Friday, December 21, 2018

Primary school students at a school in the UK will be taught that boys can have periods too, as a part of its new non-gendered sex education

They've lost their minds

Students at a UK primary school will now be told that boys can have periods too under new sex education guidance.

The advice to teachers was approved by Brighton Council in a bid to tackle stigma surrounding menstruation, The Sun reports.

The report states: “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding “menstruation must be inclusive of ‘all genders’.”

It also orders that “bins for used period products are provided in all toilets” for children and that trans pupils and students should be provided with additional support from a school nurse if needed.

The council said it was “important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together”.

“Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding “menstruation must be inclusive of ‘all genders’.”

The guidelines on tackling period poverty come just a few months after Brighton & Hove City Council issued a Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit to encourage sensitivity around student gender identity.

In the toolkit, teachers are told to be responsive to the needs of all non-binary and trans children and are reminded that intentionally not using a person’s preferred name or pronoun can constitute harassment.

It also recommends a non-gendered uniform so that children are supportive of all students, regardless of gender.

In 2016, Brighton College was thought to be the first to change its uniform policy so that transgender pupils could wear what they like.

But Tory MP David Davies told the Mail On Sunday it was “insanity” for teachers to be explaining the concept of transgender boys having periods to eight-year-olds.

“Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused,” he said.

A council spokesman told The Sun: “We believe that it’s important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together. We recommend including boys in our lessons on periods and opportunities for girls to discuss issues in more detail if needed.

They added: “We are working to reduce period poverty. By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them. “Our approach recognises the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary.”


Federal School Safety Commission Proposes Fixing Mental Health Laws, Adopting Extreme Risk Protection Orders

During a roundtable discussion Tuesday on the Federal Commission on School Safety’s report on preventing school shootings, President Donald Trump announced the progress his administration is making on the issue, including congressional passage of the Fix NICS act and the STOP School Violence Act, and the Justice Department’s new regulation banning bump stocks.

The Federal Commission on School Safety also released its report Tuesday on ways to protect students and prevent school shootings.

“My administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to address school violence. We enacted two critical reforms into law. The Fix NICS Act, which you know about, which strengthens very strongly the background checks for firearm purchases, and the STOP School Violence Act, which provides grants to schools to improve safety,” he said.

The president said his administration has “also secured historic levels of funding to give schools and police more resources to protect their students.”

Furthermore, Trump touted among other things, the No Notoriety campaign, which encourages the media not to publicize the names of the alleged shooters.

“Today, we are reviewing the recommendations put forward by the School Safety Commission. These include fixing mental health laws so that families and law enforcement can get treatment immediately to those who need it; encouraging states to adopt extreme risk protection orders, which give law enforcement and family members more authority to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others; launching a No Notoriety campaign, which would encourage the media not to use the names or, frankly, anything having to do with the shooters,” he said.

“I see it all the time. They make these people famous, and they're not famous. They're opposite. They're horrible, horrible people. I think that's a very important one -- No Notoriety campaign,” the president added.

Trump also stressed the need for armed school personnel.

“According to the Department of Homeland Security, the average duration of an active shooter incident at a school is under five minutes. All of this horrible carnage takes place in a very short period of time. That is why it's critical to have armed personnel available at a moment's notice,” he said.

“These are people -- teachers, in many cases -- that are the highest trained that you can get, people that are natural to firearms, people that know how to handle them, people that have great experience and, on top of the experience, have taken courses, and they're right on the site,” the president said.

“This is critical to the hardening of our schools against attack. Also they love our students. I've seen the teachers. I've seen so many of them, over the last two years especially where something has happened, and they truly love their students, and, by loving their students, they want to fight for their students more than anybody else would,” Trump added.

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who also attended the roundtable discussion, announced that the DOJ “has prosecuted more gun crimes this year than ever before.”

“And, in addition, today, we faithfully have followed your leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns, are illegal. We all remember what happened in Las Vegas on October 1st, and I don’t have to recount that horrific day, but, you know, the shooter that day used a bump stock to accelerate the carnage that was inflicted,” he said.

“The final rule that was signed today, the Department of Justice clarified that bump-stock-type devices are machine guns and are prohibited by federal law, and anyone possessing these bump stock devices have about 90 days to either destroy them or turn them into an ATF field office before this rule becomes final and it’s enforced,” Whitaker added, calling it “a big victory” for the Trump administration.

As reported, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the bump stock ban at Tuesday’s White House press briefing prior to the roundtable discussion on school safety.

“On another note, the president is once again fulfilling a promise he made to the American people, and this morning, the acting attorney general signed the final rule, making clear that bump stocks are illegal because they fall within the definition of machine guns that are banned under federal firearms law,” she said.

“A 90-day period now begins, which persons and possessions of bump stock-type devices must turn those devices to an ATF field office or destroy them by March 21st. Instructions for proper destruction will be posted on ATF's website today,” Sanders added.

March 21st is when bump stocks “will finally become unlawful to possess,” the attorney general said.

In addition to banning bump stocks, the DOJ looked at raising the age restrictions on firearms, but found no evidence that doing so would make an impact on school shootings, Whitaker said.

He said the DOJ “specifically worked on issues like the extreme risk protection orders” and made improvements to the FBI tip line, which some parents expressed concern about “coming out of the Parkland shooting.”

“We continue to provide crisis and emergency training for law enforcement, and we will continue to do that. And we looked at the issue of age restrictions on firearms, and we just did not have any existing evidence-based research to suggest that would make a difference, but we’re going to continue to sponsor and fund research so that we can get an answer to that question,” he said.


73% of Top U.S. Universities Do Not Guarantee the Presumption of Innocence in Title IX Sexual Misconduct Trials

Among the top-ranked universities in the country, only about half require impartial fact-finders in sexual misconduct adjudication—and three-quarters make no guarantees that accused students will be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Those findings are included in a timely report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that surveyed U.S. News & World Report's top 53 universities' due process protections for students involved in disputes relating to Title IX, the federal statute that governs campus sexual misconduct. According to FIRE, just 30 percent of the schools guaranteed accused students a hearing, and only 10 percent mandated some form of cross-examination. As a result, 86 percent of surveyed institutions received a D or F grade for failing to safeguard the civil liberties of the accused.

"Students accused of serious campus offenses routinely face life-altering punishment without a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves," said the report's lead author, Susan Kruth. "Universities need to provide basic procedural protections that help ensure accurate outcomes, and right now they overwhelmingly do not."

Accused students are often unable to meaningfully defend themselves, barred from involving lawyers in the proceedings, and forbidden from questioning their accusers or presenting evidence on their behalf. As a result, many students found responsible for sexual misconduct have filed lawsuits that allege breach of contract on the part of administrators, as well as constitutional violations. As FIRE's report notes, 11 of the 15 institutions that received an F grade have dealt with such lawsuits.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently unveiled a series of proposed reforms to Title IX that would make the process significantly fairer. These would mandate some form of cross-examination, narrow the definition of sexual harassment, and require proper training for adjudicators. They also stress that accused students must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The reforms are currently undergoing a public notice and comment period as required by law. According to FIRE's report, if the surveyed universities adopted all of the new policies, their grades would rise to at least Cs.

It's great that FIRE continues to do the important working of protecting civil liberties on campus (unlike a certain other organization that purports to defend civil liberties).


Thursday, December 20, 2018

DeVos to cancel $150M in student loan debt after court loss

The Education Department on Thursday announced that it will be canceling $150 million in student loans, upholding an Obama-era policy that Secretary Betsy DeVos has long fought to overhaul.

DeVos had previously proposed to restrict “borrower defense” claims brought by students who had been enrolled in schools that were either closed or made false promises, but a federal judge ruled in September that DeVos’s efforts to nix the 2016 regulations from taking effect was illegal.

