Friday, July 06, 2018

Through the Looking Glass at Concordia University

It was in a class called Representations of Minorities in Documentary Film, the last elective I needed to receive my BA at Concordia University in Montreal, that I first realized something was very wrong. The class had just watched Sound and Fury, a 2000 Oscar-nominated documentary about deaf culture. The film follows a 6-year-old deaf girl named Heather and her family (several members of whom also are deaf) as they go back and forth on the issue of cochlear implants, a then-new technology that allows some deaf people to hear.

Heather wants cochlear implants so she can talk to people and hear lions. Her mother, too, opts for the implants. But when she discovers the implant will not be as effective for her, she changes her mind, and, without consulting her daughter, decrees that neither of them will be undergoing the procedure.

After the film ended, our professor asked students for their thoughts. When called on, I said that parents should try to make their children’s lives easier. If I remember my words correctly, I added: “They shouldn’t hold their children back from something that will help them grow.”

“You just feel that way because you’re white, cisgendered, abled, and privileged,” came the snarl from somewhere below. I looked down a few aisles to the front of the dark screening room. I saw the back of a mostly shaved head, with a lock of hair tied on top. I had never seen the back of this head before. And I never saw the front of it either, because the responder didn’t bother to look at me.

You don’t know me, I thought. What gives you the right to comment on who I am? My inner monologue started racing in my privileged Cape Breton accent. Ya, I’m right some privileged, b’y. I was abandoned by my mother, y’arse! I never knew my father. I grew up under a staircase, like Harry Potter. My hand shot up so I could respond. The professor ignored it. I kept it up and locked eyes with him, agitated. He looked away. The last few minutes of the class rolled on, with others talking about things I can’t even remember. The attack on my identity just hung there over the space, unchallenged, floating, settling into the upholstery of the chairs. Then the class was dismissed.

I walked out of the screening room feeling kind of shell-shocked. What was I to take from this? What were the other students to take from this? That the attack on my character warranted no rebuttal? That my race, my gender, and my sexual identity had all disqualified me from participating? The lesson seemed clear. My status as a mother of two young girls—unimportant. My opinions—unwanted. I learned the lesson so well that I did not again participate in that class for the rest of the semester.

My experience in that undergraduate film class was just a taste, an appetizer if you will, for the full-fledged graduate feast I was to consume at Concordia once my undergrad was finished.

Students at just about any other university can recite similar stories. Universities are in a state of crisis, but this crisis did not emerge overnight. It required an hospitable environment to take root. Some journalists and professors have dismissed the phenomenon as a form of moral panic, invented by right-wing provocateurs. They cite studies and statistics to reassure us that The Kids Are Alright. Well, that kid in the front row was not alright. And I am not a right-wing provocateur. My politics are progressive. Nor am I a professor or a journalist, nor have I conducted long-range longitudinal studies that ask students to self-report on their beliefs about free speech on campus. All I have is my own experience and the experiences of those fellow students with whom I have discussed the matter, and I can assure the reader that the crisis is real. 

During a professional development seminar, my program director appeared before our class and proudly announced that he had abandoned the entire field of philosophy, once his full-time calling. It was all “racist old white men,” he proclaimed. The class laughed. It was a laugh of recognition; they had heard this jazz riff before. In my department, it was normal and expected to mock and dismiss all white male thinkers as inveterate racists and misogynists. It did not matter how long ago they had lived, or how enlightened they had been compared to their contemporaries. Their opinions, their ideas, their entire contributions to world knowledge—all null and void. Aristotle? Gone. Kant? Gone. Hume? Gone. It was like a book-burning.

My program director was only playing to the crowd here, I realized, and the students loved it. It affirmed their beliefs. Plato and Hegel might as well have been Weinstein and Spacey—gone.

Men are not the only ones, mind you, who found their names, and their ideas, on the chopping block in that department. It happens to women, too—especially if they are white and hold the “wrong” opinions. To mention the name of the renowned author and feminist Margaret Atwood in a Concordia Media Studies class is to invite outrage. Atwood had picked the wrong side in 2015, when she insisted on due process for fellow author Steven Galloway after he was widely accused (falsely, it turns out) of sexual assault at the University of British Columbia.

Atwood is a bad feminist, I was sternly told in one session. She is bad for women. The discussion was over. The author of The Handmaid’s Tale—gone.

During another seminar of this type, aimed at helping us plan our careers, we were presented with the trajectories of three professors who taught in our department. The last of the trio began by describing her immigration to the Toronto exurb of Brampton as a child. Her first complaint was that all her classmates were white. She did not elaborate. She then suggested that white university professors are not capable of teaching sociology courses on the subject of race—just as I had been deemed incapable of having an opinion on deaf children.

Then, to howls of laughter from her student audience, she stood up, swung her arm out, and accused the entire Department of Sociology at McMasters in Ontario, past and present, of being “white racists.” All of them. For all time. The Sociology Department at McMasters—gone. The students loved it. They laughed and nodded.

Often, these moments got really strange. One afternoon, we were tasked with sitting in small groups to discuss a series of articles about the internet, one of which was called Taming the Golem: Challenges of Ethical Algorithmic Decision Making. As soon as we pushed our desks together, one of the group members instantly asserted that the article was “disgusting.” We waited for elaboration. There was none. She treated the assertion as self-evident.

The article contained many offensive words, she finally explained after much prodding. “Like…what?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“Cleansing,” she said. As in, “cleansing algorithms.”

I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. “Data cleansing” is a well-established practice in statistical analysis whereby redundant or inaccurate data is corrected. And in this case, the article, published in 2017 in the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, was authored by two academics who were concerned with the problem of bias being injected into automated decision-making algorithms, such as the type used to select the kind of content we see on Facebook. Algorithmic cleansing, in other words, has nothing whatever to do with ethnic genocide, the basis for the student’s complaint.

Two other members of the group jumped in on cue, though, nodding vigorously in agreement. They cringed at the word “cleansing.” Their shoulders tightened. They shook their heads. I tried to point out the article’s arguments, asking them if they disagreed with any of the actual content. They would not engage. “But don’t you agree with its recommendations?” I asked. They made faces. They acted as if my line of questioning was inherently problematic. To give this article’s authors a hearing, to grapple in the slightest with the ideas therein, was repugnant to them. It would give the authors a platform, give them legitimacy, and make us all complicit in their moral decrepitude, their language crime. I gave up. What could I do? The article remained undiscussed.

We were once assigned an article by Penn State professor Eric Hayot, called Academic Writing, I Love You. Really, I Do. It contained several short snippets of writing advice from famous people, such as this one from Kurt Vonnegut:

Do not use semicolons.
They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.
All they do is show you’ve been to college.

A female student immediately spoke up. She berated the professor, in front of the class. Vonnegut’s joke was so offensive, she said, that she could not understand how such an article had been assigned. It was unacceptable, the whole article. The professor, it was clear, had been unprepared for this line of attack. He shouldn’t have been. Know thy cohort. Amazingly, this was the same program director who, just months previously, had dismissed all of philosophy for its whiteness and maleness, and here he was falling victim to the very climate of repudiation he had helped to create. Hoisted by his own petard.

In his defense, he did try to open this question up for discussion, but the students weren’t having it. “We can talk about this, right?” the director asked, nervous, a bit shaky as if he were about to be shot. He was sweating. The student had him.

