Friday, August 30, 2019

Student Debt Vulnerable to Scams

Financial Preparation Services of Irvine, Calif., boasts on its website three glowing testimonials for its debt-relief services for student loans. It quotes Anthony Zwichirowski of California, Dawn Robinson of New Hampshire and a smiling Dean Edelman of Virginia, who says using the company “was the smartest move I have made since graduating.”

One or more of the three ostensibly happy borrowers also appears, with slight variations, on at least 25 other websites of purportedly different companies offering student-loan debt-relief in the last four years, The Wall Street Journal found.

Student debt is soaring—it is now nearly $1.5 trillion— and defaults are at a record. That has been fertile ground for companies that promise to help stretched borrowers by navigating the maze of federal programs that can reduce or forgive debts for those who qualify, such as public-service workers or people on low incomes.

Some companies operate legally, although there is nothing they offer that borrowers can’t get free, regulators say. Other firms are outright scams, or make promises to borrowers that are illegal, regulators and consumer advocates warn.

Financial Preparation Services has submitted claims for federal relief based on fictitious information, according to a former employee. Sales teams within the company also switched regularly to using new corporate names and websites, the former employee said. The company is one of several about which federal regulators are demanding information, according to a bankruptcy court filing.

Many of the websites on which the three testimonials are featured appear to be carbon copies, with only the company’s name changed. A few companies attributed the same quote to different people: Dean Edelman becomes Dean Ederman of California, for ex- ample. Other websites used the same names and photos with different quotes.

Financial Preparation Services didn’t respond to emails requesting comment, and couldn’t be reached by phone at the number listed on its website. The Journal wasn’t able to find Mr. Edelman, Mr. Zwichirowski and Ms. Robinson or ascertain whether they were indeed real people.

A record $89.2 billion of student loans was in default at the end of June, New York Federal Reserve data show. Of the $1.48 trillion outstanding, 11%, or $160 billion, was at least 90 days behind on repayments— and the true rate is likely double that, because only half of the loans are currently in repayment.

“We’ll do the work for you,” Financial Preparation Services says on its website. “No more drowning in a sea of confusing paperwork and processing!” Its fee: $1,195 for document preparation, then $40 a month for almost 20 years—a total of $10,555—according to a 2018 client agreement reviewed by the Journal.

Regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, share oversight of such companies. One issue they face is the sheer number of small firms offering these services, many using several names.

“This is a relatively target-rich environment,” Michelle Grajales, an FTC attorney, said in an interview. “There are unfortunately a lot of companies that still appear to violate the law.” Ms. Grajales didn’t comment on Financial Preparation Services specifically.

The regulator has filed nine civil cases against alleged student- loan debt-relief scams since 2017, involving a total of 77 different companies. Financial Preparation Services isn’t among those companies being sued.

Many of the FTC cases allege that the companies charged upfront fees for debt relief, which is illegal, or engaged in other prohibited practices such as masquerading as being government-approved, or faking information on applications for federal relief.

Stephanie Beger of Moscow Mills, Mo., a former teacher turned paralegal, says Financial Preparation Services promised to help reduce payments on her $109,000 of student loans when she contacted them in October in response to a text message. “I told them I was married, and we have two incomes and no children,” she said.

Ms. Beger signed up. In April, she says she got a notice from the government that a payment was due, and discovered when she called up that Financial Preparation Services had used false information about her to apply for debt relief. “I was told the paperwork said I was a single mother of six,” she said. She said she made clear that she had no idea what the company had submitted.

She complained to the Better Business Bureau. In response, Financial Preparation Services refunded the fees she had paid. The company wrote an online response on the BBB’s website: “We will continue to perfect our process so mistakes do not happen on our clients accounts.”

A report by the Government Accountability Office in June identified “indicators of potential fraud or error” in the income-related student loan relief program, including 40,900 plans that were approved based on family sizes of nine or more.

Salespeople at Financial Preparation Services until recently often submitted claims showing a family size of six or seven to qualify callers for debt relief, without the borrower’s knowledge, a former employee told the Journal. It couldn’t be determined exactly why it changed the practice, but a company email seen by the Journal said that too many of its claims were being rejected.

Financial Preparation Services operates under several different identities, creating new websites every few months, the former employee said.


Harvard freshman is denied entry to the US at Logan Airport by immigration officials

What the people you associate with think, should normally be a pretty good clue to what you think

A 17-year-old Palestinian student en route to Harvard University to begin his freshman year was denied entry to the United States at Logan Airport last weekend, heightening fears that the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policy is making it harder for international students to come to study.

The student, Ismail Ajjawi, lives in Lebanon and had a valid visa to study in the United States, but upon his arrival at Logan he was questioned by immigration officials and then sent on a flight back home, according to officials with Amideast, an international education nonprofit that administers the Hope Fund scholarship the student received to help him attend Harvard.

Ajjawi was reportedly denied entry over political posts his friends made on social media that were critical of the United States.

The case has drawn anger and concern about the increased scrutiny facing the thousands of international students who flood US campuses, particularly those in the Boston area, every fall.

PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free expression issues, called the decision to send Ajjawi back “perverse.”

“The idea that Ajjawi should be prevented from taking his place at Harvard because of his own political speech would be alarming; that he should be denied this opportunity based on the speech of others is downright lawless,” Summer Lopez, senior director of the organization, said in a statement.

Brian T. O’Neill, a Boston immigration attorney who specializes in customs and border patrol issues, said visa approvals have become more complicated and slow to be processed under the Trump administration.

But he said it isn’t unusual for border officials to more aggressively review the backgrounds of students coming from the Middle East and other political hot spots.

“It’s discriminatory based on coming out of a dangerous area, not because of a religious area,” O’Neill said.

Even if the social media posts were not written by Ajjawi himself, O’Neill said he isn’t surprised that they were flagged.

“They think anything bad or possibly bad, they’re going to err on the side of caution and deny it,” O’Neill said. “I don’t think they went outside their normal procedures on this.”


This top Australian university is giving women 10 bonus points on their ATAR if they apply for STEM degrees like IT or engineering

The unending bigotry of the Left.  Always favouring one group over another.  Why does it matter which degrees women do? Why can't they be allowed to be different?  The push to make everybody equal is insane.  Women now get more degrees than men anyway

Women who apply for undergraduate degrees in engineering, IT and construction at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) will be given extra points toward their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) as the university aims to boost the number of women in Australia’s STEM sector.

Women who apply for undergrad degrees in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology or apply for the construction degree in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building will get 10 adjustment points on their score, giving them an extra lift up if they are gunning for a spot at the university.

While adjustments won’t change your ATAR, it will change your selection rank when you apply for uni, meaning you stand a chance of getting into one of those STEM courses at UTS if you were just a few points shy.