The department said in a press release that it has so far identified roughly 15,000 borrowers who are eligible for an automatic “closed school” discharge as a result of the court rulings siding with the students.

Out of the $150 million in student loans the department has announced will be automatically discharged, $80 million is attributable to loans taken out by borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit educational chain that closed its schools in 2015.

Borrowers whose schools closed between Nov. 1, 2013, and Dec. 4, 2018, will account for the remaining $70 million.

The department confirmed that it will begin notifying borrowers of the move on Friday.

Some discharges may take longer than 90 days to complete, the announcement also states, and borrowers will be informed by loan holders of which specific loans will be forgiven.


British Universities warned to curb 'spiralling' grade inflation

Universities have been warned to curb their “spiralling” grade inflation, as the regulator’s analysis reveals a surge in first class degrees.

The Office for Students (OfS) has threatened institutions with sanctions, including fines or even de-registration, if they fail to take action over the issue.

A major analysis of degrees awarded by 148 universities shows that the percentage of first class degrees has increased from 16 to 27 per cent over the past six years.

Meanwhile, the percentage of first and upper second class degrees awarded has increased from 67 to 78 per cent over the same period.

The research, published on Wednesday by the OfS, shows that students who left school last year with CCD or below at A-level were almost three times more likely to graduate with first class honours than they were in 2010-11.

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said the new figures should act as a “wake up call” for universities, as he called on the regulator to “deal firmly” with any institutions “found to be unreasonably inflating grades”.

The lifting of student number controls in England in 2015 gave universities free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit - but the move has led to accusations that they now act like businesses, seeking to maximise their revenue by recruiting as many students as possible.

Universities are in fierce competition to attract students and offering a high proportion of top degrees is seen as one way to entice school leavers to an institution.

Birmingham University is the most extreme case, with the proportion of first class degrees rising by 28.5 per cent over six years, according to the OFS analysis. The proportion of first class and upper second degrees awarded by the Russell Group university has increased by 36.6 per cent over the same time frame.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said the grade inflation since 2010 is “significant" and "unexplained”, adding that the sector must “quickly get to grips” with the issue.

She said: “It is fundamentally important – for students, graduates and employers – that degrees hold their value over time. This spiralling grade inflation risks undermining public confidence in our higher education system.”

She warned that if the university sector does not take action over the issue, “we will use our powers to drive change”.

Universities must abide by a series of conditions of registration with the OfS, one of which states that degrees must hold their value over time. If an institution breaches this condition, it could be fined, have its registration suspended or revoked altogether.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, acknowledged grade inflation is an issue, adding that universities are “already taking steps” to tackle it. “It is essential that the public has full confidence in the value of a degree,” he added.

Mr Hinds said: “Students across the country work hard for their results and they deserve a grading system that properly recognises this.

“We want and expect to see results improve over time, but the scale of this increase in firsts and 2:1s  cannot be proportionate to improving standards.

“I sincerely hope today’s figures act as a wake-up call to the sector – especially those universities which are now exposed as having significant unexplained increases. Institutions should be accountable for maintaining the value of the degrees they award.”


UCB Profs: Don’t Use Student Evals Because White Men Score Higher

Antifa isn’t the only form of left-wing lunacy at UC Berkeley. One professor wants the school to stop using student evaluations because white male professors score higher, according to Campus Reform.

UC Berkeley history professor Brian DeLay tweeted “Over the next few weeks, students will get the chance to evaluate their professors and TAs. They’re going to get it wrong. They’ll be harder on women and people of color than on white men. Tenured white male faculty, in particular, should help their students understand this.”

Brian pointed to a study purporting to show that students rate white male professors higher than professors of other races and genders. The professor says “I’ve often gotten valuable feedback in student evals, feedback that has improved my teaching. We have a lot to learn from our students, obviously. But given the well-documented shortcomings of [student evaluations of teaching], we shouldn’t be using them for hiring, tenure, or promotion decisions.”

Now there are a few concerns here. One: correlation is not causation and students could be rating white male professors higher for factors unrelated to their genitalia and melanin level. Two: it kind of undermines your whole racism/sexism thesis when male professors are getting higher ratings despite there being more females than males enrolled in higher education. And three: aren’t professors supposed to be the ones preventing the wrongthink with things like implicit bias tests? It’s like, “hey, let’s stop student evaluations that prove to us what a bad job we’re doing at doing a bad job!”

Here’s the thing: students are the most important stakeholders at a school. Professors will be more inclined to ram left-wing talking points down students’ throats if they know these same students can’t hold them accountable. Plus, if students suffer from implicit bias, wouldn’t it stand to reason that faculty members would, too? Seems like they aren’t thinking things through at Berkeley.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What CAN I joke about? Comedian cancels university show after students force him to sign 'behaviour contract' banning sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, transphobia... plus SEVEN other ‘isms’

A comedian has pulled out of a student charity event after being asked to sign a contract banning him from being offensive about almost anything.

Konstantin Kisin was sent a 'behavioural agreement form' which stopped him telling jokes which were not 'respectful and kind'.

The form stated: 'By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism.'

Student leaders said the ban was necessary to preserve the event as a 'safe space' and a place for 'joy, love, and acceptance'.

But Mr Kisin, 35, who was born in the Soviet Union, said the demand amounted to a 'threat to freedom of speech' and pulled out.

The fundraising event, scheduled for January 23, is organised by the Unicef On Campus society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London.

Mr Kisin was one of four comedians invited to perform unpaid, with proceeds going to the UN children's charity.

Politics student Fisayo Eniolorunda, the society's event organiser, wrote in the invitation: 'Attached is a short behavioural agreement form that we will ask for you to sign on the day to avoid problems.'

After listing subjects covered by the no-tolerance policy, the form stated: 'It does not mean that these topics cannot be discussed. But, it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.'

Mr Kisin wrote back saying that although he supports Unicef, he could not sign such a contract. Mr Kisin, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, said yesterday: 'I couldn't believe it. The only people who should be controlling what comedians say are comedians. This is a threat to freedom of speech and I have declined the invitation on a point of principle.

'I grew up under the Soviet Union. When I saw this letter, basically telling me what I could and couldn't say, I thought this was precisely the kind of letter a comic would have been sent there.'

The SOAS student union said it 'does not require external speakers to sign any form of contract or behavioural agreement'. A spokesman said the contract had been drawn up by the Unicef On Campus society without consultation with the student union, and the society had been 'over-zealous' in its interpretation of Charity Commission guidelines.

The Unicef On Campus society raises money for the charity but is not officially affiliated with it.


Doing Things Right: Betsy DeVos, Title IX and Due Process

It took 149 pages of quasi-incomprehensible prose to state, but the U.S. Department of Education has finally done something positive: it has issued a proposed rule on the enforcement of the Title IX statute relating to sexual assault. It is to be commended because it follows the rule of law: the Department has formally proposed something that must, according to statute, be subject to public review and comment.

This is in vivid contrast to the Obama Administration’s notorious 2011 “guidance” in sexual assault matters, which it issued without any opportunity for public comment or debate. The “guidance” technically had no formal legal standing, but universities treated it as if it were law. If this procedure were allowed to occur regularly, zealous government bureaucrats could drastically change the rules by which American citizens live and work, totally independent of constitutionally provided provisions of representative democracy.

Therefore, independent of the content, Secretary of Education DeVos’s issuance of a rule is more in keeping with constitutional principles. To be sure, a strong case can be made that we would be better off without central direction of higher education, and that the narrow approval of the Department of Education in the late 1970s was a mistake, but that is a discussion for another day.

