Friday, September 03, 2021

Pro-Antifa California teacher to be fired by school district after leaked video emerges

A far-left California teacher with a hammer and sickle tattoo and an apparent affinity for Antifa and brutal communist dictators will be fired after bragging on video that he was working to radicalize his students "further and further left," his employer announced Wednesday.

In a letter, the Natomas Unified School District Superintendent Chris Evans wrote that Gabriel Gipe, a social studies teacher at Inderkum High School, would be terminated after Project Veritas found Antifa and Mao Zedong posters in his classroom and recorded him talking about indoctrinating his students.

"I have 180 days to turn them into revolutionaries," he says in the recording.

That didn’t go over well with district officials.

"As of today, this teacher was placed on paid leave because of his actions and choices in the classroom," Evans wrote. "Natomas Unified will be taking the legally required next steps to place the teacher on unpaid leave and fire the teacher."

After the Project Veritas video emerged, the district’s internal investigation found Gipe responsible for numerous violations of its code of conduct.

"Our teachers must, without bias, or favoring their own personal beliefs share facts and information around differing perspectives," Evans wrote. "This teacher crossed that line and violated that trust."

Gipe also allegedly had a collection of stamps dedicated to Communist dictators, including one of Joseph Stalin and "an insensitive phrase," which he had allegedly used to mark students’ work as complete. Other stamps had images of Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un.

"These were purchased shortly before the pandemic and their use was likely initially limited due to Distance Learning," Evans’ letter reads. "The district’s investigation did discover that at least during the 13 days of this school year, he was using those stamps to mark student work as complete."

District officials described Gipe’s conduct regarding giving students extra credit for attending protests with the potential to become dangerous as "both unprofessional and irresponsible."


Revolt: Fully-Vaccinated Students Blast Liberal Amherst College Over Draconian, Anti-Science COVID Restrictions

This story reminds me of the abject insanity we covered earlier this year when Cal Berkeley announced an official policy for students that barred even solo outdoor exercise among its student population, requiring everyone to remain imprisoned in their rooms nearly 24/7. This was not remotely supported by any science, but that didn't stop officious, power-hungry "safetyists" from doing their thing.

Along similar lines, Oregon's left-wing governor recently imposed an outdoor mask mandate, even for fully vaccinated people, which is also cartoonishly anti-science. Not wanting to be left behind in the performative COVID mitigation olympics, Amherst College – a lefty liberal arts school in Massachusetts – is getting in on the act:

As the Delta variant continues to plague the nation, the college announced on Tuesday that it has tightened its public health precautions for the first two and a half weeks of the Fall 2021 semester (from move-in to Sept. 13). The restrictions include: indoor double-mask mandates, two Covid tests upon arrival, a bi-weekly testing requirement, limits on indoor gathering sizes, off-campus travel restrictions and an elimination of in-person dining services.

These restrictions were put into place on Aug. 24, and represented an increase from the rules outlined in a previous announcement made eight days prior. The new protocols caused significant student backlash, including an open letter signed by over 250 students asking the administration to reconsider the changes. Last spring, the college announced that all students, faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated to return to campus, with exceptions granted only on medical or religious grounds...As of Aug. 19, less than 1 percent of students have requested a vaccine exemption.

These mandates, which are said to be temporary, are being imposed upon a group of people who are all required to be vaccinated, with almost none seeking exemptions to that rule. We are also talking about young, healthy people at virtually zero risk of experiencing a severe COVID infection post-vaccination – or even pre-vaccination, in most cases. They're forcing these double-vaxxed 18-22 year-olds to double mask, they're testing asymptomatic people as a matter of course (hugely wasteful), and enforcing wildly heavy-handed restrictions of free movement. Why? Data guru Nate Silver throws up his hands, tweeting, "it's pretty insane to put such harsh restrictions in place on a campus where **everybody is fully vaccinated**. Some people have really lost the plot."

There's a bizarre group of hardcore COVID restrictionists who weirdly simultaneously worship the safe and effective vaccines while acting as if the vaccines...are not safe and effective. They pile on anyone who dares suggest that draconian policies are unnecessary or counter-productive, even if the case is made with clear evidence. Silver has increasingly been targeted by this neurotic community, as he's spoken out forcefully against their superstitious, anti-science excesses – which tend to be carried out with religious zeal within "progressive" enclaves. One anonymous lefty Twitter troll confronted Silver with tweets he published back in March of last year (the earliest days of the pandemic), to which Silver replied with a deserved shot at the so-called "expert" class:

Amherst's flurry of edicts has generated strong pushback in the form of an open letter signed by hundreds of students. I cannot say I generally recommend reading open letters from college students on any subject, but this one is pretty cogent and asks a lot of fair questions. For instance, the students note that the outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated people has no basis in data:

There is no evidence that suggests that masks should be worn outdoors by vaccinated individuals as transmission outdoors is less than 1%. We ask that you revoke the outdoor mask mandate. The most recent COVID-19 guidelines on the CDC website (dated August 19th, 2021), states that “current data suggest the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in outdoor settings is minimal. In general, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask outdoors. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised.” This suggests that wearing a mask outside for vaccinated individuals is completely optional depending on their own comfort level and the size of the event. This New York Times article, entitled “A Misleading CDC Number,” puts the rate of outdoor transmission at less than 0.1%, stating that “there is not a single documented COVID-19 infection in the world from causal outdoor interaction, such as walking past someone on the street or eating at a nearby table.” As such, an outdoor mask mandate is essentially going against the science that we have observed about the transmission of COVID-19 so far.

The new policies are insane and oppressive, and also send a clear signal that the administration both does not believe in the vaccines and has zero interest in making decisions rooted in data. It's COVID theater, and a lot of people are sick of it – especially the ones who've done everything they've been asked to do.

UPDATE – Duke, too. Absolute madness from our supposed best and brightest:


UK Schoolchildren To Be Covid Vaxxed With Or Without Parental Consent

The author below, Michael Yeadon, isn’t just any scientist. The 60-year-old is a former vice president of Pfizer, where he spent 16 years as an allergy and respiratory researcher. But his claims below seem extreme

I’ve just been informed via someone senior in the vaccination authorities that they will begin VACCINATING ALL SCHOOL CHILDREN AGED 12 – 15 years old STARTING SEPTEMBER 6th 2021. WITH OR WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT.

Children are at no measurable risk from SARS-CoV-2 & no previously healthy child has died in U.K. after infection. Not one.

The vaccines are NOT SAFE. The USA reporting system VAERS is showing around 13,000 deaths in days to a few weeks after administration. A high percentage occur in the first 3 days. Around 70 percent of serious adverse events are thromboembolic in nature (blood clotting- or bleeding-related).

We know why this is: all of the gene-based vaccines cause our bodies to manufacture the virus spike protein & that spike protein triggers blood coagulation.

The next most common type of adverse events are neurological.

Death rates per million vaccinations are running everywhere at around 60X more than any previous vaccine.

Worse, thromboembolic events such as pulmonary embolisms, appear at over 400X the typical low rate after vaccination.

These events are serious, occur at a hideously elevated level & are at least as common in young people as in elderly people. The tendency is that younger people are having MORE SEVERE adverse events than older people.

There is literally no benefit whatsoever from this intervention. As stated, the children are unquestionably NOT AT RISK & vaccinating them WILL ONLY RESULT IN PAIN, SUFFERING, LASTING INJURIES AND DEATH.

Children rarely even become symptomatic & are very poor transmitters of the virus. This isn’t theory. It’s been studied & it pretty much doesn’t happen that children bring the virus into the home. In a large study, on not one occasion was a child the ‘index case’ – the first infected person in a household.

So if you’re told “it’s to protect vulnerable family members”, THAT IS A LIE.

The information emerging over time from U.K. & Israel is now showing clearly that the vaccines DO NOT EVEN WORK WELL. If there’s any benefit, it wanes.

Finally, the vaccines ARE NOT EVEN NECESSARY. There are good, safe & effective treatments.


And for no possible benefit.

