Saturday, March 13, 2021

Trump Was Right: Stanford Law Says Public Schools Create Racial Hierarchy

Congrats to Stanford Law and Policy Lab. They have identified the problem but are pursuing an epic failure with their solution. It seems the top-tier school has finally figured out that tying children to failing schools by their zip codes systematically oppresses black and brown children. President Trump knew that when he called school choice the civil rights issue of our time. However, Stanford is taking the standard approach of over-educated leftists. As is typical, they detected disparate outcomes in a system they are evaluating, they blamed it on racism and their first instinct was to lower the standards.

Their practicum is The Youth Justice Lab: Imagining an Anti-Racist Public Education System. Perhaps they would like to engage in a deeper analysis:

Recently I wrote about a teen in Baltimore who only passed three classes in his entire high school career. Even more shocking, with a GPA of 0.13, his class rank was 62 out of 120 students. The mayor of Baltimore City is black, the city council is extremely diverse, and the CEO of Baltimore City Schools is also black. The school district’s average teacher salary is $62,000, and its per-student spending was the third highest in the nation in 2019.

This overall picture of well-funded schools with a minority-led city government and school leadership is common in underperforming urban school districts. These districts have financial resources, and it would be hard to imagine their leadership’s primary goal is to hold students down based on racial identity. Instead, schools and individual student school performances are a multi-factor analysis. It is not as simple as assigning a motive, as Stanford Law has.

Luckily, Stanford University has one of the most astute students on inequity in education at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Thomas Sowell wrote a data-filled book called Charter Schools and Their Enemies. He demonstrates that charter schools, free from mandates from the local school board, can operate in the same building as a public school and produce significantly better results with predominantly minority populations. He spends quite a bit of time evaluating Success Academy, a charter school system comprised of 47 schools in New York City that enroll approximately 20,000 students.

Success Academy enrolls students through a lottery in underserved neighborhoods. In the last year that students in New York took standardized tests, Success Academy students had the state’s highest scores. Of the more than 7,000 students who took the exams, 99% passed the math portion, with 86% achieving the highest score, and 90% passed the English and language arts portion, with 41% achieving the highest score. The student population that took the tests was diverse and had an average household income of less than $50,000 in one of the world’s highest cost-of-living cities.

The district significantly outperformed students from much wealthier and less diverse school districts. Their most vulnerable students, those with IEPs, English-language learners, and homeless children, outperformed New York City public schools at astounding rates. For example, 86% of Success Academy’s English-language learners passed the English and language arts exam. Only 9% of those students passed the test in New York City public schools.

To solve disparate outcomes, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have employed many of the ideas the Stanford website is hinting at. They have lowered standards, eliminated achievement testing for gifted and talented programs, and use equity, the typical “anti-racist” solution, as a guiding principle.

Stanford is highlighting a similar problem set to address disparate outcomes:

Perhaps no institution has reproduced racial hierarchy in the U.S. more than our public education system. From state-sponsored racial segregation of schools to the more subtle, but no less insidious racially segregated academic placements (e.g., special education, advanced placement) to exclusionary school discipline policies to ostensibly “meritocratic” testing and grading policies and beyond, public schools have created and perpetuated racial hierarchy, despite the promise that schools should help all children achieve the American Dream.

Success Academy has taken the opposite approach. They set high standards for student achievement, student behavior in and out of school and create programs and partnerships with parents to teach them how to best support their child’s success. “Meritocratic” testing results prove the model works, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and disability.

The soft bigotry of low expectations is evident in Stanford’s approach and New York City public schools’ approach. Both promote the idea that we should not expect minority children to meet behavioral or academic standards to address disparate outcomes. What they are proposing is lowering the bar or reducing services to all children. The 58 students in Baltimore will not leave school with more skills if you lower the standards. New York City schools’ performance also continues to decline with an increasing number of social justice solutions.

Organizations that are genuinely interested in improving public education should spend some time understanding what CEO Eva Moskowitz, who runs Success Academies, and other programs like it are doing. They should encourage policies that promote competition and innovation by reducing the number of burdensome local, state, and federal regulations that public schools are forced to operate under. Then let parents choose the environment that will best serve their child based on results.


Most American Schools Are Damaging Your Child

If your child wishes to study STEM or law, college remains a necessity. Otherwise, it isn't.

I have been telling parents for decades that sending a child to almost any college is playing Russian roulette with his or her values.

But it is a different version of Russian roulette. In the traditional version, only one of the gun’s six chambers contains a bullet. In the college version of Russian roulette, 5 of the 6 chambers contain a bullet. If your child attends almost any university in America (or Canada or anywhere else in the English-speaking world), the odds are that your child’s decency, intellectual acuity, faculty of reason, character and moral compass will be damaged, perhaps permanently.

The worse news is that sending your child to almost any elementary school or high school — public or private — is fast becoming equally toxic. More and more schools are being taken over by left-wing ideologues and by nonideologues who lack the courage to confront the ideologues.

Once infected with leftism, these schools teach children to hate reason, tradition, America, Christianity, whites, excellence, freedom and masculinity. To cite one example, thanks to a million-dollar grant from Bill Gates through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Oregon Education Department has announced that teaching there is “one right answer” in math — yes, in math — is an expression of white supremacy. Why, then, would an Oregon parent who cares about his or her child’s mind, send that child to an Oregon school?

In addition to perverting education, teachers and their unions have exhibited a contempt for children that has taken even conservatives by surprise. Teachers’ unwillingness to show up in class for more than a year is as unscientific as it is unprecedented. On Feb. 3, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House news briefing that teachers do not need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before schools can safely reopen: “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated. Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools.”

Nevertheless, in the country’s major cities, these cowards and hypochondriacs — people who claim to care more than anything else about their students — have refused to return to school (while demanding to be paid). They have refused to teach, despite the facts that child-to-teacher transmission of the COVID-19 virus is extremely rare and a teacher being hospitalized, let alone dying, as a result of interaction with students is rarer than a teacher dying in a traffic accident on the way to school. Why, then, would you send your child to be “taught” by people for whom you have — or should have — so little respect?

Why would you send your young child to a school that sponsors a “Drag Queen Story Hour” or that dwells on “nonbinary” gender identity? Do you think such things do not damage your child’s innocence? Do you want your child to be challenged about his or her sexual identity?

Why would you send your child to any school that teaches The New York Times’ “1619 Project”? This project holds that America was not founded in 1776 but in 1619, with the arrival of the first black slaves in North America, and that the Revolutionary War was fought not to gain independence from Britain but to preserve slavery. Virtually every leading historian specializing in American history — most of whom are liberals and Democrats, and some of whom were anti-Trump activists — have labeled “The 1619 Project” a lie.

Whenever I meet adults who hold traditional American values, I ask them three questions:

The first is, “Do you have children?”

If they do, my second question is, “How many of them share your values?” It is not common to meet people all of whose children share their parents’ traditional values.

If they respond that any of their children do not share their values, my third question is, “What happened?”

In every instance, these parents attribute the alienation of their child(ren) from their (the parents’) values to the college and, increasingly, the high school their child attended.

Moreover, not only are these children alienated from their parents’ values, but they are often also alienated from the parent(s). One thing you learn when you become left-wing is to have contempt for those who hold other beliefs.

Had these parents known how their children would turn out, they would never have sent them to college — or even to the high school they attended. It appears, however, that no matter how many people lose their children’s hearts and minds to left-wing indoctrination, and no matter how much information accumulates about the perversion of education in American schools, parents continue to take risks with their children they would never take in any other sphere.

I am well aware of the enormous obstacles. If your child wishes to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or law, college remains a necessity. Otherwise, it isn’t.

As for elementary and high school, parents must either find a school that teaches reading, writing and arithmetic rather than America-hatred, or they should home-school their child. This, understandably, sounds terribly daunting. However, it is becoming considerably easier to do so as home-school groups and quality home-school curricula proliferate around the country.

Whatever your decision, never say you weren’t warned.


Suspended for Dissent

SUNY, university, PC, political correctness

Don’t state the “wrong” opinion while studying at SUNY-Geneseo. That is, if you want smoothly to sail through your academic career.

Owen Stevens violated the school’s “inclusivity” creed, according to which “a diverse campus community [is] marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.”

Would-be future teachers like Stevens, the university contends, must respect “all forms” of gender identity. But he has argued publicly that there are only two sexes or genders (male, female).

“A man is not a woman and a woman is not a man,” said Stevens in one un-inclusive Instagram video. “The biology is clear.”

So, faster than we have time to remember that “academic freedom” was once a hallowed standard of university conduct, he was suspended from the field teaching programs that are a requirement for all education students at the school. Stevens has refused to cooperate with the school’s plan to rehabilitate him.

The toleration and respect promoted by SUNY-Geneseo apparently does not include tolerating and respecting the right of others to express opinions about politics, society, and biology with which a university censor might disagree.

Of course, what constitutes “official” acceptable doctrine keeps changing. One can never know which once obviously untenable claims — about biology or anything else — will suddenly be upgraded to sacred dogma by persons with the power to penalize disagreement.

Regardless of one’s views of transgender contentions, though, Americans should judge a policy of forcing people to salute certain government- (or administrator-) approved conclusions intolerable.

It’s the school administrators responsible for suspending Stevens who should be suspended — or fired — for their conduct.


California to vote on school curriculum that 'decolonizes' America, praises Aztec gods and builds a 'post-racist' society

The California Department of Education will vote next week on a new ethnic studies curriculum that calls for the 'decolonization' of America.

It's the latest in a trend of schools adjusting their curriculum in wake of the protests that gripped the nation after George Floyd's murder.

California's new curriculum will focus on 'social consciousnesses' and cultures often ignored or skimmed over in traditional educational textbooks, such as 'African American, Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander studies,' according to resources available on the CDE website.

'By affirming the identities and contributions of marginalized groups in our society, ethnic studies helps students see themselves and each other as part of the narrative of the United States,' the overview reads.

The goal of the curriculum appears to be to 'decolonize' American society and start a 'counter-hegemony' in its place.

The curriculum, which will be presented for a vote on March 17, has resources for it to be taught anywhere from kindergarten to 12th grade.

More controversial than the study of marginalized groups, however, is the religious component of the curriculum.

Within the lesson resources are affirmations and chants designed to 'bring the class together, build unity around ethnic studies principles and values, and to reinvigorate the class' after a difficult lesson.

One chant goes: 'Tezkatlipoka, Tezkatlipoka, x2 smoking mirror, self-reflection Tezkatlipoka.' Tezkatlipoka was an Aztec god sometimes honored with human sacrifice.

That chant will likely be scrutinized during review, as the separation between church and state is muddied.

The curriculum says of the chant: 'In Lak Ech translates as you are my other me and relates to our habit of mind, empathy, and also compassion, interdependence, ecology, love, and mutual respect.'

The model curriculum also comes with a number of goals that students and teachers can achieve together.

Together, classes can 'critique empire-building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression.'

They can also 'challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist/colonial beliefs and practices on multiple levels' and 'connect ourselves to past and contemporary social movements that struggle for social justice and an equitable and democratic society' as students look to 'build new possibilities for a post-racist, post-systemic racism society.'

The outcomes hoped for with this curriculum include the pursuit of justice, greater inclusivity, better self-understanding, more empathy for others, and recognizing intersectionality, which is the merging point of people's various identities.

The curriculum also aims for more civil engagement through self-empowerment, more focus on the community, and better interpersonal communication.

A final draft and public comments on the curriculum are set to be presented to the State Board of Education beginning March 17.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that some of the pushback to the curriculum was a lack of representation for several ethnic groups, including Sikhs and Jews.

This led to one of the drafts switching from clear outlines and lesson plans to more thematic and general ideas to avoid ostracizing others.

Reaction to the curriculum proposal on Twitter has been strong.

One person tweeted, 'Check the old testament regarding sacrifices. Unfortunately, that stuff is taught every day in U.S. schools. What's the difference?'

Another: 'Have students always been required to be so aware of social issues? I don't remember this from high school.'

Chad Ikerd seemingly criticized the praise of an Aztec god, saying 'Do these people really believe that only white people went to war and colonized? The Aztecs literally sacrificed members of other tribes they were at war with. They were an empire as well that also partook in taking over foreign lands.'

One even joked that this was a poor year to make a change to praising Aztec gods, considering all of the bad things happening in the world.

According to City Journal, the California public school system consists of 10,000 schools and around six million students.

California's ethnic studies model curriculum follows proposed changes across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd's death and the protests that followed.

Last month, a public school system in Buffalo revealed a new curriculum that would teach 'all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism.'

City Journal reports the curriculum if followed would teach children as young as kindergarten about police brutality while showing victims of black children killed by the police.

According to Education Week, Republican lawmakers in three states are seeking to ban The New York Times' 1619 Project, which reframes educational materials in regards to slavery and Black contributions to society.

Arkansas, Iowa, and Mississippi are the states leading the charge in fighting off the potential curriculum.




Friday, March 12, 2021

Georgetown Law professor is fired for being honest about black students

The gap between black and white educational achievement has been known for decades

Georgetown Law has fired one white professor and placed another on administrative leave after a video of their discussion about a black student was condemned on social media.

Dean Bill Treanor anounced on Thursday that the school had ended its relationship with Professor Sandra Sellers, 62, after the video showed her complaining on Zoom that black students were predominantly at the bottom of her class.

She was speaking to Professor David Batson, who was placed on leave on Thursday for not correcting Sellers pending a further investigation by the prestigious law school, which was attended by former first daughter Tiffany Trump.

The interaction happened at the conclusion of a negotiations class around February 21, which was being recorded so that students could watch it later, according to the Washington Post.

The professors had stayed on Zoom to discuss the students after they left and where unaware that it was still recording. It was online for two weeks until students noticed the conversation between Sellers and Batson at the end and reported it to the school on Monday.

'They were a bit jumbled. It's like let me reason through that, what you just said,' Sellers said of a student's performance, who the Black Law Students Asssociation claims is the only black person in the class.

'You know what? I hate to say this, I end up having this angst every semester, that a lot of my lower ones are blacks,' the adjunct professor of mediation and negotiation continued.

'It happens almost every semester, and it's like, oh, come on. You know, we get some really good ones but there also usually some of them that are just plain at the bottom,' Sellers concludes.

Batson, also a mediation law expert, does not initially respond but simply looks down and nods in the short 43-second clip, which was allegedly leaked to social media by a student.

He subsequently returns to discussing the student in question, stating, 'what drives [him] crazy is...the concept of how that plays out in whether that is [his] own perceptions playing in here with certain people' or '[his] own unconscious biases playing out in the scheme of things'.

The school was immediately called on to act as the video of the interaction spread.

The dean said Thursday that Sellers told him she had intended to resign when they met to discuss what he branded as the 'reprehensible statements concerning the evaluation of Black students'.

She also issued a statement to the Post on Thursday in which she apologized for the 'hurtful and misdirected remarks'.

'I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words,' Sellers said in the resignation letter. 'Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.'

The school also issued a statement on Wednesday after the video went viral but initially did not name the professors involved.

Dean Treanor issued an update on Thursday in which he confirmed that 'Sellers is no longer affiliated with Georgetown Law'.

Batson will remain on leave until the investigation by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action is complete.


Top Teachers' Union Issues a Warning for Members

The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), one of the Golden State's top teachers' unions, allegedly told members in a private Facebook group to be cognizant of posting pictures and details of spring break vacations.

"Friendly reminder: If you are planning any trips for Spring Break, please keep that off of Social Media," a member posted in a private Facebook group. "It is hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction, if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel."

"We have a diverse membership and they are able to post their views on personal Facebook pages and in this Facebook group - however UTLA does not monitor nor is responsible for the content," a UTLA spokesperson told reporter Bill Meliguin of the FOX affiliate in Los Angeles.

The revelation comes days after the union voted overwhelmingly to not return to the classroom until their demands are met. UTLA said teachers would not return to in-person instruction until Los Angeles county moves out of California's purple COVID tier, the most restrictive designation, ABC 7 reported. The union also wants staff to be fully vaccinated or have access to vaccines, as well as safety measures in place on school campuses.

As of now, on-campus instruction in the Los Angeles Unified School District – the state's largest school district – is on hold until ULTA comes to an agreement with the school district, FOX LA reported. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is attempting to speed up the process to reopen schools by allocating 25,000 vaccines to school district employees.


Bi-racial high school senior who can pass for white receives failing grade after refusing to publicly confess his 'white dominance' and 'attach derogatory labels' to his race, gender, religious and sexual identity

A bi-racial high school senior, who can pass as white, was allegedly failed by his teacher after he refused to confess his 'white dominance' during a class at his Las Vegas charter school.

William Clark received a failing grade in his Sociology of Change class after he refused to categorize and label his racial, religious and sexual identities, according to a press release from, which supports civil rights litigation in defense of students' freedom of conscience in public education.

According to a lawsuit filed by his mother, Gabrielle Clark, in December 2020, William is described as having 'green eyes and blondish hair' and 'generally regarded as white by his peers'.

His mother is black and his deceased father was white, according to court documents.

During the class, William was reportedly asked to publicly reveal his race, gender, religious and sexual identities and 'then attach derogatory labels to those identities'.

'Students were then asked to "undo and unlearn" their "beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that stem from oppression,"' the statement says.

Now, according to his mother, Gabrielle, who sued his school Democracy Preparatory Academy at Agassi Campus in Las Vegas, they're unsure if he'll be able to graduate after being handed a failing grade.

The lawsuit targets Democracy Prep for violating their constitutional free speech and due process rights. William and his mother, who is a single parent, says that he was compelled 'to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments which were subject to the scrutiny, interrogation and derogatory labeling of students, teachers and school administrators'.

The lawsuit says that by asking him to reveal his identities, he was coerced 'to accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements that he cannot in conscience affirm'.

When the lawsuit was filed in December 2020, the Clarks, who are being represented by New York-based lawyer Jonathan O'Brien, claimed that William was threatened with 'material harm including a failing grade and non-graduation if he failed to comply with their requirements'.

The court document says that his school 'rejected his requests for reasonable accommodation and acted on their threats'.

One of the exhibits that the lawsuit includes is a presentation slide that reads: 'Racism = Prejudice + Power. Therefore, people of color CANNOT be racist.'

Another image presented in the suit is one of SpongeBob SquarePants that reads: 'Reverse racism doesn't exist.'

The suit says that the Clarks are seeking 'monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages, for the damage done to William Clark’s future academic and professional prospects, and for the Defendants' deliberate and protracted harassment, emotional abuse, and violation of Plaintiffs' Constitutional Rights'.

They also want the court to prevent the school from denying William a high school diploma and accommodate him with 'an alternative non-discriminatory, non-confessional class'.

Democracy Prep said in a statement that the school could not comment on pending litigation. However, a spokeswoman said that 'Democracy Prep stands firmly against racism'.

'Our curriculum teaches students about American democracy and movements for social change throughout our history. We strongly disagree with how the curriculum has been characterized in this filing


Website Tracks Which Colleges Embrace Training in Critical Race Theory

It takes only a few clicks to see that critical race theory is influencing hundreds of college campuses and universities across America.

A new website called Critical Race Training in Education allows users to quickly access information about more than 230 schools and the ways in which those schools are instituting critical race theory on campus.

Critical race theory holds that whites use their social status or their legal and economic advantages to create or maintain power over people of color.

The rapid embrace of critical race theory training programs for students and faculty is “very troubling,” website founder William Jacobson told The Daily Signal in a phone interview earlier this month. “My greatest concern is campus free expression [which] is already [under] a very coercive and repressive atmosphere on a lot of campuses,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson is a professor at Cornell Law School and founder and publisher of Legal Insurrection, a conservative media news and commentary platform.

Training in critical race theory likely will “exacerbate a free speech and free expression problem that already exists on campuses,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson’s concerns about critical race theory training began to grow when he saw how rapidly Cornell was implementing the ideology on campus.

Ibram A. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” is a leading advocate for training programs in critical race theory. Kendi has delivered many lectures on anti-racism, including to teachers and leaders in Virginia’s Fairfax County school district, just outside the nation’s capital, where he charged $20,000 for a one-hour lecture in September.

Kendi defines “anti-racism” as actively working to combat racism in all its forms, arguing that inaction is racism.

Cornell University last year encouraged students to read Kendi’s book, calling it recommended summer reading. Cornell provided students and faculty with a link to read the book online for free, which Jacobson did. “I read it and was actually pretty shocked about it,” Jacobson said.

Kendi “advocates racial discimination as a cure for past racial discimination, which is of course illegal,” he said.

Kendi argues that all people fit into only two categories, Jacobson said: activists working to destroy systemic racism or, “if you are not an activist, … you are a racist.”

Not allowing for any middle ground, but simply categorizing all humans as activist or racist, was troubling enough, Jacobson said. But what concerned him more was Cornell’s acceptance of the ideology.

Cornell President Martha E. Pollack issued a letter in July embracing Kendi’s definition of anti-racism and calling on the university’s Faculty Senate to create and implement a “for-credit, educational requirement on racism, bias, and equity for all Cornell students.”

Pollock also announced that Cornell faculty would be required to participate in a lecture series focused on “equity and cultural competency,” and be evaluated on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” practices during performance reviews.

Pollack’s announcement spurred Jacobson to research the actions of other universities. He soon discovered that Cornell was far from the only school taking steps to implement training programs in critical race theory.

But Jacobson said his central motivation to create the web platform came when a group of several hundred Cornell students, staff, faculty, and alumni issued a list of demands to the university. The demands included “cluster hires of Black and other faculty of color,” and “recruiting of graduate students of color in clusters.”

The list of demands, he said, “proved to me that, whatever the president [of Cornell] had intended with regard to the term ‘anti-racist,’ it was interpreted by the campus as being anti-racist in the way Kendi [defines] it and to advocate for discriminatory policies.”

Jacobson’s Critical Race Training in Education website shows that New York University has taken steps to implement anti-racist training for students and Portland State University announced the disarming of campus security. Tufts University, just outside Boston, created a new class for incoming students on civic engagement and racial equality.

The website and interactive map are intended to be a bipartisan resource, Jacobson said.

All of the data is information taken directly from the websites of colleges and universities. Students who would like to attend a university that requires training in critical race theory can use the site as easily as those who wish to avoid such requirements.

“This is not a boycott list,” Jacobson said.“This is simply a database where you can go and find out, ‘Do you like what is going on or do you not like what is going on?’”

Jacobson is personally familiar with the negative implications of far-left ideology being promoted on many college campuses.

Last summer, some Cornell students sought to “cancel” Jacobson by encouraging other students to boycott his course after he wrote an honest history of Black Lives Matter. That boycott failed, but Jacobson’s experience opened his eyes to the “hostile atmosphere” at his own university, he told The Daily Signal in December.

Ultimately, Jacobson said, he hopes to grow the list of schools on the Critical Race Training in Education website to provide information about such training on 500 colleges and universities.

When asked whether students had expressed their views to him about required training in critical race theory, Jacobson said he believes students are “afraid to speak up.” “They are afraid to speak their minds,” he said.

The promulgation of cancel culture and the quick embrace of progressive ideologies such as critical race theory, Jacobson said, have created “an ideological orthodoxy on campuses, which is the opposite of what an education institution should have.”




Thursday, March 11, 2021

Checking In On A Texas School District Where The Schools Never Closed

The heated debate over reopening the schools for in-person learning continues to rage in the media and among elected officials. The teacher’s unions are seen as the main sticking point and some municipalities remain at a loss as to how to get them back in the classrooms. Underlying all of this is the specter of the novel coronavirus since we are still not close to anything resembling herd immunity. But today I wanted everyone to take a peek at a place where none of this drama is playing out. In fact, it hasn’t been happening all, even at the beginning of the pandemic. That place is the Peaster Independent School District in Parker County, Texas.

When the state announced its own version of lockdowns and face mask mandates last spring, Peaster briefly experimented with remote learning. But a survey of parents and students showed that a majority didn’t like it. When it came time for classes to start in August, Peaster simply ignored most of the mandates. They continued their classes as usual. For both teachers and students alike, if you wanted to wear a mask you were free to do so. If not, you didn’t. It was as simple as that. They didn’t move the student’s desks any further apart. Nobody was learning “remotely” unless that’s what the families wanted to do. People came and went as they wished. So what happened? As the local CBS News outlet reports… pretty much nothing.

No one has been placed into a mandatory quarantine.

Homecoming happened on schedule. The pancake dinner, fall festival, sports and concerts all took place as planned.

The result, according to Superintendent Lance Johnson, has been a higher enrollment and average daily attendance numbers ahead of last year.

Johnson also said district data shows most students are on track to finish the school year on grade level, closing the learning gap that occurred when schools shut down last spring.

Once the kids went back to school in August, there were no cases of COVID in the schools for ten weeks. Some cases did pop up in the fall for a little while, but it amounted to three teachers and seven students. Nobody died.

CBS reports that as of Monday there were only eight students who were still learning remotely. Everyone else was still in school. The teachers never went on strike. Life just simply moved on.

Granted, the Peaster Independent School district is located in a very rural part of Texas with low population density, so they have a significant advantage over more densely populated urban areas. But as the school superintendent noted, many of the residents regularly travel to Weatherford and Fort Worth. It’s not as if they were totally living in a bubble.