The DOE rules say that universities are responsible for investigating sexual assault and harassment issues occurring on campus, but it appears that off-campus activity unrelated to the university’s programs should not be subject to university scrutiny. As I interpret this, a college student accused of sexually assaulting a non-student off campus during summer vacation would not usually be brought into the university disciplinary process. It is not entirely clear where the line is to be drawn between on-campus and off-campus activity, and whether geography is the prime determinant. But it appears to be a step in the direction of saying to universities that potentially bad behavior by students in settings where you have no control or remote involvement should be handled the way such cases are handled for non-university citizens, through law enforcement.

I have often wondered “why should university students be treated differently than anyone else, and why allegations of rape, a serious felonious law violation, should not automatically be referred to law enforcement for adjudication?”

An even more important victory for fairness and adherence to Anglo-American legal traditions that predate American independence comes from the DOE saying colleges must determine the evidentiary standards to be used in sexual assault allegations, and that students must have the right to cross examine their accusers in some fashion.

Under the Obama guidance rules, Washington declared (illegally in my judgment although it was never really tested definitely by the courts) that a “preponderance of evidence” standard should be used. If colleges were 51 % sure a student was guilty, he or she should be punished. That is completely at odds with American jurisprudence and has led to some clearly demonstrated cases of unfair and wrongful accusations made against students.

I know of one largely unpublicized incident where a student was found guilty of sexual misconduct and expelled, but where later a jury would not convict him in a formal legal proceeding—but the student nonetheless committed suicide because of acute despondency arising from his life being ruined.

My prediction is many colleges will continue to use the unfair preponderance of evidence standards (which are wholly appropriate in many civil proceedings) because of a desire to be politically correct and to demonstrate “we will not tolerate sexual misconduct.”

The same colleges, however, often invite such misconduct, in my judgement, by such practices as permitting co-ed dormitories, giving out condoms like candy to students, and tacitly tolerating illegal excessive consumption of alcohol by underage students. How often do students get punished for illegal drinking?

The DOE rules should probably nudge courts into finding colleges who put political correctness above adherence to American traditions of jurisprudence liable for damages when they ruin innocent student lives. Colleges love to show how uber-progressive they are, but they love money even more. Whoremongering trumps moralizing.

No doubt the DeVos rules will lead to much invective from college officials and Members of Congress, but perhaps also lead to a needed national discussion.


When College Degrees Impede Opportunity

College credentialing and degree inflation tend to serve the needs of employers, not students

Duke University recently announced that it will no longer ask job applicants about their criminal histories. Duke’s move follows the Common Application’s August decision to drop a question inquiring about students’ criminal history. For prospective employees and students alike, the push to “ban the box” reflects a healthy desire to strike down barriers that may impede social mobility. Yet, oft overlooked in all of this, especially within higher education, is the way in which college degrees serve as an impediment to opportunity.

Of course, at its best, higher education is a powerful engine of opportunity and socioeconomic advancement. And that’s the way it’s almost universally described. Nevertheless, for too many Americans, the truth is that postsecondary education is principally a toll: an ever-more expensive, two-, four- or (let’s be honest) six-year pit stop to employment that is increasingly mandated, gratuitously, by employers’ HR departments.

Today, thousands of employers routinely use college degrees as a convenient way to screen and hire job applicants, even when postsecondary credentials bear no obvious connection to job duties or performance. In a comprehensive report last year, researchers from Harvard Business School documented increasing “degree inflation” -- as employers demand baccalaureate degrees for middle-skill jobs that don’t obviously require one.

The researchers estimated that this phenomenon encompassed more than six million jobs across dozens of industries. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed admitted to having rejected applicants with the requisite skills and experience simply because they lacked a college degree.

Degree requirements are proliferating absent evidence they correlate with job necessity -- and, indeed, despite some evidence to the contrary. A 2014 survey conducted by Burning Glass Technologies found that employers are increasingly requiring bachelor’s degrees for positions whose current workers don’t have one and where the requisite skills haven’t changed.

Employer preference for degrees is rising even for entry-level occupations, like IT help-desk technicians, where the job postings do not include skills typically taught at the baccalaureate level, and there is little to no difference in requested skill sets for postings requiring a college degree compared to those that do not.

Now, it’s important to clarify that while colleges and universities are the primary beneficiary of degree inflation, much of the responsibility for it lies elsewhere. Instead, this is largely a product of employer convenience and the unintended consequences of federal antidiscrimination law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It did, however, allow employers to use “professionally developed” hiring tests, insofar as they were not “designed, intended or used” to discriminate. In Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971), the Supreme Court unanimously interpreted this language to mean that when a selection process disproportionately affects minority groups (e.g. has a “disparate impact”), employers must show that any requirements are directly job related and an accurate predictor of job performance.

This “disparate impact” standard, which Congress codified in federal law, nominally applies to all criteria used in making employment decisions, including educational requirements. Crucially, however, this standard has only been scrupulously applied to other, noneducational employment tests. Employers using IQ tests to screen and hire applicants, for example, must use approved, professionally developed tests and justify IQ thresholds. That is, if companies require job applicants to possess an IQ of 110, they must be able to demonstrate why an applicant with an IQ of 109 is incapable of performing a job that someone with a 110 IQ can. One need only read that sentence to understand why human-resource lawyers quiver in horror when executives ask about using that kind of screening test.

Even directly applicable employment tests can run afoul of federal regulators. Last year, for instance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the railroad company CSX Transportation for discrimination, because male job applicants passed the company’s physical-fitness tests at a disproportionately higher rate than female applicants. Even though the test was stipulated to be “job related” (since employees were required to lift heavy objects) and “consistent with business necessity,” the EEOC still required CSX to adopt “alternative practices that have less adverse impact.”

College-degree requirements, meanwhile, have escaped scrutiny. In turn, risk-averse employers have become increasingly reliant upon them as an expedient way to screen applicants while avoiding the legal pitfalls accompanying other employment tests. For employers, the logic is simple: a college degree is an easy-to-read signal that an applicant likely possesses a desirable bundle of behaviors and social capital -- such as the ability to turn in work, sit still for long periods, take direction and so forth -- in addition to confirming the baseline verbal and written skills required for most jobs.

Ironically, indiscriminate degree requirements carry obvious disparate-impact implications, making their casual acceptance all the more remarkable. Indeed, the Harvard report noted that the practice disproportionately harms groups with low college graduation rates, particularly blacks and Hispanics.

The burdens of credential inflation, of course, fall most heavily on those of modest means -- heightening the obstacles for low-income and working-class individuals. Degree requirements summarily disqualify noncredentialed workers with relevant skills and experience from attractive jobs. They bar young people from taking entry-level jobs and building the expertise and abilities that open up new opportunities. And they hold families and would-be workers hostage, forcing them to devote time and money toward degree collecting, whether or not those credentials actually convey much in the way of relevant skills or knowledge.

Those intent on ensuring that higher education is more of an engine of individual opportunity than a security blanket for businesses would do well to consider the part colleges play, however passively, in all of this. What might be done? Well, in postsecondary education, there is an overdue opportunity to develop alternative credentialing models and devise new ways to credibly certify aptitudes and skills. Most important, there’s a need to ask where and how institutions may be complicit in enabling statutory and legal practices that compel students to unnecessarily enter college -- not because they want or need the things a college degree represents, but because they fear being denied good jobs based on their failure to buy a piece of paper.

Diplomas are “useful servants,” Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in Griggs, but “they are not to become masters of reality.” Academe should consider its role in permitting diplomas to become the capricious masters of opportunity.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Students Want to Remove the Name of Clarence Thomas From Building, but Can’t Say Why

Some students at a Georgia college continue to call for removing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ name from a campus building, but aren’t able to say why.