KNOWING WHAT I KNOW FROM 40 years TRAINING & PRACTISE IN TOXICOLOGY, BIOCHEMISTRY & PHARMACOLOGY, to participate in this extraordinary abuse of innocent children in our care can be classified in no other way than MURDER.

It’s up to you. If I had a secondary school age child in U.K., I would not be returning them to school next month, no matter what.

The state is going to vaccinate everyone. The gloves are off. This has never been about a virus or public health. It’s wholly about control, totalitarian & irreversible control at that, and they’re nearly there.


North Carolina Report Highlights Indoctrination in Classrooms. Here Are 6 Stories From Parents and Faculty.

Is your child being indoctrinated by their school and teachers?

This is what a report by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Republican, tried to uncover. Robinson’s recently published “Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education Report” highlighted incidents of both parents and teachers who believe that their school is foisting indoctrination on students or faculty.

The report is notable given the national debate about the influence of critical race theory in classrooms. North Carolina is currently considering legislation that would prevent the teaching of critical race theory in public school classrooms.

Robinson explained why he thought a report like this was necessary.

“This is an attempt to stop the abuse of the teaching profession by a few who are using that profession to put undue pressure on young minds to accept their way of thinking,” Robinson said at a news conference, according to The News & Observer, a North Carolina-based newspaper. “That’s what this is. It is not an attack on teachers. The overwhelming majority of our teachers are hardworking folks who do a fantastic job every day.”

The report included many personal stories of parents, teachers, and students complaining of indoctrination or intimidation taking place in North Carolina schools over issues like gender identity and critical race theory.

Here are six examples highlighted in the report, which included many more. The names of those who submitted their stories were left out of the report.

1. Parent in Wake County Says Most Lessons in Advanced Placement English About ‘White Privilege/White Supremacy’
A parent in Wake County submitted a letter saying that their child, who was a high school junior, was receiving left-wing indoctrination in multiple classes. The student was told in history classes that if “you were white and Christian, you should be ashamed,” according to the letter.

The parent said that both teachers and students at the schools are forced to engage in indoctrination about race and gender through the school’s curriculum.

“Every single book/passage reading in AP English class is about white supremacy/privilege,” the parent wrote.

In addition, the parent’s child had been conditioned to merely give the answers the teachers wanted rather than what he really believed.

“My child has figured out that he/she needs to answer any opinion questions the way the teachers want the questions answered, and not give an actual/honest opinion on a topic,” the parent wrote. “An actual opinion that doesn’t conform to the ‘woke’ culture would be criticized rather than thoughtfully discussed.”

2. Parent Says Child Intimidated in Virtual Learning Sessions
A parent of a student at Virtual Academy said that their daughter chose to stay on “mute” most of the year due to intimidation by the teacher. The parent said that students who agreed with the teacher’s views were praised and rewarded while those who disagreed were rebuked.

“Those that agree with [the teacher’s] point of view got positive attention. Those that did not, such as our daughter, who had the courage to join the conversation that day, were told in chat to ‘back down,’ ‘calm yourself,’ ‘some are going to try to make it hard on the majority of us who want equality for all,’” the parent wrote.

The parent said that they want their daughter to be engaged and form her own opinions, but it’s difficult when the teacher makes it clear that only a certain point of view is acceptable:

I want my child to learn other’s opinions. Most of all, I want her to form her own views. Even if they differ from mine or someone else’s. She did not feel comfortable to join in most conversations before or after. I want her to talk in class, to be engaged if she chooses. To stand up for her beliefs. It’s difficult enough to be ganged up on, but when the teacher engages in such behavior, it seems it’s meant to silence those opinions that differ.

In addition, the parent said they have been unwilling to say anything to the teacher or school principal for fear of their daughter facing “backlash” in future classes taught by that teacher.

3. Student Counselor Instructed to Support and Promote Gender Transitions for Children
A student counselor at a North Carolina middle school wrote about being instructed to promote gender transition for children. The counselor said they were given a “support plan” at a meeting for when a student declares they want to “transition their gender.”

The counselor wrote that they were instructed in the proper procedure to change to the student’s name and preferred pronouns and told not to notify parents about what the child was doing.

The counselor explained that these instructions directly violated their personal and religious views.

“As a Christian, this practice puts me in direct conflict with my religion,” the counselor wrote. “As a parent, it terrifies me that a child can pursue transitioning with such liberty without the loving guidance of their parents.”

The counselor said that they had avoided confrontation with the school administration out of fear of reprisal but felt they could not continue to carry out the policy due to its conflict with their “beliefs, morals, and conscience.”

4. Sixth Grade English Lessons Filled With Social Justice, Critical Race Theory Jargon
English lessons in a sixth grade class in one North Carolina school were filled with left-wing buzzwords, according to a parent. The parent wrote that “all of the words my child was learning were critical race theory ‘buzz’ words such as: bias, discrimination, equity, inequity, racist, etc.”

These words were all taught in the context of “painting white people as the bad people who perpetuate these things,” the parent wrote.

This wasn’t the first incident, according to the parent, who wrote that the school’s English classes continually cover the same topics revolving around social justice ideology and include little about “grammar and composition.”

“I have reached out to [the teacher] before with my concerns and the only response I received from her was that she’s sorry if any of the material made me uncomfortable but it’s the approved curriculum,” the parent wrote.

5. Students Forced to Play the ‘Privilege Game’
The “straw that broke the camel’s back” according to a North Carolina parent, was when “a white male teacher made his class of 20 students (including my daughter) play the ‘privilege game.’”

The parent explained how this “game” worked in the classroom.

“All students line up horizontally and then the teacher calls out certain things and you take a step forward or backwards accordingly,” the parent wrote.

The teacher would ask students if they had ever been discriminated against because of their skin color or had divorced parents and would take steps forward or backward accordingly.

“By the end of the exercise, a white male was in front and a black female was in the back with everyone else in between,” the parent wrote.

6. Teacher Calls Students ‘My Little Comrades’
The parent of a fifth grade student at Chantilly Montessori Elementary, a magnet school in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District, wrote that a teacher refers to students as “my little comrades” and “my little activists.”

The teacher constantly talks about political events in a biased manner, the parent wrote.

“For example, in discussing the January 6 Capitol incident, she told the students, ‘Trump promoted violence,’” the parent wrote. “She’s openly supportive of [Black Lives Matter] (wearing stickers on her shoes) and the LGBTQ community.”

The parent wrote that these political references are “ongoing/daily” issues.




Thursday, September 02, 2021

UNC course says WWII was 'Japan's attempt to roll back Euro-American colonialism'

The University of North Carolina is offering a class called "Global Whiteness," which involves student presentations on Trump and interracial hookups on campus.

Campus Reform obtained the fall 2021 syllabus, covers the concept of race since the 19th century, but also contains what appears to be revisionist narratives of American history, specifically World War II.

Specifically, the syllabus appears to place blame for the Pacific Theater on America and the West. The course overview describes World War II in the Pacific as "the first global attack on white Anglo-American hegemony" and "Japan's attempt to roll back Euro-American colonialism."

A previous iteration of the course, taught in 2019, included a class session titled "Nasty, Angry White People," according to an earlier syllabus reviewed by Campus Reform.

Students in the course will be required to give a presentation based on one of 32 listed topics. One of the topics is, "How is Trump racist?"

Other student presenters will cover race in the context of their classmates' romantic lives through the topics, "Black/White hooking up at UNC" and "White/Asian hooking up at UNC." The list of topics also includes "White Trash," "1619 Project," and "Should White people pay reparations for slavery?"

Professor Mark Driscoll, who teaches the course, writes a robust defense of free speech in his syllabus:

"I want all of you to feel safe to express yourself regardless of your point of view, background, physiological makeup or the general popularity or mass media appeal of your have a right and a duty to find out alternative truths about the themes that we will discuss. Moreover, we need to pledge to each other (this includes me to you) complete respect for each others' viewpoints and the willingness to tell each other when a comment or incident makes us uncomfortable."

In his faculty biography, Driscoll characterizes 1945 as "when the Allied Powers dismantled Japan’s extensive empire."


Colorado High School Students Stage Walkout To Protest Mask Mandate

Students and parents all over Douglas County, Colorado took to the streets Wednesday morning to protest a countywide school mask mandate.