UTS told Business Insider Australia in an email that in order to be eligible for the adjustment points, applicants “must be a female domestic student who has achieved a minimum ATAR of 69.00 (not including any other adjustment factors) applying through the Universities Admission Centre.” They also have to satisfy all the other application requirements in the course description.

The move is designed to get more women to consider degrees and careers in industries that have been male-dominated for years.

According to UTS, women make up only 13% of the engineering workforce, 28% of IT roles and 11% of positions in the building and construction sector. These stats are even worse when you consider that women make up more than half of all Australian undergraduate students (58%).

Arti Agarwal, Director of UTS Women in Engineering and IT (WiEIT) said there has been little progress in the number of initiatives designed to support more women in engineering, IT and construction. The WiEIT program provides weekly drop-in sessions for students, networking events and a mentoring program that pairs students with industry experts.

“We need our education institutions to encourage girls and women at all levels, and create a stronger ‘pipeline’ to acquire the skills and knowledge to build successful careers in dynamic areas,” she said in a statement.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board approved the extra points and the process will be available for the 2020 intake of students.
Keeping women in STEM positions

The Australian Academy of Science, together with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering developed a ‘Women in STEM Decadal Plan’ to attract and keep women in STEM industries.

Unveiled in April 2019, the plan calls for a “bold” and “sustained” effort across the whole STEM ecosystem to keep women in those industries. And that, of course, includes the education sector.

Justine Romanics, National Manager for Professional Diversity and STEM at Engineers Australia said, “We need to be disruptive – what we have been doing is not working.”

“It’s time to flick the switch. We need to show the benefits that greater diversity will create for everyone – for individuals, for teams, for organisations, for the profession.”

According to the Decadal Plan, the STEM gender gap becomes measurable in high school. In the final year of high school, the report said more young men choose to study advanced and intermediate maths, physics and chemistry compared to young women.

That trend then continues into tertiary education, with women becoming underrepresented in certain STEM courses. According to the report, they account for less than 25% of participants in engineering, computing, physics and astronomy.

Once women finally get into the STEM workforce, they are hampered by systemic barriers such as gender-based discrimination, bullying and harassment and gendered expectations around caring responsibilities.

“All of these issues combine to lead to a significant reduction in the proportion of women at every stage of professional progression in STEM fields, particularly in research and industry,” the report said.

And amid all the challenges women face in the sector, the report said one of the main reasons they choose to leave is lack of career progression.

Jessica Massih, a fifth year Civil and Environmental Engineering student from UTS, said supporting young women into tertiary studies and while they are studying, helps them believe they have a role in the industries.

“Once you are at uni, you have to do the same subjects, same assignments, and work just as hard to get good grades and opportunities,” she said in a statement. “Getting there is just the start.”

So for the young women already working hard to get a spot in engineering, IT or construction degrees at UTS, the extra points will be the icing on the cake.

And hopefully they can stay the course once they’re in.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

What Will They Learn at College?
For many parents, August is a month of both pride and tears. Pride because their teenager is taking that big educational step and tears because for many it’s the beginning of an empty nest. Yet, there’s a going-away-to-college question that far too few parents ask or even contemplate: What will my youngster learn in college?

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni provides some answers that turn out to be quite disturbing. ACTA evaluated every four-year public university as well as hundreds of private colleges and universities. That’s more than 1,100 institutions that enroll nearly 8 million students, more than two-thirds of all students enrolled in four-year liberal arts schools nationwide. ACTA’s findings were published in their report “What Will They Learn? 2018-19.” It doesn’t look good.

The ACTA assigned grades tell some of the story. Just 23 (2%) of the over 1,100 colleges earn an A grade; 343 colleges (31%) earn a B grade; 347 (31%) get a C grade; 273 (24%) earn a D; and 134 (12%) colleges earn an F. If you’re thinking that your youngster will get a truly liberal arts education, you are sadly mistaken. It turns out that less than half of the schools studied require courses in traditional literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history and economics. At some colleges, students can fulfill their humanities requirement with a course titled “Global X: Zombies!” A U.S. cultural pluralism requirement can be fulfilled with “The Economics of ‘Star Trek.’” And an arts and Literature requirement can be fulfilled with either the “History of Comics” or “Game Design for Non-Majors.”

Colleges often do not live up to their own promises. In college mission statements, as well as their course catalogs, they frequently exalt the virtues of a “well-rounded” liberal arts education. The reality is something different with only 68% of the schools ACTA surveyed requiring three or fewer of the seven core subjects. Their curricula poorly represent critical subjects such as U.S. history, economics and foreign languages.

The list of schools that received ACTA’s “A” grades includes Pepperdine and Baylor, known for their commitment to the liberal arts and academic excellence. But there are some lesser-known colleges such as Christopher Newport University, Colorado Christian University, Kennesaw State University, Bluefield College and Regent University that deserve accolades.

ACTA’s “F” list includes prestigious names such as University of California, Berkeley, Bowdoin, Hamilton and Vassar colleges. Ivy League colleges received ACTA’s two “Bs,” four “Cs,” one “D” and one “F.” These grades reflect significant overall curricular weaknesses. For example, Yale doesn’t require college-level math courses; Harvard accepts an elementary-level foreign language study; and Brown has an “open curriculum,” which means students may take whatever classes they want, without strict requirements. Even though some of the best-known colleges earn poor marks for their general education curricula, it doesn’t necessarily mean they do all things poorly. A student can get an excellent education at these schools if classes are chosen wisely.

There’s another college-related issue not given much voice and that’s how important is a college education in the first place. That’s an issue raised by a Market Watch article, “Half of young Americans say their degree is irrelevant to their work.”

Parents think a college education is necessary for success. Their youngsters think differently. According to the TD Ameritrade study, 49% of young millennials said their degree was “very or somewhat unimportant” to their current job. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in an October 2018 report, found that many students are underemployed, filling jobs that can be done with a high school education. More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, such as flight attendants, janitors and salesmen.

The bottom line for parents and their youngsters is that spending four or more years in college and accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in debt is not the only road to a successful life.


Who Needs Harvard? Amazon University and Other Options
For more than a decade, ever since I served on the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education, I have wondered: where is the American business community in higher education reform? Doesn’t it realize that the extremely inefficient existing way in which we certify competency for most managerial, technical, and professional jobs ultimately raises employment costs, making it less competitive in the global marketplace? I have made pleas literally in the halls of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for greater business involvement.

College is mainly a screening device, separating those with intelligence, discipline, honesty, good communication skills and good work ethics from those with fewer of those desirable attributes. In most cases, graduates use very little that they learned in the classroom directly in their work. Given rising college costs, we need to find cheaper, better ways of certifying competence, both in identifying the best future workers, but also in training them for specific tasks.