“We should probably just take his name off of the building,” a young woman tells Cabot Phillips, Campus Reform’s media director, in a video posted Monday by the conservative student organization.

The subject of the video is the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation on the campus of  the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Sage Lucero, an alumna of the school who created a petition on titled “Take A Sexual Predator’s Name Off of SCAD’s Building,” canceled the petition in late October, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

During Thomas’ 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Anita Hill, whom Thomas supervised at the Education Department and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, made international news with accusations that he had made unwelcome sexual advances toward her.

The three-story brick building at the Savannah College of Art and Design, erected in 1908, formerly served as an orphanage and convent for the Missionary Sisters of the Franciscan order.

In the video, when Phillips asks students what they would point to that would justify their signing the petition to remove Thomas’ name, at least eight don’t have an answer.

“Um, um, hmm, do you mind if I get back to you?” a student wearing a pink bandana says. “I don’t know, I haven’t done much research on this,” a young woman tells Phillips. “I just saw a Facebook petition about it, and that’s kind of the extent of it.”

Thomas grew up poor near Savannah.

“He is a historical figure,” says a student in the video wearing a Saints hat. “So, uh … So is Hitler.”

When Phillips asks whether Thomas had done something to justify removing his name, the student replies: “Not in particular.”

The video, however, does show a few students who support keeping the building named after Thomas.

“No, I really wouldn’t sign that petition,” one male student says. “And I wouldn’t sign that petition simply because I feel that even though the student body might have its certain views and values, just because you don’t agree with somebody doesn’t mean you shouldn’t honor them.”


Harvard's Crumbling PC Agenda

Harvard University is discovering that some of its students take freedom of association seriously.

Last Monday, a number of national fraternities and sororities filed two separate lawsuits, in state and federal court respectively, challenging Harvard’s ham-fisted attempts to impose sanctions, beginning with the Class of 2021, on students who join off-campus, single-gender social clubs.

The national organizations for Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, along with Harvard’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, filed the federal lawsuit. They were joined by three unnamed Harvard students who are members of all-male social clubs — students who asked the U.S. District Court in Boston to let them proceed under pseudonyms so they could avoid “harassment and threats” from the public and “retribution” from the college.

The federal suit alleges that barring members of single-gender final clubs (secretive all-male groups), sororities, and fraternities from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations, becoming varsity team captains, or receiving the college’s endorsement for prestigious fellowships, violates Title IX’s ban on sex-based discrimination and the United States Constitution.

The sanctions were aimed primarily at those final clubs, accused by Harvard in a 2016 report of having “deeply misogynistic attitudes.” Yet as the suit ironically notes, “Harvard succeeded, perversely, in eliminating nearly every women’s social organization previously available to female students at Harvard.”

The state lawsuit was filed by Delta Gamma’s national organization, Alpha Phi’s International Fraternity, and its Harvard chapter. It also addresses that allegation, noting the sanctions have essentially privileged men. Their organizations “remain open” because they are better equipped to resist the mandate, the suit explains. By contrast, members of women’s organizations “now have limited access” to the same experiences.

That suit also challenges Harvard’s virtually certain assertion that a private college can do whatever it wants. “Harvard has a special role within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Founded by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, Harvard has its rights and status enshrined in chapter 5 of the Massachusetts Constitution,” the suit states. “However, by its recent actions, Harvard has breached the very Constitution under which it purports to operate.”

In addition to an injunction imposed against the sanctions going forward, the state lawsuit seeks financial compensation to offset the costs the sanctions imposed on the affected organizations.

“Harvard has really shown a disregard for the rights of its students to associate with people they want to associate with,” stated attorney David A. Russcol. “What they do off campus shouldn’t be any of Harvard’s business. It’s disappointing that the plaintiffs have had to take this action.”

The sanctions were initially rolled out in May 2016, and Dean Rakesh Khurana revealed the mindset behind them in an interview. “At Harvard, we have a very specific mission of educating citizens and citizen leaders for our diverse and interconnected society,” he declared. “We do not believe that it is effective to basically institutionalize segregation.”

Unless it’s political segregation. A survey of more than 1,000 members of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences revealed that more than 83% of those faculty members self-identified as very liberal or liberal, compared to just 1.6% who identified as conservative or very conservative.

The right of association, protected by both the First and Fourteenth Amendments, has long been upheld by the courts, beginning as a response to lawsuits filed in the 1950s and 1960s against states attempting to curb the political activities of the NAACP. It would be certainly useful to know if, hypothetically speaking, Khurana believes those sanctions should be imposed on members of a black student association if it refused to open its ranks to members of a white supremacist group.

For the sake of diversity and interconnectedness.

Regardless, like all social justice warriors, Khurana apparently believes the ends justify the means. According to the Boston Globe, he held a May 2015 meeting supposedly called to “ensure the groups were aware of the latest school policies on alcohol and sexual assault,” the paper reported. Instead, Khurana waved a sheet of paper in the air he claimed contained accounts of sexual assault. “Khurana said that the papers in his hand were very embarrassing to the clubs and that he could not guarantee that they would not be leaked,” the federal lawsuit states. “But, Khurana said, if some clubs became co-ed — systematically and soon — that would help the situation. It was an unmistakable threat.”

It was an effective one, and no one bore the brunt of that effectiveness more than Harvard’s women’s associations. In 2014, there were nine sororities and all-female final clubs on campus. Now only one still exists, according to the lawsuits.

Khurana’s efforts to impose the sanctions were driven by a complaint received by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights regarding how Harvard handled allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Thus in 2014, Harvard President Drew Faust ordered the creation of a task force composed of students, faculty, and administrators to address the issue.

Caitlin Flanagan wrote a lengthy Atlantic Magazine piece in March 2014 revealing that “the contemporary fraternity world is beset by a series of deep problems, which its leadership is scrambling to address, often with mixed results.” Nonetheless, in another article published a month later, she insisted the report produced by the task force “burns with moral indignation that its evidence does not warrant.”

Flanagan finds the assertion made by 47% of female senior club participants, who reported having nonconsensual sexual contact during their years in college, especially dubious. Those encounters, she explains, “could have happened at the hands of a nonmember, in a location unrelated to a final club and before the victim even participated in a club event. In fact, the club whose event she attended could have been an all-women’s final club. It would be almost impossible to concoct a more meaningless statistic.”

Not quite. The bogus statistic that either one-in-four, or one-in-five women have been raped or targeted for attempted rape, first asserted in a 1987 Ms. Magazine article, goes to the top of the list.

Columnist Heather Mac Donald put that stat in perspective in 2014, noting it was 400 times higher than Detroit’s 2012 combined rate for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Nonetheless, she wrote, “female applicants are beating down the doors of selective colleges in record numbers.”

How bogus are Harvard’s sanctions? “A Harvard undergraduate could join the American Nazi party, or could create an off-campus undergraduate chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, without running afoul of the sanctions policy, or any other Harvard student-conduct policy,” the federal suit asserts.

The real agenda? Harvard wants the power to determine which aspects of freedom of association are “more equal” than others. That the same school eagerly embraced the “minority” bona fides of a certain Harvard professor claiming to be 1/64th to 1/1024th Native American, and claimed that different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex isn’t discriminatory?

Is there an off-campus organization for arrogant hypocrites associated with the most overrated college on the planet?


Australia: Ramsay Centre and University of Wollongong sign Memorandum of Understanding

The anti-Western attitudes that are so common on the Left meant that moves to establish a centre for the study of Western Civilization were derailed by protesters at one university after another.  So it is heartening that one well established university has bucked Leftist censorship

AS part of a philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Wollongong (UOW), to fund a new BA degree in Western Civilisation, and a related scholarship program.