When I look at this story in the context of the recent news that the CDC misinterpreted research data showing that schools were safe to operate normally, I have to wonder just how wrong we got all of this last year. The linked study was conducted in a region in Wisconsin that’s significantly more densely populated than Peaster County, Texas. And they had roughly the same per capita results. The research physicians who conducted that study cited other studies with similar results around the country.

Did we ever actually need to shut down the schools or even enforce social distancing rules in them? It’s really sounding as if, had we simply offered face masks and hand sanitizer to any families or teachers who wanted them and went about our business, we probably would have been fine. I can’t totally fault the districts and elected officials who initially panicked upon hearing the scary word “pandemic.” I was pretty nervous about it myself. But this data has been accumulating for a while now and schools just don’t seem to be breeding grounds for COVID.

And that leaves me with another unpleasant thought. If we got it wrong in the schools, how much else did we get wrong?


Put America Back in American Foreign Policy Curricula

Bring back civics, urge those disaffected with the United States’ educational system.

They have a point. Of the many things wrong with America’s schools, the warped view of American history, politics, and culture they teach might be at the top of the list.

Part of the problem is that, according to a 2019 survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a mere 18 percent of colleges require coursework in U.S. history and government. It isn’t just that civics are being taught poorly—it’s that they’re hardly being taught at all.

That lack of focus on America presents a notable problem in some academic fields. In strategic studies, net assessment—the art of comparing the strengths of two adversarial states—is of utmost importance, rooted in Thucydides and popularized by Sun Tzu’s quip, “Know thyself and know thy enemy, and you will not be defeated in a hundred battles.” But net assessment should begin not simply by assessing one’s hard power capabilities, but rather by a thorough understanding of oneself.

The little instruction in American government that graduate students have received forces them to learn about civics outside the classroom. Their education has taught them to craft foreign policy solely through a geopolitical understanding of the world, omitting domestic trends and political factions that affect the formulation of policy.

International relations departments offer a product lacking something fundamental.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Prospective U.S. strategists should study American politics, history, and civics so they understand American exceptionalism and its tremendous effect on U.S. foreign policy. Americans have a romantic view of themselves that they bring to engagements with the world. Throughout U.S. history, American statesmen have used such rhetoric to justify foreign interventions and they will continue to do so.

As Samuel Huntington remarks in The Soldier and the State, Americans hate war but love a crusade precisely because of their romantic self-perception.

Without understanding the roots of that romanticism, policymakers and strategists can’t make decisions that garner the support of the American people, a necessary ingredient for them to succeed. Instead, they may advocate policies that only a minority would support.

Primary sources in which statesmen, intellectuals, and leaders have harnessed this romanticism are a good place to start to understand America. The Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are a few foundational texts that every strategist should study. This corrective would enhance the existing international relations canon, which includes luminaries like Thucydides, Clausewitz, and Mahan.

No less important is the history of the United States—both its national and regional history. The coasts, the Midwest, and the South are all unique in their politics and attitudes toward foreign policy. Understanding these differences and their roots is crucial for getting the approval of the American people.

International relations programs do a poor job of teaching how the American people understand foreign policy. Talk of “realist” and “liberal” statecraft has little practical value when students don’t know the challenges of getting the American people on board with each school.

Henry Kissinger notes that problem in his book Diplomacy. He writes that the challenge of Richard Nixon’s “realist” administration was that it governed a liberal people who rejected realpolitik, be it good strategy or not.

Regional and national quirks will also remind students that America is not Europe. As Kissinger notes, the American understanding of national interest is fundamentally different from the European one and goes beyond material interest and security. Material self-interest is never enough to get Americans to rally behind a foreign policy. Rather, they seek a compromise among their values, material interests, and security. Better yet, they look for a foreign policy that encompasses all of their priorities.

Domestic forces undoubtedly shape U.S. foreign policy. Vietnam and Iraq are cautionary tales for how quickly the American people can turn on a war. But interventions in Cuba, the two World Wars, and Iraq serve as reminders that Americans support foreign interventions out of romantic dedication to American ideals and their objection to tyranny.

American foreign policy cannot be divorced from American history. Harry Truman sparred with Henry Wallace over foreign affairs as president, while his successor Dwight Eisenhower did the same with Robert Taft. As the Right and the Left are once again battling with their own over foreign engagements and America’s global role, all sides are rehashing old arguments. Understanding the policy battles of the past is critical knowledge for international relations students.

The international relations field spends so much time studying other countries that it often omits the more important work of studying America.

Conversely, America’s role abroad has had an extraordinary influence on its domestic affairs. The success of the Civil Rights Movement was mainly due to the heroic leadership of the movement’s leaders, but another factor was that American statesmen needed to deny the Soviets their whataboutism when they cited injustices in the American South as justification for their injustices in the gulag.

To hone their craft better, would-be practitioners should not overlook the domestic side of foreign policymaking, especially Congress’s role in foreign affairs and its shared authority with the president over the military.

The international relations field spends so much time studying other countries that it often omits the more important work of studying America.

Those who will one day lead U.S. foreign policy should know what sets this country apart: The zealous commitment to natural rights and self-government that is central to American identity.

American universities do their students and the American people a disservice by not stressing America’s exceptional nature, a valuable tool of foreign policy. Other nations appreciate the exceptionalism of America and look up to it, even when our foreign policy fails to live up to our ideals.

No other than Barack Obama’s favorite phrase was “we are better than this,” appealing to the better angels that have made this country exceptional. He often said that his story was only possible in this country because he had studied American civics and understood America’s uniqueness.

“To be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact,” the political scientist Carl J. Friedrich said. Now that the holiday from history is over and the United States has retooled its statecraft for an era of great power competition, American strategists need to understand the American ideal as well as our adversaries. This means discarding policies that haven’t worked and doubling down on those that have. But what should not get lost in the shuffle is civics so that students know what America is all about.

Your country is the United States, Secretary of State George Shultz repeatedly reminded new ambassadors. International relations scholars must bear this in mind as they educate the next generation of strategists. Reviving American civics will help revive American foreign policy.


Biden order could change how colleges handle sex misconduct

In a first step toward reversing a contentious Trump administration policy, President Joe Biden on Monday ordered his administration to review federal rules guiding colleges in their handling of campus sexual assaults.

In an executive order, Biden directed the Education Department to examine rules that the Trump administration issued around Title IX, the federal law that forbids sex discrimination in education. Biden directed the agency to “consider suspending, revising or rescinding” any policies that fail to protect students.

Biden also signed a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, which his transition team had announced before he took office.

The orders were issued on International Women’s Day, a global celebration marking the achievements of women.

Both measures had been expected from Biden, who focused on gender equity during his campaign and previously promised to put an “immediate” end to rules that were finalized last year by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

DeVos’ policy made sweeping changes to the way colleges respond to sexual harassment and assault, with provisions that bolster the rights of the accused and narrow the scope of cases schools are required to address. It was seen as a swing away from Obama-era guidance that focused on protecting victims of sexual misconduct.

Among other changes, DeVos’ rules narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, reduced the legal liability of colleges investigating sexual misconduct claims and gave accused students the right to cross-examine their accusers through a representative at live campus hearings.

Biden’s order for a review drew praise from civil rights groups that say DeVos’ policy has had a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual assaults, and also from colleges that say the rules are overly prescriptive and burdensome to follow.

“This is an important step,” said Shiwali Patel, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “The Title IX rules changes that took place under the Trump administration are incredibly harmful, and they’re still in effect.”

Although the order sets the stage for a major policy shift, change is unlikely to come quickly. Any effort to rewrite DeVos’ rules would have to go through a federal rulemaking process that can take years to complete. It took three years, for example, for DeVos to reverse the Obama guidance and complete her own set of rules.

Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, said Biden's announcement was welcome but changes very little immediately. “In the meantime, the Trump regulations will remain in place," Hartle said.

Republicans slammed Biden’s move and defended DeVos’ rules.

“The right to due process is bigger than partisan politics — it is a cornerstone of American democracy,” said North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, the ranking Republican on the House education committee. “By overturning these stakeholder-vetted, court supported rules, key protections for victims and the due process rights of the accused would be jeopardized.”

Some of the most contentious aspects of DeVos’ rules — including the requirement to allow cross-examinations — are expected to be eliminated in the Biden overhaul. But rather than reverting to Obama’s 2011 policies, some legal experts expect Biden to seek a middle ground that equally protects accused students and their accusers.

Part of the solution will likely include greater flexibility for schools as they respond to complaints, said Josh Richards, a lawyer who advises universities on Title IX issues. The scope of cases that colleges must address is also likely to be expanded again under the Biden administration, he said.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to go to the extent that the DeVos era rules went in importing court-style legal rules to these processes in order to provide a fair process to everyone involved,” Richards said.

A rollback of the existing regulation would be a blow to DeVos, who saw it as one of her signature achievements. In a parting letter to Congress in January, she urged lawmakers to “reject any efforts to undercut this important rule for survivors.” Their approval, however, is not needed to create new agency rules.

Biden is starting the process even as DeVos' policy faces ongoing legal challenges. Multiple lawsuits have been filed asking federal courts to strike down the policy, including a new suit filed Monday by a group of high school students in California. A lawsuit by the National Women’s Law Center is scheduled to go to trial in November.

While its suit is pending, the law center is urging the Biden administration to issue a directive suspending parts of the policy that are being challenged in court. Dozens of students and sexual assault survivors issued a separate letter on Monday urging Biden to issue immediate guidance that supports the rights of survivors.

Biden’s other order establishing the Gender Policy Council was issued after Trump disbanded an office specifically focused on women’s issues created during the Obama administration that was called the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts.

Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, and addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately affected women.

Biden signed the orders hours before delivering a White House address to mark International Women's Day. He used his speech to celebrate the recent nominations of Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to serve as combatant commanders. If confirmed by the Senate, they'll become just the second and third women to serve as combatant commanders in the military.

Biden also used the speech to make the case that more needed to be done to improve conditions for women who serve, including dealing with the scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has promised to make addressing the issue a top priority as reports of sexual assault have steadily gone up since 2006, according to Pentagon data.

Biden called the problem “nothing less than a threat to our national security.”

Ahead of Biden’s speech Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris marked International Women’s Day with a virtual address to the European Parliament, while first lady Jill Biden honored nearly two dozen women from around the world for demonstrating courage in pursuit of justice during a State Department ceremony.

Harris noted that women have been disproportionately impacted by the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic. Since February 2020, more than 2.3 million have left the workforce, putting women’s labor force participation rate at 57%, the lowest it’s been since 1988, according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis.

“Simply put, our world does not work for women as it should,” Harris said.


UK schools to reopen, backed by frequent virus testing

British students, backed by a robust coronavirus testing program, are gearing up to return to school Monday after a two-month closure, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson says is a plan to get the country “moving closer to a sense of normality.”

The reopening of schools is the first step in the U.K. government's plan to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions as the country's vaccination drive gains critical mass, with all restrictions lifted by June.

As part of the plan, millions of high school and college students coming back to U.K. classrooms will be tested for the virus for the first few weeks. Authorities want to quickly detect and isolate asymptomatic cases in order to avoid sending entire schools home.

“We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far,” Johnson said in a statement, urging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.

High schools and colleges will be allowed to reopen in phases to allow for three rounds of testing. Students will then get kits so they can test themselves twice more at home. The U.K. government has distributed nearly 57 million rapid “lateral flow” test kits to schools across the country, but there are concerns about the accuracy of the tests, which may result in pupils being forced to self-isolate unnecessarily

A senior public health official, however, said Sunday that the risk of a false positive was very low. More than 5 million rapid tests have been carried out at schools during lockdown, including 1 million last week, the government said.

Evidence from testing over the past eight weeks indicates “the risk of false positives is extremely low, less than 1 in 1,000,” Susan Hopkins, the COVID-19 strategic response director for Public Health England, told the BBC. “And a test that returns less than 1 in 1,000 false positives is a very good test."

To help children forced into online learning for months to catch up with their education, officials are considering extending school days, shortening the summer holiday or adding an extra term to the year. British students already have a much shorter summer holiday than American students, usually leaving for summer break after mid-July.

“We're looking at a whole range of measures,” U.K. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told Sky News. “We’ve got to look at what is going to have the biggest positive impact on children’s lives.”

Britain has Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 125,000 lives lost so far. Its coronavirus vaccination program has, however, raced ahead of the United States and the European Union to give at least a first dose to nearly 22 million of the country's adults so far.

Britain has approved three vaccines for use: those made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, and plans to vaccinate all adults by July.




Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Almost Three-Quarters of U.S. Academics Wouldn't Even EAT With Someone Who Rejects Transgenderism

The insanity on America’s college campuses appears to have abated somewhat. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) database, university speaker disinvitations peaked in 2016 and have slowly declined since. The Niskanen Center declared that “the campus free speech crisis” ended in 2018, and Commentary magazine reported that things were “looking up on campus” in 2019. The latest education scandals often involve elementary and high schools more than college campuses.

Yet this comparative decrease in campus outrage does not mean conservatives have made any headway in academia. In fact, an exhaustive survey of bias in academia paints a horrifying picture of systemic leftist orthodoxy and demonization of conservative dissent.

Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at the University of London’s Birkbeck College and a board member at the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, insisted that despite the relative placidity of campus news, “Academic freedom is in crisis on American campuses.”

Kaufmann noted that the National Association of Scholars recorded 65 instances of professors getting disciplined or fired for protected speech in 2020, a fivefold increase from 2019. He also reported the results of his exhaustive new study from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology. In the study, he analyzed eight comprehensive surveys of academic and graduate-student opinion across the U.S., Canada, and Britain — and the results paint an ugly picture of academic groupthink.

“High-profile activist excesses are mere symptoms of a much wider problem of progressive authoritarianism,” Kaufmann argued. His study found that roughly 1 in 3 conservative academics and graduate students have faced discipline or threats of disciplinary action. “A progressive monoculture empowers radical activist staff and students to violate the freedom of political minorities like conservatives or ‘gender-critical’ feminists, who believe in the biological basis of womanhood—all in the name of emotional safety or social justice.”

Kaufmann’s report found that political discrimination pervades academia. Four in ten American academics said they would not hire a known Trump supporter for a job. In Canada, 45 percent said so. One in three British academics said they wouldn’t hire a Brexit supporter.

Between 20 percent and 50 percent of academics and graduate students have said they would discriminate against right-leaning grant applications, journal submissions, and promotion cases. Kaufmann noted that this “virtually guarantees” conservatives will face discrimination from any four-person panel.

Pro-transgender bias seems particularly virulent. Only 28 percent of American academics said they would be comfortable sitting with a gender-critical scholar over lunch, even fewer than the 41 percent said they would sit with a Trump-voting colleague. This preference isolates academics from millions of Americans who accept the truth of biological sex over the nebulous concept of gender identity.

About 75 percent of conservative academics in the social sciences and humanities in the United States and Britain said their departments have a climate hostile to their beliefs. Nearly 40 percent of faculty members who describe themselves as centrist agree.

According to Kaufmann, only 9 percent of Trump-supporting academics said they would feel comfortable expressing their political beliefs to a colleague. Only 14 percent of U.S. academics said a Trump supporter would feel comfortable expressing his beliefs at their college or university. Seventy percent of conservative U.S. academics said they self-censor in their teaching, research, or academic discussions.

Kaufmann’s studies have found that only 5 percent of American scholars in the social sciences and humanities identify as conservative and that academics on the Left outnumber those on the right by 14 to 1 in the U.S. and Canada.

Only one in ten academics support “canceling” controversial right-wing professors by firing them from their jobs, but younger academics and doctoral candidates are more likely to support this ideological enforcement. Even without high support for outright “canceling” conservatives, the hostile ideological climate exiles right-leaning academics from the outset.

Conservative and centrist students learn that if they want a future on campus, they have to self-censor — or, more likely, they decide academia is not right for them. As Kaufmann noted, “Conservatives who think their politics wouldn’t fit are significantly less likely than others to be interested in pursing an academic career.”

“In effect, there is a feedback loop: Low viewpoint diversity reproduces the hostile climate that sustains the progressive monoculture that has developed in many faculties over the past four decades,” Kaufmann explained.

Colleges and universities don’t have to engage in controversial “cancelations.” Their leftist orthodoxy is self-perpetuating and without reform, the situation will only get worse.

Tragically, this leftist stranglehold on academia often translates to claims that conservative ideas are unscientific or false, because many of the authorities automatically exclude them from discussion.


Race-Based Admissions Are Wrong, and It's Time the Supreme Court Said So

Nearly seven years ago, the nonprofit group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) brought suit against Harvard University, claiming that its admissions process illegally discriminates against Asian Americans. After protracted litigation in US District court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the case has now arrived where everyone always expected it to end up: at the doorstep of the Supreme Court.

In a forceful petition for certiorari, the plaintiffs are asking the justices to review the lower-court rulings, which accepted Harvard's claim that its race-conscious admissions process passes muster under Supreme Court precedents — especially the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed the University of Michigan to take race into account in the interests of achieving "diversity." But SFFA goes farther. It wants the court to overrule Grutter and ban the use of race in college admissions altogether.

The idea of race-blind admissions may be anathema to progressive activists, but it appeals to the great majority of Americans. The Pew Research Center found in 2019 that 73 percent of US adults believe that universities should not consider race or ethnicity when considering student applications. That belief holds across racial and ethnic categories: Majorities of white, black, Asian, and Hispanic Americans all oppose the use of race as a factor in admissions. In a number of states, voters have made it illegal for officials to discriminate for or against anyone on the basis of race in higher education. One of those states is Michigan, which in 2006 banned the racial preferences that Grutter had allowed.

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, it is against the law for any institution that receives federal funding to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. If Harvard were willing to forgo the more than $550 million it annually collects in federal subsidies, its race-based admissions program would be immune to legal challenge. What Harvard cannot do is take public funds and then exclude applicants because of their race. Yet for years, the plaintiffs argue, that is exactly what it has been doing.

In Grutter and subsequent cases, the Supreme Court has stressed that while universities may pursue diversity, blunt racial quotas or "outright racial balancing" are forbidden. In a memorable phrase, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that race could be taken into account as long as it was merely a "factor of a factor of a factor of a factor" in weighing a student's application. But the evidence uncovered by Students for Fair Admissions — much of it from internal Harvard documents — makes it clear that racial balancing is integral to Harvard's admissions process. According to the petition for certiorari, the university sedulously monitors the racial composition of each class as it takes shape and the dean of admissions "regularly informs the entire office of the racial makeup of the class and how it compares to the year before."

So meticulous is the emphasis on racial balancing that in the decade before SFFA filed its lawsuit, Harvard's racial percentages hardly budged: Year in, year out, Asian Americans were held to no more than 20 percent of each freshman class. Yet by every objective admissions yardstick — grades, test scores, extracurricular activities — Asian Americans outshine applicants from every other racial category. "More than 60 percent of Asian American applicants received academic ratings of 1 or 2 [the highest], compared to 46 percent of white applicants, 9 percent of African American applicants, and 17 percent of Hispanic applicants," wrote Judge Allison Burroughs following the trial in federal district court. If Harvard had been making admissions decisions strictly on the basis of academic qualifications, just over half of the average admitted class would be Asian American. The university may deny having an "Asian quota," but the data tell a different story.

Harvard explains the abnormally low percentage of admitted Asian American applicants by claiming that they consistently fall short on subjective assessments of their personality. Admissions officers routinely give Asian American students poor ratings on such traits as "likability," "kindness," "courage," and "self-confidence." Harvard calls this a "holistic" system that bases admissions decisions on a "whole-person review." SFFA calls it naked anti-Asian stereotyping.

The "holistic" process whereby Harvard turns away academically accomplished Asian Americans today is a direct descendant of the process adopted to radically curtail the number of Jewish students in the 1920s and 1930s. Explaining his proposal to deal with the "race problem" of too many qualified Jewish applicants, Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell wrote in 1922: "We can reduce the number of Jews by talking about other qualifications than those of admissions examinations." The stratagem succeeded at putting a ceiling on Jewish admissions. Now it succeeds at holding down Asian American admissions.

Again and again, the Supreme Court has warned that race must not be the deciding criterion in college admissions. Unfortunately, the history of affirmative action shows that once race is allowed to be taken into account at all, it inevitably grows in importance. At Harvard, the university's own data confirm, race has come to outweigh every other diversity factor and all but the most exclusive academic and extracurricular factors.

Which is why Grutter should be overruled. "No one has a legitimate interest in treating people differently based on their skin color," the plaintiffs write in their petition to the high court. Besides, it isn't necessary to focus obsessively on applicants' race to achieve meaningful diversity. In California, the state constitution bans racial preferences in public higher education. Yet the University of California in 2019 welcomed "the largest and most diverse class of Californians ever," according to the Los Angeles Times. It followed up a year later by doing it again.

Discrimination on the basis of race, in Thurgood Marshall's words, has "no moral or legal validity in our society." There is no "diversity" exception in the Civil Rights Act, let alone in the Constitution. The Supreme Court ought to take this case, and say so once and for all.


‘Equity’ Policy Results in Firing of 2 Veteran Educators for Refusing to Do ‘Wakanda Salute’

Two veteran educators from the Bronx were fired recently for the simple act of refusing to do the “Wakanda salute,” a gesture from the popular superhero movie “Black Panther.”

The gesture of Marvel Comics’ fictional African nation of Wakanda has been co-opted as a symbol of black power, like the raised fist iconography used extensively beginning in the 1960s by the militant Black Panthers.

Both fired teachers had nearly 30 years of service.

One, Rafaela Espinal, said she felt uncomfortable doing the Wakanda salute, and that afterward she was targeted by her colleagues. In a lawsuit filed against the New York City Department of Education, Espinal alleged that she “was admonished and told that it was inappropriate for her not to participate.”

Espinal herself identifies as Afro-Latina, and didn’t want to engage in the salute—not because she’s some secret white supremacist, but because, in her words, it introduced a racial divide where there should be none.

As her colleagues realized Espinal wasn’t going to join in their performative “wokeness,” they began harassing her. They said she wasn’t black enough, and degraded her by telling her to just “learn to be quiet and look pretty.”

The Wakanda salute that Espinal refused to do is touted by the New York City education administration as a move to promote racial equity by fostering understanding and tolerance among the staff. The irony of firing a black woman for refusing to do a black power symbol is seemingly lost on them.

To make matters worse, Espinal was not the only educator let go for refusing to toe the woke line.

Karen Ames, another veteran Bronx educator, previously hailed for raising math scores in her school district, was also fired for refusing to do the Wakanda salute.

Ames provides an even more disturbing insight into the “equity-based reforms” and the intolerance of those who push them.

One particularly horrific incident occurred during an implicit-bias workshop, where attendees were asked to recount personal anecdotes. Ames, who is Jewish, shared the story of her grandparents who lost two children in the Holocaust.

In a truly despicable response, one of Ames’ colleagues told her to “check herself” and “that [it’]s not about being Jewish. It’s about black and brown boys of color only.”

And in that one response we see the true nature of “equity.”

It’s not about achieving any real progress, and it’s certainly not about empowering minority communities. It’s about control.

Take Ames, for example. Her prior successes in increasing test scores for her students was completely overshadowed by her refusal to bend the knee and do the Wakanda salute. Her colleagues diminished the tragic loss suffered by her grandparents during the Holocaust, telling her to shut up because she wasn’t black or brown.

But here we see another problem.

Espinal is a black woman fired for refusing to indulge in a silly woke ritual. Her skin color didn’t make a bit of difference when her colleagues insulted her for wrong think. She has black skin, sure, but she doesn’t have the right opinions, so she doesn’t count.

Equity is a bludgeon used by the left to force its racist and divisive views on society.

Mike Gonzalez, a scholar at The Heritage Foundation, has written numerous articles and commentaries decrying equity for the divisive ideology it is, but he puts it most succinctly in a piece from early February. Gonzalez writes:

Equity has now come to mean the functional opposite of equality. The latter means equal treatment to all citizens, such as the Constitution calls for in the clause of the 14th Amendment that deals with equal protection of laws. Equity means treating Americans unequally to ensure that outcomes are equalized—the old tried (and failed) Marxian standard.

No one is safe in an America where equality is abandoned in favor of forced equity. As the firings of Ames and Espinal show us, the groups that equity initiatives are supposedly helping can be the first on the chopping block.


Liberal Blogger Realized Something About His Local Schools During COVID...and It Will Anger Panic Peddlers

Trust the science, right? Trust the science unless it comes into conflict with the Democrats’ lockdown agenda. Some of you already knew this would happen in the beginning. With an election where the Left so desperately wanted Donald Trump out of office, well—the temptation for corruption on this front has proven too much for Democrats who now after defeating Trump—face absolute embarrassment as the ‘science’ says it’s safe to reopen schools. One key group is not allowing the Biden White House to come out forcefully: teachers’ unions. Almost on every front, the Biden White House has either delayed or backtracked its agenda. Funny—I thought with Biden in office, he would reopen the schools and end the virus. The only thing that’s helping us get back to normal is the vaccine which is a Trump initiative as well as its distribution plan which is on track to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall effort and is pretty much doing what he can to get some vestige of the state reopened in time for the election. In Irvine, schools reopened eons ago and the unthinkable has happened…for the COVID panic peddlers. And that would be nothing. The CDC has for weeks said it’s safe to reopened schools. Overall, kids don’t get it or spread it. Even Joe Biden admitted that fact during CNN’s town hall event last month. Kevin Drum, a liberal blogger formerly with Mother Jones, posted about Irvine last week.

“Here in Irvine the schools have been open all year, and today it occurred to me that I've heard . . . nothing . . . about this. No complaints big enough to make the paper. Apparently, no dramatic deaths. Nothing,” he wrote. And here’s the excerpt of the report he cited:

Since resuming in-person instruction on September 24, IUSD and the Orange County Health Care Agency have found no evidence of student-to-staff or student-to-student transmission, and only two confirmed cases of staff-to-staff transmission. In each of these cases, physical distancing practices were not followed.

....Case rates remain extremely low and isolated. Our site rates have not come anywhere close to the state’s threshold for closing schools or other facilities.

Drum added that when you analyze the caseload, only 17 students out of 23,000 have contacted the virus as of March 3. What about the staff? Only three out of 3,000. Reopen the damn schools.




Monday, March 08, 2021

Biden’s School ‘Reopening’ Blueprint Is An Unscientific Mess

Parents across America are rightfully expressing their outrage at the Biden’s administration’s latest guidance regarding school reopenings. The president’s unrealistic list of requirements for sending students back to the classroom were heavily influenced by teachers unions rather than science, even as studies have established that schools aren’t “super-spreaders” of COVID-19.

While President Biden insisted on the campaign trail that he would ensure school buildings around the nation were quickly opened upon his entry into the White House, this is proving to be another empty promise. Biden has shamefully given false hope to the millions of parents counting on his declaration to reopen schools in his first 100 days, most of them concentrated in blue states where citizens have languished under draconian lockdowns.

It’s clear that Biden is ignoring the wishes of parents who want to see their children return to the classroom. Millions of Americans have rightfully demanded that schools open five days a week for in-person learning, and for school districts to offer a high quality, at-home learning option for parents who don’t yet feel it’s safe for their children to return. President Biden’s latest plan — which would open just half of schools for one day a week by the end of April — is a slap in the face for parents who have counted on the White House to get their kids safely back to the classroom.

Sadly, President Biden’s eagerness to play politics with the education of American children doesn’t stop there. The newest demand of teachers unions, which was included in the White House’s school “reopening” plan, mandates six-foot spacing between student desks. The Biden administration’s desire to dictate unscientific school reopening requirements to states is troubling, especially considering that many state and local governments have already opened school buildings safely without federal intervention.

Even more dangerous is the potential for retribution from the White House, directed at school districts that don’t want to be crushed under the thumb of federal mandates. It is possible that President Biden will place contingencies on additional education funding from the CARES Act, mandating that schools follow the nonsensical guidelines issued by his administration if they wish to receive federal assistance.

If the Biden White House decides to do this, the president would not only ensure that closed schools remain shut; but that many schools which have reopened safely would be unable to remain open.

It is clear that Biden’s administration and their supporters in the teachers unions “aren’t letting a good crisis go to waste,” in the words of Churchill. After Biden assailed former president Trump for allegedly “putting politics over science,” his administration forced the CDC to parrot the talking points of his allies in the teachers unions. While school board members and state legislatures have formerly resisted calls for smaller class sizes and other modifications due to the financial impracticality of making these happen, they may now be forced to enact such changes if they want to keep receiving federal support.

If schools are forced to adopt Biden’s proposed measures even as COVID-19 case numbers plummet and the vaccine becomes more widely available, when will schools ever be able to return to normal?

Experts have insisted for months that three feet between desks is ample spacing for kids, and anything more would create the need to drastically reduce in-person attendance. In urban areas with high student populations, it is unlikely that schools will be able to comply with the six-foot spacing mandate; meaning that parents should expect their children to remain out of school for at least the remainder of the school year. This is unsustainable.

Meanwhile, school districts know that the status quo is a disaster, which is why many are refusing to assess online learners; because they know that these students have fallen far behind their peers who are learning in person. It’s crucial that the gap between online and in-person learners be quantified, so that politicians who mandated school closures can be held accountable for the disparity they created.

As the Biden administration politicizes school reopenings, parents are waking up to the fact that their children have become political pawns for the White House and teachers unions. For the sake of our kids, American parents everywhere must demand that schools reopen for in-person instruction.


The Crumbling Foundation of Academic Freedom

American colleges and universities are more hostile today than ever toward those who don't embrace progressive ideology.

More and more, sending your kids off to college is like paying big bucks to take them to an outrageously overpriced restaurant despite knowing that you’re going to get food poisoning, and despite knowing that the waitstaff are going to try to make your kids hate you.

Why on earth do we keep doing it? Well, because our kids need to show the receipt for that terrible dining experience to prospective employers if they want to land a job. It’s madness.

Things aren’t getting any better at the academy, either. In fact, they’re getting worse. Eric Kaufmann ought to know. He’s a professor of politics at the University of London’s Birkbeck College and a board member at an organization called the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.

As Kaufmann writes in The Wall Street Journal, “Academic freedom is in crisis on American campuses. Last year, the National Association of Scholars recorded 65 instances of professors being disciplined or fired for protected speech, a fivefold increase from the year before.”

And just who are the targets of these attempts at cancelation? You guessed it: conservative academics and graduate students, the most endangered of species on college campuses. He reports that roughly one in three of them has been disciplined or threatened with disciplinary action, as an increasingly strident progressive authoritarianism attacks what was once the crown jewel of the Western university: academic freedom. (For tangible evidence of this malignant illiberalism, one need only consider a pair of incidents from 2017: the mob violence directed toward professors Charles Murray at Middlebury State College and Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State University.)

On Monday, Kaufmann published an exhaustive 195-page report on the topic titled “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship,” which he says is the first of its kind to investigate these topics while relying on survey responses from both the perpetrators and the targets of discrimination.

Fortunately, he also published a much more manageable executive summary, whose graphs, charts, and main findings show just how hostile an environment the traditional university has become for non-leftists and free-thinkers generally, with routine discrimination in hiring, promotion, grants, and publications. Among the findings:

More than 4 in 10 U.S. and Canadian academics wouldn’t hire a Trump supporter, and 1 in 3 British academics wouldn’t hire a Brexit supporter.

Gender-critical feminist scholars (those who believe there’s a biological basis for womanhood) have a really hard time. Only 28% of American and Canadian academics would feel comfortable having lunch with someone who opposes the idea of “transgender” women accessing women’s facilities.

In the U.S., over a third of conservative academics and Ph.D. students have been threatened with disciplinary action for their views, while 70% of conservative academics report a hostile departmental climate for their beliefs.

More than half of North American and British conservative academics admit self-censoring in research and teaching.

Younger academics and Ph.D. students (think: Mao’s Red Guards), especially in the U.S., are significantly more willing than older academics to support the dismissal of controversial scholars, indicating that progressive authoritarianism is likely to get worse in the coming years.

“The result of this hostile environment,” writes Kaufmann, “is conformity to a culture that is out of alignment with the nation’s. As in previous studies, I find a low level of political diversity, with only 5% of American scholars in the social sciences and humanities identifying as conservative. In the U.S. and Canada, academics on the left outnumber those on the right by a ratio of 14 to 1.”

Fourteen to one? Clearly, today’s colleges and universities value all manner of “diversity” and “tolerance” except one.

What’s the solution? “At this point,” concludes Kaufmann, “only a proactive approach can work, such as the policies recently announced in Britain, in which public universities are to be audited and potentially fined for academic freedom violations each year by the government. In the U.S., state or federal authorities must regulate public universities to ensure they protect the First Amendment rights of staff and students and don’t discriminate against political minorities.”

Where might the momentum for this proactive approach come from? Economic pressure, perhaps. But unless we consumers stop throwing our money at these leftist indoctrination camps, they’re unlikely to get the message.


The Myth that Americans Were Poorly Educated before Mass Government Schooling

Early America had widespread literacy and a vibrant culture of learning.

Education Public Schools Schooling America Learning
Parents the world over are dealing with massive adjustments in their children’s education that they could not have anticipated just three months ago. To one degree or another, pandemic-induced school closures are creating the “mass homeschooling” that FEE’s senior education fellow Kerry McDonald predicted two months ago. Who knows, with millions of youngsters absent from government school classrooms, maybe education will become as good as it was before the government ever got involved.

“What?” you exclaim! “Wasn’t education lousy or non-existent before government mandated it, provided it, and subsidized it? That’s what my government schoolteachers assured me so it must be true,” you say!

The fact is, at least in early America, education was better and more widespread than most people today realize or were ever told. Sometimes it wasn’t “book learning” but it was functional and built for the world most young people confronted at the time. Even without laptops and swimming pools, and on a fraction of what government schools spend today, Americans were a surprisingly learned people in our first hundred years.

