Friday, January 03, 2020

Identity Box Vexes College Applicants

As elite colleges and universities seek to be more diverse, there is one section on the Common Application that has become increasingly loaded: the boxes where prospective students are asked about their identity.

Students know they face tougher-than-ever odds of admission and feel pressure to answer in a way that gives them an edge, college counselors and families say. Colleges, in turn, are frustrated because they have no way to confirm the information students give.

Questions college counselors are encountering from students and their parents include: Does partial heritage count? If a father is Cuban but you don’t speak Spanish, should you check Hispanic? Is it advantageous to declare yourself gay or bisexual even if you’re not?

At Friends Academy, a private Quaker school on Long Island, N.Y., a student whose family was Jewish and came from Europe checked Latino on his application, said Ed Dugger, the school’s director of college counseling, describing the incident from three years ago. When Mr. Dugger asked him why, the boy said his family had just taken a DNA test and it showed that he was 2% Sephardic— meaning he also had ancestors from Portugal or Spain.

“He felt that was going to give him a leg up,” said Mr. Dugger. “I asked him if he felt connected to the Latino community.” The student changed his answer to white.

Universities prioritize diversity out of the belief that students learn from being in an environment of students with different perspectives, said Mike Reilly, executive director of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The Common Application is accepted by about 900 colleges and universities. More than one million students used it annu- ally to send about five million applications. The demographic section is optional but the response rate is 90%, said a spokesman for the Common Application. Students aren’t asked which race or ethnicity they belong to, but “how you identify yourself.”

Inside college admission offices, the question is prompting debates and raising questions over whether students are legitimate members of certain groups or trying to game the system. Some admissions officers say schools look for extracurricular activities that could reflect an applicant’s racial identity, such as participation in a Latino or African-American student group. The absence of any further mention of their background could be a red flag.

The goal is to determine whether a student will represent a minority community in a way that enriches the school, said Jon Reider, who was a senior associate director of admission at Stanford University for 15 years and then director of college counseling at a private high school. This places colleges in the awkward position of determining whether a student is “authentically black” or “authentically Latino,” he said.

The impact of an applicant’s race is marginal and one of many factors a school considers, admissions officers say. But when students are trying to get into elite colleges with acceptance rates in the single digits, any advantage takes on outsize consideration to some applicants and their families.

The Supreme Court approved the limited consideration of race in admissions in 1978 on the grounds that fostering diversity represents a “compelling interest.” Affluent white students have long bene- fited from a different set of advantages including legacy preference, athletic recruiting and the ability to donate money.

The focus on identity has grown as elite schools try to reflect changing U.S. demographics. At Harvard University, the number of freshmen who identified as white declined to 601 in 2018 from 739 in 2010, according to federal data. Over the same period, the number of Latino students rose to 176 from 144, while black students grew to 167 from 99. The entering- class size was flat.

In 2014, a nonprofit sued Harvard alleging the school discriminated against Asian-American applicants. A federal judge in October determined that the school’s admission policy wasn’t perfect but neither did it intentionally discriminate. The case has been appealed.

At Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, a selective public school where 99% of students enroll in four-year colleges after graduation, conversations about race and admissions can be tense.

Richard Alvarez, a senior of Mexican heritage, is waiting to hear from the University of Chicago. He said his school has spent years educating students about race, but now that the college crunch has arrived, that sensitivity training “has gone out the window.”

“Everyone is at each other’s throat,” he said. “White students have this thing that brown and black students unfairly get into schools over them.”

Luke Martin, who just got accepted to the University of Chicago, said he checked off white, black and Caribbean on the Common Application because one of his grandparents is black and from Jamaica.

“I think it helps you stand out,” he said.

Some schools now consider sexual orientation and gender identity in admissions. In 2016, the Common Application added an optional box to fill out under male or female “to share more about your gender identity.” In 2018, 2.5% of students responded.

At least 28 schools and university systems ask applicants about sexual orientation, said Geeny Beemyn, coordinator of Campus Pride’s Trans Policy Clearinghouse, an advocate and resource for transgender policies at colleges and universities.

Duke University’s application includes an optional essay, telling students that “Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

The option was added five years ago because Duke admissions officers were seeing an uptick in students writing about their sexuality on the main essay in the Common Application, said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions.

Race Issue Arose In Admissions Case

The purported advantages of lying about race figured into the sprawling admissionscheating scheme this year. William “Rick” Singer, the college counselor and mastermind who pleaded guilty in March, encouraged some clients to identify as black or Latino though they weren’t. He warned teens that failing to misrepresent their race could put them at a “competitive disadvantage,” said a person familiar with his business.

Marjorie Klapper, who pleaded guilty in the case, had a son who was listed on at least one college application as African-American and Mexican, though he was neither. Ms. Klapper was sentenced to three weeks in prison. Neither she nor her attorneys responded to a request for comment.


Intellectual Desegregation: What Heterodox Thought Requires from Academics

Afew years ago, Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, realized that most of his colleagues were on the Left. This is not necessarily a bad thing. People are allowed to have differing political views. It is also wrong to judge the quality of scientific research on political beliefs.

However, the uniformity of opinion presents institutional challenges. The academy is a church of skeptics. Progress is made when people are allowed to disagree. In the humanities and social sciences, a dominant mainstream may prevent questions that will deepen inquiry and identify errors and biases.

The solution, for Haidt, is not a new orthodoxy. One does not improve the academy by forming a conservative orthodoxy to balance a liberal blockade. As they say on the schoolyard, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Instead, one needs a new academic mindset, one that makes it possible to move beyond conformity and groupthink. Haidt called this mindset “heterodoxy.” In this essay, I will argue for a habit of mind that heterodoxy should include: intellectual desegregation.

The very first step toward a genuinely heterodox mindset is intellectual desegregation. In other words, most academics find themselves in relative “safe spaces” where they encounter people like themselves.

There is an old joke about Richard Nixon that makes this point. A professor in a very liberal enclave, such as Cambridge, says, “I don’t understand how Nixon could have won—none of my friends voted for him!” Many professors and educators live similar lives. They live politically homogeneous lives. I don’t merely refer to the neighborhoods in which they reside. I also mean their intellectual lives.

