Friday, January 08, 2021

Education in a Time of Pandemic: Not Making the Grade

The utter failure of school assignment systems to provide quality-learning options to all students, especially the most vulnerable, is clear.

The quality and consistency of the education a child received during the pandemic has been dependent on the attendance boundary in which that child’s family lives.

Allowing dollars to follow children directly to any public or private school of choice is a critical emergency policy reform that states should pursue.

When it comes to her daughter Emerson’s education, Sarrin Warfield says, she’s “in it to win it.”

When Emerson’s assigned school in South Carolina announced plans for virtual learning this fall, Sarrin says she asked herself, “What if we just made this in my backyard and made a school?” After talking with friends who have children the same age as Emerson, Sarrin said, “Let’s do it. Instead of it being a crazy idea, let’s own this process and be really intentional about doing this and make it happen.”

Sarrin is one of the thousands of parents around the country who formed learning pods when assigned schools closed. By meeting in small groups with friends’ and neighbors’ children, these pod families could try to keep at least one of part of their child’s life from being upended because of COVID-19.

The time-honored practice of school assignment did little to help the Warfields—or thousands of other students around the U.S. during the COVID spring … and then COVID summer and fall. In the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, officials in some of the largest districts in the country reported significant enrollment changes from the previous school year, especially among younger students.

Officials in Mesa, Arizona, reported a 17% decrease in kindergarten enrollment after the first two weeks. In Los Angeles, Superintendent Austin Beutner reported a 3.4% decrease in enrollment, but said another 4% of students couldn’t be found, making the change closer to 7%. Figures are similar in Broward County, Florida, and Houston. In large school districts, these percentages amount to over 10,000 children per district.

Some of these changes can be attributed to learning pods. But officials in large cities and even those representing entire states simply reported having no contact with many students.

Under normal circumstances, if thousands of children who were once in school suddenly were nowhere to be found, this would be an issue of national concern. Hearings would be held, and officials would demand to know what is happening with schools around the country. Loud calls for change would be heard.

But life during the pandemic is anything but normal.

Likewise, if more students around the country were failing—say, twice the figure from last year—this would also be worrisome, right? From Los Angeles to Houston to Chicago to Fairfax, Virginia, school officials and researchers are now reporting that the proportion of students earning D’s and F’s in the first semester has increased, doubling in some cases, in comparison to the last school year.

Yet across the U.S., many school districts, especially those in large metro areas, still remain closed to in-person learning for some if not all grades and may not reopen at the start of 2021.

According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of parents in lower-income brackets report being “very” or “somewhat” concerned this fall that their children are “falling behind in school as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic.” With thousands of students not in class, even virtually, and falling grades among those who are attending, who can blame them?

For taxpayers and policymakers looking for lessons in the pandemic, the utter failure of school assignment systems to provide quality-learning options to all students, especially the most vulnerable, is clear.

The quality and consistency of the education a child received during the pandemic has been dependent on the attendance boundary in which that child’s family lives. At the same time, so many of the issues plaguing education during the pandemic—and for that matter, the entire century leading up to the pandemic—are rooted in policies that fund school systems, rather than individual students.

Allowing dollars to follow children directly to any public or private school of choice is a critical emergency policy reform that states should pursue. Such a policy change is overdue.

Since it’s anyone’s guess how soon life will get back to normal, we can’t wait any longer for the system to fix itself.

School choice lowers teenage suicide

Elijah Robinson attempted suicide as a teenager. Why? Well, as a queer and mixed-race student, he faced vicious bullying in his public school.

Thanks to a Florida program, he was able to switch schools and attend a private Christian school where he did not face bullying or discrimination. Students at private schools are statistically less likely to have bullying problems. Robinson later concluded, “If I had stayed at my previous school … I honestly think I would have lost my life.”

A new study confirms that Robinson’s experience is not an outlier. It shows that alongside reopening schools, which science shows are not sources of significant coronavirus transmission, school choice policies can help heal the mental health crisis plaguing youth.

This is of crucial importance because adolescent suicide and mental health problems were already major issues before the coronavirus pandemic. Suicides among those aged 10 to 24 spiked 56% from 2007 to 2017, becoming the second-highest cause of death among teenagers and young adults.

Now, with lockdowns and school closures sapping away their social bonds and quality of life, we have witnessed a disturbing rise in suicide and mental health issues among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 4 young people contemplated suicide during a one-month period over the summer amid the first pandemic peak and harsh lockdowns.

School choice programs can help alleviate this pain and suffering by allowing more young people the educational opportunities that best fit their needs. These policies include the expansion of charter schools and tuition voucher programs that provide low-income families with money to attend private schools.

