Friday, August 21, 2020

The Progressive Racism of the Ivy League

If the definition of racism is deliberate discrimination based on race, color or national origin, Yale University appears to be a textbook case of "systemic racism."

And, so, the Department of Justice contends.

Last week, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband charged, "Yale discriminates based on race... in its undergraduate admissions process and race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.

"Asian Americans and whites have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials...

"Yale uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant's likelihood of admission.

"Yale racially balances its classes."

Yale defends this admissions policy by claiming it considers the "whole person" -- leadership, a likelihood students "will contribute to the Yale Community and the world," and, says Yale President Peter Salovey, "a student body whose diversity is a mark of its excellence."

Yet, somehow, when all these factors are considered, the higher-scoring Asian and white students invariably come up short, because the racial composition of Yale's incoming classes remains roughly the same every year.

The Justice Department refused to wave its big stick -- a threat to cut off tax dollars that go yearly to Yale. Incidentally, Yale sits on an endowment of some $30 billion -- second only to Harvard's.

A court case alleging that Harvard emulates Yale, or vice versa, and admits Black and brown students whose test scores would instantly disqualify white and Asian students is headed for the Supreme Court.

At the heart of this dispute over diversity are basic questions, the resolution of which will affect the long-term unity of the American nation.

Is discrimination against white students in favor of Black students with far lower test scores morally acceptable if done to advance racial "diversity"?

And, if so, for how long? Forever?

Is it praiseworthy to advance Hispanic applicants over Asian applicants with far higher test scores and academic achievements?

Why? What did these Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese high school seniors do to deserve discrimination in the country to which their parents came where, supposedly, "All men are created equal"?

President Lyndon Johnson first formally introduced this notion of benevolent racial discrimination. Addressing D.C.'s Howard University in 1965, LBJ said in a speech written by Richard Goodwin, "We seek... not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result."

But what if equality of opportunity, an equal chance at the starting line, fails to produce equality of results?

What if Black Americans dominate America's most richly rewarded sports such as the NBA and NFL, while Asians and whites excel in academic pursuits and on admissions exams at Yale and Harvard?

Why is it right to discriminate against working-class white kids from Middle America in favor of urban and middle-class Black kids in admissions to prestige colleges?

If so, what does social justice mean? Who defines it?

In California, the state legislature has put on the ballot a measure to overturn the ban on all racial and ethnic discrimination that was voted into California's Constitution in Proposition 209 in 1996.

That prohibition reads:

"The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

What Californians said in 1996 was: No discrimination means no discrimination.

Civil rights activist Ward Connerly, who is fighting the repeal of Prop 209, argues that while street mobs may be tearing down statues, West Coast liberals are tearing down the principle of equality.

It is the character of the republic that is at issue here.

If Asian Americans, outnumbered 5 to 1 by Black and Hispanic Americans, can be indefinitely discriminated against, this would appear to be the very definition of "un-American."

And if white Americans, the shrinking majority of the nation and a minority in our most populous states, can indefinitely be discriminated against in favor of people of color, they will eventually embrace the tribal politics of race and identity that would risk the breakup of the union, as is happening in Europe and around the world.

The taproot of progressive racism is LBJ's Executive Order 11246. This altered the meaning of "affirmative action" from guaranteeing the equality of opportunity to bringing about an equality of "results."

President Donald Trump, before or after Nov. 3, should convene with Ward Connerly and ask him to redefine "affirmative action" to mean exactly what its original author, JFK, intended it to mean.

As for Yale and other Ivy League universities, it is an indictment of conservatives who have held executive power often in the past 50 years that they have not chopped federal funding for these bastions of progressive racism.


Most Mass. students will be required to get the flu vaccine this year

In what is believed to be a first in the nation, Massachusetts on Wednesday mandated that nearly all students under the age of 30 get a flu vaccine by the end of this year amid fears that concurrent outbreaks of influenza and COVID-19 in the fall could overwhelm the state’s health care system.

The mandate, hailed by public health experts nationwide, requires the vaccination for anyone 6 months or older in child care centers, preschool, kindergarten, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities, unless they have a religious or medical exemption, are home-schooled, or are a higher education student living off campus and taking remote-only classes.

Elementary and secondary students whose schools are pursuing remote-only models this fall are not exempt.

State officials said that requiring the vaccine is “an important step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In New England, flu season usually begins in the fall and lasts through March.

“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are affected by influenza, leading to many hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, medical director for the state health department’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. “It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources.”

Massachusetts has about 1 million children enrolled in K-12 schools, according to state records. About 81 percent of those age 17 and younger received a flu shot in the 2018-19 year — the highest rate in the nation — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are another half-million attending colleges in Massachusetts, and the new mandate could prove challenging for health officials to enforce, especially among the sizable number of students who travel here from other states and countries.

The rule is also likely to encounter resistance from elements of the population who oppose vaccines for themselves or their children.

Keri Rodrigues, founding president of Massachusetts Parents United, an urban parent advocacy organization, said that while she favors more vaccination for students, the state’s mandate must be followed by a clear plan and resources to see it through.

“Parents are already under enormous pressure and anxiety and are dealing with a lot,” she said. “I’m just hoping our elected officials have a robust plan and a big check to make sure this happens.”

Health care leaders applauded the new rule, saying it will help relieve already burdened hospitals. As students return to schools and colleges, hospitals are also thinking about the arrival of seasonal respiratory viruses. Whenever there is a bad flu season, hospitals fill up. Now they will have to make room for COVID-19 patients, as well.

“The upcoming flu season is of major concern to our healthcare providers, which are already working around the clock to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19,” Steve Walsh, president of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association said in a statement.

“We appreciate the Baker administration’s proactive focus on areas like classrooms, where a flu outbreak could further harm the health of our communities and overwhelm our hospitals,” he said. “Just like wearing a mask and social distancing, getting a flu shot is a simple but powerful way to help our healthcare community through what will be a very challenging fall.”

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said science shows children transmit more flu virus than adults and for longer periods of time, making this flu mandate critical, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know that children have the distribution franchise for the influenza virus in the community. They spread it among themselves and bring it home,” Schaffner said.

The Massachusetts flu vaccine mandate is “distinctly unusual and wonderful,” he said.

The Immunization Action Coalition, a Minnesota nonprofit that tracks vaccination regulations nationwide, said that while a handful of states require flu vaccines for childcare and preschool-aged children, none have mandated it for nearly all students.

Now, some public health experts hope other states will be inspired to follow Massachusetts’ lead.

“Every state looks to see what their peer states are doing and each state tries to learn from another,” said Dr. Howard Koh, a former Massachusetts public health commissioner who was an assistant health secretary in the Obama administration.

“This [mandate],” Koh said, “is how change occurs.”

Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the flu-shot requirement made sense, noting that reducing the chances of students becoming sick could also decrease false alarms about possible COVID infections.

“I think there is merit to having kids protected as much as we can,” he said.

Doreen Crowe, president of the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization, said in a statement that the organization “supports preventative measures to keep children healthy, safe, and ready to learn.”

“It will be important for school districts to collaborate with health care providers and local boards of health to insure students are in compliance with the new flu vaccine requirement,” she said.

Massachusetts already has a program that pays for local health departments and school districts to buy and administer flu shots for children 18 and younger who rely on state-funded health insurance. And Rodrigues, the parent advocate, said it is imperative now to ensure those resources are going to communities of color and lower-income areas, which have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials need to ensure that “health centers have the vaccine, the supplies they need and that they can handle the surge of parents that will need to meet this requirement,” Rodrigues said, adding that it could serve as a trial run to make sure the COVID-19 vaccine is available and providers are prepared when it is released.

The state must also make its information clear and accessible to those communities, she added, because Black Americans are among the most skeptical of the safety of vaccines, recent surveys have shown.


Back to Academic Brainwashing

Parents, legislators, taxpayers, and others footing the bill for college education might be interested in just what is in store for the upcoming academic year. Since many college classes will be online, there is a chance to witness professors indoctrinating their students in real-time. So, there's a chance that some college faculty might change their behavior. To see recent examples of campus nonsense and indoctrination, visit the Campus Reform and College Fix websites.

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned congressional lawmakers that Antifa is "winning" and that much of academia, whether wittingly or unwittingly, is complicit in its success." In his testimony before Congress Turley said: "To Antifa, people like me are the personification of the classical liberal view of free speech that perpetuates a system of oppression and abuse. I wish I could say that my view remains strongly implanted in our higher educational institutions. However, you are more likely to find public supporters for restricting free speech than you are to find defenders of free speech principles on many campuses."

The leftist bias at our colleges and universities has many harmful effects. A University of California, Davis, mathematics professor faced considerable backlash over her opposition to the requirement for "diversity statements" from potential faculty. Those seeking employment at the University of California, San Diego, are required to admit that "barriers" prevent women and minorities from full participation in campus life. At American University, a history professor wrote a book calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. A Rutgers University professor said, "Watching the Iowa Caucus is a sickening display of the over-representation of whiteness." A Williams College professor has advocated for the inclusion of social justice in math textbooks. Students at Wayne State University are no longer required to take a single math course to graduate; however, they may soon be required to take a diversity course.

Maybe some students will be forced into sharing the vision of Professor Laurie Rubel, a math education professor at Brooklyn College. She says the idea of cultural neutrality in math is a "myth," and that asking whether 2 plus 2 equals 4 "reeks of white supremacist patriarchy." She tweeted, "Y'all must know that the idea that math is objective or neutral IS A MYTH." Math professors and academics at other universities, including Harvard and the University of Illinois, discussed the "Eurocentric" roots of American mathematics. As for me, I would like to see the proof, in any culture, that 2 + 2 is something other than 4.

Rutgers University's English department chairwoman, Rebecca Walkowitz, announced changes to the Department's graduate writing program emphasizing "social justice" and "critical grammar." Leonydus Johnson, a speech-language pathologist, and libertarian activist says Walkowitz's changes make the assumption that minorities cannot understand traditional and grammatically correct English speech and writing, which is "insulting, patronizing, and in itself, extremely racist."

Then there is the nonsense taught on college campuses about white privilege. The idea of white privilege doesn't explain why several historically marginalized groups outperform whites today. For example, Japanese Americans suffered under the Alien Land Law of 1913 and other racist exclusionary laws legally preventing them from owning land and property in more than a dozen American states until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. During World War II, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned. However, by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans had almost disappeared. Today, Japanese Americans outperform white Americans by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, and test scores, and have much lower incarceration rates.