This is the first university partnership for the Centre, which was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care. The Centre seeks to advance education through study and discussion of Western civilisation, including through university partnerships. It is currently in discussion with several other universities, including within the Group of Eight.

Worth upwards of $50 million over 8 years, the partnership will also fund 150 undergraduate scholarships, and the hiring of world-class educators.

We are delighted to be partnering with the University of Wollongong. The negotiations have been conducted in a highly collegiate and mutually respectful manner over the last twelve months. Together we are excited about the wonderful opportunity for students in the Humanities this partnership presents.

The BA (Western Civilisation) will comprise 16 newly created subjects, leaving room for students to take an outside major or double degree. Students will study the great texts of western civilisation in small groups.

We have always said that the success of the degree would depend on the quality of the teaching and UOW attaches great importance to teaching standards and quality.

UOW’s Western Civilisation program will be directed by Professor Daniel Hutto who is a gifted and passionate educator, committed to hiring world-class scholars and teachers into the program.

Students will benefit from UOW’s emphasis on teacher quality and student engagement. In 2018 the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) ranked UOW as the number one NSW university. It also ranked UOW as NSW’s best university in eight study areas including the humanities and law.

The University of Wollongong is a university on the rise, ranked equal 10th in Australia in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University rankings and 30th in the world in the Times Higher Education Young University rankings.

For more information on the centre please visit

Media release: contact Sarah Switzer

Monday, December 17, 2018

Why are boys falling behind at school?

The long article below canvasses a number of explanations but they all seem to be at best partial truths. But there is a powerful biological explanation that they have not considered.  I think the problem is mainly a maturation effect.  Girls are about two years ahead of boys of their own age in maturity.  That makes them more serious and balanced so does give them a big advantage at school in mixed-sex classes. 

But boys do catch up in their late teens.  By then however their adverse experiences at school may have discouraged them from further education. So the problem is how do you prevent that discouragement?

A pretty obvious solution is all-boys' schools.  In such schools boys get to develop in a way that is right for them and come out of it without being constantly  made to feel inferior. All-boys schools were long held to be best for boys and we may now be seeing that there is a lot in that old wisdom

It may be noted that a lot of Britain's most prestigious private schools -- such as Eton -- have never departed from that wisdom.  They are still single-sex. And the success that old Etonians enjoy in later life is legendary

The debate over single-sex versus coed schools is an old and vexed one with findings and arguments on both sides of the debate.  The 19th century model was overwhelmingly single-sex but that tended in the 20th century to be regarded as not "modern" so tended to be abandoned in government schools. The controversy did  however, produce a slew of research on the matter.  And the conclusions from that did not clearly go either way. 

A big 2005 review under the title "Single-Sex Versus Coeducational Schooling: A Systematic Review" is therefore of some interest.  It was done under the aegis of the U.S. Dept of  Education and attempted an objective review of all the studies on the topic up to that time.  What it concluded was that by most criteria there was evidence either way. 

The one difference that they found to be fairly firm was the difference in locus of control.  They found that boys' schools gave their graduates a greater sense of control over their environment, a greater sense of self-confidence and belief in their own powers make things happen. 

That is of course what we traditionally see in the graduates of Britain's prestigious independent schools -- they usually seem to have an almost uncrushable self confidence and regard themselves as the natural leaders in their country, as the important people, in short.  So it is interesting to see something like that come out of a U.S. study

And it is also what I have hypothesized above:  That a same-sex education will promote self-confidence and deter discouragement.

In developed countries, on average, boys underperform girls at school. They are much worse at reading, less likely to go to university, and their lead in maths is shrinking (to nothingness, in countries such as China and Singapore). In Britain, white working-class boys perform especially badly.

Educationalists have only recently started focusing on the boy problem in earnest, though Smith says: “I don’t think there’s a school in the country that hasn’t thought about it.” So what can be done for boys?

Historically, sexism has protected boys. Into the 1970s, some British school systems deliberately upgraded boys’ results in the frequently life-determining 11+ exam, writes Wendy Webster of Huddersfield University. Girls were often ignored by teachers, sexually harassed and negatively stereotyped in textbooks, according to a report commissioned by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 1992.

But as sexism diminished in schools, girls began outperforming boys. In a reversal of history, in parts of the developed world some girls now have higher expectations than boys for their future education and careers. In 2000, there were still more males than females with tertiary education in OECD countries, yet by 2014, women led, 34 to 30 per cent, mainly because women are now more likely to apply for university than men. Meanwhile, the very worst pupils — children who don’t reach proficiency in any subject on the OECD’s Pisa tests — are overwhelmingly male.

We now have growing scientific evidence to replace old biological superstitions. Grey matter in female brains develops faster, says Jay Giedd, psychiatrist at the University of California San Diego. Because girls mature earlier, they are given more books sooner, and learn more. Sexism may encourage this: parents often stereotype girls as quiet readers, and boys as rambunctious adventurers.

Either way, boys fall behind in school and get discouraged. There is evidence that they lose motivation in class from age eight. Smith says that when 11-year-olds arrive at Huntington, “the vocabulary gap between boys and girls is striking”. Many boys enjoy reading for information but struggle with the fiction that is central to schoolwork. The literacy gap peaks at about 16, when boys are often at their most dysfunctional — just when decisions about post-school destinations are being taken.

And whereas most workplaces remain male-friendly environments, schools may be more girl-friendly. Girls tend to be more self-disciplined (perhaps because of how they are socialised), and good at sitting and listening, something many small boys find hard, says Francesca Borgonovi, senior analyst at the OECD. “Boys are too often seen as deficient girls,” says Gijsbert Stoet, a psychologist at Leeds Beckett University.

Most classrooms now are female-run. Two out of three teachers in the OECD were women in 2012, with the highest proportions in younger age groups: 97 per cent in early childhood education. In part, this reflects the traditional view that looking after small children is “women’s work”. On average, girls do more homework. Boys play more video games and generally spend more time online. That can give them practical skills, but it can also alienate them from real life.

Many boys think school is uncool. Borgonovi says: “In schools, learning is the incidental thing that happens while kids are socialising. There is a lot of, ‘How do I impress my peers?’” Boys often do that by misbehaving.

The OECD notes that boys are eight percentage points more likely than girls to say school is a “waste of time”. In the past, especially for the working classes, this made sense; boys typically had to leave school at 16 to work in factories and mines. Today, across the OECD, boys’ favourite response when asked for their future profession is “professional sportsman”.

Interestingly, the gender gap in school attainment is widest in the most gender-equal countries, such as the Nordics. In Finland and Sweden between 2003 and 2012, girls closed much of the gap with boys in maths and widened their lead in reading. The OECD asks: “Are gender gaps a ‘zero-sum game’, in which education systems, schools and families have to choose whether to create an environment that promotes either boys’ performance or girls’ performance?”

When Borgonovi is asked how to make classrooms more boy-friendly without disadvantaging girls, she replies: “It’s a tough question.” She pauses, then: “I’ll get back to you. Some of education requires the self-regulation and discipline that we value in girls.”

Boys who stay in education until age 18 or over tend to catch up with girls, or have achieved well already, so the most serious consequences are for those who leave school at 16 — typically those from poor backgrounds.

Huntington School, rated “outstanding” in every category in last year’s report by Ofsted, the UK’s schools inspectorate, thinks more about disadvantaged children in general than about gender in particular. But the school is still managing to lift struggling boys. Its Ofsted report opens with the lines: “The headteacher and senior leaders have established an impressive culture of high aspirations.”

Most classes at Huntington are mixed-attainment. Smith believes — and the OECD data backs him up — that weaker learners benefit from being around better ones. The aim, he says, is to treat every class “like a top set”.