For example, Inside Higher Education ran an article by a sociologist who critiqued conservatives. I was very curious to read the essay, but I shook my head as I read it. In the essay, the author accused conservatives of not having any ideas beyond demeaning women and people of color:

A third premise that should be strongly questioned is the very idea that conservative thought is diverse. What is diverse about a body of thought reliably in support of a reactionary status quo?

That statement shocked me. How would someone feel if he had written that men or women have the same ideas or that all people of an ethnic group lacked diverse thoughts? I doubt that this essay would have been written had the author spent time deeply reading classic texts of an opposing political tradition.

The underlying issue, I think, is that it is easy for intellectuals to segregate themselves.

There is so much to read and so much to do. It is very easy to say, “those folks are nuts, best not to bother.” Given a stack of papers to grade and piles of journals to read, what is to be gained by engaging with people who are so clearly wrong?

This question has many answers. Like we tell our students, we don’t know our own arguments until we encounter our sharpest critics. But there are also other reasons to pursue intellectual desegregation. Sometimes the other side is right. A critic may identify a genuine problem in your theory.

There is also a social benefit. If society sees the academy as a disconnected enclave, they will lose faith in our mission. If we show genuine engagement with ideas, even those we find repulsive or deeply in error, people will increase their support for the institution.

I’ve approached the problem of intellectual segregation from a lofty theoretical position. What would it mean for a professor’s daily life?

To start, we should drop the caricatures of the other side. For example, there is now a cottage industry of academics who are trying to prove that various conservative and libertarian scholars are all secretly racists who tried to reinstate segregation. The most infamous case is the book Democracy in Chains. Written by Nancy MacLean, the book argued that public choice economist James Buchanan inspired anti-black movements—even though his writings barely mention race and he supported the work of anti-apartheid academics. There is plenty to debate about Buchanan’s work, but the book’s positive reception among academic historians indicates that caricatures win the day. The first step toward intellectual desegregation is quality control—academics of all stripes need to stop relying on inaccurate smears of the other side.

Second, scholars should strive toward a new self-identity that strives for dialogue and engagement rather than conflict. Currently, the US is experiencing extreme political polarization, which means that people sort themselves into rival political camps. On campus, this means that many professors strongly self-identify with one political party or tradition. In doing so, they mitigate another identity—the disinterested scholar who seeks knowledge regardless of its source and follows data wherever it may lead, even if it contradicts our values.

Intellectual desegregation entails a balance of these two identities—the partisan and the disinterested scholar. We don’t want partisan identities to undermine our research, nor would we want to pursue research without considering our values. Once we modify our self-perception and move from a highly partisan view of scholarship to a more balanced one, then we open ourselves up to genuine conversations with writers who hold radically different views. This approach to academic life is not to surrender to the other side. It is a sign of maturity and enlightenment.

It is important to keep in mind that heterodoxy means discomfort. By dismissing caricatures and having meaningful engagement with people who disagree, we will need to accustom ourselves with some very painful feelings.

A conservative must learn to listen to the critical race scholars who list the worst moments in our culture. The socialist professor must really sit still as they listen to the historian who documents the sins of the Iron Curtain. If we can do that, we’ll build a better academy and a better culture.


Australia: Millenial students are dropping out of trades courses as they hope to land a 'trendy job' flying drones or working as personal trainers

There has been a drastic increase in students dropping out of trades courses as they hope to get a 'trendy job' instead.

With more Sydney students opting for courses which have poor employment prospects such as 'fitness, outdoor recreation and flying drones' fears have been raised that it may lead to a skills crisis. 

Courses in auto repair, cabinetmaking and metal fabrication have seen a 28 per cent drop in enrollments - an overall 42 per cent drop in just two years.

Businesses already import foreigners to do the work and the lower enrollments leading the way to a 'skills crisis'.

Last year just under half as many students enrolled in hairdressing and furnishing courses compared to 2016. 

NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright said growth in certain jobs within the next five years are already experiencing skill shortages.

'Most of the occupations identified are already experiencing a skills shortage, are difficult to recruit into and are forecast for significant growth over the next five years,' he told The Daily Telegraph.

TAFE also reported 40,000 fewer enrollments last year.

He also noted a 'major concern' in students not opting for vocational education and training (VET) courses. 'The reduction in the number of students doing a VET qualification while they are still at school is a major concern,' he said.

'Students are being discouraged from doing a VET qualification by their school or by parents who have negative perceptions of VET and consider it as being lower than a university degree rather than as an equal alternative.'

He blamed parents and teachers for warning students off VET courses as below a university degree rather than the same.

The NSW curriculum is currently being looked over to note changes which would help students opt for courses with opportunities and VET courses.   


Thursday, January 02, 2020

One student’s struggles symbolize all that is wrong with the education system (?)

Does it now? Below is a Newsweak article about dysfunctional black schools.  There is no doubt that such schools are a very poor preparation for life but why is that so?  There is still the old kneejerk response that more money needs to be spent on them but even below there are admissions that increased funding is unlikely to help.  After that the article below has few answers.

The article does however show that black behaviour is the big problem. The kid they follow was a real terror. Put a lot of badly behaved kids together in a school and you are going to have mayhem.  So is it the fault of such a school if it succeeds in teaching its students very little?  I can't see it.  As long as young blacks behave in disruptive ways the opportunity to teach them anything is mostly just not there

So what can be done?  As Thomas Sowell has often noted, black schools in years gone by often did succeed in giving their students a useful education.  How did they do it?  One word: Discipline.  Modern Leftist educational theory is dead against discipline but experience tells us that that is what is needed. 

As recently as half a century ago, schools did not tolerate indiscipline.  Because schools were then much better respected than they are today, disciplinary measures were not often needed, but when they were, the punishment for indiscipline was a beating of some sort. Not all kids were beaten but any kid who refused to sit down and shut up was.  It may seem cruel but it was a case of being cruel to be kind. That did succeed in keeping order and thus gave teachers the opportunity to teach.

So applying heavy physical discipline to black schools from Grade 1 onwards is what is needed.  That is the thing that is missing.  The prospect of that changing would however appear to be nil.  Leftist "kindness" and "compassion" has produced very unkind results and will continue to do so.  They have destroyed black education.