“You shouldn’t have assigned this,” the student condescended to inform the program director. The rest of the class sat in dumb silence. I was gobsmacked. And I saw it in the professor’s eyes right away—he would never be assigning this article again. Vonnegut, one of the greatest modern critics of our inhumanity—gone. Hayot—gone. The dignity and authority of the program director—gone. So it goes.

More HERE 

Legal Group Appeals Ruling That Backed Opening School’s Restrooms, Locker Rooms to Transgender Students

A conservative legal organization is asking the full 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the May ruling of a three-judge panel against school privacy in upholding a Pennsylvania school’s opening of its locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to students of the opposite sex.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has already spoken: The real differences between men and women mean that privacy must be protected where it really counts, and that certainly includes high school locker rooms and restrooms,” Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

The alliance, a nonprofit, public interest law firm, and allied attorneys are spearheading the appeal of the May ruling.

During the the 2016-17 school year, Boyertown High School in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, opened its restroom facilities and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex without warning.

On May 24, three judges on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard oral arguments over the lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, and subsequently ruled 3-0 against student privacy.

The three were Judges Theodore McKee, appointed by President Bill Clinton; Patty Shwartz, named by President Barack Obama; and Richard Lowell Nygaard, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Holcomb said Alliance Defending Freedom is asking for a full-court review in hope that a wider panel of judges will rule in support of students’ privacy.

“The panel’s decision is out of step with long-standing legal protection for privacy,” she said. “That’s why we are asking the full 3rd Circuit to weigh in on the valid concerns of these young students.”

After the 3rd Circuit panel’s ruling, Alexis Lightcap, a senior at Boyertown Area Senior High School and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the panel’s ruling was a personal affront on her privacy.

“Today’s ruling was very disappointing, and made me feel—again—like my voice was not heard,” Lightcap said. “Every student’s privacy should be protected.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Aidan DeStefano, a transgender student at Boyertown Area Senior High and with the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders in the case.

“It’s important that trans students are given the opportunity to defend themselves against these shameful attempts to isolate and stigmatize them,” Leslie Cooper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said. “Schools can and should provide extra privacy protections or private restroom or changing areas for any student who requests it. But no student has a right to demand that transgender students be segregated from their peers.”

But Randall Wenger, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom who is chief counsel at the Independence Law Center, said the case is about protecting all students’ privacy rights.

“No student should be forced into an intimate setting—like a locker room or shower—with someone of the opposite sex,” Wenger said.

“The Boyertown District could have crafted policies that respect the privacy concerns of all students and are also sensitive to the needs of individual students. Instead, the district failed to fulfill its responsibility and harmed students rightfully concerned about their bodily privacy,” he said. “The district must correct its policy—not only for our clients, but for all students within the district.”


Why parents, teachers overwhelmingly supported Sydney principal’s scathing newsletter

TEACHERS have revealed some of the abuse they cop from parents, including late night emails and demands for grades to be changed.

“F**K this,” screams a furious parent at a NSW primary school teacher. He wants his seven-year-old child’s grade pushed from a D up to a C.

“If you’re going to speak like that, this meeting is over,” snaps back the principal, who was sitting in on the meeting to support one of his teachers.

“If you’re not happy then there’s a school down the road that you can go to, we don’t need people like you here.”

Most people would struggle with being spoken to like that but for many Australian teachers it’s all in a day’s work, listening to parents making outrageous demands.

The NSW teacher, who spoke to on the condition of anonymity, said she’d been threatened by parents with affidavits and legal action and screamed at in front of her class of children — all in less than one school year.

The teacher said her meeting with the swearing dad had kicked off with an angry email in which he questioned her ability.

“Obviously there isn’t (sic) competent teachers at this school,” he wrote.

Things came to a head when the father walked into the meeting and let loose with a string of expletives — eventually explaining his fury came from not wanting his daughter’s life “to end up like mine”.

The truck driver dad is just one of the types of parents schoolteachers are being forced to deal with — all while trying to do their actual job of educating children.

The teacher comments come as the principal of an elite Sydney private school hit back at parents who crossed the line, warning them he’d expel their kids if they didn’t “chill”.

Beth Blackwood, CEO of the Association of Heads of ­Independent Schools of Australia, supported Dr Collier’s decision to take on the parents at St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

“It was courageous, he called it out,” Ms Blackwood said. “I’m delighted to see everyone is supporting his letter, including parents from the school.”

In his newsletter, Dr Collier warned parents he could ban them from entering school grounds if they continued to “verbally abuse, physically threaten or shout” at staff members.

The Sydney principal also reminded parents, who pay up to $30,000 to send their kids to the prestigious school, they weren’t entitled to making any demands.

“I am aware some parents, because they are paying fees, see the relationship with teachers as a master/servant relationship, such that they are entitled to make extravagant demands,” he wrote.

Ms Blackwood, who was a school principal in Perth for almost two decades, said she’d noticed a definite shift in the involvement parents wanted in their child’s school life.

“The reaction from parents is definitely more heightened than it has been in the past. There is a growing number of parents who aren’t respectful and they behave in a way that can only be described as harassment,” she said.

Ms Blackwood conceded parents — like the truck driver dad — were becoming increasingly worried their children would not find employment when they left school — and were shifting the stress onto their children and teachers.

“They want the best for their kids but there’s a raft of research that proves the overbearing doesn’t help, it’s not healthy,” she said.

“Helicopter parenting is not helping children. It doesn’t help them find their sense of self, improve their autonomy or resilience.”

The NSW teacher involved in the screaming match with the dad told she had recently received a phone call from a sobbing mother who had been told by her five-year-old he had no friends.

“I’ve had a lot of tears this year — from parents — about their kindergarten kids. They’re anxious about everything. One mum called me last week and said her kid has been coming home for the past two days saying they have no one to play with,” the teacher said.

“I tried to assure her the kid was in his first week of school — we were two days in — but she asked me, ‘I don’t know what to do, should we move schools?’”

“I told her, ‘they’re in kindergarten, we’re building their social skills, this is where they’re learning how to socialise with others’.

“They just take whatever their child says and think that’s exactly how it is. It probably didn’t even happen like that and it just puts extra work on us so now I’ve had to monitor that kid this week and I’ve had to go to the playground every lunch break — the only time I have to eat food myself — to see who this child is playing with so on Friday when I have a meeting with her, I can tell her if he looked happy,” she said.

This constant monitoring of children’s emotional states is another responsibility foisted on teachers, she said.

Ms Blackwood said parents’ ability to reach out to teachers directly through email had only made things worse.

“They’re so accessible now and it just adds to the social pressures and anxiety teachers face. Parents want access to teachers and they want it now,” Ms Blackwood said.

Her opinion was backed up by the NSW teacher who said an increasing number of schools were being forced to implement email policies so parent had to go through the school office first with teachers given 48 hours to respond.

“Last year I was emailed by a parent at 10pm as I was going to sleep. The next morning, at 8.15am when I was setting up things for the day, she came into my classroom and abused me and asked why I hadn’t answered straight away,” she said.

Another teacher, who works at a high school in the northern NSW, said she had received an email from the parent of a Year 10 student warning the school to stop studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Her reason? “It’s too violent and it’s making them become violent”.