According to Rav Arora, writing for the New York Post, several black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Trinidadians, and Tobagonians, Barbadians, and Ghanaians all "have a median household income well above the American average." We are left with the question of whether the people handing out "white privilege" made a mistake. The other alternative is that Japanese Americans, Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians, and Trinidadians, and Tobagonians are really white Americans.

The bottom line is that more Americans need to pay attention to the miseducation of our youth and that miseducation is not limited to higher education.


Trump's Campaign For Fairness In College Admissions

The outcome of November's election will likely determine the role of racial preferences in the college admissions process. Voters have a clear choice. The Trump administration wants an applicant's grades and achievements to matter most. The Obama-Biden administration had urged colleges to tilt the scale in favor of minority applicants. Now Joe Biden is doubling down on that position by selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris has persistently advocated for giving Black and Latino college applicants favored treatment.

In California, racial preferences literally will appear on the ballot in November. Voters will be asked whether or not they want to repeal a part of the state's constitution that bans discrimination in public college admissions and bans hiring based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Harris supports the repeal and instead legalizing discrimination and making it possible for the University of California to favor Black and Latino applicants over white and Asian applicants.

As California attorney general, she urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold racial preferences at the University of Texas and at public colleges in Michigan.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is battling to overturn racial preferences in college admissions everywhere.

On Thursday, Trump's Department of Justice gave Yale University two weeks to abandon its preferential scheme or face a federal lawsuit. DOJ found that Yale's admissions process resembles a quota system. Asian American and white students have one-tenth to one-fourth the chance of being admitted as African American applicants with similar academic credentials, according to DOJ.

The Trump administration is also battling Harvard's race-conscious admissions process. Harvard prevailed in a lower court, but an appeal is pending. If Trump wins reelection, count on this issue reaching the Supreme Court, where a 5-4 victory against racial preferences is likely.

The justices have managed to equivocate on the issue for years. But newly appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are expected to oppose preferences. Chief Justice John Roberts, often a swing vote, also opposes them. "It's a sordid business, this divvying us up by race" he's written. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race."

On the other hand, Biden sees nothing wrong with discrimination. He's even promised to limit his first Supreme Court pick to black women only. If the Biden-Harris ticket wins, expect lawsuits against colleges to stop and widespread use of race preferences to thrive.

That would be a shame. College admissions can be a tool to give disadvantaged youngsters a leg up. But race is an imperfect proxy. It sometimes winds up helping the African American child of a college professor or business executive over a white kid from Appalachia or an Asian student at Bronx High School of Science whose parents are factory workers.

Racial preferences split us instead of uniting us. Trump's DOJ told Yale, "There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination." It "fosters stereotypes, bitterness and division." Ask any high school senior who's worked tirelessly to get into a college only to be rejected while less accomplished minority classmates get in.

Despite the moral complexity of the issue, if you dare question it, the thought police will come after you. When University of Pittsburgh cardiologist Dr. Norman Wang argued in the Journal of the American Heart Association that medical school applicants should be assessed based on their individual merits, "not their racial or ethnic identities," he was made to pay big time. The University stripped him of his administrative position, while his academic colleagues cowered in silence.

The good news is you can oppose racial preferences without risking the same fate as Dr. Wang. All you have to do is vote. And the best thing about voting is that it's secret. A vote for Biden-Harris will perpetuate racial preferences on campus. A vote for Trump will help restore the vision of a nation committed to colorblind justice, where individuals are judged by their achievements, not their skin color. The decision is up to you.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Teachers' Unions Falling Out of Favor With Americans. Is It Any Wonder?

The debate over schools reopening has affected how Americans view teachers’ unions. It has been well-publicized that the unions in many districts have submitted political demands that have little to do with pandemic safety as a condition of returning to the classroom.

None of the political demands have anything to do with educating children, either. One of the requirements, defunding the police, has actually been getting children killed in cities like New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta. Perhaps the most annoying displays were members of the teachers’ unions protesting school openings in large groups while maintaining that returning to the classroom is too dangerous.

Of course, these protests were done side by side with groups like the Democratic Socialists of America and the Center for Popular Democracy. Hyperbole was on full display, especially considering that over 20 other industrialized countries have opened schools with no significant COVID-19 outbreaks. The coffins were a nice touch, especially for a virus that has a 99.8% recovery rate and where fatalities are most common above the age of 70. Nationally the average age of school teachers is about 40.

All of this insanity is affecting how Americans view teachers’ unions. According to a new poll from Rasmussen, only 39% of Americans think it is a good idea that most teachers belong to public unions. That number is down from 45% a year ago. More than a third of respondents say it is a bad thing that so many teachers are in a union. The remainder either believe it has no impact or they aren’t sure.

FDR warned about the fundamental flaw of public unions. They essentially negotiate against the taxpayers who pay their salaries. In this case, they are negotiating a service that is part of the social contract. It is no different than if police unions had made unreasonable demands to continue to serve the public when the pandemic hit our shores. That would have been unacceptable.

The political leverage done by the teachers’ unions is just as despicable. Especially when the mental health costs of continued isolation and lockdown on our children are becoming more evident.  Unheard of numbers of those between 18 and 24 have reported contemplating suicide in recent months. Even CDC Director Robert Redfield said we’re seeing more suicides and drug overdoses in those under 45 than deaths from COVID-19.

The threat FDR did not see was how politicized public unions would become. The teachers’ unions are no exception. They engage in the political process through donations and lobbying to get their preferred policies in place. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association overwhelmingly donate to and support Democrats.

Both unions have donated to Joe Biden this cycle and are getting some bang for their buck. Biden has explicitly said he does not support federal funding for charter schools and will ban for-profit ones altogether. The platform also calls for bringing remaining charters under the same onerous and unsuccessful regulations as the public schools. These include reinstating Title IX protections for transgender students and the awful restorative justice policies of the Obama administration.

The pandemic may have disrupted their plans to shove all children into a state-run education monopoly. Record numbers of families are looking to homeschool as they’ve become familiar with the curriculum and frustrated with continued closings. Some experts are projecting that homeschooling will go from 3-4% of school-age children to 13-14%. Nebraska alone has seen a 21% increase in applications, while Vermont has seen a 75% surge.

Perhaps things will not go exactly as planned with the teachers’ union throwing in with the radical left. If projections are correct, they will be losing more children to homeschooling and small-group programs run by parents. In a way, they have proved themselves to be something less than essential by playing political games. Their decrease in approval is only the beginning. An increasing number of parents taking control of their children’s education might be the best thing to happen to K-12 ever. And one of the few bright spots in the pandemic.


Is the Collegiate Death Spiral Coming Soon? Our nation's colleges and universities are long overdue for a fiscal reckoning.

For those of us on the Right, it’s about time. Our colleges and universities have for years grown unchecked by free-market principles, fully enabled by a corrupt deal between spiraling tuition costs and endless government subsidies. And all this while serving as leftist indoctrination camps for our children.

It’s a noxious bubble that can’t burst soon enough.

“Colleges and universities were already facing mounting financial pressure,” writes columnist, scholar, and university professor Steven Hayward, “because enrollment is steadily declining and certain to get much worse in the coming decade (the result of falling birthrates back at the time of the housing crash in 2008-09). Add to this the financial hit they are taking right now because of the virus, on top of the huge loss this year of foreign students who typically pay full tuition rates and subsidize other students, and a large number of colleges and universities face a serious risk of insolvency.”

Add to these pressures the reduction in enrollment of foreign students (they pay top dollar for an American college education), the cancellation of this year’s fall sports season (football, with its ticket sales, lucrative TV contracts, and licensing deals, is the meal ticket for nearly every other university sport), and the decision by many students to put off college at least temporarily, but perhaps permanently, and we can see why even Stanford has found it necessary to cut 11 of its sports programs altogether.

Last week, we also learned that 20% of Harvard freshmen are deferring their enrollment for a year. King Crimson, of course, with its massive $40 billion endowment, can weather just about any storm. But Harvard is Harvard, and every other school isn’t. Elsewhere, a recent survey found that 40% of students say they’re probably not attending any four-year college this fall, and 28% of returning students who have the option to return to their campus say they’re not going back or haven’t yet decided.

As Hayward mused, perhaps the coronavirus is actually a five-dimensional chess plot orchestrated by Donald Trump to destroy universities, unionized K-12 public education, and Hollywood in one fell swoop. If only.

Historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson saw the higher-ed reckoning coming a while back. “What,” he asked last October, “do widely diverse crises such as declining demography, increasing indebtedness, Generation Z’s indifference to religion and patriotism, static rates of home ownership, and a national epidemic of ignorance about American history and traditions all have in common? In a word, 21st-century higher education.”

In part two of Hayward’s essay, he delves into the deeply flawed business models of our colleges and universities, including a funny lesson in Austrian school economics: “Markets set values depending on the subjective and always changing preferences of consumers in the marketplace. Who today would spend $5.99 for a Pet Rock? It may have been worth $5.99 in 1978, but it’s worth zero today, no matter how much labor you put into the rock.”

Higher ed as the modern-day version of the faddish Pet Rock?

Hayward expects this colossal correction to occur in relatively short order — perhaps as soon as spring 2021. But he also expects a Harris-Biden administration to come riding to the rescue with a big bailout, which Democrats would sell to the rest of us like they always do — as an “investment” in education and, therefore, an investment in our children’s future.

Which is just one more consideration on November 3.


Colleges are asking students to sign waivers and consent agreements if they want to return to campus

College students who want to step foot on campus this fall will have to first sign a form acknowledging they understand the dangers of COVID-19 and in some cases relinquish their right to take legal action if they get sick.

Along with the code of conduct manuals and reminders to wear masks, colleges across the country are also including unprecedented agreements, waivers, and risk acknowledgement forms in their back-to-school packets this year.

Higher education institutions say these documents are a way to address life during an extraordinary pandemic and ensure that students understand the public health risks of the coronavirus and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

But critics argue that even as colleges invite thousands of students back this fall and try to reassure families that their campuses are safe, the institutions are also trying to protect themselves if something goes wrong.

“The universities are trying to cloud their responsibilities,” said Heidi Li Feldman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Feldman has warned students against signing the waivers and argues that colleges are attempting to squelch potential negligence lawsuits and make any legal claims more difficult to win. “What the universities are saying is that students, faculty, and people in the community should bear the risk.”

The language of the waivers can vary — some are vague and others are explicit about what legal protections students are signing away. Many institutions said they are not specifically asking students to waive any legal rights.

At Bates College in Maine, students must sign an “acknowledgement of shared responsibility and risk” to return to campus and live in the dorms that reminds them that they are “assuming any and all risks that notwithstanding the college’s best effort to implement and require compliance with these prevention and mitigation measures.”