The organized walkout reportedly occurred around 9:30 a.m., just two days after the county's health department issued a mask order requiring all staff and students from preschool to 12th grade to wear masks (via The Denver Channel).

Some of the loudest voices were heard at Thunder Ridge High School.

"These people agree with me. They hate masks, and I do too," said Thunder Ridge student Cole Bradley of the students behind him.

"I believe that masks, they’ve been going from mostly two years now, this is going to be the third year of my high school career that’s compromised. I want a normal high school career there. If you are scared you could stay home," said student Austin Knapp.

Thunder Ridge High School students were joined by Ranch View Middle School students and their parents.

"There’s enough parents, and there’s enough scientific data to show otherwise, that this is just not a necessary option that they have to take, and there are enough students that feel the same way," said parent Amy Ellis.

Around the same time, students at Legend High School took to the streets.

Colorado Community Media reporter Jessica Gibbs posted several videos and pictures of the protests to Twitter

Gibbs also wrote that a student told her less than half of students were actually obeying the mandate in the classroom.

As the United Kingdom and other places around the world begin to understand the lack of real data or science behind masking students and drop their school masking requirements, counties in the U.S. continue to double down. It's going to take direct action and, yes, civil disobedience like this, as well as voting pro-masking school board members out of office at the earliest opportunity, to turn this thing around. This is definitely a good start.

The Douglas County School District responded to the walkout with the following statement:

Douglas County Schools tells Denver7 "The Douglas County School District continues to balance the challenges of the ongoing COVID pandemic. We will follow the recent public health order issued by the Tri-County Health Department, which requires all students and staff in preschool through twelfth-grade to wear a mask while inside school buildings. Additionally, we will work with our families and staff members who cannot tolerate a mask due to medical or mental health reasons. Our goal is to keep our students and staff in the classroom for in-person learning.

Meanwhile, Tri-County Health, which issued the mandate, insisted that masks "provide protection and prevent the spread of disease which allows students to remain in school where they learn best."

On a related note, Douglas County commissioners voted Wednesday to split with Tri-County Health Department and form its own health department, largely because of its refusal to allow counties to opt-out of its health orders (via The Denver Post).

Tri-County Health had agreed to let counties opt out of its health orders last November when Douglas County threatened to leave the agency, which also covers Arapahoe and Adams counties, over COVID-19 directives, including mask mandates and business closures.

On Monday, the agency not only eliminated the opt-out but ordered all school districts in the three counties it oversees to require masks for all staff and students 2 years old and older in indoor settings. That prompted Douglas County leaders to accuse Tri-County, which serves more than 1.5 million people, of unilaterally violating its agreement with the conservative county.

Suspended Mesa County deputy clerk charged with burglary
“That was a condition precedent for us remaining with Tri-County Health — that a measure of local control regarding public health orders would be retained by the counties,” Commissioner Abe Laydon said Wednesday.

Commissioner Lora Thomas said the opt-out agreement was supposed to account for the fact that not all counties in Colorado are affected by COVID-19 in the same way, and that local officials should be able to tailor their responses to the pandemic based on local coronavirus data.

Of special note:

"County staff presented data during the virtual meeting, attended by nearly 300 people at one point, that showed Douglas County’s five hospitals have no pediatric hospitalizations and that only one person under 18 has died in the county throughout the entire pandemic," the outlet reported.


University Will Fire Employees Who Do Not Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Across the country, schools and universities are rolling out COVID-19 vaccine mandates as a response to the spreading Delta variant. However, some universities are taking precautions a step further by implementing rather absurd COVID-19 measures, such as indoor-double mask mandates and shelter-in-place rules for fully vaccinated students, as Guy reported. And now, we have a prestigious university axing faculty and staff who refuse to get the vaccine.

Duke University announced this week that employees who do not obtain the COVID-19 vaccine will be terminated from their job in the coming weeks.

In a statement issued by the university on Sunday, the Wuhan coronavirus vaccine now constitutes a condition of employment at Duke. "All faculty and staff members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021," the statement reads.

Between now and the October deadline, deans and vice presidents will be given a list of unvaccinated faculty and staff within their department. These figureheads are to ensure their unvaccinated faculty understand the new policy and ramifications for not complying.

After the October 1 deadline, those who still haven't gotten the shot will be subject to a Final Written Warning and placed on leave. They will have seven days to obtain either the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If the individual chooses not to get vaccinated, they will be fired once the seven-day period has expired.

Those who do comply during the seven-day administrative leave period will have up to six weeks to provide documentation that they are fully vaccinated. If the second dose is not administered within the six-week period, they will be terminated.

While faculty and staff are permitted to apply for a religious exemption from the vaccine, those who are approved for an exemption must partake in weekly testing and continued masking.

In the joint statement, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh said "Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness related to COVID-19, and it is only way we will bring an end to this pandemic. We are grateful to the thousands in our community who have already taken this step, and we want to take make every effort to support those who have not yet gotten vaccinated."




Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Woke LA Teachers' Union Boss Offers Insane Defense of School Lockdowns

A new Los Angeles Magazine profile of "controversial" United Teachers Los Angeles head Cecily Myart-Cruz reveals the wild thoughts of the woke social justice warrior representing LA's 33,000 public school teachers.

Myart-Cruz was one of the teacher's union bosses who insisted schools remain shuttered for months during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, and she was clear that she doesn't regret subjecting children to subpar instruction nor the outcomes of learning through a computer for more than a year.

"There is no such thing as learning loss," she maintains in an interview for the profile. "Our kids didn't lose anything," she said despite numerous studies and anecdotes of students falling behind without in-person instruction. Her rationale for such a claim, however, is even more absurd.

"It's OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables," she explained before suggesting what they did learn over the months of isolation wrought by forced distance learning:

They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.

This insane rationale also implies that the education provided by the teachers Myart-Cruz represents is unimportant and inconsequential. The same teachers for whom Myart-Cruz demands more money can apparently be replaced — following her logic — by a student just sitting at home and watching TV.

The comments from Myart-Cruz aren't all that surprising given her activism that has frequently strayed beyond school issues. She's advocated for Medicare for all, tax increases, taxpayer-funded services for illegal immigrants, eviction moratoriums, and a boycott of Israel.

She's even to the left of embattled California Governor Gavin Newsom whose attempt at reopening schools she slammed as "a receipt for propagating structural racism." And when parents pleaded for Los Angeles teachers to return to the classroom, Myart-Cruz attacked their concerns for their children as a "product of their unexamined privilege."

Even as the 2021 back-to-school season hits full swing across the country, Myart-Cruz remained cagey at the time of her interview about the prospect of LA schools being in-person. "We will be going back to the table for that conversation" because "education is political," she told Los Angeles Magazine.

And while she claims to be an advocate for underprivileged students and families, Myart-Cruz's tenure has disproportionately harmed those same students. "School closings have arguably done the most damage to those in poorer communities," explains the LA Mag profile. "An astonishing 64 percent of L.A. Unified's middle- and high-schoolers—some 129,000 kids—were not actively engaging in the district's online learning program" last spring. "Hardly any of the district's 229,000 elementary school students were logging on at all... A significant portion were doubtless from disadvantaged neighborhoods with working parents and less access to technology."

Nevertheless, Myart-Cruz persists in her woke campaign apparently unconcerned with the welfare of Los Angeles students. As she herself said, it's all about politics — student wellbeing be damned.


Teacher Fired After Speaking Against Gender Identity, Critical Race Theory, and Mask Mandates

A Louisiana teacher says he was fired after speaking out against the teaching of critical race theory, gender identity ideology, and mask mandates in his school district.

Now Jonathan Koeppel says he wants to be a voice for anyone who is “sick and tired of being pushed around by the public education system just for being conservative.”

For over a year, Koeppel had voiced concerns on social media and at school board meetings over the teaching of woke ideology. The high school Spanish teacher also has been an opponent of the mask mandates.

“I was completely fed up with the far left’s agenda to brainwash children,” Koeppel, who considers himself a conservative, told The Daily Signal on Wednesday when asked why he chose to speak out against certain policies in St. Tammany Parish Public Schools.