The NSW primary school teacher was also recently accused of falsifying an eight-year-old’s attendance records because his mum wasn’t getting him to school on time.

After telling the boy to get yet another late note to account for his late arrival, the teacher was confronted by the child’s mother in front of her whole class.

“She ran into my classroom and in front of my whole class of seven-year-olds says: ‘Here’s your bloody late note’ and was screaming at me in front of all these kids and having a go at me for making him go and get legitimate late notes.”

Eventually the school’s lawyers had to get involved and the mother was informed she needed to get her child to school on time.

After Dr Collier’s scathing newsletter, some parents at St Andrews spoke to The Australian, wholeheartedly supporting the principal.

“People need to understand that they don’t own a teacher simply by paying fees,” one parent said. “It’s just rubbish.”

Dr Collier spoke on the Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Live last night where he again urged parents to “get some perspective”.

“These matters are often a small discipline issue or a bad grade but these parents represent that issue as the end of the world to their child,” Dr Collier said.

“What I urge them to do is get some perspective and to keep these things in proportion because the schooling journey is 13 years and it’s not good to, as one would say, sweat the small stuff rather than take the long view.”


Thursday, July 05, 2018

Trump to revoke Obama-era guidelines on race in college admissions

The Trump administration is set on Tuesday to revoke a series of Obama-era guidelines that encourage considering race in the college admissions process as a means of promoting diversity, according to a report.

Two sources told the Wall Street Journal that the move comes as the Justice Department investigates whether Harvard University illegally holds Asian-Americans to a higher standard in the admissions process.

The guidelines — put in place during the Obama administration in 2011 and 2016 — laid out legal recommendations that Trump officials argue “mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than the law allows,” the paper reported.

Anurima Bargava, who led civil rights enforcement in schools for the Justice Department during Obama’s presidency, disagreed with that assessment, saying the documents simply offered guidelines to schools looking to continue using affirmative action legally.

She said the Trump administration’s move suggests that it doesn’t favor racial diversity.

“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” she told the Journal. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”

Administration officials didn’t immediately respond to the paper’s requests for comment.

The action comes as a lawsuit — filed in 2014 by a group called Students for Fair Admissions — is being pursued in federal court against Harvard.

It alleges that the Ivy League university intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asians who are admitted. It is expected to go to trial in October.

In 2016, the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision — but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying schools must continue reviewing their affirmative action policies.

Last week, Kennedy announced his retirement from the high court, and advocates on both sides say his successor — to be nominated Monday by President Trump — may adopt a different take as the Harvard case makes its way through the courts.


DeVos goes deep with anti-regulatory mission at Education Department

For-profit colleges get a break

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to take new steps as early as this week toward reversing Obama-era protections for students in debt to for-profit schools, including those that go out of business. It’s the latest in a broader effort by DeVos to recast the mission of her department and to relax safeguards intended to protect economically vulnerable students.

DeVos is also expected to rewrite rules requiring for-profit schools to equip students with minimal employment skills to qualify for federal aid.

DeVos’ plans to transform her department have gone largely unheralded, despite the outcry that greeted her appointment last year as President Donald Trump’s leading voice on education policy. But her push to ease regulations on for-profit colleges has opened a new front in the Democratic resistance effort, sparking lawsuits from state officials.

California added another legal challenge Friday when the state sued the nation’s biggest loan company, Navient, arguing it had engaged in illegal conduct servicing federal student loans.

Such challenges are a shot across the bow at the administration and DeVos, who is working to redefine a department conceived to advocate for students — not schools or lobbyists seeking financial profits. The debate carries huge significance for U.S. taxpayers, who fund the billions of dollars in student loans and grants DeVos oversees each year.

“With Navient bulldozing students on their loans and the Department of Education gone missing in action, California is moving to stop the abuse,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told NBC News in a statement.

The California suit argues that Navient improperly steered financially distressed borrowers — such as single moms and new graduates — into forbearance, costing them thousands of dollars. It specifically targets federal loans that DeVos and Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are tasked with policing.

While Trump has touted a broad-based regulatory rollback since taking office, critics say what is about to happen at the Department of Education signals a retreat from its oversight role. And it comes as the president last week proposed to merge the Education and Labor Departments — another indication that the administration wants to scale back oversight.

For-profit colleges came under scrutiny during the Obama administration for targeting low-income and minority students who borrow heavily to pay for them, only to earn often worthless degrees. These colleges overwhelmingly rely on students who take federal student loans and who tend to have a harder time repaying them.

A DeVos spokeswoman dismissed the criticisms of it policies as politically motivated.

“There are not ‘for-profit advocates’” at the department, said spokeswoman Liz Hill. DeVos is “doing what’s best for students, not capriciously targeting schools based on their tax status," Hill said. "She is leveling the playing field, not tilting the scales.”

California has been out front in challenging Trump administration policies, suing the federal government at least 36 times. Now the state is zeroing in on DeVos, a billionaire charter school advocate, and the changing mission of her department.

In her 17 months on the job, DeVos has cut back the department’s sharing of information with the CFPB; brought into leadership of the department a number of individuals who’ve represented for-profit colleges; dismantled a team investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges; and at least temporarily reinstated a controversial accrediting agency sanctioned after rubber stamping now-bankrupt schools.

With no experience in public education and a controversial record of charter school creation in her native Michigan, DeVos was a contentious nominee from the start. Her 2017 Senate confirmation process was so divisive that Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a historic tie-breaking vote for her to win Senate approval.

Since then, DeVos has largely escaped the scrutiny directed at other Trump cabinet members, like HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s costly office furniture purchases and EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s various conflicts of interest and heavy spending on security and travel.

DeVos’ regulatory rollback agenda on for-profit colleges could draw her back into the limelight.

More HERE 

Walter Williams: College Destruction of Black Students

Amy Wax, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, has come under attack and scathing criticism because she dared criticize the school's racial preferences program. In an interview with Brown University economist Glenn Loury, discussing affirmative action, Wax mentioned how racial preferences hinder the ability of blacks to succeed academically by admitting them into schools at which they are in over their heads academically. At Penn's seventh-ranked law school, Wax said, she doesn't think that she has ever seen a black law student graduate in the top quarter of his class, and "rarely" is a black student in the top half.

That got her into deep trouble. Penn students and faculty members charged her with racism. Penn Law School Dean Ted Ruger stripped Wax of her duty of teaching her mandatory first-year class on civil procedures. I'm guessing that Penn's law faculty members know Wax's statement is true but think it was something best left unsaid in today's racially charged climate. Ruger might have refuted Wax's claim. He surely has access to student records. He might have listed the number of black law students who were valedictorians and graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. He rightfully chose not to — so as to not provide evidence for Wax's claim.

One study suggests that Wax is absolutely right about academic mismatch. In the early 1990s, the Law School Admission Council collected 27,000 law student records, representing nearly 90 percent of accredited law schools. The study found that after the first year, 51 percent of black law students ranked in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of white students. Two-thirds of black students were in the bottom fifth of their class. Only 10 percent of blacks were in the top half of their class. Twenty-two percent of black students in the LSAC database hadn't passed the bar exam after five attempts, compared with 3 percent of white test takers.

The University of Pennsylvania controversy highlights something very important to black people and the nation. The K-12 education that most blacks receive is grossly fraudulent. Most predominately black schools are costly yet grossly inferior to predominately white schools and are in cities where blacks hold considerable political power, such as Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. In these and other cities, it's not uncommon for there to be high schools where less than 17 percent of the students test proficient in reading, and often not a single student in such schools tests proficient in math. Nonetheless, many receive high school diplomas.

It's inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and have difficulty performing at the college level. There's no way that four or five years of college can repair the academic damage done to black students throughout their 13 years of primary and secondary education. Partial proof is black student performance at the postgraduate level, such as in law school. Their disadvantage is exaggerated when they are admitted to prestigious Ivy League law schools. It's as if you asked a trainer to teach you how to box and the first fight he got you was with Anthony Joshua or Floyd Mayweather. You might have the potential to ultimately be a good boxer, but you're going to get your brains beaten out before you learn how to bob and weave.

The fact that black students have low class rankings at such high-powered law schools as Penn doesn't mean that they are stupid or uneducable. It means that they've been admitted to schools where they are in over their heads. To admit these students makes white liberals feel better about themselves. It also helps support the jobs of black and white university personnel in charge of diversity and inclusion. The question for black people is whether we can afford to have the best of our youngsters demeaned, degraded and possibly destroyed to make white liberals feel better about themselves. You might ask, "Williams, without affirmative action, what would the University of Pennsylvania Law School do about diversity and inclusion?" I'd say that's Penn's problem.


Wednesday, July 04, 2018

School Bans Parents From Viewing LGBT Videos Shown to Kids

For four days last April students at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania were forced to watch videos selected by the “student-led” Gay-Straight Alliance.

The videos ranged from “9 Questions Gay People Have About Straight People” to a compilation of clips celebrating “marriage equality.” There was also a video educating students about gender fluidity — the idea there is no such thing as male or female.

“My son expressed to me that he felt bullied by the administration for being a heterosexual man and being forced to listen to LGBT advocacy on a daily basis,” one parent wrote in a letter to the school district.

The East Penn School District claimed the videos, shown during daily announcements, were about anti-bullying and the LGBT movement. But parents argue it was more about indoctrination. And when they asked to see the videos, the school district refused.

“This is a gross violation of parental rights,” Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast wrote in a June 22 letter to Supt. Michael Schilder.

Liberty Counsel, a law firm that specializes in First Amendment and religious liberty issues, is calling on the district to immediately release what it called “four pro-homosexuality” videos shown as part of the district’s “Unity Week” and “Day of Silence” activities.

“It does not pass the straight face test for the District to claim it need not provide parents with the actual video links, although the District required more than 2,800 students to view these videos, with no prior notice to parents, and no opportunity to opt-out,” Mast wrote.

Parents took their concerns to the school district — but they were rebuffed.

“Since when does a public school in the United States of America have the right to block a parent and tell them they will not allow them to see the controversial partisan programming they are requiring their children to watch?” another parent asked in a letter to the district. “We have every right to expect that our children are not being subjected to partisan indoctrination in our public schools.”

Supt. Michael Schilder said the video presentations were compiled by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance as part of a student project and are therefore off limits to parents.

“Student work and student expression must always be protected,” he told The Morning Call. “A parent or member of the public has no right to view or access a student’s term paper, speech, or multimedia project just because he or she objects to the topic.”

Parents said they were told they had absolutely no say in what their children were being exposed to at the school house.

“I was told by the superintendent [that] parents have no right to view these videos,” one person said. “I would appreciate knowing why I was not afforded the opportunity to opt my son out of this targeted, planned, social engineering.”

LGBT activists have accused the moms and dads of being homophobic and anti-gay. However, parents say the core issue is about whether parents have the right to know what their children are being taught.

“For the record, neither Liberty Counsel nor parents who have contacted us object to the District promoting kindness amongst students or fighting actual bullying where it exists or promoting a ‘Unity Week’ that does not delve into matters of sexuality,” Mast wrote in his letter to the superintendent.

However, forced participation in an event sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network is not right, Mast wrote. “GLSEN is a political activist organization and seeks to co-opt good people’s opposition to bullying and name-calling.”

Liberty Counsel is threatening legal action unless the school district provides the videos to parents.

“The law is clear that parents, not agents of the state, including teachers, and certainly not GLSEN or its teacher or student affiliates with the GSA, have the right to direct the upbringing and associations of minor children,” Mast wrote.

It does make you wonder why the school district does not want parents to know what was shown to the children. Why the secrecy?


Congressional committee Discusses the Power of Charter Schools

Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing to examine the value of charter schools.

“Every student is different, and families should be empowered to choose whatever school best suits their child’s strengths, rather than being forced into a one-size-fits-all approach. For many, charter schools are the best option for their student to hone his or her individual abilities and build a successful life,” Chairwoman Foxx said in her opening statement. 

Having first opened just over 25 years ago, charter schools have proven a popular option for millions of families. Presently, there are 7,000 charter schools serving nearly 3.2 million students nationwide, while surveys show another five million students would enroll in a charter school if given the chance.

“[I]f we truly want all children in America to get a good education, then we need a system of education that is diverse and contains many paths,” said Greg Richmond, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. “Charter schools are an important part of that diverse system, now serving 3 million students and growing. More importantly, students who have traditionally been underserved are benefiting: studies show Black, Hispanic, low-income, and special education students at charter schools all show positive gains in math and reading compared to their peers at traditional schools.”

Students in underserved areas often face reduced access to educational opportunities, and thus experience more barriers to building a successful life. Charter schools can be pivotal in helping more students from all income brackets achieve lifelong success. Citing research from his home state of Massachusetts, Dr. Martin West, Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, described the positive outcomes that students are achieving in urban charter schools. 

“In our urban centers, each year of attendance at an oversubscribed charter middle school increases students’ achievement by 15 percent of a standard deviation in reading and 32 percent of a standard deviation in math. These effects are among the largest on record for an educational intervention implemented at scale, and large enough in math to close the entire black-white achievement gap while students are enrolled in middle school,” West told members.

As well as providing students and families with greater educational opportunities, charter schools are also held to a high level of accountability. Charter schools not only must comply with the same federal accountability requirements as all other public schools, but they must also maintain the trust of students’ parents.

“Accountability is a central value of charter schools, and the National Alliance has taken a leadership role in promoting quality throughout the sector and improving shortcomings where they exist. We know that for public school choice to be truly meaningful, public school choices must be high-quality. In addition to being answerable to policymakers and authorizers, charter schools are also held accountable to parents. As schools of choice, charter schools must continuously earn the confidence of parents and caregivers who want the best for their children,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Charter schools present families with choices and give students the opportunity to receive an education that challenges and inspires. The Committee on Education and the Workforce remains committed to strengthening access to these innovative institutions so that more students from all walks of life have a shot at building a prosperous life.


Australia: No-nonsense principal of elite $30,000-a-year private school receives an outpouring of support after calling out 'bully' parents for treating teachers like their 'servants'

An elite private school principal has received an outpouring of support after a scathing letter to parents telling them that they need to 'chill' and stop treating teachers like their servants.

Dr John Collier, principal of Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral School, started a national conversation after calling out  'agitated' parents in a recent newsletter. 

He has since received a mass of support for standing up to 'bully' parents, who he threatened to ban from entering school grounds if they continued to verbally abuse his staff.

'Well done Dr Collier for speaking out and supporting his teachers. As a former student under his leadership Dr Collier is an exceptional man and his views should be respected,' one former student wrote online.

'If the parents behave like that towards the teachers, how do the parents expect their children to behave? Sad behaviour,' another wrote. 'We love our principal,' someone else commented. 'You sir are a legend,' addded another.

Other users, including teachers at other schools, praised Dr Collier for his position - revealing public school teachers were forced to deal with the same behaviour. 'It's not just at elite schools! Public schools also see this arrogance from parents!' one woman wrote.

'What happened to building resilience in children instead of having to fight every battle for them? Seriously parents are not doing any favours for their children!'

'This type of behaviour is rife in independent and private schools. I've seen aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviours, manipulations, disrespect, yelling and swearing, intimidation, name-calling, defamation, undermining of teachers are home…and social media parent groups are the latest form of bullying teachers now deal with. Schooling should be a partnership between parents and teachers,' another wrote.

Dr Collier's St Andrew's College is a prestigious K-12 school in Sydney's CBD, and charges fees upwards of $30,000 a year for its students.

'I am aware some parents, because they are paying fees, see the relationship with teachers as a master/servant relationship, such that they are entitled to make extravagant demands,' Dr Collier wrote in the newsletter dated June 5 2018. 

He said he had noticed a considerable increase in parental anxiety this year, compared to when he began his role as the head of the school 28 years ago. 'I am having to interact with too many parents who have verbally abused, physically threatened or shouted at a staff member.

'People who do this should engage in some role reversal: if someone behaved in this way towards you, would it be helpful and would it motivate you to assist them?'

Dr Collier asked parents to consider if their expectations of the school and consequent reactions were reasonable.

'A couple of years ago, a middle school parent said to me that he knew the 13 staff members who had observed his daughter committing an offence were all lying, as his daughter said she was innocent. It is very hard to make progress with this level of unreality,' he wrote.

'Recently, a middle school parent said to me that as her daughter had done poorly in her test, her life was actually over! Actually, it wasn't.

'Often, frustratingly to parents, children do not peak until Senior College. Some really don't get going until tertiary study. We need to avoid living vicariously through our children.'

Dr Collier said, in some cases, students march to the beat of their own drum, and parents need to be accepting and welcoming in support of their children.

Dr Collier said he felt as though the newsletter was the best place to bring the matter to the attention of parents, as the 'unrestrained behaviour appears to be increasing'.

He said he accepted some parents might feel inclined to challenge his policies by taking their children elsewhere, but said ultimately the student will be the one to suffer.

St Andrew's Cathedral School teaches students from kindergarten to Year 12 It is located in the heart of the Sydney CBD. It has a roll of about 1,200 students. Founded in 1885, the school was boys-only until 1999 when it became co-educational

'My experience is that some parents who are highly stressed and highly accusative eventually leave the school, seeking greener pastures. 'In fact, in such cases, there is clearly not going to be any school which will ever satisfy them or meet their extravagant expectations.

'Unfortunately some will follow the pattern of moving every year or two, unreasonably dissatisfied, searching for perfection they will never find, and actually, in uprooting their children, impeding their school performance.'

Dr Collier also said he would instruct teachers to stop answering emails and phone calls from agitated parents if he felt it necessary and would not rule out banning parents from school grounds.


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Parents outraged after celebrity-friendly $45,000-a-year Manhattan school reveals plans to separate children in different classrooms based on race

Like everybnody else, children feel most at ease among others like themselves.  But a major source of difference is race.  So it makes sense to have blacks and whites in separate classes.  That sensible decision founders however on the manic Leftist determination to deny differences between the races

An upscale New York City school's plan to continue segregating students by race has garnered swift disgust from parents.

Last month, parents learned that Little Red School House in the West Village - which has tuition fees of $45,485 a year - would place minority students in the same homerooms for the fall.

Director Philip Kassen was said to have already implemented the practice for the 2017-18 school year for the school's 7th and 8th grade students, and hoped to do the same for 6th grade students in September.

David Schwimmer, Christy Turlington Burns and Sofia Coppola all have children who attend the school

The school consists of approximately 40 students in each grade. Students spend roughly 30 per cent of their school day in homeroom - of which there are two in each grade.

Parent's ire grew after Kassen released a message to them on Wednesday detailing the purpose of the 'initiative' - with many telling the New York Post that they hadn't been privy to the plan beforehand.

One parent said anonymously: 'My daughter who is 11 was like, "Wow, this is crazy. They are talking about separating by color."'

'And I was thinking how antiquated is this? This is backwards. It’s almost like segregation now.'

Another shared that starting as early as the 2016-17 school year, his daughter - who had already graduated - had reported that her classes had been segregated.

'They weren’t very transparent about it,' said the father, who added that his daughter was in the 'minority class.'

'It was my daughter who immediately noticed that all the kids of color were in one class. If you’re going to have that policy, you need to be upfront.'

But the father also stated that his daughter had been separated from her friends starting as early as kindergarten.

'We realized she was placed with all the minority students, but none of her friends. It was peculiar that they didn’t spread everyone out,' he added.

Knowledge of the policy grew in June, with parents going on the ruthless offensive and condemning Kassen and the practice.

'They had a couple meetings with parents and there was a lot of buzz and outrage and yelling,' said a different parent.

'Everyone was saying, "We don’t think it’s necessary. These kids have been friends since kindergarten and nursery school. They don’t see color so why are you doing this?"’

On June 12, Kassen shared that the policy would be reviewed. And eight days later, he shared that the policy was nixed, but that the school would still use 'race as a critical, but not primary, determinant.'

Kassen - who made $403,039 in 2016 - shared with parents that the policy was born after discussions with grads proved for a need to 'create greater opportunities for connection and support.'
'How could a school possibly do that? I don’t know if I would necessarily send a child to a school that separated by race,' said Amanda Uhry, president of Manhattan Private School Advisors. '1964, remember that? We had segregation in America. What is this? It’s segregation!'

'How could a school possibly do that? I don’t know if I would necessarily send a child to a school that separated by race,' said Amanda Uhry, president of Manhattan Private School Advisors. '1964, remember that? We had segregation in America. What is this? It’s segregation!'

He pointed to the school's handbook that states: 'Research points to the academic, social, and emotional benefits to being in a classroom with others who share racial, ethnic, linguistic, and/or cultural backgrounds.'

Private school advisers mostly condemned the practice, with one referring to the practice as 'brouhaha'.

'How could a school possibly do that? I don’t know if I would necessarily send a child to a school that separated by race,' said Amanda Uhry, president of Manhattan Private School Advisors.

'1964, remember that? We had segregation in America. What is this? It’s segregation!'

Victoria Goldman, author of 'The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools,' shared that the 96-year-old's policy 'will most likely affect admissions.'     

The luxurious school is a hotspot for known names in the entertainment industry.

David Schwimmer, Christy Turlington Burns and Sofia Coppola all have children who attend the school.


Australia: Push to ABOLISH girls' and boys' schools so children can be free to choose their own gender identities

This is an old chestnut.  Research generally shows that unisex schools enable better attention to studies -- most so with girls

A story often illumines these things well so let  me tell of a certain female person I know.  She is quite bright and was dux of her school in the final year of grade school.  Shortly after her move into junior high school, however, her hormones began to flow. She ended up just about failing all her secondary education.  Boys were of vastly greater interest than her studies.  She eventually dropped out and became a Hippie, working in humble jobs

An academic has called for all schools to become co-educational so students do not see the opposite gender as an 'entirely exotic beast'.

University of South Australia Associate Professor Judith Gill believes grouping boys and girls together would help children to appreciate attributes of the opposite sex.

The professor told The Courier Mail having separate schools creates a divide where boys are 'one way' and 'girls are another way'.

'Together they are less likely to see the opposite gender as an entirely exotic beast but rather just the array of personal attributes that people can choose,' she told the publication.

She believes young people would be freer to choose 'how they want to be' in a co-educational environment.

'Schools have a role in enabling young people to be much more broad in their choosing about how they want to be and that's more likely to occur in a co-educational environment,'she said.

'Certainly future schools are much more likely to be co-educational than not.'

An Australian Council for Educational Research spokesperson told the Financial Review in 2017 single-sex schools could be eliminated by 2035 if statistical trends continue.

The publication reported the number of single-sex independent schools dropped from 31 per cent in 1985, to 24 per cent in 1995 and 12 per cent in 2015.


British Education Regulators Get Creepy With Jewish Girls

Yesodey Hatorah is a Jewish girls school in London’s Stamford Hill neighborhood. Founded during World War II, Yesodey Hatorah became a voluntary-aided school a few years ago, meaning it is funded partly by the state and partly by a religious foundation. Tony Blair attended the opening of its new building in 2005, and the school has maintained its reputation for excellence ever since. More recently, however, regulators have singled out the school for intense scrutiny and opprobrium.

The reason: Yesodey Hatorah is determined to preserve its Orthodox Jewish values and to impart them to students.

This week, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, known as Ofsted, denounced Yesodey Hatorah as “inadequate” and took the school to task for failing to “prepare pupils well for life in modern British society,” as a BBC report put it. No parent wants to hear that about her children’s school, and a few of the concerns about Yesodey Hatorah were legitimate; teachers had blacked out all questions related to the theory of evolution in one exam, for example. But most of the complaints had to do with ideological rather than academic shortcomings.

In keeping with Orthodox religious precepts, “staff had systematically gone through every book to blank out any bare skin on ankles, wrists or necks,” the Ofsted report said. Likewise, “the majority of pictures in books on major artists such as Picasso had been blanked out.”

Yesodey Hatorah was also deemed insufficiently woke by the standards of British secular progressivism and the sexual revolution. The curriculum de-emphasized global warming. Students didn’t learn much by way of sex education and especially about homosexuality, which, according to an earlier report, deprived them of “a full understanding of fundamental British values” and limited their “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and [did] not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.” Finally, Ofsted rapped the school’s knuckles for failing to expose the girls to the opposite sex.

Yet, as Giles Fraser wrote in March for UnHerd, “modesty is an important virtue for the Haredim, and that is reflected in their dress–no trousers for women, white shirts and black coats for the men–and also in their desire to protect their children from what they see as early sexualization.” Parents send their daughters to Yesodey Hatorah, precisely because they seek a school that shields them from the vulgarity and sexual coarseness of secular Britain.

The inspection reflected some of that coarseness. Fraser reported:

The Ofsted inspectors obviously came with a fixed agenda, they wanted to talk to the girls about sex. And those who told me about it were obviously made to feel extremely uncomfortable by the questions. Three girls complained to the Principal and he told them to explain that to the inspectors. They did–but that only made matters worse, and invited further interrogation. They were very upset by the whole process. ‘This felt like an attack,’ one of them said, ‘because under no circumstances did we want to discuss things that we were brought up our entire lives not to discuss.’

Talk about a #MeToo moment.

The attack on Yesodey Hatorah is part of a larger campaign against religious education in the U.K. Faithful Jews, Catholics, and Muslims are all targets. Former Education Secretary Justine Greening laid bare the agenda last year in an interview with Sky News. “We have allowed same-sex marriage,” she said. “That’s a massive step forward for the better. And for me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.” Senior government adviser Louise Casey expressed similar sentiments at the House of Commons: “It is not OK for Catholic schools to be . . . anti-gay marriage. I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.”

If and when totalitarianism arrives in the West, it will carry the grammatically appalling banner of “equalities.”


Monday, July 02, 2018

Carmen Gorska Putynska

Carmen Gorska Putynska, PhD student, School of Civil Engineering, University of Qld, Australia

Carmen was featured in the glossy University of Qld. propaganda periodical called "Contact".  As a graduate of U.Q. I get it mailed to me.

She was featured as part of an assembly of women students who were doing well:  Feminist propaganda, in short.

For once however I found something I liked in it.  The picture above first struck me. She has the good looks which are alarmingly common in Polish women.

In addition to my male chauvinist porcine nature, however I was struck by something else.  It is in the first line of the article below.  How improbable is that? Is it just foolish boasting?  I don't think so.

It made me think of her as a kindred spirit, in fact. I did similar things.  I taught Senior High school geography when my highest qualification was Junior school geography and I taught honors level High School economics when my highest qualification was university freshman economics. And I got a B in Senior High school Italian after studying it for only 4 months instead of the usual 4 years. So I don't think her claims are impossible at all. Some of us are born lucky.

The article below is obviously truncated so I looked for a longer version of it but could find none.  I was however able to fill out a few details

“I started tutoring for $10 an hour at age 14, and by 15 was tutoring students older than me in subjects I hadn’t yet taken myself.”

Carmen is a PhD student studying Self-extinguishment of Cross Laminated Timber and it’s potential uses in large structures.

Carmen obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, specialized in bridges and underground constructions, in 2013 in Poland, at Technological University of Poznań. Then, she was awarded with the “Erasmus Mundus Scholarship” and accepted in the “International Master of Fire Safety Engineering” program. That opportunity gave her the chance to study in UK, Belgium, and Sweden, offering her the access to the discipline of Fire Safety Engineering.

Carmen didn’t have a traditional tertiary trajectory, after excelling in high school she received a fully funded scholarship to study Civil Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

“I was one of 10 females among 200 males, all the professor were male, and the male students were not really inclusive with the female students. Feeling isolated I was unable to ask for help, worried about being judged, and I completely failed my first year.”

A charming interview with her below:


The Left’s Stealth War on School Choice

Last December, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senate Republicans scored what appeared to be a major victory for school choice by including the Student Opportunity Amendment in Congress’s tax cut package. The amendment expanded tax-advantaged 529 college savings plans to include K-12 education, giving families the ability to save up to $10,000 per child per year for private schools or religious schools. And although Democrats at the time shamefully discriminated against homeschoolers and children with disabilities by successfully working to remove those groups from the amendment, Cruz has now introduced standalone legislation that would restore both groups’ access to the 529 educational savings plans.

Sen. Cruz has proven himself to be perhaps Congress’ strongest school choice advocate. He deserves serious credit for his efforts. But unfortunately, his 529 educational savings plan initiative is not enough on its own, and without seriously curtailing government control over education, could even unintentionally play into the Left’s hands.

The Left has been waging war on two separate fronts in the battle over school choice. While they continue to work relentlessly to defeat new legislation which would give parents further educational choice, they also have been equally hard at work behind the scenes fighting school choice by bending existing government education programs to serve their ends.

Such examples are numerous. For instance, it is well-documented how progressive bureaucrats have used No Child Left Behind waivers and Race to the Top grants to push Common Core on the states, exploiting the federal purse-strings to force a one-size-fits-all set of mediocre standards on millions of students nationwide.

Another less well-known example is the effort of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to control how military and veteran students use their GI Bill benefits to advance their education. Apparently sensing a long-term threat to union-infested, liberal state schools, under the Obama administration the Left embarked on an ideological mission to destroy the for-profit college industry. Today, VA bureaucrats continue to interfere in the rightful – and explicitly established – role of states to determine which institutions could be certified for payment with students’s military benefits. While the VA’s intention was to force innovative education providers out of the market, the practical effect has been to limit the educational choices – and complicate the lives – of veterans who have served their country and deserve better from their government.

Democrats didn’t stop there, though. They even went on to start a phony veterans organization called Veterans Education Success (VES). VES’s president and founder, Carrie Wofford, is a former staffer at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – where she led the charge against for-profit education institutions. VES poses as non-partisan but is funded by radical liberal donors. Its true mission is to advance a left-wing political agenda at the expense of our veterans.

If Democrats are willing to target our veterans and take away educational options for them, they will have no problem doing it to our kids. Given the Left’s history of manipulating government programs to undermine school choice, Sen. Cruz and Republicans should approach their latest education endeavor with caution. While expanding 529 plans to homeschoolers and beyond may be a laudable goal, if not done carefully, it could also potentially expose homeschooling families to interference by federal bureaucrats interested in imposing their policies on children previously out of their reach.

The Left is fighting their war against school choice on multiple fronts. Conservatives must make sure we are engaging on all of them by offering opportunities for choice in new legislation and ensuring that existing programs do not leave openings for government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers.


Report: Huge Gates Foundation Grant Utterly Failed in Its Goal of Improving Teacher Performance

With schools failing, graduation rates falling, and ever-climbing incidences of teacher turnover, it is clear that something has gone wrong in education in America. What remains less clear is the solution.

Part of the problem in recent decades appears to have been the liberal, big-government, one-size-fits-all approach to fixing what is happening in neighborhood schools. The Gates Foundation in particular has helped lead the charge to nowhere, most recently in its strong (though apparently ineffective) push for more teacher evaluations.

Bill and Melinda Gates’ progressive foundation, notorious for its shameless promotion of population control and abortion both here in the United States and in developing nations, wields a tremendous amount of influence in public education. Critics have even gone so far as to blow the whistle on such “meddling”, and it’s no wonder--the liberal power couple’s immense wealth and resources allow them to shape public policy from behind the scenes. For better or worse.

And if the recently-released 500-page report by the Rand Corporation is any indication, it has definitely not been for the better. According to the report:

“The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a multiyear effort to dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students' access to effective teaching. Participating sites adopted measures of teaching effectiveness (TE) that included both a teacher's contribution to growth in student achievement and his or her teaching practices assessed with a structured observation rubric.”

Translation? Additional red tape for education professionals, and cumbersome, meaningless ways of evaluating said professionals.

The initiative came with a price-tag of $575 million.

School districts and charter networks implementing the new policies were responsible for ponying up the vast majority of the money, which amounted to between 1.5 and 6.5 percent of their respective budgets. The Gates Foundation provided roughly one-third of the cost.

And yet in spite of the massive amount of funding required, the initiative appears to have failed.

Instead of resulting in greater equity in education for minorities from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as was promised, the disparity actually grew. Teacher ratings, which were already high prior to the implementation of Gates’ pricy initiative, remained more or less the same. And educators rated “highly effective” were less likely to stick around than teachers rated “less effective”--the complete opposite of one of the policy’s stated goals.

Additional problems with funding led some schools to abandon parts of the initiative, which proved unsustainable over time. And teachers reported that the complex evaluation system was a definite deterrent from taking a job at one of the more “high needs” schools, even in spite of the promise of bonuses, because poor student performance was more likely.

But Bill Gates is not giving up his death-grip on the public schools. Though the Gates Foundation is now pivoting away from the failed “good teacher vs. bad teacher” model of understanding the nation’s education crisis, it is instead now moving towards an approach centered on curriculum.

It remains unclear what, exactly, this latest series of bureaucratic, top-down education requirements will look like. Worth noting is the fact that Bill Gates played a significant role in shaping the notoriously clumsy (and equally ineffective) set of Common Core Standards, which remain in place today.

If nothing else, the liberal Gates Foundation appears poised to persist in its mission to control public education in America.


Sunday, July 01, 2018

Fallout of racial frenzy in 2015: University of Missouri struggles with $50 million shortfall, reduced enrollment after racial protests

School cuts 185 positions in response to funding crisis. Mizzou has lost a third of freshmen in two years – even after enrollment jump this fall

The University of Missouri recently announced major budget and staffing cuts, the latest move the university has made in response to financial and political crises following racial protests that rocked the public system’s flagship campus in fall 2015.

The school has suffered from a negative public image and reduced funding in the wake of the protests. State funding cuts and continuing depressed enrollment resulted in a $49 million budget shortfall. To cope, the administration laid off 30 employees and permanently eliminated 155 vacant positions.

A Missouri state representative told The College Fix that the university is “more concerned about the money, and image, than the student.” College students who decided not to attend University of Missouri said that the environment created by the protests, as well as high costs and unfavorable funding options, caused them to turn to other schools.

Protests and Unrest

In fall 2015, the alleged use of racial slurs toward the leader of the Missouri students association led to an explosion of racial activism and protests on the campus.

In response to the protests, the university implemented mandatory “diversity and inclusion training for all faculty, staff, and students,” though activists continued their demonstrations anyway. Several students began hunger strikes, and members of the football team refused to play until then-university president Tim Wolfe resigned. Former chancellor R. Bowen Loftin shortly followed Wolfe’s example, announcing his resignation several hours after Wolfe’s.

Wolfe later admitted in a publicized letter that he abruptly resigned “to prevent further embarrassment and a potential Ferguson-like event on the MU Campus,” a reference to the violent protests that had occurred in Ferguson, Missouri the year before.

During the University of Missouri protests, which continued after the president and chancellor’s resignations, professor Melissa Click infamously accosted Tim Tai, a freelance reporter covering the events for ESPN. Click was later charged with third-degree assault. Over 100 state lawmakers signed a letter demanding Click’s firing. The university dismissed her a little over a month later.

Fallout and funding issues

Following the unrest, Missouri citizens, lawmakers and students began to take a negative view of the university.

In the midst of the protests, Remington Research released the results of a poll which found that 58% of respondents viewed the university administration negatively in light of their response to the protests.

In 2016, the Missouri legislature passed a budget bill which contained a $3.8 million cut for the University of Missouri’s administration. This was openly billed as a reprisal for their handling of the 2015 protests, according to The Columbia Missourian. A total of $12 million was cut from the university’s budget that year.

Last year Missouri governor Eric Greitens withheld a further $22 million of funding from the university system in 2017 to maintain a balanced budget as required by the state’s constitution.

Greitens proposed another $43 million in cuts to the University of Missouri’s budget for this year, though legislators ultimately settled on a $2 million cut.

Consequences from the legislature

Speaking in a phone interview, Representative Kip Kendrick told The Fix that for the 2017 fiscal year, the legislature specifically directed cuts at the University of Missouri administration and the Columbia campus where the protests took place. In the same year, the state established and funded a commission to review the University of Missouri system.

Reached via email, Missouri state senator Tom Hurst ascribed decreasing enrollment and state support to the university’s response to the 2015 protests: “Couple of years ago, whenever all the protests were taking place on the campus, many students decided they did not want that atmosphere and attended different universities. From what I’ve seen we did not lose those students to other states, they just went to other universities within the state.”

“Given that it seems like MU does not need the funding, but some of the other universities in the State could use a little extra help because they did the right thing,” Hurst added.

Enrollment down

Student enrollment began to drop after the protests as well.

In fall 2015, the semester that saw the protests, total Mizzou enrollment stood at 35,448. In fall of 2017, that number was down to 30,870. Freshman enrollments have dropped significantly, with the smallest class in over a decade matriculating in 2017, according to The Kansas City Star.

Corbin Chancellor, a student who said he left the university after the protests in 2015, told The College Fix that he “wasn’t comfortable with the environment on campus,”

“Students were afraid to walk on campus because of the threat of shootings on yikyak [a now-defunct anonymous messaging app]. I walked through marches at least once a week and many of those people didn’t even know why they were protesting beyond wanting equal treatment which I remember them saying they wanted a special curve just for black students,” Chancelloer said.

Chase Rowland, another Missouri college student, told The Fix that he chose to attend Washington University at St. Louis over the University of Missouri though not because of Missouri’s image but because Washington University offered better funding.

“I applied to MU, was accepted, I was assigned housing and I toured the campus. I was really all set to go. Then I got my tuition statement. Despite being awarded the Chancellor’s scholarship, the Bright Flight scholarship, and having my family income be in one of the lowest categories, I was still going to to have to take out a $10,000 loan per year.”

“Wash U actually gave me enough financial aid to cover my tuition, housing and food in full. After that it was an easy choice. MU was not willing at all to help me go to school and Wash U made sure I could go,” Rowland said.

Tom Hurst, the state senator, said that his daughter chose Missouri State University because “MU is more concerned about their image and MSU was more concerned about the student.”

Hurst said the problem is not new: He attended the University of Missouri and said the same atmosphere prevailed. “I feel like I had to educate myself versus having the professors educate me. They didn’t care if I showed up or not, they were going to get paid anyway,” he said.

Enrollment increases slightly after pricey P.R. campaign

Earlier this year the university announced that freshman enrollment increased by 14 percent for the fall 2018 semester. Freshman enrollment still remains below that of fall 2015.

The increase in this year’s freshman class will allow the university to reopen several dorms that were closed in 2016 on account of decreased enrollment, The Columbia Tribune reported earlier this year.

Increasing enrollment may be due to a large public relations campaign the university launched this year, which Fox News reports cost the administration $1.3 million.

Part of the PR efforts included visiting local high schools, and several new scholarships tailored specifically to out-of-state students.

In a recent letter to the editors of The Wall Street Journal, president of the University of Missouri Board of Curators David Steelman attributes these cuts to a desire to reduce bloat: “We are making strategic decisions to reallocate money, reducing administration and cutting low-performing programs.”


UK: There is no campus suicide epidemic

Official statistics show that student suicides are, thankfully, very rare.

This week, the Office for National Statistics released its latest figures on the rate of student suicides at UK universities.

Just last month, headlines suggested that student suicides were at their highest-recorded levels, contributing to the prevailing narrative that there is a mental-health crisis among students.

The ONS report found that 95 university students took their own lives in 2016/17. For comparison, there were 93 recorded suicides in 2015/16, and 102 in 2014/15.

The fluctuation in numbers year-on-year is small, and the ONS notes that although the 95 figure for this year is higher than in some of the earlier years, ‘the small numbers per year make it difficult to identify statistically significant differences’.

When these figures are put against the total number of students at university, the claim that there is some kind of epidemic of student suicide starts to crumble. There are 2.32million university students in the UK this year, there were 2.28 million students last year, and 2.27 the year before. The proportion of suicides has therefore remained virtually the same year-on-year – approximately four in 100,000.

What’s more, when the number of student suicides is compared with the number of suicides in the general population, we see that students are statistically less likely to take their own lives. This is almost the exact opposite of what the media narrative has been telling us.

What we can take away from this report is that instances of university students taking their own lives are rare. But unfortunately the issue of student suicide has now become wrapped up in the student mental-health discussion. Universities minister Sam Gyimah told The Times this week that mental health is the biggest issue facing university students, more than the tens of thousands in tuition-fee debt. He suggested that to avoid potential tragedies, universities should even consider speaking to parents of students with mental-health issues.

Gyimah is not alone in talking up this alleged student mental-health crisis. The topic of mental health is impossible to avoid if you’re a university student today. When I was an undergrad, it was difficult to go a week without being urged to come along to a dedicated day or event to raise mental-health awareness, from snow-globe stress-relief groups to petting zoos.

All of this does nothing to help the thankfully small number of students considering taking their own lives. Instead, it encourages more and more students to consider themselves as vulnerable, mentally ill and in need of support. And it (quite scandalously) paints the ordinary stresses and strains of university life as contributors to suicide.

Those few students who are genuinely at risk of taking their own lives need support. But no one benefits from the campus mental-health panic.


Australian poll shows ignorance of history

By John-Paul Baladi, an intern in the Culture, Prosperity and Civil Society Program at the CIS

The Centre for Independent Studies/YouGov poll released last week rightly gained national attention for highlighting the negative effect left-leaning universities are having on historically ignorant millennials.

The poll found 58% of Australian millennials hold a favourable view of socialism. This finding might astonish those who were old enough to see the Berlin wall come down.

However, to a politically conscious student at the University of Sydney, it is unsurprising. I am all too familiar with the far-left activism embedded within the education system.

From junior high school through to the HSC and on to university, social science and humanities teachers and academics bombard students with criticisms of western culture, from colonialism to orientalism, to the White Australia policy.

This kind of identity politics is thinly disguised as ‘compassion’ for the excluded and oppressed.

Yet while students are taught about the flaws and failures of western culture under the rubric of intellectual freedom and ‘balance’, uttering fair criticisms of Islamic teachings and history, or highlighting systemic issues in Indigenous communities, is considered bigotry.

And it’s not only high school and university syllabuses that are skewed to the left side of politics. In my experience, the teachers, tutors, and lecturers — whose role is to enlighten our generation — are sometimes further left-leaning than the syllabus.

I’ve heard a tutor explain that conservative political parties only exist to defend the “aristocracy” and another claim the Australian Greens weren’t “radical enough”.

The recent open letter signed by more than 100 Sydney University academics — which was redolent of Marxist analysis and identity politics clichés — rejected the Ramsey Centre’s proposed degree in Western Civilization on the grounds that this would violate “the standing norms of academic independence.”

But when most of the humanities faculties lean left, and some academics are openly hostile to Western Civilisation, talk of academic independence rings hollow.