The state university system of New Hampshire has asked students coming to campus to sign an informed consent form. The system, which enrolls 32,000 students, plans to offer in-person classes at three of its institutions this fall and wants students to understand that it cannot guarantee they will not contract the coronavirus, officials there said.

And at Stonehill College, a private Catholic college west of Brockton, undergraduates must sign an enrollment waiver that specifically states students “agree not to hold Stonehill legally responsible if they are exposed to or contract COVID-19 unless it is the result of the College’s willful misconduct.” In the footnotes of the form in bold print, Stonehill reminds students that by signing off they are giving up certain legal rights.

Northeastern University, which has invited its more than 22,000 students to return to campus, is asking students to sign an agreement to wear masks, practice social distancing, and take coronavirus tests. Those consent agreements do not contain language about students taking on risk.

Boston University, the largest campus in the region, is asking students to sign off on a health commitment, agreeing to wear masks, report any symptoms, and abide by the school’s testing and quarantining requirements. BU is not requiring students to fill out risk or liability waiver forms or agreements, a spokeswoman said.

However, BU on Friday asked faculty and staff to sign off on a similar health agreement and those who fail to follow the rules could lose their jobs or be suspended from work. Graduate students and some faculty are protesting the penalties as too severe.

The forms don’t need to specifically waive legal rights to deter students and their families from holding the school responsible, Feldman said.

If universities wanted to be transparent and avoid confusion, they would explicitly state that these forms are meant to be a legal defense, Feldman said.

“The universities are trying to avoid having anybody question if they’re acting reasonably,” she said.

Bates officials said their risk acknowledgement forms do not ask students to waive any legal rights and while it doesn’t specifically say so, the text should be self-evident. Students and families with questions about the forms have opportunities to ask the college questions, Bates officials said.

“Because a pandemic is a shared public health problem, we need collective action by all members of the community to mitigate risk,” said Sean Findlen, a spokesman for Bates. “Our plan for the fall, including inviting students back for on-campus learning, has emphasized student choice. … That choice lies squarely with students and their families, depending on their personal circumstance and their own sense of whether they feel safe living in a campus setting.”

The forms have reminded some students of the potential risks and even deterred some from coming to campus over safety concerns. But for the most part, universities said, most students have signed and agreed to come.

The consent forms and waivers come as higher education lobbyists are pushing state and federal legislators for broader COVID-related liability protection as they reopen their campuses. Late last month, the American Council on Education on behalf of nearly 80 other higher education trade groups sent a letter to Congress asking for targeted and temporary liability protections to ward off “excessive and speculative lawsuits.”

That lobbying effort has made some students more skeptical of the individual school consent forms.

Ashley Kemker, 28, a graduate student in the University of New Hampshire’s fine arts program, still hasn’t signed her consent forms. She said the university initially gave students only a week in July to review and agree to the university’s statement. But after students raised concerns, the university decided to keep the online link open for students to sign through August.

The forms go too far, Kemker said, especially the acknowledgement that students “assume the risks associated with being at the University of New Hampshire including the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

“I have no problems wearing a mask, I take no issue with constantly sanitizing,” Kemker said. “To me, they are showing a blatant disregard for students.”

Lisa Thorne, a spokeswoman for the university system of New Hampshire, said the informed consent forms are specifically not a liability waiver, and students aren’t giving up any legal rights to sue if they think that the public university system failed to protect them. The courts also generally require documents that shift liability be clearly outlined, Thorne said.

Students who sign “no” on the New Hampshire public university’s informed consent forms will not be able to come to campus.

“The university system could have included a legal liability waiver,” Thorne said in a statement, “but chose not to include any provisions that lessened the university system’s legal responsibilities.”

Thorne said instead the university system is trying to be transparent with students and their families that there are risks associated with being on campus in the midst of a pandemic.

The system could have done more if it wanted to ease student concerns, said Joshua Marshall, 24, a University of New Hampshire law student at the Franklin Pierce School of Law. For example, it could have removed the assumption of risk language and just asked students to follow proper public health rules, he said.

“If it’s just about informing us about the requirement to wear masks, I’d go ahead and sign it,” Marshall said. “It’s the other implications that are a problem.”


I’m a Former Teacher. Here’s How Your Children Are Getting Indoctrinated by Leftist Ideology

Your children are being indoctrinated. The education system designed to teach them how to think critically has been weaponized by the radical left to push an anti-American agenda.

As someone who has worked in education for four years, I have seen firsthand how your children are being ensnared by the left and their teachers.

I worked with kids from ages 3 to 13 and saw the brainwashing that exists at all levels of education. The left uses a combination of propaganda and suppression to push kids into the ensnaring grip of socialism and anti-patriotism.

First is the propaganda. Teachers will assign work instilling the idea that the pillars of Western civilization were evil, and their memories deserve to be thrown in the trash.

Here’s an example. I was helping one of my elementary school students with a homework assignment about listing famous Britons throughout history. She already had some of the more obvious ones: Shakespeare, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth.

“Well, how about Winston Churchill?” I recommended.

“Oh no, not him,” she replied. “He was a racist and didn’t think women should have rights. He wasn’t a good guy.”

I was floored. It clearly wasn’t something she came up with on her own. She was just regurgitating propaganda her teacher had taught her. All sense of nuance and critical thinking about the man who saved Europe from the Nazis was gone. Churchill committed “wrongthink,” so in the bin he goes.

Another way the left propagandizes is through the normalization of its views and positions as nonpolitical.

The Black Lives Matter organization is a prime example of this. Many of my colleagues wore Black Lives Matter pins and apparel to school in blatant violation of school rules forbidding political statements on clothing.

When I asked for a justification of the behavior, I was told it wasn’t political to support the group, it was a matter of human rights. The children would see these pins and clothes and connect radical leftist groups with basic human dignity. “How dare you question Black Lives Matter? I was taught this is a matter of human rights!”

But it isn’t just a matter of actively teaching that America and the West are evil. Suppression of “wrongthink” is equally as important to the brainwashing process. The lessons I was allowed to teach also were censored.

I was preparing a lesson on Thanksgiving involving Pilgrims and American Indians, with an activity centered on making paper teepees for arts and crafts. Cue the progressive panic.

Other teachers at the school were incensed that a non-Indian was “appropriating” Native American culture for an activity. Of course, these teachers weren’t Indians either, they just wanted to virtue signal.

The whole thing culminated in a hilarious incident where my colleagues tracked down the one teacher on staff who was one-sixty-fourths Native American and asked her if it was cultural appropriation. In her esteemed authority, it most certainly was. The school administrators pulled me aside and promptly nixed the project.

The suppression extends to American religious values as well. I would try to engage my students with folk stories from around the globe to teach them world history and other cultures.

Story time went on without a hitch until I decided to tell stories from the Bible. Other teachers began to complain I was preaching Christian values to the children and attempting to convert them.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t a problem when I was sharing stories from other ancient cultures throughout history. Stories about ancient India and China were fine and encouraged as “sharing unheard voices.” After sharing the story of the Tower of Babel, I was told to switch back to non-Christian stories or face consequences.

The young adults who today gleefully tear down statues of the Founding Fathers were incubated in our very own schools, groomed to burst from the education system and burn America down.

The left argues the great men and women who built this nation are problematic and must be destroyed. Conservatives must demand an end to the indoctrination of our youth or face a new American public taught since childhood that the country shouldn’t exist.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Are teachers essential or not?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, everyone was sent home—everyone except essential workers. Health care workers continued to take care of patients. Police and firefighters continued to patrol streets and fight fires. Grocery store workers continued to stock shelves. Even workers in meatpacking plants, where some outbreaks occurred, continued to do their jobs. They continued to work because they were “essential.” Their jobs were so important to the lives of others that we asked them to take additional risk to continue providing their goods or services to us. Now, as schools are slated to reopen, the essential question we must ask is whether or not teachers are “essential.”

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of schools reopening, there are some fundamental facts here. First, putting kids together with 20 plus students in a classroom and crowded hallways undoubtedly increases the risk of spread. We can debate how much kids transmit the virus or how few deaths occur among children below the age of 18. These are all important conversations to have. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that schools packed with children are a petri dish where germs (and viruses) are spread. Kids will be kids. They will not effectively social distance and they will not wear their masks with fidelity. Without question, teachers in schools would have a much higher risk of catching COVID than teachers working from their living room.

The second unmistakable fact is that not opening schools will lead to large disruptions in the workforce. Parents without other options will be forced to quit their jobs or work from home as they help their children navigate the new online educational environment. This disruption will lead to decreased productivity and could have long-term negative impacts on the economy. Again, there are other issues we could debate, but there is no denying that closing schools will impact the livelihoods of many families.

We ask essential workers to face greater risks because the products of their labor—their service to us or the goods they produce—are integral to the lives of other people. We do not deny that they increase their risk by going to work. We do not deny that sending essential workers home would impact the lives of others.

It does feel strange that the clearest voices arguing that teachers are not essential are the teachers themselves, while the most persuasive essay arguing they are essential that I have read comes from a nurse.

So, I return to the central question—are teachers essential? I’ll let you, dear reader, determine the answer to this question yourself.


School's Out: Portland's Quiet Crisis

We’ve got good news and bad news out of Portland, Oregon.

The bad news? Portland Public Schools announced that public schools will not be reopening in September.

The good news? Portland Public Schools announced that public schools will not be reopening in September.

No, but seriously.

It’s the conservative conundrum, created by the coronavirus pandemic: how to balance criticizing the Democrat-driven, pandemic-blamed, unscientific school shut-downs while at the same time acknowledging that these same institutions of learning have played a detrimental and corrosive role in terms of eroding patriotic American values among many in the younger generations.

As Rush Limbaugh writes in his August Limbaugh Letter:

I believe the fundamental problem we face in America can be boiled down to the one thing we lost, which has given birth to all of this left-wing insanity: our education system. We’ve lost the teachers. Which is why American schools are the petri dishes of leftism.

Question: As we assail the fact that millions of children are forced to languish at home under orders from Dicto-Crats like Michigan Governor Gretchen “Shut-Down Artist” Whitmer, parked in front of computers, with no shared learning, no peer group companionship, and no extracurricular activities including sports, is it possible to take solace in the fact that at least the kids are getting a break from face-to-face exposure to the twisted purveyors of anti-American self-loathing and Marxist propaganda?

Homeschoolers would answer in the affirmative, but their numbers simply don’t cover the breadth of the problem: millions upon millions of kids that need to be educated while the greatest economy on earth is sustained. 