“I started noticing kids talking about political topics that were being brought up in other classes by their teachers, and realized that someone had to get this conversation started,” he said. “I just happened to be that someone.”

A Louisiana native, Koeppel, 26, began teaching Spanish at Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville, about 40 miles north of New Orleans, in 2020.

Just over a year later, on Aug. 13, he received a letter signed by school district Superintendent Frank Jabbia notifying him of his dismissal. The letter did not contain a reason for his termination, Koeppel said.

The Daily Signal sought comment from Jabbia and Peter Jabbia, associate superintendent of human resources.

“We cannot comment on personnel matters,” Meredith Mendez, the school district’s communications director, responded in an email Wednesday.

No ‘Legitimate Reason’ for Firing

Koeppel said he intends to file a lawsuit against the district. In an email Thursday to The Daily Signal, his lawyer, Kevin Vogeltanz, said:

The evidence suggests that Mr. Koeppel was not terminated for any legitimate reason but because of the protected, political beliefs he expressed in public on a range of issues, including the recent requirement that all teachers and students in the school system wear face coverings while in school.

Koeppel first gained media attention in April, after a video of him speaking at a school board meeting went viral.

During that meeting, the Spanish teacher raised concerns about the St. Tammany Parish school system’s use of an education application called BrainPOP. The app contains content that tells “our black children that they are oppressed by white people,” Koeppel, who is white, said after playing an audio clip from the app.

Koeppel played a second BrainPOP audio clip that tells children how to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they,” when someone’s preferred pronoun isn’t known.

Adults can choose how they want to live their lives, but “don’t push this ideology on children,” Koeppel pleaded with the school board.

After that board meeting, Johnny Vitrano, principal of Fontainebleau High School, called Koeppel into his office.

“The principal was like, ‘This is on the internet, be careful, you have a target on your back … ,’” Koeppel told The Daily Signal, adding that his interpretation of the conversation was that the principal didn’t want to bring negative attention to the school.

‘Indoctrinating Kids’

Koeppel spoke again at a school board meeting in May. This time, he raised concerns about high school teachers “indoctrinating kids in [the] classroom and discriminating based on political affiliation,” he told The Daily Signal during a phone call Tuesday.

One day after that board meeting, Vitrano again called the teacher into his office. The principal explained that Koeppel should not speak at board meetings, but “just talk to him,” Koeppel said.

Vitrano did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Over the summer, Koeppel said, he continued to speak out on education issues in Louisiana and across America, including at a state Senate hearing and conservative conferences.

Koeppel returned to work Aug. 3 at Fontainebleau High School. When he entered the school cafeteria where teachers were gathered for a “welcome back” breakfast, he said, his principal immediately approached.

Vitrano asked whether he was going to wear a mask because of COVID-19, Koeppel recalled.

When the teacher said no, Vitrano instructed him to leave campus and informed him of a hearing Aug. 5 about his job.

Koeppel told The Daily Signal that he already had received a medical exemption from the school, allowing him not to wear a mask because of a boxing injury. The teacher said he believes the principal either forgot or did not know the exemption had been approved.

The Aug. 5 hearing ended soon after it was determined that the school had approved Koeppel’s exemption from the mask mandate, the teacher said.

‘Sick and Tired’

That evening, Koeppel again spoke at a school board meeting, this time against the school’s mask mandate, which follows Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide requirement that masks be worn indoors.

The next day, the school district barred him from “all school board property, activities, and meetings,” Koeppel said.

Vitrano and an assistant superintendent, Michael Cossé, called Koeppel to a second hearing Aug. 10. They said they had concerns about his “social media, the things I do in public, shooting guns and having videos of that—all kinds of free speech issues,” Koeppel said.

Three days later, the school district formally fired him.


Public School Teacher: 'I Have 180 Days to Turn [Students] Into Revolutionaries'

Days after a California teacher’s TikTok video boasting about how she told students to pledge allegiance to a gay flag went viral, Project Veritas has exposed more indoctrination in the classroom coming out of a Sacramento-area high school.

An AP government teacher, who described himself as being “as far left as you can go,” was secretly recorded explaining how he radicalizes students in the classroom and encourages them to “show up for protests, community events, tabling, food distribution, all sorts of things” as extra credit.

“I have 180 days to turn them [students] into revolutionaries,” teacher Gabriel Gipe said.

His classroom has an Antifa flag, a gay pride flag, and a photo of Mao Zedong.

“I have an Antifa flag on my [classroom] wall and a student complained about that — he said it made him feel uncomfortable. Well, this [Antifa flag] is meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you shouldn’t be aligning with the values that this [Antifa flag] is antithetical to,” he recalled telling the student.

Gipe also praised China’s Cultural Revolution.

“You need a two-pronged system, which is exactly what Huey Newton and Fred Hampton [Black Panther Party] understood. You need propaganda of the deed -- your economics -- and cultural propaganda as well. You need to retrain the way people think. So, the Cultural Revolution in the 60s was fixing the problem that came about after the economic one,” he said.

“What can we do now to root out this culture that keeps perpetuating hyper-individualism, hyper-competitiveness, capitalist exploitation and consolidation of wealth…I do think that it’s important to understand that as an extension of an economic revolution, they [Chinese Communist Party] were changing the base, and then they went to change the superstructure. You cannot change one without the other. You can’t have cultural shifts without the economic shift, and vice versa,” he said.

“I think that for [left-wing] movements in the United States, we need to be able to attack both [cultural and economic] fronts. Right? We need to create parallel structures of power because we cannot rely on the state…Consistently focusing on education and a change of cultural propaganda. We have to hit both fronts. We have to convince people that this is what we actually need.” (Project Veritas)

The public-school teacher said he keeps tabs on his students’ political beliefs and pointed out that each year they are identifying as more and more extreme.

“So, they take an ideology quiz and I put [the results] on the [classroom] wall. Every year, they get further and further left,” he described. “I'm like, ‘These ideologies are considered extreme, right? Extreme times breed extreme ideologies.’ Right? There is a reason why Generation Z, these kids, are becoming further and further left.”

And Gipe is not alone in his beliefs at the school.

"There are three other teachers in my department that I did my credential program with -- and they’re rad," he said. "They’re great people. They’re definitely on the same page.”




Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Battles Erupt as Elite Schools Make Race a big issue

The movement in Leftist circles to emphasize race as a way of defeating racism seems extraordinarily perverse to outsiders. And it is every bit as oppressive as the old racism. Having "wrong" views about race can make you an outcast. Saying that whites can be both good and bad will get you fired

But the anti-white racial indoctrination programs now in place have fierce and widespread support in some circles so it behooves us to understand what motivates the race obsession. What is the source of the energy that lies behind it?

The starting point is the old Leftist absurdity that all men are equal. From which it follows that differences between different groups are imaginary. Yet the differences between the races are in fact stark. So how to resolve that discrepancy between the ideal and the real? There has to be some malign influence which is keeping blacks down. And the obvious candidate is white rcism Blacks have less rewarding lives because of white attitudes towards them. And why do whites have those attitues? The reasons are always vaguely expressed but the cultural history of whites is said to be the cause.

So if you have a large group of do-gooder people believing all that, the obvious next move is to endeavour to improve white attitudes towards blacks by any means necessary -- including by extreme pressure and propaganda that would make North Korea proud. So you upset and confuse white students with the best of intentions. You are trying to create a social landscape in which blacks are treated equally with whites.

The fact that the propaganda and other means being used are so oppressive reveals that the whole project is pushing shit uphill. It has no chance of succeeding. So why is it not succeeding? For the most obvious of reasons: Blacks really are different in various ways and those differences will be responded to. A totalitarian system has been created that will achieve oppression and nothing more. Good intentions will not overcome reality. It is a system that flies in the face of the divine advice (Acts 26:14) to the apostle Paul: "Don't kick againt the pricks" (Don't fight the inevitable). But Paul is not a modern educator.

One feels sorry for the white children though. They suffer from a racism that is as painful as what blacks experienced in the old South. They are told they are evil just because their skin is white. It could well do them lasting harm. Children are not just pawns in a game. Their feelings and perceptions need to be considered too. The more emotionally robust will quietly ignore the nonsense they are being taught but the more vulnerable among them may have their ability to deal with reality permanently impaired

Several years back Grace Church School, an elite private school in Manhattan, embraced an antiracist mission and sought to have students and teachers wrestle with whiteness, racial privilege and bias.

Teachers and students were periodically separated into groups by race, gender and ethnicity. In February 2021, Paul Rossi, a math teacher, and what the school called his “white-identifying” group, met with a white consultant, who displayed a slide that named supposed characteristics of white supremacy. These included individualism, worship of the written word and objectivity.

Mr. Rossi said he felt a twist in his stomach. “Objectivity?” he told the consultant, according to a transcript. “Human attributes are being reduced to racial traits.”

As you look at this list, the consultant asked, are you having “white feelings”? “What,” Mr. Rossi asked, “makes a feeling ‘white’?”

Some of the high school students then echoed his objections. “I’m so exhausted with being reduced to my race,” a girl said. “The first step of antiracism is to racialize every single dimension of my identity.” Another girl added: “Fighting indoctrination with indoctrination can be dangerous.”

This modest revolt proved fateful. A school official reprimanded Mr. Rossi, accusing him of “creating a neurological imbalance” in students, according to a recording of the conversation. A few days later the head of school wrote a statement and directed teachers to read it aloud in classes.

“When someone breaches our professional norms,” the statement read in part, “the response includes a warning in their permanent file that a further incident of unprofessional conduct could result in dismissal.”

This is another dispatch from America’s cultural conflicts over schools, this time from a rarefied bubble. Elite private schools from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., from Boston to Columbus, Ohio, have embraced a mission to end racism by challenging white privilege. A sizable group of parents and teachers say the schools have taken it too far — and enforced suffocating and destructive groupthink on students.

This is nowhere more true than in New York City’s tony forest of private schools.

Stirred by the surge of activism around racism, Black alumni have shared tales of isolation, insensitivity and racism during school days.

And many private school administrators have tried to reimagine their schools as antiracist institutions, which means, loosely, a school that is actively opposed to any manifestation of racism.

This conflict plays out amid the high peaks of American economic inequality. Tuition at many of New York’s private schools hovers between $53,000 and $58,000, the most expensive tab in the nation. Many heads of school make from $580,000 to more than $1.1 million.

At a time when some public schools are battling over whether to even teach aspects of American history, private school administrators portray uprooting racial bias as morally urgent and demanding of reiteration. Some steps are practical: They have added Black, Latino and Asian authors, and expanded course offerings to better encompass America and the world in its complications.

Other steps are much more personal. The interim head of the Dalton School, Ellen Stein, who is white, spoke five years ago of writing a racial biography of herself to better understand biases and to communicate with “other races.” The Brearley School declared itself an antiracist school with mandatory antiracism training for parents, faculty and trustees and affirmed the importance of meeting regularly in groups that bring together people who share a common race or gender.

Kindergarten students at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx are taught to identify their skin color by mixing paint colors. The lower school chief in an email last year instructed parents to avoid talk of colorblindness and “acknowledge racial differences.”

Private school leaders, along with diversity consultants, say these approaches reflect current research about confronting racism and stamping out privilege.

“There’s always the same resistance — ‘Oh my God, you’re going too far,’ ” said Martha Haakmat, a Black diversity consultant who serves on the board of Brearley. “We just want to teach kids about the systems that create inequity in society and empower them rather than reinforcing systems of oppression.”

Studies show that very young children, she said, are aware of skin color. Better to address it — “Yes, that woman has Black skin. What do you think of that?” — than to let children view white skin as the baseline.

More broadly, Ms. Haakmat said, private schools need to sidestep white old boy networks in hiring and integrate antiracism into the curriculum: If you teach statistics, why not touch on economic and racial inequality? Or use biology classes to teach of eugenics and how race has framed the way we think of humans? That, she said, “is thoughtful antiracism.”

Critics, a mixed lot of parents and teachers, argue that aspects of the new curriculums edge toward recreating the racially segregated spaces of an earlier age. They say the insistent emphasis on skin color and race is reductive and some teenagers learn to adopt the language of antiracism and wield it against peers.

The nerves of some parents were not soothed when more than 100 teachers and staff members applauded Dalton’s antiracism curriculum and proposed two dozen steps to extend it, including calling on the school to abolish any advanced course in which Black students performed worse than students who are not Black.

A group of Dalton parents wrote their own letter to the school this year: “We have spoken with dozens of families of all colors and backgrounds who are in shock and looking for an alternative school.”

This upswell of parental anger, fed also by discontent with Dalton’s decision to teach only online last fall, led the head of school, Jim Best, who is white, to leave on July 1. Dalton’s diversity chief resigned under fire in February.

Bion Bartning, who notes that his heritage is a mix of Jewish, Mexican and Yaqui tribe, pulled his children out of Riverdale and created a foundation to argue against this sort of antiracist education. “The insistence on teaching race consciousness is a fundamental shift into a sort of tribalism,” he said.

For parents to speak out, said a white mother of private school children, was laden with risk. “People and companies are petrified of being labeled racists,” she said. “If you work at an elite Wall Street firm and speak out, a top partner will tell you to shut up.”

Another parent framed the primal class stakes: Wealthy parents plot and compete to get a child into a private school secure in the knowledge that education married to social connections will ease the way into an elite college and a gilded career. A letter or call from the counselor at a top private school can work wonders with college admissions offices. Why risk all that?

Painful Stories

The stories make for disturbing reading. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Black private school alumni formed Instagram accounts: @blackattrinity, @blackatdalton, @blackatbrearley, @blackatandover and @blackatsidwellfriends.

The posts are anonymous and difficult to fact-check. But the ache and hurt are inescapable. A Black student recalled a white peer who told him Dalton “wasn’t made for people like you anyway.” A Black graduate of Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School recalled wealthy white classmates who complained Black students only got into certain colleges because of their race. A Black Brearley graduate wrote of being conditioned to believe “white skin, straight hair, a skinny body and money was the only way I could be right in this world.”

Stories come laden with complication. Students wrote of favorite teachers and treasured experiences. And there were traces of class anger. A Black workingclass parent at Trinity School wrote that wealthy Black families dominated the Black affinity group and excluded her child.

These kinds of stories, taken together with shifts in the culture around racism, persuaded private school leaders to double down on antiracist education. Such efforts extend back more than four decades.

New York’s private schools declined to provide the demographic breakdowns that are required of public schools. Riverdale and Trinity officials say about 40 percent of students identify as of color, a quite broad definition; Grace officials say 33 percent of students hail from “diverse backgrounds”; Dalton said only that it had a “strong commitment to being intentionally diverse.” Riverdale’s head of school, Dominic Randolph, said a precise count was complicated by the number of families identifying as multiracial.

Numbers compiled by the Guild of Independent Schools of New York City showed that the percentage of students in elite private schools who identified as Black or Latino remained static since 2013, hovering at a combined 12 percent; Black and Latino residents constitute more than 50 percent of the city’s population.

Lisa Johnson is a graduate of a private school in Atlanta and heads Private School Village, a Los Angeles-based organization for Black families. “They love to pitch you on diversity,” she said. “Then your child is one of two Blacks in a class and you think, ‘Huh, how do they define diversity without crystal-clear data?’ ”

Chloé Valdary, a Black diversity consultant who diverges from her peers and is critical of aspects of antiracist education, noted that heated rhetoric rarely challenged the status quo. “Antiracism sidesteps income inequality and doesn’t actually threaten the elite at all,” she said.

One School’s Path

Paul Rossi and Grace Church School’s journey into antiracist education offers a window into its complexities. Mr. Rossi, 52, changed careers in his early 40s, and found at Grace — an Episcopal school with liberal values —a place he adored. He taught math and classes on existentialism and Stoic philosophy. Records show he received strong annual evaluations and was described as a natural teacher.

Slowly change came. The head of school, George P. Davison, who is white and has steered Grace for many years, pinpointed the moment his school embraced an antiracist mission.

