Friday, March 19, 2021

Leftist Racism to destroy high performing public schools

Hatred of Asians to dictate new admission policies. Without selective admissions, the schools will no longer be high performing

San Francisco’s Lowell High School is one of the top public high schools in California. Beginning with its 2021 freshman class, Lowell plans to switch from a merit-based admission system to that of a lottery.

How good is Lowell? It was ranked 68th nationwide by U.S. News last year.

About the school’s reputation for academic excellence, The San Francisco Unified School District website says: “(Lowell) has been recognized 4 times as a National Blue Ribbon School, 8 times as a California Distinguished School, and one time as a Gold Ribbon School. Lowell has been consistently ranked #1 in the Western Region for the number of Advanced Placement Exams given.”

How did students get admitted to Lowell? The SFUSD website still says: “Admission to Lowell is competitive and merit-based, serving students from throughout the city who demonstrate academic excellence and are motivated to pursue a rigorous college preparatory program.”

About 60% of the student body is Asian, 18% white and 1.8% Black. This is apparently a problem and explains why the SFUSD recently unanimously voted to admit students via this lottery system.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the “problem” is Asian American excellence: “One school board commissioner, Alison Collins, has called merit-based admissions ‘racist.’ The real problem progressives have with Lowell is that too many Asian-Americans are passing the entrance exam.”

This brings us to Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia, often the top-rated public high school in the country. TJ also plans to drop their admissions test and are debating on how to replace it. The problem? Over 70% of the student body is Asian American. Fairfax County Public School Board Superintendent Scott Brabrand proposed a “merit-based” lottery for 400 of the 500 spots in the school’s classes. About that alternative, The Washington Post said: “The lottery proposal spurred controversy from the moment Brabrand introduced it on Sept. 15. He promised it would cause TJ’s student body — which is more than 70% Asian and about 20% white, with single-digit percentages of Black and Hispanic students — to more closely resemble the demographics of Fairfax County.”

So much for merit. So much for a colorblind society.

Let’s assume that Lowell and TJ’s competitive merit-based admissions policy resulted in a student-body population that is predominately Black, as is the case with the National Basketball Association. In 2020, the league that prides itself on its racial “wokeness” consisted of 81% Black players and 18% white players. In the NFL, in 2019, approximately 59% of players were Black. As to Major League Baseball, UPI, in 2019, wrote: “By 2017, 27.4 percent of MLB players were Latinos, according to the date compiled by the Society of American Baseball Research.” This is roughly 50% more than percentage of the population of Latinos in America.

To correct for these “racial imbalances” and the “underrepresentation” of some groups, suppose professional sports organizations decided, like Lowell High, to use a lottery system? The new rules would prevent the Black player-heavy NBA, the Black player-heavy NFL and the Latino-heavy MLB from drafting the best college players, provided, of course, they had the misfortune of being born Black or Latino.

In 2012, Pew Research Center polled Asian Americans and asked their reaction to the statement, “Most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard.” Sixty-nine percent of Asian Americans agreed, as opposed to 58% of the general population. Pew explained: “Compared with the general public, Asian Americans stand out for their success in education and career. Most also believe that the U.S. offers more opportunities and freedoms than their countries of origin. A large majority of Asian Americans believe that hard work pays off and most place a strong emphasis on higher education, career and family.”

Why punish the best college players because “too many” Blacks excel in sports? Why punish Asian American students for the crime of working hard and outperforming others academically?

Ask the San Francisco Unified School District and Fairfax County Public School Board.


DeSantis: No Woke Racism in Florida Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced during a press conference Wednesday that his state’s schools will “expressly exclude” teaching the Marxist-infused Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classrooms. “There’s no room in our classrooms for things like Critical Race Theory,” DeSantis contended. “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.” Can we get an “amen”?

Instead, DeSantis explained, “Florida’s civics curriculum will incorporate foundational concepts with the best materials, and it will expressly exclude unsanctioned narratives like Critical Race Theory and other unsubstantiated theories.” In order to facilitate educating students in accurate American civics, DeSantis proposed a program to offer a $3,000 bonus to teachers who complete a civics education course that specifically focuses on “foundational concepts.” He added, “So we will invest in actual, solid, true curriculum, and we will be a leader in the development and implementation of a world-class civics curriculum.”

As National Review explains, “Critical race theory ‘presupposes that racism is embedded within society and institutions.’ The theory’s implementation in classrooms nationwide has drawn outcry from parents, some of whom have received emails from their children’s schools about ‘Decentering Whiteness at Home’ or have elementary-school aged children who have been read ‘a book about whiteness’ that suggests ‘color matters’ and encourages them to dissect ‘the painful truth’ about their ‘own family,’ regarding potential racist behavior.” CRT is racist by design.

DeSantis is following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, who last September issued an executive order directing federal agencies to “cease and desist from using taxpayers dollars to fund” CRT training, which consists of “divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” Joe Biden has subsequently reversed Trump’s CRT ban.

Governor DeSantis is showing Republicans how to boldly stand up and fight against the leftist anti-American culture war. The Left’s intentionally divisive actions are designed to undermine the very values of individual Liberty the U.S. is built upon in order to make way for the radical transformation of the country into a socialist state. Conservatives must oppose them head-on.


Virginia Teachers and Public Officials Colluded to Demonize—and Even Hack and DOX—Parents Who Question Critical Race Theory

According to a disturbing investigative report from the Daily Wire, a group of current and former teachers, activist organizations, and public officials in Loudon County, Virginia, compiled a list of parents suspected of disagreeing with a curriculum based on critical race theory. Luke Rosiak, the investigative journalist for the outlet, reports:

A group of current and former teachers and others in Loudoun County, Virginia, compiled a lengthy list of parents suspected of disagreeing with school system actions, including its teaching of controversial racial concepts — with a stated purpose in part to “infiltrate,” to use “hackers” to silence parents’ communications, and to “expose these people publicly.”