It was announced in late July, as reported by NBC Portland affiliate KGW, that due to the COVID pandemic, Portland Public Schools (PPS) will offer only distance learning for the first quarter of the upcoming school year. Incidentally, that quarter ends on November 5, two days after Election Day. A scroll-down reveals that officials will inform parents by October 10 as to if/when schools will reopen.

From the KGW report:

According to Gov. [Kate] Brown’s new set of COVID-19 metrics, in order to resume any in-person learning, even part-time, a county needs to have less than 10 cases per 100,000 people for three weeks straight, with some exceptions for certain very small rural school districts.

Where are we going with this? For the schoolchildren of Portland, nowhere. Even if these metrics are met, it is unlikely that PPS is going to send the kids back in November, going into full winter, the region’s coldest, wettest, season, when windows are tightly closed, recesses are often held indoors, and sicknesses other than COVID peak. Distance learning is the new normal in many Democrat-run school districts–film at eleven. The next reassessment: anybody’s guess. What we have here, to paraphrase Alice Cooper, is school’s out, for the unforeseeable future. By the way: the lock-down applies to K-12 in both private and public schools.

Unless—and this is where we enter the realm of pure conjecture—Joe Biden miraculously or underhandedly pulls off a victory on November 3. Then, might PPS precipitously green-light the resumption of live learning? We just don’t know, but conservatives can be forgiven for thinking that if Biden wins, Democrat pandemic policy across the board will suddenly change.

The reality is that we can’t nail down any indication of a scientific method informing the Democrat calculations. There’s no question that the powerful education lobbies and teachers’ unions are part of the Democrat machine, and desperately want President Trump dispatched and a Joe Biden Trojan Horse presidency. The question is: how far will they go?

While perpetual civil unrest and rioting have drawn national attention to Portland, the less dramatic but equally fraught subject of the public-school lockdown is quietly roiling the neighborhoods. Parents across the city, population 654,741 (2019 estimate,) are scrambling to arrange for whatever it is they’re going to do when in-person school doesn’t start.

Options and analysis: for young children (kindergarten through sixth grade) for whom parental homeschooling is not a viable or desired long-term solution, the choices are private daycare, shared childcare among parental groups, grandparents and/or other family, or mothers and fathers working from home when possible, taking leaves of absence when necessary. Whatever it takes to provide the constant supervision elementary-level children need. In the time and places of the COVID lockdowns, the best-case scenario may be having a stay-at-home mom or dad whose only job is to care for and educate young children.

Teenage minors (middle and high school) are better able to fend for themselves, but that age group is another column. Re: Single parents without financial or familial resources; we’re looking at people who have to quit jobs if they’re not already unemployed and go on the dole to survive.

What about those private childcare businesses, as differentiated from the shut down K-12 schools? In addition to the closures of public and private schools till fall, the state issued guidelines for such businesses, 29 pages worth, in 14 sections.

Here’s a taste, from an Oregon Public Broadcasting report on the guidelines:

The requirements are complex and detailed. For instance, the rules for facial coverings are different, depending on the ages of the people involved. All staff must wear face coverings at all times — that’s a tighter rule than in previous guidance, which only required masks for staff who interacted with multiple groups of children.

Children who are at least five are also required to wear face coverings, consistent with a mandate Brown issued earlier this week. For children between two and five, wearing a mask is up to the parent or guardian; and toddlers and infants under two in daycare settings should not wear masks “because safety considerations outweigh the benefit of reducing transmission,” according to stakeholder input.

Complex and detailed, yes, but do they pass scientific muster? Wouldn’t those toddlers and infants without masks theoretically be the weak link in the anti-viral protocols? Conversely, if statistics show that young children are not generally susceptible to the worst ravages of coronavirus, and don’t easily transmit it, who are we protecting here?

What is the American left doing here?

As insane, destructive, and unprecedentedly naked this partisan power gambit seems to be, it can only be understood as the promulgation of chaos. The calculated stoking of the abiding flame of upheaval. Chaos of a different kind than is roiling the streets of Portland and other blue-state cities.

Chaos that is seen as an expedient strategy in the minds and nefarious designs of a desperate, extreme-left Democratic Party willing to stop at nothing to achieve power.


Will segregation come to King’s College London?

A new report suggests students should be allowed to pick the race, gender and religion of their tutors.

Although founded as an orthodox Anglican institution in 1836, King’s College London became officially secular in 1903. After that, its steadfast refusal to classify people in terms of their religion or personal opinion, whether in teaching or otherwise, for a long time made it an intellectual powerhouse where independent scholarship flourished.

No longer, unfortunately. Identity politics has caught up with King’s with a vengeance. An eight-page report from its geography department was picked up by the press last week. It is apparently officially sanctioned – at the very least, it was partly funded by the department, and appears on the departmental website under the KCL logo with no disclaimer or statement that it merely represents one point of view. It makes for some interesting reading.

Entitled Inclusivity at University: Muslim Student Experiences, this document supposedly promotes ‘inclusivity’. When dissected, however, it actually turns out to be a demand for education to take second place to identity. (Perhaps this is not surprising, since its production was funded not only by the department but also by Athena SWAN, an organisation ostensibly devoted to promoting race and sex equality in universities which actually promotes some surprisingly doctrinaire views on race and gender.)

The report starts with statistics showing that nationally Muslims are poorer than other religious groups. They also drop out of university more frequently than other faith groups, and get less good degrees when they stay. It then identifies Muslims with BAME people more generally, on the slightly facile ground that most Muslims are non-white. Finally, it goes on to make quite a number of recommendations. These are worth a close look. All of them should worry anyone who believes in a university as a group of scholars united dispassionately in the pursuit of knowledge.

First, inclusivity means more student society get-togethers must, it is argued, be non-alcoholic. Apart from the innate puritanism and bossiness of this proposal, it’s not the end of the world, although it is still a bit much to ask not only that non-alcoholic drink be made available, but also that alcohol not be served at all in order to satisfy the desires of a minority. But there are bigger fish to fry here.

More significant is the demand to curb the proliferation of ‘white geographies’ (sic). What is taught must instead, it is said, ‘reflect the experiences of a diverse range of students, allowing minority students to see themselves as legitimate creators of knowledge’. ‘White geographies’ presumably means something more than the geography of European and other white countries, since the KCL curriculum already goes well beyond that. What this seems to indicate is that geography teaching at KCL, rather than embodying the sceptical empiricism usually associated with universities, should take as a starting point the existence of institutional racism, colonial structures, and so on. Put shortly, this is a proposal for the blatant politicisation of teaching as instruction would be given from one preferred point of view.

Next, we have a proposal that the work of Muslim scholars, as well as black and indigenous writers, must be emphasised because they are ‘relevant to the lived experiences of students’, and that the curriculum should be adjusted according to what those students demand. It is difficult to see what is most insulting here to any academic or student who genuinely wants to learn. It could be the suggestion that, in a world where academic publication is overwhelmingly subject to blind peer review, the quality or relevance of a scholar’s work should be judged according to his religious conviction or the colour of his skin. It also insinuates that Muslim students value intellectual production more highly according to whether the writer is a co-religionist, and that – unlike traditional students – they come to university not to have their minds stretched, but just to see what is already familiar to them.

Much the same goes for the now-familiar insistence that universities need to hire more BAME staff. This particular report calls for more ‘Muslim role models’. But a respectable student surely does not care about the religion or ethnicity of those teaching him: the suggestion that Muslims are any different in this respect, or that they need some kind of remedial help from ‘role models’, should have any Muslim student who wishes to participate equally in university life up in arms.

Right at the end, however, is something even more interesting. It is worth quoting as it appears:

‘Departments should also ensure that Muslim students are finding the support and connections they seek… The geography department runs an excellent mentoring programme which may be further improved if mentees had the option of highlighting different preferences for their mentors – in relation to gender, ethnicity and religion.’

You read the second sentence right. Segregation by reference to sex and religious affiliation should be not just be tolerated but actively encouraged by the university. A woman should be able to request not to be tutored except by a woman, a man by a man, and a Muslim by a Muslim (or does it go further: should a Shiite be given the opportunity to say he would really rather not have a Sufi or liberal Muslim as a tutor?). So much for the idea of KCL as a liberal, secular institution that transcends religious divides and doesn’t believe in sex discrimination.

The third criterion – ethnicity – should worry us even more. Yes, a black student should, it seems, be given the opportunity to request a black personal tutor, apparently on the basis that this would be to everyone’s advantage because, well, black people understand black people better, and then everyone gets on. This sort of venomous nonsense was bad enough when spouted in broad South-African accents by blockheaded Boers in Bloemfontein in 1970. That it should be repeated and apparently believed by otherwise bright students in 2020 is much more worrying.

If KCL really does accept this view, it is a scandal. If it doesn’t, then it needs to make its position clear very quickly indeed.


Federal Judge Refuses to Block Campus Sexual Assault Rules

The rules will expand the rights of the accused, narrow the definition of sexual harassment and reduce the scope of cases that schools are required to investigate

A federal judge on Wednesday allowed the Education Department to move forward with new rules governing how schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual assault.

The rules, which take effect Friday, expand the rights of the accused, narrow the definition of sexual harassment and reduce the scope of cases that schools are required to investigate, among other changes.

In a suit challenging the rules, attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia argued that the policy would block schools from investigating certain sexual abuse complaints and would discourage students from reporting assaults.

“As a result, fewer sexual harassment complaints will be filed, and schools will be less well equipped to protect their students’ safety and rid their programs and activities of the pernicious effects of sex discrimination,” the suit said.

But U.S. District Judge Carl. J. Nichols rejected those arguments.

“Plaintiffs are free to investigate and punish as violations of their codes of conduct or of state law behavior that does not meet the new definition of sexual harassment under the Final Rule,” Nichols wrote.

He also turned aside an argument that the rules would bring heavy costs for schools and limit their ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Court recognizes the obvious seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic," he wrote. “In fact, for these and other reasons, a later effective date might have been a preferable policy decision.”

Still, he said, the Education Department took the pandemic into account when it issued the new rules, and schools have long known that a new policy would be coming.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the ruling is “yet another victory for students and reaffirms that students’ rights under Title IX go hand in hand with basic American principles of fairness and due process.”

DeVos issued her policy May 6 after rescinding earlier guidelines from the Obama administration in 2017. Victims’ advocates say the 2017 rules forced colleges to confront sexual abuse after ignoring it for years. But DeVos has said the guidelines turned campus disciplinary panels into “kangaroo courts” that were too quick to punish accused students.

DeVos' rules, which carry the weight of law, tell schools how to implement Title IX, the 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex in education.