Wage and salary data make it perfectly clear that a majority of the “human capital” that workers acquire comes from on-the-job training and experience. Companies are in the education business informally whether they like it or not. For decades, some companies have had formal training programs and some have even sponsored university-level training. In the golden age of American automobile manufacturing, for example, General Motors owned the “General Motors Institute,” which stressed engineering studies and a co-op model where students combined traditional learning with lots of practical experience. Similarly, for more than 50 years, McDonald’s Hamburger University has offered management training to thousands of mid-level-and-above managers, not offering degrees but certification that the trained individuals are knowledgeable about how McDonald’s runs its operations. Indeed, nearly all large businesses have some formal training for new entry-level workers.

Now Amazon is entering the fray, not offering college degrees (the importance of which is being increasingly questioned anyway by some in the business world), but rather practical training for ultimately 100,000 employees. The technology used by Amazon is constantly evolving, so it needs to continuously train workers in productivity-enhancing procedures. This suggests a new employment norm might evolve: businesses test potential employees to see if they are functionally literate, and also check their high school performance to see if they are likely reasonably intelligent and disciplined. Then the firm hires the worker and gives them training—sometimes a few weeks, maybe many months or even years. The employee signs a multiyear contract giving her or him some job security and the company is assured at least some return on its human capital investment. College may, or may not, be at least partially circumvented.

Alas, there are some wrinkles to be worked out if this is to be a widespread model. Most important, the use of employer testing to see who are potentially trainable workers could run afoul of the unfortunate 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. and subsequent legislation making employers fearful of using testing because it could be used to “disparately impact” minorities. Politically, the same progressive politicians who have hounded many for-profit higher education operators out of business could try to block business attempts to more aggressively enter the education business in perceived competition with allies in the university community that provide them with both intellectual ammunition and considerable financial support.

Why should employers start their own training programs? They can hire good high school graduates at salaries well below what they pay college graduates, and invest less than the salary differential into training that they offer cheaper than colleges because they don’t need umpteen diversity or sustainability coordinators, student life administrators or many of the other expensive forms of bureaucratic bloat permeating American higher education. To be sure, much college learning occurs outside the classroom, particularly on residential campuses, and also recent high school graduates are less mature and experienced in making life decisions. Still, for many jobs, the Amazon approach seems wise—offer on-the-job training on a systematic basis, perhaps having employees work part-time on simple, low-skilled tasks while they simultaneously are trained for more skilled and remunerative activities. In doing so, more people will join the growing crowd just saying no to higher education.


Universities as Rip-Offs: The Costly and Inefficient Edifice Complex
For years, my Ohio University office was in a lovely century old home of, I would guess, about 3,200 square feet (the university outlandishly claims 7,800 square feet, including unfinished basement and attic space). It was on the edge of our beautiful College Green, the most historic part of the oldest campus in the Midwest. Students and faculty alike loved the place. The other day, the university trustees approved $711,000 to demolish it. Had the building been properly maintained, it would still be in highly productive use. Moreover, the school is spending about $220 a square foot, not to build something, but to destroy it. I suspect I could quickly find a competent destroyer of old homes who would do the job for at most 20 % of what my university plans on paying. I almost certainly could even find many reputable builders who could essentially built a very nice 3,200 square foot house from scratch for $711,000—including tearing the old house down and using that lot for rebuilding.

In fairness to Ohio University, outrageous expenditures are commonplace for campus buildings. The University of Massachusetts at Boston spent $130 million on a 190,000 square foot academic building recently—$684 per square foot. Princeton built Whitman College (a housing facility named after eBay tycoon Meg Whitman) in 2007, complete with a dining room with a 35 foot oak ceiling that would have awed Harry Potter, and tripled-glazed leaded glass windows, costing over $300,000 per bed or $650 per square foot in today’s dollars. If the money had been borrowed at four percent interest, it would take at least $1,300 monthly per bed just to pay the interest costs of the facility for the nine months used annually. No private developer would rent beds in the complex for much less than $2,500 monthly after accounting for depreciation, taxes, etc. Bloomberg Businessweek termed it “a billionaire’s mansion in the form of a dorm...” Yet presumably Whitman and other donors received tax benefits from the U.S. government for this exercise in conspicuous plutocracy.

In the Bay region, where environmental and regulatory insanity routinely prevent needed new construction, pushing housing costs extremely high, the University of California at Berkeley cannot even rebuild a badly depreciated parking garage without years of delays, wrangling about an environmental impact statement, etc. A fairly reasonable garage was proposed that cost a moderately pricey $30,000 per parking stall, but the inefficiency endemic to modern universities took hold, leading to a facility with per stall costs in the $100,000 range. A private garage operator would need probably $30 daily parking fees per car to make the investment minimally profitable. Adding university bureaucracies and “shared governance” decision-making onto environmental extremism, you get chaos. According to news reports, the AFSCME labor union will not even let Berkeley use modern technology to replace humans in collecting parking fees.

I have said it before but it bears repeating: university buildings are disenfranchised in discussions over university resource allocation—they cannot talk. Students complain they need more recreational space, and faculty say their laboratories need [to be] modernized, administrators want new spiffy teleconferencing facilities and alumni want country club-like areas in the stadium where they can drink while watching ball throwing contests. But the existing buildings are silent. We will let a somewhat decrepit classroom building deteriorate a bit more so we can fund the academic fad de jour: maybe more sustainability administrators. In a few years, we will declare the building beyond repair and replace it with an opulent new facility that lies empty much of the year.

Universities sometimes seem to handle their accounting the same way kids measure the financial success of a lemonade stand: do revenues during the recent time period exceed expenses? Depreciation of assets is largely downplayed—something a CEO of a modern corporation could go to jail for if tried. Sometimes unfunded liabilities are mostly ignored (e.g., employee pensions). Moreover, building proceeds apace, aided by tax deductions for private donors and often municipal bond (low interest) financing of debt. Schools often seem blithely unconcerned or myopic about falling enrollments and the impact of declining birth rates on facility need, at a time when some observers predict thousands of schools will close (I think it may “merely” be hundreds) or merge with other institutions.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Back to School Physicals Turn into Parenting Inquisition under New Rules for Abuse Screening

If you're like me, you're scrambling to get physicals done before the first week of school. I had the pleasure of having three school physicals done in one afternoon last week. We've been seeing the same family doctor for over three years now, but this year's screening was weird and invasive. In fact, it took well over two and a half hours while I sat there and listened to this man, who has seen us regularly, ask my children uncomfortable questions about sexual abuse, guns in the house, bullying at school and a myriad of other things that, frankly, aren't any of his business.

Several times he addressed me directly on parenting issues like "are they wearing helmets when they bike ride?" or "have you spoken to them about inappropriate touching?" Well, yes, actually, of course they do and I have spoken to them about abuse regularly, but what that has to do with a school physical is beyond me.