Ofsted called Huntington pupils’ behaviour “excellent”. Even on the way out of school, children mostly walk rather than run, and don’t push, let alone fight. There are pictures on the walls of correctly knotted ties. That sounds strict. But clear rules and a serious atmosphere may actually soothe boys in particular. More than girls, boys respond to a school’s environment. “When they are in disruptive, chaotic and disorganised settings, their capacity for self-regulation suffers,” reports the OECD.

Sir John Holman — emeritus chemistry professor at York University, senior educationalist and former headteacher of Watford Grammar School for Boys — says boys enjoy organised, high-achieving environments. “They don’t like it when school feels like a waste of time. It’s about setting clear expectations: ‘What we come here for is to learn.’”

When children do misbehave, Huntington tries to correct the behaviour rather than punish it. Smith says: “There is a school of thought that bad behaviour is a form of communication. It could be learning difficulties, it could be problems at home.” Sometimes it’s a death in the family.

So when a child acts up, Huntington piles on the support. The school has a “learning support department” of about 15 people, and a large pastoral team. The staff hold meetings: does the child need a home visit? An educational psychologist? Help from a teaching assistant in class?

Smith tells the story of one boy with long-term behavioural problems: “We never wanted to exclude him. We worked with him, with his family.” Eventually, Huntington found him a day-a-week placement at a local automobile-sector company. He loved it. The company promised him an apprenticeship if he got a Grade 4 in maths GCSE. Instantly, says Smith, “his behaviour improved, his focus improved . . . The most lovely moment was when he attended Year 11 prom, suited and booted. And we helped him get the suit together.” The boy got the apprenticeship.

Holman says the UK is relatively weak at providing routes into technical education. Many practical, less academic boys drop out of the system. Nationwide, 11 per cent of British 16- to 24-year-olds are Neets: “not in education, employment or training”. Nobody who left Huntington’s Year 11 last July became a “Neet”.

Julie Watson, of Huntington’s Research School, says: “So much of this is about stopping doing ineffective practice.” She shows me a chart of common interventions, mapped according to their cost and apparent effectiveness. The worst — both expensive and pointless — is making a child repeat a year.

By contrast, Huntington has focused on two interventions that look cost-effective. Last year, it ran an initiative to increase children’s vocabulary. A question on the GCSE construction exam had started with the words, “Describe how builders liaise . . . ” Several boys didn’t know what “liaise” meant. That threw them.

The school realised that boys were forever stumbling over words, even in maths classes, let alone in books. Watson cites a finding that secure comprehension of a text is only likely if you know 95 per cent of the words. If you know 75 per cent, you will rarely understand a full sentence.

“When you hit an important word in a story that you don’t understand, boys sometimes feel, ‘I’m wasting my time here,’” says Smith. “If the behaviour of kids is not acceptable, it’s generally in subjects where they struggle. What are those subjects? Generally those with a large vocabulary.”

No school can teach children thousands of new words. So in six two-hour sessions last year, the Research School trained Huntington’s staff how to teach vocabulary. A subject teacher has to teach (and return to) words essential to the subject: “angle” in maths, say. Some other words crop up across subjects: “required”, say, or “beneficial”. And teachers teach children to break up words into common roots, prefixes or suffixes: if you know that “Thermos” means “hot”, you can work out “thermal” or “thermonuclear”.

This year, the Research School’s focus is metacognition. Broadly, that means the ability to learn how to learn. Instead of the teacher evaluating the child, the child can evaluate its own performance — and work out strategies to improve. For instance, when doing subtraction, the child knows to check the results by adding the numbers together: 5—3 = 2. Check: 2 + 3 = 5. A child who understands how to learn also knows that he shouldn’t do homework with a smartphone beside him, and that after 45 minutes he risks losing concentration and should take a break.

When schools have to cut spending — as British schools have since the economic crisis — they often start in the arts department. It’s easy to think that schools should focus on old-fashioned reading, writing and arithmetic. Huntington, however, has scrimped elsewhere. It spends little on buildings. “Occasionally a roof leaks and we have to put a bucket underneath,” says Smith.

Many schools have also cut careers departments. Not Huntington: Helen Nelson, full-time head of the “aspirations department”, works from a little hut of her own. This year she hosted a careers fair attended by 50 businesses, colleges and universities. Alumni come to school to describe their jobs. Glimpsing different careers can be transformative, especially for white working-class boys with no first-hand experience of jobs in the modern economy.

Nelson sees careers advice as a key to social mobility. One boy was offered a job interview in nearby Leeds. He’d never taken a train or an intercity bus before, and his mother told him he couldn’t go. Huntington arranged his train ticket. He got the apprenticeship. For another boy, who had scraped into sixth form, the school arranged work experience at a solicitor’s. He went to Crown Court and it changed him.

“He’s predicted now to get As in three of his subjects,” says Nelson. “He wants to study law at university. He’s quite moralistic, he only wants to be a prosecutor. If we’d got him a mediocre placement in an office doing filing, he would probably have stayed on that path through school.”

The boy problem has received relatively little attention. That’s partly because it doesn’t hold back elite boys, but also for an even more fundamental reason: men still fare better in the workplace. In the UK, full-time male employees earn 8.6 per cent more than women.

School is, in part, about guiding males through their most vulnerable phase of life. In adulthood, most catch up with females. The OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills finds “no significant gender differences in literacy proficiency among 16- to 29-year-olds”. Holman says: “I don’t see any evidence that girls are more intelligent than boys, or boys more intelligent than girls.”

And men can catch up at any age, if education systems allow it. The Dutch literacy teacher Anneke Catsburg tweeted last month: “My student W. (66, very low literacy, six years of lessons) put a book on the table: Bambi, a little Disney book. His big fists, broken down with work, stroked the cover: ‘Guys, I’ve done something. For the first time in my life I’ve read a book.’”

In the UK, young men and women now have almost equal levels of literacy and pay. That’s near miraculous. But that equality will be at risk unless we fix the boy problem.


Kids from ‘right-wing’ families must be re-educated: German govt.-backed brochure

The German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs has supported a brochure that aims at changing the behavior of preschool-aged children who are raised by what the brochure’s authors call “right-wing” parents who oppose “gender” theory, “sexual diversity,” the “sexualization” of children, and “immigration.”

Many Germans are protesting the brochure, calling it unacceptable for the state to intrude into the lives of families. Some have noted how such an intrusion is similar to what had been previously known in Germany during the times of both National-Socialist (Nazi) and Communist dictatorships. The German government is said to have given 4,600 euro to the project. 

The brochure was published last month by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Dr. Franziska Giffey, the social-democratic German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, contributed a foreword to the 60-page document. It is Giffey's own ministry that funded the brochure.

Giffey writes in the foreword that it is important to steer “early childhood education in a democratic manner and to orient it toward children's rights.” The goal is to form a “self-confident life in a world of diversity.” Children should grow up to become adaptive adults who are “immune to group-related misanthropy, as well as to violence that is motivated by religious or political goals,” she writes.

Dr. Giffey writes that “our society has become increasingly polarized” over the last few years, and while there has been “much support for refugees,” there can also be seen “a significant increase of right-wing populist movements.” She appears to be indirectly referring here to the 2015 mass immigration of one million refugees — mostly from Syria, Albania, Afghanistan, and Romania into Germany — and the related problems connected to this event.

The minister calls the brochure an “important work” which she fully supports.

‘Diversity pedagogy’ for pre-school children

Timo Reinfrank, the executive director of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, writes in his own introduction to the brochure that the issue at hand is about “taking into account the needs of children and about implementing their rights,” as they have been laid down by the 1989 “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

At the beginning of the brochure, authors Enrico Glaser and Judith Rahner write about “extreme attitudes” and “inequality” in general, and thus link what they refer to as “racist” positions to parents who oppose things like gender theory, sexual diversity, and immigration. Parents who have such attitudes are to be detected by their use of “seemingly harmless words which stem, however, from the jargon of the New (or Old) Right and which imply a deeply misanthropic attitude.”