Under her overhaul, the definition of sexual harassment is narrowed to "unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it denies a person access to a school’s education programs or activity.

The policy will now require colleges to investigate claims only if they’re reported to certain officials, and schools can be held accountable for mishandling complaints only if they acted with “deliberate indifference.” Opponents also took exception with a provision allowing students to question one another through representatives at live hearings.

DeVos on Wednesday said the rules require schools “to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct without sacrificing important safeguards to protect free speech and provide all students with a transparent, reliable process.”

The case challenging the rules was led by attorneys general in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California, with backing from a total of 17 states and the District of Columbia.

“We’re disappointed that the court denied our motion to stay the new Title IX rule while our litigation is pending," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. "But our commitment to the right of every Pennsylvania student to safe and equitable education has not wavered, and our challenge to Secretary DeVos’s unlawful rule is not over, this is merely the first step in a long process.”

The challenge was supported by the American Council on Education, an association of university presidents, along with 24 other higher education organizations. In a June legal brief, the groups said the policy ordered a “sea change” for colleges but gave them less than three months to implement it.

“In the best of times, that deadline would be unreasonable. But in light of the extraordinary burdens that have been placed on American colleges and universities in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, that August 14 implementation deadline is problematic in the extreme,” the groups wrote.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

UK: Without exams, education falls apart

This year’s results are totally meaningless

The integrity of public exams is set to be the latest victim of the coronavirus lockdown. Fears are mounting that results for English schools over the next couple of weeks will be engulfed by the same furore that has gripped Scotland.

All national exams were cancelled this summer as part of the Covid-19 measures. Instead, grades were awarded based on a combination of teacher judgement and exam-board moderation. But as the Scottish results have already shown, this is a recipe for disaster.

If Scotland had used teacher-assessed grades alone, results would have improved by their biggest ever margin. However, following the exam boards’ moderation processes, over a quarter of all grades were changed. Around 125,000 results were downgraded, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds disproportionately affected. Scottish students have been demonstrating in response, and a no-confidence vote was proposed against the SNP education secretary John Swinney. Yesterday, he made a u-turn, promising to restore the grades to those recommended by teachers.

Meanwhile, the Times Educational Supplement reports that the English exams regulator Ofqual has already instructed exam boards to ignore teacher-assessed grades for the majority of awards – most grades will instead be based on statistical modelling. Education secretary Gavin Williamson has belatedly introduced a ‘triple lock’ for A-Level grades, meaning that students can appeal to exam boards to get whichever grade is the highest from their estimated grade, from mock exams already taken and from a resit in the autumn.

To understand what’s going on here, it is important first of all to recognise that methods for producing grades have varied from school to school. Some have required their pupils to sit past exam papers and marked them in line with the original grade boundaries. Others have extrapolated from student attainment data from the rest of the year. Some schools have produced bespoke assessments, while some schools have no doubt not codified the process at all and have left the matter entirely up to the estimation of individual teachers.

In this way, schools have been placed in a difficult position. The evidence they have provided for these grades has been non-uniform, partly subjective, retrospective, and somewhat cobbled together. It does not represent a level playing field.

This is why the exam boards have compared these grades with historical data indicating what the school would deliver in an average year. Where discrepancies have occurred, the exam board has changed the teacher grade to bring it more in line with previous trends.

So a ragbag of evidence, thrown together on the hoof, has been compared with data generated during ‘business as usual’ times. This predicament was made even worse by a perception across the secondary sector that there was no alternative. Added to that was a sense of urgency because students need these grades for entrance to university, further education and employment.

How could anyone have ever hoped such an arrangement might work? This was a slow-motion car crash set in train from the beginning of lockdown. It has revealed the unbelievably weak grip the UK and devolved governments have had on education during the pandemic.

Yet it was not unreasonable to expect that results would be down this year anyway. School teaching was largely abandoned during the lockdown. It is obvious that if you leave students to study in isolation through a computer, many are not going to perform well under assessment. However, the current crisis isn’t so much about the performance of pupils. Instead, it reveals the vital role exams play in holding two competing views of education in tension.

It is a teacher’s job to see every pupil as an individual case, to work out what the subject means to that individual, the extent of his or her desire to learn, and where the points of cohesion and resistance sit. Examiners, on the other hand, necessarily take a statistical viewpoint. Candidates are just so many numbers on a bell curve, and what has happened before will likely repeat without much change. Increased commercial competition between exam boards and a business-model approach to school improvement have both entrenched this economistic and algorithmic view.

That’s why exams are fundamentally good in principle. They mediate between the two viewpoints. Exams represent the culmination of an education in a particular discipline on a single day. The subjectivity of the teacher finally reaches full expression in the subjectivity of the learner, in a way that permits direct objective comparisons between learners. Subjective and objective aspects are united and what is created is put to scrutiny.

However, education is losing sight of its subjective elements, and as teacher authority and autonomy rest on this subjectivity, they have been increasingly contested. Teaching has become more tightly focused around instrumental methods and, as a result, teachers are principally valued as the means to achieving the necessary exam grades.

Where personal judgement counts for little and exam grades count for everything, it is hardly surprising that predictions tend to inflate. When your honest view as a teacher isn’t valuable on its own terms, you will start making predictions as a way of signalling that expectations remain high, to guard against negative perceptions of your performance, to reassure or motivate pupils, or simply to keep parents off your back.

Exams are the glue that holds the edifice of education together. And without exams – as spiked was quick to point out – the whole project of education is dangerously unbalanced.

Students would have been much better off taking to the streets to protest for the right to sit their exams in the first place rather than complaining they haven’t got what they were expecting. But it is even more naive to believe that putting government ministers under pressure to intervene with a technical fix will make the problem go away.

Ultimately, nobody wins in this situation. The information on this year’s certificates won’t really help any of the various stakeholders: pupils and their families, universities, employers, boards, quangos or central government. The rows set teachers against examiners, and create an impression that neither has a clear view of students’ capabilities. This ultimately will erode trust in this system even further.

If education is about nothing more than grades, it has little meaning. But in essence, exams are important. As we are seeing, without them education falls apart.


US Justice Department finds Yale discriminates against Asian and white students

The findings are the result of a two-year investigation in response to a complaint by Asian American groups and are in violation of US civil rights law, the department said.

If the university in New Haven, Connecticut did not take "remedial measures", the department said it was prepared to file a lawsuit against it.

A Yale spokeswoman said the university "categorically denies" the allegations but cooperated fully with the investigation.

The Justice Department made its findings before allowing Yale to provide requested documents, she said.

"Had the department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale's practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent," the spokeswoman said.

The Justice Department said although race could lawfully be considered in college admissions in limited circumstances, "Yale's use of race is anything but limited".

The elite school "uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant's likelihood of admission", the Justice Department said.

The Justice Department previously filed legal briefs in support of a lawsuit, brought by affirmative action opponents, accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian Americans.

A federal judge in Boston ruled in favour of Harvard in that case, saying the school's affirmative action program advanced a legitimate interest in having a diverse student body.

An appeal of that ruling is pending.

The case could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Affirmative action programs in higher education were meant to address racial discrimination.

The Supreme Court has ruled universities may use affirmative action with the aim of helping minority applicants get into college.

US conservatives have said that in helping black and Latino applicants, affirmative action could hurt white people and Asian Americans.


Parents, Educators, Doctors Join Trump in New Push to Reopen Schools

Dr. Melanie McGraw Piasecki is both a pediatrician and a mother of three who wants to see kids back in school after the COVID-19 lockdown that shuttered classrooms in the spring and is on the cusp of doing so this fall across the country.

“My children did not have a particularly great experience in the spring, particularly my youngest, who was in first grade at the time,” Piasecki, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said Wednesday at a White House event. “I think the online learning for the young ones, it just doesn’t work.”

Her children’s school is moving to a hybrid model, a mix of in-classroom and remote learning.

“In terms of being a pediatrician, I just think the science is so clear that the risk of death or hospitalization for children with this virus is so, so low,” Piasecki said. “We know the risks of missing school are catastrophic. We probably don’t even know how high they are yet, and they cover so many different areas.”

Piasecki was among nine Americans—including parents, doctors, teachers, and education officials—who attended the White House event to advocate the reopening of schools.

“We are 100% with you,” President Donald Trump said, referring to children’s return to school.

Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, presidential counsel Kellyanne Conway, and new White House medical adviser Dr. Scott Atlas also were part of the event.

“The concept of every other day [school attendance] seems a little ridiculous, right?” Trump asked Piasecki. “If you’re going to do it, you do it. The concept of going back—even from a management standpoint from the school—every other day seems very strange.”

Piasecki explained the thinking behind it, but said she’s generally supportive of returning to school.

“The idea is they are going to take half the student body on ‘A’ days and half the student body on ‘B’ days so they can socially distance in the facility; then if you’re home, you’ll be watching it on technology,” she said.

Trump responded:  “But you’d rather see them go back period, right? You’d rather not see that?”

The doctor answered: “That’s right.”

Trump secured $13 billion for states to spend on K-12 education, and is asking Congress to approve another $70 billion for K-12 schools.

Keeping schools closed harms earning potential for students, said Paul Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University.

“For every year you spend in school, in the future you will earn 10% more in lifetime earnings,” Peterson said at the White House gathering, adding:

So, if we lock down schools for a year, we assign this generation to a 10% earning loss for the rest of their life. This is profound. The costs are vastly greater than people have appreciated, to say nothing about the importance of young people being together with one another.

At this point, Trump said: “So sitting in isolation with a computer, looking at a laptop, is not the same as being out there in the real world?”

Peterson said the COVID-19 pandemic changed his mind about the effectiveness of remote learning.

“At one point, Mr. President, I thought digital learning was the future,” Peterson said. “But, we have learned through this COVID crisis that we haven’t got digital learning to the point where you can really engage young people. They have got to be in that classroom. They have to be with their peers.”


Australia: Give low-income parents a school choice

We have to stop using private schools as a scapegoat for everything wrong with Australian education.

It’s recently been argued that to improve equity non-government schools should receive more public funding, in exchange for giving up the ability to receive fees from parents and select who they enrol.

But neither of these things are responsible for the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Sure, Australia’s school system suffers some inequities, but this is due to differences across post codes rather than school sectors.

Even if all selective, independent, and Catholic schools stopped charging fees or even closed down, , it would simply lead to more high-income families moving to areas with the best government schools (raising local house prices and not improving equity).

Australia is actually more equitable — in terms of the effect of student socioeconomic background on achievement and variance in outcomes within schools — than the OECD average, New Zealand, and some top-performing education systems like Singapore. This is despite the fact that Australia has one of the highest global proportions of students attending non-government schools.