8 Reasons Homeschooling is Superior to Public Education
Very little was done to check them for actual physical health. I think he looked in their ears and listened to their hearts, but no reflexes were checked, no neurological exam or eye exam was given. No hearing test was administered. Mostly, it was an inquisition into my parenting skills. What do you feed them? Are they eating enough vegetables and staying away from processed foods? Do they sleep well at night and have regular bedtimes? Do you and your husband fight? Are you safe at home? Is anyone smoking? I kid you not. This was the tone of the interrogation.

When a physician starts asking about guns in the house it gets really weird. We live in the country, where predator control is a regular necessity. Saying "no" to that question might raise more red flags than not. But saying yes opens a whole other can of worms, too. What is the right response to that totally inappropriate question? What does my Constitutional right to bear arms have to do with my child's physical health? Doctors have the ability to call CPS and have kids taken away by the state, so I felt coerced into answering. I was completely unprepared for the line of questioning I was given and must have looked like a deer in the headlights during most of it. If red-flag laws are enacted, will the state demand medical records that will now contain information on guns in the home? Where is this information being stored? What will it be used for?

Perhaps as bad as asking kids about guns in the home at a physical, doctors are now encouraged to screen more children for abuse (and target them for CPS abduction) backed by nanny-state cheerleaders like Time magazine. In an article titled "Don't Get Mad if a Doctor Says they Need to Screen Your Child for Abuse," Dr. Richard Klasco and Dr. Daniel Lindberg claim that the way forward is less thinking and more screening. This, they say, will catch more abused kids and fight racism... of course.

With “think less, screen more,” screening is based on the child’s examination, rather than their parents’ race, ethnicity, or status. Objective, high-risk criteria—such as bruising of the torso, ears or neck—prompt doctors to perform the testing that can identify abuse.

An uncomfortable byproduct of the new paradigm is that some non-abused children will be screened, and some non-abusive parents will be offended. Challenging as these encounters may be, children must be protected and biases must be rectified. The only way to achieve these goals is by implementing policies based on objective criteria.

The problem with this, however, is that if "think less, screen-more" is implemented and more children are scrutinized for abuse, then more parents will be terrorized by CPS, an organization that already does too much damage to innocent families. The Hill reported on this new technique.

Perhaps as shocking as the plan itself is how nonchalant the essay’s authors, Dr. Richard Klasco and Dr. Daniel Lindberg, are about the life-altering consequences of their proposal. In an apparent attempt to downplay the harm that their plan will cause, Klasco and Lindberg wrongly suggest that the worst that will happen if they get their way is “some non-abused children will be screened, and some non-abusive parents will be offended.”

The real worst-case scenario happened to my friends, Rana and Chad Tyson, and it was far from merely an “uncomfortable byproduct.” While changing their infant daughter’s diaper, Rana and Chad noticed that she was not moving one of her legs and would recoil in pain whenever it was touched. Being the good parents they are, the Tysons immediately took her to her regular pediatrician. After being evaluated by the pediatrician, they were instructed to go to a local children’s hospital where the daughter who displayed symptoms and her twin sister were subjected to the same battery of x-rays utilized by the “think less, screen more” approach.

The Tysons ended up having their children kidnapped by the state while the doctors eventually figured out they had a genetic disorder. Meanwhile, the family had to declare bankruptcy in order to pay for the legal fees.

Who knows what kind of damage the children suffered being separated from their parents for over five months. This story is repeated over and over throughout the nation. Busy-body doctors, nurses, and other "mandated reporters" overreact, causing needless trauma for families. It's so bad, that taking a child to the doctor is anxiety-inducing these days. Parents tell me all the time that they hesitate to take their accident-prone children in for fear of something like this happening to them.

Mother: "Child Welfare Services in Colorado Stole My Disabled Son"
What we need is not "less thinking, more screening." We need parents demanding their rights in the face of institutions bent on taking them away. Doctors have no business judging parenting. They exist to treat sickness and we pay them a great deal to do so. Setting physicians up to be the supervisors of parents is a bad idea. It will only keep parents from seeking treatment when they should.

The constant infringement on our right to be secure in our persons and families continues almost daily and is snaking into every aspect of our lives. Will the American people push back against this? Or will we just go quietly into the night?


Teacher sacked for showing pupils explicit film with pornographic scenes and extreme violence

A teacher at one of Scotland’s top school has been sacked for showing first year pupils an explicit film in class.

Jonathan Guetta was a Hebrew teacher at Mearns Castle High School when he screened Israeli war film Waltz With Bashir.

The controversial animated movie contains pornographic scenes and extreme violence, including children being killed.

It is believed the class watched 20 minutes of the 2008 documentary — with Guetta standing in front of the screen during inappropriate scenes.

The teacher showed the 18-rated film at an after-school class, with some of the children watching it just 12 years old.

Guetta was dismissed in May 2018, faced with a series of allegations including exposing pupils to inappropriate, upsetting material, allowing them access to pornographic material and failing to seek parental consent.

He sued East Renfrewshire Council, claiming they had been anti-Semitic in dealing with him. But, after he took his case to an employment tribunal, the council was found to have acted fairly.

No action was taken against him by the General Teaching Council for Scotland after a fitness to teach hearing.

According to The Herald, a judgment on the case revealed several parents complained to the school after finding out what their children had been shown.

One dad complained “the film was wholly inappropriate for children” as it “contains explicit pornography, children being killed and psychological issues”.

Employment judge Michelle Sutherland described the animated film as being “akin to a graphic novel”. “It contains war violence, including real life video footage of the aftermath of the massacre showing lifeless bodies of adults and children,” she said. “It also has a brief explicit pornographic scene showing an animated man penetrating an animated woman.”

The section of the film shown by Guetta did not show the real-life footage of the Sabra and Shatila massacre at the end of the movie or the explicit “pornography”.

But it did show “violence (including dogs being shot), inappropriate language, and male and female nudity”. Waltz With Bashir is a 2008 documentary by Ari Folman, covering the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War.

It is banned in several Arab countries, including Lebanon. It was nominated for many awards, winning a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.


Student Debt — Cost vs. Value

Expense and subsequent debt are skyrocketing, while the value of the investment diminishes.

What a mess! We’ve got Democrat candidates for president promising some government-funded program (remember, government has NO money other than the money it takes from its working citizens) will pay for all the college debt owed to colleges and universities while tuition prices rise and the practice of activism replaces academics in too many of the campuses conferring degrees to the newly entitled, pretentious crowd they’ve crafted.

Once upon a time, the value assigned to higher education — specifically at four-year colleges and universities — was on an ascending trajectory. Not so any longer. Between the rising costs of obtaining degrees, many of which come with very dim prospects for employment, and the proven indoctrination that is epidemic on the campuses of many institutions of higher learner, the reputation and worth of a college degree has taken a hit of late. So says the Pew Research Center’s latest survey.

Released last week, the report showed that only half of those surveyed viewed colleges and universities as having a positive impact on our country, down 10 points from seven years ago. Meanwhile, almost 40% deemed higher education as having a negative impact, an increase of 12 percentage points over that same window of time.