For the authors, what is important about a “Diversity Pedagogy” in forming children is that it helps fight “the expansion of right-wing populism.” For the authors, it is "right-wing" parents who foster “racist debates about flight and asylum” and “refugees,” who foster “fear of indoctrination or 'premature sexualization of our children', that is to say the rejection of sexual pedagogy and education concerning gender and sexual diversity,” and who foster fear of “an Islamization of the Occident.”

For the authors of this brochure, it is “part of the educational task to teach children gender equality and the diversity of gender identities and ways of life.” To accept these ways of life is “part of a democratic attitude,” which “is crucial in order to avoid discrimination because of the sex or sexual orientation and in order to empower inter- and transsexual children.”

“Additionally,” the authors continue, “for many children, it is a lived reality to grow up in a rainbow family and thus should also be the lived-out reality in pre-school institutions.”

In the eyes of the authors, “right-wing populist, neo-Right, or religious-fundamentalist groups stir up hatred against the communication of diversity with the help of defamatory words such as 'genderism', 'gender madness' [“Genderwahn”], or, as we said, 'premature sexualization'. Meant here is an alleged 're-education of our children', who then supposedly cannot anymore be 'real' girls and boys.”

The authors connect this attitude with “anti-feminist, but also homo-, inter- and trans-phobic positions.” The authors point their fingers at average Germans, saying that these so-called right-wing populist attitudes are now to be found “with the middle of society.”

As Glaser and Rahner see it, these so-called racist attitudes have increased “since 2015,” corresponding to the time when mass immigration into Germany took place. “Representative population studies and polls show the huge amount of prejudices and group-related misanthropy in the so-called middle of society,” they state. In the view of these authors, such prejudices and attitudes are now being presented “in state parliaments and even in the Lower House of Parliament.”


The rise of academic mobs

Dr Noah Carl is the latest victim of a disturbing censorious trend

‘Mobbing’ has become the fashionable way for academics to limit academic freedom.

The latest victim is Dr Noah Carl, a young scholar recently awarded a fellowship at the University of Cambridge. Carl is a prolific researcher: his published work spans psychology, sociology and politics. His writing, in both academic journals and a range of other publications, explores the rise of Islamic terrorism, attitudes towards immigration, explanations for the Brexit vote, and links between intelligence and voting habits.

Now, spurred on by claims that Carl makes links between intelligence and race, and that he is, in fact, a eugenicist, close to 300 professors and senior academics from universities around the world have signed an open letter denouncing his appointment. Headlined ‘No Place for Racist Pseudoscience at Cambridge’, the letter demands an immediate investigation into the process by which he was recruited.

This time last year, scholars from the University of Oxford wrote a similar open letter denouncing their colleague, Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of moral and pastoral theology. It declared their opposition to his ‘Ethics and Empire’ project, which they claimed reinforced a celebratory attitude towards imperialism.

Before that, in spring 2017, Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, also became the subject of an open letter, after she published an article in a feminist-philosophy journal comparing being transracial to being transgender.

In each case, the letters, intended for publication and widespread dissemination, are designed to shame the individual and their institutional employer. They are better described as petitions, with the ensuing rush to gather signatures a thinly veiled witch-hunt. The aim is the squashing of research, opinions or even just awkward questions through public disapproval and humiliation.

These academic pile-ons, complete with grandstanding public declarations, are most often based on a disingenuous and mendacious interpretation of the target’s research.

Tuvel’s article is typically philosophical: it deals with abstract arguments and hypotheticals. Despite this, it is clear that Tuvel supports transgender people. She simply points out that ‘similar arguments that support transgenderism support transracialism’. But this did not prevent the journal that published her work from issuing an apology for the ‘harm’ she had caused.

The authors of the letter about Carl, meanwhile, claim his work is ‘ethically suspect’ and ‘methodologically flawed’ with ‘vital errors in data-analysis’. Unfortunately we are not told which particular papers these claims refer to, or how they then made it through processes of peer review.

This all reminds us that gathering huge numbers of signatures is not, in itself, a scholarly critique or rigorous argument. These letters are simply a means for the signatories to proclaim themselves politically and morally virtuous.

It seems that Carl’s main crime is to have attended a secret ‘London Conference on Intelligence’, where speakers apparently explored links between race, gender and intelligence, though Carl himself did not cover these topics. What is in the public domain is Carl’s most recent publication, defending the rights of those who do research in this area. In an article in Evolutionary Psychological Science, titled, ‘How Stifling Debate Around Race, Genes and IQ Can Do Harm’, Carl argues: ‘First, that equating particular scientific statements with racism effectively holds our morals hostage to the facts; second, that the “blank slate” view of human nature also has pernicious moral implications; and third, that there are clear examples of where stifling debate has done material harm to both individuals and societal institutions.’

Carl’s petitioners claim his work has been ‘used by extremist and far-right media outlets with the aim of stoking xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric’. But Carl is clearly not responsible for who cites his work.

That said, his flirtation with thinking around race and IQ seems to be more than simply ‘guilt by association’. Unfortunately, attempts to show a link between race, genes and intelligence, as well as to link behavioural and personality traits to sex, are gaining popularity among academics and commentators who consider themselves to be radical defenders of the scientific search for truth.

Such research deserves to be rigorously challenged. It undermines a proper Enlightenment view of humanity and suggests a limiting and deterministic view of human nature. But academia is well placed to pose such a challenge: peer-review processes should provide a test bed for critiquing ideas that do not stand up to scrutiny. When academics turn into activists, and seek to silence rather than challenge research they find offensive, then tried and tested peer-review processes are cast aside.

As Carl points out, this stifling of debate is harmful. At the very least, it drives research underground and into ‘secret’ conferences and journals where authors publish anonymously. It sends a message to students, potentially the researchers and academics of the future, that the way to deal with ideas you don’t like is not through debate and intellectual challenge, but through silencing.

Instead of piling on a young academic and calling for him to lose his job, the mob would be better off spending their time taking up the views they find so objectionable.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Public Schools Barred From Christmas Play Over Reference to Jesus
A Louisiana school district will not allow grade schoolers to attend a Christmas play that mentions Jesus during school hours because it might violate a federal court order barring the district from promoting religion at school.

For the past several years the Minden Junior Service League has performed a free Christmas production during school hours at the local high school.

This year’s half-hour production featured a “Toy Story” theme along with a brief reference to the Baby Jesus.

“Several in attendance felt that it was necessary to report us for the mention of the reason for the season — Jesus,” a Junior Service League spokesperson said in a powerful and emotional Facebook video.

After the first performance, the Webster Parish School District reached out to the service organization and urged them to remove the reference to Jesus.

The ladies in the Junior Service League flat-out rejected the request — even though it meant that their own children would not be permitted to see the performance.

“When this request was rejected, the school district had no other alternative than to withdraw from participation in the event or otherwise face contempt of court,” the district said in a statement.

Now, the local school officials are not the bad guys here, folks. It’s the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal court.

Earlier this year the school district was slapped with a federal court order “regulating religious activities in schools.”

That order specifically prohibits the school board and its employees from promoting religion at school — and the order also covers events hosted by third parties.

“The Junior Service League of Minden fell victim to the politics of the public school system and the religious debate that is abundantly present in their path,” the spokesperson said on Facebook.

The district feared that allowing children to attend the Christmas production would’ve violated the court order and subjected the district to a contempt of court citation.