The only hope is that high discipline charter schools might spring up to help black kids.  The existing regulations may prevent that, however

“I never rode a bike with training wheels,” says Taheem Fennell

One day, when he was four, he just ran and jumped on, his feet pushing forward on the pedals. Taheem is now 13, but his riding has been curtailed. His mother forbids him from tooling around their Quaker Hill neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, because she’s worried about his safety. In the summer of 2017, Taheem’s 16-year-old sister, Naveha Gibbs, was shot and killed 20 minutes away; she was with a 26-year-old man thought to be in a gang. In the crisis over income inequality in the U.S., Wilmington is ground zero. For youth, the city is the most dangerous in the country. In Taheem’s neighborhood, where students are predominantly black, schools are underfunded and under-resourced.

They’re also being neglected by the Trump administration. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ push for alternatives to the traditional public system would help drive students toward charter schools and private schools at the local level. (Her Obama-ap-pointed predecessor, Arne Duncan, also pushed reforms that favored charter schools.) Enrollment in the lowest-performing public schools in Wilmington has plummeted. The city’s lowest performing school, Bayard Middle School, lost nearly half its students in the last 10 years.

Lately the issue has gotten some attention, however. Parents and advocates are suing in more than a dozen states to increase spending for schools that serve low-income students, including a suit against Delaware. And presidential candidates are starting to talk about it: Former Vice President Joe Biden made increasing school funding central to his education platform, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed tripling Title I funding for low-income schools and Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed limiting support for charter schools and boosting funding for traditional public schools.

But Taheem’s experience shows how high the stakes are for the children living, and being educated, in these neighborhoods.

While Taheem was in elementary school, the system seemed to be working. His sister was killed about a month before he started fifth grade and, understandably, he was prone to angry outbursts. The school arranged for him to see a counselor, who taught him strategies to cope with feelings of sadness or rage. “When I get mad, I calm myself down,” says Taheem. “I either go in the corner and read a book or count to ten with my fingers and then think of something nice, fun.” The elementary school librarian also helped Taheem find books that he liked to read, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which helped focus his mind on something positive, his mother, Charmaine Jones, says.

But when Taheem graduated to Bayard, a virtually windowless brick fortress surrounded by a chain-linked fence, matters took a downward turn. In his first month, Taheem got into a fight in math class. In October, he says, eighth-grade boys jumped him in the hallway and left him with a bump on his head and a busted lip. He made friends with boys who drew the attention of the police. His mother was called into school so often to deal with his behavioral problems that she quit one of her jobs as a home health aide. “I had to choose between my other job and my son,” Jones said.

The school, she found, had too few resources to help Taheem cope. It has a library but no librarian to run it— so most of the time it is closed. The school has only one behavioral health consultant for about 325 students, the vast majority of whom, says the school counselor, have experienced trauma. Since the consultant can only take on a dozen or so cases at a time, teachers and administrators serve as ad hoc mental health or social service providers for children in crisis. Taheem eventually saw the counselor, but critical time had been lost. Jones wanted to transfer Taheem to another school, but she was told there were no spots available until the next school year.

Research shows that a lack of safety takes a big toll on school children, even those who haven’t themselves been a victim of a crime. Students living in unsafe neighborhoods—or go to school with students who live in those places—score one-tenth of a school year behind on academic achievement tests than children who live in safer places, according to a 2018 study of Chicago Public Schools. There are things that schools can do to help—hire more counselors, train staffin trauma-informed teaching and provide art and music programs— but they need resources to do it.

One of the biggest obstacles to fixing inequality in school spending is figuring out how much schools already spend. The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015, required states to publicly reveal how much money each school gets from local, state and federal sources per student. (The Trump administration rolled back some of the ESSA regulations but rules that require school-level spending reports remain in effect.) Historically, public schools have organized spending by category on the district-wide level—teachers, benefits and materials, for instance—but there were no structures in place to calculate how much money was spent in each individual school, causing significant delays in releasing the new data.

States have now begun publishing how much is spent in each school, and it’s sure to fuel more debate, says Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. It will be shocking, even to school principals, how much money is spent on individual schools, she says. “It’s often jaw-dropping for them,” says Roza.

The push for transparency is part of a movement to overhaul school funding formulas so that schools in poorer neighborhoods are provided similar resources to those in wealthy ones. Nationally, schools primarily serving black and brown children receive $23 billion less than schools primarily serving white students, according to EdBuild, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Advocates hope schools’ new numbers will have some effect as they continue trickling out next year, helping pressure state legislatures to spend more money on children from low-in-come families. Three states, including notoriously stingy Mississippi, have hired a national organization to help change their formulas. The new funding transparency is also giving ammunition to the teacher protests that have swept the country, bringing additional pressure for change from within the classroom. Teachers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, West Virginia and Oakland walked offthe job this year over teacher compensation, class size and classroom funding.

Critics of increased funding have argued that the problem isn’t a lack of money, it’s that traditional public schools in poorer neighborhoods tend to be dysfunctional. Along with high staffturnover, they often lack a coherent approach to address the emotional and academic needs of students.

Hardly anyone would argue that school funding does not make any difference, but academic research on the effects of school funding on kids’ classroom performance and longterm success has been mixed. More money does not always equal better results for students—at least not as can be measured by math and reading assessments. An influx of money at Bayard wouldn’t immediately solve troubles like how to attract the best teachers to this tough neighborhood.

Nor would it remove union rules that can block school leaders from picking which teachers get assigned there. Bayard, for example, was given occasional infusions of cash and marched through state-monitored turnaround efforts with few signs of improvement—most recently, about five years ago, when it was given money and assistance supported by Obama’s Race to the Top grants. This year, roughly only 4 percent of its students were proficient in math and 13 percent were proficient in reading.

“It turns out when you give schools extra funds they rarely feel like they can actually rethink what they can actually do with them,” says Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. “You end up putting more dollars into schools, and everything they have been doing for 40 years remains intact.”

Even still, public schools across the country have been grappling with the messy reality of figuring out how much to spend per child. It’s not a straightforward calculation: it also involves accounting for expenditure in administrative offices and teacher pension liabilities, which can vary widely. After the Every Student Succeeds Act’s federal mandate, Delaware was the first state to set rules for how to report the data, and it is expected to release that information next fiscal year. So far, nearly 20 states have published their data publicly. But this fall, an Education Department official complained that states were burying spending reports for fear the public wouldn’t be able to understand them.