In both the Pew and a separate Gallup study, costs and indoctrination are cited as the driving factors devaluing institutions, yet, the value of a functional degree remains high. A full 91% surveyed in a 2018 Pew publication identified that a college degree is important or essential in the success of the younger generation. But America has at least one generation of college-educated individuals, carrying degrees like gender or interdisciplinary studies with little pay or functional value or they’ve been instructed that being malcontented Millennials is acceptable and, oh, by the way, we’re going to pay off your school debt.

The forgiveness of school debt is one of the key drivers of the Democrats’ platform. A great deal of focus is on their primary corral of candidates and, while “free stuff” is grossly irresponsible, it’s also appealing to their demographics.

The magnitude of that promise is astonishing. According to, as of June 2019, there’s $1.52 trillion in unpaid student debt. Loans have been taken under the premise that these men and women would exit the college classroom prepared for employment, create wealth, and repay the institutions of lending for services provided.

Elizabeth Warren wants elimination of this debt through some redistribution scheme of taking from those who have money to pay for the debt of others who have less. Essentially, she’s saying let’s just print some more money and borrow another trillion or so from China — or whatever her conjured up logic is to deal with the debt held by 45 million student borrowers.

Please remember that the famed minority-wanna-be-Warren enjoyed favored status as a “Native American” while on faculty of Harvard, which charges between $47,000 to almost $68,000 annually for tuition, and is the driving force behind easing the access to loaned money and now wants all who hold the debt to walk away from their responsibilities. Both she and Bernie Sanders are unashamedly luring our next generation into the lie of socialism and government dependency.

As government subsidies increase for the purpose of defraying the burden on students and parents attempting to pay for college, it makes a market distortion. Prices charged by colleges and universities are not forced to reflect consumer ability to pay or demand for a range pricing. With subsidies, institutions of higher learning can also be institutions with ever-increasing costs that reflect a subsidized market.

The 2018-2019 average tuition for college is $21,370. That’s an 145% in tuition costs compared to 1971 prices while wages have increased only 28% over that same window of time. Bottom line, the easier it’s been to borrow money and obtain educational funding subsidies, the higher costs have risen on campus.

Just like it sounded good to give easy access to loans for mortgages in the mid-2000s but the ability for individuals to repay that debt was removed, and now in the student-loan arrangement, creating a crisis, not from any free market force but because of a manufactured scenario that was logically unmanageable.

As Warren predicts a crisis of student debt, she helped create it — just as the mortgage market failures were created by a government interference that, while rooted in good intentions, constructed a situation that had a predictably poor outcome.

We’re learning that education has a value, but its costs are inflated by government interference. Wise up.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Educating Youth on the Dangers of Socialism

Socialism’s growing popularity among young people in this country should be a major concern for Liberty-loving Americans. President Donald Trump loudly promises that America will never be a socialist country. Many conservative politicians and media pundits are inclined to agree with him. But ridiculing socialist ideas and simply counting on America to always remain a federal republic just because it always has been one will not defeat socialism in the United States.

Socialism is popular because the Left is adept at controlling the narrative. This may be a hard fact to face, but face it we must. The Left controls public education, the news media, and the entertainment industry. For the last couple of generations, leftists in these venues have altered the perceptions of what America is to millions of young people. Now that they have reached a point of critical mass, they are looking to convince these same young people to cast aside our great republic in favor of a socialist regime.

A new organization has stepped into the fray to challenge this assault. Young Americans Against Socialism set up shop just last week with the goal of spreading the truth about socialism, in part by sharing true stories of the young people who have lived it.

YAAS was founded by Morgan Zegers, the 22-year-old daughter of an Iraq War vet who ran for the New York State Assembly in 2018 to help stop the downward economic spiral of her home state. Zegers gained a great deal of media attention for her ultimately unsuccessful effort and was named a Rising Star of the New York GOP and the New York Young Republicans.

Zegers’s strategy is to use two of the Left’s powerful tools against them: emotion and social media. Social media is the most obvious place to have this conversation because that is where Zegers will find her target audience. The Left relies on emotion because it produces quick and powerful responses and because it clouds reason and judgment, two concepts that are Kryptonite to any socialist idea. The videos YAAS will post on social media recount emotional stories of young people who have directly suffered under socialism and have blessedly escaped its clutches.

Zegers will also use social media to set the record straight about socialism. Among the myths to be dispelled are the so-called heroism of the prolific murderer Che Guevara, why the Left insists on incorrectly categorizing Scandinavian countries as socialist, what really happened to oil-rich Venezuela, and how capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in world history.

Given her youth and her dedicated social-media strategy, Zegers is in a better position to change the narrative than a news pundit that young people probably won’t even watch. It’s exciting to see another group dedicated to pushing back against socialism’s appeal to America’s youth. It’s been a long time coming, and as Zegers argues, we must push back because Liberty is worth fighting for.


How LGBTQ Groups Are Quietly Dismantling Norms, Changing Education

Virtually every week, there seems to be another issue that preoccupies the country.

But while our attention is focused on President Donald Trump, Google, Charlottesville, Russia, impeachment, Jeffrey Epstein, the next elections, racism, a trade war with China, the #MeToo movement, or something else, LGBTQ organizations are quietly going about their work dismantling ethical norms, making a mockery of education, ruining innocent people’s lives, and destroying children’s innocence.

If you think this is overstated, here are some examples:

The LGBTQ Dismantling of Women’s Sports

Last month, a transgender weightlifter won multiple gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand won two gold medals and a silver in the three heavyweight categories for women weighing more than 87 kilograms, or 192 pounds. Hubbard is physically male.

Last year, two biologically male sophomores at different Connecticut high schools competed in the female division of the state open track and field competition. They came in first and second place in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Because the Western world cowers before LGBTQ demands, no matter how unfair they are to women athletes, men who deem themselves female must be allowed to compete against women. They almost always win.

The Dismantling of Male and Female—Even at Birth

As reported by the Associated Press: “Parents also can choose (gender) ‘X’ for newborns. New York City is joining California, Oregon, and Washington state in allowing an undesignated gender option on birth certificates. A similar provision takes effect in New Jersey in February.”

What percentage of Americans believe children are lucky if born to parents who will not identify them at birth as male or female? On the other hand, how many of us think such parents are engaged in a form of child abuse?

The Dismantling of Children’s Innocence and Parental Authority

The Associated Press also recently reported that “California has overhauled its sex education guidance for public school teachers, encouraging them to talk about gender identity with kindergartners.”

Tatyana Dzyubak, an elementary school teacher in the Sacramento area, objected: “I shouldn’t be teaching that stuff. That’s for parents to do.”

But parents and parental authority have always been a thorn in the side of totalitarian movements. Therefore, dismantling parental authority is one of the primary goals of the left, of which LGBTQ organizations are a major component.

