Friday, February 19, 2021

With Biden, teachers unions are getting what they paid for

President Biden has made abundantly clear that he cares more about the teachers unions than he does about the parents and students they’re hurting. For an explanation, all you have to do is follow the money.

In 2020, the unions spent a total of $43.7 million, more than any previous year, with much of that going toward outside spending on ads, campaign materials, and political action committees backing Democratic candidates. In fact, 98% of the unions' political spending went to Democratic campaigns, according to OpenSecrets.

Nothing could better explain Biden’s recent decision on school reopenings. He originally promised to push for the vast majority of public schools to reopen for in-person learning by the end of his first 100 days in office. But his administration has since backtracked, setting a much lower goal that most parts of the country have already met.

“His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50%, open by day 100 of his presidency, and that means some teaching in classrooms,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “So, at least one day a week.”

One day a week? Most private and charter schools are already open five days a week, and several metropolitan public school systems, such as New York City’s, have been open on a hybrid basis for at least two or three days a week. And none of these schools have experienced significant coronavirus spread.

Biden’s “goal” has no basis in science or basic common sense. Study after study has shown in-person learning can take place safely with next to no transmission of the virus. Biden’s own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said vaccination does not need to be a prerequisite for teachers to get back in classrooms. But instead of heeding CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s guidance, which is what he promised to do, Biden’s White House dismissed her entirely and said she was just speaking in her “personal capacity.”

Personal capacity or not, facts are facts — unless, of course, those facts upset one of your major political donors. In that case, one day of in-person school per week will have to do.

Biden seems to think placating the teachers unions will help him convince them to get back to work. He’s even tried to throw in an additional $130 billion in funding. But Biden is discovering what city officials and parents have spent the past year learning the hard way: The unions do only what the unions want to do.

Take, for example, Chicago's debacle. The city has spent the past few months fighting with the teachers union over its plan to reopen public schools. Things escalated when the teachers union threatened to go on strike if Chicago moved forward with its original reopening date.

Now, the two sides have reached a “deal,” which seems to have been pulled straight from the union’s playbook. K-8 students will return for limited classroom instruction in early March, but high school students will continue distance learning for the foreseeable future. The city has not said how many K-8 students will get to return to the classroom, or what “limited classroom instruction” will look like.

In other words, Chicago barely squeezed a partial reopening out of the teachers union. And when the time comes for public school teachers to return to work in early March, the union will almost certainly find another excuse because it knows it’ll get away with it.

Biden could threaten to withhold funding from school districts that cave to the unions’ demands, lend his support to the city officials who do what’s right and stand up to union ultimatums, and encourage other Democrats to do the same. Or, at the very minimum, he could be setting the goal as opening all schools for in-person instruction — rather than half of them for one day a week. But it's clear he has no plans to confront his benefactors.


NYU Study's Ludicrous Claim: No Bias Here

The title itself tells us it must’ve come from either The Onion or The Babylon Bee: “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.”

Except it came directly from neither satirical source. Instead, it came from the NYU Stern School of Business. But why would an ostensibly respectable business school — a school ranked fourth worldwide in one recent survey of MBA programs — defile itself with a claim that on its face is thoroughly ridiculous?

Search us. Maybe for the money? Because NYU certainly can’t be arguing — at least not with a straight face — that the industry that colluded to block the sharing of a bombshell influence-peddling story about Joe Biden’s son just days before the election, and then colluded to silence a sitting U.S. president shortly after the election, isn’t guilty of censorship bias.

Please, NYU, tell us you don’t think your audience is that stupid.

As Fox News’s Tucker Carlson rightly noted, “[The paper] almost reads like a press release from Silicon Valley, and that’s because it is. This so-called academic study was, in fact, paid for by Big Tech. It was funded by a man called Craig Newmark [founder of the online marketplace Craigslist], one of the many Silicon Valley billionaires who paid for the Joe Biden for President campaign. Now he’s paying for this.”

The study’s lead author is Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights — an entity whose very name ought to arouse suspicion among those paying big bucks to learn about business at NYU. “In September,” as Carlson points out, “Barrett released another study on why we should be very nice to Big Tech, as well as deeply respectful and always obedient. That study was also funded by Craig Newmark as well as by George Soros.”

Of course, it’s merely a coincidence that these studies, both funded by Big Tech, arrive at conclusions favorable to Big Tech.

To read the 24-page paper is to be force-fed the word “disinformation,” which appears 14 times in the document. Each time, it’s accompanied by a stylistic sneer, like this one: “The false bias narrative is an example of political disinformation, meaning an untrue assertion that is spread to deceive. In this instance, the deception whips up part of the conservative base, much of which already bitterly distrusts the mainstream media. To call the bias claim disinformation does not, of course, rule out that millions of everyday people sincerely believe it.”

Going forward, those of us who rail against the censorship of Big Tech and Big Media can expect to see the word “disinformation” used against us almost reflexively. After all, who could possibly be against reducing the amount of disinformation out there?

