Friday, October 16, 2020

They’ve Got to Get Rid of Western Civ—They Have To

For ten years I served on the GRE Literature Exam committee. The exam is one of the special subject matter exams separate from the regular GRE (with math, verbal, analytical sections), and several English departments require that applicants take it. Each year five of us would meet for several days at Educational Testing Service’s campus outside Princeton to pore over data on prior tests, review the performance of each question, and select new passages and craft new questions for the next administration.

During my tenure, five years of it as chairman, the number of departments in the United States including the test in graduate applications dwindled considerably. The consistent racial gap in scores was a problem for departments aiming to boost the admission of African American and Hispanic/Latino students.

And there was a substantive objection as well: The heavily white-male orientation of the test. Inevitably, nearly all authors of the passages we selected that dated before 1800 were white males. Given the comprehensive nature of the test—it has to cover literature written in English from Beowulf to the 20th century, as well as major works of world literature starting with Homer—we couldn’t avoid the racial imbalance. To do so would be to alter literary history.

Since the time I left the Committee five years ago, the test has only grown more unpopular, as you may expect. In fact, it’s doomed.

Throughout my involvement, I admired the design of the test for its breadth, and the staff members who managed our work were excellent. The test showed very well which test-takers possessed generalist knowledge of literary history and an analytical eye for literary language.

But impressive reading knowledge of great literature through the ages, which a high score confirms, doesn’t count much with English departments anymore. You can see that by checking out how many mission statements include anything about tradition, the canon, literary historical depth, and erudition.

Compare the frequency of those terms to the incidence of diversity and critical thinking and the preferences of the professors come through loud and clear.

The recent announcement by the University of Chicago English department that they will accept only those applicants interested in pursuing Black Studies shows how little they care about how much Medieval literature the students know.

The fate of the GRE Literature exam is the fate of the tradition it contains. The Woke Revolution demands it.

Several decades ago, one of the strongest movements in the humanities was “revisionist history,” a re-examination of the past that amounted to a Nietzschean “transvaluation of values.” The revisionists didn’t so much change the facts as they did the moral meaning of them. European explorers were not daring adventurers; they were greedy colonizers. Natives were not uncivilized peoples; they were dignified souls with a culture all their own. America was not a “city on a hill,” a beacon of freedom; it was an empire built on racism and conquest.

As it proceeded, their success in establishing a contrary party line on the West and American was astounding.

But there is a big difference between the revisionists of old and the Wokesters of today. The revisionists studied the history and culture of the West and of America and denounced them. The Woke ones denounce the West and America and do NOT study them.

The earlier leftist critics read old authors and exposed their bad social attitudes. The Woke critics say, “If those guys had bad attitudes, why should I read them at all?” The logic is clear to them. If American history and literature and art are packed with exploitation and bigotry, let’s not waste time with it.

The logic is clear to them. If American history and literature and art are packed with exploitation and bigotry, let’s not waste time with it.
I am not sure that this is what the revisionists intended. They took great satisfaction in de-mystifying and de-mythifying the past. It pleased the vindictiveness that sprang from their ressentiment, which itself grew from their unhappy consciousness of inferiority in the face of larger-than-life characters from the past.

But the younger leftists didn’t grow up in the shadow of the old-fashioned, reverent humanities. Their teachers were the revisionists themselves. They don’t feel the burden of the past in the way the previous generation did. They have no duty to “transvalue” Jonathan Swift (because of his misogyny) or the Founding Fathers (for allowing slavery). That work is already complete.

All that remains is to dispel them. Tear down the statues, replace 1776 with 1619, and promote contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers of color. The Woke generation doesn’t know very much about the past, but they have sufficient moral scruple to forget it, to judge it as white privilege and carry onward. To them, historical ignorance is no crime. On the contrary, a proud dismissal of a venal heritage is praiseworthy.

This is the natural next step in the decline of the humanities—the decline of culture.

The old New Left insisted on historical consciousness, the right and proper historical consciousness. Those revisionists insisted just as fervently as traditionalists did that young Americans read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, only with a different eye.

The Woke Movement isn’t interested. “Always historicize!” was a slogan of the 1970s and ‘80s, but it strikes 21st-century identity scholars and teachers as too academic, too much the way of the old system. They want action and change. That puts the traditional canon of Western civilization in the crosshairs of curricular revision.

Here is a pledge from the Syracuse University English Department explicitly outlining that intention:

In refusing the perpetuation of all structures and methods that harm and devalue the lives of Black people and People of Color, Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ communities, we commit ourselves to examining our own departmental and programmatic structures, acknowledging our complicities and shortcomings, as well as strengths. To that end, we pledge to bring awareness and justice to our classrooms and to all of our wider communities by foregrounding racialized voices, experiences, and histories in our curricula, our pedagogies, and our practices of recruiting and retaining faculty and students of color. Through these forms of self-examination and action, we affirm our rejection of the normalization of racial violence and structural racism, and lend our voices and labor to the struggle for social and racial justice.

Oh, how the purpose of teaching has changed.

English professors are not charged with passing along the great tradition of Hamlet, Paradise Lost, and “Song of Myself.” No, they promise to “bring justice to our classrooms.” They are activists, social justice change agents, figures of “resistance, protest, and solidarity.” That puts Samuel Johnson and Alexander Pope well down the list of learning outcomes.

The 1940 AAUP statement on academic freedom warned teachers that they “should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subjects.” But activists have no patience with those restrictions. To them, the observance of such institutional limits on politics in the classroom only maintains an unjust status quo.

And to those students of a conservative or libertarian or classically liberal bent who worry about such tendentious teachers grading their papers, the response is: “Find another major.”

In the current climate, any professor who stands up in a department meeting to say, “We can’t do this—this is not what English is all about,” hears in reply, at best, “Oh, yes, it is now.”

The traditional literary canon is out, or at least the systematic study of it. The old call for more diversity on the syllabus sounds downright tepid to the Woke. They want a whole new discipline. English is “too white.” That’s the blunt problem, and it has risen to decisive status.

Reverse Racism Is Still Racism

Another Ivy League school is in legal trouble for race-based discrimination.

Whatever one thinks about affirmative action, this much is undeniable: It’s one of the most effective euphemisms ever created. If you disagree, try to come up with a sweeter sounding way to say “race-based discrimination.”

We’ll wait.

According to The Smithsonian, this politically charged term entered the presidential lexicon in 1961, when, in John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925, he called on government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin” [emphasis added].

Without regard. Thus, the affirmative action of 1961 has been turned completely on its head. For decades now, these discriminatory policies have taken from one group and given to another. And yet according to Princeton’s panicky president, things have only gotten worse.

They’ve gotten worse, too, for another Ivy League school — Yale — which the Trump Justice Department is now suing for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for imposing “undue and unlawful” undergraduate admissions penalties on the school’s white and Asian applicants.

As Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff writes, “According to the complaint, Yale engages in racial balancing by, among other things, keeping the annual percentage of African-American admitted applicants to within one percentage point of the previous year’s admitted class as reflected in U.S. Department of Education data. The complaint alleges similar racial balancing with regard to Asian-American applicants. It also alleges that Yale injures applicants and students because its race discrimination relies upon and reinforces damaging race-based stereotypes, including such stereotypes against Yale’s racially favored applicants.”

When affirmative action is couched in terms of “righting wrongs” or “improving diversity,” a majority of folks tend to favor it. But, as the above description of the Yale lawsuit indicates, the more people know about a particular instance of affirmative action, the less they support it. Take, for example, what Gallup Senior Scientist Frank Newport wrote in 2018 about still another case of race-based Ivy League discrimination — this time at Harvard: “Gallup polls have shown that a majority — although not a super majority — of Americans favor the broad, conceptual idea of ‘affirmative action for racial minorities.’ Responses to this question are to some degree affected by the context in which it is asked, but our most recent updates show that 54% to 58% of the public favors affirmative action for racial minorities.”

That seems pretty solid support, doesn’t it? And the Pew Research Center’s numbers are even more impressive: 71% of Americans think affirmative action is a good thing.

Or do they?

When people are polled about affirmative action, context is everything. The Pew poll got that 71% number by asking about “affirmative action programs designed to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses.” And when it’s put in those terms, affirmative action seems like a pretty noble endeavor.

But, as Newport admits, “The Gallup question does not define ‘affirmative action’ at all, leaving that to the understanding of the respondent. The Pew question doesn’t define the specifics of the affirmative action programs beyond saying that the result would be to increase the number of black and minority students on college campuses.”

What happens, though, when respondents are given some specifics? According to Newport, Gallup in 2016 asked about a then-recent Supreme Court decision involving the University of Texas, which was worded as follows: “The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that confirms that colleges can consider the race or ethnicity of students when making decisions on who to admit to the college. Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision?”

The results? Just 31% approved of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding affirmative action, while a whopping 65% disapproved.

In short, folks generally favor affirmative action in the abstract, but they generally hate race-based discrimination in the real world. Yet these two terms are synonymous. And therein lies the awful power of a well-crafted euphemism.


American higher education caught in perfect economic storm

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit America’s colleges and universities like a category 5 hurricane. After a very tough spring and summer, campuses are doing their best to open.