Libraries in major urban centers now feature Drag Queen Story Hour—drag queens reading stories to preschool-age children. (Read, for example, the laudatory New York Times article “Drag Queen Story Hour Puts the Rainbow in Reading” from May 19, 2017.)

A few weeks ago, the popular actor and TV host Mario Lopez told Candace Owens:

If you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or you think you’re a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then: ‘OK, well, then you’re going to be a boy or a girl,’ whatever the case may be. … I think parents need to allow their kids to be kids, but at the same time, you gotta be the adult in the situation.

For sensibly and respectfully saying what any loving parent of a 3-year-old should say, he was so forcefully condemned by GLAAD and PFLAG, two of the biggest LGBTQ organizations, that, knowing his livelihood was on the line, he immediately recanted.

In the style of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he “recanted” everything he said and acknowledged how much he still has to learn about parents allowing 3-year-olds to determine their gender.

The Dismantling of Educational Norms

CNN reported last week:

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that ensures the contributions of LGBTQ people are taught in public schools. …

[The bill states] ‘In public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.’

Equality Illinois, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization, supported the bill and said the curriculum can have a ‘positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.’

Once the purpose of teaching history is changed from teaching what happened to “having a positive effect on students’ self-image,” history is no longer about what happened; it is propaganda. But rewriting history is not a problem for the left.

As a famous Soviet dissident joke put it: “In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it’s the past that is always changing.”

I note almost every day that truth is a liberal value and a conservative value, but it has never been a left-wing value. This is just one more example.

The Dismantling of Reality

David Zirin, sports editor of The Nation: “There is another argument against allowing trans athletes to compete with cis-gender athletes that suggests that their presence hurts cis-women and cis-girls. But this line of thought doesn’t acknowledge that trans women are in fact women” (italics added).

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in a letter to USA Powerlifting: “The myth that trans women have a ‘direct competitive advantage’ is not supported by medical science.”

Sunu Chandy of the National Women’s Law Center: “There’s no research to support the claim that allowing trans athletes to play on teams that fit their gender identity will create a competitive imbalance.”

How can these people say such lies? Because lying is not an issue when truth is not a value.

LGBTQ organizations care about lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders as much as communists cared about workers. They use them as a cover for their real agenda: dismantling civilization as we know it.


Chinese 'cash cows' For Australian universities

I think this is a false alarm. Chinese kids are coming to Australia not at the behest and expense of the Chinese government but at the behest and expense of their rich Chinese parents.  So the politics are unlikedly to affect anything

Australia’s universities are taking a multi-billion-dollar gamble with taxpayer money to pursue a high-risk, high-reward international growth strategy that may ultimately prove incompatible with their public service mission. Their revenues are booming as they enrol record numbers of international students, particularly from China. As long as the China boom continues, the universities’ gamble will look like a success. If and when the China bubble bursts, taxpayers may be forced to step in to clean up the mess.

The CIS Analysis Paper The China Student Boom and the Risks It Poses to Australian Universities published this week pulls together data from universities, state and Commonwealth agencies, foreign governments, international organisations, and press reports to present a full picture of the risks being taken by Australian universities in enrolling unprecedented numbers of Chinese students.

While the report was being researched, ABC’s Four Corners came out with its own investigation into international students, ‘Cash Cows’ (aired May 6, and now available online). The documentary uncovered weak international admissions standards at Central Queensland, Southern Cross and Murdoch, but our report shows that the potential exists for similar problems even at highly respected institutions like Sydney, Melbourne, ANU, UNSW, UTS, Adelaide, and Queensland.

Even more worrying, these seven universities have become so reliant on Chinese student money that it may pose a serious financial risk to the universities’ continuing operations. At these seven universities, Chinese students seem to account for more than 50% of all international students. All seven have higher proportions of international and Chinese students than any university in the entire United States. And they rely on Chinese student course fees for anywhere from 13% (Adelaide and ANU) to 22-23% (UNSW and Sydney) of their total revenues.

The University of Sydney alone seems to generate more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue from Chinese student course fees.

Chinese enrollments are particularly unstable because of macroeconomic factors like the slowing of China’s economy, the lack of full convertibility of the Chinese yuan, and fluctuations in the value of the yuan versus the Australian dollar.

Australian universities, and particularly the seven leading universities spotlighted in our report, should act now to mitigate the risk of a sudden revenue collapse by raising admissions standards and reducing international student enrollments. They should make, publish, and implement plans to reduce their reliance on international students (and Chinese students in particular) to manageable levels, with targets set both for the university as a whole and for individual programs.

Australia’s universities are taking massive financial risks in pursuit of international student revenues. As the world’s leading banks in 2008, they must be aware that they are ‘too big to fail’. As public and publicly-accountable institutions, they enjoy an implicit guarantee that if things go wrong, the government will come to the rescue. The government should step in now to ensure that the universities change course before it is too late.


Monday, August 26, 2019

A Psychological Profile of the New Campus Activist

A certain anger at society seems to pervade the academy today. Hardly a week goes by without hearing about outraged students either demanding recompense for some perceived injustice or attempting to shut down an invited speaker. Between professors who spread neo-Marxist ideologies, administrators who enforce an extreme political correctness on campus, and peer pressure to be politically “woke,” student radicalism is reinforced from all sides.

The fundamental cause of this anger is more likely psychological rather than political. In his new book Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, journalist Robby Soave highlights young activists’ destructive behaviors and provides an in-depth analysis of the activists’ motivations and the philosophical origins of their ideology. Soave explains the purpose of his book is to provide a comprehensive “psychological profile” of the young activist generations—millennials and generation Zers—whom he refers to collectively as “zillenials.”

Soave dedicates the majority of his book to analyzing left-wing activists, not because he considers them to be worse than their far-right counterparts—the alt-right—but because they dominate in numbers and wield more influence over the culture, particularly universities.

Panic Attack addresses topics such as violent attempts to shut down free speech on campus, Title IX and the abuse of students’ due process rights, and the proliferation of victimhood culture. Although these issues have been extensively reported on, Soave at times provides a fresh take on them with his face-to-face interactions with students. In writing his book, Soave visited campuses across the country and interviewed hundreds of activists, attending many of the protests and meetings he describes.

However, even though Soave presents a vivid picture of academia’s ills, he struggles with translating his observations into workable solutions.

Soave begins the book by detailing the history of free speech at Berkeley and contrasting it with the campus climate of today. Those following headlines in the last few years have no doubt been struck by the irony that Berkeley—the site of the infamous 2017 riots that culminated in the setting of fires and several people being beaten unconscious for supporting alternate political views—was originally the site of the campus free speech movement in the 1960s.

Back then, students pressured the administration to get rid of its unofficial ban on communist speakers, and they similarly opposed rules that prohibited students from engaging in political activity on campus. Students of all political stripes came together and found a common cause in defending free speech.