Many others are grappling with how to best present the complicated data—which can include non-teach-ing costs and initially weren’t calculated uniformly—to the public, Roza said, and they should begin to release their information in the coming year.

Figuring out how much schools spend is just the start. To get a better understanding of what a school lacks, policymakers need to know what the money is being spent on. A recent report from the ACLU, for instance, found 1.7 million children nationwide attend schools where there are police officers but no counselors.

But the years spent dithering about how to send more resources to struggling schools like Bayard, and track where the money is spent, come at a cost even more difficult to calculate. As dysfunctional as some of this nation’s schools are, for children like Taheem, who was harmed by violence he can’t comprehend, they’re the best hope they have.

“Y’all pile them all up in one school, and all these kids have all these problems,” says Taheem’s mother, who plans to move her family to a safer neighborhood as soon as she can afford it. “It’s ridiculous.”


50 Reasons the Democratic Idea of Free College Isn’t That Easy

Democratic presidential candidates are fighting over who should be eligible for free college based on income, but a bigger question is how to structure a plan that could work in all 50 states.

The United States has no national system of higher education, and each of the states works somewhat differently. Overlooking this basic fact risks creating a policy that could make things worse instead of better.

All of the leading Democratic presidential candidates want to make college free for at least some students. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say all public colleges should be tuition-free.

Pete Buttigieg has proposed making public college tuition free for families earning up to $100,000, saying at Thursday’s debate that “I just want you to go ahead and pay your own tuition” if “you’re in that lucky top 10 percent.” And Joe Biden has proposed eliminating tuition at community colleges, but not at four-year ones.

Widely varying tuition negates a one-size-fits-all solution.

But the candidates’ plans generally fail to explain how the federal government should make college free nationwide. States vary widely in how well they fund their public colleges, and how much they charge for tuition. In-state prices for a year at a four-year public college range from about $6,000 in Florida and Wyoming to about $17,000 in Vermont and New Hampshire. States that charge students the most tend to be those that fund their colleges the least.

This creates a problem for federal policymakers who want to make college affordable everywhere.

A plan that simply pays whatever colleges are charging would bail out states like Vermont at the expense of states like Wyoming — and encourage states to raise tuition to capture more federal money. The solution would have to consider states’ investment, and the details matter a lot.

More specific free-college proposals from members of Congress and think tanks are usually built around a state-federal partnership that provides matching funds if states meet certain requirements. This is similar to the approach of programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Mr. Sanders has proposed a plan to provide matching funds to states that eliminate tuition and meet other requirements such as quality benchmarks. Separately, a fellow senator, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and the Center for American Progress have plans that take a similar approach but would allow states to charge tuition based on family income. Depending on the plan, the states would pay 30 percent to 50 percent of the cost.

The Century Foundation has proposed a tiered system in which states can choose how widely to offer free college, with wealthier states expected to cover a larger share of the cost.

This approach could lead to free college in some states, but probably not all. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion is instructive, with many states declining to participate despite the federal government’s promise to cover 90 percent of the cost.

How many states would participate in a free college partnership with the federal government? It would probably depend on how much federal money is on the line; how much states are required to contribute; and the politics of college affordability.

The design of a free college policy matters not just for how many states participate, but also for which students in those states benefit — and which might be hurt. States that stretch their budget to adopt free college might lack the resources to provide highquality instruction or support services for students who need them most. These states might fund their institutions inadequately, inequitably or both.

Eliminating tuition as a revenue source could also constrain states’ ability to expand popular institutions and programs. A lowincome student might find the promise of a free college education dashed by a rejection letter from a local public college, grown more selective as the lure of free tuition pulls students away from private colleges and into public ones.

To avoid such unintended consequences would require the federal government to do far more than just provide funding to states. Existing free college proposals count on federal requirements and oversight.

A bolder approach to free college would make participating in a federal-state partnership the only way a state could get federal money for higher education. A 2016 proposal from New America would do this by eliminating Pell grants, student loans and education tax credits. This plan would instead fund colleges through formula- based grants to institutions and states that meet federal requirements.

Putting all federal money on the line could get all states to participate but would be an enormous expansion of the federal role in higher education.

No candidate has proposed blowing up the state-based system and replacing it with one in which the federal government mandates free college — for some or for all. But even a modest freecollege policy would involve significantly expanding the federal role. And it is unclear how effectively the Department of Education could ensure that public colleges in every state offer a highquality education to all students who want one.

If Mr. Biden, Mr. Buttigieg, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren were running for governor of a state, the income cap issue — whether college should be free for everyone or just for low- and middle-income families — might be the most important point of disagreement about free college. But as a federal policy, the major challenge is how to ensure broad participation while avoiding the pitfalls inherent in a national answer to a 50-state question.


Faith shown in Australia's Christian schools

Christian school enrolments have soared over the past five years, surpassing growth in the public and broader independent sectors, amid claims the rising influence of identity politics in many schools is alienating families with traditional values.

Data provided by the Independent Schools Council of Australia reveals enrolments in Christian schools have increased by an average of 33 per cent a year for the past five years, accelerating to 4,4 per cent in the past two years.

Christian schools, while a minority in the broader independent school sector, added more than 10,000 students between 2013 and 2018, with the 18 per cent overall growth outstripping the 7.7 per cent growth seen in government school numbers. The independent sector recorded a more muted 1.7 per cent annual growth over the same period.

According to the Australian Association of Christian Schools, enrolment growth was being driven by an increasing demand for a Christian education rather than the establishment of new schools.

Fees are typically modest — in the $3000 to $7000 range—meaning the schools are more accessible than many non-government schools.

AACS executive director Alithea Westerman said reports from schools suggested an increasing number of parents were drawn to a Christian education in the wake of the public furore around programs such as Safe Schools, which lost federal support

From the "Weekend Australian" of 28 December, 2019

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

California School Children Won't Be Suspended for Disobeying Teachers

A new California law that takes effect in 2020 will make it illegal to suspend a student in grades 1-5 for disobeying teachers or administrators. Starting next year, the rule will be applied to students in grades 6-8 and will include charter schools.