With those options, families don't have to remain trapped into sending their child to the local public school by default. So, for students who face bullying or are not at schools that suit their needs, they can go elsewhere. Families who like their public schools and students who are succeeding there are, of course, free to choose to stay put.

The new study shows the benefit that choice brings to those who need it. Authored by the Reason Foundation’s Corey DeAngelis and economist Angela Dills, it provides empirical backing to the intuitive conclusion that school choice can reduce suicide among teenagers. It concludes that “the estimated effect of a charter school law translates to about a 10% decrease in the suicide rate among 15 to 19-year-olds.” It also finds that 30-year-old adults who had attended private school were 2% less likely to report having a mental health condition.

Why? “It’s likely that private schools face stronger competitive pressures to provide a safer school environment and improve mental health if they want to remain open,” Dills explained. “Public schools, on the other hand, are more likely to be burdened with government regulations that make it difficult for them to control discipline policy and create strong school cultures.”

These results only supplement the evidence showing that school choice improves test scores and family satisfaction.

The lesson here goes beyond how school choice improves youth mental health, as important as that may be. This study offers yet another demonstration that public policies that embrace competition and choice will always outperform those that force one-size-fits-all solutions.

Elon Musk: You don't need a college degree to work at Tesla

On multiple occasions, as was the case at the 2020 Satellite conference, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla announced that the university was "not for learning, but basically for fun."

The billionaire claims that any subject can be learned online and for free , he indicated that billionaires like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison at Oracle left college behind.

Elon Musk is not the only one to question the need for college degrees - people like Tim Cook , Apple's CEO , mentioned in 2019 that on average half of Apple's jobs in the US included people without degrees. Similarly, he commented that several universities do not teach the skills that business leaders require most throughout their workforce.

Glassdoor found that tech companies like Apple , Google and IBM also don't need a college degree to get a job. In fact, Google did courses for the Google Career Certificate , which is a half-year program that prepares participants for jobs in demand.

According to LinkedIn , many famous companies, including the tech giants, don't need employees with college degrees. Following a study and analysis of data, he discovered that specific positions are most likely to be filled by non-college graduates, such as electronic technicians, mechanical designers, and marketing representatives.

Executives who have led large companies without a college degree include: Travis Kalanick (Uber), Michael Dell (Dell), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Jobs (Apple), Arash Ferdowsi (Dropbox), Jan Koum (WhatsApp ), John Mackey (Whole Foods Market) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter).




Thursday, January 07, 2021

Teachers Union Head Has 'Safety' Concerns About Returning to the Classroom. Here's the Problem with Her Claim

Throughout the course of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, we have heard teachers and administrators say they are afraid of teaching in-person out of fear of catching the virus. School districts around the country decided to conduct school online through "virtual learning."

It turns out that one of the biggest proponents behind the push, Chicago Teacher's Union's (CTU) Regional Vice President, Sarah Chambers, is afraid of teaching her students in a classroom but she is not afraid to travel internationally.

Chambers posted a photo on her Instagram account showing her lounging at a pool in a resort in Puerto Rico, WGN-TV reported. The post reportedly said she previously had the Wuhan coronavirus, tested negative for the virus and consulted her doctor before traveling across the world.

The kicker is Chambers posted the photo hours after the CTU stated they had concerns about the district's HVAC system, which includes air filtration.

“This is the most difficult time. Transmission is highest. It’s dark and cold. People are indoors and the holidays are coming, so there’s going to be a lot of transmission,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said as the union fought district administrators.

Chambers herself tweeted she would continue to participate in online, virtual learning with her students.

"I have signed [a] pledge, along with over 8,000+ union educators to continue to work remotely," Chambers wrote in a tweet, Just the News reported.

Once the CTU head came under fire for her hypocrisy, Chambers took to Twitter to defend her actions.

"I got 4 covid tests (2 rapid, 2 PCR) b4 coming here & wore 2 masks (N95)," she wrote. "Scientists said airplanes are safer than grocery stores bc airplanes have ICU level filtration & everyone wears masks."

"My doc said it's extremely unlikely for me to get Covid again since I had it so badly," Chambers explained.

Since this story has gained national attention, Chambers has made her Instagram account private and protected her tweets from the public.

This is not the first time Chambers has come under fire from union members and the public. In the summer of 2019, Chambers and a handful of other people traveled to Venezuela under a "CTU trip." During that trip, they met with Venezuelan government officials, visited a commune and participated in local media interviews, the Chicago Tribune reported.