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley points to a passage that exposes the paper’s folly: “The question of whether social media companies harbor an anti-conservative bias,” the authors write, “can’t be answered conclusively because the data available to academic and civil society researchers aren’t sufficiently detailed. Existing periodic enforcement disclosures by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are helpful but not granular enough to allow for thorough analysis by outsiders.”

Ah, so buried on page 20 of the paper, under the header of “Conclusions and Recommendations,” the authors call on Big Tech to “release more data for researchers.” And yet despite this dearth of data, the paper’s authors have nonetheless concluded that the claim by conservatives of censorship bias is without merit.

As Turley concludes, “This study is neither conclusive or particularly compelling. It read more like an extended, 20-page opinion editorial. It does seem itself to have a pronounced bias, particularly in declaring allegations of bias as ‘false’ and ‘disinformation’ while quietly noting that it cannot conclusively say whether there is bias.”

It’s not for nothing that, since 1996, we’ve been labeling the propaganda produced by the mainstream media — and now social media — as the real dezinformatsiya.


Cancel Culture Comes for Chaucer

Another week, another Dead White Male toppled off his perch in the classics canon by university administration milquetoasts pandering to the woke, anti-intellectual mob. This time the DWM in question is medieval literary giant Geoffrey Chaucer of The Canterbury Tales fame, courses on whom are being eliminated at the University of Leicester in England because the man often called the Father of English Literature doesn’t match the current “enthusiasms” of students there.

Last month, the University announced its intention to remove courses in The Canterbury Tales and replace them with courses centered on – what else? – sexuality, diversity, race, and ethnicity. “We want to offer courses that match our students’ own interests and enthusiasms, as reflected in their own choices and the feedback we have been hearing,” a university spokesperson explained to MailOnline. Students’ “interests and enthusiasms” apparently now are dominated by an obsession with the power dynamics of skin color and genitalia, and thus Chaucer is no longer relevant.

And not just Chaucer’s works, but anything written prior to the year 1500. Also potentially on the chopping block, reportedly, are courses on: Beowulf, the heroic epic considered to be the earliest work of English literature; John Milton’s magisterial Paradise Lost; the works of poet John Donne and playwright Christopher Marlowe; the chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, the 15th-century chronicle of the legend of King Arthur.

Leicester University management emailed the English department to notify them of these changes, stating, “The aim of our proposals [is] to offer a suite of undergraduate degrees that provide modules which students expect of an English degree.” Apparently a familiarity with Chaucer and other medieval authors is no longer what students expect of an English degree, but race-mongering identity politics is.

The new “modules” promised to be “excitingly innovative” and would cover “a chronological literary history, a selection of modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity, a decolonised curriculum, and new employability modules,” the email continued. Sri Lankan-born Vice Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah, reportedly at the center of the diversity push, said it was part of a long-term strategy “to compete on a global level.” And how is such wokeness, which has been in progress for some time now, working out for Leicester University? In just ten years, the school has plunged from 17th on the Guardian University Guide’s ranking of English universities to 77th.

Leicester’s University and College Union (UCU), one of Britain’s largest academic unions, complains that these proposed cuts to English literature not only would infringe upon academic freedom and degrade the learning atmosphere, but cost the jobs of as many as 150 academics. This prompted many academics to lash out in panic and outrage.

In a surprisingly principled response from one academic, Professor Isobel Armstrong, a fellow of the British Academy, returned her honorary doctorate “in protest at the egregious attack on the integrity of English at Leicester and the attempt to eradicate 1,000+ years of language and literature from the curriculum.” Exactly, bravo. A letter from 18 other medieval studies fellows at the British Academy decried the proposed “decolonisation” of the literary canon: “The 14th century, at the boundary of modernity, while still concretely medieval, is one of the most remarkable periods in all of literature… How can anyone seriously claim that an English degree wouldn’t be materially impoverished by excluding so much literature?” the letter asks.

How naïve. Materially impoverishing the Western canon, and ultimately Western civilization itself, is precisely the goal of the people behind this so-called “decolonization.”

Dr. Christine Rauer, a lecturer at the University of St Andrews, suggested that the new could coexist with the old. She told MailOnline optimistically, “It's hard to see why race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity can't be taught alongside Chaucer and Beowulf.” But they’re not being taught alongside these classic works. They are replacing them. “Bring in the new topics while also keeping the medieval!” Dr. Rauer enthused. Again, the problem is that the new topics subvert the very validity of “keeping the medieval” works, or of keeping any courses honoring unwoke art, literature, or thought.

Chaucer and Beowulf didn’t make the cut, but the university spokesperson assured the Daily Mail that “students at the University of Leicester will continue to study some of the best-loved authors in the English language, from Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens to Keats, Shelley and Byron, to Woolf, Toni Morrison and Colston Whitehead.” But for how long? How long will it be before the woke mob demands the cancellations of those authors too (with the exception of black authors Morrison and Whitehead, neither of whose works have stood the test of time long enough to legitimately be described as classics)?

“There is absolutely no truth to the suggestion that certain modules are being eliminated for being ‘too white,’” the spokesperson denied. No? Let’s be honest: the woke mob doesn’t come for non-white authors unless those authors are unwoke about their victimhood, like America’s remarkable slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The Progressive mob targets white authors because they represent the colonialist oppressors and exploiters of identity groups purportedly “marginalized” in Western culture. Meanwhile, explicitly anti-white “antiracism” programs are metastasizing like a cancer all over America – not just in colleges, but from pre-K classes on.

The purging of icons of the classical canon from educational curricula in the Western world has become so routine that the targeting of Chaucer and other medieval authors should come as no surprise. One of the problems here is that too many institutions of higher learning in the West have abandoned their missions to open the minds of students and expose them to the best of the true, the good, and the beautiful that has come before us; instead, they view their students as consumers whose narcissism must be catered to. Molding a curriculum around student feedback about their “interests and enthusiasms” means the field of Humanities will degenerate to the level of unchallenging offerings like Beyoncé Studies (already happening) and/or intellectual perversions like the “antiracism” ideas being hyped on bestseller lists and talk shows.

But the deeper source of this movement is that Progressive activists throughout Western schools now are hell-bent on dumbing us down, disconnecting us from our history and from the extraordinary intellectual and artistic legacy of our civilization, and molding younger generations into social justice activists instead of educated patriots. Erasing our historical consciousness and cultural roots, as well as our ability to think critically and to reject a mob mentality, is a prerequisite for totalitarian control of the population.

In The Sun Also Rises, one of Hemingway’s characters explains how he went bankrupt: “Gradually, then suddenly.” The same explanation applies to the intellectual bankruptcy of Western education that has been underway for over half a century, and which is now accelerating. Enough of us have to find the righteous courage to draw a line in the sand and say “No more” before it is too late.


San Francisco Ends Merit-Based Admissions at Top-Rated Public High School

San Francisco’s Board of Education voted unanimously last October to set aside longstanding merit-based admissions at Lowell High School for one year. This decision was allegedly due to the pandemic, but the board had a bigger target in mind. As Katy Grimes now reports in the California Globe, the board has just “voted to end merit-based admission” at Lowell High school, the city’s top-rated public high school.

Board commissioners Gabriela Lopez, Alison Collins, Matt Alexander, Faauuga Moliga, and Mark Sanchez voted in favor of the resolution, along with student delegates Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza. Commissioners Kevine Boggess and Jenny Lam voted against the measure. Opposing the decision was Wenyan Wu, executive director of Californians for Equal Rights.

“Lowell’s success to educate and lift up its students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, has relied on a competitive, merit-based process of admissions based on standardized testing, middle school GPA, essay writing and extracurriculars,” Wu told reporters. “This politicized resolution is wrongheaded and divisive, which would in turn harm all student groups and the school’s long-standing academic track record.”

In merit-based admissions, a school admits students based on their academic record. Giving preference to students on the basis of race or ethnicity is contrary to California law, based on the voter-approved California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209 on the 1996 ballot. Proposition 16 on the November 2020 ballot would have repealed Proposition 209, but the measure lost by more than 2.3 million votes, a 57-43 percent landslide.

Merit-based admissions put power in the hands of students and parents. Admissions based on race and ethnicity empower bureaucrats and politicians. So no surprise that California politicians are slow to question the legality of the San Francisco move against merit. Admissions based on academic merit are also under fire in in New York and Virginia, where last year Fairfax County Schools eliminated the entrance test for the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

For those opposed to such moves, there is a solution. Restore the right of parents and students to choose the independent school that best meets their needs. True reform and higher achievement will only come when every parent can choose the schools their children attend, as a matter of basic civil rights.




Thursday, February 18, 2021

COVID-19 Budget Cuts Hit Students and Profs, Not Admins

It only took a global pandemic to force public and private universities to cut their spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that about 650,000 jobs were cut in the higher ed sector—a 14 percent decline. An analysis from The Chronicle of Higher Education on the budgets of about 100 top colleges pegged their losses at $183 billion:

* $85 billion in lost revenues
* $24 billion for Covid-related expenses
* $74 billion in anticipated future decreases in state funding

That figure may be optimistic, as budgets for 2021 aren’t yet settled and state legislatures may cut more. Donations, too, have plummeted, as fundraising has taken a hit during the pandemic.

But critics of higher ed don’t necessarily have much to celebrate just yet.

Job cuts have mostly targeted professors and kept university administrators comfortable. Diversity-related spending doesn’t seem threatened even when it’s hard to see the benefits, and universities have pledged to fight systemic racism and be “anti-racist” since last summer. And, while some universities have cut athletics programs, they tended to be smaller ones like track or swimming, not larger ones like football or basketball. Some schools like East Carolina University even reinstated athletic teams after announcing their end.

Young people, too, aren’t fleeing higher ed to make the edifices crumble on the quad. While enrollments have dipped, that’s mostly happened at community colleges: Fall 2020 enrollment fell by 10 percent compared to a year ago, but four-year public colleges grew slightly by 0.2 percent. Many community colleges face some big problems, but traditional higher ed isn’t facing twin enrollment and budget crises.

Not to be a passive player in this drama, the Biden administration has pushed to send $40 billion to public colleges as part of the COVID-19 relief package. If it passes, the bill would also limit how much state governments can cut higher ed spending.

In the future, budget battles (on the state and federal levels) will continue, as will students asking why they must pay so much in tuition and fees, especially as classes remain online. But, while the higher ed lobby demands another $120 billion, the unanswered question remains: Why do American colleges think they should spend more money every year?

Many colleges are teaching less, researching more, and spending ever-more amounts on the administrative apparatus and athletic programs. Students bear the burden of this increase in spending. State and federal governments, if they want to prioritize the common good, should pause and consider how this relief money will be spent. If students and professors bear the brunt of budget cuts instead of admins and coaches, perhaps relief money only encourages the worst instincts of higher ed’s status quo.


UK: Top colleges at Oxford are in the grip of 'unconscious bias' training: More departments force students and staff to undergo classes to root out hidden racist behaviour

More Oxford colleges and departments are forcing students and staff to have 'unconscious bias training' to root out hidden racist behaviour – even though there's no evidence that it works.

The Government insists that the training 'does not achieve its intended aims', could make discrimination issues worse, and should be axed by the public sector.

Yet the courses remain popular, including at Somerville, Margaret Thatcher's former Oxford college, where students were ordered to pass a test in which they had to concede that a black lecturer would be more unpopular than white colleagues.

Following an outcry, Somerville's principal, Lady Royall, said students would no longer be compelled to take the course, but other colleges are still insisting undergraduates and dons complete the often 'poor quality and ineffective' training.

The Cabinet Office says of unconscious bias training: 'A strong body of evidence has emerged that shows that such training has no sustained impact on behaviour and may even be counter-productive.

'Instructions to suppress stereotypes may not only activate and reinforce unhelpful stereotypes, they may provoke negative reactions and actually make people exacerbate their biases.'

However, Christ Church, Oxford's grandest college, said 'key priorities' this year include 'compulsory enhanced training on topics such as cultural competency, unconscious bias, and race equality to all students... as well as for non-academic and academic staff'.

Balliol College, alma mater of Boris Johnson, Ted Heath and Harold Macmillan, said last year it was 'expanding the mandatory programme of unconscious bias/tackling race bias training to include all academic staff'.

Oxford's Nuffield Department of Medicine also offers 'mandatory' unconscious bias training for all staff, to help them minimise the 'destructive impact' of discriminatory attitudes. The Radcliffe Department of Medicine says staff must complete similar training.

The University of Cambridge also offers unconscious bias training, but it is only compulsory for those involved in staff recruitment, a spokesman said.

Robert Halfon, Tory chairman of the Commons education committee, said 'there is no evidence' that the training programmes work, adding: 'Universities should be using the money they spend on these courses in helping to get in students from the toughest backgrounds.'

The news came as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson revealed details of proposals to protect free speech on campuses in response to issues such as the stigmatisation of those with 'non-woke' views.

He wants a 'free speech champion' to investigate infringements, such as the dismissal of academics or no-platforming speakers – denying those with non-woke views the chance to debate them.

A University of Oxford spokesman said: 'Unconscious bias training is one of a range of resources available to staff. 'There is ongoing public debate about unconscious bias training and Oxford staff are free to challenge and question it under our Freedom of Speech policies.'

A Christ Church spokesman said it was one of 'a number of initiatives at Christ Church as part of our broader commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion', adding: 'Unconscious bias training has been compulsory at Christ Church for several years. This year we reviewed and refreshed what is provided.'


A new madrassa: Margaret Thatcher's old Oxford college Somerville makes all students take an 'unconscious bias' test... and warns students they must get 100pc mark

Every student at Margaret Thatcher’s old Oxford college was ordered to take a course in ‘unconscious bias’ to expose innate ‘racism, homophobia, transphobia and disability discrimination’.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, principal of Somerville College, instructed students to complete the online class by this Friday, and told them they must ‘achieve a mark of 100 per cent’ in a final test.

In her message the Labour peer, 65, who served in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet, also claimed there was ‘irrefutable evidence’ that injustices in society were being fanned by ‘individual unconscious biases that many or all of us have’.

During the test used by Somerville College, seen by the Daily Mail, students must admit that they are ‘susceptible to bias’ and need to ‘accept responsibility for monitoring our own behaviours’.

They are also forced to admit to suffering from the bizarrely-named ‘mini-me syndrome’, because they ‘automatically favour’ people like themselves.

In one section, students must concede that a black lecturer would be more likely to be disliked by students than her white colleagues.

In another section, they are also told that thinking their tutor ‘doesn’t look smart’ and is ‘a bit unprofessional’ may not be appropriate.

Lady Royall’s letter and the accompanying test prompted the Free Speech Union (FSU) campaign group to warn that her orders could be a breach of both the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.

The Somerville College course presents a question about whether a black or white lecturer has the least satisfied class.

Students are told to use ‘what they know about unconscious bias’ to make a selection. The options are two white men, a white woman and a black woman.

After clicking on the image of the black woman, the course says this is the correct answer, citing research that ‘indicates students are less likely to rate courses positively if they are taught by black or ethnic minority academics’.

The course asserts that ‘stereotyping is present in our unconscious and affects everyone at a university’. It claims that ‘it can be difficult to override your unconscious biases when you are not aware of them’.

It suggests that all students ‘accept in general terms that we are all likely to be biased in some respects’.

FSU general secretary Toby Young said the organisation had been contacted by a student who was ‘understandably anxious that if they refuse to take this training course, or if they score less than 100 per cent in the assessment at the end of the course, they may face disciplinary action’.

He added that evidence suggests that such courses do not lead to ‘a reduction in real-world discriminatory behaviour and can lead to an increase in such behaviour’.

Last night friends of Lady Thatcher, who studied chemistry at the then women-only college in the 1940s, said the training flew in the face of her libertarian beliefs.

Sir Bernard Ingham, the former PM’s long-time press secretary, commented: ‘I think it is entirely in keeping with the university that refused her an honorary degree. The best way to deal with them is to laugh at them.

‘She would have thought the country had gone mad. She believed in freedom, these people don’t, they believe in dictatorship. To hell with them!’

Last night, Somerville College backed down in the face of the FSU challenge, with Lady Royall saying she should have ‘thought further’ about her order that all students must score 100 per cent.

She wrote in reply to the FSU: ‘On reflection, it has been agreed that completing the test with less than 100 per cent will be seen as the opportunity for a chat about the issues involved, nothing more.’

After initially telling students they were ‘required to complete this course’, Lady Royall also said she was ‘happy to confirm that there was never even the slightest question of disciplinary action following a student not completing the test or scoring less than 100 per cent’.

Defending the ideology behind the course, she said it was ‘clearly incontestable that a plethora of systemic injustices exist in our society’. She emphasised the college’s commitment to free speech.

Responding to Somerville’s U-turn, Mr Young said: ‘I am pleased Baroness Royall has backed down on her insistence that students have to score 100 per cent on the test. ‘But she still says students who score less than 100 per cent will have to come in for a chat, which sounds ominous.’

The row comes as many universities and student unions are being accused of trying to enforce Left-wing ‘woke’ values across supposedly impartial institutions.

Today Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will unveil his plans for a ‘free speech champion’, who will work to fight censorship on campus and stick up for academics who find themselves vilified.

The tsar will work within universities regulator the Office for Students, now chaired by former Tory MP Lord Wharton of Yarm.

Recent examples of cancel culture include students at Clare College, Cambridge, trying to force a porter out of his job after he declined to support a pro-trans motion in his role as a city councillor.

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd was also ‘no-platformed’ by an Oxford University society last year. The society was later banned.


Florida teacher is being investigated after telling his class slaves weren't whipped and the n-word is not hate speech as it 'just means ignorant'

A Florida high school has launched an investigation after viral TikTok videos showed a teacher telling his class that slaves were not whipped by white people and that the n-word is not offensive as it 'just means ignorant'.

The unidentified teacher was overseeing an Advanced Placement government course at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral when the videos were allegedly recorded and posted online by a student on Friday.

It shows the black student, who posts under the username Hector Fortillien, in selfie mode as he interacts with the teacher who threatens to throw him out if he doesn't stop arguing back about the treatment of slaves.

In a later video, the teacher tells a female student that it is not hate speech to state that a woman's place is in the home.

The videos range between 28 and 38 seconds long and it is not clear if the teacher or the other students in the room knew they were being recorded.

They appear to capture different parts of a discussion that was taking place as part of the class.

In the first video, which the student captioned 'ap gov gets interesting sometimes', it begins with another student talking about how white people 'would crack the slaves with the whips'.

'They wouldn't do that to the slaves,' the teacher responds.

'How do you know that? Were you there?' the student filming asks and laughs.

'Let me help you out with your … ok, before I kick you out,' the teacher tells him.

'If you want to have an honest conversation, let's have an honest conversation about it…That's what I want. That's what we're here in AP for.'

At the start of the second video, the teacher asks, 'if I call somebody the N-word what am I calling them?'

'The n-word?' a confused student asks.

'No,' the teacher insists. 'The N-word just means ignorant. It doesn't have any other meaning in any other vocabulary other than you are a stupid person. You are ignorant. You are not well read. You are not well educated. That's what it means.'

'Yes, there's more,' the student wrote as he posted the third video on Friday.

In this clip, a female student is heard talking about an incident in which a man asked why a woman was working and said that she should have been cooking and cleaning instead. 'That's hate speech because that attacks women,' she states.