There's a very good reason for this change, according to supporters. It's because of racism, you see. More little black kids are punished for disobeying teachers than little white kids. Naturally, there's only one possible explanation, to the exclusion of all others.

Whitey has it in for black children.


Yes, a study by San Diego State and UCLA called “ Get Out! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools,” found that “the statewide suspension rate for Black males is 3.6 times greater than that of the statewide rate for all students.”

Aside from the very scholarly name of the study, this is apparently not a rule that targets "people of color" since Asian kids and Hispanic kids don't have as many problems with authority.

What's the alternative to dealing with a disruptive child?

Educators like Jessie Ryan, president of the Sacramento City School Board, believe there is a better way to discipline students. It’s called restorative justice.

“The wonderful thing about restorative justice is that students quite often are given a minute to reset and be mindful of their actions,” Ryan said. “There is an opportunity to calm the classroom. It’s not just taking a route where you’re going directly from 0 to 100 by suspending a student, which we know doesn’t work.”

So we should be telling a 9-year-old kid (going on 21) to take a minute and think about what he's doing. This will give the teacher an opportunity to "calm the classroom," which you can't do because no one will get suspended for giving the teacher the finger. Presumably, after thinking about it, a light bulb will go off over the kid's head and he will immediately become docile and apologize for his "willful defiance."

Voila! "Restorative Justice!"

Naturally, there are those with a little perspective and a lot more knowledge of kids than many California educators.

Marcia Greenlaw, a parent of two students, said, “Sometimes children do need to be suspended from school. Sometimes they need a time out, maybe from school, other kids.”

Olivia Aragon, a school grandparent, said, “There should be something to discipline the kids because some kids are out of control.”

Aragon added she had some reservations about suspensions, but, “At the same time, they are missing school."

It's not permitted to bring up racist subjects like cultural differences leading to a lack of respect for authority by some students of a certain color, so I won't even mention it.

Presumably, kids can still be suspended for committing violence against teachers and other students. Or perhaps we should really give "restorative justice" a chance and try to work it out.

If the teacher is still in one piece.


Australia: A new voice for class teachers

Australian education could benefit from a shake-up of teachers’ unions, many of which oppose NAPLAN testing, reject the idea of merit pay for the best and brightest teachers, embrace fads such as critical literacy in English teaching and support students’ climate change boycotts of classes. Teachers’ unions are also highly politicised, backing Labor’s push to pour billions of dollars extra into the education system, despite classroom standards declining amid vast spending increases.

But the unions have baulked at efforts to promote phonics in early reading teaching, despite overwhelming evidence that it is the most efficient way to redress Australia’s poor performance in literacy.

Against that background, an interesting, fledgling development is under way in Queensland. Craig Johnstone reports on Monday that moves to break the stranglehold of political and industrial influence by Labor-leaning unions have taken another step. A new body, the Teachers Professional Association of Queensland, is promising lower fees and a ban on political donations to attract members.

The TPAQ has signed up about 100 members since its launch earlier this month. At this stage, it is no threat to the 47,000-strong Queensland Teachers Union. But it is modelled on the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland, which was formed six years ago as a rival to the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union. It has grown to 5000 members. The QTU insists it is not affiliated with any political party. But it is affiliated with the Queensland Council of Unions, a major donor to the ALP.

If the new group is to succeed it must offer teachers better services and value, for which it is planning to charge a flat fee. Conscientious teachers would also appreciate their professional body taking a more constructive approach to the chronic problems in education.

As reported on Saturday, more than half the students offered building apprenticeships do not complete their courses because they lack basic skills in key subjects, such as maths. A teachers’ union with a better focus should be part of the solution, not the problem.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Most Americans Would Fail a Citizenship Test

When Americans don't know what it means to be American, we will lose Liberty.

Why are Millennials embracing socialism as an acceptable philosophical approach to markets? Why is the public at large not just laughing when the political Left attempts to tie the anti-Semitism and perversion of Christianity practiced by Nazis to the political Right? Why are we seeing a growing embrace of victimhood and weakness as honorable instead of achievement and deliberate pursuits of distinguished goals? Why do individuals who refuse to value citizenship but want socialism fail to see that those coming into America illegally do so either with nefarious intent or because they are fleeing big, socialist government?

Better yet, how’d we get here to this mess and how can we make an urgent, existential correction? Believing Thomas Jefferson’s statement to be true, Americans need to think through and understand the implications: “A nation has never been ignorant and free; that has never been and will never be.”

The Wall Street Journal opined last fall over the “embarrassing” number of Americans who failed the same civics test administered to those working through the naturalization process to become a U.S. Citizens. Writing about the abysmal 19% of individuals 45 years of age or younger who successfully answered enough questions about America’s history and government to pass, the editorial board blared that this “reflects the declining state of American public schools. None of this augurs well for the future of self-government.”

No, criticism of so many of America’s public schools and our government-run education is not excessively harsh.

On Feb. 15, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, housed at Princeton University, issued a damning press release publishing results of a 50-state survey asking 41,000 Americans the same 20 questions testing civic knowledge that are part of the naturalization process. The questions ranged from inquiring how many amendments are enjoined to the U.S. Constitution to identifying one of the rights enumerated in the First Amendment to which war former President Dwight D. Eisenhower served in prior to his election.

The results were truly shameful. Only one state, Vermont, saw the majority of its participants pass — and even then, 47% failed. Had 70% or higher been deemed the passing threshold, not one state would have had a majority of individuals pass. The worst-performing state was Louisiana, with 73% who failed. That percentage climbed to 82% if you include those correctly answering as few as 12 of the 20 questions.

Simply put, the facts of history have been rewritten, the roles of history have been recast, and the value of exceptionalism has been substituted with warmed-up mediocrity as the new normal to equalize the masses. Call it indoctrination, propaganda, or some other moniker attempting to capture the breadth, width, and reach of our current chaotic conundrum, but understand one thing: The great nation of America is being destroyed by Americans, not some foreign enemy. Those rewriting history and recasting the roles, good and bad, to fit today’s culture and political agendas are truly deconstructing our nation, most knowing they must create an ignorance of just how America became great through its unique constitutional republic and individualism that breeds self-reliance and exceptionalism, ingredients that do not coexist with socialism, communism, or all the other -isms that create a permanent underclass dependent upon big government.