To make matters even worse, Chambers and those on the trip with her "were excessively complimentary of President Nicolás Maduro" in their writings.

“I am appalled a delegation representing themselves as CTU went to Venezuela, not to support striking teachers, not to object to human rights violations, but to go on what appears to be a state-chaperoned propaganda tour," Karen Moody, a teacher and union member, told the Tribune at the time.

Chambers is another example of a union boss who enjoys rules for others but not herself. If the Wuhan coronavirus poses so much of a threat that she cannot show up to in-person classes and teach her students, then the virus is dangerous enough for her to stay in-state. Hell, she would be staying home, not traveling to a foreign country.

Biden's Education Plan: Dumb, Woke and Indoctrinated Kids

Puppet President-elect Biden has been trotting out his Cabinet nominations and all of them are as potentially nightmarish as one would expect. The old coot actually thinks that Mayor Pete should be put in charge of something, a sentiment with which most of his former South Bend constituents would probably not concur. Grandpa Gropes is really not a guy you want to put in charge of personnel.

I’ve written several times here about my admiration for President Trump’s secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. She was a Big Education outsider when she arrived to the position and the Left hates her because she hasn’t been a pawn of the teachers’ unions. That will all greatly change in a Biden administration, as Joe is literally in bed with the National Education Association, which is the most evil labor organization in America. DOCTOR Mama Jill Biden is a member of the NEA, which will now be in charge of public education because of her complete control over her mentally debilitated husband’s brain.

A lot of what DeVos has accomplished has been at the collegiate level. Union opposition to her has made it more difficult for her to have an impact on the K-12 kids though. Those kids are getting dumber, sadly. The Democrats and the unions are forever telling us that a lack of money is the problem. There is never enough, according to them.

Kamala Harris recently seemed to accidentally touch on the real problem, which is how the resources are allocated:

No doubt Madame Vice President-elect has a very different reason for the resources being improperly allocated than I do, but she would be wrong.

Biden’s choice to run the Dept. of Education looks like another real winner:

Joe Biden’s choice to head up the Education Department is the Connecticut commissioner of education who played a key role in developing a statewide minority-studies course that analyzes “how race, power, and privilege influence group access to citizenship, civil rights, and economic power.”

Miguel Cardona based the curriculum on “critical race theory,” which claims America is systemically racist. The choice has pleased left-wing education advocacy groups and teachers’ unions.

Once again, the focus is on indoctrination, not education. It’s what public education in America has been all about for decades while in thrall to teachers’ unions. This insanity will have the direction and the blessing of the woman pulling the puppet strings of the man whom everyone will be calling the president of the United States.

The resources will still be improperly allocated by the bureaucracy because that’s what bureaucracies do — it’s a given.

The teachers will still be in it for themselves while masquerading as saints who only care about the children — another given.

And now the focus will be on making sure that the kids become woke progressive automatons. It’s what they’ve been doing for years, but on steroids. They know that if the American children ever get back to learning anything about real history and government they won’t want to vote for the far-left fringe party that the Democrats have become.

Unfortunately, the brainwash fix is in.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to get the kids back in class with these people.

UK: A honorary black??

A teacher has voiced his bewilderment after his Left-wing trade union insisted he was black.

Jason Wardill, who is a design technology teacher, was surprised to be invited by the National Education Union (NEU) to a meeting of black teachers last year.

Mr Wardill, 42, is of Mediterranean and Jewish heritage and has been trying to stop his union referring incorrectly to his ethnicity ever since – with no success.

He says he feels its actions are 'discriminatory' against other ethnicities and religions.

The NEU – which has been at the forefront of the campaign to keep schools closed during the pandemic – says it treats black as a political term rather than a signifier of African heritage.

Therefore the term includes 'all members who self-identify as black, Asian and any other minority ethnic groups who do not identify themselves as white'.

When Mr Wardill – who now works as an area site manager for an academy trust in Lincolnshire – contacted it to say he was not black, the NEU informed him that since he did not consider himself white, he had to be registered as such.

He told the Daily Mail: 'It made me feel pretty helpless. BAME would be absolutely fine, as it encompasses everything.'

The union has been accused of putting political battles before the interests of pupils, bragging that it had 'made the running in this crisis' when schools across the country were shut and children's education was in tatters.

Mr Wardill said when he registered to join the union and was asked for his ethnicity, he ticked 'mixed other' because it was 'the only option available for me'.

'Jewish was an option in the religion section only, which leads me to believe the NEU doesn't recognise Jewish as a race. They only appear to recognise it as a religion,' he commented.

'They said they could put an asterisk next to black to show it was political. I said that shouldn't make a difference, because I am not black.'

He added: 'I don't feel that a black member would necessarily want me down as a black member, and rightly so.

'I think the union are more obsessed with political arguments than they are about their members.'

A spokesman for the NEU said it 'uses the term 'black' when communicating about some union activities to members who self-identify as black, Asian or any other minority ethnic groups who do not identify as white.

Mother Rips Liberal Arts School for Letting Strikers Shut Down the Campus

When students effectively shut down the campus in the name of social justice last month at Philadelphia's Bryn Mawr College, the administrators effectively let them.

Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts school, a group of students introduced a strike, reportedly precipitated by the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., “to dismantle systemic oppression in the Bryn Mawr community.” It lasted for 16 days and ended with concessions from faculty to "address racism" and "increase diversity."

In fact, school president Kim Cassidy even thanked the students for the disruption.

“This strike has challenged us to face our history in new ways, to confront persistent institutional barriers to progress, and to commit to change,” Cassidy said in a statement to students. “Our way forward will require building new relationships and engaging in repair, even as we remember what members of the Core Strike Collective made clear: this is not a return to ‘normal.’ What was considered normal is unacceptable, given the harm it did to so many.”

A concerned mother of a Bryan Mawr student wrote a scathing and well-worth-your-time op-ed about the scandal over the weekend, under the pseudonym Minnie Doe.

As the parent of a Bryn Mawr student (and the parent of a Bryn Mawr alumna), I found this profoundly unsettling. I kept expecting that, at some point, the administration would take decisive steps to restore order on campus (where, as at Haverford, in-person learning was supposed to be occurring, under COVID-19 testing and social-distancing protocols). But that never happened. Instead, a small group of largely unidentified students effectively shut down the campus—not because their views attracted majority support (only about a quarter of the student body seemed to really be on board, from what I could tell), but because the administration simply never pushed back. (Quillette)

Doe later shared a glimpse of her personal past to argue why she has no empathy for anyone who is "apologizing to their tormentors."

This is a feminist women’s college, where one might think that administrators would be educated about the need to reject coercion, intimidation, and brute force as negotiating tactics. Yet here they were, apologizing to their tormentors. Having been married to an abusive husband, I’m sadly familiar with the temptation to justify one’s own abuse by insisting that the problem “must be me.” I never thought I’d see that same attitude exhibited by the women charged with educating my daughter.

She goes on to recall several instances that proved the strikers didn't want to have real, productive conversations - but only to "showcase their claim to moral leadership."

Doe found solidarity with some fellow mothers and high profile figures. Media personality Megyn Kelly, for instance, explained why she too has "zero sympathy" for the school officials.

"These children will continue to protest and demand things be done their way. IF they actually make it to the adult world, they will whine and complain their problems are someone else's fault. And why do we tolerate this type of behaviour?" wrote Twitter user Kimberly Poisso.

The Twitter user "War Machine" had a similarly dire take on higher education: "It seems that college has degraded to an adult daycare. Learning has been relegated to an unimportant consideration."

In her op-ed, Doe could only empathize with the rest of the student body.

"As for the majority of students who came to Bryn Mawr to actually receive an education that goes beyond anti-racist bromides, they’re out of luck," she writes.




Monday, January 04, 2021

Black Man at Brown University Forced Out of His Job by Rich, White Leftists

Campus Reform has the story of Brown University police chief Mark Porter, who is black. White, affluent student activists at the Ivy League institution are driving him out of his job because social justice and reasons.

Mark Porter, Executive Director and Chief of Brown University’s Department of Public Safety, will resign from his position after several months of student activism against the university’s police department.

Porter — who served for more than fifteen years at Brown — was commended by Brown Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy, Russell Carey, who noted his efforts to establish “departmental diversity and inclusion action plans, which have resulted in a more diverse work force.”

None of that matters. You can’t be woke enough for the social justice mob. Apparently, you can’t be black enough to appease the intolerant, affluent white progressives either.

For instance, a student organization called Grasping at the Root published a list of demands, which included the complete abolition of the Brown University Department of Public Safety.

“Brown University must confront the ways it contributes to the harmful conditions that leave Black, Brown, poor, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and disabled Rhode Islanders vulnerable to predatory policing, both on and off campus,” said the group’s demands.

The white, affluent activists at the Ivy League institution said this while pushing a black man out of his job, depriving him of his livelihood.

It can cost up to $73,892 per year to attend Brown University. Little actual education appears to take place there.

President Trump Signs School Choice Executive Order

School closures during the coronavirus pandemic have already had devastating impacts on students and their families across the country. Failing grades, deteriorating health, and financial hardship, to name the most pressing. On Monday, President Trump issued an executive order that will help alleviate some of those new struggles, the Executive Order on Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice.

The legislation will provide Emergency Learning Scholarships for Students, meaning that it will allow funds from the Community Services Block Grant program "to be used by grantees and eligible entities to provide emergency learning scholarships to disadvantaged families for use by any child without access to in-person learning."

Those funds can be used for the following:

(i) tuition and fees for a private or parochial school;

(ii) homeschool, microschool, or learning-pod costs;

(iii) special education and related services, including therapies; or

(iv) tutoring or remedial education.

The EO describes how school closures have affected not only child development, but the health of students who are now denied access to important programs.

* "The prolonged deprivation of in-person learning opportunities has produced undeniably dire consequences for the children of this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that school attendance is negatively correlated with a child’s risk of depression and various types of abuse.

* States have seen substantial declines in reports of child maltreatment while school buildings have been closed, indicating that allegations are going unreported. These reductions are driven in part by social isolation from the schoolteachers and support staff with whom students typically interact and who have an obligation to report suspected child maltreatment.

* The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also found that school closures have a “substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.” Additionally, a recent survey of educators found student absences from school, including virtual learning, have nearly doubled during the pandemic, and as AAP has noted, chronic absenteeism is associated with alcohol and drug use, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, and suicide attempts."

The Trump administration goes on to explain that school closures can have negative long-term financial impacts as well.

"According to a recent study, if in person classes do not fully resume until January 2021, the average student could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings, or the equivalent of a year of full-time work," the EO reads.

A recent worldwide study from UNICEF concluded that there is "no consistent link between reopening schools and increased rates of coronavirus infection." The researchers say that closing schools proved to be the more detrimental course.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: Stop indoctrinating students with insidious anti-American lies

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted pretty much everything about our lives. That’s especially and devastatingly true for the education of America’s students.

Too many young students today are falling behind during their formative years of learning either due to unevenly applied or generally ineffective "hybrid" learning models, or due to their schools being closed altogether.

Parents are also increasingly more aware of what their students are — or are not — learning. And they’re not happy with what they’re seeing.

This pandemic has laid bare a number of things about American education, not the least of which is that it’s not entirely American; in too many places, students are taught outright anti-American material.

Look no further than the infamous 1619 Project launched by The New York Times. It’s a debunked reframing of history.

The 1619 Project contends that because of slavery, America’s "founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written." It also states that "nearly everything" about our country sprang forth from racism, and that our Founding Fathers and other early Americans in the colonies fought the Revolutionary War to "protect the institution of slavery."

These insidious lies and more have been exposed and refuted by many scholars, including one of the project’s own fact-checkers. Yet too many children across America are already being indoctrinated. More than 4,500 schools use the Project 1619 curricula, according to the project.

From the beginning, this historical revisionist campaign was intent on infiltrating America’s schools and infecting young American minds. It was easier to do because so few students were learning history or civics as they should.

Appallingly, more than half of high school seniors, according to the Nation’s Report Card, have a "below basic" knowledge of our history. In the real world, that means our rising generation doesn’t know what the Lincoln-Douglas debates were about; nor could many of them describe who those men were nor the significance of that time in our nation’s history.

Parents are demanding better. A Braun Research poll conducted over the summer found that half of parents don’t want their children using material that offers the idea that slavery is the "center of our national narrative."

Parents know that the idea at the center of our national narrative is freedom. And they’re demanding more of it. Parents today are more aware today of the bad civics and American history education their children are receiving.

The 1776 Commission, which President Trump launched recently, will help focus the national conversation on the great American story and the importance of ensuring the rising generation understands the values of our founding, the contents of our Constitution and the critical need to be engaged citizens.

Instruction that misconstrues American history or outright lies about it is not instruction at all. Worse still when it’s the only option for too many families. That underscores the massive unmet demand for more education options.

This Trump Administration strongly supports the bipartisan School Choice Now Act, which would directly fund families and allow them to choose the best educational setting for their child.

In fact, a majority in the U.S. Senate already voted in favor of that provision. It must be part of any future legislation to help all students continue learning.

Families could use scholarships to enhance distance learning or to pay for other costs tied to educating children at home. The scholarships could be used for tutoring, career and technical education, or transportation to a different public school. The scholarships could also support students attending the school that best meets their needs or that doesn’t teach fake history.

Ultimately, the Trump administration wants everyone to have the freedom, the flexibility, and the funds to make the best decisions for them. Parents, students, and our country would certainly be better off for it.