“Grace began using the language of antiracism in 2015 as part of our efforts to foster a sense of belonging,” he wrote in response to The New York Times. “It means believing that racism is real, that opposing it requires active engagement and that our community and curriculum are enriched when we aren’t blind to race’s influence.”

Grace, he wrote, incorporated the language of critical race theory but did not rest upon that foundation. He emphasized that the school avoided using shame around race.

Mr. Rossi, along with two teachers who described themselves as progressives and asked for anonymity, was skeptical. The teachers acknowledged that quite a few colleagues appeared to support the new curriculum and they spoke of sustained pressure to demonstrate acceptance of the language of antiracism.

With the election of Donald J. Trump, teachers said, permissible disagreement narrowed markedly. Mr. Rossi recalled some students in his “The Art of Persuasion” class hankered for contrarian readings outside what he called the “Grace political bubble.” So last autumn he proposed a work by Glenn Loury, a wellknown economist at Brown University and a Black man with conservative leanings.

An administrator, Hugo Mahabir, whose family has roots in Trinidad, blocked that. He wrote in an email to Mr. Rossi that Mr. Loury’s argument — delivered to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics faculty — “rings hollow,” and that to give students a Black conservative view on race might “confuse and/ or enflame students.” Mr. Mahabir did not respond to requests for comment.

The transcript of the February session with Mr. Rossi’s white affinity group revealed a tense, probing discussion, with teachers and students found on either side of various questions. Toward the end, the dean of student life, Ilana Laurence, offered thanks: “As uncomfortable as Mr. Rossi may have made many people here, I firmly believe that our conversation would not ever have been nearly as rich and thought-provoking.”

This drew support from the consultant, Emily Schorr Lesnick, who ran the affinity session. At a faculty meeting a few days later, she noted that Mr. Rossi and fellow teachers modeled an intelligent discussion.

“I have been in lots of spaces with adults, with students around antiracist work,” she said, where white people are “kind of just saying things and going through the motions and this was not that space, and I am so so grateful.” Ms. Schorr Lesnick, who is white, did not respond to a request for an interview.

That air of congratulation dissipated. Soon Mr. Rossi talked with Mr. Davison, the school head, about the dim shape of his future. He secretly recorded that conversation.

It offered a surprise. “The fact is that I’m agreeing with you that there has been a demonization,” Mr. Davison told the teacher. “I also have grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us in the name of antiracist.”

Mr. Davison said he was worried students were made to feel shame because of race. “We’re demonizing white people for being born,” he said, adding later, “We’re using language that makes them feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible.”

Mr. Rossi wrote of his case on the Substack site of Bari Weiss, a former Times Opinion editor. In an email to Mr. Rossi, Mr. Davison claimed he was misquoted. The teacher later released recorded excerpts from that conversation, after which Grace claimed that the quotes lacked context.

Mr. Rossi was denounced at Grace and in private school circles. He rejoined that he was trapped, accused of racial insensitivity and in danger of losing his job.

This drama occurred against a backdrop of tension at the school. Months earlier, nine Black students demanded that classes be called off in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death. They said peers were “voicing their white opinions about how Black and brown people should protest.”

The Grace Gazette, the school newspaper, surveyed 111 students and staff this spring of all backgrounds about free speech.

By a margin of about 48 percent to 43 percent, respondents said they were uncomfortable expressing dissenting opinions. And 35 percent said they had practiced “wokeness” to protect their reputations. “There is no viewpoint diversity on race,” a student wrote, “because everyone is expected to view things the same way.”

An Uncertain Future

The pushback against antiracism education has taken on aspects of an ideological uprising. In Boston, a new group, Parents United, has entered the fight with New England’s private schools. Mr. Bartning, the former Riverdale parent, established the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, with a large board that includes the academic and writer Steven Pinker; the human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali; the former Fox newscaster Megyn Kelly; and Mr. Loury, the economist at Brown. Mr. Rossi works with this foundation.

Grace Church School appointed a task force to re-examine its antiracist teachings.

But the schools seem unlikely to change their approach to educating students on race. And opponents face daunting challenges. Powerful trustees say they support the schools, and administrators sound steeled for the argument. Tom Taylor, the head of Riverdale’s Upper School, who is white, recently published an academic article on race and private schools. He, too, is a product of such schools.

Private schools perpetuate whiteness, he wrote, and must pursue an “antiracist, decolonizing and culturally affirming” agenda, with no obligation to educate those who resist. “Private schools who find parents unwilling to accept moves toward a culturally responsible school are free to draw a line,” he wrote.

Mr. Rossi, the Grace schoolteacher, will watch from the outside. Grace Church School offered him a contract if he participated in “restorative practices” for the supposed harm done to students of color. Grace officials did not explain what that would entail.

Soon after, Mr. Rossi and the school parted ways. “It’s no longer the school I loved,” he said.


6 Ways Conservative College Students Can Maintain Their Voices and Sanity

As the school year begins for returning college students, it’s easy to lose the excitement and anticipation that comes with your first year in higher education. For conservative students especially, that first-year glow can fade even faster when intellectual curiosity collides with the reality of viewpoint discrimination.

But no matter your experience, don’t resign yourself to silence. Here are some practical ways that conservative students can maintain their voices and their sanity on campus this year.

First, recognize that the biggest threats to free speech are self-censorship and complacency.

Conceding to these temptations often disheartens students throughout their college experiences. Students often regret being too deferential or agreeable during important debates and discussions. The university environment can easily dissuade you from speaking or make you feel isolated and unsafe if you express your conservative viewpoints. It’s important to be courageous and share your beliefs in the face of opposition.

Second, reject the desire to keep your head down until your four years are over.

You are not alone, and your actions may inspire other students who are too afraid to speak up. Challenge harmful school policies, share your experiences on social media and with your local Campus Reform reporter, publish articles in your campus newspaper, or launch a social media campaign.

Throughout all this, don’t forget to reach out to Speech First—an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on college campuses across the country, where I serve as executive director—and tell us your story.

Third, strengthen your arguments.

Extensively research the issues you are passionate about and the beliefs you wish to defend in class or in campus debates. It is not enough to rely on the progressive left’s arguments to be baseless—even though they often are—because your progressive counterparts will accuse you of being insensitive, racist, or bigoted.

No matter how false these accusations are, they create the illusion of a winning argument—unless you know how to defeat them. Know the arguments you want to make and know the counterarguments others will raise.

Study rhetoric, with a special focus on famous rhetoricians and debaters. Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Weaver, and William F. Buckley Jr. are all renowned for their mastery of the English language and their ability to convince and move others with speech. A good argument not only engages listeners, but also inspires them. One of the best ways to win a debate is to inspire listeners to think beyond the confines of the familiar arguments.

Fourth, get involved with extracurriculars.

Join groups and stay involved with extracurriculars that develop your speaking, organizing, leading, and activism skills. Find a local Toastmaster chapter, charter a club, or start an organization that focuses on the issues you are most passionate about.

Fifth, learn about your school’s policies and your constitutional rights.

This will help you recognize when your campus has overreached. Go deep into the history of free speech in America and how it has come under attack. Take a look at Speech First’s recommended reading list on these issues.

Read George Orwell and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and other literature about societies that were lured into despotic or tyrannical rule. These works are great reminders about how easy it is for educated societies to fall into these situations and how difficult it is to recover from them.

Sixth, channel your inner-Churchill.

“Never give in. Never give in,” Churchill said. “Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

You will face many challenges on campus. Don’t let these experiences dim your inspiration. Instead, let them motivate you to overcome them. Universities will try to convince you that you are operating in their world—an environment only they control. It is up to you to remind them they are not excluded from America’s culture of free speech and free expression.


Black Stanford professor is accused of racism after claiming parents' opposition to mask mandates is caused by their 'whiteness'

A Stanford University professor who claimed parents' opposition to mask and vaccine mandates is caused by their 'whiteness,' has been accused of racism.

Hakeem Jefferson, a black political science professor at the California university, tweeted on August 17, when he claimed the protests are inspired by 'whiteness,' while applying the same logic to the January 6 Capitol riots.

'Whiteness is the most pressing threat to the nation that isn’t climate change,' one of Jefferson's tweets read.