Today’s leftist activists, Soave argues, are fundamentally different from the radical activists of the 1960s and 1970s, due to several “serious defects.” The first defect is that zillenials have an acute need for “emotional safety.” Even though Soave seemingly dislikes the colloquial term “snowflake,” calling it a smear, he makes the case that zillenials suffer from being overly coddled—similar to the case made by Greg Lukianoff and Johnathan Haidt in their book The Coddling of the American Mind. As a result, zillenials equate physical safety with emotional safety, and words that make them feel uncomfortable are considered on par with physical acts of violence.

Another serious defect Soave ascribes to leftist zillenials is ideological in nature: A faithful adherence to the trendy concept known as “intersectionality.” Soave defines it as:

Put simply, intersectionality means that various kinds of oppression—racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, economic inequality, and others—are simultaneously distinct from each other and inherently linked… [I]ntersectionality has become a ubiquitous force on college campuses, where young people are taught to perceive all social issues through the lens of interrelated oppression, and to find smaller and smaller grievances to add to the pile.

Among the groups that subscribe to intersectionality are fourth-wave feminists, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter—who are also united in their abhorrence of capitalism and their willingness to censor speech they find offensive.

Besides intersectionality’s insidious focus on wielding grievances as a manipulative political force, it is also self-defeating as a tactic. As Soave points out, it is virtually impossible to live in full accordance with the dictates of intersectionality. There are endless examples of otherwise left-of-center individuals who have been scorned and rejected from the intersectional left for their failure to adhere to its stringent ideological demands.

One infamous case is that of Bret Weinstein, a biology professor at Evergreen State University in Washington. Weinstein, who describes his own political views as “progressive,” endured serious verbal and physical threats after he refused to be forced off campus for a day because he was white. Soave wittingly describes intersectionality as “an ouroboros devouring its own tail” (an ouroboros is an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail).

Nevertheless, despite its hostility to rationality and open inquiry, intersectionality permeates the academy, with entire academic departments dedicated to “studying specific kinds of oppression.” Many professors who espouse intersectionality are also proponents of critical theory—a neo-Marxist method of interpreting social phenomena.

Yet, although Soave acknowledges that faculty often promote Marxist ideology, he is skeptical that they are the source of student radicalization. Instead, he argues, students are more likely to radicalize each other.

To rein in radical activists’ illiberal tendencies, Soave offers several remedies. The first is: less college. Since college seems to be a “breeding ground for cult-like behavior, PTSD, and mountains of debt, why bother?” he asks.

Soave has a point: Colleges that fall short of their mission to pursue the truth arguably do more harm than good for students—particularly those in the humanities. Some students only go to college because of the widespread notion that everyone should go to college, despite the fact that some are better suited for alternative career paths. De-emphasizing the “college for all” mentality might not just alleviate an unnecessary pressure to spend thousands just to “check” the academic checkbox, it can also prevent the radicalization of young people.

 Soave then makes a brief call for better K-12 civic education so that young children can learn about the First Amendment. However, given the intersectional left’s tight grip on schools of education—as well as the administration of K-12 education—one can’t help but wonder whether curriculum changes today might undermine the First Amendment rather than promote it.

Finally, Soave calls on liberal intellectuals who are still in good standing with the radical left to “stand up to the plate” and convince intersectional extremists that being anti-free speech is self-defeating. He argues that the onus is on moderate leftists to persuade the radical activists how crucial it is to protect individual rights from being trampled upon:

We need free speech because we still need to hash all of this out—because liberal norms of tolerance, civility, openness, individual rights, and freedom of expression are still the best tools we have for bettering society. In these difficult conversations, everybody has a vested interest in participating— and that includes the left. Activists, you may not think it’s your job to educate me, but I invite you to try.

Soave may be guilty of wishful thinking in this line of reasoning. Although fighting bad ideas with good ideas is the ideal, it’s not clear how that is possible when the very notion of rational discussion is anathema to intersectional activists. Radical leftists aren’t going to be swayed by appeals to free speech. Indeed, it is precisely by expressing commitment to free speech that even moderate-left public figures fall from activists’ grace in the first place.

Dave Rubin, host of the popular Youtube talk show Rubin Report, is a highly illustrative example. He is center-left on nearly every social issue. One clear difference he has with the radical left is his openness to having his views challenged in open dialogue and his rejection of looking at the world through the lens of oppression. Because of this, Rubin has been rejected by much of the left and is often accused of being alt-right, a Nazi sympathizer, or a white supremacist.

Another explanation of how free speech is a non-starter to intersectional activists comes from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, in his recent book The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great:

In order to promote discussions about intersectionality, systems of oppression must be curbed— including the speech of others. Discussions must end. Reason must be thrown out the window since, owing to our different life experiences, we cannot understand one another. Freedom— supposedly a tool of the white power structure—itself must be redefined so as to support the self-realization of intersectional people.

Shapiro raises some issues Soave would do well to consider. Although Soave is correct that freedom of expression is a necessary requisite for a flourishing society, it is not sufficient; appeals to free speech alone are not enough to bridge the widening cultural divide. That’s because there is something deeper at stake than Soave’s prescription addresses: A loss of a common societal vision, and the deterioration of a shared moral framework. Shapiro describes this reality succinctly:

We used to believe in the Founding vision, supported by a framework of personal virtue culled from Judeo-Christian morality…We were a community, forged in fire and tethered together by a set of values…We can regain that. We must regain that. Our individual and communal happiness depends on us regaining the values we’re losing all too quickly.

As Shapiro says, the country’s present political and social upheaval requires rediscovering the cultural, philosophical, and spiritual foundations of the West. Although Soave advocates for Enlightenment values, he does not address the rich Western heritage that made the Enlightenment possible. Those foundations are much older than the Enlightenment and include a shared conception of community, culture, and the good life rooted in Greek philosophy and Christian civilization. Unmoored from this moral context, the values of free inquiry and open dialogue lose their persuasive force.

In the end, even though Soave provides a helpful summary of the psychological profile of young radicals, his solution doesn’t match the gravity of the situation he describes. Only a response that seeks to reclaim lost moral values and re-instill a common vision will do. The liberal society that Soave lauds depends upon it.


Ethnic Studies’ Latest Ploy to Brainwash Kids

President Donald Trump told a rally last week: “We are all Americans. We all share the same home. We all share the same heart.” He cautioned that “the radical Democrats are trying to tear this country apart” with their divisive identity politics.

Warning to parents: Left-wing activists are using these same divisive tactics to target your kids’ schools and co-opt their young minds.

Across the country, leftists are demanding that public schools teach “ethnic studies.” Don’t be fooled by the title. Many of these courses demonize America’s past, label whites as oppressors, and convert students into “social justice organizers.”

California Democrats are pushing to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement statewide. Their drafted curriculum defines ethnic studies as the “experiences of people of color in the United States” and the “forms of oppression” they’ve endured.