Again, the teacher disagrees and says, 'to you that's hate speech'.

'But that could be hate speech to a lot of other women because that would have offended me. That would have offended a lot of the other girls in the room,' another student chimes in.

The student filming asks 'why don't you apply it to the N-word, too, because that might be hate speech to me, but it won't be hate speech to you regardless of our skin color obviously'

'That's a good point,' the teacher tells him before the video is cut off.

The Lee County school district is currently refusing to name the teacher involved but he has been placed on leave as the videos are investigated, according to Fox 4.

Island Coast High School said in a tweet on Sunday that they are 'aware' of the videos and that it is 'currently under investigation'.

According to the News Press, the school lists ten teachers in the social studies department but does not specify grades or the content taught.

The class in question was an AP course with offers college-level work, offering the chance for students to earn college credit.

Island Coast High school board chair Debbie Jordan told the News Press that the video had been sent to 'professional standards to be investigated'.

'We are definitely investigating this, as we would anything that would come before us,' she added.

School board member Gwyn Gittens added that she was unaware of the identity of the teacher in the video but that they acted as a reminded that the district 'has a lot of work to do'.

'We are very short of teachers,' she said. 'I understand that, but we need to vet the few that we have to make sure that they're doing what it is that needs to be done.'

Gittens said she was particularly concerned as she believed the class had the potential to leave the students 'more divided than they came in'.

'That's where we have to look at what is our responsibility as adults in this situation and what lesson has been left in these kids,' she added.

The videos sparked immediate reaction on social media with comedian Leslie Jones stating she 'needs this teacher's resignation immediately'.

'I'm sick of it. Most of what is in the textbooks is already racially biased... add this IGNORANCE to it and this is what you get. I am no longer letting people get away with it,' she added.

'Do better than investigate,' Twitter user Laura Bowman also wrote in response to the high school's statement. 'We all heard what he said, and it's cause for dismissal.'

'How is this guy a teacher,' another Twitter user asked.




Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Why I sent my kids to Atlantic College, the ‘hippy Hogwarts’ school favoured by European royals

Obviously a dreamy experience but one wonders whether it is a good prepartion for a harsh real world

It may look like something out of Harry Potter but the Welsh school is the popular choice for international elites – one mother explains why

It’s a 12th century castle on the wind-blown Welsh coast with a royal roster: the newest addition to which will soon be Princess Leonor, the 15-year-old future queen of Spain. Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan – better known as ‘Hippy Hogwarts’ – has become beloved among the international elite thanks to its mission for public good and global sustainability. One mother of former students explains its well-heeled appeal...

When it came to choosing a sixth form college, my two sons had a clear first choice in mind: anywhere that was part of the United World College movement. We live in Sussex, and UWC’s 18 schools spanning four continents from the US to Asia meant they'd be far from home, but didn’t mind that as long as it was a good fit.

I went to a UWC myself, in Singapore; my sons too were attracted to the idea of attending an international school with other young people from over 80 different nationalities. The entrance procedure is demanding: you have to be nominated by the National Committee of Great Britain and blind assessment for places is judged solely on merit and potential. Wear a UWC T-shirt anywhere in the world and fellow alumni will recognise you.

My husband is from the US, and we both work in international development, so we have an international outlook. My sons also bought into UWC’s mission, which is to make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Much of that is achieved through the IB as pupils have to study maths, a science, English or your mother tongue, a humanities subject, a language and Theory of Knowledge; I’d love to see it taken up more by UK schools as it provides a perspective I think we really need in this country.

UWCs also offer co-curricular community service activities which, for my sons, included an outdoor leadership programme through which they were trained to teach children from local schools archery, kayaking and climbing. The day starts early, at 8am, with lessons all the way through until 1pm, so the afternoon is clear for community service commitments.

The Glamorgan outpost, where Princess Leonor is to attend, is a wonderful setting with tennis courts, sailing boats and a cliff for climbing and rescue practice; a 12th-century tithe barn is used as a theatre, arts centre and cinema. The opportunity to study in a castle, live on the grounds just by the sea and eat in a huge Gothic dining hall is quite remarkable.

But in spite of its elite clientele and hippy reputation, it’s really quite no-frills: the living conditions – seven modern boarding houses named after ancient Welsh kingdoms and college benefactors – are comfortable, but not over the top. There are four people to a dorm with a mix of international students (you wouldn’t have two people from the UK rooming together). Your house forms part of your identity. It’s not cliquey – students go in with an open mindset and the sense that, having worked hard for their place there, it’s exactly where they want to be. But there’s no denying it is tough.

While there are students from very privileged backgrounds, there are also students on 100 per cent scholarships and everyone in between. No matter their royal connections, they’re all in a dorm together and go through the same rigorous entrance procedure. It’s an authentic celebration of diversity and the community service element is levelling. I’m not bothered about whether celebrities attend or not – what matters is that young people are coming through the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter years with a sharpened sense of who they are and how what they say and do has an impact. To be able to listen to what another person is saying and understand their point of view without leaping in with a judgment is something many of us could do well to learn.

No school is perfect, of course there are sometimes tensions. But while it’s hard to be away from your family, my sons forged brilliant friendships with people all over the world, from Sweden to Nepal. One of them has just started Hispanic Studies at the University of Nottingham and the other is studying music in Germany. They’re both thrilled they had the experience, and it’s helped determine the choices they’re making now.

UWCs give young people a global perspective in a local setting. It’s very special.


How Biden's student loan policies are rigged in favor of government and nonprofit workers

In January, as one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden directed the Department of Education to continue the government’s freeze on federal student loan repayment plans. The Trump administration initially paused federal student loan payments in March 2020.

Because of the move, borrowers enrolled in federal student loan repayment plans will not need to make payments until Oct. 2021, at the earliest, and interest will not accrue for any federal student loan borrowers during this period either, including for those who choose not to make payments.

Americans with debt from private student loans – which were much more commonly used prior to the Obama administration – receive no benefits from the policy.

The decision to freeze loan payments will make it easier for millions of borrowers to save money, pay bills or work to reduce debt during the freeze. It will be especially beneficial to workers at government agencies and nonprofits who carry a large student loan debt burden, but it could cause substantial long-term harm to millions of other Americans.

During the freeze, all borrowers who work for nonprofits or government agencies who are enrolled in an income-based repayment plan will continue to accumulate credit toward receiving student debt forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

Under PSLF, borrowers enrolled in income-based repayment plans who make payments for 10 years while working for a local, state or federal agency (including public school teachers) receive total debt forgiveness of their federal student loans. Employees at many nonprofits not affiliated with the government are also eligible.

Because the Trump-Biden loan repayment freeze continues to count non-payments as payments for the purpose of qualifying for public loan forgiveness, there are government and nonprofit workers who are now receiving student debt cancellation without having made the full 10 years’ worth of payments. And the longer the freeze continues – there’s nothing stopping Biden from perpetually renewing the halt in payments – the more it will disproportionately benefit these workers over all others.

It is important to keep in mind that there are no forgiveness limits to the PSLF program. So, for example, it is possible a government worker with $200,000 in student loan debt could save hundreds of thousands of dollars under the PSLF program once hitting the 10-year mark, which, thanks to Trump and Biden, is now easier than ever.

Initially, the Trump administration instituted the freeze to help deal with the potential economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns. At the time, no one knew exactly how things were going to play out, and the Trump administration erred on the side of caution, for better or worse.

Today, however, the situation is completely different. The Biden administration knows the vast majority of government workers and nonprofit employees have not lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, so why is the federal government continuing to freeze loan payments for workers who haven’t lost their jobs? Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, borrowers enrolled in an income-based repayment plan paid nothing after losing employment.

And, even more puzzling, why would Biden continue to count non-payments as credits toward achieving the requirements of the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

The only explanation that makes sense is that the Biden administration is trying to keep government workers and Biden’s allies in nonprofits (including think tanks) happy, regardless of the costs imposed on others.

The federal government has already racked up trillions upon trillions of dollars in additional debt trying to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Wasting billions on crony deals for government workers and employees at nonprofits while other Americans are losing their small businesses and getting crushed by COVID-19 restrictions is downright cruel.

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The costs of the Trump-Biden student loan policies must be accounted for by hurting someone else, either through taxes or by continuing to print money, which has already caused damaging levels of inflation in key industries, including housing. And the problem is only going to get worse over time, as the federal government’s debt payments continue to eat up an ever-greater proportion of the federal budget.

America needs to change course now, before this serious problem spirals even further out of control.


Illinois Readies Disastrous Teaching Standards

The Illinois government is about to decide whether to transform the state’s teachers into a radical political vanguard bent on indoctrinating the state’s children in socialism and undermining academic achievement.

Of course, that’s not how they’re stating it. The Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will consider on February 16 the Illinois State Board of Education’s proposed Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards to determine certification of all teachers and other education personnel in the state.

“This Part establishes certain standards that shall apply to the issuance of all Illinois professional educator licenses endorsed in teaching, school support personnel, and administrative fields,” the proposal states. The standards, if approved, would go into effect on October 1. The stated aim is the nebulous but apparently innocuous goal of creating “the culturally responsive teacher and leader.”

Though written with generous helpings of gobbledygook, the standards are quite clear about the intention to license only teachers fully committed to political and cultural indoctrination and willing to ignore academic achievement to the extent that it gets in the way of this, which is to say: completely. The state’s “culturally responsive teachers and leaders” will “value the notion that multiple lived experiences exist, that there is not one ‘correct’ way of doing or understanding something, and that what is seen as ‘correct’ is most often based on our lived experiences.”

In short, two plus two equals four only if that is how the child has “experienced” it at home, among neighborhood denizens, and on TV and social media.