'Make no mistake, this crazy opposition to mask wearing that is leading folks (read white ppl) to act violently at school board meetings & council meetings & everywhere else—yeah, you can’t disconnect it from whiteness,' he wrote.

Jefferson made it clear that any kind of national dialogue on such subjects are 'incomplete' until this 'whiteness' is acknowledged. 'And discussions that don’t acknowledge this are incomplete.'.

Jefferson added that white people believe such 'whiteness' puts them above the law.

'Ain’t like masks are comfortable for non-white people. But you don’t see a bunch of Black folks storming meetings. And it’s not just cause these white folks are GOP,' he stated.

'It’s cause they’re white, & believe whiteness confers upon them a kind of power that places them above gov action.'

According to his website, Jefferson specializes in the politics of African Americans and those who support the 'tough-on-crime' politics of the GOP.

For his part, Jefferson says his job is to 'clarify and contextualize' racism, which he calls 'core features of the American project.'




Monday, August 30, 2021

Evidence Supporting School Mask Mandates Is Weak

Wading into the bitter debate about face mask mandates in schools, President Joe Biden is threatening civil rights lawsuits against states that ban such requirements.

“Some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures — into political disputes for their own political gain,” Biden complained last week, saying his administration won’t “sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.”

Biden’s framing implies that school officials are indisputably “protecting our children” by forcing them to cover their faces all day, and that anyone who suggests otherwise is motivated only by crass partisan motives. Yet the evidence that the public health benefits of “universal masking” in K-12 schools outweigh its costs is far less impressive than the president suggests.

Other governments seem to recognize that fact. As David Zweig noted in New York Magazine, “many of America’s peer nations around the world — including the U.K., Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy — have exempted kids, with varying age cutoffs, from wearing masks in classrooms” without experiencing more school-related COVID-19 outbreaks than the U.S. has seen.

The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by contrast, recommends that everyone, regardless of age or vaccination status, wear face masks in K-12 schools. But the studies the CDC cited to justify that stance generally were not designed to test the effectiveness of mask mandates.

One problem with those studies is that the schools they examined typically implemented several COVID-19 safeguards simultaneously, so there was no way of knowing whether any perceived benefits could be attributed specifically to masking. Another problem: Almost none of the studies compared schools with mask mandates to otherwise similar schools without them, again making causal inferences impossible.

One exception was a CDC study of Georgia schools published in May, which found that COVID-19 infection was 37% less common in schools that required teachers and other staff members to wear masks, similar to the difference associated with “improved ventilation.” But the same study found that requiring students to wear masks was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in case rates.

In Florida, the CDC found that school districts without mask mandates had higher infection rates. But the researchers noted that smaller districts were less likely to require masks, and they also “had a higher proportion of students attending in-person instruction,” which likewise was “positively correlated with the student case rate.”

The CDC says “most studies that have shown success in limiting transmission in schools” involved “prevention strategies” that included requiring “staff only or staff and students” to wear masks. The implication, of course, is that some schools had “success in limiting transmission” even without mask mandates, or with mandates that did not apply to students.

In Florida, where many districts did not require masks, the CDC found that less than 1% of students were infected in schools during the first semester after they reopened in August 2020. During the same period, school-related COVID-19 outbreaks were likewise a minor problem in England, where students were not required to wear masks.

These studies were conducted before vaccines were available. Now that 71% of Americans 12 or older are at least partly vaccinated, school infection rates should be similarly low, even taking into account the prevalence of the especially contagious delta variant.

Assuming that mask mandates in schools do make a difference, the benefits are likely to be small. Adults and older students can more effectively protect themselves by getting vaccinated, and life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms are extremely rare in children and teenagers: The CDC’s “current best estimate” of the infection fatality rate among people younger than 18 is 0.002%.

The costs of requiring masks in schools, meanwhile, include daylong discomfort and stress, obstructed breathing and vision (thanks to fogged eyeglasses) and interference with communication, learning and social interaction. To justify those burdens requires more evidence than mandate enthusiasts have been able to muster.


This is what happened with schools in Canada when it passed 70 per cent vaccination

With more than 70 per cent of its eligible population vaccinated, Canada’s approach for sending children back to the classroom would appear straightforward

However, the daily COVID-19 case tally in Canada has exceeded 1000 for the past two weeks. Several provinces centralised online learning a year ago and, for the new school year, parents could select online or in-person learning for children early this month — before the escalation.

While the availability of online learning varies between provinces and schools, an absence of approved vaccines for children under 12 and vaccination rates among teachers and school personnel have made parents wary.

The Toronto district school board, the country’s largest, for example, asked parents to select either in-person or online learning before August 12. As cases escalated after this deadline, families now preferring their children switch to online learning have been pushed to a waiting list.

Virtual learning for the Toronto 2021/22 school year will be centrally provided and will include live, online instruction involving teachers, staff and students from the home school or a group of schools. Superintendents and principals will form these classes, which will follow the daily schedule of school.

In British Columbia, children are expected to return to school though can opt for online learning. “If you are looking for more flexible options to learn at home, please email me and I can connect you with resources/links for exploring online options throughout the province”, one principal wrote to parents.

Last Friday’s update on the return to school timetable did not include any details for expanding the criteria for online distance learning for families who do not want to send their children back.

Vaccine mandates are not in place for teachers across Ontario, Canada’s biggest province, which has halted the re-entry of many students back into school.

The government of Ontario’s health, safety and operational guidance for schools outlines plans to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all school board employees. Included in the policy will be rapid antigen testing requirements for staff not immunised against COVID-19.

Students attending elementary school (aged 6-12) in person will be grouped into cohorts with one teacher, while secondary schools will have two in-person classes to make contact tracing manageable. Schools will also implement “enhanced cleaning practices”, whereby high-touch surfaces, such as desks, doorknobs and eating areas, will be cleaned at least twice a day.

Canadian health data shows 73 per cent of the eligible population (aged 12 and older) is vaccinated, or 66 per cent of the total population. Since December 14, unvaccinated people accounted for 88.9 per cent of positive cases.


Australia: Catholic schools look at value of jewellery, cars before waiving fees for those in lockdown hot spots

Catholic schools are demanding details of parents’ furniture and jewellery before waiving fees for families struggling financially in lockdown hot spots.

Parents applying for fee relief must reveal how much they spend on food, groceries, internet, mobile phones and pay-TV each month.

Some schools expect families to fill in forms resembling bank loan applications, listing all assets including cars, jewellery, furniture, boats, motorbikes, trailers, and “personal effects’’.

Parents have to provide their latest tax return and financial statements, pay slips, credit card and bank statements and rental statements.

In some cases, families are forced to give schools permission to probe their social security details by contacting Centrelink.

A spokeswoman for National Catholic Education (NCE) said it would be “highly unusual to expect families to sell jewellery (or) furniture to pay for school fees if they are expecting financial hardship.’’

The Catholic Archdiocese of Parramatta - one of the dioceses demanding the personal details - said it was reviewing the form it currently sends to parents, after being contacted by News Corp Australia.

He said more than 3000 parents had been given fee relief in 2020.

“The form we are currently using for applications for assistance is under review with a focus on making sure the process is simpler,’’ a spokesman said.

“We acknowledge that some of the details ... are not needed, nor used to determine fee support and so these details are being removed from the form.

“Our dedicated team responds to requests for fee support with care and sensitivity, taking into account the personal circumstances of each family.’’




Sunday, August 29, 2021

Harvard’s Chief Chaplain Is an Atheist

A spiritual atheist? What a lot of rot

The Puritan colonists who settled in New England in the 1630s had a nagging concern about the churches they were building: How would they ensure that the clergymen would be literate? Their answer was Harvard University, a school that was established to educate the ministry and adopted the motto “Truth for Christ and the Church.” It was named after a pastor, John Harvard, and it would be more than 70 years before the school had a president who was not a clergyman.

Nearly four centuries later, Harvard’s organization of chaplains has elected as its next president an atheist named Greg Epstein, who takes on the job this week.