So, fee-charging non-government schools aren’t the cause of inequity, but what about their ability to select their students?

The proposal that all non-government schools should be publicly-funded the same as government schools on the condition they give up control over their enrolments isn’t practical. For faith-based schools — especially the smaller, low-fee ones — flexibility in enrolment selection is essential in reflecting the values of their parent community.

What we need to do is expand school choice for low-income parents, not take away existing choice.

A charter school is one that’s publicly funded, but privately managed — meaning parents can have greater choice without facing the burden of cost. It also means that parents have more of a say in how schools are run, rather than enduring the inflexibility of a bureaucratic government-run school system.

Research from the United States — where charter schools are a popular option — shows they improve educational excellence, efficiency — and yes, equity. And the main beneficiaries of expanded school choice are actually disadvantaged students in normal government schools.

School class warfare isn’t going to help solve inequity. But giving low-income parents more choice will.


Monday, August 17, 2020

So, Educating Your Child Is Now 'Oppression'

If white parents dare supplement their children's education, that is "white privilege" and perpetuates "oppression" of black people.

In July, Patriot Post analyst Arnold Ahlert provided a good summary of how a growing number of parents are coping with “distance learning,” specifically forming “education pods” for their children. These are basically micro-school groups, “clusters of 3-6 families with similar aged (and sometimes same-school) children co-quarantined with each other, who hire one tutor for in-person support for their kids.”

The fact that parents are supplementing their children’s education, apart from the control and supervision of the government school cartels and their union commissars, is a frontal threat to that control. The Washington Post protested this loss of statist control in an article, “The huge problem with education ‘pandemic pods,’” complaining, “When parents with privilege open their checkbooks and create private one-room schoolhouses for their children, they follow a long pattern of weakening the public education system” with “potentially disastrous results for communities currently — and perpetually — in the crosshairs of this country’s oppression.”

In other words, if groups of parents, especially white parents, dare supplement the education of their children during the CV19 lockdowns, they are exercising “white privilege” and perpetuating “oppression” of black people.

As Atlanta “learning specialist” and social justice whiner Clara Totenberg Green protests: “Paradoxically, at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted a national reckoning with white supremacy, white parents are again ignoring racial and class inequality when it comes to educating their children. As a result, they are actively replicating the systems that many of them say they want to dismantle.”

That’s right. If you provide supplemental education opportunities for your children, you are wantonly undermining the objectives of the BLM Marxists. The bureaucratic mindset of these “educators” is so detached from reality, so saturated in bubble group sick think, that it defies any rational and logical explanation.

The latest entry in this Orwellian condemnation of parents comes from the Beltway suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, where unions have made sure schools are still not open to students. Consequently, parents had requested permission to hire local teachers as tutors for their kid pods. Administrators of the $3 billion Fairfax County Public Schools responded, “While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students.” Thus, “FCPS cannot accommodate such requests.”

Got that? No doubt they would like to “control these private tutoring groups.” Shame on all of you for demonstrating more than the average interest in the welfare of your children’s education. Oh, and you homeschoolers are totally guilty of “widening the gap in educational access and equity.” For the record, the vast majority of these parents are not wealthy, but most have the benefit of being married, and all sacrifice greatly for love of their children.

In case you missed it, earlier this week Thomas Gallatin wrote on another union concern with online education. While most teachers are uniformly devoted to their students, leftist teachers, who regularly indoctrinate children with their demented worldview, are worried parents might be listening in on their classes. I highly recommend it!


Shutting Schools Won't Stop COVID

Yes, children can spread coronavirus, but shuttering schools only prolongs the misery.

One way or another, children will need to get back to school in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, the situation has become so politicized that clear, unemotional logic has been jettisoned for sensationalism and fearmongering. The debate over opening schools epitomizes this reality.

Recall that the original purpose for the shutdown was to flatten the curve in order to prevent hospitals from becoming overrun with severely sickened patients. That goal has been achieved. Yet that goalpost was soon moved to what now amounts to an unending shutdown until a vaccine is available, a prospect that, Vladimir Putin’s boasts notwithstanding, is still at least months if not years away. Hunkering in place is economically and sociologically untenable.

Pending a vaccine, the only means to reach what we hope will be herd immunity is for the majority of people to contract the virus and develop antibodies. And those who will be least impacted by contracting the virus happen to be children and younger adults.

Given those facts, the argument for stalling the full reopening of schools has centered on the likelihood that children will spread the virus to vulnerable older adults. Initial reports indicated that children did not spread the virus to adults, though that was never going to remain true. Indeed, newer data appears to show that children are just as susceptible to contracting and transmitting the virus as are adults. That said, we shouldn’t be locking down the least likely segment of the population to succumb to the virus, hampering their future development by retarding their education and their parents’ ability to work.

Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds was asked a fearmongering and sensationalizing question over whether sending kids to school was “worth it” if “an older teacher were to die from this.” Reynolds pointedly responded:

It would be naive for us to think that at no point we’re not going to see positive cases in school districts. … But we also have to think about the whole child, and everything. We have to think about their livelihoods as well. I mean, I’ve got moms that are trying to work full-time and figure out what they’re going to do with the kids and a schedule that’s Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday one week, and it’s Tuesday and Thursday the next. How do you start to put together some stability with those kinds of arrangements? And parents that are really fearful, they have the option to do … 100% online learning. … I have grandchildren that are going back to school. I would never do anything that would put them in harm’s way intentionally. I don’t think any of us would. I have a daughter who’s a teacher in a public school system, who’s teaching this summer and she’s expecting.

Exactly. Life is never lived in certainty but is always a series of decisions based upon risk assessments. Every time someone gets into a vehicle to drive to work or the store is a risk that may end his or her life. And that is merely one of an almost innumerable number of risks people face every day. The vast majority of Americans will not die from the coronavirus, but the fact also remains that all Americans will die of something at some point. Death cannot be avoided, though we’re fortunate to live in a society where the majority of us can expect to live long lives. In any case, shuttering schools in a feckless attempt to prevent the spread of a virus that is most dangerous to the elderly is doing more damage to children than good.


The Left’s School Choice Conundrum

Say what you will about the liberals’ insistence on keeping the schools closed. They at least deserve credit for being consistent in their hostility to school choice – no matter the circumstance.

For decades, liberal activists and the teachers’ unions have joined forces to fight against homeschooling, charter schools, private schools and vouchers – in other words, against school choice, in any form. The teachers’ unions were unequivocal in their messaging. School choice, they have always insisted, overall hurts students, taxpayers and the public schools. Competition, which works so well in every other industry, does not work with schools, they say.

While school choice has been a broad boogeyman for leftists, homeschooling is a particular thorn in their side. In the spring, just as most schools across the country were closing their doors for COVID lockdowns, and as nearly 50 million children were heading home for some form of homeschooling, Harvard University published an ill-timed article with the title “The Risks of Homeschooling” and a picture of a child in home resembling a jail (with subtle bars on the windows). The article went to great lengths to describe the allegedly harrowing consequences of homeschooling.

Given the far Left’s forceful lobbying on this matter for years, it is a surprising turn of events that we find ourselves here today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with teachers’ unions fighting to keep the public schools closed – and to keep the untenable situation of nationwide homeschooling. The school choice fight has shifted its focus, and now the unpalatable choice from the teachers’ perspective is the choice many parents have made, or would like to make, to send their children to school. 

The verdict is in. Online, distance-learning programs failed on a grand scale to provide quality education to students all across the globe in the spring. That’s precisely why most European countries abandoned the online classrooms and went back into the real classrooms. The success stories from these newly reopened classrooms in Europe remind us that there is no excuse to fail our children by forcing them to do online curriculum, and, furthermore, that there are safe and commonsense ways to educate within classroom walls.

What’s even worse is that there are deep and pronounced racial disparities in the education outcomes of online classes, and that the achievement gap is now widening because of the unequal access to online education. African American and Hispanic children have been disproportionately negatively affected by the school closures, with studies showing that a lack of reliable Internet access in many minority homes meant large numbers of students in these communities were not just left behind, but left out completely.

Despite these realities, the teachers’ unions remain fixated on their pro-shutdown position.

The unions, not wanting to let this crisis go to waste, have seized the moment. In Los Angeles, one teachers' union has demanded Medicare for All before allowing schools to reopen. In Iowa, teachers have been writing their own obituaries and sending them to the governor to make their point that school doors must remain firmly shut. Are we to take these politically-motivated stunts seriously?

Five weeks ago, I sat at a table in the White House East Room and told President Trump that his instincts were right – schools must reopen. As a mom to two high school seniors, I urged the president to do everything in his power to encourage the safe and speedy reopening of America’s schools. The president understands that reopening schools is a moral imperative for our students and that in-person instruction is the best chance we have to quash the racial disparities in education outcomes.

Armed with the knowledge that COVID-19 is largely not deadly for children (and, in fact, is less deadly than last year’s flu), and also equipped with the recent studies about the dismal state of online education, parents should be empowered to make the decision of how their children will learn this year – online, or in person. Parents deserve to have the option to send their children to classrooms. That choice, however, is one the teachers’ unions are fighting tooth and nail to take from parents.

In case there was any ambiguity about where the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would side in the feud between parents and the teachers’ unions, Biden made clear last month whose banner he carries. Speaking virtually to the National Education Association – the largest teachers’ union in the country – Biden vowed loyalty and made much of the fact that his wife is a member: “When we win this election, we’re going to get the support you need and the respect you deserve. You don’t just have a partner in the White House, you’ll have an NEA member in the White House.”

With President Trump’s commitment to reopening schools and partnering with parents, and Joe Biden’s commitment to the raw political agenda of the teachers’ unions, this November’s election may shape up to be the ultimate school choice decision for parents.


Adelaide universities to fly in international students in Australian-first coronavirus-busting trial

South Australian universities are poised to fly in 300 students from Singapore in a national-first pilot program aimed at reviving the $2bn education economy.

In a coup for the state’s tertiary sector, SA has trumped interstate bids to spearhead the return of foreign students stranded when Australia’s borders closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The flight from Singapore for South-East Asian students is expected to arrive in Adelaide in early September, in a test run for a larger-scale return nationally.

It is understood the final-year students will follow a strict hotel quarantine regime, paid for by universities and mirroring that in place for repatriated Australians.

Premier Steven Marshall said SA’s proposal had met the Federal Government’s stringent health and safety requirements and logistics were being finalised.