“Because of the totality of the circumstances that we are now in, a newfound spotlight is shining upon the Webster Parish School System. No longer is there a gray area associated with this matter in our school system. This federal court order clearly spells out what is allowable and what is not,” Supt. Johnny Rowland, Jr. said.

The Junior Service League tearfully apologized to the many boys and girls who will not be able to see the performance. “We are so very sorry,” the spokesperson said. “You are the reason we do this. You are why we do this play.”

What happened to the Minden Junior Service League should appall and disgust every freedom-loving American. May God bless those dear, sweet ladies.

We must stand up to the anti-Christian mafia and reject their hatred. We must stand up to the bullies — even if they wear judicial robes.

We must be civil in our fight, but we must not be silent.

Now you understand why President Trump’s most important assignment is to fill our federal courts with strict constitutionalists.


Mass.: Some Newton teachers will miss school to respond to critics’ records requests

Antisemitic history lessons at issue

Thirteen history teachers in the Newton Public Schools are expected to miss some class time this week in order to gather documents for a public records request filed by an advocacy organization that has accused the district of anti-Israel bias in its high-school world history curriculum.

The Watertown nonprofit Americans for Peace and Tolerance has submitted 16 public records requests to the school system so far in 2018, but this is the first time that teachers will need to step away from the classroom to assemble records, said Superintendent David Fleishman.

The documents sought by the group include materials used to teach students about the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany at the city’s two high schools and all teaching materials used since the autumn of 2016 by David Bedar, a Newton North High School history teacher who has been singled out for criticism, school records show.

Bedar teaches a senior elective called “Middle East, Asia and Latin America,” US history, and American studies courses.

Fleishman said most teachers will need one 55- or 75-minute “block” to compile the requested materials, though Bedar is expected to miss three days of teaching beginning on Monday.

City high schools don’t use substitute teachers so most students will miss a history class and parents will be notified, Fleishman said. Most younger students will attend study hall and older ones will have free time.

The district plans to comply with the state public records law, he said, and provide the documents promptly.

“This is not the way our educators want to spend their time. They want to spend their time addressing the academic and emotional needs of the students in front of them,” Fleishman said Saturday.

Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said in an e-mail that the group seeks the records because Newton schools have “failed to vet hateful and false teaching materials.”

“It is unfortunate that the teachers have to spend time away from their students, but teachers wouldn’t have had to miss a minute teaching if Superintendent Fleishman had adopted a policy of transparency,” Jacobs said. “It’s his refusal to do so that is resulting in the teachers being away from the classroom; otherwise, we would not have had to waste time and money.”

Americans for Peace and Tolerance and another group, Education Without Indoctrination, have been engaged in a lengthy fight with the school system over allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in high-school history courses.

Among their complaints are accusations that the history curriculum includes a doctored version of the Hamas charter, maps produced by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and texts written by authors with anti-Israel views.

Newton school officials, who have the support of the School Committee and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller , have strenuously denied the allegations, saying the groups distort the teaching materials and take them out of context. The dispute has endured for about seven years.

Last month, people on both sides of the debate assembled at Newton South High School for a public hearing during which the School Committee deliberated on a citizen petition to revamp the curriculum and fire Fleishman. The petition, organized by Education Without Indoctrination, failed as the panel voted either to reject the proposals or take no action. Fleishman kept his job.

Americans for Peace and Tolerance responded with an ad published in the Friday edition of The Jewish Advocate that accused the School Committee of keeping the curriculum secret, turning the public hearing into a “pep rally,” and using “anti-Semitic dog whistles about Zionism to dismiss Jewish community concerns.”

In his e-mail, Jacobs said school system supporters refused to address the issues that he and other critics raised. “We were simply ignored,” he said.

Last summer, the Anti-Defamation League in New England and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston raised concerns about the screening of a film from the Boston Palestine Film Festival at a Newton North High School event. The event didn’t include an “outside speaker” to present Israeli perspectives, the groups wrote in a July letter to Fleishman.

The organizations have offered to help Newton schools develop a bias-free Middle East curriculum, while keeping their distance from Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

In December 2017, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Massachusetts Board of Rabbis issued a statement calling Jacobs and his organization “purveyors of hatred and division” after they said Americans for Peace and Tolerance defamed a rabbi whose temple hosted an interfaith event where Muslims were invited to speak.

In 2013, state education officials investigated a complaint from a Newton parent who claimed the history curriculum included anti-Semitic and anti-Israel materials. The investigation found the curriculum complied with the law.

Still some changes have been made to the materials used to teach students about the Middle East.

The district stopped using the “Arab World Studies Notebook” in 2012 after a parent complained of bias and school officials concluded the material was outdated, the Globe has reported. An online resource was also removed after parents complained, officials said in 2013.

Michael Zilles, president of the Newton Teachers Association, said responding to public records requests filed by Americans for Peace and Tolerance has become a burden for teachers.

“People are very conscientious when they do it and it takes time,” he said. “Kids are losing out. That’s what ends up happening here. Kids are losing out.”

In August, Ilya Feoktistov, the executive director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, wrote a story for “The Federalist” that accused Bedar and another history teacher, Isongesit Ibokette, of bias against President Trump. The story relied on e-mails written by Bedar and Ibokette and obtained by Feoktistov through a public records request.

At last month’s hearing, Bedar defended his teaching and described the allegations of anti-Semitism as a “personal affront.”


Australian Aboriginal woman to graduate with a medical degree

I have been present when Aboriginals have been awarded professional qualifications which I knew to be unearned.  And like the lady below they went on to use their defective skills in the service of other Aborigines. So the upshot of the do-gooding is inferior services for Aborigines. That is kind??  Aborigines should have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else

The first doctor from Deakin University Medical School’s Indigenous entry scheme will graduate this week.

Laura English, a proud Yamatji woman with strong ties to the Wathaurong community in her hometown of Geelong, will be among 1100 students graduating from Deakin at the University’s Geelong Waterfront Campus on Thursday and Friday.

“I want to use what I’ve learnt at Deakin to give back to my community, whether that’s my community here in Geelong, or the wider community,” Laura said.

“Indigenous health and closing the gap is such a huge area, and we desperately need more doctors, nurses and health professionals from our community.”

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO said nurturing and encouraging students to make a difference in their communities was a fundamental goal of the University.

“We especially recognise that as places of learning, universities are powerful agents for social change and have a key role to play in promoting social justice and human rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” Professor den Hollander said.

“Currently there are fewer than 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors working in Australia. That means medical schools like ours must meet the challenge of building greater representation, by recruiting and retaining more Indigenous students.

“Our alumni are our most effective ambassadors and the best evidence of our success, making an ongoing contribution to the intellectual, social and economic life of the communities we serve.”

The medical school’s Indigenous entry scheme began in 2015, setting aside five per cent of domestic places in Deakin's Doctor of Medicine course for Indigenous Australian applicants, with a special application and interview process and extra support available throughout the course.

Laura, who will graduate at Thursday afternoon’s ceremony, said it was a surreal feeling to be Deakin’s first Indigenous doctor.

“I always wanted to work in health and had medicine in the back of my mind, but never thought I could get there,” she said.

Laura first studied nursing at Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education, graduating in 2012. She worked as nurse for two years before her parents encouraged her to apply for the medical school’s Indigenous entry scheme.

The scheme began in 2015, setting aside five per cent of domestic places in Deakin's Doctor of Medicine course for Indigenous Australian applicants, with a special application and interview process and extra support available throughout the course. There are now nine students studying at Deakin as part of this group.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster, but it was definitely worth it standing here and looking back,” Laura said.

As part of her studies Laura also completed a six-week placement with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative, working with the doctors and health practitioners there, developing a particular interest in women’s health.

Media release: Contact: Elise Snashall-Woodhams. E: