Saturday, December 12, 2020

Kansas school cancels Operation Christmas Child after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complains

A Kansas middle school has canceled its participation in Operation Christmas Child after an atheist group wrote to the school district alleging the program “violates basic constitutional principles” of separation of church and state.

“While it is laudable for a public school to promote student involvement in the community by volunteering and donating to charitable organizations, the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to fund a religious organization with a religious mission,” Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote in a Nov. 3 letter. “Certainly, there are other secular nonprofit organizations that offer charitable opportunities.”

After receiving FFRF’s letter, Tony Helfrich, superintendent of Pratt School District, responded in a letter of his own, saying he “investigated” the claims and learned that the mission of Operation Christmas Child was “more sectarian” than school authorities had realized. He also assured the atheist organization that the school would “discontinue” its participation in the shoebox program.

Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Christian international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, has reached 178 million children with shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items in more than 150 countries since 1993, according to its website. While the project provides tangible gifts for children and their families, Samaritan’s Purse also partners with local churches to present the Gospel to the children in their native language before distributing the boxes.

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, addressed the controversy in an interview on “The Ingraham Angle”: “We don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians,” he said, “it’s on our website, we’re very upfront about our position and our faith.”

He encouraged the students of Liberty Middle School in Pratt, Kansas, to send their packed shoeboxes directly to Samaritan’s Purse since their school has decided to no longer take part in the Operation Christmas Child program.

“Even though your school doesn’t want to participate, you can participate,” Franklin said.

In addition to ceasing its support of Operation Christmas Child, FFRF called on the school to stop holding “See You at the Pole” events and to monitor the email of school employees, making sure staff members “remain neutral toward religion while acting in their official capacity.”

In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Edward Graham, son of Franklin Graham and assistant to the vice president of programs & government relations at Samaritan’s Purse, said “more kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather.”

Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect enough shoeboxes this year to reach at least 11 million children around the world.

Secretary DeVos: 'We’re Going to Have a Lost Generation' if We Don’t Get Kids Back to School

Secretary Betsy DeVos warned on Wednesday about the dangerous effects of continuing to keep school-age children out of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scientific data has repeatedly shown that with proper precautions in place, schools are rarely the site of mass COVID-19 infections. Despite the data, some states and teachers unions have continually pushed to keep school buildings closed and conduct virtual learning instead.

"We know so many of the private schools, parochial schools have been able to stay open for full-time learning, and it is the public schools, the inner-city schools that are shut, and those are the kids who are at home in some cases have two parents that go to work that are not overseeing their virtual at-home learning, and they are falling behind," Fox News host Sandra Smith said.

"Well, and we’ve heard so much discussion about the need for equity and equality. And these are the kids who are the ones that are being failed the most. The traditional public schools, with whom the teachers union have played politics, have kept these schools closed, have denied these kids the opportunity to continue their learning. It is shameful, and they have got to get back into the classroom," DeVos said. "We see it being done safely and without incident or minimal incident across the country, as you said in many private and charter schools, in schools around the world kids have got to be back in school. And we’re going to have a lost generation if we don’t heed that continued warning."

"The data shows that kids can safely be in school. They must be in school learning. And we have got to ensure that particularly the most vulnerable kids are able to access classrooms, are able to get back," DeVos continued. "You know, families with economic means have been able to figure alternatives out. We have got to empower those families. If these schools continue to refuse serving kids in-person, give the families the resources to find a place that will take care of their kids and their education."

France unveils law to fight Islamist radicalism by banning gender segregation at swimming pools and making school compulsory from age three

The French government unveiled a new law on Wednesday to fight Islamist radicalism that will ban gender segregation at swimming pools and make school compulsory from the age of three.

The project is being promoted by President Emmanuel Macron to root out what he calls 'separatists' undermining the nation.

France has suffered numerous Islamist terrorist attacks, including the gruesome beheading of a teacher in October who had showed his class cartoons of Islam's prophet, followed by an attack inside Nice's largest church that killed three.

The proposed legislation targets home schools, mosques or associations that promulgate an ideology running counter to French values, which authorities have called the 'Islamist hydra' that can cultivate violence in some.

Among notable measures, local authorities would no longer be able to enforce separate swimming sessions for men and women at local pools.

The bill also proposes making school obligatory from the age of three, allowing the option of home schooling in special cases only. The measure is aimed at ending so-called clandestine schools run by fundamentalists with their own agenda.

Another article encourages mosques to register as places of worship, so as to better identify them. Many of the nation's more than 2,600 mosques, which often have Quranic schools attached, currently operate under rules for associations.

In addition, a judge can forbid anyone convicted of provoking terrorism, discrimination, hate or violence from frequenting mosques.

Foreign funding for mosques, while not forbidden, would have to be declared if it exceeds 10,000 euros (£9,000).

With claims by some that the draft law is too soft, or a political manoeuvre by Macron ahead of 2022 presidential elections to capture followers on the far right, it is likely to see lively debate when it goes before Parliament in coming months.

The topic is delicate because of the large Muslim population in France, estimated at 5 million. The proposed law, with the title 'Supporting Republican Principles,' directly mentions neither Islam nor Islamism in an effort to avoid stigmatising Muslims.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, also in charge of faiths, said separately later that Macron has asked him to organise a parliamentary mission to fight anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim acts.

'The hate of religion is increasing. It touches everyone. It hurts,' he said on BFMTV.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday. Darmanin said he was asked by Macron to organise a parliamentary mission to fight anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim acts +4
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday. Darmanin said he was asked by Macron to organise a parliamentary mission to fight anti-Christian, anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim acts

Introducing the draft law to fight separatism, Prime Minister Jean Castex stressed that it 'is not a text against religions or against the Muslim religion in particular.' Instead, he said, it is 'a bill of freedom, a bill of protection, a bill of emancipation from Islamist fundamentalism' or other ideologies pursuing the same goals.

Castex, speaking at a news conference after the draft law was presented to Cabinet, said those who seek to 'divide, and spread hate and violence' are at the heart of 'separatism.'

Separatism is especially dangerous because it 'is the manifestation of a conscious, theorized, political-religious project with an ambition to make religious norms predominate over the law,' he said. France 'intends to defend itself,' Castex added.

The draft bill also makes changes to France´s much-cherished 1905 law separating church and state and guaranteeing a secular nation in order to modernize and clarify matters of faith, Castex said.

Changes in 'morals, practices and threats' make modifications necessary to the secularism law and an older 1901 law governing associations, the prime minister said.

In a section on human dignity, the draft law would make it a crime punishable by fines and up to one year in prison for a doctor to provide a young woman with a certificate that she's a virgin, sometimes demanded ahead of Muslim marriage ceremonies.

To do away with forced marriages, a measure requires the couple to meet separately for an interview with an official when there is a doubt about free consent. If the doubt persists, the official must take the issue to a prosecutor, who could forbid the marriage.

Those practising polygamy would be forbidden French residence cards.

Macron spelled out in a speech in October his reasons for wanting to tackle Islamist extremism in all its forms. He said extremists want 'to create a parallel order, build other values, develop another organisation of society, initially separatist but with a final goal of taking complete control.'

The beheading - by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee - in October of a teacher outside his school gave new urgency to ensuring French values. Social network users helped inform the attacker of the teacher´s location and other vital information.

The draft law creates a new crime for endangering others by disseminating information about people's private or professional life with the intention of identifying, locating and exposing the person or their family to an immediate danger.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said the measure was inspired by the teacher's killing.




Friday, December 11, 2020

Study finds online schooling is severely damaging students' academic achievement

A new study conducted by Virginia's largest school system found that distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic is severely damaging academic achievement.

In comparison to the last academic year, the percentage of middle school and high school students enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools receiving marks of "F" in two or more classes during the first quarter of this academic year rose from 6% to 11%, the district's Office of Research and Strategic Improvement found. The numbers represent a year-over-year increase of 83%.

Younger students were much more seriously affected than older ones, as middle-schoolers exhibited a 300% increase in marks of "F," while high schoolers exhibited a 50% increase.

The study also found that some of the most vulnerable students — those with disabilities and English-language learners — were the ones who have been struggling the most.

The number of students with disabilities who scored marks of "F" in two or more classes shot up by 111% to account for nearly one-fifth of those students, while the number of English-language learners who scored marks of "F" increased by 106% to account for 35% of those students.

While students in certain demographics exhibited more pronounced increases than others, the study found that "the pattern was pervasive across all student groups, grade levels, and content areas examined in this report."

What else?

In a summary of the findings, district researchers acknowledged that "there is reason for concern," especially considering that students who were previously not performing well were the ones who were having the hardest time.

"Results indicate a widening gap between students who were previously performing satisfactorily and those performing unsatisfactorily," the report noted. "In other words, students who performed well previously primarily performed slightly better than expected during Q1 of this year. In contrast, students who were previously not performing well, performed considerably less well. A greater proportion of low-performing students received failing grades during Q1 than would have been expected based on patterns of marks in prior years."

In a statement to the Washington Post, the school system's superintendent, Scott Brabrand, said they are working quickly to identify and aid the students who are struggling the most.

"We are working on identifying these students by name and by need and are working on specific interventions to support them right now and as we phase back in person," he said.

Despite the obvious damage being inflicted on students' academic achievement, the school system has halted plans to return to in-person classes until at least Nov. 30 due to a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

Brabrand, however, vowed during a recent town hall that he has every intention of returning to in-person activities as soon as possible.

"We are committed to returning our kids to in-person. There will be some setbacks. There will be some pauses. I cannot promise you that it will be linear," he said.

Supreme Court says it is OK to have males in female bathrooms

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge brought by Oregon parents to a school district's policy allowing transgender students to use bathroom facilities that match their gender identity.

The dispute was brought by a group of parents who argued the policy enacted by Dallas School District No. 2 in Dallas, Oregon, and left in place by lower courts violated other students' privacy rights. The policy was created after a transgender boy sought to use the boy's bathroom and locker room at his high school until he graduated. The school district allowed the student to do so over the objections of some parents.

In November 2017, the parents, who formed the group Parents for Privacy, sued the school district over its decision, alleging violations of the 14th and First Amendments, as well as Title IX. But the district court dismissed the lawsuit, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision, upholding the policy.

The parents appealed the 9th Circuit's decision to the Supreme Court, arguing the justices have "the opportunity to untie a Gordian knot of conflicting constitutional and statutory rights."

"The District's directive interferes with parents' rights to direct the upbringing of their children, schoolchildren's rights to bodily privacy, parents' and children's rights to free exercise of religion, and children's rights to be free from hostile educational environments under Title IX," the parents argued in a filing with the Supreme Court, adding that "stakes in this case are significant" for public school parents and their children.

But lawyers for the Dallas School District argued the claims raised by the parents were "misconceived" and flawed. They also argued the case was moot, since the student whose request sparked the lawsuit has since graduated.

Falls Church, Virginia School Board Cancels Thomas Jefferson

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Falls Church, Virginia School Board voted to rename Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, as well as George Mason High School, replacing the names of these Founding Fathers with those of people who are more woke and acceptable to the vanguard of today’s Cultural Revolution.

School Board Chair Greg Anderson, tongue no doubt planted firmly in cheek, intoned the usual pieties: “The Board took seriously the viewpoints and concerns raised by many students, parents, staff, and community members.” Except it didn’t, since according to WTOP, “a survey of the Falls Church community taken in October…revealed that 56% of the community overall asked that the names stay on the schools, including 61% of the parents of Thomas Jefferson Elementary students and 57% of George Mason High parents.” But their viewpoints didn’t count. As is always the case, the only viewpoints that mattered were those of the woke mob.

Not grasping the old adage that it is better to be silent and be thought an idiot than to open one’s mouth and prove it, Anderson rambled on: “We thank everyone who shared their perspectives with us and will be mindful of your comments as we now begin selecting names that reflect the diversity of opinions in our community” – except, that is, the opinions of the majorities who thought Thomas Jefferson and George Mason were fine names and need not be changed. “Our schools must be places where all students, staff, and community members feel safe, supported, and inspired.” Except, that is, those who respect and revere the Founding Fathers.

And so the foes of American history and America itself, for to repudiate the one is to repudiate the other, score another victory. If His Fraudulency Joe Biden succeeds in gaining the presidency by massive voter fraud, it will hardly matter anyway, but America can only have a future as a free society if its people recover a deep appreciation for its heroes and a pride in its achievements. In fact, that’s why the Left embarked upon its statue-destroying frenzy, tearing down statues not just of Confederates but of Lincoln, Grant, and even Frederick Douglass. They want to make you ashamed of American history so that you won’t see in America anything worth defending as the country continues to be assaulted from within and from outside, with useful idiots such as Greg Anderson helping on the destroyers.

Ahistorical myopia and ignorance of history as displayed by Anderson is a significant cause of the current outpouring of hatred for America. The war on Jefferson and Mason, both slaveowners, is just one small part of the Left’s relentless defamation of our country as a bastion of racial hatred and injustice. Leftist rioters and destroyers are enraged at Americans who are memorialized despite being slaveowners. They’re oblivious to the fact that slavery was not universally considered a moral evil at the time these men lived, and that this is relevant because there are very likely to be people in future ages who look at our times and scratch their heads and ask each other How could they not have known that was wrong?

Even more importantly, the Leftists are heedless of the fact that the movement to abolish slavery arose in Britain and America because of Christian principles that they despise, while slavery persisted long into the twentieth century in several Muslim countries because of Islamic principles that Leftists would rather be caught at a Trump rally than criticize. Saudi Arabia, a country based strictly upon Islamic law, only abolished slavery in 1962, and North African states including Mauritania and Niger only did so in the early twenty-first century, because of Islamic laws that the Leftist rioters would no doubt say it was “Islamophobic” to denounce.

In contrast, it was Greg Anderson’s bête noire Thomas Jefferson who wrote the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It was those words that led many Americans, long before the Civil War, to believe that slavery was not only evil in itself, but incompatible with the principles of the American republic. Slavery was ultimately eradicated in the United States by people who believed that Thomas Jefferson had enunciated the principles that made it necessary to wipe it out.

It will be interesting to see who Thomas Jefferson Elementary and George Mason High are named for now. Malcolm X? Angela Davis? Che Guevara? Mao Zedong? Whoever it will be, it is almost certain that the honored figures will be just as imperfect, and maybe even worse violators of human rights than Jefferson or Mason. But the Left is indifferent to the imperfections of its own heroes; its objective is not to find perfect or sinless people to venerate, but to turn Americans against their own heritage. In Falls Church, Virginia, it’s working.




Wednesday, December 09, 2020

The Decline of Gen Z

Mental health issues are the real pandemic in 2020.

Paige McCullough

The year 2020 has brought many challenges. Jobs were taken away, businesses, stores, and restaurants were shut down, and students were sent home. The Democrat Party and its Leftmedia outlets constantly churned fear and angst.

As a high school student, I have struggled both academically and mentally because of the sudden halt in normal life.

Sadly, I am not in the minority when it comes to suffering from the constant stress and strain that has besieged my generation. Some 91% of “Gen Zers” report a physical or emotional reaction to stress within the last year, and multiple surveys show that young people’s mental health has been affected more by COVID-19 than the mental health of adults.

For these reasons (among many others), the outcome of the latest election has heaped stress on those of us who count ourselves as conservative and Christian young people.

It is discouraging for me to see my peers, many whom were once straight-A students, barely finding the motivation to complete assignments. I have not talked with a single student who has not been negatively impacted both academically and mentally by the dramatic changes our state and local governments have taken in response to the pandemic.

As both a student and a daughter, I am asking you, teachers and parents, to pay attention to your kids as they struggle to navigate this year. Check on them. The health of my generation will continue to decline unless parents are acutely aware of what is going on with their kids. From the school trenches, mental health issues will prove to be a significant result of the pandemic in 2020.

The Black Achievement Gap and How Not to Fix It

Blacks are woefully underrepresented in certain jobs and industries, but systemic racism isn't to blame.

Many people insist that black underrepresentation in certain areas of the American workforce is the result of systemic racism.

It isn’t. And it’s a sad truth that there simply aren’t enough high-achieving blacks to go around.

As Heather Mac Donald writes in City Journal, “The United States is being torn apart by an idea: that racism defines America. … Now, activists and their media allies are marshaling a more sweeping set of facts to prove the dominance of white supremacy: the absence of a proportional representation of blacks in a range of organizations. That insufficient diversity results from racial bias, claim the activists, and every few days, the press serves up another exposé of this industry or that company’s too-white workforce to drive home the point.”

Indeed, we discussed this very topic last week regarding Wall Street.

It’s not just Wall Street, though. It’s also those rich, sanctimonious, speech-suppressing lefties in Silicon Valley. As Mac Donald points out, “3.7% of Google’s employees and contractors are black, compared with about 13% black representation in the country at large; at Salesforce, 2.9% of employees are black; at Facebook, 3.8%; and at Microsoft, 4.5%. Black investors make up less than 1 percent of venture capitalists and less than 1 percent of the startup founders whom those venture capitalists underwrite.”

How did this happen? Two words: achievement gap. “The median black eighth-grader does not possess even basic math skills,” writes Mac Donald. “Fifty-three percent of black eighth-graders scored ‘below basic’ on math in 2017. Only 11% of black eighth-graders were proficient in math, and 2% were advanced. By contrast, 20% of white eighth-graders were below basic in 2017, 31% were proficient, and 13% were advanced. Only 12% of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 32% were proficient, and 32% were advanced. The picture was not much better in reading. Forty percent of black eighth-graders were below basic in reading in 2017, 17% were proficient readers, and 1% were advanced readers. Sixteen percent of white eighth-graders were below basic in reading, 39% of white eighth-graders were proficient readers, and 6% were advanced readers. Thirteen percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 45% were proficient, and 12% were advanced readers.”

Care to guess why there are so few blacks in Big Tech?

A case can be made that this yawning academic achievement gap is at least in part due to the inherent imbalance in school funding. But it’d be a weak case. The Detroit Public Schools, for example, spend more per student than all but eight of the nation’s 100 largest school districts, yet the district still generates the nation’s worst reading scores among low-income students. Of course, the U.S. has also spent trillions of dollars to close this awful achievement gap — but to no avail.

When all else fails, start counting by race. Every company that gets called out immediately pledges to do better. Some pledge to do much better. Take Facebook, for example, which says that a preposterous half of its workforce will come from “underrepresented communities” by 2023, according to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. We’ll say this: With a workforce that’s currently 3.8% black, it’s got plenty of room to grow.

Of course, as Mac Donald points out, if racial bias doesn’t explain Facebook’s staffing disparity, then counting by race will only compromise the caliber of its product. And so will every other American institution that thinks race-based discrimination is the answer to the dearth of black employees in their midst.

The same goes for grad schools, law schools, and medical schools, but don’t dare suggest that admissions should be merit-based rather than race-based. As Mac Donald writes, “A paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in March 2020 argued against racial preferences in medical school admissions, arguing that students admitted under a racial-preference regime disproportionately flunk out.”

Imagine that. The paper’s author, Norman Wang, is the director of the electrophysiology fellowship program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Check that — he was the director. Soon after calling for the colorblind evaluation of future doctors, both he and his paper got canceled. He lost his position at Pitt, and one of his colleagues at the medical school tweeted that she and other faculty “denounce this individual’s racist beliefs and paper.”

This is what we’ve come to: the knee-jerk rejection of objective standards, and the looming debilitation of our most fundamental institutions.

In closing, Mac Donald rightly points out that thousands of blacks outperform whites and Asians thanks to study and self-discipline. And that, she says, points to the only real solution: “honesty about the cause of racial employment disparities and an unapologetic embrace of hard work and high expectations for all.”

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Teachers in San Diego are forced to attend 'white privilege' training where they are told they're racist and asked to commit to becoming 'anti-racist' activists

Teachers in San Diego are reportedly being required to attend a 'white privilege' training in which they are asked to commit to becoming 'anti racist' and acknowledge that they meet on stolen land taken from Indigenous peoples.

According to documents shared by journalist Christopher F. Rufo, the training is mandatory for all teachers within the San Diego Unified School District.

As part of the training, the teachers are told to discuss how they would feel if they were told: 'You are racist.'

Teachers were also asked to discuss how they'd feel if they were told: 'You are upholding racist ideas, structures, and policies.'

The documents, which were leaked by Rufo, show the outline of the discussion and the talking points, including how teachers must become 'anti racist' activists'.

In order to do this, teachers have to 'confront and examine [their] white privilege,' acknowledge 'white fragility' and 'teach others to see their privilege'.

During the session, instructors inform teachers that they will experience 'guilt, anger, apathy [and] closed-mindedness' due to their 'white fragility'.

In addition to the aforementioned, the seminar also included a section on 'land acknowledgement'.

'We acknowledge that we meet on stolen land, taken from Indigenous peoples. I am speaking to you from Kumeyaay land. We must acknowledge the hidden history of violence against Indigenous peoples in an effort to move towards justice,' one slide reads.

The acknowledgement was referring to the Kumeyaay tribe of Indigenous peoples who were forced off their ancestral lands. They lived at the northern border of Baja California in Mexico and the southern border of California in the US.

According to Rufo's article, he believes that teaching 'white fragility' will do nothing to help students improve their academic abilities.

He says 'it will only serve activist teachers who want to shift the blame to “systemic racism".'

Such trainings stem from the reckoning that the nation faced this summer over racial injustice in policing and other spheres of American life following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died under the knee of a white police officer.

President Donald Trump condemned such trainings in September and moved to end racial sensitivity training for federal government employees, claiming it is 'divisive, anti-American propaganda'.

The Commander-in-chief said at the time that he wanted to cancel taxpayer funded seminars on 'critical race theory', describing them as 'a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue'.

Systemic racism in America took center stage for discussions held on the local and national levels of government, including at the presidential and vice presidential debates.

At the first presidential debate, Trump said such training is 'teaching people to hate our country'.

Ultimately, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election, partly because they had 90 per cent of the black vote.

Last month, three civil rights groups filed a lawsuit, challenging Trump's executive order that prohibits federal agencies, contractors and grant recipients from offering certain diversity training.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed the complaint in federal court in Washington, DC, along with the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance.

The lawsuit argued that Trump’s order violates free speech rights and strangles workplace attempts to address systemic race and sex discrimination.

The executive order 'unconstitutionally forces Plaintiffs to choose between censoring speech on these important issues or forfeiting any opportunity to enter into a federal contract,' the groups argued in the complaint.

Trump’s executive order, signed in October, called out workplace trainings that explore deep-seated racism and privilege that the administration says could make white workers feel 'discomfort' or guilt.

The president then ordered the Labor Department to set up a hotline to investigate complaints about training sessions.

The directive uses a 55-year-old presidential order spurred by the Civil Rights Movement that sought to ban discriminatory practices at companies that contract with the federal government.

Critics say Trump’s order twists President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 initiative into a vehicle for white grievances.

The Labor Department is also using the 1965 presidential order to target companies, including Microsoft and Wells Fargo, over public commitments to expand or bolster black and Hispanic representation in leadership roles.

The government opened inquiries into both companies, warning them against using 'discriminatory practices' to meet their goals.

Eton College's 'woke agenda' is 'promoting one political ideology over another' and could jeopardise the school's charitable status, Free Speech Union warns

The sacking of an Eton tutor over a controversial lecture on 'gender roles' could jeopardise the school's legal status as a charity, the Free Speech Union has warned.

English teacher Will Knowland was dismissed for refusing to remove a video published on his YouTube channel that denounced 'radical feminist orthodoxy' – which was intended for the £42,500-a-year school's older pupils.

He appealed the decision and a disciplinary panel will consider his fate on Tuesday, though the ruling is not expected to be announced for several days.

The sacking has sparked a free-speech storm which has seen headmaster Simon Henderson accused of pushing a 'woke agenda', and of presiding over a 'progressive' atmosphere akin to 'religious fundamentalism'.

Eton, which was founded in 1440 and has educated 20 prime ministers, has now been told that Mr Knowland's sacking 'promote[s] one particular political ideology over another' – and puts its legal status as a charity in jeopardy.

In a letter seen by MailOnline, the Free Speech Union has disputed the College's claim that a failure to dismiss Mr Knowland for not removing his 30-minute YouTube video could expose Eton to potential liability under the Equality Act.

Director-general Toby Young accuses the school of 'overstating its legal risk in relation to the Equality Act' to the exclusion of it primary duty as a charity to 'provide a broad, open-minded, challenging education'.

He questions if Eton's trustees are properly carrying out their legal duties and warns that the dismissal 'promote[s] one particular political ideology over another'.

'Promoting a specific point of view may be a way of furthering another charitable aim, but it would not be education,' Mr Young writes.

'This would be highly troubling in any school, but for one with such a storied history and pre-eminent international reputation, it is potentially catastrophic.'

The letter states that the Free Speech Union will make a complaint to the Charity Commission requesting a statutory inquiry into the College, 'in the event of Mr Knowland's dismissal being affirmed on appeal'.

They also threaten to write to the Attorney General to make a reference to the Charity Tribunal 'regarding the meaning of the advancement of education for the public benefit in relation to matters of political and cultural controversy'.

Mr Knowland's lecture was never actually delivered at Eton, but a video of the 'Patriarchy Paradox' was uploaded to his own YouTube page.

Some figures who initially backed Mr Knowland – including Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker – have now distanced themselves after learning more about the lecture, which included incorrect statistics about rape.

Mr Knowland also approvingly quoted an article saying women wanted to be 'overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity'.

In a letter to parents, the headmaster insisted that the importance of 'independent thinking and intellectual freedom' was 'non-negotiable' at Eton – but added that he wanted boys and staff to treat other's differences with 'mutual respect'.

He refused to comment in detail on the sacking of Mr Knowland, who has attracted tens of thousands of pounds in donations towards a tribunal.

Mr Henderson did, however, stress that the initial disciplinary process following the controversial 'Patriarchy Paradox' lecture was conducted by 'three of our most senior teachers' and not the Head Master himself.

In a statement to MailOnline, Mr Young said: 'I am concerned that Eton's Fellows haven't been as on top of this as they should have been. 'Lots of current and former pupils have leapt to the defence of Eton's ethos, championing its tradition of introducing pupils to a wide range of views and encouraging them to make up their own minds, but that's really the Fellows' job.

'They are the custodians of Eton's reputation. They should be protecting its long and distinguished history of free speech and independent-mindedness.'

A spokesperson for Eton College said: 'We considered our obligations and have kept the Charity Commission informed throughout.'

They added that Mr Knowland's video lecture could have breached a number of the school's policies, as well as Eton's legal and regulatory obligations.




Monday, December 07, 2020

McGill student union demands professor lose title, free speech be curtailed in the name of 'inclusivity'

The student union suggested that "the solution is not and cannot be active listening and dialogue."

The executive team of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has penned an open letter demanding the university revoke a professor's emeritus status and calls for "an immediate, transparent, and student-centred overhaul of McGill’s Statement of Academic Freedom, enshrining the University’s commitment to inclusivity in teaching and research in policy."

The letter, co-signed by organizations including Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and the The Anthropology Students Association, begins by asserting that "McGill University was built on a history of oppression, its existence made possible by profiting off of the labour of enslaved and marginalized peoples," and further claims that "[scholars] have abused their right of free speech and academic freedom to defend acts of rhetorical violence." The letter then criticized free speech as a concept of "whiteness" by citing critical race theorist David Gillborn.

Proponents of critical race theory believe the world to be nothing more than a series of competing groups vying for power over one another. While traditional definitions of violence exclude pure rhetoric and only encompass acts of physical harm, critical race theorists do not see any meaningful distinction between words and violence as both are used for the sole purpose of attaining power over other groups.

This explanation is also the reason why many adherents to critical race theory engage in acts of physical violence themselves, as physical violence is seen as a proportional reaction to "rhetorical violence." When violent anarchists such as Antifa employ their intimidation tactics against public speakers, the reason is because they see speech and violence to both be demonstrations of power with no moral distinction aside from the specific group interests they are advancing.

"McGill University consistently prioritizes the protection of an extreme version of academic freedom over the safety and wellbeing of its students," the letter states, a position which would likely be lauded by proponents of free speech and academic freedom.

The student union suggested that "the solution is not and cannot be active listening and dialogue." They further argued that "[while] inclusiveness and academic freedom are both invaluable principles, they cannot always coexist."

The SSMU brings attention to a professor emeritus from McGill University, Dr. Philip Carl Salzman. They argued that McGill continuing to afford him emeritus status "illustrates the ways in which McGill maintains structures that protect and legitimize racist and Islamophobic dialogues" by prioritizing "academic freedom, rather than the right of Muslims and People of Colour have to feel safe."

The student union criticized Salzman for a variety of articles he published in the Middle East Forum and Minding The Campus, arguing for his dismissal for things ranging from government immigration policy to criticism of the vague term "social justice." Listing his alleged transgressions, the SSMU said that Salzman "[condemns] multiculturalism, immigration, gender parity, cultural equality, social justice, and the Black Lives Matter movement, along with dismissing the existence of rape culture and systemic racism."

They further assert that Salzman's "affiliation with McGill lends him credibility that would not otherwise be afforded if not for his status as a Professor Emeritus of a respected institution." They did not, however, offer any refutation to the ideas he promoted in the articles. Nevertheless, the final paragraph of the letter begins by stating "we, the undersigned, demand the removal of Professor Philip Carl Salzman’s Emeritus status."

The students also demanded restrictions on free speech on the principles of social justice, stating "we, furthermore, demand an immediate, transparent, and student-centred overhaul of McGill’s Statement of Academic Freedom, enshrining the University’s commitment to inclusivity in teaching and research in policy."

Responding to the petition, Dr. Salzman defended his views as "classically liberal." Noting the lack of substance in the petition's criticism of his views, Salzman said "I would welcome critiques of my articles through argument and evidence, and am prepared to defend my positions. But no attempt has been made by these students to challenge my articles with contrary arguments and contradictory evidence. Their view appears to be that diversity of opinion about important subjects is unacceptable."

"These students appear to believe that they are at McGill not to learn anthropology, but to teach anthropology," the professor continued. "Perhaps this is because anthropology, once a discipline fact- and evidence-based, has been overtaken by ideological moralism, and rather than seeking truth is now in the business of seeking and punishing ideological heretics. I rather doubt that the Holy Inquisition and Mao’s Cultural Revolution are fruitful models for an academic discipline."

The SSMU, meanwhile, has a long history of bigotry itself. Just three years ago, a Jewish student on the SSMU, Noah Lew, was subjected to coordinated action whereby he was voted out of office for his involvement with Jewish organizations. Lew was one of three Jewish members of the SSMU targeted by activists for alleged "layers of corruption" in their involvement in the student union. No non-Jewish students were targeted by the group.

Salzman alleges that his support for Israel was a factor in his targeting. "Certainly my support for Israel is part of the reason that I was targeted," he alleged. "But anti-Israelism and antisemitism is widespread among McGill students and professors generally."

"The McGill Daily is I believe an organ of the SSMU, and for years it has refused to publish any pro-Israel article, while publishing rafts of anti-Israel argument," Salzman continued. "Antisemitism just naturally follows, as documented empirically by various Jewish groups."

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Ohio House Passes FORUM Act to Protect Free Speech for All College Students

The Ohio House just passed Senate Bill 40 in a 65:27 vote. Also known as the FORUM (Forming Open and Robust University Minds) Act and sponsored by Senators Andrew Brenner and Rob McColley, this important legislation will protect free speech for all college students on Ohio’s 14 public university campuses, 24 public regional branch campuses, and 23 public community colleges.

The bill is in response to a number of lawsuits that have arisen on Ohio’s college campuses over the years due to unconstitutional speech policies.

"At a time when division in our nation is at an all-time high, it is essential that our university campuses remain a place where open, honest, and tough discussions can still happen,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values. “The FORUM Act creates a level playing field on college campuses for ideas, so pro-life, Christian, and conservative students are not discriminated against because of their worldview."

The FORUM Act has four major components:

Protects peaceful assemblies, protests, speakers, and displays on campus.

Prohibits “Free Speech Zones” on college campuses.

Prohibits shutting down events or other expression via a “Heckler’s Veto.”

Requires colleges and universities to have a free speech policy, and report violations of free speech on campus to the General Assembly.

Fourteen other states have passed similar legislation, and this approach has proven to be one that protects free speech for students, does not create any additional costs to universities, and helps states avoid further costly litigation.

Unanimously passed out of the Senate earlier this year, SB 40 now heads back to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before it can be sent to Governor DeWine.

'We're Going to Look Back on This Moment in Shame': Carlson Targets Dr. Fauci Over School Closures

The true costs of the lockdowns as a means of controlling the coronavirus pandemic will be studied for decades to come—from suicides, to domestic abuse, to drug overdoses, to the mental health crises it’s caused, to setting children behind academically, socially, and more.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson believes we will "look back at this moment in shame." We don’t need the pandemic in the rearview mirror to understand some of the data we already have, especially on how the virus affects children, for example. And yet, that didn’t stop the closure of schools.

"Sixty million American children have been languishing in their rooms since spring, sitting in front of screens, learning nothing, isolated from human contact, in many cases driven to mental illness—and there was no reason for any of that," Carlson said on his Monday program. "The experts were wrong. They had no idea what they were doing. But the most amazing part is that they knew they were wrong when they did it, but they kept lying about it, even as American children began to kill themselves."

Carlson pointed to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s back and forth on school closures even though nothing changed in terms of research or on the vaccine front.

"Parents had simply had enough and they forced Mayor Bill de Blasio to admit the obvious: This virus is not a threat to children," Carlson said.

The Fox News host then targeted NIAID director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently said to "close the bars and keep the schools open" because "if you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected."

But in June he took the position that going back to school in the fall would be "complicated" — even though as Carlson pointed out, the data were the same.

The host pointed to New Jersey, which was hit particularly hard, where not a single school-aged child has died from the virus, though they have perished from drug overdoses, suicide, fires, and car accidents.

"According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 123 Americans under the age of 18 have died from the coronavirus. That's 123 people out of a population of 328 million," he said. "Didn't matter. We shut the schools anyway, crushing millions of kids and affecting their futures in ways we can't even understand at this point."

So what’s behind the closure of schools? Carlson said the powerful teachers' unions.

So the question is, why did we do this? To save the teachers. The teachers unions push this and their servants, the Democratic Party, obey. Of course they did; teachers unions are the single largest donors to the Democratic Party. So unionized teachers get to stay home, collecting checks for their nine-month-a-year jobs.

But what do the data say about this? Well, for teachers under the age of 50, and that's the vast majority of them, the odds of surviving a coronavirus infection are roughly 99.98%. For teachers under 70, the survival odds drop all the way to 99.5%. And by the way, if teachers do get sick, it likely won't be from teaching. Children appear not to spread the coronavirus, at leat not effectively.

We've known this for a long time. Back in May, researchers in Europe found "children do not appear to be drivers of transmission, and we argue that reopening schools should be considered safe, accompanied by certain measures."

Again, none of this is new. Tony Fauci, the data guy, knew it at the time and so did anyone in the news media who could read, which is still most of them. And yet they kept lying about it, all of them. (Fox News)

Like much else in society these days, the reason the pandemic was politicized in the way it was is because of President Trump, who strongly advocated for reopening schools. The knee-jerk reaction from the media and Democratic leaders was to take the opposite position.

The rate of kids failing classes has increased and many aren’t even registered for online classes.

"If you want to know the health of a society, look at its young people. Look at its schools. These are obvious points that are being roundly ignored, and anyone who makes them is attacked for making them," Carlson said. "We're going to look back on this moment in shame."

Education or Indoctrination? ‘Anti-Racist’ Teaching Sweeps K-12 Schools Targeting ‘Whiteness’

The notices to parents began arriving fast and furious in the weeks after the death of George Floyd in late May.

In dramatic, urgent language, K-12 schools across the country—both public and private—professed solidarity with Black Lives Matter and vowed to dismantle white supremacy, as they scrambled to introduce anti-racist courses and remake themselves into racism-free zones.

The president of the Lower Merion School Board on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line declared to families: “We need to eradicate white supremacy and heteropatriarchy in all of our institutions.”

In Maine, a coastal public school district where 3.7% of the 2,100 students are African American or Hispanic, the superintendent declared war on “the intentional barriers white people have built to harm Black people.” The top administrator added: “We grieve for all of the Black lives taken by white supremacy.”

Educators at the prestigious Brentwood College School in Los Angeles have made more changes to the curriculum this year than any other in the private school’s nearly five-decade history. Teachers are introducing critical race theory, which views U.S. history through the prism of racial conflict, and assigning readings from Ibram X. Kendi, the academic and author who contends race-neutral policies are the bulwark of the “White ethnostate.”

As part of the makeover, Brentwood School leaders have rolled out a fresh theme this year for fifth graders: “Identity and Power.”

“While some view these recent shifts as indoctrination, we see them as opportunities for engagement,” Brentwood’s head of school, Mike Riera, wrote to families this fall, acknowledging the growing resistance from some parents. “Will we overstep in some areas? Possibly. Will we understep in others? Possibly.”

The nation’s K-12 schools have been incrementally adopting multiculturalism and ethnic studies for decades, but such courses have been the exception rather than the rule. This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have sparked new level of commitment, a newfound urgency, and a new trend: anti-racist pedagogy.

If administrators deliver on their promises, the sweeping changes underway will introduce new courses, shift hiring priorities, rebalance student demographics, redirect stipends and scholarships, and revise conduct standards—in many ways modeling K-12 educational philosophy on the social justice values endorsed by many universities and, increasingly, corporations.

The changes come at an unprecedented time when many schools are struggling to offer basic instruction under COVID-19 restrictions.

Fabienne Doucet, a New York University professor of early childhood education and urban education, said this momentum has been building for decades and the culture now appears primed to understand race in America from the moral perspective of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“What’s really different now—and this has been decades in coming—is talking explicitly about whiteness,” Doucet said, citing a term that academics and activists use to critique the cultural, political, and economic dominance exercised by Europeans and their descendants.

Doucet, who’s on leave from NYU and working as a program officer at the William T. Grant Foundation in New York, acknowledged that some of the content of anti-racist pedagogy may seem militant to those hearing it for the first time. But, she said, it serves an important purpose; namely, chronicling the nation’s history from all perspectives, even if those perspectives conflict with one another.

“Sometimes you need to go too far to get there or else we might not go far enough,” Doucet said. “I’m less anxious about overshooting than not ever getting there because the stakes are so high.”

The rapid and radical changes in public and private schools have triggered a backlash among some parents who find the anti-racist message to be anti-white and anti-American, and those who say it’s historically inaccurate, inflammatory, and divisive.

Parents are forming Instagram sites, and at least one group calling itself No Left Turn in Education is seeking to mobilize parents around the country to reverse the woke juggernaut. The parents swap examples from their schools, but many are keeping incognito for fear of being accused of racism or other repercussions. Indeed, several parents interviewed for this article didn’t want their names to be used.

Their concern is that the edgy, new educational materials indoctrinate pupils with identity politics and leftist ideology, and leave no room for discussion.

“They are using very positive words like diversity, equity, and inclusivity to mislead you, but the message behind these words is horrifying,” said Elana Yaron Fishbein, a suburban Philadelphia mom who created the No Left Turn in Education organization.

“They are grouping and stereotyping human beings by skin color, and they are attributing characteristics to your personality based on skin color,” she said.

Some parents say that immersing students in the concepts of white privilege, structural racism, and whiteness should be balanced out with “viewpoint diversity.” They want their kids not only to be exposed to multiple perspectives, but also to be able to freely critique anti-racist materials and to form their own opinions.

Jerome Eisenberg, a Los Angeles developer of apartments whose middle-school daughter attends the Brentwood School, said it’s irresponsible to introduce American history to uninformed students from the single perspective of race.

“It’s just wrong to present this [material] as true to children who have no other background in U.S. history,” Eisenberg said. “It causes me consternation that bright-line American heroes like Jefferson and Lincoln are cast as bad guys.”

Among the protesting parents: Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News anchor who now has her own podcast. On a recent episode, she said she was so put off by what she saw as a radical turn in K-12 education that she’s pulling her three kids from their schools in New York City.

“It’s out of control, on so many levels,” Kelly said. “They have gone off the deep end.”

She read from an article that she said was circulated among the school diversity group, which included Kelly and other parents, and was recommended by the group to be circulated to all the faculty.

“I’m tired of White people reveling in their state-sanctioned depravity, snuffing out Black life with no consequences,” Kelly read, quoting a June piece by Nahliah Webber, the executive director of the Orleans Public Education Network. “They gleefully soak in their White-washed history that downplays the holocaust of Indigenous, Native peoples and Africans in the Americas. They happily believe their all-White spaces exist as a matter of personal effort and willingly use violence against Black bodies to keep those spaces white.”

Advocates of anti-racist pedagogy say that the insistence on viewpoint diversity rings hollow to activists who have been trying to diversify the curriculum for decades.

“How is it that when you’re talking about a Eurocentric curriculum, there isn’t this request that the story of Christopher Columbus be presented through multiple lenses?” said Julia Jordan-Zachery, the chair of the Africana Studies Department at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. “It begs the question of why do we now insist on viewpoint diversity?”

Educators are overwhelmingly progressive on social justice issues. This summer, the EdWeek Research Center found that 81% of the nation’s teachers, principals, and district leaders support the Black Lives Matter movement, compared with 67% of the general population, as surveyed separately by the Pew Research Center.

The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers labor union, was among the numerous professional educator organizations that issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter in response to “the crisis of anti-Blackness.”

The K-12 changes are already taking shape. Some institutions, such as Hopkins School in Connecticut and Princeton Day School in New Jersey, are segregating faculty and staff into “affinity groups”—such as “Latinx” or “White Consciousness”—while holding discussions about racism and white privilege.

Others, such as Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, are spending nearly a half-million dollars for “anti-racist system audits” conducted by outside consultants.

The $46,300-a-year Hopkins School, the third-oldest independent school in the United States, is revamping its courses “to incorporate a social justice lens, de-center Anglo-European voices,” focus instruction on race and identity, fund student activism and projects, and add a stand-alone course on social justice.

Buffalo Public Schools, where whites account for 22% of enrolled students, this fall adopted Black Lives Matter-themed lessons plans that ask students in grades 2-4 if there are any similarities between the coronavirus epidemic today and the supposedly intentional spread of smallpox to the Native Americans, described as an 18th-century form of “biological warfare.”

Middle schoolers and high schoolers are taught to think of Western justice as “punitive” and the justice meted out in traditional societies as “restorative/empathetic.” One of the included documents for instructors states: “All white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism.”

While some urban public school districts, including those in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C., have been integrating social justice and anti-racism into their core curricula for years, at many schools, administrators and teachers are new to the game and playing catch-up.

To fill the need, professional educator organizations and advocacy groups are posting K-12 teaching materials online for teachers to use in their classrooms.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union for teachers, has posted an entire page of BLM teaching resources, while Black Lives Matter is also disseminating educational materials.

Anti-racist materials present a mix of themes—an emphasis on liberation and resistance movements, critiques of whiteness and systemic racism that come from critical race theory, and an introduction to other social justice causes.

At times, the readings and lessons can take an unapologetic, even confrontational, stance toward America’s past and present. But unlike Black History Month, there are few, if any, mentions of African Americans who defied the color barrier as athletes, artists, inventors, scientists, or soldiers.

The NEA teaching themes include Justice for George [Floyd] Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Globalism and Collective Value, Queer Organizing Behind the Scenes, Unapologetically Black Day, and Student Activist Day.

A link to social justice math used in Seattle Public Schools teaches data analysis and mathematical modeling through examples of police brutality and excessive use of force.

“Racism is perpetuated by silence—and silence is complicity,” one NEA teacher instruction reads. “Being ‘colorblind’ often serves as a pretense to downplay the significance of race, deny the existence of racism, and erase the experience of students of color.”

The BLM materials starting at the early childhood level are rooted in such guiding principles as empathy, loving engagement and diversity, as well as trans-affirming, queer-affirming, and disrupting the Western nuclear family societal norm to celebrate extended families, nontraditional families, and villages that “collective[ly] care for one another.”

Elementary school activities introduce kids to community activism, the visual symbols of the LGBT movement, advocating for people with physical disabilities, and a creating a communal activism mural.

An elementary school-level proposed activity called “Match the Action” teaches children to identify different forms of resistance: boycotts, protests, rallies, marches, sit-ins, walkouts, petitions, etc. A proposed activity for middle schoolers reads: “Think about the names of people who are no longer with us who you wish you could talk to. Activists, leaders, elders, people who have been murdered by police.”

Fatima Morrell, an associate superintendent at Buffalo Public Schools, describes her district’s approach to education as an “emancipation pedagogy” that empowers black pupils by “problematizing the Eurocentric perspective” and by authentically representing the African American experience, which allows black students see themselves reflected in the curriculum and realize their human potential.

Buffalo’s schools have been incorporating these concepts for the past five years, she said, but the introduction of Black Lives Matter-themed lessons this fall alarmed some parents.

Morrell said she talked to concerned parents by phone, and Buffalo school officials held a virtual town hall via Zoom in September. School district officials plan to hold three more town halls to address concerns and explain changes to the curriculum, she said.

Morrell, who oversees the district’s Office of Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, said many parents wrongly assumed that Buffalo schools were advocating defunding the police. Some of the parental anger, she said, came from a “historically dark place.”

“When you teach from a black or brown voice about the legacy of enslavement, it has a very different tone and tenor,” Morrell explained during the Zoom virtual town hall. “One of the misconceptions is that this is about white hate, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Buffalo students learn about the BLM movement, and focus on such themes as “I Love My Hair,” “Unapologetically Black,” “Understanding My Family’s History,” “What Is Community?,” and “Mass Incarceration.” They learn about the late civil rights giant John Lewis and the concept of making a positive difference through protest and activism. And they complete a Jim Crow-era literacy test administered to black voters in Alabama.

They also learn about the concepts of “racist,” “not racist,” and “anti-racist,” as defined by Kendi, who is quoted: “There is no neutrality in the racism struggle. … The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”

One of the lessons for students in seventh and eighth grade, based on The New York Times’ 1619 Project, asks: “Why isn’t slavery considered/or included as a cause to the American Revolution? Possible Responses: Our founding is pure/righteous, protect the narrative.”

In grades 11 and 12, students are asked to pick an assignment for their final project. One option is to write a rap about police brutality, compose a poem on inequality, draft a prose piece on systemic racism, or “Create a collage on a poster board that connects to any specific example related to the Black/Brown Genocide.”

This pedagogy runs counter to the educational philosophy of Ian Rowe, who has run single-sex charter schools in New York City for the past decade and is the co-founder of Vertex Partnership Academies, which is opening charter schools in the South Bronx in 2022 that will primarily attract black and Hispanic students.

Rowe, who is also a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that anti-racist pedagogy glosses over inconvenient facts, like Africans’ role in the global slave trade, and promotes a defeatist philosophy fixated on racial oppression, subjugation, and injustice.

“It taps into white guilt and black people’s sense that someone else is responsible for these problems that I have,” Rowe said. “The way this stuff plays out, if you are a low-income black kid, after a while you really start to believe it. You develop a very skewed version of the country, where you believe everyone is hostile to your efforts and that white supremacy is so strong that you don’t have the ability to control your own destiny.”

Some of today’s most vocal converts to anti-racist pedagogy previously regarded the nation’s racial reckoning from the perspective of their whiteness, before they experienced an epiphany. That’s what happened to Jeff Porter, the superintendent of Maine School Administrative District #51, which serves the towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth, after he went through mandatory diversity and equity training this past summer with an outside organization called Community Change Inc.

“I also recognize that some of the terminology may have felt confrontational, such as ‘white majority’ and ‘white supremacy,’” Porter wrote to parents this summer. “When I first went through training on this subject I was very much taken aback by this language, as well and felt personally attacked as a racist.”

Porter described himself as a “life-long Mainer” whose family’s farming roots in Aroostook County go back to his great-great-grandfather.

“To think because I am white and have always lived here would mean that I somehow contribute to a ‘white supremecist’ [sic] culture was deeply troubling and insulting,” Porter wrote. “I had never before considered myself in this way.”

But Porter urged the white families in the school district to open their minds and consider how they contribute to structures of oppression.

“However, I now fully understand that this language is an accurate (and necessary) depiction of the long historical reality of race in this country, whether we want to accept it or not,” Porter declared. “The facts speak for themselves: America has a 400-year-old history of discrimination and oppression of African-Americans that must be acknowledged if we are ever to truly live up to the ideals to which our nation was founded.”