Those that cannot have gone virtual, which has generated demands for refunds of housing, meal plan fees, tuition and other fees. These refunds in combination with COVID-19 related compliance and safety-related expenses and major investments in technology and training to go virtual have just added to the pain. The losses that schools incurred from the spring shutdowns were only partially offset from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and additional funding from the federal government is questionable.

The refunds and additional expenses are being compounded with the loss of revenue from international students and students taking a gap year. Future revenue is likely to be impacted due to projected demographics showing domestic college-bound students down or flat for the next decade throughout most of the country.

Many larger schools rely on their football and basketball programs to generate the revenue that is needed to support their other sports programs. The loss of revenue from the cancellation of the NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments and a significantly reduced or eliminated football schedule has meant billions in lost revenue.

Very few schools have the reserves to deal with the financial deficits that they are experiencing and lie ahead. Smaller schools are at a particular disadvantage because they do not have the scale to spread these costs like their larger competitors, and average tuition has been increasing at more than two times the rate of inflation, so many schools have reached the limit of tuition that can be sustained. So cost cuts may be the only viable option.

Many schools have been attempting to reduce costs by deferring maintenance on their buildings. According to JLL (a leading international real estate advisory firm), the average school has more than $123 per square foot of deferred maintenance and that number is expected to grow. Donors love putting their names on new buildings but have little interest in providing new roofs or HVAC systems, so these costs will continue to burden future cash flows.

Many schools with historic campuses are located in small towns that have lost employers over the years that provided the local tax base to help support these community pillars. Many of these smaller schools have excellent programs and educate students that become the teachers, nurses, local business entrepreneurs and other skilled positions these communities and America desperately need.

Unlike their larger competitors, smaller schools also have smaller alumni bases to fund endowments needed for capital improvements, upgrades and future capital expansions. Lastly, higher education institutions of all sizes worry about the trending occurrence of litigation, with COVID-19 claims and issues of moving to virtual academic delivery generating even more claims.

Houses in good school zones sell in a flash

This is a case of a virtuous circle. Success feeds on success. Schools that already have good students and teachers attract parents who are very concerned about that and have the money to buy in to a place where their children will be well treated.

And because the school is a good one, that will push prices up in its area as so many people want in.

And a school with well-off parents will generally mean that the parents will be of higher IQ -- and high IQ parents tend to have high IQ kids, So that will keep the school results and standards up -- thus making the school and its area ever more attractive

Parents desperate to get their kids into a good public school have taken to sleeping in swags overnight in the hope of landing a coveted spot.

But it has never been cheaper to buy a house inside a sought-after catchment zone thanks to low interest rates, government incentives and flat house prices.

However competition is fierce, with one house in a sought-after catchment zone going under contract in less than 24 hours.

On Tuesday night, about a dozen parents camped outside the gates of Pimlico State High School, one of Townsville’s top performing schools.

The school, like many other top state schools in the city, is the subject of an Enrolment Management Plan (EMP), meaning the number of students accepted from outside of its catchment area is strictly capped.

Students living within the catchment zone are automatically guaranteed a place at the school.

A five bedroom fixer upper at 35 Latchford St was listed on a Thursday and under contract the following day, snapped up by a family with young children.

To put that in perspective, the median days on market in Townsville is 84, according to the latest data from

Listed for $270,000 negotiable, it was sold by Sibby and Lucy Di Bartolo of John Gribbin Realty, with the contract due to settle today.

“There was a lot of interest in it, from first home buyers and families,” Mr Di Bartolo said.

“Buyers are keen to get their kids into that school (Pimlico) but the suburb also offers affordable houses.

“I wish I had 10 more like it because a lot of people missed out.”

A few doors down is 17 Latchford Street, a five bedroom Queenslander on a 971 sqm block.

It is listed with Julie Mahoney of Ray White Julie Mahoney and will go under the hammer on October 26.

One of its key selling points is the fact it is located within the school catchment.

“Being located in a good school catchment can be a huge drawcard for buyers,” Ms Mahoney said.

“And we have had huge interest in this property, mostly from families and young couples planning for the future.”




Thursday, October 15, 2020

Oxford professor who was forced to retire aged 69 is awarded £30,000 and his old university job back after winning landmark age discrimination case

Oxford University has been ordered to re-employ a professor who it illegally forced to quit before his 70th birthday.

Professor Paul Ewart has also been awarded £30,000 in compensation after he won a landmark age discrimination battle against the university last year.

The former head of atomic and laser physics, who had worked for the university for 38 years, had demanded to be given his old job of senior lecturer back - even though he only wants to carry on working there for another year.

The university had refused, saying that his role had gone. Now a tribunal has ruled that the professor must be re-instated and ordered for him to be paid substantial damages.

However, Prof Ewart failed in his bid to have the tribunal order for the controversial policy, known as the Employer Justified Retirement Age policy (EJRA), to be abolished.

Oxford introduced the rule forcing senior staff to retire the September before they turn 69 in the hope it would encourage the recruitment of younger and more diverse staff.

Prof Ewart said that in 2014 he was granted an extension to continue working until he was 69.

But when his contract with the Physics department was not renewed in 2017, Prof Ewart, who was based at Oxford's world famous Clarendon Laboratory, sued the university for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.

In its judgement last year, the tribunal in Reading ruled in his favour, saying the EJRA had a 'highly discriminatory effect' on older employees. It has now ordered Oxford to re-instate him.

A hearing last month was told that Prof Ewart wished to return to his post but only wanted to continue in a paid role until September 2021.

After that, he was happy to move to an unpaid Emeritus position.

Applying to be re-instated, the academic said that since his dismissal he had 'lost standing' within his field of research.

The tribunal's judgement states: '(He) emphasised that there appeared to be no criticism by the (university) of his abilities, academic credentials or relationships with colleagues both within and outside the Physics department.

'He also pointed to the (university's) willingness to retain his services and involvement on an Emeritus (i.e. unpaid) basis.'

Prof Ewart told the tribunal that a grant had already been awarded for proposed work with colleagues on a project in Oxford and Cambridge.

This included a £24,000 consultancy fee for him which would help cover the costs of his re-employment.

However, the University argued that giving him his job back was problematic. It argued: 'The role he used to perform had gone. There was now no research team for him to lead. 'He used to have direct supervision of students, but that was now not going to happen.

'He had other responsibilities which could not now apply on any reinstatement. (The University) was not obliged to create a non-existent role to reinstate (him) to.'

However, the tribunal ruled in Prof Ewart's favour. It said: 'If (he) were to be reinstated it is not disputed that he would perform his role to the standards expected of a senior academic at Oxford.

'His work cannot be the same as he left off, but that is not to say that he cannot be reinstated and continue to act in the role with his former distinction.

'Given (the University's) emphasis on cutting-edge research, (Prof Ewart's) role will never at any point in his career have been the same as it was three years previously. 'That is not a reason to say that reinstatement is not practicable.'

In addition to his reinstatement, the tribunal ordered Oxford to pay Prof Ewart £22,500 for injury to feelings and an additional £7,100 in interest.

Employment judge Laurence Anstis did however refuse Prof Ewart's request to recommend the abolition of the EJRA as it would not apply to him in the year he had left working at the University.

During the original hearing Prof Ewart had accused Oxford University of spending up to £1million in legal fees fighting cases brought by not only himself but other academics since the introduction of the age restriction in 2011.

He paid £5,000 for data from the independent Higher Education Statistics Agency which showed that the EJRA policy had only a 'marginal' effect on creating vacancies for younger people.

In Prof Ewart's witness statement to an employment tribunal last year, the physicist said that in 2014 he had been given an extension to carry on working until he was 69, and that he had expected to receive another allowing him to continue to 2020.

In his final two years, Prof Ewart published 15 papers and won leading roles in projects to create ultra-efficient engines. He argued his research was 'blossoming'.

He was told in February 2017 that his application for a three-year extension to work part time had been rejected.

Prof Ewart said that this was despite the fact his salary would have been almost entirely covered by grants.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: 'The University has reviewed in detail the 2019 Employment Tribunal decision regarding Professor Paul Ewart and Oxford’s EJRA policy.

'This decision followed an earlier Employment Tribunal, on a separate case but of equal legal weighting, which ruled in favour of the Oxford EJRA.

'The University has decided it does not accept the more recent tribunal’s ruling and will be appealing against it.

'The EJRA policy remains in place and will continue to be applied as normal.'

In 2018, John Pitcher, a Shakespearean scholar at St John's College, Oxford, lost his claim for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.

An employment tribunal ruled the policy was a 'necessary and appropriate means of achieving [a] legitimate aim'.

Leftist Teacher Shoves SICK Note In Students Backpacks, Parents Livid After Reading Only 2 Words

Chloe Bressack, a math and science teacher sent a letter home to parents headlined “About Mx. Bressack.”

“… my pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, she, hers.’ I know it takes some practice for it to feel natural,” the letter reads, “but students catch on pretty quickly.”

The letter also asks that students use “Mx.,” (pronounced ‘Mix’) when addressing the teacher rather than Mr. or Ms.

The letter alarmed the parents.

A parents who wrote a post on a Facebook Page group “Tally Moms Stay Connected,” said her child’s teacher sent home a “Welcome to my class” note, which included the request.

The parent ended her original post with the question,“What would your reaction be as a parent of 9 & 10 year olds?”

According to Tallahassee, Canopy Oaks Principal Paul Lambert said he and the school are in full support of Bressack.

“We support her preference in how she’s addressed, we certainly do,” Lambert said. “I think a lot of times it might be decided that there is an agenda there, because of her preference — I can tell you her only agenda is teaching math and science at the greatest level she can.”

Bressack declined an interview with the Democrat Wednesday, but commented in an email, “I feel very lucky to be teaching at Canopy Oaks, and I look forward to working with my students this year.”

Superintendent Rocky Hanna addressed the situation in a statement sent to the Democrat. He said he met with Canopy Oaks administrators after learning about the letter.

“According to Principal Lambert, the teacher addresses students daily by using the pronouns he, she, him and her. The teacher also uses ma’am and sir when responding to students. As a personal preference, however, the teacher simply prefers to be referred to in gender neutral terms as that of a coach,” Hanna wrote.

“I can assure you that teachers in our district will not be allowed to use their influence in the classroom to advance any personal belief or political agenda. At this time, I do not believe that is the case in this instance.”

15 October, 2020

BLM-minded High School To Hold Disciplinary Hearing For Student Who Opposed Socialist on Instagram

According to attorney Jesse Binnall, who also represents Michael Flynn with Sidney Powell, his new client, a 17-year-old conservative student, is being investigated by her school for a disciplinary violation for…wait for it …being conservative on Instagram! Yes, you read that right. It’s 2020, after all.

Episcopal High School in Northern Virginia is a private boarding school that charges $63,200 per year for tuition. But academics are not featured on their website. Instead, there is a huge tab for “Racism, Understanding, and Belonging” — which appears to be reactionary to the 2020 BLM movement. Indeed, they invited the race-baiting socialist Ibram X. Kendi to give a speech on campus.

As you can imagine, a conservative would be up-in-arms over a socialist racist being elevated and paid thousands by her school for lies and indoctrination. True to form for an American girl born free and accustomed to the 1st Amendment, Ms. Mackenzie Andrysiak expressed her disagreement with the school by writing on Instagram, in a private story, “Absolutely DISGUSTING that @episcopalhs let this man speak at our school. Unbelievable.” Along with the words, Mackenzie shared a screenshot from Fox News of a Kendi tweet in which he accuses federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett of being a racist for adopting two black children from Haiti. “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity,” were Kendi’s words.

And, my hero Mackenzie also used her private Instagram account to repost content through stories from mainstream conservative groups like PragerU and Turning Point USA.

There is nothing inaccurate or outrageous about Mackenzie’s words or posts. The same surely cannot be said of Kendi. But in Woke 2020, reality is of no consequence. The high school, without identifying any particular violative social media posts (all of which her lawyer has reviewed in entirety and advises are squeaky clean and made up of mainstream conservative content re-shares) is moving to dismiss her from the institution right before the PSAT exam for her Instagram posts.

The undoubtedly leftist private “educational” institution will begin proceedings this week to dismiss the conservative student for holding a politically contrary opinion to their own. “The disciplinary committee process, of course, will be a politically motivated attack against a conservative student—one whose simple act of expression has alarmed the school in a way that illuminates its egregious bias against conservative thought—and in turn—a conservative student,” wrote Jesse Binnall in a letter to the school about the absurdity of kicking out a child for disagreeing with the school’s choice in hiring a racist socialist as an ethics speaker. “Of course, none of Mackenzie’s posts come close to violating school rules as outlined in the EHS Student Handbook. While it might wish to push its political narrative on students, conservative ideology and freedom of thought has not (yet) been explicitly forbidden by the school. …[I]n a series of actions that would make Orwell blush, EHS has tried to force Mackenzie out because she refuses to surrender to the school’s Newspeak type-agenda surrounding rhetoric supported by the Black Lives Matters organization—an admittedly Marxist group.”

Moreover, Binnall accused Episcopal High School of entirely ignoring the bullying and harassment that was directed at Mackenzie by other students. Guess why. Any guesses? Alright, I’ll tell you: for being in an interracial relationship. You can’t even make this stuff up! 2020 Woke stories are The Babylon Bee on steroids.

According to Binnall, Episcopal High School “has been aware of the harassment and bullying of Mackenzie by students, an alumna, and even a teacher; harassment and bullying based upon her mainstream political beliefs, her physical appearance, and even based upon her previous interracial relationship.” But the school turned a blind eye to the conservative victim. Maybe they determined that she deserved the abuse, which would be in line with the BLM ideology that deems private businesses owned by white people as deserving of annihilation.

Certainly, this school isn’t the right place for Mackenzie, nor for any self-respecting family for that matter. But this is mid-school-year and right before the PSAT. The idea of being dismissed in such a prejudiced manner is wrong and unethical and unfair. I can only hope that the school comes to its senses and that Mackenzie is given the opportunity to part on her own volition once she is ready

Coronavirus Enrollment Effects: Small but Consequential

Early preliminary data from the respected National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show total enrollments this fall are down only 1.8 % over last year. Since after the Covid-19 pandemic hit many were concerned fall enrollment might be down precipitously, say 10 or even 20%, these numbers are actually rather comforting to many in the higher education community.

But two caveats are in order. First, the numbers are based on only a sample, schools responding by September 10. I would not be surprised that biases enrollments upwards a bit—schools with big enrollment could be slower in responding to data requests. Second, the numbers are way down (11%) for foreign students, many of whom typically pay out-of-state tuition fees. The negative revenue effects are probably greater than 1.8%. Graduate enrollments are up, in keeping with the historic trend that during downturns unemployed persons seek degrees to improve long-term employment prospects.

The surprise to me regards community college enrollments, down 7.5%. I thought that they might increase, as students stayed away from their four-year colleges because of remote teaching and Covid-19, choosing a low-cost alternative near home. But I insufficiently considered the big contemporary trend in higher education: the flight to quality. Postsecondary credentials are not what they used to be, and a degree from a second-rate liberal arts college or state university no longer seems enticing, while degrees from top-reputation schools still are in high demand. And community colleges are suffering the most reputationally.

The decline in community college enrollment comes, ironically, at a time when some Americans are looking for ways to demonstrate vocational competency that do not require spending $100,000 or $200,000 for a piece of paper (diploma). Community colleges theoretically could provide this, but there is a lot more hype about things like coding academies that provide non-traditional, non-degree training; I suspect the National Clearinghouse data fail to fully pick up this trend.

Moreover, this fall’s enrollment drop will be the ninth in a row, I suspect a record for the nation since constitutional government began in 1789 (and certainly a record for the last century or so). Moreover, the old reliable solution to budgetary woes—tuition increases—is off the table. The drop in the demand for higher education is having the predicted impact, a decline in tuition revenues per student. Colleges are mostly reluctant to cut published fees, but are instead giving ever bigger tuition discounts. My guess is that total tuition revenues received by colleges will be down from last year, possibly a good deal, at a time when other traditional revenue sources (state appropriations and private donations) are also under pressure. Spending cuts are thus often considerable.

My sense about all of this is perhaps excessively colored by the experience of my own university, but I see grudging budgetary reductions that do little to correct for recent practices pushing up costs a lot. Two examples: first is the excessive bureaucratization of universities in modern times. The ratio of administrators to faculty, for example, has risen because of budget cuts in the past year at my school, and I suspect that is not unique. Second: some schools lose literally tens of millions of dollars annually on ball-throwing contests (intercollegiate sports). Why?

University incentive systems are perverse, with little reward for promoting efficiency and innovation. Schools spend recklessly on buildings that are underutilized, hire staff doing little or nothing to advance the primary teaching and research mission, and are slow in responding to changing labor market demands.

Perhaps governments, foundations and other private donors should give fewer dollars to schools: “starve the beast.” Perhaps governments should give more funds to individuals at the heart of universities—students or professors doing research. Pay students or even professors directly rather than institutions, and then let the institutions compete to get students for their tuition fees and professors for their research grants. Have student financial assistance depend in part on academic performance and probability of graduation, reducing vast sums currently wasted on students not fitting into the college environment and failing to even graduate. Introduce more price competition and performance standards into higher education. Make the Ivory Tower resemble more the Real World.

1619 – The Left’s final assault on America

Leftists have launched what they hope can be their final assault on America. Their goal is to obliterate everything good that America ever did or aspired to achieve, erase its citizens’ memories, and sow the seeds for future generations to revile and reject everything that is decent and noble in our country.

They intend to fundamentally change America’s historical narrative away from events and circumstances that made our country the world’s beacon of hope for freedom and representative government. They intend to replace well-documented reality with a false narrative of America being the scourge of the world, based on its enslaving and stealing from minorities to enrich and aggrandize white ruling elites.

Their plan is called the “1619 Project,” an alternative history curriculum for American elementary and secondary students. It was announced in July 2019 with a series of front-page stories in the New York Times, and other major newspapers, explaining its content and the need to:

“reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

The 1619 premise is: “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.” Everything that happened in American history flows from the “original sin” of slavery. Every concept, document and institution that shapes and guides America was actually designed to promote slavery and therefore must be eradicated to atone for centuries of racial oppression.

1619 proponents declare that we must “make amends” for America’s crimes against humanity by eliminating monuments, the Electoral College, the Senate, Supreme Court justices, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, federalism, capitalism, and all vestiges of white history and culture. Even hard work, objective thinking, the scientific method, self-reliance, being polite and two-parent families are the product of racism and “white dominant culture,” according to a document that has since been removed from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The 1619 Project is partnering with those who deem the American Flag, Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem as offensive vestiges of racism, slavery and white privilege.

We could ignore the 1619 Project if it were simply the ravings of a coddled leftist professor in some Ivy League sinecure. But it is not, or at least it is no longer.

The New York Times leads an array of news media, academic, think tank and public officials who see the 1619 Project as the final solution for turning America against itself. Once they indoctrinate the current generation of elementary and secondary school students with (even greater) hatred for America, drowning out and canceling dissenting voices with charges of racism and white privilege, they will have free rein to establish a permanent totalitarian socialist state.

The 1619 Project was embraced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she led members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Ghana during the August Recess. They wanted the 1619 narrative of the first African slaves arriving at Jamestown to upstage commemorations of the first session of an elected government at Jamestown. To succeed, the 1619 Project must ignore mountains of facts, and fabricate mountains of lies.

The centerpiece of the 1619 Project is the false claim that slavery was a uniquely American crime, infecting everything and everybody it touched to the present day.

In reality, the capture and enslavement of defeated foes and “inferior” people is as old as humankind. Slavery was integral to establishing regional dominance for the Egyptian Pharaohs, Muslim Emirs, Roman Emperors and countless other rulers. The Western Hemisphere’s great civilizations of the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs enslaved their subjugated people for labor and ritual sacrifice.

African rulers trading their slaves to Muslims or other Africans, and then to Europeans, was born from improved sailing technologies and the need for cheap, forced labor. The 1619 Project ignores the fact that only 9.7% of the Atlantic slave trade involved England’s North American colonies; 90.3% of African slaves were shipped to South America and the Caribbean.

The 1619 Project ignores that while 12 million West Africans were shipped by Europeans to the Americas, over 17 million East Africans were shipped by Arabs into the Middle East. The 1619 Project ignores the fact that the American colonies began banning slave importation in 1778, during the Revolutionary War, leading to a formal (largely ignored) ban for the entire United States in 1794.

England did not ban slavery in its colonies until 1807. Meanwhile, the Arab slave trade in East Africa was not eradicated until England destroyed the last slave forts in Zanzibar in 1909. Slavery remains active, if officially banned, in much of the Arab world today – as well as in parts of Africa, in the Chinese and Russian penal systems, and in China-run mines in Congo, where 40,000 children labor for $1-2 a day.

The year 1619 is important, not because slaves arrived in the new world, but because for the first time in the Western Hemisphere, a free people elected representatives to govern and be held accountable in subsequent elections. This was the first step to America becoming the most exceptional civic culture in world history. That is the true 1619 lesson that leftists want to expunge.

The Left and New York Times would also have us believe that black Americans are in lockstep with Nikole Hanna-Jones and other authors of the divisive, revisionist 1619 pseudo-history. The claim helps drive their anti-American agenda. But it is false. .

Many African Americans have battled 1619 fabrications and assertions, while black American thought leaders have eviscerated it – including civil rights leader Robert Woodson, who founded the 1776 Project to combat 1619 falsehoods, because he objects to assertions that the “shadow of slavery and Jim Crow” hangs over the destiny of Black Americans. “Nothing is more lethal,” he says, “than to convey to people that they have an exemption from personal responsibility.”

Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley notes that the NY Times 1619 scheme is also a foundation of “critical race theory,” which insists that problems within the black community are the fault of whites and the responsibility of whites to solve. It is now being taught in colleges, high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools across the USA – and in companies and government agencies via “diversity” and “racial sensitivity” sessions, where “diversity consultants” tell attendees the US is inherently racist and “virtually all white people” contribute to or benefit from racism.

Other vocal black critics of the 1619 Project and its adherents include political commentators Armstrong Williams and Candace Owens. Incredibly, notes columnist Deroy Murdock, the NY Times own family history is “rife with slavery, Confederate boosterism, and enforcement of Jim Crow segregation.”

Eminent historians have also excoriated the phony 1619 history, and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) has drafted a bill that would cut funding to schools teaching this fake American history.

Sadly and outrageously, all too many academics, Democrats, race hustlers and even some Republicans are vigorously advancing destructive 1619 ideas. Others are too intimidated to speak out against them, out of fear that they will be ridiculed, fired, canceled, harassed online or in restaurants, even beaten or killed.

Americans must do all they can to stop the 1619 Project and stand-up for the greatest nation on earth, before it’s too late. Bob Woodson’s 1776 Project is a good start. Let’s build on it, starting right now.

Scot Faulkner is the former Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and author of the bestselling political memoir, "Naked Emperors."

Via email

An arts/humanities degree has long been the butt of predictable joke but there's another side

Comment from Australia

Of course I have an arts degree. How could you tell?

I've always said that an honours degree in art history is the most useful preparation you can ever get for the kind of daily journalism and broadcasting I do: it's not until you truly understand the imagery and meaning of a Renaissance painting of a crucifixion that you will ever make sense of a federal leadership spill.

The blood; the sorrow. The weeping and rending of garments. And that's just on the Coalition side.

Yesterday the Federal Government revealed that the humble arts degree was now going to be nailed to the cross, with fees set to soar for humanities subjects from 2021.

An arts degree has long been the butt of many a predictable joke, but the other week a senior employment recruiter shared with me on air what organisations were telling her they wanted to see in new employees, and there was a familiar echo in what she had to say.

As AI replaces more and more of the jobs we once assumed our children could grow up to do, this recruiter's research with leaders across several industry sectors identified the most important character traits needed in a post-COVID-19 workforce. They include adaptability, emotional control and resilience, persuasion and negotiation skills, relationship building and “skin or soul in the game”.

Let's say your infrastructure firm needs to persuade the Queensland Government of your construction agenda. You had better check the above list. Or say you're an economist advising the loans division of a bank or the manager of a medium-sized business dealing with suppliers. Imagine you are a primary producer scouring for a new export market: check the list.

That list above describes my four-and-a-bit years at uni, travelling in and around art history, English, Russian literature and Australian history. It describes the self-reliance, organisational skills, critical and comparative thinking and sheer enthusiasm for new and challenging ideas that those years fostered in me and my peers.

Despite the Federal Government's announcement yesterday, they clearly get this too: indeed the Education Minister, Dan Tehan, was the one who funded and opened a new centre at RMIT in Melbourne last year to investigate the ethical use of emerging AI technologies. Humanities, eh?

Is 'job-ready' the goal?

I'm not going to bang on here about how our shared and contrasting human histories and experiences, and our emotional connections to and understanding of the world, are almost entirely contained within the study of the humanities — after thousands of years of human civilisation that much is clear.

One Vice Chancellor — with double degrees spanning the sciences and creative arts — remarked to me that viewing university education as fundamentally about turning out "job-ready" graduates misses the point.

The question now is what the consequences of this de-funding will be?

The late essayist and quicksilver intellectual Christopher Hitchens once argued that "above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment … and this Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person".

For many, the universality of the humanities degree is the most democratic expression of this ambition.




Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The missing piece: Where is ‘education’ in the national conversation?

The staggering impact of COVID-19 on American lives and the economy was understandably the central issue in the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate. But somehow, critical questions around education were absent in both debates. In fact, according to transcripts of both debates, the candidates used the word “school” fifteen times, but not always to describe K-12 education. The word “education” itself was stated just three times.

Clearly, this is a school year like no other. A recent Education Week analysis found that 74 percent of the 100 largest school districts in the United States opted exclusively for remote learning, dramatically impacting the education of over 9 million students. At the same time, increasing our nation’s educational achievement is a persistent challenge. The 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed that American students performed above average in reading, ranking 13th just behind Sweden and New Zealand, but below average in math. In math, we ranked 37th and fell behind Spain, Lithuania, and Hungary. American students’ average performance in both subjects has remained flat for approximately two decades.

Our nation’s lingering educational woes need to be addressed if we are going to lead the next generation in workforce productivity and entrepreneurship. These challenges are now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers, administrators, and families have made a herculean effort to engage students broadly in online learning that is not optimal. Even before the pandemic, cyber charter schools with sufficient infrastructure fell short of meeting high standards for student outcomes. A recent study from Indiana indicated that students in grades three through eight experienced significant, long-term declines in their math and English/language arts skills after shifting from a traditional public school to a cyber charter school when compared to their former public school peers, who were matched in terms of race/ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, and academic achievement. These findings build on prior evidence from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and across the United States.

These challenges of under-resourced schools, especially in urban areas, and attempts at online learning are heightened by the continuing digital divide.

The result of the COVID-19 crisis is that students are projected to have fallen behind by a third of a year in reading and up to two-thirds of a year in math by this fall 2020. However, these losses are unlikely to be universal, and the top third of students may make gains in reading.

What impact does this have for our country? McKinsey and Company addressed this question in a recent study that estimates the impact on American business. Assuming that regular, in-person instruction does not resume until January 2021, the average American K-12 student may lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings due to educational disruptions faced during COVID-19. These financial losses will likely be greater for Black and Latinx students. Losses across all K-12 students are estimated at $110 billion in annual earnings with $98.8 billion attributable to COVID-19 learning losses and the remaining $11.2 billion from the associated increased likelihood of students dropping out of high school.

The challenges faced by our current education system and magnified by the COVID-19 crisis put America behind and leave us with little capacity to lead in the future. In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s A Nation at Risk cautioned “Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. … Others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.” This language is dramatic and does not apply to all students and educators, but the data from four decades ago aptly fits today and demands our attention amid the ongoing crises faced by our nation. It is imperative that discussion about education enter the national conversation.

Columbia, MO, Board of Education votes for pre-K through 5th grade to return to a four day week next week

As people headed into the board meeting tonight ABC 17 News crews asked what their reactions would be to whichever way the board voted.

Most parents we spoke to and parents that spoke during the public comment section of the meeting said they hope the board decides to allow students to return to classrooms in-person four days a week.

“I would be ecstatic and I know my 11-year-old would be as well," said Kelly Hoober a CPS parent. "He told me he wants me to text him as soon as I find out the results.”

But if the board decides on a different option…

“Honestly I would be super disappointed," said Hoober "Crushed. I think I would honestly hate to go home and tell my 11-year-old to be completely honest.”

While a CPS teacher and President of a local teacher’s union said the four-day in-person learning is extremely concerning.

“Because that means we would not be social distancing to the level that our health department experts have instructed us to do so,” said Kathy Steinhoff.

Steinhoff said as long as the decision is made with the safety of students and community in mind then she would support the board.

“Our teachers want to be back in school just as much as our kids want to be back at school," said Steinhoff. "We just want to do it safely.”

“It’s just a tough situation all around," Hoober said. "I know teachers are doing the best they can and I know a lot of them want the kids back in school as well. I'm hoping for the best and I hope the teachers know that we support them we just want our kids back in school with them in person.”

During the previous discussion, staff members say many middle school students are not engaging in non-core classes like band or physical education. Grades in those classes are much lower than last year.

Board of Education member Teresa Maledy pointed out that, although high school students would return last, they are typically more tech-savvy and able to navigate online learning.

What Would a Second Term for Trump Mean for education?

When the Justice Department sued Yale University last week for considering race and ethnicity as one factor in its admissions policies, it was the latest example of the Trump administration pushing a conservative agenda by targeting colleges over issues like race and protests against conservative speakers on campuses.

And higher ed leaders worry that one of the impacts on colleges and universities should Trump be elected to a second term would be more of the same.

“I suspect what we’ll see is what we’ve seen over the past year -- an increased focus on populism with attacks on ‘elites,’” said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations and a top lobbyist for colleges and universities. “More micromanagement through heavy-handed executive orders.”

However, in other areas, it’s less clear what a second term would bring.

Just months into the Trump administration’s first term, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved quickly to undo the Obama administration’s policies aimed primarily at for-profit colleges -- one that that had made it easier for borrowers who had been defrauded to have their student loans forgiven, and another to prevent federal student aid from going to colleges where graduates couldn’t earn enough to repay their debts.

Borrower defense protections, gone. Gainful employment requirements, gone.

But with those policies already dismantled, higher education leaders say it’s unclear what policies affecting colleges and universities would next be high on the administration's agenda.

Conservatives like the members of the Republican Study Committee, a group in the House of Representatives, are pressing for changes like letting Pell Grants be used to for job training that does not require a college degree, in order, they say, to reverse a “bachelor's-or-bust” mentality in the nation. And Trump has made moves like ordering the removal of requirements for college degrees for federal jobs unless absolutely necessary -- a popular move with a base of supporters who disproportionately did not pursue higher education.

But the Trump campaign, in contrast to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s wish list of policies including making public colleges free and or canceling much of the nation’s student debt, hasn’t laid out a detailed higher education platform three weeks before the election.

The Education Department didn’t comment on what DeVos’s higher education priorities might be in a second term, despite the array of issues facing higher education, including the high drop-out rate this fall of low-income students. Or even if she plans on being around.

“They’ve aggressively deregulated. What’s left for them to do? It’s hard to know,” said Amy Laitinen, director for higher education at the left-leaning think tank New America, who served as an adviser to the Obama administration on higher education.

Australia: Victoria to employ thousands of tutors to help students catch up after coronavirus lockdown

The Victorian Government is spending $250 million to recruit and deploy more than 4,100 tutors to Victorian schools next year to help students who have struggled during the state's coronavirus lockdown.

The Government will also allocate $30 million to recruit 600 tutors to work with disadvantaged students in Catholic and independent schools.

"We know some students thrived during remote learning, but we also know some struggled. This is about ensuring that no student is left behind," Mr Merlino said.

"My message to parents and carers, if your child has fallen behind, we will bring them back up to speed."

The package will support more than 200,000 students who have may have fallen behind in their studies or become disengaged during remote learning.

Almost 600,000 students returned to face-to-face learning in Victoria yesterday, after two months of learning from home under the state's coronavirus lockdown.

'Our kids need you': Government appeals to potential tutors
The Education Minister has appealed to retired teachers, casual relief teachers and pre-service teachers to put their hands up to fill the roles being offered. "We want you, and our kids need you," he said.

"It's important to note and to understand this is over and above the existing workforce."

The Government expects 80 per cent of the positions to be filled by women.

The funding includes $8.6 million to recruit 16 Koori support workers across the state, and 60 multilingual and bicultural workers to support students whose first language is not English.

The tutors will be deployed for the duration of the 2021 school year, with individual schools given autonomy to determine how best to use the extra support staff.

Students will be individually assessed during the remainder of this year to identify those who need extra help to get up to speed.

The Education Minister said the tutoring could happen in small groups of up to five children, in sessions of around 45 minutes.

"All the evidence, international and domestic, shows that this is the best way to get the biggest difference in bringing kids back up to speed," Mr Merlino said.

"The Grattan Institute released a report that shows small-group tutoring can provide an additional five months of learning in just 20 weeks."

Meredith Peace, the president of the Australian Education Union's Victorian branch, said teachers welcomed the support.

"It will take some pressure off schools as they work to give their students the best educational outcomes both this year and into next year."




Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Wisconsin Judge Halts Schools’ Policy Keeping Parents in Dark on Kids’ Gender Identity Issues

A state court in Wisconsin last week issued an order prohibiting a school district from intentionally deceiving parents about what their children are doing at school—especially if a child is struggling with his or her gender identity.

Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington intervened and issued an injunction Sept. 28 against the Madison Metropolitan School District, the second-largest school district in Wisconsin, with 27,000 students attending 52 schools. The injunction will remain in effect while the lawsuit that 14 parents brought against the district is on appeal.

In February, those parents sued the Madison Metropolitan School District with the help of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom and the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a right-leaning nonprofit public interest law firm. The Daily Signal reported on the case and subsequent developments in July.

In April 2018, the Madison school district quietly instituted a policy that not only promotes transgender ideology in the schools, but allows teachers to conceal pertinent information that students share.

Unfortunately, the latter part of the policy wasn’t about school-related issues such as a failing grade or a nasty spill in the hallway, but specifically about gender dysphoria–or a student’s desire to “identify with” the opposite sex–even if the child’s parents were unaware or disapproving.

Of course, the child could consent to teachers’ informing his or her parents of that, but if not, the policy instructed teachers to keep the information between them.

The judge was right to issue an injunction because the policy was unusually devious from the start. It was in no way ad hoc, accidental, or innocent: If a child approached a teacher about wanting to quietly transition to the other gender, the teacher was required to fill out a “Gender Support Plan.”

Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents can see all school records about their children, but the law excludes teachers’ personal notes from parental review. Thus, the school district instructed teachers to put any information about gender identity there, so parents would not be able to see the notes, even under federal law.

The district’s policy specifies: “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.”

That’s a blatant violation of parental rights, and it’s worth unpacking why it’s so egregious.

For starters, the policy itself likely took little time at all to implement. But now the case, Doe v. Madison Metropolitan School District, will linger in litigation, perhaps for years. It’s unfair, immoral, and unconstitutional for parents to lose their rights so easily and then have to spend years in court fighting for something that was already rightly theirs.

As I noted in a previous article reporting on this case: 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.

Parents pay substantial property taxes in most school districts for public school funding. That by itself should inform school policies about parental rights, not whatever social justice issue is currently popular and politically correct. That issue, right now, relates to transgenderism.

Most schools are open and transparent about what happens during the school day, and all of us know teachers who are more than happy to either brag on a child’s success or tattle on poor behavior. Yet somehow, this is not the case with this controversial, life-altering issue.

As Luke Berg, deputy counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said in an email:

Parents should be able to trust that school staff will be open and honest with them about their kids. That shouldn’t require an injunction, but the district has refused to change its policy directing teachers to deceive parents.

The court’s order sends a clear warning to the Madison [Metropolitan] School District and to other schools with similar policies.

It’s disappointing that the second-largest school district in Wisconsin put this policy in place, defying normal parent-teacher procedures, and creatively finding ways to conceal the truth from parents about their child’s struggles with, or “decisions” about, gender identity.

It’s hardly a small issue, and it’s one that parents should know about immediately, if only so they can help get the child the therapy he or she needs.

The court is right to push the pause button on this policy until the lawsuit is resolved and, hopefully, parents’ rights in Wisconsin are fully restored.


UC San Diego ends up with 5,000 fewer dorm students than projected, primarily because of coronavirus

UC San Diego has 9,655 students living in campus housing this fall, a figure that’s nearly 5,000 less than the campus has been projecting since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university also disclosed last week that it expects to lose about $200 million for 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. The school had been saying the losses would range from $350 million to $450 million.

The huge cut in student housing represents a largely unpublicized effort to staunch the spread of the virus. Campus housing executives weren’t available for comment, said Leslie Sepuka, a spokeswoman.

UC San Diego began fall 2019 with 15,500 students living on campus, a figure that was expected to rise to 17,600 this year as new housing came online.

When the pandemic began to hit hard this spring, the university adjusted its estimates to 14,500 students who would be were living in campus housing in the fall.

UC San Diego told the Union-Tribune in mid-August that it was standing by that estimate. But the campus was actually moving to reduce the number of dorm students due to health safety guidance from the state, according to an email Sepuka sent last week to the U-T.

By early September, UC San Diego shifted, saying it would have about 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students in housing this fall. The number reflected further efforts to “de-densify” dorms in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The dorm population was 9,655 on Oct. 1, the university says.

UC San Diego also has said its COVID-19 financial losses could total as much as $450 million, with nearly half of the costs affecting the UC San Diego Health system.

Sepuka said last week that the campus expects to have $140 million in unexpected costs in 2020 and 2021, and that the health system would take a $60-million hit in 2020. The total: $200 million.

“The earlier high-level estimates are no longer accurate because they were exactly that: estimates based on the best assumptions at the time,” Sepuka said in email Thursday.

UC San Diego Health originally expected to lose $200 million alone. The estimate fell to $100 million, then to $60 million after the university received some government support.

“We have very good financial people. But this was a difficult situation, which made it hard to make estimates,” said Dr. David Brenner, vice chancellor for health sciences. “This is the first time we’ve ever had an estimate that was this far off.”

The university has fared much better in forecasting COVID-19 infections. The school said in August that it expected 20 to 40 students in campus housing this fall would get infected the virus. So far, the number of positive tests has been in that range.

The university is trying to prevent an outbreak by regularly testing students for COVID-19, and examining the wastewater from school buildings for signs of the virus. UC San Diego has shown that it can use such monitoring to identify and locate people who have contracted COVID-19.

The university also offers a cellphone-based app that notifies people if they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.


Disadvantaging Black Students with a Demand for ‘Linguistic Justice’

On August 3, the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication approved a position statement on “Black Linguistic Justice.” The statement was crafted as a set of “demands” that “teachers stop using academic language and standard English as the accepted communicative norm.” The “Four Cs” is the largest and most important professional association for college-level writing teachers and is closely associated with the National Council of Teachers of English, an even larger group whose membership is mainly composed of secondary school English instructors.

The lengthy and repetitive statement is actually entitled “This Ain’t Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice!” In a clumsy adoption announcement, the CCCC urges teachers to view the statement “as presenting a set of actions for us to enact, not just encouraging words.”

To what has the official body of college composition teachers given its imprimatur? In a word: politics. In two words: separatist politics.

While acknowledging that progressive “CCCC/NCTE policies in relation to multilingualism have been vital to classrooms and communities,” the statement avers that not nearly enough has been done on the political front. Educators “must be activists” (italics in the original).

In language that invokes old Dixie rather than the 2020 schoolroom, the CCCC statement portrays American schools as places where black children meet nothing but disrespect in their English classes. Language instruction as it is now practiced is said to “seek to annihilate Black Language + Black Life.” Thus, educators are called to engage in a “political process that must inherently challenge institutions like schools whose very foundations are built on anti-Black racism.”

The statement was crafted by six self-described Black Language scholars, all of whom are on the faculty of large universities. Up front, they declare their demands to be a product of the moment, citing the pandemic’s effects on black people, #BlackLivesMatter protests, calls to defund the police, and institutions with “anti-Black skeletons in their own closets.”

The result is thus: It is now the official view of the CCCC that teaching black students standard English is racist and therefore “destructive and injurious.”

An initial section lists five demands, each one amplified in separate sections that are redundant and whose rhetorical emphases are primarily political and secondarily psychological. Few strictly pedagogical specifics are enumerated, and student learning goals remain implied and oblique rather than concretely articulated.

Nothing concrete is said about student reading and writing; instead, the focus is on self-esteem and political consciousness: “Teachers [must] develop and teach Black Linguistic Consciousness that works to decolonize the mind (and/or) language, unlearn white supremacy, and unravel anti-Black linguistic racism!” It is taken as axiomatic that students’ sense of self-worth will increase if they are taught in Black Language.

The term “Black Language” is worth considering. Black English and African American Vernacular English are terms frequently used by linguists. These terms imply that black American speech patterns and language systems are a variety or dialect of English. As such, Black English joins dozens upon dozens of other varieties, dialects, and sub-dialects of the language, each marked out by factors such as geography, class, race, and educational levels.

Linguists have long pointed out that defining a dialect as nonstandard does not mean that it is substandard. This has been conventional wisdom within the profession for well over half a century. Such non-judgmentalism already permeates America’s collegiate language departments and its university schools of education, which are dominated by progressive faculty, and where the nation’s schoolteachers have been trained.

Despite its calls for separatism, the CCCC statement is itself written in English—English of a certain type, to be sure. The statement is marked much more by the unfortunate stylistic turns associated with contemporary academic publication than it is by phrases intended to sound distinctly Black American. A mere handful of the latter are scattered into the prose, including the drafters’ self-description: “This list of demands was generously created by the 2020 CCCC Special Committee on Composing a CCCC Statement of Anti-Black Racism and Linguistic Justice, Or, Why We Cain’t Breathe.”

Proponents of Black English have made similar proposals in the recent past. The controversial 1990s Ebonics movement (a purpose-built blend of ebony and phonics) arose from the same basic assumptions as the CCCC statement, which is bound to produce the same set of counterarguments heard by Ebonics proponents. The chief criticism leaps to mind: Students who do not learn Standard English will be at a disadvantage once they leave their classrooms.

Employers, educational institutions, civic bodies, and other groups will all expect to hear and read Standard English. Pretending that facility in nonstandard English is sufficient for success cheats students.

The activists’ dream undoubtedly sounds like a nightmare to many parents, who might also sense a certain condescension in the implication that Standard English is somehow beyond the reach of their children—but not beyond the reach of millions of other children who speak their own varieties of English. Didn’t the authors of this statement themselves manage to get on top of standard idioms? Ostensibly in the name of boosting student self-esteem, sound educational goals are to be discarded for political purposes.

The CCCC authors simply deny that abandoning instruction in Standard English will create problems for students. They demand that

teachers STOP telling Black students that they have to ‘learn standard English to be successful because that’s just the way it is in the real world.’ No, that’s not just the way it is; that’s anti-Black linguistic racism.

They go further: Teachers who understand linguistic variety and who endorse code-switching—views heretofore deemed progressive—are also in the wrong. Thus, they demand that “researchers, educators, and policymakers stop using problematic, race-neutral umbrella terms like multilingualism, world Englishes, translingualism, linguistic diversity, or any other race-flattened vocabulary when discussing Black Language and thereby Black Lives.”

The question remains as to what effects this statement will have on college English instruction. Its adoption is of a piece with the CCCC’s previous politics. In a spring and summer in which university administrations rushed to issue public statements of all-in support for Black Lives Matter initiatives, it seems a foregone conclusion that the CCCC would likewise adopt the committee’s statement, no matter what the opinions and practices of its membership at large might actually be.

It also seems inevitable that at least some slippage in instruction and erosion of standards will occur.

It is now the official view of the CCCC that teaching black students standard English is racist and therefore “destructive and injurious.”
A certain percentage of instructors will loosen Standard English requirements, and others will introduce lessons on Black English into their courses. Eggshell-walking will increase. Nonetheless, one also supposes that a substantial percentage will remain on their current instructional track, which is essentially progressive by ordinary, non-woke standards. That is, they will continue to recognize the viability of Black English in black students’ lives but retain their belief that all students benefit from learning Standard English.

In short, they may pay lip service to the statement in department meetings but ignore it in their courses.

Writing teachers who do not wish to spend their time openly fighting back will keep their heads down in public. African American linguist and social commentator John McWhorter of Columbia University joins the growing number of voices—many liberals included—who have noted the career-maiming power held by campus progressives. There is, he states, a “very rational culture of fear among those [faculty] who dissent, even slightly, with the tenets of the woke left.”

The document will strike many administrators as a fringe embarrassment that they hope will never raise its head at their college, whose paying students and parents expect more traditional instruction.

Professors who have grown tired of imposed progressive platforms, activist scholarship, and woke grandstanding may find like minds at the National Association of Scholars, which consistently advocates for rigorous standards and proceeds from a basis of traditional liberalism. Heterodox Academy remains eager to air opinions that run counter to campus orthodoxy.

One can appreciate that dialects and vernacular usage have long been wrongly associated with a lack of intelligence or taken as signs of coming from an inferior culture. Black English speakers have suffered a particular burden in this regard. But they are hardly alone. How many Southerners have been tagged as “slow” hillbillies on the basis of their accents? How many farm boys and farm girls have been told that they are uncouth hicks because of their “bad grammar?”

Multiple wrongs do not make a right, of course, so to whatever extent African American children are disparaged in the classroom, one can agree that gratuitous and misinformed shaming should cease.

But the determination that whatever students bring to the classroom is sufficient unto itself—that they are already language “mavens,” as the CCCC statement has it—reveals a shallow and self-defeating conception of education.


What Affirmative Action Should Look Like

The New York Times, mingling its editorial and news pages as is now usual, has recently published charts depicting the course of affirmative action at several dozen of the nation’s leading colleges. It depicts trends in minority enrollment without any qualitative assessment of such matters as dropouts, remedial programs, or school discipline. It shows essentially flat minority enrollment figures and appears part of a concerted effort, supported by major philanthropic foundations, to influence the Supreme Court’s impending reconsideration of Fisher v. University of Texas.

It is now nearly 50 years since Joseph Califano—U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare under President Carter—in one of the more fatuous statements accompanying the civil rights movement, observed that since most Harvard Ph.D’s do well in life, one of the solutions to the problems of American blacks was to see that more of them received Harvard Ph.Ds

This approach, broadly speaking, is the approach of the Times articles. It presents difficulties.

Blacks are no longer the only identifiable minority, or even the largest minority. In California, among other places, their political influence and numbers have been eclipsed by those of Hispanics and Asians. Not surprisingly, affirmative action has met an early doom there, the prospect of a war of all against all not being inviting.

Its effect on higher education has been profoundly disruptive. Colleges have been burdened with larger admissions offices, remedial programs, and ethnic studies programs at the cost of instruction in core subjects. The introduction of an indigestible lump of under-prepared and hence unhappy students has even endangered academic freedom.

Unfashionable disadvantaged groups have been overlooked. Appalachian high schools, Catholic schools in Toledo, and Christian schools in the South have not been overrun by Ivy League admissions officers.

Interest-group liberalism does not provide an impulse to academic excellence. As observed by Learned Hand, “the herd is regaining its ancient and evil primacy; civilization is being reversed, for it has consisted of exactly the opposite process of individualization.”

Overlooked also are the admonitions of George Kennan that schools exist to serve intellectual and not social purposes, that of Edward Levi that they cannot become microcosms of society, and that of Bertrand Russell that society as a whole benefits from academic elitism.

The present policy promotes a focus on everything but the knowledge possessed by high school graduates. The subordination of achievement tests as admissions criteria, not duplicated in England and France, has absolved colleges from taking any interest in the curricula of high schools or the education and qualifications of teachers in them.

The beneficiaries of the policy, to the extent that there are any, are the children of a largely bureaucratic black middle class whose offspring will do quite well without artificial aid promoting an entitlement culture not encouraging intense academic effort.

What would an affirmative action program renouncing ethnic categories, and embracing principles of an old-fashioned universalistic liberalism, look like?

It, like the National Merit Scholarship program and the New York State Regents’ Scholarships, would reward students and their parents for demonstrated achievement in high school.

It would provide paths to residential higher education for those performing well in post-high-school distance learning programs such as the MOOG programs offered by consortia of American universities, the courses offered by University of Maryland-University College once limited to our military abroad, those offered by the Open University in England, the creation of which Prime Minister Harold Wilson once rightly regarded as his proudest achievement, and those offered by UNISA in South Africa, once the world’s largest correspondence school university and the alma mater of many of the Robben Island prisoners who made up Nelson Mandela’s first cabinet.

It should reserve substantial parts of upper classes for students doing well at community colleges and in the military.

It should provide facilities for mature female undergraduates, as is done at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge and facilities for child care, in recognition of the fact that such students are apt to be highly motivated.

It should offer early career or mid-career enrollment to persons without a college background who have proven themselves in business, government, ot the military, on the pattern of the Nieman Fellowships for journalists at Harvard and the Wolfson Course and Pew and Press Fellowships at Cambridge.

Such opportunities, if publicized well, should produce minority enrollments equal to those elicited by the present corrupt system, with lower dropout rates and no costs for remediation. They reward the deserving rather than the undeserving and the mature rather than the immature. They appropriately aspire not to a perfectly equal society, but to an open one.

Such programs will not cure the problems of a black underclass in the gang and drug culture of our inner cities. What they need are works programs like the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps, uncontroversial when it was ended by wartime labor demands, and directed at its inception by General George Marshall, who made his reputation there. Also needed is drastic revision of the drug war, and a larger and more adequately incentivized Army, so as to avoid the repeated redeployments into war zones that have produced a massive suicide rate among recent veterans. None of these measures are within the means of higher education institutions, however committed. They should stick to their proper business.


Australia: Closures undermined education

New CIS research confirms the breadth of educational damage of school closures — especially troubling for Victorian students finally returning to class next week.

The analysis paper Parents’ perspectives on home-based learning in the covid-19 pandemic revealed that around 1.25 million students (over 40% ) across NSW, Victoria, and Queensland may have fallen behind while learning at home. It’s estimated Victoria’s disadvantaged students may have gone backward up to six weeks in their progress over the extended period of closures.

The new research makes clear that the quality of schools’ support to children and parents is decisive in how students fared with their learning — and that the quality of this support was mixed.

The secrets to success with home-based learning are sophisticatedly simple: students need regular interaction online with teachers, and parents need regular contact with schools.

Yet, a concerning number of students — as high as 30% in Queensland — didn’t have regular contact online with their teachers. Instead, they were relegated to completing worksheets and working independently. It comes as no surprise that these students were much more likely to have fallen behind.

Parents who were regularly contacted by teachers felt more informed and confident helping supervise learning. However, while many parents were contacted daily or most days, some weren’t contacted at all. Over 50% of parents who weren’t regularly contacted by schools say their child fell behind.

The better equipped parents are, the more effective support they can provide for their child’s learning — a fact that’s as true during the pandemic as it is in more normal times.

It’s clear that the school closures experience will leave lasting impressions to schooling; for students, teachers, and parents.

In households where the home-based learning wheels were well-oiled, parents gained more positive opinions about teachers’ work and schools’ education standards, compared to pre-covid. That’s evidence that parents appreciate the lengths many teachers and schools went to under such difficult circumstances.

It also shows there’s goodwill to be tapped in order to forge more constructive relationships going forward. Capitalising upon this would better support the work of schools, see parents as informed participants in schooling, and ultimately be more conducive for students’ learning.

The pandemic has been an unwelcome disruption to students, teachers, and parents.

Not only is there students’ learning loss for schools to now contend with, but also an imperative that lessons are learnt so that more effective schooling may yet be a silver lining.


Monday, October 12, 2020

UK: Pupils at Eton 'sent home to isolate after coronavirus outbreak'

Eton College has been accused of 'spreading coronavirus around the country' after sending an entire year of students home following an outbreak.

All of the prestigious boarding school's Lower Sixth - Year 12 - have been told to isolate at their home after a 'significant' number of pupils tested positive for Covid-19, according to reports.

Parents whose children attend the £42,000-a-year boarding school, near Windsor, Berkshire, are understood to be 'furious' at the decision, reports The Telegraph.

It follows an earlier outbreak at the college last month when bosses confirmed several of their 1,300 students were found to have Covid-19 on their return from the summer holidays.

On that occasion, students were told to isolate.

But Eton chiefs told The Telegraph that, 'given the number' of students involved on this occasion, the medical advice from Public Health England was that the students 'could not safely isolate' at the school.

Bosses at the prestigious boarding school also told the paper that it had paid to set up its own track and trace and testing system in order to take pressure off the NHS.

However some parents are said to be angered by the decision. A source told The Telegraph: 'The children who live abroad are being farmed out to the families of fellow pupils.

'They [the parents] don't mind the extra children at all, but they do object to the spreading of the virus round the country when it could be contained in the school.'

Current Government advice is that boarding schools are advised to consult parents on the decision on whether to send children home to isolate.

This is in contrast to universities, who are being asked to contain outbreaks where possible, by keeping students on campus.

The latest outbreak at Eton comes following an outbreak last month, when 'a few' students tested positive for the disease on their return from the summer holidays.

Final year students were the last to return to the college in Berkshire and pupils were tested privately for the virus on arrival.

Eton confirmed several of their students were found to have Covid-19 and those with positive tests were placed in isolation. It is thought the outbreak affected three of Eton's boarding houses: Angelo's House, Wooton House and Keate House.

The college would not confirm which houses were involved but at the time said parents had been informed of the outbreak.

The £42,000-a-year school was founded in 1441 and has many notable alumni including Prince William, Prince Harry and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It is also where former PM David Cameron was taught, alongside Bear Grylls and actors Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

The Government advises that international students travelling to the UK to attend boarding school self-isolate for two weeks before going back to the classroom.


UK: Schoolchildren are banned from singing Happy Birthday in the classroom over fears it could spread coronavirus – and are told to listen to it on YouTube or hum the tune instead

Schoolchildren have been banned from singing Happy Birthday in classrooms over fears it could spread coronavirus.

Children have been told to listen to the song on YouTube or hum the tune rather than sing it at some schools.

Birthday cakes from home have also been banned by some schools to prevent transmission of the virus.

Singing can leave droplets in the surrounding air, meaning infectious individuals risk spreading the virus when they open their mouths.

It has not been banned in all schools yet but people have been banned from singing in pubs and churches.

Parent campaign group UsForThem has found certain schools across the country have imposed a ban themselves.

UsForThem co-chair Christine Brett, from Cambridge, said banning singing is one of the many detrimental measures being taken at schools, including limiting access to water and toilets.

The mother-of-two said: 'UsForThem believes children have suffered enough from prolonged absence from school and they should be able to return to a normal and supportive environment.

'Birthdays only happen once a year and its a day when a child feels special.

'Now their classmates are banned from singing to them, they are not allowed to bring in sweets or cake to share and due to the rule of 6, many are unable to have a party outside school.

'Singing represents a low risk in terms of transmission from children, who are the lowest risk of both getting and transmitting this virus. 'We cannot put their young lives on hold forever.'

The Department of Education said it is up to schools to decide whether children can sing around other classmates.

Official guidelines state: 'Playing instruments and singing in groups should take place outdoors wherever possible.

'If indoors, consider limiting the numbers in relation to the space.

'Singing, wind and brass playing should not take place in larger groups such as choirs and ensembles, or assemblies unless significant space, natural airflow (at least 10l/s/person for all present, including audiences) and strict social distancing and mitigation as described below can be maintained.'


CA: Newsom vetoed high school ethnic studies bill after complaints from Jewish groups about curriculum

Jewish groups angered by their exclusion from a proposed ethnic studies curriculum for California high school students credited their concerns in large part for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of a bill requiring the course for graduation.

It was the latest twist in a fight that has lasted more than a year over whether California’s high school students should be required to take an ethnic studies class and, if so, what should be included. The bill’s author pulled it in 2019 after a similar dispute over the course material. This year a revised version of the bill easily passed the Legislature, but Wednesday night, Newsom vetoed it.

In his veto message, the governor said only that the curriculum still needed more work because it was “insufficiently balanced and inclusive.”

AB331 would have added a one-semester ethnic studies course to the high school graduation requirement, starting with the 2029-30 academic year. Newsom’s veto infuriated the bill’s supporters, who said he missed a chance to address divides laid bare by the police killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests over racial inequality.

Assemblyman Jose Medina, the Riverside Democrat who carried the bill, called Newsom’s veto “a failure to push back against the racial rhetoric and bullying of Donald Trump.”

Newsom wrote in his veto message that he supports the concept of teaching students about the history of marginalized groups. But he said the latest draft of California’s “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” must be rewritten to ensure it “achieves balance, fairness and is inclusive of all communities.”

Newsom didn’t cite specific examples of bias in the course manual, but advocates and legislators said the Jewish community was the crucial source of concern about the curriculum.

Tyler Gregory, executive director of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, said concerns about the bill were reignited in recent weeks after Jewish leaders learned the draft curriculum had been updated to add lessons about Arab Americans and Pacific Islanders, but not Jews.

Gregory said Jewish groups and synagogues across the state sent dozens of letters to Newsom’s office urging him to intervene. Gregory said he wanted Newsom to direct an overhaul of the curriculum or veto the bill — Newsom did both.

“We think it’s imperative that education around anti-Semitism and Jewish identity be included in the context of ethnic studies,” Gregory said. “The Jewish community is more than a conversation about the Holocaust.”

However, the bill also had significant supporters in the Jewish community: Every member of the Legislative Jewish Caucus voted for it, and it was endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League.

State Sen. Ben Allen, the Santa Monica Democrat who chairs the caucus, said many who raised concerns simply wanted the curriculum to be revised, not have Newsom veto the bill outright.

“The Jewish community is a large and diverse community, with lots of different perspectives,” he said. “If anything, what I heard from the mainstream Jewish community leadership was not opposition to the bill, but was concern that the curriculum be developed in a way that was fair to the Jewish community.”

The veto reignited the debate about the purpose and nature of ethnic studies, a movement that began on Bay Area college campuses in the late 1960s.

Supporters of the curriculum argue the concept of ethnic studies isn’t intended to be a general discussion of diversity. They said the discipline is traditionally focused on people of color in America — their contributions and historic oppression.

They said they were caught off guard by Newsom’s veto and some Jewish groups’ opposition.

“I do very much think that it was a lost opportunity, given this historical moment,” Medina, a retired high school teacher who taught ethnic studies, told The Chronicle. “We’ve never seen students more hungry for the kind of knowledge that ethnic studies would provide them.”

Medina shelved the bill last year because of backlash over an earlier draft of the curriculum. Controversy appeared to have dwindled after the California Department of Education released the new draft in July.

The revised curriculum encouraged teachers to add lessons that emphasize the history of ethnic groups in their community. But it kept the focus on four groups that ethnic studies courses traditionally emphasize: African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The draft also removed content that Jewish groups said evoked anti-Semitic stereotypes, in particular a reference to Israel controlling the media.

Some critics still said the draft was politically charged and excluded historically marginalized ethnic and religious groups, such as Armenians.


UK: The cruelty of the Covid-secure classroom

School ‘protection’ measures are causing considerable harm to children.

‘Let Us Out!’, say the freshers, in bold capitals emblazoned on placards tacked to their bedroom windows.

For many, the student-halls lockdowns in Manchester, Glasgow and elsewhere have been a penny-drop moment. This no longer feels much like the progressive 21st century Britain we aspire to live in. More and more people have started to condemn this illiberal state of affairs.

As co-founder of UsforThem, the sight of students in lockdown sadly comes as no great revelation. We have been campaigning to get schools back open and to prioritise children’s welfare. I have spent four months now on the hidden front line of the largest educational experiment that modern liberal society has ever inflicted on its young people. It has been a shocking and at times upsetting experience. It has been clear for a while that Britain has gone mad.

Many schools are fundamentally different places to what they were back in March. The Department for Education has issued guidance on how schools should operate during the pandemic, and schools have different interpretations on how to implement it. The DfE calls these ‘protective measures’ – as if bubble-wrapping our children means the end of our worries. Well, let me burst that bubble now. The last thing some of the practices we have seen do is protect children. Instead, they are causing considerable harm.

For many pupils, school is now a bleak experience. Schooldays look different. More screens, less interaction. Less music, drama, art and whatever sport they once enjoyed. No playground tag, no singing. Many have to shiver through lessons as windows are open wide. Loo breaks and water refills are rationed, sometimes with unfortunate results. Teachers often look weird, sometimes scary, if they are wearing masks and visors. Some children have been given badges, which mark them out as exempt from wearing masks. One parent of a mask-exempt child was told her daughter would have to eat lunch in isolation.

You would be forgiven for thinking this was part of the plot of a dystopian novel. Certainly, not every school adheres to each of these practices, but we have seen each of the above examples countless times. The UsforThem inbox is inundated with messages from distraught parents and grandparents who despair of this new way of running schools. Parents of children with special-educational needs tell us their children have been left behind. Teachers tell us they have never been more concerned for the wellbeing of the young minds in their charge.

These harms are merely adding to the harms we have already caused to children this year. According to government statistics, 67 per cent of children suffered an impact on their mental health due to lockdown. One fifth of children did less than an hour of schoolwork each day (or none at all), while 94 per cent of vulnerable children were not in school during lockdown. We have baked a layer cake of harm, and yet we carry on baking.

The strictness of some school practices shows how politicians and schools have given a much heavier weighting to Covid considerations than to any others, including children’s mental health and basic welfare. The guidance was drawn up with a great deal of input from teachers’ unions (which initially opposed the reopening of schools entirely and have campaigned for compulsory mask wearing), but with no consultation with parents or any group championing children’s interests.

The lack of any system of oversight for these practices – and the lack of an exit plan – compounds the problems further. Many parents would no doubt be furious if they knew the extent of the problem. But many schools have decided that the guidance means parents should no longer have access to school premises, and so they cannot see the conditions in which their children are ‘protected’. Sure, teachers can see what is going on (and a few have bravely spoken out). But they are also in an impossible position: they are asked to oversee a regime that they know is damaging the children in their care. If teachers had a Hippocratic oath, the guidance would mandate they break it.

University students have proved what can be achieved when enough noise is made. They have won their battle against the government’s proposed Christmas lockdown. We can do the same for schools. Parents and teachers must speak up and reject this new dystopia being imposed on our children. We must force our politicians to recognise that such restrictive measures are unfit for purpose and need to be changed – this time in consultation with those who have children’s welfare at their heart.

The government could also help itself (and presumably many school leaders) by dropping social-distancing requirements for kids. This, in a single swoop, would rid us of so many of the logistical constraints that have hamstrung efforts to provide continuity and normality in our school system. Finally, parents must have the opportunity to enter schools to see for themselves the environment in which their children are being taught. Just as the students gestured ‘Let Us Out’, parents must now demand ‘Let Us In’. Then they will see things need to change.