Americans young, old, learned, and ignorant, love and herald the demand for Liberty. Yet, most live as if the prospects of freedom are made possible by obtaining some freeze-dried packet that comes with the instructions to just add water and, voila, the benefits of living in a constitutional republic abound. The expectation of free speech exists as an ever-safe constant without an understanding of the requirement to foster, protect and ensure our enumerated rights through a free and independent people.

If generation after generation of students are told and accept as truth the myth that the government has the jurisdiction and even the duty to provide a wage without work, free health insurance, free tuition, free food, price-controlled housing, and a host of other goodies for dependents living off of other people’s money, America dies — as does every aspect of freedom enjoyed by our citizens.

As the WSJ noted, “The real threat to American freedom is the failure of current citizens to learn even the most basic facts about U.S. history and government.”

Every state needs to pass its own legislation to address the lack of history taught and the horrific proficiency of critical information about America’s truly exceptional history. Equally important, every single adult who has a child, a grandchild or some other mind malleable within reach must serve as a First Teacher to ensure our children learn and grow into citizens who are capable of what James Madison spoke of as a permanently free people who serve as guardians of true Liberty.

As The Patriot Post’s motto says, “Veritas Vos Liberabit”


Australia: Parents outraged as Hillsong megachurch caught recruiting in Queensland public high schools

Constant Leftist preaching of sexual perversion in the schools is OK but Christian preaching is not?

Controversial megachurch Hillsong has pulled a page on its website detailing plans to recruit teenagers in state schools across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory in 2020.

The information was pulled on Wednesday, three days after a group of angry parents in Melbourne began a petition calling on federal and state education ministers to ban the evangelical movement from proselytising in public high schools.

The petition has attracted more than 13,000 signatures since it was launched on Monday.

Information retrieved by through Google Cache shows the Hillsong Youth Schools Tour has already provided "life-giving messages about our lord" to 34,000 school students, including teenagers in at least three government schools in Queensland.

Until the site was disabled on Wednesday, it was running testimonials from the three schools' chaplains, who are funded under the federal government's National School Chaplaincy Program.

The program, which was recently expanded to $247 million over four years (2019-2022), stipulates that chaplains must not proselytise and must "respect, accept and be sensitive to other people’s views, values and beliefs".

Melbourne mother Fiona Newton, co-author of the petition to stop evangelising in public schools, said Hillsong's well-known hostility towards the LGBTI community had no place in the public education system.

The church campaigned against the same sex marriage bill and has been embroiled in the past with discredited gay conversion therapy.

"I grew up in a Pentecostal church, I know how they operate," Newton told

"I'm now in a same sex relationship myself and I want my son to feel safe at his public school, that he won't be exposed to a religion that is anti-LGBTI."

"When you enrol your child in a secular public school you expect it to be free of any sort of religion.

"But Hillsong's mission is a clear and obvious mission of recruitment."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has credited Hillsong's founder, Brian Houston, as his spiritual mentor.

Morrison is not a member of Hillsong, which was founded in Sydney's north west and now has about 80 megachurches in more than 19 countries.

The prime minister attends a different Pentecostal church called Horizon in Sydney's south, which shares with Hillsong an affiliation under the Australian Christian Churches banner.

Morrison's friendship with Houston has attracted considerable criticism because the wealthy pastor was adversely named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

That inquiry recommended Houston be investigated for failing to report to police his father Frank Houston, a self-confessed paedophile, for crimes committed while Frank Houston was an Assemblies of God minister.

NSW Police confirmed to on Wednesday that the Hills Police Area Command is still investigating Brian Houston.

Brisbane public relations operator Lyle Mercer, who handles media queries for Hillsong, would not say why the church pulled details of its 2020 schools tour plan from the website.

"Schools across Australia offer various optional activities to students," Mercer said in a statement provided to

"Hillsong – like many other outside organisations – has for many years created programs that provide students with positive values and in many situations these don’t even mention Christianity.

"These are done in student time and are always optional.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

At Some Colleges, It’s OK to Be White Again

Inside Higher Ed reports that “It’s OK to Be White” posters have appeared on more campuses:

The posters, which also appeared a year ago at this time, are put up without permission [from college officials]. Posters have been seen this year at Christopher Newport University, East Tennessee State University, Oklahoma City University’s law school, Susquehanna University, and Western Connecticut State University.

The sentiment that “it’s OK to be white” is obviously protected by the First Amendment.

But at Western Connecticut State University,  university president John Clark has threatened the unknown persons who posted flyers saying “It’s OK to Be White.” He says if they are students or faculty, they will face the “severest disciplinary actions, including dismissal as well as possible civil and criminal actions.”

The university says its officials immediately reported the flyers to local and state police and the FBI office in New Haven, all of whom were investigating who made the flyers on Friday.

Law professor Eugene Volokh, whose writings have been cited by the Supreme Court, notes “that the flyers consisted solely of the messages ‘It’s OK to be white’ and ‘Islam is right about women,’” and that “such messages are of course fully protected by the First Amendment.”

Volokh is right. Even if these messages are viewed as racially or religiously inflammatory, they are still protected by the First Amendment. The federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Connecticut ruled in 1992 that a professor’s derogatory beliefs about black people were protected by the First Amendment. (See Levin v. Harleston, 966 F.2d 85 (2d Cir. 1992)). In 1990, it ruled that a professor had a First Amendment right to teach that Zionism is racism, even though that caused a “furor” on his campus.  (See Dube v. State University of New York, 900 F.2d 587 (2d Cir. 1990)).

It is unclear what possible basis the FBI would have for investigating here. Federal law doesn’t forbid flyers that people find racially or religiously offensive, and laws against things such as littering are state laws, not federal laws enforced by the FBI.

In any event, Federal officials such as FBI agents must comply with First Amendment limits on their investigations. In 2000, a federal appeals court ruled that federal officials had violated the First Amendment by investigating citizens for 8 months over flyers and speech about a housing project for disabled people that allegedly exhibited prejudice. (See White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2000)). The court ruled that even if their speech was prejudiced, it was still protected by the First Amendment because it did not incite imminent lawlessness. Thus, it violated the First Amendment to subject them to a prolonged, speech-chilling investigation, even if federal officials thought that their speech violated a federal civil-rights law. The FBI should heed such rulings by not investigating flyers that say “It’s OK to Be White.”

These flyers may well have been posted in unauthorized places — the way flyers often are on college campuses. Violating such rules seldom carries any serious penalty, much less the “severest disciplinary action” that the university president threatens for the “It’s OK to Be White” flyers. The university cannot discriminate against these flyers based on their viewpoint by expelling or dismissing people for posting them, when it obviously would never expel or dismiss someone for posting flyers with a different viewpoint the university likes better, such as “It’s OK to Be Black.”

Even valid school rules, such as against posting flyers in the wrong place, or against littering or harassment, cannot be enforced against someone based on their viewpoint. A federal appeals court ruled that a conservative student could not be punished for violating a college’s broad harassment rule by videotaping someone in their office when a liberal student would not have been punished for the same kind of videotaping. (See O’Brien v. Welty, 818 F.3d 920 (9th Cir. 2016)).


‘Social Justice’ Ideology Is Damaging American Values

By Heather Mac Donald

Social-justice ideology is turning higher education into an engine of progressive political advocacy, according to a new report by the National Association of Scholars.

Left-wing activists, masquerading as professors, are infiltrating traditional academic departments or creating new ones—departments such as “Solidarity and Social Justice”—to advance their cause. They are entering the highest rung of college administration, from which perch they require students to take social-justice courses, such as “Native Sexualities and Queer Discourse” or “Hip-hop Workshop,” and attend social-justice events—such as a Reparations, Repatriation, and Redress Symposium or a Power and Privilege Symposium—in order to graduate.

But social-justice education is merely a symptom of an even deeper perversion of academic values: the cult of race and gender victimology, otherwise known as “diversity.” The diversity cult is destroying the very foundations of our civilization. It is worth first exploring, however, why social-justice education is an oxymoron.

Why shouldn’t an academic aspire to correcting perceived social ills?

The nineteenth-century American land-grant universities and the European research universities were founded, after all, on the premise that knowledge helps society progress. But social justice is a different beast entirely. When a university pursues social justice, it puts aside its traditional claim to authority: the disinterested search for knowledge. We accord universities enormous privileges. Their denizens are sheltered from the hurly-burly of the marketplace on the assumption that they will pursue truth wherever it will take them, unaffected by political or economic pressures. The definition of social justice, however, is deeply political, entailing a large number of contestable claims about the causes of socioeconomic inequality. Social-justice proponents believe that those claims are settled, and woe to anyone who challenges them on a college campus. There are, however, alternative explanations—besides oppression and illegitimate power—for ongoing inequalities, taboo though they may be in academia.

A social-justice agenda, therefore, is a political commitment, and politics is not disinterested. Indeed, it is often tribal. Such tribalism caricatures political opponents and whitewashes political leaders, ignoring facts along the way, as shown both by the frenzied hostility to Donald Trump on the left and by his elevation to the status of wise statesman and paragon of truth-telling by his most enthusiastic supporters, including in the conservative intelligentsia.

Of course, many people on college campuses today are still “condemned to silence”—not out of any respect for faculty authority but because they disagree with the premises of victim politics. Conservative Harvard law students, a professor there recently told me, refrain from challenging the regnant dogmas in class, terrified that their remarks may end up on social media and thus jeopardize their careers. This unwillingness to air inconvenient facts—facts such as the connection between family breakdown and poverty—is precisely the shrinking of intellectual freedom against which Weber warned. And if a Harvard law student, occupying the closest position to riches, power, and prestige that a university can guarantee, nevertheless feels acutely vulnerable in his dissent from the orthodoxies, what is a lowly undergraduate or even post-doc to do?

How bad is academic politicization? It is overt and unapologetic.

At a recent law school seminar on race and the law, the teacher proudly announced at the beginning of the class session: “We are training social-justice warriors here.” Had the professor said: “We are training justice warriors here,” there would have been no problem. Justice warriors seek to realize one of the great aspirations of Western history: to be ruled by neutral principles, rather than tribal partisanship.

In the courtroom, justice warriors pursue this rule of law through the adversarial process, in which both sides are given equal opportunity to advance facts and arguments in their defense.

Social justice, however, is opposed to procedural justice. In a year of ever more strident victim rhetoric, one of the most disturbing auguries for the future was the protests at Harvard and Yale law schools against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Hundreds of students from our most influential legal academies marched under the #MeToo rallying cry: Believe Survivors, meaning: any self-professed victim of sexual assault is entitled to automatic belief before any evidence is presented to, and sifted by, a neutral tribunal.

A disproportionate number of these elite law students will end up as federal judges, including on the Supreme Court. If they carry their “Believe Survivors” commitment to the bench, due process is doomed.

Many criminal law professors have given up teaching rape law since female students claim to be traumatized by the very thought of criminal defense in a rape case. Moot court has been similarly constrained; many law students are no longer willing to take on the role of advocate for even an imaginary political incorrect defendant.

Harvard’s dean of students, meantime, fired law professor Ronald Sullivan from his job as an undergraduate dorm master this year because of Sullivan’s legal representation of accused sexual assailant Harvey Weinstein. Students and administrators alike deemed this representation an existential threat to the safety of female students in Sullivan’s dorm. We will pass over in silence the maudlin theatrics of such a claim. Its substance is a triumph for social justice, but it is a dagger in the heart of justice.

For Harvard’s dean to declare that representing a politically unpopular client renders someone unfit to supervise students betrays the university’s educational mission, which should be to teach students the preciousness of such cultural legacies as the presumption of innocence.

Social-justice pedagogy is driven by one overwhelming reality: the seemingly intractable achievement gap between whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other. Radical feminism, as well as gay and now trans advocacy, are also deeply intertwined with social-justice thinking on campus and off, as we have just seen. But race is the main impetus. Liberal whites are terrified that the achievement and behavior gaps will never close. So they have crafted a totalizing narrative about the racism that allegedly holds back black achievement.

The aforementioned race-and-the-law professor, after announcing the class’s social-justice commitments, added: “We engage in race talk here.” That was an understatement. “We talk about white fragility,” the professor explained. “What is the purpose of white fragility? What does it mean to live in white culture, with white norms and a white power structure? What does it mean that we are in a culture dominated by white folks?”