Members of a 624-member private Facebook group called “Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County” named parents and plotted fundraising and other offline work. Some used pseudonyms, but The Daily Wire has identified them as a who’s who of the affluent jurisdiction outside D.C., including school staff and elected officials.

The group also includes elected leaders and activist organizations:

According to the members list, the Facebook group appears to include school board members Denise Corbo, Leslee King, and Ian Sorotkin; commonwealth attorney Buta Bibaraj; county supervisor Juli Briskman; NAACP Loudoun branch president Michelle Thomas; and Gazal Modhera, a lawyer with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While these individuals were listed in the group, The Daily Wire saw no evidence that they were involved in the doxxing effort.

Several other group members appear to have a vested financial interest in the delivery of critical race theory programs. The district paid a half-million dollars to train teachers in a program called “Equity in the Center,” which was not the end of the gravy train. This pattern is similar to what we see in corporate America. The Federalist reported that a race-baiting white woman, Robin DiAngelo, made $12,000 for a two-hour training and charged $320 an hour for a phone consultation to tell other white people how racist they are.

Quite a racket if you can coerce institutions into paying so they can avoid accusations of racial insensitivity. Similar coercion brought so-called “diversity” training into the workplace beginning in the 1980s. Activist groups would threaten companies with bad PR if they did not engage with it. By 2003 it was an $8 billion industry that has gone nowhere but up.

It seems the activist teachers and public officials used similar tactics to attempt to coerce parents who had questions or objections. A parent asking what was particularly problematic about Dr. Seuss was put on a list as unforgivably racist to the activists, public officials, and teachers in Loudon County. Loudon County launched the canceling of Dr. Seuss earlier this month.

The story is disturbing on several levels. Loudon County is the country’s wealthiest, one of the few where incomes rose following the 2008 recession. Rosiak reports that the median income for black residents is $112,000. The school district is in the top 5% nationally and is majority-minority. They have a 94.6% graduation rate, which is higher than the 85% rate nationally. It profiles like most districts in wealthy suburbs—hardly one teeming with racial strife, significant poverty, or lack of opportunity.

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Yet, the community is melting down over a divisive curriculum that categorizes children by their immutable characteristics and assigns motives and behaviors to them based solely on that observation.

A recent case in Las Vegas illustrates the absurdity of this type of curriculum. Gabrielle Clark, a black mother, is suing her biracial son’s charter school for failing him when he refused to confess his “white dominance” in a mandatory class called “Sociology of Change.” No one should force children to admit such a thing. It is an intolerant form of compelled speech that violates children’s rights and fails to acknowledge their unique individual gifts.

The most astonishing aspect of the Loudon County story is that public officials and teachers have forgotten who they work for. It is not their job to shove their worldview down the throats of parents and children. Instead, they are paid to serve the interests of parents, children, and the community. Teachers and public officials have an obligation to listen and respond to concerns, not attack and demonize. The fact that any of them thought demonizing and attempting to destroy the reputations of concerned parents in service of their preferred agenda demonstrates they are unsuitable for public office and have no business in the classroom. Every single official should get voted out, and every current teacher involved, fired.

The excellent news is that Loudon County residents saved a small school district in Texas from a similar fate. The superintendent who set up all these programs tried to flee for a position with a smaller district in Texas. Frustrated and angry parents from Loudon County informed the community, and the school board took action:

Clear Creek ISD’s instructional resources now include policy language effectively prohibiting the use of critical race theory in classrooms, after concerns about the theory were raised related to its use at Superintendent Eric Williams’ former school district.

Clear Creek’s policy language should serve as a model for parents and school boards around the country interested in teaching tolerance, respect for the individual, and that character matters:

The CCISD policy amendment uses language specifying that district educational resources “shall not promote or endorse race or sex stereotyping or race or sex scapegoating.” Race or sex stereotyping is defined in the document as ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status or beliefs to a race or sex, or assigning them to an individual because of his or her race or sex. Race or sex scapegoating is defined as assigning fault, blame or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their identity.


The secret of the British state school that has more success than Eton

A selective school to start with but well run as well

Why do some state schools thrive while others flounder? Brampton Manor Academy, a selective sixth form with academy status in Newham, east London, one of the country’s poorest boroughs, announced yesterday that 55 of its teenagers have received offers from Oxford and Cambridge, placing it ahead of Eton College. Brampton's sixth form accepts 300 to 400 pupils each year, some of whom travel for two hours each way to reach classes.

It marks a meteoric rise; in 2014, the year its first cohort of students took A-levels, the school received just one Oxbridge offer.

Intake shows 18 per cent of pupils are currently on free school meals (a mark of deprivation), only slightly higher than the England average of 17 per cent. But most of the teenagers with Oxbridge offers are the first in their family to attend university; many hail from difficult circumstances. There’s Afrin, for example, who has caring responsibilities at home and now holds an Engineering offer from Cambridge; or Chloe, who qualifies for free school meals and now holds a Natural Sciences offer from Cambridge.

So, what is Brampton Manor doing right?

Brampton Manor’s success tells a wider story about how British education has changed since the 1980s, when the worst performing schools tended to be in the inner regions of large industrial cities. Back then, the phrase “inner-city comprehensive” was met with shivers of dread from middle-class parents, who fought tooth and nail to get their children into leafier catchment areas.

Now, that situation is reversing. The country’s top social mobility hotspots are now found in the inner London boroughs of Newham (in which Brampton sits), Hackney and Tower Hamlets, according to the Government’s 2017 report on social mobility. Meanwhile, communities at Britain's outer edges - deprived coastal areas like Hastings, Blackpool, and Great Yarmouth - have become “social mobility coldspots ...[at risk of] being left behind economically and hollowed out socially”, says the government.

Much can be explained by the supply of talented graduate teachers, who are far more likely to apply to challenging schools in cities than in deprived coastal towns. When I interviewed Brampton Manor’s headmaster, Dr Dayo Olukoshi, in 2019, he told me one of his tricks is to deliberately over-staff the school in a “number of curriculum areas to make sure that our students are constantly being taught by high-quality graduates”.

This feat would be impossible somewhere like George Pindar School in Scarborough, once considered one of the most challenged schools in Britain. It is now undergoing a transformation under its new headteacher, Lesley Welsh, who told me in 2019 that the school still struggles to attract and retain teachers from outside Scarborough.

Brampton Manor also has a large number of second-generation immigrant pupils, and a much higher than average number of pupils who speak a language other than English at home, according to the school's 2018 Ofsted report, which ranked it 'Outstanding' in all categories. Second-generation immigrant pupils tend to perform better, on average, than white working-class pupils whose families have been in Britain for generations (this group’s poor academic performance is now the focus of a Parliamentary enquiry). The Sutton Trust, an education charity, points to a “strong cultural appreciation of education” among some ethnic minority groups to explain this success.

Others point to London’s diversity: almost every postcode in London has pockets of wealth and pockets of deprivation, in contrast with other parts of the country (which tend to be more segregated). This means that virtually every school in London receives its fair share of those sharp-elbowed, ambitious parents who have proved so crucial to a school’s success.

Tough on pupils

Olukoshi says his disciplinary style is inspired by that of by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the super-strict headmaster who, in the early 2000s, transformed Britain’s worst-performing state school – Mossbourne, in the neighbouring borough of Hackney – to one of the highest-achieving in the country.

“Sir Michael believes, as I do, that there is no secret, there are no big fixes, and what you need is a clear discipline structure, where the boundaries are clear,” Olukoshi told me in 2019.

The school day starts officially at 8.15am, but sixth-formers are encouraged to work in the study centre from 6am. By 6.15am, Olukoshi claims he can usually see 80 students already at their desks, working in silence.

Sixth-formers must dress formally (plain black suits for both boys and girls), and Olukoshi practically scoffs at the idea that pupils would ever call teachers by their first name, a practice adopted in some trendier quarters over the last decade.

Tough on teachers

The school takes an equally rigid approach to its staff. Olukoshi claims the staff car park is nearly full by 7am, and by 7pm he is “actually chasing them to leave – the teachers don’t want to go home”.

It is a culture not suited to everyone. One former employee told The Telegraph in 2019 that, thanks in part to near-constant lesson monitoring by fellow teachers, there was a “general culture of fear” among staff, who routinely put in 12-hour shifts on site: “The atmosphere in the staff room was best described as oppressive,” they said. New recruits at Brampton Manor have been known to last barely a week in their post before fleeing from the stress.

Tough on parents

Just as Sir Michael famously took out restraining orders against badly behaved parents at Mossbourne, Olukoshi has adopted an equally formidable approach to mums and dads at Brampton Manor, summoning them to special meetings if he believes they are “making excuses” for an absent child.

“We absolutely challenge that excuse culture. They might say things like: ‘Well, my daughter was revising until very late, so I allowed her to lie in.’ Well, that’s not acceptable. We challenge our parents, and our parents overwhelmingly are very supportive of what we do here.”

He also stages interventions with any parent he thinks might be holding their child back from attending a top university. “We have had some cases, especially among the female students, where the parent basically says they’re not going to support their daughter moving out of London. [There are] incredibly able students who have secured amazing offers from Durham University, and the parents will say: ‘Well, I’m sorry, our daughter’s not leaving home. The University of East London is not far from where we live, why can’t she just go there?’ We have constant battles with the parents, and we win most of them.”




Thursday, March 18, 2021

Survey Paints Grim Picture of Academia, But Signs of Hope

“Unless reforms come from outside the academy,” writes Eric Kaufmann in The Wall Street Journal, “universities will continue to be monocultures in which conservative ideas aren’t given a fair hearing.”

The article, a summary of his recently published CSPI report, “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship,” is the largest and most comprehensive survey of academics and graduate students in the US, Canada, and the UK.

The data were shocking.

Estimates include that roughly 1 in 3 conservative faculty have been disciplined or threatened with academic disciplinary actions. Over 75 percent of conservatives have worked in a hostile environment and felt threatened and self-censored. Four out of ten American academics have declared that they will discriminate against hiring a Trump supporter.

Likewise, in Britain, only 18 percent of Brexit-supporting academics would share their views comfortably. In the US, only 9 percent of Trump-supporting academics would do the same.

Discrimination and self-censorship aren’t limited to conservatives. Feminists critical of the new LGBT ideologies are also silenced on campus—sometimes more than conservatives. For example, only 28 percent of American and Canadian academics would feel comfortable having lunch with someone who opposes the idea of trans women accessing women’s shelters.

The report highlights that the new progressive authoritarianism is disproportionately among the younger academics, similar to media organizations across the country. Millennials who would back at least one dismissal campaign is between one-third and one-half, and PhD students (mostly in social sciences) are 10-20 points more in favor of cancellation than academic staff.

The most important part of the report is the policy suggestions, which takes a different position than relying on the “marketplace of ideas” and “debate and persuasion.”

The report also mentions the Martin Center’s Blueprints for Reforms. “Two complementary yet distinct policy documents are the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal’s ‘Blueprints for Reform,’ and the National Association of Scholars’ ‘Freedom to Learn’ principles,” the report notes. Ideally, the libertarian approach and the interventionist approach should work hand in hand to return to an ideologically diverse and balanced academic environment.

The report supports external intervention to bring back order and balance in academia.

“One policy option is for government to proactively apply the law to universities, instituting fines for institutions that repeatedly breach individuals’ academic freedom while opening up a means for plaintiffs to appeal around their universities to a regulatory ombudsman,” it states. “While this report makes no policy recommendations, this approach has been largely adopted by the British government.”

The report divides traditional policy prescriptions between libertarian and interventionist. The libertarian approach relies on the market and cultural change, predicated on convincing progressives and fanatical ideologues. Examples of these are Heterodox Academy and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, as well as left-liberals such as Yascha Mounk and Helen Pluckrose.

Interventionists differ in the sense that they proactively seek an authority to restore balance as an arbiter of justice.

“Though welcoming libertarian approaches, interventionists believe that only democratic government policy can alter the incentive structure that currently permits hard and soft authoritarianism in universities,” the report argues. “Proponents of government intervention, be it federal or state, argue that individual rights are more important than the autonomy of institutions like universities. The role of government intervention would be to proactively enforce the law.”

Interventionists have had influence in the UK, where the government has acted to uphold free speech with legislation and fines to universities that fail to promote viewpoint diversity, as well as instances in Canada.

Though free speech is in danger on campus, some momentum is developing to fight back against the closing of the academic mind.


Law School Class President Facing Recall For Not Believing Classmate’s Demonstrably False Claim Of Racism

Activists at the University of North Carolina’s law school are recalling a minority student from his position of power after he exonerated a peer whose out-of-context comments upset the woke echelons.

Sagar Sharma is a first-year law student at the University of North Carolina (UNC), where he serves as the first-year class co-president. Sharma is facing a recall election after he refused to condemn comments that were taken out of context.

Activists will host the recall on Tuesday, March 9, which requires two-thirds of the student body to vote him out of office.

The recall process began after two first-year law students got into a heated debate about colonialism in North America. According to a transcript of the recorded conversation, “Student A” claimed that Europeans brutally colonized the west while “Student B” pointed out that brutal practices, conquest, and enslavement were commonplace before colonization.

Student B suggested that Student A — a black man — look at the ongoing battle in Cameroon for an example of modern-day colonization. Student A claims that Student B explicitly told him to “return to Africa.” Those words were never uttered.

The Black Law Student Association (BLSA) ran with the false recollection of the conversation and circulated a letter accusing Student B of being a racist for suggesting “that a Black peer should return to Africa.”

In his capacity as co-president, Sharma reviewed the transcript over the contentious conversation and sent out a letter to his peers confirming that no student told any other student to “return to Africa.”

“Upon reviewing ALL of the evidence presented to me, I simply cannot come to the conclusion being disseminated within the law school,” Sharma wrote. “It is not rooted in genuine fact. The BLSA Letter refers to a specific incident. One that, within context, cannot be classified as racism or hate speech.”

Sharma was immediately met with calls for resignation and threats for a recall. The recall efforts have been spearheaded by Student A who claims that Sharma used his position of power to “advocate against diversity and inclusion.” Student A insists that Sharma is denying the existence of racism because being “anti-racist” involves believing the lived experiences of black people — even if they’re verifiably false.

The recall petition said Sharma’s letter is, “demonstrating his self-endowed entitlement to weigh in on BLACK people’s subjective experience with racism and white supremacy.”

Student A has a history of making controversial comments in the law school’s group messaging apps. Student A once called the coronavirus “ethnic cleansing” and dubbed America a “little colonial settler state project.”

“Hope this brings this moment full circle as we endure the ongoing ethnic cleansing known as COVID-19. Perhaps think about how those not acting as actively anti-racist will be written about in another 100 years as more white people die than are being born and the numbers flip,” Student A wrote. “Good thing black people just want equality and not revenge for this little colonial settler state project. I hope you all may think of this everytime [sic] you hail the 13 stripes representing the 13 original colonies on the American flag.”

Sharma has been subjected to bullying by other students as well. During a Zoom call, a student — who intends to run against Sharma for class president in the fall — said that Sharma exonerated Student B because he wanted to be welcomed to the “white boys club.”

“My guy clearly wants to be welcomed into the ‘white boys’ club so of course, it makes him feel good.”

The university refuses to launch an investigation into the bullying campaigns against Sharma and Student B, who was falsely accused of being a racist.

“Sometimes [being a lawyer] means taking a tough position on a controversial issue and speaking up when others won’t,” Sharma told The Daily Wire.


A Parent Who Criticized Critical Race Theory Has Been Placed on a Hit List for Harassment

Former Justice Department official, consultant and concerned parent Ian Prior recently wrote a lengthy op-ed in The Federalist criticizing critical race theory (CRT) being promoted or taught in Virginia's taxpayer-funded schools. Here are some portions from his piece:

Critical race theory rejects all nuances and statistics that might explain racially disparate outcomes, while well-reasoned and articulated disagreement is considered evidence of white supremacy. This radical view, even in the abstract, should concern every American who was raised to focus on the individual, not racial categories or skin color.

Elements of critical race theory have been present in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) for some time, but it appears to have been supercharged following one elementary school trying to teach about the Underground Railroad during Black History Month in 2019. The game involved students setting up an obstacle course and allegedly one of the students who was designated to play a slave was black. This was no doubt a misguided attempt at teaching about the Underground Railroad, but LCPS reacted by fully embracing the indoctrination of staff and students in critical race theory.

In March 2019, the LCPS board formed an “equity committee” that was tasked with reviewing LCPS policies and practices to enhance “equity.” The term equity sounds noble, but it has a special meaning in this context. While equality focuses on providing everyone with the same opportunity regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and any immutable characteristics, equity is something different.

Loudoun County Public Schools were once considered the best in the country. But the school board and the administration are either ignorant of just how racists and dangerous critical race theory is, or they are willfully using children as Guinea pigs in their unconstitutional experiments in race-based communism. Either way, it’s time for Loudoun County’s parents to join together and stand up to this destructive force.

Now, his leftist neighbors, who have advocated for illegal behavior like hacking and destroying websites opposed to CRT, are putting him on a list.

A woman named Jen Morse recently posted to the "Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County" Facebook page, which is kept private, and urged 636 members to do the following:

-Infiltrate (create fake online profiles and join these groups to collect and communicate information, hackers who can either shut down their websites or redirect them to pro-CRT/anti-racist informational webpages)

-Spread information (exposes these people publicly, create online petitions, create counter mailings)

Another woman in the group named Emily Morford is seen listing Prior, along with a number of other parents, for targeting. And there's more, this time from school board member Beth Barts.


Can We Save Our College Students from the Woke Left?

Recent college graduate Davis Soderberg of St. Charles, MO is sounding the alarm about the extent to which the Left has a stranglehold on college campuses across the country.

“If you were to walk into a college classroom, you could quickly identify which students were the liberals and which students were the conservatives,” explained Soderberg, who recently graduated from a public university in Virginia. “The liberals are always the most outspoken because they know their viewpoint is protected and is always favored. It was favored by a majority of their classmates and the professors, which is really scary because students look to the professor as sort of an intellectual higher being.”

Soderberg is now an associate for the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research where in a recent article, An Escape Route From The Liberal Campus Mousetrap, he explored policy solutions to stop the spread of socialism on college campuses.

“We need an increased resistance to Leftism on college campuses,” Soderberg explained. “Many students have fully embraced a progressive, big-government ideology and once they’re working adults, playing important roles in society, it will likely be too late to sway their political opinions.”

Soderberg says the liberal indoctrination can be subtle and many students may not even realize it’s happening. He described one class in which the professor shared a slide show entitled, “The four biggest problems facing American society.” Listed were, income inequality, the lack of universal healthcare, racial inequality and the lack of diversity in corporate hierarchies.”

“And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Why don’t we debate as a class what the biggest problems are?’ The professor just decided for us,” Soderberg explained. “And then the professor said ‘Okay, everyone, let’s discuss.’ He was basically acting like he had a godly sense of knowing what was wrong with the world and the best ways of solving societal problems. All the students were taking notes as if his opinion was an undeniable truth. Then, they take that out into the real world without hearing any counterarguments. And that is a big problem.”

Soderberg believes a large reason his generation is embracing leftist policies is because they don’t take the time to fully consider the long-term consequences of policy proposals.

“They see free college, they see universal health care, they see AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] calling for $20 minimum wages and in their heads that sounds awesome,” said Soderberg. “But, too often, they only read the headlines, they only hear the talking points. They don’t take the time to research the unintended consequences of these policies. It’s a result of the fast-paced nature of the world they’ve grown up in. They want their information in under 15 seconds.”

Soderberg remembers thinking when he entered college, that he “had been thrown into a woke-indoctrination machine with a pre-determined agenda by which students were meant to be hypnotized.”

In his search for a way out of the “liberal campus mousetrap,” Soderberg found a recent report by the National Association of Scholars. Freedom to Learn provides a guideline of 40 detailed suggestions for legislative reforms. In particular, Freedom to Learn calls on Congress to strengthen protections for students, to develop a detailed intellectual freedom charter, and to reform civics education.

Suggested reforms include:

Ensure that students learn civics as factual knowledge in the classroom, not as “civic engagement.”

Limit Chinese government influence, by barring funding to colleges and universities that host a Confucius Institute, employ a professor who has received money from the Thousand Talents Program or similar program, possesses a branch campus in China, or received undisclosed funds from the Chinese government or Chinese citizens.

Require colleges to develop a detailed charter of intellectual freedom.

Make intellectual diversity protection a condition of Title IV eligibility.

Sunset the diversity bureaucracy.

Defund components of higher education that have become irredeemably politicized, such as “service-learning,” “community service,” and “sustainability,” which have become euphemisms for social justice advocacy.

Soderberg said it can be hard for conservative students to fight back against the dominant liberal culture on campuses. “You have so many other things to focus on, you ask yourself, ‘Is it really worth it for me to dive into a deep discussion and go against the liberal mob?’ There is a fear that the mob will revert to calling you bigoted or racist, or closed-minded, just because of your political viewpoints.”

“One of my biggest regrets is not doing more to boost conservativism on campus. When I look back at it now, I feel like I let those outspoken students get away to easily without them having to answer to my counterarguments,” Soderberg shared.

“If I could give advice to a college conservatives, I would tell them to speak up and let their voice be heard,” Soderberg concluded. “Come prepared. Have an in-depth understanding of the policies you support. The current generation of college conservatives will be remembered if they stand firm in this ideological fight.”




Sunday, March 14, 2021

Biden Wants to Roll Back Title IX Protections for Students Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault

Joe Biden is asking Department of Education officials to examine ways to roll back changes to Title IX enacted by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that gave college students accused of sexual assault some protection from being falsely accused.

There was criticism of the rules, with some women’s groups alleging the rules were preventing women from coming forward to report sexual assault. The rules didn’t prevent anything. They only tried to restore due process to sexual assault cases on campus.

The rules that were amended by DeVos were put in place during the Obama administration.

Fox News:

The Obama-era guidance required universities to probe essentially all complaints of sexual misconduct, no matter how long ago they allegedly occurred. It also further required schools to maintain copious records ahead of possible complaints and strongly discouraged schools from “allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.”

“This is where the Obama administration weaponized the schools because they basically said if we find that you have not acted properly in these situations, we’re gonna remove your federal funding,” Mock said.

DeVos said the previous approach did a “disservice to everyone involved” and “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not pre-determined.”

In America, “innocent until proved guilty” is the standard, not the other way around. And DeVos simply sought to level the playing field.

Her rules still shielded alleged victims from having to come face-to-face with accusers or answer questions personally drafted by the accused. But they offered a new guarantee for accused individuals to ask questions through a representative and to cross-examine other witnesses.

The changes by DeVos required that sexual harassment be defined as both “severe and pervasive” – not one or the other as previously labeled – and schools could be held accountable for mishandling complaints only if they acted with “deliberate indifference.”

Biden’s new education secretary, Miguel Cardona, has been non-committal about how he is going to alter the DeVos rule, and Biden issued an executive order on March 8 that sheds little light on what the new administration is going to do.

JD Supra:

Unfortunately, the order sheds little light on how the Biden administration intends to change Title IX and, as a result, warrants little practical change for schools, colleges, and universities. The order directs the new Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, to “consider” suspending, revising, or rescinding the 2020 Title IX rule, but does not actually take any action with respect to the Trump-era rule. Similarly, it directs Cardona to issue “new guidance” interpreting the rules, but does not provide any actual guidance now. Perhaps the most interesting part of the order is language directing Cardona to consider “additional enforcement actions” to enforce the new administration’s position on Title IX.

It’s not simply a matter of repealing DeVos’s Title IX rule and substituting Cardona’s. The DeVos rule is embedded in other Title IX provisions that must also be changed. Some analysts say it will take years for Biden to fully reverse the DeVos rule.

The “Believe all Women” nonsense will once again become the standard. And young men will be falsely accused and have their lives ruined because radicals don’t think women ever lie about sexual violence.


Aspirations and Reality: Why Do So Few Achieve Their College Goals?

Trigger warning: I am not fully going to answer the question posed in the headline above. But it is one needing answering, so we should do some serious thinking about it.

Let us consider a class of 100 freshmen at an average American high school in the fall of 2011, most of them probably born in 1997 (now 23 years old). If this group were typical of Americans, the overwhelming majority (say 90 of the 100) would graduate from high school, although some would not do so precisely in the expected four years—but for the sake of our example, let’s assume 90 students did graduate in the spring of 2015.

If the group were typical, about 60 of the remaining 90 students would enter college, some at community colleges, but more would attend four year universities pursuing a bachelor’s degree. About 40 % of kids attending four year universities actually graduate from college in the traditional four years—if we stretch things to six years, the proportion approximates 60%. Community college attrition typically is even higher. Therefore, it would be probably be true that at most 24 of the original 100 students would have bachelor’s or even associate degrees by the summer of 2019; if we stretch things to allow for fifth and even six year seniors, we might end up with as many of 36 (60 percent) of the 60 entering college actually graduating by this June.

But merely having a diploma doesn’t guarantee a person a job utilizing the skills associated with college level (as opposed to lesser) training. Data from the New York Federal Reserve shows that the “underemployment rate” among college grads (bachelor degree holders) approaches 40 %. These are many individuals who are doing jobs that are typically performed by high school graduates and require no higher level educational skills. Thus if we have 36 of the original 100 students that entered high school actually getting college degrees, only about 22 (a bit over 60%) of them will actually enter into jobs suited to their college training. In some sense, three out of four entering college fail to achieve expectations concerning their education.

That does not mean necessarily that the non-achievers were all “failures” in some sense—many, for example, probably are leading reasonably productive and happy lives with decent jobs and just a high school diploma. But it does also suggest that there are many young Americans having generally unpleasant experiences ending up with their vocational or professional aspirations unrealized, a small portion of those early on based on unsatisfactory high school experiences, but many more thereafter.

Part of the problem relates to poor information. High school and even college students are not terribly knowledgeable about labor markets, nor even about their probability of college success. Colleges lure kids into programs when they know the probability of academic success is low. High school guidance counselors have been brainwashed by business and political leaders into believing college works for nearly all, and sometimes push students beyond what they realistically can be expected to achieve.

One way to deal with this problem is to get better, more objective information to parents and students. The College Scoreboard of the U.S. Department of Education is a good tool, gaining greater utility each year, but still has some real imperfections.

There is also a perverse incentives problem. The salaries and job security of top college personnel are often dependent on enrollments—tuition fees and enrollment-based state subsidies help pay their salaries. Thus at many schools, high school students are induced to enroll based on blatantly misleading advertising.

One solution to perverse incentives is to make colleges have skin in the game. Specifically, if large numbers of students drop out of school and default or fail to make payments on student loans, the college should share some of the financial liability otherwise falling on taxpayers. Incentivize colleges to lower the attrition rate.

Many kids belong in different kinds of postsecondary training programs, things like coding academies or truck driving school. Pell Grants and state subsidies supporting traditional college education are often biased against other forms of vocational training that is often cheaper and more appropriate to some student needs.


Government Schools Make Everyone Equally Mediocre

Government schools in America are a national disgrace. Every year, we throw more money into the system and every year we get back mediocre results.

The numbers are especially depressing when you compare how other nations get better outcomes while having significantly lower levels of per-pupil spending.

Given this grim situation, I’m always on the lookout for analysis that can help us figure out how to make things better.

Though some people seemingly want to make things worse.

In an article for the Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan reveals how elite private schools have become high-pressure pathways for entrance to elite colleges. It’s a fascinating – and even disturbing – look at the life of people (mostly) in the top-1 percent.

But what grabbed my attention was her conclusion. She accurately observes that government schools do a crappy job, but then suggests that high-performing private schools are the problem.

In a just society, there wouldn’t be a need for these expensive schools, or for private wealth to subsidize something as fundamental as an education. We wouldn’t give rich kids and a tiny number of lottery winners an outstanding education while so many poor kids attend failing schools. In a just society, an education wouldn’t be a luxury item. …We’ve allowed the majority of our public schools to founder, while expensive private schools play an outsize role in determining who gets to claim a coveted spot in the winners’ circle. …Public-school education—the specific force that has helped generations of Americans transcend the circumstances of their birth—is profoundly, perhaps irreparably, broken. In my own state of California, only half of public-school students are at grade level in reading, and even fewer are in math. …Shouldn’t the schools that serve poor children be the very best schools we have?

At the risk of understatement, this point of view (the article’s headline in the print edition is “Private Schools Are Indefensible”) is utterly perverse.

If we know that private schools do a better job (and not just the super-elite schools discussed in the article), then the ethical answer should be to get rid of the government school monopoly and adopt a system of school choice so that the children of non-rich families also have an opportunity to get a quality education.

That would be good for kids and it would be good for taxpayers (we’re spending record amounts of money on the failed government school monopoly, so turning that money into vouchers would provide enough funding for families to afford the vast majority of private schools).

But this brings up another issue. What if leftists aren’t just against private education? What if they also object to any sort of system where better students get better outcomes?

Chester Finn of the Hoover Institution wrote a column last November for the Wall Street Journal about the efforts to undermine the tiny handful of high-performing government schools.

Nationwide, selective-admission public schools, also known as “exam schools,” are under attack… Much like elite universities, critics allege, these schools have been admitting far too many whites and Asians and not nearly enough blacks and Latinos. …in New York, …admission…is governed by the eighth-grader’ scores on a specialized admission test. …there’s no denying that they’re full of Asian and white kids, many from low-income and middle-class families. …Mayor Bill de Blasio and his schools chancellor have recently pushed to make the admissions process more “equitable.” They want to…abolish the entry exam…[i]nstead of repairing the elementary and middle schools attended by poor and minority kids…

Consider another furor in Virginia, over admission to the esteemed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, regularly ranked the country’s top high school by U.S. News. Thomas Jefferson is in such demand that it can accept fewer than 1 in 6 applicants. …The Fairfax County superintendent and board last month moved to abolish the qualification exam…

the remedies being sought in every case are wrongheaded. …School systems…have to face the reality that some kids are smarter and more motivated than others, no matter their color. That’s anathema to “progressive” reformers, who prefer to abolish accelerated classes for high achievers. …The progressive assault on education in the name of equity ends up denying smart kids from every background the kind of education that will assist them to make the most of their abilities.

I’m almost at a loss for words.

For all intents and purposes, our friends on the left would rather have everyone be mediocre than allow some students to succeed.

They don’t want some kids to succeed by attending private school.

They don’t want some kids to succeed by attending so-called exam schools.

They don’t want some kids to succeed by taking accelerated classes.

They don’t want some kids to succeed by attending charter schools.

They don’t want some kid to succeed by being home-schooled.

This hostility to achievement is reprehensible. Part of it is probably motivated by a cynical attempt to appease teacher unions.

And part of it is presumably the ideological belief in equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity, even if the net result is that all students are worse off (the same perverse instinct that leads them to support economic policies that hurt the poor so long as the rich get hurt more).


Australia: The evidence is clear: direct instruction works

Rather than letting teachers teach, states and territories are delivering social constructivist pedagogies that leave students behind.

By NOEL PEARSON (An Aboriginal leader)

It is now more than 15 years since the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy examined worldwide evidence of the most effective methods for teaching reading. It was headed by the late Professor Ken Rowe, who tragically died in the Marysville bushfire in 2009. Rowe’s panel reported to the then federal education minister Brendan Nelson. It is worth setting out its central recommendation in its entirety:

“The committee recommends that teachers provide systematic, direct and explicit phonics instruction so that children master the essential alphabetic code-breaking skills required for foundational reading proficiency. Equally, that teachers provide an integrated approach to reading that supports the development of oral language, vocabulary, grammar, reading fluency, comprehension and the literacies of new technologies.”

Since Rowe’s report, the performance of Australian students has continued to decline compared to other school systems around the world. Ours used to be a great system, but we have subsided to merely good, and we are routinely outperformed by many countries that used to be inferior in literacy, numeracy and science.

This decline coincided with ­unprecedented increased investment in school education. While the investment may not have been equitable, nevertheless we cannot say our declining performance is principally a function of funding.

So what happened after the findings of the Rowe inquiry? ­Almost nothing.

Why? Because we have not been able to solve the federal problem in school reform. The commonwealth has the cheque book and the states run the public schools. Attempts to drive reforms the commonwealth government may propose flounder because the states (and now territories) just do their own thing.

Nelson and former prime minister John Howard used commonwealth funding to mandate Australian flag poles on school grounds. But they had no hope of mandating phonics teaching in state schools, let alone the other dimensions of the Rowe inquiry’s recommendations.

So Rowe’s report just gathered dust.

Around the same time as the inquiry, I asked Professor Kevin Wheldall from Macquarie University to come to a small school in Cape York to trial the explicit teaching of reading, using his ­program called Making Up Lost Time in Literacy. This is when I came to understand the reading wars. I was exposed to the visceral ideological war between progressive educators favouring so-called “child centred” education and those favouring “teacher directed” education, of which the teaching of phonics is just one simple but ­famously contentious element.

Like Rowe, I came to see the evidence favoured teachers actually teaching. Fancy that! That teachers should first teach!

Rowe pulled no punches. He once wrote: “Much of what is commonly claimed as ‘effective teaching practice’ … is not grounded in findings from evidence-based research. The prevailing educational philosophy of constructivism (a theory of self-directed learning rather than a theory of teaching) continues to have marked influences on shaping teachers’ interpretations of how they should teach. However, in contrast to teacher-directed methods of teaching, there is strong evidence that exclusive emphasis on constructivist approaches to teaching is not in the best interests of any group of students, and especially those experiencing learning difficulties.”

But my being persuaded by the explicit teaching side of the reading wars was not an ideological matter. Indeed, I had been swept along with their opponents who talked about “the new basics” as opposed to “the old basics”. No, it was the performance of the children that convinced me. I could see children learning once their teachers started teaching.

We started using direct instruction in three schools in the Cape in 2010. At the same time, the Queensland education department started supporting another teacher-directed approach championed by John Fleming, a principal of Haileybury College in Melbourne. Explicit Instruction was becoming reputable in various school districts around the state, including in far north Queensland.

Two years ago, the Grattan Institute’s Peter Goss identified that Queensland achieved superior growth rates to other states from about 2010, the reasons for which Grattan was unable to identify.

My view is the answer lies in the state’s adoption of explicit instruction and certain other measures taken after then premier Anna Bligh acted on the advice of Geoff Masters from the Australian Council for Educational Research in 2009. Essentially, Masters followed Rowe’s prescriptions from five years before.

However, this one instance of a school system adopting sensible recommendations and achieving significant gains soon reversed. Explicit instruction has been steadily dismantled and the Queensland system is sliding back to the old normal.

These systems can’t recognise success and have no clue about preserving and enhancing it in their schools. Principals who worked their backsides off leading improvement look with despair as the department replaces them with principals who promptly change course and dismantle their gains. Great schools go backwards to good, and good schools slide backwards to fair.

In 2015, the Abbott government’s education minister Christopher Pyne took up Rowe’s recommendation, 10 years after it was made, and funded the trial of explicit literacy instruction in remote schools in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The West Australian schools included a group of Catholic schools and state schools.

Three evaluation reports were undertaken for the literacy for remote schools program. A final report was produced in 2019 and was released by now Education Minister Alan Tudge this week.

Evaluators from the University of Melbourne confirm the program was successful in achieving its objectives: to lift literacy of students through explicit instruction in schools, and to develop the teaching skills of teachers.

The organisation I chair, Good to Great Schools Australia, published an article with The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education setting out the growth rates achieved between NAPLAN tests taken by students in Year 3 in 2015 and Year 5 in 2017. And students in Year 3 in 2016 and those same students in 2018.

When you compare the achievement of these student cohorts with other schools around the country at a single point in time, such as the annual NAPLAN results, they are far behind. Because this is where you find kids from remote schools — way behind their mainstream peers.

The question for evaluation is: how far did these students grow over the period of the literacy ­intervention? This is where the numbers become impressive. When provided with an effective intervention, these students who are often many years behind their grade level start to show growth rates that are above other student cohorts, including mainstream ­cohorts, especially when schools commit to rigorous implementation and school systems give them strong support. Optimum results occur when time on instruction is protected, teacher turnover is minimised to the best that circumstances allow, school leadership is retained and succession does not involve a new principal coming in and dismantling the program.

In reading, schools involved in the program from 2015 to 2017 ­averaged 124 per cent growth, while the average growth for comparable ages was 19 per cent and 34 per cent for Australian and very remote Indigenous schools respectively. In grammar and punctuation, schools involved in the program in the same period grew 180 per cent, while growth for Australian schools was 15 per cent, and for very remote Indigenous schools it was 28 per cent.

Kids in these severely disadvantaged schools are way behind the race when they start, and they are not given the means to move forward. In fact, the gap gets larger over the course of their “schooling” years. I say “schooling” because what these kids get does not resemble any kind of decent definition of proper schooling.

But explicit, teacher-led instruction in reading, as well as maths and science, can get them moving forward. But you need school systems to agree on one thing: to follow the findings of the Rowe inquiry on what works with the teaching of literacy.

There is no such agreement in our federation. The states and territories are still predominantly delivering social constructivist peda­gogies, to the disadvantage of the nation’s most vulnerable students.

When the Abbott government’s program started in 2015, the Country Liberal Party government embraced it in the Northern Territory and announced in the second year that positive results were showing up in remote schools using direct instruction. Then the government changed, and the new Labor government began to withdraw schools and refused to provide achievement data from their schools as previously agreed by their CLP predecessors. The final evaluation was not provided with the Northern Territory reading data, except for one school. Why?

I have learned that relatively advantaged students, such as those from Catholic schools in Western Australia, end up benefiting from effective literacy approaches whereas students from the most disadvantaged Indigenous schools do not, because the level of ideological resistance to effective teaching in public education is debilitating. The poor therefore suffer and have no way of breaking out of their social and economic disadvantage without effective schooling.

Evaluations are a mixed bag, and this one is no exception. The positive impact on student learning is confirmed, as is the impact on teacher capabilities. However, the academics can’t help themselves, and they betray their ­academic predisposition towards constructivism rather than teacher-directed learning.

The evaluators devote more time on an obscure academic from Durham University, a Professor Davis whose four-page article they reference is just a diatribe against the very notion of ­evidence-based teaching. More heed is paid to Davis than to John Hattie’s landmark meta-analyses in his 2009 book Visible Learning, which sets out the large evidence base for direct instruction. Why would evaluators cavil with the well-established international ­evidence in the context of the evaluation of a small sample like these schools?

More bizarre is their referencing of Yong Zhou, an American academic whose entire thesis is this: direct instruction may improve test scores but there are negative side-effects such as the impact on student creativity and critique. No evidence of these side-effects is given, and anyone familiar with this horse excrement will know that the creativity and critique argument was alleged against direct instruction more than 50 years ago.

The evaluators are effectively saying, yes our job is to evaluate planet earth, but we will also pay heed to the flat earthers. Most troubling, however, is the assumption that what works for children from many diverse cultural, socio-economic and learning disability backgrounds, somehow doesn’t apply to Indigenous learners. This is an insidious fallacy that has no foundation in any evidence that I’ve ever heard about. The starting point to any approach to educational policy must be that Indigenous children have the same cognitive learning mechanisms and capabilities as other human learners. What is effective instruction for Hispanic migrant children in Texas or middle-class students in a Jewish school in Sydney is ­effective for Indigenous kids. Contexts must be taken into account, but this implication that Indigenous learners are different is a ­disgracefully wrong assumption perpetuated by these evaluators.

The new federal minister is well aware of this policy history. He and I talked about Rowe and the challenges facing Australian school education ever since he first came from Harvard to work in Cape York 20 years ago. He is now in the driving seat.

Can he make the school education federation work for all of Australia’s children?