Children will be graded accordingly, as teachers and administrators “[c]onsider a broader modality of student assessments” including decidedly nonacademic criteria such as “community assessments, social justice work, action research projects, and recognition beyond academia.”

That mandate, plus the requirement to teach “with emphasis on prioritizing historically marginalized students” means children will be graded not on how well their ideas comport with reality but will be apportioned grades in whatever way best ensures each “identity” group -- "(race/ethnicity, national origin, language, sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical/developmental/ emotional ability, socioeconomic class, religion, etc.)” -- gets the same grades overall.

The houses, bridges, and automobiles built by people thus educated will be very interesting to see, though not useful for any other purposes.

The new rules would also codify and expand the perversion of school personnel into spies bent on rooting out crimethink in students’ households. Teachers and administrators will “[k]now about their students and their lives outside of school, using this knowledge to build instruction that leverages prior knowledge and skills,” the plan mandates.

The standards are all about race, sex, money, and political power -- reading, math, science, and other essentials of intellectual capacity be damned. Teachers will be required to engage in leftist political activism in their free time and promote “student activism and advocacy… with real world implications.”

This set of standards would use the state’s licensure process and obedient college education programs to weed out any teachers devoted to academic excellence before they can enter the profession, and it would evidently apply to any private schools that use licensed teachers.

In addition to their catastrophic academic effects, these rules will be costly for taxpayers in Illinois and other states that implement them. Greatly reducing the pool of teachers available in the state (because other states don’t have these rules), will raise the cost of teachers by decreasing the supply without reducing the demand for their services. Perhaps that is one of the intended effects of the standards.

What other states can learn from this exercise is that the education establishment is fully committed to state governments mandating a politicized curriculum that has no room for each child to reach his or her full potential.

With the educational establishment having reached peak corruption, the only plausible remedy is to return power to localities and ultimately to parents. Parents and taxpayers have a common interest in ensuring their often-huge property tax bills pay for schools that teach children what they must know and be able to achieve success in life instead of demoralizing them and leaving them without the knowledge and skills they deserve. They are thwarted in this goal because the concentration of power over education at the state level removes the ability of parents and taxpayers to hold local schools accountable and places power in the hands of the types of mad bureaucrats who wrote the proposed Illinois standards.

In addition, programs that allow state education funding to follow the child to the school of the parents’ choice can put further pressure on public schools to improve student achievement. Gold-standard academic studies have consistently shown that school choice raises educational accomplishment not only for the choice students but also for those who remain behind in the government schools. It is truly a win-win policy.

States that follow these citizen-empowering policies will create a great competitive advantage for dedicated teachers and the children they teach. Those who follow Illinois’ example will only foster more dependency, demoralization, and despair.


Australia: Coronavirus pandemic making students anxious, depressed, with suicide fears, new report finds

National Mental Health Commission chief executive Christine Morgan yesterday warned the COVID-19 pandemic is making young Australians anxious and depressed.

Ms Morgan, who is also national suicide prevention adviser to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said children and young people are suffering due to repeated lockdowns, lifestyle restrictions and disruptions to school and sport.

“I’m concerned about increases in self-harm among young people – that is a sign of distress – and I’m concerned about … suicidal risk,’’ she told News Corp Australia.

Commission data reveals that Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue fielded a record 112,000 calls for help last month – 23 per cent more than in January 2020, before the start of the pandemic, and 38 per cent more than in January 2019.

Ms Morgan said high school principals had raised concerns about the “increasing number of young people at risk’’.

“For teenagers, this is the time in your life when you’re finding your place, pushing against parental restrictions and wanting to find networks,’’ she said.

“A lot of that has been impacted not just by lockdowns but a sense of ‘my future is being impacted by something I can’t control’.

“(The COVID-19 restrictions) impact on their ability to engage with others, to make choices, it impacts their families, their school and their future.’’

Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe said all schools need qualified counsellors on staff, as children and teenagers wait months to see psychologists or psychiatrists for help with high anxiety or depression.

Ms Haythorpe said a “significant number’’ of teenagers had dropped out of school as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns last year.

But she warned there were not enough school counsellors, or outside psychologists and psychiatrists, to “make sure students have access to the help they need’’.

“Teachers shouldn’t give psychological advice – they should refer students to appropriate services, but we need to have the appropriate services in place,’’ she said.

“There is not enough provision of services.’’

“We need to have fully trained and qualified counsellors in schools, with teaching qualifications, who can work with children around anxiety and mental health issues,’’ she said.

“At the end of last year teachers were chronically fatigued in terms of the pandemic, looking after student health and wellbeing, and managing their own needs.’’

Stress on teachers during the pandemic has also been exposed by University of Sydney Associate Professor Rachel Wilson, in a study for the Centre for Strategic Education.

The study found that teachers were overworked with extra hours, student welfare issues and paperwork, and anxious about the risk of catching COVID-19 in classrooms.

At least half of teachers were not confident students were learning well, and felt most students were “not positively engaged’’ with online classes.