The California course urges students to become “agents of change” and mandates that all students complete an “engagement/action project.” Astoundingly, the course guide suggests only one project to meet this requirement: promoting “voting rights for undocumented immigrant residents” in local elections.

The curriculum tars white students—by virtue of their whiteness—as oppressors. The course outline calls for “the privilege walk,” an exercise to teach white students about privileges they take for granted. “Whiteness,” defined as “more than a racial identity marker,” apparently “separates those that are privileged from those that are not.”

White kids will have to endure this harassment to graduate.

Meanwhile, the course encourages minorities to think of themselves as oppressed. No mention of success stories like Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas. No explanation for why millions around the globe are struggling to get into the U.S., even scaling walls and wading rivers, to make this country their home.

American capitalism is demonized as a system in which “people of color are disproportionately exploited.” Never mind that capitalism has lifted billions of people of color out of poverty worldwide.

Educators could point to Hispanic American and African American stars such as billionaire real estate developer Jorge Perez or former Citigroup CEO and Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons as role models for minority students.

Instead, the curriculum is a one-sided Marxist indoctrination to make students hate America. To what end? To brainwash the next generation of voters into becoming leftist Democrats.

California’s curriculum, drafted by teachers and university professors, nearly slipped through without public scrutiny—till Jews in the state Legislature noticed the curriculum condemned Islamophobia but not anti-Semitism.

Parents and the public, who foot the bill for public schools, need to wake up and demand more control over what’s being taught. Don’t leave curriculum reform to self-proclaimed professionals. The National Education Association, the largest teachers union, endorses reparations for slavery, Black Lives Matter, and other divisive concepts.

If parents want their children to learn the basics, without left-wing brainwashing, they need to win seats on local and statewide school boards.

The push for ethnic studies is a tidal wave, from Oregon to Indiana to individual school districts like Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Here in New York City, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza would have us believe that R—for racism—is a more important lesson than the three R’s, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

He’s wrong.

Teaching kids they’re victims won’t help them pass the Regents or succeed in life. Instead, teach them about the many Hispanic Americans and black Americans who have made it to the top.

The current struggle, in New York and California and elsewhere, isn’t new. In the 1930s and ’40s, activists critical of capitalism pinned their hopes for social transformation on changing the social studies curriculum and, with it, the next generation of voters.

The left has been trying ever since.

Today, all Americans—parents and nonparents alike—who share the vision of opportunity, common values, and colorblind justice need to recognize what’s happening and stop it.

Our future hinges not just on who’s elected president but on who’s elected to school boards. The leftist push for ethnic studies—more accurately termed “oppression studies”—poses a serious threat to the America we hold dear.


British High School results 2019: hundreds achieve clean sweep of top grades

The proportion of top grades at GCSE has risen for the second year in a row following the biggest exam shake-up in a generation.

More than one in five GCSE entries in the UK, 20.8 per cent, scored a 9, 8 or 7 — the three new top grades — or A and A*, up from 20.5 per cent last summer.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers received their GCSE results this morning in schools and colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Figures released by the exam boards show that 837 candidates were awarded at least seven grade 9s, more than last year. The highest proportions of 9s went to those taking classics and “other foreign languages” such as Polish and Portuguese.

Under sweeping reforms in England, the 9 to 1 scale replaces the old A* to G grades, with 7 pegged to an old A. An 8 is roughly equivalent to high A or low A* and 9 is equivalent to a very high A*. This is to reflect the more challenging content of the courses, the much more difficult exams and the scrapping of virtually all coursework.

The proportion securing the very top grade, grade 9, rose slightly this year to 4.48 per cent from 4.45 per cent in 2018. However it is considerably lower than the 8 per cent to 9 per cent who got A* under the old system.

Boris Johnson said: “I’m delighted to see an increase in those studying [English baccalaureate, or EBacc] subjects, including science, computing and foreign languages, as well as creative studies, meaning pupils are getting the rigorous yet well-rounded education they need.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “It is deeply concerning that disadvantaged young people are far less likely to get good GCSE grades, creating an inequality that will remain for years to come. This government, by cutting school funding for the first time in a generation and creating a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, is making it harder for young people to succeed, while those going on to further education will once again see the impact of nearly a decade of Conservative cuts to education.”

The new GCSEs have been rolled out over several years. In 2017 pupils took the new-style exams in maths, English language and English literature; in 2018 they took them in all the major subjects; and this year the minor subjects were added in. This means that comparisons with previous years when A* to G were used are not exact.

Wales still uses the A* to G grades, and Northern Ireland has a mixture. The Scottish education system has a different set of exams.

Girls narrowed the gap on boys in maths and physics but boys still gained more of the top awards in those subjects.

The number of girls who took computing rose significantly, by 14 per cent, although they still made up only 21.4 per cent of the total. More girls achieved top grades in the subject.

The numbers taking foreign languages have plummeted over the past decade but entries were up 3 per cent this year. French remained the most popular language, taken by 130,000 students, although the number taking Spanish exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

In maths, boys continued to outperform girls, although the gap is narrowing — 16.7 per cent of boys achieved at least a 7 (up 0.1 percentage points on last year) compared with 15.5 per cent of girls (up 0.6 percentage points).

Girls also improved more than boys in physics and chemistry, while boys narrowed girls’ lead in biology.

More girls than boys achieved 9s across all subjects except maths, physics, statistics and performing arts.

Schools are measured on performance in the Ebacc set of qualifications: English, maths, science, humanities and a foreign language. Today’s figures suggest that the number doing well on this measure have decreased, a blow to the government’s much-cherished policy.

The new GCSEs have been controversial, with many head teachers saying that they are demoralising for those who are less able. There have been reports of students refusing to turn up to sit them.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said that the onus for this was on schools. “We don’t want children to be overstressed,” he said. “Testing and exams have always been part of an education system, there will always be some stress to them. We trust schools to make sure that children are well prepared and are supported.”

He said that GCSEs had to be made more difficult because the UK was falling behind other countries with its exam system, which had been considered too easy.

“We have conducted impact assessments to ensure that they’re suitable for children of all abilities, including children with special educational needs,” he said.

He also pointed out that figures for this year showed a 3 per cent increase in entries for arts subjects despite concerns that the greater focus on core Ebacc subjects would mean fewer pupils taking subjects outside this group.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are nearing the end of a massive programme of qualification reforms which has been extremely challenging. Our teachers deserve a huge amount of credit for all that they have done to support students taking new GCSEs, which have been deliberately designed to be more difficult, and which have undoubtedly caused increased levels of stress and anxiety.

“It is great to see that there has been an increase in entries to art and design. However, we continue to be concerned about the long-term decline in the uptake of other creative arts subjects, and design and technology. This has been caused by the government’s obsession with measuring schools largely on performance in a small suite of traditional academic subjects, combined with education cuts, which have left them without enough funding to sustain smaller-entry courses.”