“We are looking forward to welcoming back students from overseas through this much-needed pilot program. International students are an important part of our community, adding to our state’s vibrancy and multiculturalism,” he told the Sunday Mail.

“South Australia’s handling of COVID-19 has put us in the ideal position to be a first-mover in bringing back international students.”

Plans to bring up to 2400 international students back to SA were revealed in early July but then swiftly derailed by Victoria’s disastrous COVID-19 outbreak that exploded that month. The NT and ACT also had proposals for pilot student entry.

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham said the pilot was an important first step in rebuilding Australia’s crucial $39bn education sector.

“International education is a huge export earner for Australia, supports thousands of jobs right here in SA and getting the sector going again will be vital to our ultimate economic recovery,” Senator Birmingham said.

The SA pilot is considered a major first step to demonstrate universities can safely manage the reintroduction of overseas students without igniting a coronavirus outbreak, giving them an advantage in fierce international competition.

Extensive quarantine measures are expected to include ensuring the arriving students are channelled through a separate area at Adelaide Airport so they do not interact with the general public.

Hotel quarantine also was used for the 94 close contacts of the now-contained COVID-19 cluster linked to Thebarton Senior College.

Before the Victorian second wave, authorities were planning to return to SA more than a third of the 6757 students stranded overseas after borders closed in March. They were to have arrived in three groups, depending on the success of the pilot program to return 800 students.

SA’s public universities, which support 8500 direct jobs, are facing a financial hole of hundreds of millions of dollars because of the coronavirus pandemic and loss of foreign student revenue.

Adelaide hosted more than 44,000 students from 130 countries and the sector was worth $2bn annually.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said borders were the first line of defence against COVID-19 while the pandemic raged overseas and interstate, “so any decision to allow international students to come to Adelaide must be based on the expert health advice and a careful risk assessment”.

Fewer than 10 people arriving in SA in June travelled on an international student visa, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Friday, compared with 1740 in the same month last year – a decrease of almost 100 per cent.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Universities Appease China, Ignore Human Rights Abuses

Long the vanguard of liberal change, the American university now leads the appeasement of a hardened authoritarian China. The interest in promoting a broader community of scholars has given way to a toxic combination of business interests, the inability of college leaders to recognize their failure in influencing Chinese education, and their unwillingness to see the reality of a new China.

Both China and the United States need universities to engage in solutions based upon the values of universities rather than catering to authoritarianism.

American universities and professors jealously guard their independence, seeing themselves as defenders of liberal values and social change. A tenure system built upon the defense of free speech and controversy promotes the exploration of radical ideas and critical thinking skills seen as vital for everything from an informed electorate to higher-order job skills.

Historically, the academy writ large has been at the forefront of human rights and social change. Universities provide a fertile environment to push for social change, from racial integration to campaigns for human rights. With a reasonable record of pushing change, universities like to consider themselves defenders of liberal values.

Early after the opening of China, American universities worked to build bridges between a Cold War-focused country and a reforming communist stalwart. Major elite universities trained early reformers that helped China join the World Trade Organization—yet, now, they have educated the daughter of authoritarian Party chairman Xi Jinping. Universities began with the noblest of intentions but, as China changed, evolved into institutions that defend educating the children of elite rulers who direct concentration camps.

The shift of universities from defenders of human rights to protectors of authoritarian Party elites stems from a noxious cocktail of self-righteousness, hubris, and money.

Universities—believing in their mission to spread liberalism—fail to grasp the fundamental problems they face when dealing with China. Defensive at any critique of their many degrees, university leaders and professors lack the same interest in holding the powerful to account. To professors and universities, activism is a virtue in America, but a vice in China.

Attempts to hold China accountable are met with immediate charges of racism rather than any careful consideration of how to meet the challenges of academic freedom and activity in the face of an emboldened authoritarian China.

At the peak of hubris, professors refuse to acknowledge the historical failure of their principled ideals to cause change in China or the need to adopt policies of engagement. Ezra Vogel, the longtime China studies professor at Harvard, illustrated the willful blindness of academia when he decried the shift in tone of US-China relations and called for engagement to improve relations. He failed to even mention Hong Kong or Xinjiang, his Harvard colleague arrested for illegal dealings with China, or the failure of previous engagement with China.

The refusal throughout higher education to acknowledge the evolution of China into a racial, oppressive authoritarian state shows that it is divorced from reality. China monitors students in the classroom (in China and abroad). The preferred policies of high-ranking professors and college presidents have not worked.

Complicating the picture of hubris and self-righteousness, money from China dominates any discussion of university policies and behavior. Chinese students in the United States comprise roughly 30 percent of all foreign students—370,000 in 2019, up from 98,000 in 2009. Notably, Chinese students pay full tuition, making them much more attractive compared to domestic students who get financial aid or in-state tuition for public universities.

American universities bent over backward to serve this growing lucrative market. Universities adopted mass student admission from China—helped by education consultants who housed students in Chinese-speaking dorms, fed them Chinese food with a Chinese cook, and delivered the China Daily to their room. In the process, however, they willfully ignored the risks of dealing with an expansionist authoritarian state and the tradeoffs it required.

United States professors accepted unreported positions at Chinese universities and shared advanced federally funded data with an adversarial government. Universities also accepted constraints on academic freedom, allowing the Chinese Ministry of Education to appoint Chinese Communist Party-approved employees at language programs to ensure sensitive topics were not discussed. Even policies to block graduate students connected to the People’s Liberation Army became a point of contention for universities despite posing a clear, undeniable security risk.

Universities rescinded invitations to speakers that might anger the Chinese government or student body to keep high-margin customers happy.

College leaders and professors engaged in significant behavior to challenge the U.S. government on policies like international student visas and other policies that favored China. Conversely, they also chose to remain silent when China cracked down on speech in their universities, the Hong Kong National Security Law, and ethnic genocide in Xinjiang.

Universities engage in a self-righteous lack of reflection, believing that the surge in donations and contract work from China and Hong Kong—which grew from $140 million in 2014 to $495 million in 2019—plays no role in their decision to remain silent.

The willingness to plead ignorance is staggering. A recent report highlights when the University of Pennsylvania reported a $3 million donation from a Hong Kong shell company with no visible business that was owned by a Chinese national linked to high-level corruption scandals. When asked about the donation, Penn at first claimed it was linked to another donor even though no link could be found. When asked for documentation or evidence of this claim, they refused to answer additional questions from reporters.

If Penn were a financial firm accepting a significant new client while knowingly accepting potential corrupt proceeds or using a front company as the official client, it would result in significant legal penalties. This behavior by elite universities, tasked with educating the business and political leaders of tomorrow, is highly disturbing.

Other top universities like Duke and New York University understand they are trading their silence for a growing market. The supposedly principled nature of the work on critical inquiry and free thinking makes this an untenable tradeoff for universities.

One cannot stand on virtue as the foundation of your business while trading it for market access and remain virtuous. Universities reduce liberal education to a valueless transaction when they collaborate with the Chinese Communist Party.

China has changed. Chairman Xi Jinping has led the harshest crackdown on speech in China and universities since Chairman Mao. Student monitors report on professors and China arrests foreign academics after inviting them for lectures. American universities cannot remain silent in the face of this assault—yet, to date, only Cornell University has modified exchange and university relationships with Chinese universities.

Universities are entirely right to stand on principle against racial profiling or injustice. They are entirely wrong to remain silent on China with its accompanying risks and threats.

Unfortunately, staunch opposition to any restrictive policy removes their voice and input from reasoned debate and policy formation. I have been a staunch advocate of engagement with China and other emerging market communist countries, but that does not mean ignoring the risks and challenges. By denying valid threats like Chinese military infiltration in science labs, universities seem out of touch and welcome more extreme voices to design important policies.

China in 2020 presents a variety of challenges. We cannot turn our back on Chinese students, many of whom seek freedom, but neither should universities be blind to the risks. Universities should not pursue engagement at all costs. Instead, they should pursue principled engagement that predicates any cooperation with China on values like the discussion of democracy, Chinese history, and the ability to criticize the Great Leader.

Engagement without principles is not worthy of the great mission before American universities.

Again, China has changed. Universities have a mission and must change the rules of engagement. The current strategy of appeasement will only make college leaders complicit in providing cover for an authoritarian state. For extra revenue, they’ll offer prestige and a valueless education.


If Teachers Won’t Teach, Follow Ronald Reagan’s Example and Fire Them

When 13,000 air traffic controllers walked off the job in August 1981, President Ronald Reagan had this to say: “Tell them when the strike’s over, they don’t have any jobs.” The media, not yet fully familiar with the seriousness with which Reagan intended to govern, scoffed at the president’s threat. But it was not a bluff. Two days later, when more than 11,000 controllers refused to come back, Reagan fired them all. It was a powerful move, and demonstrated to the entire country that essential public employees serve the public, not union bosses. America’s public school teachers should be reminded of this fact.

With thousands of teachers across the country currently protesting a return to the classroom because of COVID fears, Reagan’s example is particularly relevant. Like air traffic controllers, teachers sign employment contracts. While air traffic controllers contract with the federal government and teachers with local school districts, the principle is the same: perform the duties for which you were hired, or be fired.

Teachers who refuse to teach in the setting for which they were hired – the classroom – need to stop acting like scared bunnies and grow up. If they truly are “essential” workers, as they remind us repeatedly, then they need to start behaving like other essential employees and get back to work.

Many businesses, unfortunately, have been forced by the government to shut down wholly or in part in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, and this is having a devastating effect on our national economy. Amidst this devastation, public schools in virtually every jurisdiction across the country ended the school year early after COVID hit our shores in March.

Unlike commercial businesses, however, the prolonged closure of schools has ramifications far beyond the economic. Moreover, educating children is a process that cannot be switched on and off like a production line; the damage to young minds that are allowed to lie fallow month after month, or which are presented with “virtual” learning in place of human-to-human interface, creates learning voids not easily replenished.

“Teaching” means, if anything, working with students as well as encouraging students to work with other students in a social setting for the purpose of learning essential skills and acquiring essential knowledge. “Virtual” teaching is not teaching at all; it is cinematography – nothing more than an adult (the “teacher”) speaking to a camera, with an audience of one (the “student”) at the end of the electronic transmission watching a screen. Raw information may be thus transmitted, but not true knowledge.

What many public school teachers and their union bosses at the National Education Association appear to be setting as the price for them to return to the classroom, is a guarantee that the environment will be 100% percent COVID-free at all times. Such a condition is, of course, impossible to meet and essentially allows the teachers to avoid a return to their job site for the foreseeable future.