A more pertinent question would be: What does any of this have to do with legal training? Living in a Western culture dominated by whites simply means that, if one is not white, one is in a minority; conversely, in Uganda, say, someone who is not black is in a minority. If being in a racial minority in a majority-white country is so inimical to one’s flourishing, plenty of places exist where a nonwhite person would be in the racial majority.

Non-whites the world over are beating down the doors to get into Western countries, however, with no comparable corresponding traffic moving in the other direction. The very politicians and academics who in the morning denounce America’s lethal white supremacy in the afternoon demand that the country open its borders to every intending Third World immigrant, with no penalty for illegal entry. These two positions are contradictory: The U.S. cannot be at the same time the graveyard for nonwhite people and an essential beacon of freedom and a life-preserving haven from oppression for these same people.

What are the “white norms” and “culture” that “race talk” seeks to deconstruct? Objectivity, a strong work ethic, individualism, a respect for the written word, perfectionism, and promptness, according to legions of diversity trainers and many humanities, social sciences, and even STEM faculty. Any act of self-discipline or deferred gratification that contributes to individual and generational success is now simply a manifestation of white supremacy. The New York Times recently singled out parents who had queued up hours early to visit a sought-after public school in New York City. “Why were white parents at the front of the line for the school tour?” asked the Times headline. The article answered: their white privilege, not their dedication to their children’s schooling.

The test for whether a norm is white and thus illegitimate is whether it has a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics. Given the behavioral and academic skills gaps, every colorblind standard of achievement will have a disparate impact. The average black 12th-grader currently reads at the level of the average white eighth-grader. Math levels are similarly skewed. Truancy rates for black students are often four times as high as for white students. Inner-city teachers, if they are being honest, will describe the barely controlled anarchy in their classrooms—anarchy exacerbated by the phony conceit that school discipline is racist.

In light of such disparities, it is absurd to attribute the absence of proportional representation in the STEM fields, say, to bias. And yet, STEM deans, faculty, and Silicon Valley tech firms claim that only implicit bias explains why 13 percent of engineering professors are not black. The solution to this lack of proportional representation is no greater effort on the part of students, according to social justice and diversity proponents. Instead, it is watering down meritocratic standards. Professors are now taught about “inclusive grading” and how to assess writing without judging its quality since such quality judgments maintain white language supremacy.

It is impossible to overstate how fierce and sweeping the attack on meritocracy is: every mainstream institution is either furiously revising its standards or finds itself in the crosshairs for failing to do so. STEM professional organizations decry traditional means of testing knowledge. Diverse students should be able to get credit for participation in a group project or for putting together a presentation for their family and friends on a scientific concept, say these STEM professionals.

Faculty hiring criteria are also under pressure. A decade or so ago, the demand was to give credit toward tenure for editing an anthology. Substitutes for scholarship have only gotten more creative. At Bucknell University, a minority faculty member suggested that participating in an expletive-filled faculty list-serve discussion denouncing Amy Wax, an embattled University of Pennsylvania law professor, should count toward the “intellectual labor” of minority faculty and be included in the faculty merit review.

The most sweeping solution to the lack of racial diversity on the faculty is to get rid of departmental gatekeepers entirely, some of whom remain stubbornly wedded to traditional notions of accomplishment. The University of California at Davis has handed hiring decisions in several STEM fields over to a committee dominated by the university’s head diversity official and other bureaucrats. These bureaucrats have no idea how to assess scientific research. They are good, however, at diversity bean-counting.

The social-justice diversity bureaucracy has constructed a perpetual-motion machine that guarantees it eternal life. Minority students who have been catapulted by racial preferences into schools for which they are not academically prepared frequently struggle in their classes. The cause of those struggles, according to the social-justice diversity bureaucracy, is not academic mismatch; it is the lack of a critical mass of other minority students and faculty to provide refuge from the school’s overwhelming bigotry. And so, the school admits more minority students to create such a critical mass. Rather than raising minority performance, however, this new influx of diverse students lowers it, since the school has had to dig deeper into the applicant pool. The academic struggles and alienation of minority students will increase, along with the demand for more diversity bureaucrats, more segregated safe spaces, more victimology courses, more mental health workers, more diverse faculty, more lowered standards, and of course, more diversity student admits. And the cycle will start all over again.

Due to the diversity imperative, medical schools admit black students with MCAT scores that would be automatically disqualifying if presented by a white or Asian student. Their academic performance is just what one would expect. Time to lower standards further. An oncology professor at an Ivy League medical school was berated by a supervisor for giving an exam in pharmacology that was too “fact-based.” A cancer patient presumably wants his doctor to know the facts about drug interactions, however.

This same process of de-norming is happening in law enforcement. Across the country, district attorneys are refusing to enforce misdemeanor laws and judges are releasing convicted felons early because virtually every criminal-justice practice has a disparate impact on blacks. That disparate impact is due not to criminal-justice racism, but to blacks’ exponentially higher crime rates. This ongoing push for decriminalization and deincarceration will result in more black lives being lost to violent street crime. The liberal elites seemingly don’t give a damn, however, since black street-crime victims are killed overwhelmingly by other blacks, not by racist cops or white supremacists.

The ultimate social-justice solution to the skills and behavior gap is to remove the competition entirely. From the moment children enter school, they are berated for their white heteronormative patriarchal privilege if they fall outside a favored victim group. Any success that they enjoy is not due to their own efforts, they are told; it is due, rather, to the unfair advantages of a system deliberately designed to handicap minorities. Teachers are now advised to ignore white male students since asking or answering questions in class is another mark of male supremacy.

The pariahs are getting the message. A mother in Connecticut recently asked her son why he was not making more of an effort in college. He answered that doing so would be a function of white privilege. Such an answer can simply be an excuse for laziness. But the relentless attack on any achievement that is not proportionally distributed among different identity groups cannot help but dampen some students’ willingness to compete. Journalist George Packer recently wrote a controversial article in The Atlantic agonizing over the racial-justice crusade that has engulfed the New York City school system. Packer family politics are such that his fourth-grade son “sobbed inconsolably” when Trump was elected president, and Packer sympathizes with the broad goals of the school system’s racial-justice crusade. But even he worries about the fanatical leveling of academic excellence in the name of racial equity.