase from the lessons and to simply use the word “sex” instead. Through parliamentary maneuvers, other members of the committee made sure the amendment was put off indefinitely without debate. The vote to cut off debate and never speak about it again passed 23-3.

The member who offered the amendment asked for a roll call, so that those voting to keep in “sex assigned at birth” would have their names associated with their votes. The motion for a roll call was killed by voice vote.

No debate, no accountability.

Another citizen member made a motion that, somewhere in the numerous lessons about various contraceptive methods taught beginning in eighth grade, there ought to be something about the possible health risks of certain contraceptives.

This, too, was shut down without debate, by a vote of 23-3. A roll call of the vote was shouted down by voice vote.

Hush, Adults Are Listening

The first citizen member made a motion to include a discussion in the lessons about the health risks associated with hormonal and surgical “transitioning.” This, too, was not allowed.

One county employee member asked why there was no lesson on anal sex for the seventh graders. There was oral sex, but why was anal sex missing? The chairman of the committee assured her that the anal sex begins with lessons in the eighth grade.

This revealing moment was followed by another: The chairman actually apologized, with a nervous laugh, for using those graphic terms.

Did it not occur to her, or anyone else on the committee, that she was apologizing to the adults in the room for using words that are scripted into the lessons they have created for children?

It was clear to me that much of the reaction to these motions was a kind of animus toward traditional morality. The glee with which the majority cut off the legitimate concerns of the minority was breathtaking.

Christians as the Taliban

One new member of the committee is a Democratic activist named Daniel Press. He was the one who was most vociferous that these motions not only be trashed, but that they not even be discussed.

On his Facebook page he calls Christians the Taliban and has an image of Christ on the cross over the mocking words: “Total Winner.”

The other thing that struck me was the sheep-like attitude of most of the members of the committee. There were a few loudmouth ideologues, to be sure. One student member treated us to an anti-American diatribe ending with the charge that transphobia stems from white supremacy.

For the most part, the members were silent. But they were lickety-split to raise their hands whenever called upon to vote against debate, discussion, and accountability. That they could not allow.

Finally, it’s remarkable how fast such new and fantastical notions have entered the leftist mindset.

The notion of “sex assigned at birth” was itself born just a few years ago. And yet, these people are so certain of its truth, they clap hands on their ears to avoid hearing anything contradictory. Even more, they clap their hands on the mouths of anyone who might want to question this new tenet of faith.

This brings to mind two things: brainwashing, and bad religion.

The committee members may not know it, but they have been brainwashed to believe things that are simply not supported by either science or reason. Theirs is faith plain and simple, and the worst kind of faith, the kind that contradicts reason, the kind that can only be imposed. Theirs is a blind faith, taking as gospel whatever the sexual zeitgeist vomits forth.

And so what are parents to do? Opt their kids out of Family Life Education and take over the school board. One is easy, but both are necessary.

Sexual Stalinism, of the kind I witnessed a few nights ago, has no place in the education of our children.


Australian Parents To Take Part In International Sex Ed Sit Out

Australian school children are being increasingly subjected to early sexualisation through programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships and sex ed shifting from focusing on biology to teaching sex positivity. This is not a uniquely Australian phenomena with sex ed being taught at younger ages and in a lot more graphic detail in nations such as the United States and Canada. These new programs are mandated by governments in public schools with parents getting no say in the matter, if they are told about them at all.

Not surprisingly parents are fighting back against this government overreach in an area which used to be the realm of the parent who could best decide how to teach their children these sensitive topics. Part of the difficultly in challenging such programs is that the masses are not informed about what is contained in them, so much activism involves just communicating to the public the disturbing material contained in them so enough can begin to put pressure on the politicians who sign off on such programs.

To protest against the compulsory nature of the programs parents in the United States are planning a National Sex Ed Sit Out on April 23 where they will pull their children out of school for the day as an act of defiance against the education authorities. The sit out is being promoted by the Activist Mommy (Elizabeth Johnston), an Ohio mother of 10 who is America’s most prominent campaigner against graphic sex ed programs. The concept of a sex ed sit out has spread internationally.

Given Australia’s problems with such programs parents in Australia are planning to take part, the event has been shared on prominent parental activist pages. There is also an effort being undertaken to organise a Parents United for Kids Rally in each state and territory to coincide with the Sex Ed Sit Out for parents to take their message to the people mandating these programs.

The state of Victoria has the worst of these programs with it still teaching the uncensored Roz Ward version of Safe Schools and where the Respectful Relationships program which is supposedly taught to counter domestic violence was born. The Australian Christian Lobby recently presented a a 16,675-signature petition to the Victorian Premier’s Office against the Safe Schools Program. Victoria is facing a state election year with these programs likely to be a prominent campaign issue.

If enough students are absent from school on one day for a reason the education bureaucrats don’t approve of then the sit out will have achieved its goal of making policymakers take note of these parents concerns.