I was reminded a few days ago of the amazing achievements of early American education while reading the enthralling book by bestselling author Stephen Mansfield, Lincoln’s Battle With God: A President’s Struggle With Faith and What It Meant for America. It traces the spiritual journey of America’s 16th president—from fiery atheist to one whose last words to his wife on that tragic evening at Ford’s Theater were a promise to “visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior.”

In a moment, I’ll cite a revealing, extended passage from Mansfield’s book but first, I’d like to offer some excellent, related works that come mostly from FEE’s own archives.

In 1983, Robert A. Peterson’s "Education in Colonial America" revealed some stunning facts and figures. “The Federalist Papers, which are seldom read or understood today even in our universities,” explains Peterson, “were written for and read by the common man. Literacy rates were as high or higher than they are today.” Incredibly, “A study conducted in 1800 by DuPont de Nemours revealed that only four in a thousand Americans were unable to read and write legibly” [emphasis mine].

Well into the 19th Century, writes Susan Alder in "Education in America," "parents did not even consider that the civil government in any way had the responsibility or should assume the responsibility of providing for the education of children." Only one state (Massachusetts) even had compulsory schooling laws before the Civil War, yet literacy rates were among the highest in our history.

Great Britain experienced similar trends. In 1996, Edwin West wrote in "The Spread of Education Before Compulsion in Britain and America in the Nineteenth Century" that “when national compulsion was enacted ([in 1880], over 95 percent of fifteen-year-olds were literate.” More than a century later, “40 percent of 21-year-olds in the United Kingdom admit[ted] to difficulties with writing and spelling.”

Laws against the education of black slaves date back to as early as 1740, but the desire to read proved too strong to prevent its steady growth even under bondage. For purposes of religious instruction, it was not uncommon for slaves to be taught reading but not writing. Many taught themselves to write, or learned to do so with the help of others willing to flout the law. Government efforts to outlaw the education of blacks in the Old South may not have been much more effective than today’s drug laws. If you wanted it, you could find it.

Estimates of the literacy rate among slaves on the eve of the Civil War range from 10 to 20 percent. By 1880, nearly 40 percent of southern blacks were literate. In 1910, half a century before the federal government involved itself in K-12 funding, black literacy exceeded 70 percent and was comparable to that of whites.

Daniel Lattier explained in a 2016 article titled "Did Public Schools Really Improve American Literacy?" that a government school system is no guarantee that young people will actually learn to read and write well. He cites the shocking findings of a study conducted by the US Department of Education: “32 million of American adults are illiterate, 21 percent read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, which means they can’t read well enough to manage daily living and perform tasks required by many jobs.”

Compulsory government schools were not established in America because of some widely-perceived failure of private education, which makes it both erroneous and self-serving for the government school establishment to propagate the myth that Americans would be illiterate without them.

As Kerry McDonald wrote in "Public Schools Were Designed to Indoctrinate Immigrants," the prime motivation for government schooling was something much less benign than a fear of illiteracy. Her remarkable 2019 book, Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom, explains the viable, self-directed alternatives that far outclass the standardized, test-driven, massively expensive and politicized government schooling of today.

If you’re looking for a good history of how America traveled the path of literacy to a national education crisis, you can find it in a recent, well-documented book by Justin Spears and associates, titled Failure: The History and Results of America’s School System. The way in which government short-changes parents, teachers, and students is heart-breaking.

I promised to share a passage from Stephen Mansfield’s book, so now I am pleased to deliver it. Read it carefully, and let it soak in:

We should remember that the early English settlers in the New World left England accompanied by fears that they would pursue their “errand into the wilderness” and become barbarians in the process. Loved ones at home wondered how a people could cross an ocean and live in the wild without losing the literacy, the learning, and the faith that defined them. The early colonists came determined to defy these fears. They brought books, printing presses, and teachers with them and made the founding of schools a priority. Puritans founded Boston in 1630 and established Harvard College within six years. After ten years they had already printed the first book in the colonies, the Bay Psalm Book. Many more would follow. The American colonists were so devoted to education—inspired as they were by their Protestant insistence upon biblical literacy and by their hope of converting and educating the natives—that they created a near-miraculous culture of learning.

This was achieved through an educational free market. Colonial society offered “Dame schools,” Latin grammar schools, tutors for hire, what would today be called “home schools,” church schools, schools for the poor, and colleges for the gifted and well-to-do. Enveloping these institutions of learning was a wider culture that prized knowledge as an aid to godliness. Books were cherished and well-read. A respected minister might have thousands of them. Sermons were long and learned. Newspapers were devoured, and elevated discussion of ideas filled taverns and parlors. Citizens formed gatherings for the “improvement of the mind”—debate societies and reading clubs and even sewing circles at which the latest books from England were read.

The intellectual achievements of colonial America were astonishing. Lawrence Cremin, dean of American education historians, estimated the literacy rate of the period at between 80 and 90 percent. Benjamin Franklin taught himself five languages and was not thought exceptional. Jefferson taught himself half a dozen, including Arabic. George Washington was unceasingly embarrassed by his lack of formal education, and yet readers of his journals today marvel at his intellect and wonder why he ever felt insecure. It was nothing for a man—or in some cases a woman—to learn algebra, geometry, navigation, science, logic, grammar, and history entirely through self-education. A seminarian was usually required to know Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French and German just to begin his studies, instruction which might take place in a log classroom and on a dirt floor.

This culture of learning spilled over onto the American frontier. Though pioneers routinely moved beyond the reach of even basic education, as soon as the first buildings of a town were erected, so too, were voluntary societies to foster intellectual life. Aside from schools for the young, there were debate societies, discussion groups, lyceums, lecture associations, political clubs, and always, Bible societies. The level of learning these groups encouraged was astounding. The language of Shakespeare and classical literature—at the least Virgil, Plutarch, Cicero, and Homer—so permeated the letters and journals of frontier Americans that modern readers have difficulty understanding that generation’s literary metaphors. This meant that even a rustic Western settlement could serve as a kind of informal frontier university for the aspiring. It is precisely this legacy and passion for learning that shaped young Abraham Lincoln during his six years in New Salem.

Not bad for a society that hardly even knew what a government school was for generations, wouldn’t you say? Why should we blindly assume today that we couldn’t possibly get along without government schools? Instead, we should be studying how remarkable it was that we did so well without them.

When I think of the many ways that government deceives us into its embrace, one in particular really stands out: It seeks to convince us how helpless we would be without it. It tells us we can’t do this, we can’t do that, that government possesses magical powers beyond those of mere mortals and that yes, we’d be dumb as dirt and as destitute as drifters if we didn’t put it in charge of one thing or another.

When it comes to education, Americans really should know better. Maybe one positive outcome of the virus pandemic is that they will rediscover that they don’t need government schools as much as the government told them they do. In fact, we never did.


Australia: Dysfunctional Aboriginal school

The low socioeconomic level of the school makes high expectations of it pretty unrealistic

Senior student Nerrissa Leitch should be concentrating on her studies, but she says she is often exposed to racism at school that makes her feel "subhuman".

"Many of my friends come from different backgrounds, different nationalities, and they've been told to go back to their own country. Things like the n-word," said the 17-year-old Yorta Yorta and Gunaikurnai woman.

Ms Leitch is in her final year at Greater Shepparton Secondary College (GSSC), which was found to be "a picture of systemic racism" in a scathing report obtained by the ABC.

Commissioned by the Department of Education and Training after a series of race-related incidents, the independent report found the workplace was "complicit" in racism experienced by students.

Ms Leitch said she had encountered racism over a number of years at the school.

"It's not only the students with racist opinions, it's also the teachers and the staff," Ms Leitch said.

"I really think the staff also need cultural awareness training, and to be more culturally inclusive."

The same recommendation was made in the report, written by cross-cultural consultant Georgia Birch, which was presented to the school in November but has not been publicly released.

Among the report's 47 recommendations is for the school's all-white leadership and all-white teaching teams to take part in "ongoing cultural intelligence training".

The report found "a high number of racist incidents" experienced by students had involved teachers.

It also said some teachers were reluctant to report racist behaviour for fear of being isolated or bullied by colleagues.

There are approximately 575 students from multicultural backgrounds enrolled at Greater Shepparton Secondary College, and more than half are Aboriginal.

Other students come from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Congo, Malaysia, Philippines, Samoa and Tonga.

Suzanna Sheed, the independent member of state parliament for Shepparton, said aspects of the report were "obviously very concerning," and that resourcing in the area was an ongoing issue.

"We have high levels of disadvantage in Shepparton and we have to fight for resources," she said.

"And we've been doing that for so long with so many groups in our community, all addressing issues, putting out fires, treating things as a crisis when they arise.