Moreover, demanding a zero-risk premise for classroom teaching sends the message to students (and everyone else for that matter) that risk-avoidance is the highest and most desirable goal for society. This further erodes the principle on which America’s greatness heretofore has been premised – that society advances not by avoiding challenges, but by meeting and overcoming them.  

There might perhaps be somewhat more compassion for the our-way-or-the-highway posture being taken by these public school teachers had they and their union not spent decades working to ensure that public education remained the only practical option for millions of families across America. Unionized teachers continue to vilify homeschooling and oppose providing taxpaying parents any meaningful ability to choose where to send their children to be educated.

No teacher should be forced to go into the classroom against their will. However, if local government leaders properly equip them with personal protective equipment and mandate reasonable protocols within the schools to minimize the risk of COVID, and if teachers and their unions then still refuse to teach in school, it is time to “pull a Reagan” and fire them. The money saved from thinning educational bloat of protesting teachers and useless district administrators with nothing to do, can be returned to parents who are struggling to pay for alternatives to ensure their children actually have a productive school year.


14 Parents Sue a School District Over Secretive Transgender Policy

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia last week sued the Trump administration in federal court over the president’s rollback of transgender health care.

The lawsuit, filed in New York, includes more traditionally “conservative” states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

That Wisconsin’s attorney general would participate in this lawsuit is surprising, given the controversy that already exists in the state capital of Madison over one school’s district’s transgender policy. That policy is so anti-parent, it prompted a multiparent lawsuit itself.

In Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District, 14 parents in Madison partnered with a local law firm and attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom to fight for parental rights that have been eroded by the transgender ideology seeping into every avenue of life, from health care to education.

A couple of years ago, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a policy that didn’t just promote transgender ideology in the schools, but created a system allowing teachers to hide information students shared about gender dysphoria, or their desire to “be” transgender, from the child’s own parents.

The policy provides a method for teachers to deceive parents about their child’s so-called gender identity.

Bear in mind, this school district is the largest one in Wisconsin: Over 25,000 students attend 52 schools. This policy could affect a lot of kids and parents, although the percentage of kids who suffer from gender dysphoria is still relatively small.

Teachers are required to fill out a “Gender Support Plan” form for any child who asks to be treated in school as transgender. The form asks questions that range from restroom use to whether the child’s family will be included in this revelation.

Even though parents have rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to review any school records about their children, they would be unable to see this life-altering Gender Support Plan.

It took some creative finagling for the school district to figure out how to get around that federal law. Under the law, it turned out, an individual teacher’s “personal” notes about a student are exempt from the parents’ right of access.

A section of the Gender Support Plan tells teachers to file the plan in the teacher’s personal confidential file, not in student records, so it remains exempt from federal law and hidden from parents.

The policy also says: “School staff shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to others, including parents or guardians and other school staff unless legally required to do so.”

In the Madison school district, a child could go to school as a girl named “Lindsay,” but spend the day as a boy named “Liam.” The child could go to the restroom alongside boys, change in the locker room with boys, and be known by friends and teachers as “Liam.” But Lindsay’s parents, who gave birth to and are raising a girl named Lindsay, would have no idea.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse here, that teachers are encouraged to hide a child’s secret transgender life at school behind the backs of concerned parents, completely subverting parents’ natural and legal right to this information, or that teachers essentially are encouraged to evade federal law to make this happen.

Add the legal portion of this onto the fact that this particular school district has bought into the transgender ideology, specifically the myth that kids under 18 should transition with hormones or surgery, and you have yourself a full-blown scandal

Thankfully, 14 individual parents from eight families filed a lawsuit challenging this unethical policy.  The complaint describes the unethical and unconstitutional nature of the policy as it relates to parental rights, saying:

Parents’ rights cases have established that parents have the primary role in directing the upbringing of their children, especially in significant decisions (like health care), and that the government may not supplant parents simply because a parent’s decision is not agreeable to the child.

The parents’ rights issue at stake here is incredibly concerning. If you don’t think so, ask yourself if you could see a school district hiding personal information from you about your child related to any other issue a child might encounter at school.

Whether a minor or major injury sustained on a school playground, homework assigned but not turned in, even scuffles with other kids or complaints about lack of parental guidance at home: All of these would go straight to the school administration and be addressed with a parent immediately.

I’ve had a school nurse call and let me know my child scraped her knee on a playground even though she is fine. It’s a courtesy update to let me know what to expect when my child returns home.

Yet when it comes to transgenderism, it now has become like a precious jewel: beloved, rare, sacrosanct, and protected. Helping kids embrace or manifest a transgender-friendly persona through hormones, surgery, or changes in name and personal pronouns is the new abortion. It is too progressive to be held back, so important it must be protected, but not quite enough to be addressed with parents.

The fact that the entire Madison school district apparently has jumped aboard the transgender train, allowing kids to change their names and pronouns instead of offering them therapy for suspected gender dysphoria, is disappointing too.

Undoubtedly school administrators would act differently if a child came to them showing signs of anorexia, PTSD, abuse, or other major problems that would require therapy. Yet here, therapy isn’t even a blip on the screen.

Nothing other than steps toward social, hormonal, or medical transitions will do. The damage to children is untold.

Here’s what the parents’ complaint says about gender dysphoria, which couldn’t be more spot on:

Whether a child with gender dysphoria should socially transition to a different gender identity is a highly controversial and consequential decision, and is therefore the type of decision that falls squarely within parental decision-making authority. In fact, many mental health and psychiatric professionals believe that children with gender dysphoria should not immediately transition and that transitioning may actually do significant harm.

Plaintiffs seek an injunction to prevent the District from facilitating potentially life-altering changes to their children’s identities without Plaintiffs’ involvement while this lawsuit is pending. And an injunction will not harm the District or children in any way; it will simply require the District to do what has long been the constitutionally-protected rule for decisions of this magnitude—defer to parents.

It will be interesting to see how the 22 states that filed lawsuits over transgender health care fare against the Trump administration in federal court.

But it’s clear to me there are much larger legal problems in Wisconsin, particularly percolating within the Madison Metropolitan School District, than to spend time raging against President Donald Trump.

At least 14 parents believe the school district is actively working against them, exploiting a loophole in federal law to help their children embrace an ideology that ultimately could hurt them.

This is harmful and unacceptable. As schools determine what to do in this pandemic year, this issue couldn’t be more pressing.


Australia: Tricky TEQSA 

Bettina Arndt

Our university regulator, TEQSA, has proved once again that they are a toothless tiger, more interested in pandering to feminist lobby groups than addressing critical governance issues vital to the welfare of much of the student body.

Last year I exposed the fact that TEQSA was responsible for the campus kangaroo courts, having issued a “guidance note” in 2018 which encouraged the universities to introduce regulations to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault. They were responding to pressure from feminist lobby groups keen to ensure more rape convictions by using a lower standard of proof to determine the guilt of accused male students. In my May newsletter I pointed out Joe Biden was a key player in forcing American universities in this direction – and our universities, under the guidance of TEQSA, have simply followed suit.

Many of you will have seen the video of Senator Amanda Stoker grilling TEQSA bureaucrats about the appallingly unfair system that followed their careless advice. The regulations introduced by the universities contained barely a word about ensuring proper legal rights for accused young men. These students face secretive, unsupervised committees determining their guilt on the balance of probabilities with power to impose serious penalties including expulsion from the university.

But then came the Queensland Supreme Court case which determined these kangaroo courts were illegal followed by Dan Tehan’s advice at the TEQSA conference last November that universities should leave sexual assault to the criminal courts. See a summary of these developments here.
TEQSA shows itself to be captured - again

A few weeks ago, TEQSA produced a new 76-page document –  a “Good Practice Note” on this issue. This document, written by a group of authors who included two End Rape on Campus activists, mentions neither the Queensland Supreme Court case nor the Education Minister’s advice to TEQSA.

Instead, the TEQSA good practice note advises the universities that whilst they can’t conduct “criminal investigations” for sexual assault they can “deal with the matter under their own misconduct procedures,” providing advice about handling these investigations which neatly sidestep all the key contentious issues.

The university-imposed penalties for sexual assault are mentioned without any explanation of what laws permit universities to withhold degrees or suspend students from their studies. As Senator Stoker pointed out to TEQSA, sexual assault legislation does not include penalties which include robbing young men of degrees worth tens of thousands of dollars and many years of study. It’s notable that TEQSA fails once again to address the legality of these penalties.

The latest TEQSA document makes a token effort to address the lack of due process rights for the accused suggesting that the  nameless university administrators tasked with deciding the fate of accused students are now expected to receive appropriate training, provide evidence to the accused regarding the accusations, keep proper records and ensure their reports are procedurally fair.

But there’s no mention of the most glaring failure to provide basic rights for the accused – access to lawyers. Only three Australian universities definitively allow accused students to be advised by lawyers during their investigations.

Slap in the face for Dan Tehan

This deliberately deceptive document shows the arrogance of the university bureaucrats who feel no need to explain why they are encouraging universities to proceed with investigations deemed illegal and ignore the advice of their Minister. To proudly include End Rape on Campus activists amongst their predominantly female list of authors speaks to their sense of entitlement, their assurance that no one will question their right to prosecute these cases any way they damn well like.

As one tiny example of the subtle anti-male bias which permeates the entire document, I loved the advice on p35 regarding assistance to alleged perpetrators which suggests these young men should be referred to a Behaviour Change Counselling at the Rape and Domestic Violence Service. Hmm, the allegations have yet to be investigated and he’s sent off for behaviour change. Straight from the feminist copybook.

Time for action- can you help?

It’s a very good time to draw public attention to what’s going on here, with the universities facing a huge financial crisis and having muddied their copybooks with all manner of free speech scandals – think UNSW’s censorship over Hong Kong politics, Drew Pavlou’s suspension, and Peter Ridd’s battle with James Cook.

The Coalition has just announced legislation for their Job-ready Graduates package, which rightly focusses on improved transparency as well as sustainability in higher education.

I’ve prepared a draft letter for you to send to Coalition Senators and MPs, proposing  an amendment to the legislation instructing universities to focus on their core business rather than running illegal kangaroo courts involving expensive administrative processes but also exposing these institutions to potential lawsuits over failure to protect basic legal rights of the accused.

And given that TEQSA’s latest effort provides further evidence of the failure of the university regulator to properly advise the tertiary sector on this important issue, we are also suggesting the Education Minister institute a proper review into TEQSA’s operation, in keeping with the Coalitions’ call for greater transparency in higher education.

We need you all to step up so that we send letters to all Coalition members of parliament – as part of our ongoing campaign to alert key policy makers to this unjust system.

Bettina Arndt newsletter: