Friday, June 04, 2021

Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Banning Critical Race Theory

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation into law that will prevent schools from teaching critical race theory.

The law will go into effect July 1 and will bar educators from teachers their students that people of certain races and sexes are "inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive."

Schools that violate this law will suffer withheld funding.

The Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union voiced their opposition to the new law in a statement, saying that systemic racism should be taught in schools.

With the stroke of a pen, the governor has silenced constructive dialogue that would educate individuals on the discrimination and systemic barriers that people of color still face in this country — including long-term inequalities in educational outcomes, incarceration rates, economic advancement and health outcomes — as well as ways we can move forward together.

The governor said that he signed the bill Monday because he does not think kids should be taught material that is divisive. He told the Associated Press that he favors subject matter about how people of different background can live together.

We need to make sure that our kids recognize that this country is moving toward a more perfect union, that we should teach the exceptionalism of our nation and how people can live together and work together to make a greater nation, and to not teach things that inherently divide or pit either Americans against Americans or people groups against people groups.

The law does not prevent discussions surrounding controversial parts of history from occurring, according to AP. Teachers are permitted to express their thoughts when discussing certain historic figures or groups, or when they are answering a student's question.

Other states that have banned critical race theory in schools include Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma.


This Teacher Is Taking a Stand to Stop the Left

“I’ve been hearing about this stuff happening in California and New York and all over the place. I didn’t realize it was happening in my own backyard.” And in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, neither did parents.

It took a young, courageous Spanish teacher to stand up and say, “Not in my school district” to open the eyes of Americans all across the country. Now, a month later, his viral video is sparking a nationwide movement to expose the left’s biggest lie: It’s not happening here. It is, Jonathan Koeppel insists. People just don’t know it.

Koeppel didn’t plan to be on Fox News or Newsmax or headline stories around the country. He just knew something in his classrooms was wrong—and if he didn’t say anything, he worried no one else would.

“When I found out that kids in my community were being exposed to this wokeism—woke curriculum and woke education—I said, ‘Somebody needs to expose it. Somebody needs to let the public know what’s going on,'” he explained. “I just happened to be the guy to do it.”

When Koeppel stood up in the school board meeting last month, his goal was to warn local parents. Thanks to a powerful message that caught fire online, he ended up warning a lot more.

“A man cannot menstruate,” he argued when it was his turn for public comment. “A man cannot lactate and breastfeed a child. You cannot give birth if you’re a man. If you want to be an adult and do whatever you want with your life, I’m OK with that. Don’t push this ideology on children. I’m not going to work in a district that’s OK with that … ”

Parents are already pulling their kids out of public school … Their going online is going to increase as this liberal ideology comes into our schools. This isn’t a political indoctrination camp, OK? It’s public education. We want to teach education, not left-wing ideas that aren’t backed up by facts or science.

He blasted critical race theory, the new gender radicalism, and teaching resources like BrainPOP that are infiltrating classrooms like his and promoting horrible ideas to children.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to be silent on this. This stuff is disgusting,” Koeppel told listeners on “Washington Watch.” “It’s dividing kids against each other. It’s dividing classrooms. And it’s not good.” Even more incredibly, he explained, this is a middle- to upper-class Republican area. “And I think nobody was really looking for it.” But it’s here, he shook his head, and it’s dangerous.

Since Koeppel’s speech at the April board meeting, he says he’s heard from parents all around the area who’ve done some digging and are shocked that this leftist indoctrination is in their area. And some of them are following Koeppel’s lead and fighting back. At least one elementary school in Tammany Parish canceled BrainPOP and others are looking into it.

Moms and dads are upset that this is going on, he said, but they’re glad that someone brought it out into the open. “I haven’t had one negative response from a parent.” In fact, Koeppel explained, more of them are “starting to take the initiative and step out.”

So are other states. In Oklahoma, a teacher-turned-state legislator was so outraged by the woke curriculum invading his state that he wrote a bill to ban it.

On “Washington Watch” this past Monday, state Rep. David Bullard, R-Durant, said that of all the people who were grateful for his idea (which is now law, thanks to Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican) teachers have been the most appreciative. They see these things creeping into their classrooms that have nothing to do with real learning and they’re frustrated. They don’t know what to do or where to go. That’s where parents and local citizens come in.

“There are other things happening in high school right now that we have to go toe to toe with [the left on],” Bullard urged, “or it’s just going to get worse.”

And yet, as Koeppel pointed out, too many people are living in fear. He knows from the avalanche of positive feedback that his speech has gotten that “a lot of people share my views and my Judeo-Christian values. But they’re scared to death. They are literally scared and paralyzed by fear, because they’re concerned about losing their jobs, losing their family, losing their friends over making these statements … ”

To those people, Koeppel says, “You’ve got to stop being scared … If we’re going to live in fear, you might as well … live on an island somewhere. We need bold people, especially [as] Christian[s]. The righteous are supposed to be bold as a lion. How can you be a Christian and live in fear? You’ve got to stop that. That’s not of God. God didn’t give you that spirit. I mean, that’s all I can say. Be bold. Don’t be afraid. Step out. There’s more for you than against you. And that’s exactly what I’ve seen.”

Maybe you will face opposition. Maybe you’ll be punished. But Koeppel’s right—Christians are called to be bold ambassadors of truth. And his story is exactly why we need believers in public education. This generation desperately needs men and women of faith to pursue teaching and go into these classrooms—not to proselytize—but to be a positive influence.

“If we’re going to be salt and light,” Koeppel pointed out, “we have to infiltrate every area of life—from politics, education, Hollywood, business, you name it. We can’t just be limited to being an influence inside of our churches or inside of our church community. The world needs us.”

If you’re going into education, he acknowledges, “you may be the only one like you. But that’s a good thing, because now there’s light in a dark area, and there’s no limit to what God can do.”

What happened to me, Koeppel shakes his head, “I never would have imagined. I never would have thought that God would have used me for the things he’s used me for recently. It’s truly remarkable and quite miraculous, very supernatural, because this … is not something I planned. I didn’t think it would happen. But because I was just simply doing my job and being a Christian at the same time, God was able to use me. And so, he can use anybody.”


Victory for free speech as University of Edinburgh throws out complaints against professor branded 'racist and problematic' by woke students

An academic who was placed under investigation after speaking out against political correctness has been cleared.

Dr Neil Thin criticised a move last year by the University of Edinburgh to rename David Hume Tower, named after the philosopher now accused of slavery links.

The senior anthropology lecturer also condemned a 2019 anti-racism event called Resisting Whiteness, where white students were initially banned from asking questions.

Dr Thin, 60, was the subject of two complaints from students over his allegedly 'problematic' views and a barrage of anonymous social media accusations.

Last night he told the Mail: 'The university's formal investigation into two complaint emails from students about me has after eight weeks concluded that the two allegations (offensive tweets, and biased marking) must be dismissed.

'This is what I expected, but of course it doesn't immediately undo the massive damage to my reputation and to public trust in the university. It also still leaves unchallenged the defamatory online attacks which triggered the investigation.'

Dr Thin added: 'I agree with the findings of the investigation, and will find its recommendations useful even though I'm not allowed to discuss specific contents.'

He also raised concerns about the 'severe psychological and social damage that can be caused both by online attacks and by unnecessarily punitive investigations into students and staff who express views that some people take offence to'.

Psychological and social damage

Dr Thin added that in the longer term he hopes to promote 'a campus climate that fosters core academic values such as considerate debate, curiosity, intellectual honesty [and] freedom of expression'.

The academic withdrew from teaching while the investigation was under way.

In online comments, Dr Thin was branded a 'scumbag', a 'rape apologist' and a 'crusty old man'.

Some of the students responsible for the smear campaign were investigated by the university authorities but no further action was taken.

Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, previously said: 'For the university to publicly shame Dr Thin because he dared to speak out against the excesses of a powerful hard-Left cabal is reminiscent of the 'struggle sessions' that distinguished scholars were subjected to during China's Cultural Revolution.'

A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh confirmed the complaints process had been completed and added: 'While it is not appropriate for us to comment on specific details, we can confirm the complaints have not been upheld.

'When complaints are made we have a responsibility to consider them seriously and if taken forward through our complaints process, to ensure all parties are heard and receive support.'

The university reiterated its commitment to 'freedom of expression and academic freedom' as well as maintaining an 'environment of mutual respect'.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Banning Mask Mandate, COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements in Schools

The bill, SB 658, passed the state House by 76–18 and was sent to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on May 26. The state Senate had passed the bill by 38–8 a day earlier.

“For the sake of children throughout the state, I’m glad this bill is one step closer to becoming law,” Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge said in a statement. “With this legislation, vaccine passports for Oklahoma students will not exist.”

Standridge is also one of the authors of the bill.

SB 658 (pdf) would prohibit the boards of education of all public school districts and technology center school districts—including those of higher education—from requiring vaccination against COVID-19 as “a condition of admittance to or attendance of the school or institution.” It would also prevent vaccine passports or similar documentation from being required.

Standridge explained during the session that the COVID-19 vaccine is different from other vaccines that are currently required, like those against diphtheria or tetanus, because it’s “still under emergency use authorization,” News9 reported.

SB 658 further forbids implementing a mask mandate for students who haven’t received COVID-19 vaccines.

Exceptions include when the governor declares an emergency or after the boards of education consult with their local county health department, but the mask mandate must be reconsidered at each regularly scheduled board meeting.

Democratic lawmakers oppose the bill.

“This legislation creates a barrier to local control that prevents locally elected school boards from being able to fully protect their students as they and their constituents see fit,” state Rep. Andy Fugate stated in a news release. “This is a clear government overreach meant to strip away the personal freedom of Oklahomans wanting to protect their communities.”

Republican state Rep. Kevin West, who is also an author of the bill, said: “Should the force of government be used to force citizens to do something they don’t want to do, or should it be used to empower the rights of citizens?

“This protects a student’s and a parent’s right to choose for themselves whether a vaccination is appropriate for them for their own personal health reasons or their religious or personal beliefs. This disallows discrimination against students and parents that choose to be exempt from such vaccinations.”

Texas and Iowa banned mask mandates in schools and local governments last week. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox also said earlier this month that schools will remove mask mandates for the upcoming school year. A number of states have banned vaccine passports statewide, either through executive orders or legislation.

SB 658 will take effect on July 1 if Stitt signs it into law.

Stitt’s office didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Republicans have the supermajority necessary in both chambers to override a veto by the governor.


Virginia Teacher Placed on Leave After Saying He Won’t Call Students by Their Preferred Pronouns

Byron “Tanner” Cross, who teaches physical education at Leesburg Elementary School in Loudoun County Public Schools, was placed on leave after he spoke against a proposed rule that would require teachers and staff to address students by their preferred gender-identity pronouns, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

The policy, according to the district’s website, says that “LCPS staff shall allow gender-expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns, regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student’s permanent educational record.”

Cross addressed LCPS school board on May 25 during a public meeting in which the proposal was discussed, saying he “will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa,” because that would violate his Christian beliefs.

“It’s not my intention to hurt anyone, but there are certain truths that we must face when ready,” Cross told the board members. “We condemn school policies [that] would damage children, defile the holy image of God.”

“I love all of my students, but I will never lie to them regardless of the consequences,” he continued. “I am a teacher, but I serve God first and I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion. It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

In a May 27 email sent to parents, Leesburg Elementary Principal Shawn Lacy said Cross “is on leave beginning this morning,” but didn’t specify who made the decision or why.

“I wanted you to know this because it may affect your student’s school routine. Because this involves a personnel matter, I can offer no further information,” the email read, reported Loudoun Times-Mirror.

Loudoun County, which is home to some of the nation’s top-achieving public schools, gained national attention over the past months as the “ground zero” in a fight between parents and school districts seeking to promote “woke” progressivism such as critical race theory (CRT)—an ideology rooted in Marxist class struggle but with an emphasis on race, with the goal of dismantling all social institutions it deems inherently racist.

The school district made headlines in March when a Facebook group of current and former LCPS teachers created a blacklist of parents and teachers who expressed concern about elements of CRT being incorporated into classrooms. According to the Daily Wire, which first reported on the matter, the group members were encouraged to “infiltrate” the anti-CRT groups, to use “hackers” to silence their communications, and to “expose these people publicly.”


A New History Curriculum or Anti-American Propaganda?

President Joe Biden wants educators to teach students that racism is endemic in America. He and his “woke” allies think students should learn that our nation was born of the desire to enslave other humans, not as a struggle for freedom. They also believe that the government should racially discriminate, today and in the future.

The president wants these things so badly he’s asked his secretary of education to prioritize grant funding for K-12 history and civics curricula that preach this revisionist history.

That would be a huge mistake. The vile, ahistorical teachings of critical race theory should be consigned to the ashbin of history, not taught as sacred ideology in our nation’s schools.

Like other forms of Marxism, critical race theory teaches young minds to see the world as divided into two categories: oppressors and their victims. The only difference with traditional Marxism is that the critical race theory categories consist of immutable traits such as race, sex, or national origin, not economic classes like the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Critical race theory eschews economic classifications because they are too fluid. People can change their stations in life—and under capitalism, they often do. Critical theorists readily concede this point as being one of the downsides of trying to start a revolution with classes that are not immutable.

Critical race theory wants to solve this problem by adding race to Marxism. Critical race theory teaches young minds to focus on nothing but skin color and power, and how one influences the other in public and private life. It promotes racial stereotypes and assumes that humans act according to their category, not as individuals.

This pernicious ideology is already making its way into classrooms across the country—even without the proposed stimulus of federal grants. One example is the Learning for Justice curriculum, a K-12 civics program created by an organization of the same name that operates under the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Learning for Justice curriculum teaches that “White supremacy culture … appears in any organization that is not actively and effectively working to dismantle it.” Educators, it insists, must acknowledge how racism “is embedded into the fiber of our nation and our schools.”

The proposed rule from Biden’s Education Department goes much further. For example, it recommends material created by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum’s website hosted a chart claiming that “hard work,” “objective, rational, linear thinking,” and following “rigid time schedules” are racist values, mere appurtenances of white culture rather than human practices that lead to success.

The museum, a Smithsonian institution funded through your tax dollars, didn’t remove this racist chart until officials received blowback for such propaganda.

The proposed rule also praises Ibram X. Kendi, one of the nation’s best known critical race theory trainers, who has written, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” This, one therefore assumes, is what the Biden administration wants American children to be taught.

The rule also approvingly cites The New York Times’s 1619 Project, a mendacious series of essays on race that historians spanning the ideological spectrum have denounced.

The project derives its name from its misleading contention that America’s birthdate is not signified by the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but by the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619 on the shores of what would later become the United States. The project rejects the document that outlines America’s creed that “all men are created equal.”

The project couldn’t even meet basic standards of accuracy. Spanish conquistadors first brought slaves to what are today South Carolina, Florida, and New Mexico starting nearly a half-century before 1619. Another of the 1619 Project’s errors—one from which The New York Times later backed away—was its claim that the colonists fought the Revolution because they feared that Britain would end the practice of slavery. This is flatly false.

Let’s hope the president and his education secretary weren’t fully steeped in the tenets of critical race theory when they issued their proposal to subsidize this anti-American propaganda. If that’s the case, you can help straighten them out. If you agree that these pernicious ideas should not be taught to our children, you can submit your comments about the administration’s proposed rule (as we have) here.


Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill banning transgender athletes from female sports at public high schools and colleges: Florida becomes eighth and largest state to impose restrictions

Florida's Republican governor has signed a bill barring transgender females from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls, plunging the state into the national culture war over transgender rights.

'In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,' Governor Ron DeSantis said as he signed the bill into law at a Christian academy in Jacksonville on Tuesday. 'We're going to make sure that that's the reality.'

The new law, sure to face court challenges, inflames an already contentious discussion unfolding nationally as Republican-controlled states move to limit the rights of LGBTQ people. It also could impose severe financial consequences on Florida.

Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia have already passed similar legislation and South Dakota's governor has signed an executive order supporting a sports ban. All have Republican governors.

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill barring transgender females from playing on Florida public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls +5
Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill barring transgender females from playing on Florida public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls

Supporters of the sports bills say they are needed to preserve fairness, asserting that biologically born women and girls would be at a disadvantage against transgender athletes who were born as male but have since transitioned to female.

DeSantis signed the bill flanked by several teenage women athletes. He said the law was needed to ensure fairness for women participating in sports across the state.

'We are going to go based off biology, not based off ideology when we are doing sports,' he said.

The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, said it would challenge the Florida law in court as having been based on a 'false, discriminatory premise' that threatened the wellbeing of transgender children.

'Transgender kids are kids; transgender girls are girls. Like all children, they deserve the opportunity to play sports with their friends and be a part of a team,' Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.

The Florida legislation passed over the objection of Democrats and civil rights advocates who call the banning of transgender girls and women from sports unnecessary and discriminatory and accuse Republicans of portraying them as a provocation to energize the right wing of their party.




Sunday, May 30, 2021

FSU Settles Discrimination Suit With Student Senate President Ousted for Criticizing BLM

Florida State University settled a case with its former student Senate president who alleged he had been discriminated against because he is Catholic.

Jack Denton settled with Florida State University on Tuesday, nearly one year after he was ousted from his student government leadership position for criticizing progressive groups like Black Lives Matter, his lawyers told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Florida State University agreed to pay Denton $10,000 in damages and $1,050 in back pay, which he would’ve earned if he hadn’t been removed, according to the settlement agreement shared with The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“If you stand against cancel culture, you can win,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Tyson Langhofer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Cancel culture is scary and it’s very active, but Jack shows that if you stand, you can win.”

“I hope that’s the message students across the country see when they hear about Jack’s case,” he said.

Denton, who has since graduated, said he felt blessed to have been able to defend truth and justice alongside Alliance Defending Freedom. The settlement brought him great relief, he added.

“I hope that my case will embolden other students to not be afraid to speak their mind and to share their religious convictions with others,” Denton told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “When we engage in free speech, we make society better.”

Last June, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, Denton advised friends in a private Catholic Student Union group text message against donating money to Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Reclaim the Block. He argued the groups promote causes like transgenderism and abortion that violate Catholic teaching.

Denton, who had been the Florida State University student Senate president, was then voted out of his leadership position after the texts were leaked to other student senators. Denton was accused of “dehumanizing” others and being “explicitly racist” because he privately told friends not to support progressive organizations.

“I don’t feel safe with you as president,” a Florida State University student, Valentina Brown, said during a June 5 Senate debate over Denton’s removal. “You are condemning our identities, an integral part of ourselves and our nature.”

Alliance Defending Freedom eventually filed a federal lawsuit against university administrators in August, alleging that his removal was “unconstitutional retaliation” in violation of his First Amendment rights. Denton only sued after attempting to resolve the case via internal school procedures, Langhofer said.

“The policies were clear,” Langhofer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “[The lawsuit] could have been avoided if the university had the courage to stand up and say this was not right.”

After Judge Allen Winsor of the Northern District Court of Florida and the Florida State University Student Supreme Court both ruled in favor of Denton in October, Alliance Defending Freedom entered negotiations with the school over a settlement, Langhofer added.

Florida State University must soon issue a statement affirming that it is committed to protecting the rights of all students “no matter their religion” under the settlement. The university must also correct its webpage listing former student government leaders and mention that Denton was reinstated per court order.

“The First Amendment is universal and extends to people of all beliefs,” Denton said. “This victory is a victory for all religious students.”

The settlement affirmed that religious students cannot be punished for their religious beliefs, Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Logan Spena said in a statement.

“We are pleased that Florida State has finally affirmed its commitment to students’ First Amendment rights on campus,” Spena said. “All students should be able to peacefully share their personal convictions without fear of retaliation.”


California Public School Gives Third Graders Assignment About ‘Place on Gender Spectrum’

After his 9-year-old brought home a school assignment referring to “experimenting with gender presentation” and the “gender spectrum,” Matthew Simmons is concerned that his son is being harmed by what he is taught.

“It makes me sad that he is getting exposed to this and having his childhood whittled away,” Simmons told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

Simmons, 45, lives in Southern California. His third-grade son and sixth-grade daughter attend public school in the Los Alamitos Unified School District, 25 miles south of Los Angeles.

In mid-May, a teacher gave Simmons’ son a homework assignment to write an essay arguing for or against school uniforms. The teacher provided students with examples of pro and con arguments.

“Con 3” said school uniforms “may be sexist” and discussed how uniforms might affect a student “who is unsure of their place on the gender spectrum”:

Some uniforms may strike students and parents as sexist. For example, if a uniform requires girls to wear a skirt and pants are not allowed, some students and parents may object, leading to conflict with the administration. Not all girls want to wear skirts and some may resent being told to wear traditionally ‘feminine’ garments. Also, if a student is unsure of their place on the gender spectrum or is experimenting with different forms of gender presentation, school uniforms can present a real challenge.

Simmons says he began helping his son with the assignment before he realized that his 9-year-old didn’t even know what “sexist” meant.

Disturbed by the language used in the assignment, Simmons got in touch with the teacher to find out why the school was presenting concepts such as sexism and a “gender spectrum” to third graders.

Simmons says the teacher was apologetic, telling him that she felt terrible and did not mean for him to have a conversation about sexism with his 9-year-old son.

Simmons explained that the Los Alamitos superintendent of schools, Andrew Pulver, has said in meetings open to the public that he encourages teachers to give assignments that reflect students in class. Because a transgender student was in the teacher’s previous year’s class, the teacher told Simmons, she selected the assignment then and simply gave the same homework this year.

He doesn’t fault his son’s teacher for the gender ideology assignment, Simmon says, but sees her as a victim of a school board that is pushing its own agenda. He declined to reveal the teacher’s name.

“These teachers are inundated with stuff that is just not appropriate for kids,” he said Monday in the interview with The Daily Signal. “She had the best intentions at heart.”

The five-member Los Alamitos Board of Education approves the curriculum teachers use, providing a “menu” of assignment options for educators to choose from.

But Simmons contends that many of the options are “nonkosher” to parents such as himself who don’t want their children indoctrinated with gender ideology, critical race theory, and other liberal concepts.

“This is bigger than just conservatives and liberals,” Simmons said, adding: “This is something that, with the internet and YouTube and all this stuff, it’s a tough battle parents have anyways, but knowing the school is creating its own pathway to our children where we cannot even protect them, it’s really difficult.”

The Los Alamitos school district enrolls about 10,000 students in grades TK-12 in nine schools, all nine of which “have been honored as California Distinguished Schools and Gold Ribbon Schools,” according to the district’s website.

Other parents have complained to school district leaders about some assignments given to children, Simmons said, but “from the principals to the superintendent to the school board, we are not getting a very positive response at all.”

“They are resentful that we even bring it up,” he said.

The Los Alamitos school district did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by publication time.

Asked if he would consider pulling his children out of their school, Simmons said he wants them to receive a public education.

“I really like public school,” he said. “I went to [school in] this district and it was great.”

Taking his kids out of the school district won’t solve the problem, because his son’s “friends and neighbors are going to be inundated with this too,” Simmons said.

“So, I want to fight against that. I want to put a stop to this and I want to help out other children, including my own, to put a stop to this.”

It is not enough to simply teach your children right and wrong at home when they’re being indoctrinated all day long at school, he told The Daily Signal.

In an effort to push back against the leftist agenda promoted in the school, Simmons said, he plans to start a Facebook page called Los Alamitos Parents for Equality, “because that is something these people don’t believe in.”

“The woke people are all about equity, not equality,” he said.

Simmons says he believes that individuals should have equal opportunity, but can’t be guaranteed equality of outcomes. Schools in California, he said, are choosing to pursue “equal results instead of equal opportunity.”

The only ones who can fix the Los Alamitos school district’s problems are parents, he said:

The school board is completely indoctrinated. Many teachers are completely indoctrinated. … You cannot change their mind. The only thing you can do is vote them off [the school board] and let them know there are consequences to teaching children inappropriate things for their ages.


Should able students be given a route to bypass university?


There are three relatively novel ideas to increase efficiency and reduce costs in college that I have promoted, largely to no avail, in recent years. First, I have called for colleges to have “skin in the game,” that is have to share the losses to taxpayers from defaulted student loans. That would incentivize colleges to be careful in matching student desires with capabilities and reality. Second, I have called for Income Share Agreements, a new way to finance college attendance reducing financial risks to students, one that has gained some limited acceptance and may yet be important in the future.

But I have been all but completely ignored in my call for a “National College Equivalence Test (NCET), where students performing well on a broad based fairly rigorous test could be granted a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. (See this space for July 2, 2018). A student from my early teaching days, Clarence Page, a distinguished Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, citing me, recently spoke favorably of a college GED, a way students with brains and ambition but limited formal education and resources could demonstrate that “I have the same capabilities of a typical college graduate and passed the NCET with a score of X.”

Following up on Clarence’s Tribune column, Steve Bertrand of Chicago radio station WGN interviewed me about the Collegiate GED. One listener then wrote me, “ I have no college education and am frustrated at 58 because I’m intimidated by the idea of walking into a university with all the scientific work I have done.” I would speculate the listener had gained a good deal of skill in the sciences from either the work he had performed and/or knowledge he gained through reading and other non-school ways of learning. If the body of knowledge accumulated equaled that of typical college degree holders, why shouldn’t he be eligible for a bachelor’s degree?

Universities live off of testing. Admission to college is large based on high school grades and tests like the SAT or ACT. High school grades, in turn, are largely determined by test results. Professors give grades to students in colleges largely based on testing, and admission to graduate and professional schools is largely exam-determined (the LSAT, GMAT, etc.) To become a lawyer, CPA, Foreign Service Officer, senior police or fire official, Certificated Financial Analyst or a whole variety of other occupations, you must pass one or more state or nationally administered tests.

Like most important examinations, the college GED test would have to be pretty long, say at least three hours. It would include a general education component, asking questions that most college educated persons should be able to answer, in many fields—history, political science, literature, science, mathematics, etc. It might test for critical thinking skills and writing ability by incorporating into the exam a test like the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Finally perhaps 25 percent of the test should be based on more intensive knowledge of a specific field (such as what a college major usually provides), where the test taker picks the field on which to be questioned.

The test could be scored from 0 to 100, with some selected passing value, say 70, which if achieved would lead to the award of a bachelor’s degree. But the student scoring 95 could brag about that. Indeed, it would be nice if ALL students wishing a bachelor’s degree, including those attending college, take the test (colleges could still award degrees independent of the test results if they so chose.) The test scores would provide all sorts of useful information. A bright non-college educated student could brag “my score on the College GED was higher than the average of Princeton graduates.” Accrediting agencies could evaluate schools partly on the basis of their average College GED test scores.

As I envision it, individuals of any age could take the test, and, theoretically at least, a few very bright 18 year old individuals could completely forego college and perhaps enter the workforce early. We need cheaper, less wasteful ways of certifying competence to enter the workforce than requiring students to spend $100,000 or more on a piece of paper—a college diploma.


How Equity Breeds Mediocrity and Stifles Achievement

By disincentivizing academic success the pursuit of equity rewards failure

There has been a growing push for “equity” in nearly all aspects of American life, in a stark shift away from the term “equality.” The push for equity is especially intense in the education system, where there is growing pressure to increase the educational attainment of African-Americans and other minorities. School districts and university systems are busy making so-called equity changes.

In a settlement with civil rights organizations, the University of California system, which oversees 10 universities, has decided to end the use of ACT and SAT standardized test scores for admissions and scholarships. The university system will not even consider the test scores on an optional basis. This format of standardized testing has never been perfect, it is true. But it would be unfair to assert that the ACT and SAT have offered no credible evidence to the admissions system for the students who use them, or that they inherently disadvantage particular demographics. This change eliminates a reasonable tool for California educators. Is it also an example of the pursuit of equity instead fostering mediocrity?

The University of California is not the only educational system trying to increase equity. The Sacramento City Unified School District has decided to change its grading system by making 50% the minimum grade a student can receive. The goal, according to the district, is to create a more equitable grading system.

In 2019, a New York City school diversity panel recommended ending all gifted classes in city schools because they had mostly white and Asian students in them. In April of this year Virginia considered eliminating advanced math courses prior to 11th grade until it was forced to backtrack. Even more recently, the Wall Street Journal has reported on the effort by California education officials to water down math instruction, abandoning gifted education for the sake of social justice, and deriding the notion of “right answers” and “objectivity” in math as expressions of white supremacy.

How is equity different from equality? Equality, which was championed by the original Civil Rights Movement, focuses on equal opportunity and eliminating discrimination. Equity explicitly rejects equal opportunity in favor of equal outcomes. A tweet sent out by Vice President Kamala Harris in November 2020 explains the differences between the two words, according to equity proponents.

Equal outcomes are a foolish thing for a society to pursue. In order to achieve and mandate equal outcomes, the state will have to engage in a never-ending cycle of discrimination. It will be an authoritarian state that is in constant search for victims to compensate and oppressors to punish.

Institutionalized equity is therefore also an attack on individualism. It reduces everyone to group members based on their race, gender, sexuality, or whatever characteristic the government and those who are promoting equity currently seek to promote or punish. It does not take into account the individual talents and limitations of each individual person. A person of one demographic might be best suited to being a firefighter, and a person of another demographic best suited to scholarship. But if their individual talents and aptitudes don’t advance equity for their demographic groups, then freely achieving their personal best outcomes would not be considered a success.

The pursuit of equity is that it does not encourage excellence. Instead, equity rewards failure and mediocrity. It effectively removes the ability to fail because failing classes or scoring poorly on standardized tests is the result of racism or whatever “ism” the equity chasers are trying to eradicate. It makes the passing of classes worthless because no one is allowed to fail.

It certainly does not help students learn. The purpose of grading school work and giving tests is to see what students are actually learning.

If individual students are struggling or failing to learn what is being taught, there are opportunities to address those gaps through extra help from the teacher. Instead, by treating academic failure as a systemic—rather than an individual—failure, equity purists shift the focus of educational improvement away from teaching the subject matter.

The pursuit of equity is creating is a world not far from the one described by Kurt Vonnegut’s famous short story Harrison Bergeron. Vonnegut describes a dystopian future United States where individual excellence is stamped out in a society where equality of outcomes is enforced by the state. Those who are better looking, more intelligent, and stronger than everyone else, among other traits, are forcibly “handicapped” by the federal government. Whereas in the story the government resorts to various physical devices to handicap its citizens, equity proponents resort to eliminating anything that allows students to excel over their classmates or to fail.

Equitable outcomes will harm the students it is intended to help and will reinforce the achievement gap between classes. Wealthier families will always be able to hire the private tutors, afford the high cost of participating in extracurricular activities, and put their children in private schools where excellence is encouraged. It will be the poorer families who are deprived of yet another means to advance.

If you really want to help disadvantaged students, support popular policies such as school choice which empower individual families and students. Most of all, stop punishing success in the name of equity.