Mr. Epstein, 44, author of the book “Good Without God,” is a seemingly unusual choice for the role. He will coordinate the activities of more than 40 university chaplains, who lead the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious communities on campus. Yet many Harvard students — some raised in families of faith, others never quite certain how to label their religious identities — attest to the influence that Mr. Epstein has had on their spiritual lives.

“There is a rising group of people who no longer identify with any religious tradition but still experience a real need for conversation and support around what it means to be a good human and live an ethical life,” said Mr. Epstein, who was raised in a Jewish household and has been Harvard’s humanist chaplain since 2005, teaching students about the progressive movement that centers people’s relationships with one another instead of with God.

To Mr. Epstein’s fellow campus chaplains, at least, the notion of being led by an atheist is not as counterintuitive as it might sound; his election was unanimous.

“Maybe in a more conservative university climate there might be a question like ‘What the heck are they doing at Harvard, having a humanist be the president of the chaplains?’ ” said Margit Hammerstrom, the Christian Science chaplain at Harvard. “But in this environment it works. Greg is known for wanting to keep lines of communication open between different faiths.”

The dozens of students whom Mr. Epstein mentors have found a source of meaning in the school’s organization of humanists, atheists and agnostics, reflecting a broader trend of young people across the United States who increasingly identify as spiritual but religiously nonaffiliated. That trend might be especially salient at Harvard; a Harvard Crimson survey of the class of 2019 found that those students were two times more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic than 18-yearolds in the general population.

Coordinating the activities of more than 40 faith leaders.

“Greg’s leadership isn’t about theology,” said Charlotte Nickerson, 20, an electrical engineering student. “It’s about cooperation between people of different faiths and bringing together people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves religious.”

The Harvard chaplains play an outsize role on campus, touching hundreds of students’ lives whether through Mass offered by the Catholic Student Center or Shabbat dinners at Harvard Hillel. Its leader reports directly to the office of the university president.

To Mr. Epstein, becoming the organization’s head, especially as it gains more recognition from the university, comes as affirmation of a yearslong effort, started by his predecessor, to teach a campus with traditional religious roots about humanism.

“We don’t look to a god for answers,” Mr. Epstein said. “We are each other’s answers.”

Mr. Epstein’s work includes hosting dinners for undergraduates where conversation goes deep: Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? He previously ran a congregation of Boston-area humanists and atheists who met in Harvard Square for weekly services that centered on secular sermons. In 2018 he closed that down to focus his time on building campus relationships, including at M.I.T., where he is also a chaplain. Mr. Epstein frequently meets individually with students who are struggling with issues both personal and theological, counseling them on managing anxiety about summer jobs, family feuds, the pressures of social media and the turbulence endemic to college life.

“Greg is irreverent and good at diffusing pressure,” Ms. Nickerson said, recalling a time he joked that if her summer internship got too stressful she could always get fired — then she would have a good story to share.

Some of the students drawn to Mr. Epstein’s secular community are religious refugees, people raised in observant households who arrive at college seeking spiritual meaning in a less rigid form.

Adelle Goldenberg, 22, grew up in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, where she recalls being told that she could not attend college. In preschool, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was simple: a bride. It was the only thing she could envision for a girl like herself. When she turned 19, she applied to Harvard in secret and fled the community.

Once at Harvard, she was wary of assuming any religious label, but she still yearned to find people wrestling with issues deeper than academic achievement. She started attending meetings of the humanist group and discovered in Mr. Epstein a form of mentorship that felt almost like having a secular rabbi, she said.

“When the pandemic hit I was like, ‘Greg, do you have time to talk about the meaning of life,’ ” Ms. Goldenberg recalled. “He showed me that it’s possible to find community outside a traditional religious context, that you can have the value-add religion has provided for centuries, which is that it’s there when things seem chaotic.”

Ms. Goldenberg reflected anew on how unlikely her path had been when her mother asked to see the university yearbook: “I told her, ‘I don’t think you’re going to like it,’ ” Ms. Goldenberg said. “It says I was co-president of the Harvard Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics. And you can see my shoulders.”

Nonreligiosity is on the rise far beyond the confines of Harvard; it is the fastest growing religious preference in the country, accord- ing to the Pew Research Center. More than 20 percent of the country identifies as atheist, agnostic or nonreligious — called the “nones” — including four in 10 millennials.

The reasons that more young Americans are disaffiliating in the world’s most religious developed country are varied. The Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith attributes the trend partly to the growing alliance between the Republican Party and the Christian right, a decline of trust in institutions, growing skepticism of religion in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a shift away from traditional family structures that centered on churchgoing.

Mr. Epstein’s community has tapped into the growing desire for meaning without faith in God. “Being able to find values and rituals but not having to believe in magic, that’s a powerful thing,” said A.J. Kumar, who served as the president of a Harvard humanist graduate student group that Mr. Epstein advised.

Other Harvard chaplains have applauded Mr. Epstein’s efforts to provide a campus home for those who are religiously unattached, skeptical but still searching. Some said his selection to lead the group, following its previous Jewish leader, seemed obvious.

“Greg was the first choice of a committee that was made up of a Lutheran, a Christian Scientist, an evangelical Christian and a Bahá’í,” said the Rev. Kathleen Reed, a Lutheran chaplain who chaired the nominating committee. “We’re presenting to the university a vision of how the world could work when diverse traditions focus on how to be good humans and neighbors.”

And for some members of Harvard’s humanist and atheist community, exploring humanism has brought with it a richer understanding of faith.

Ms. Nickerson grew up in a working-class Catholic household where she struggled to connect with rituals like Mass. But during her freshman year at Harvard, she found herself capable of long, lively conversations with her devout grandmother. Ms. Nickerson realized that her involvement with Harvard humanism had given her the language to understand her grandmother’s theology.

Last spring, the two were tending roses and day lilies in the family garden when they got on the topic of surrender. Ms. Nickerson’s grandmother reflected on the aspects of her life that were in God’s hands; Ms. Nickerson agreed that it was important to recognize all the events beyond human control, though she does not believe there is a deity involved. Ms. Nickerson then shared a Buddhist parable that she had learned from the humanist club, which her grandmother later passed on to her Bible study group.

“We understood the idea of surrender in a similar way even though one of those explanations came with God and the other didn’t,” Ms. Nickerson said. “I find I’m more fluid in my spiritual conversations now.”


The miseducation movement is gaining momentum. Can parents stop it?


Over the past few years, far too many American students have been taught revisionist history

For several years, not that long ago, I taught U.S. history at a public high school in South Carolina.

Believe it or not, while covering the expansive subject, we dove deeply into the issues of slavery, Indian removal, the South’s antipathy to the civil rights movement, and several other less-than-stellar aspects of our nation’s history.

At the same time, we also studied the many parts of our nation’s past that should be celebrated.

This long list includes everything from the world-changing Declaration of Independence to America’s participation in World War II, which saved the globe from the evils of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Yet, I am struck by what has occurred in the short timespan since I left the teaching profession.

Over the past few years, far too many American students have been taught revisionist history.

This revisionist history, which I began to encounter at the tail end of my teaching career, portrays America as a wicked country. It also misconstrues our nation’s trials and tribulations wildly.

Many point to Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” as the genesis of the revisionist history movement.

Zinn’s book, which was first published in 1980, presented a radically different take on American history. In short, it presented American history through the eyes of so-called “oppressed” groups.

Yet, Zinn’s book, which has been thoroughly discredited, laid the seeds for a new presentation of American history, which eventually seeped into public classrooms, especially in recent years.

Ultimately, Zinn’s book transformed into an educational movement: The Zinn Education Project.

According to its website, “The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the teaching of people’s history in classrooms across the country. For more than ten years, the Zinn Education Project has introduced students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. With more than 130,000 people registered, and growing by more than 10,000 new registrants every year, the Zinn Education Project has become a leading resource for teachers and teacher educators.”

Here are a few examples of the “accurate, complex, and engaging” lessons offered by the Zinn Education Project:

Students Design a Reparations Bill: In this activity, students take on the role of activist-experts to improve upon a Congressional bill for reparations for Black people. They talk back to Congress’ flimsy legislation and design a more robust alternative.

The Red Dot of Environmental Racism: A teacher looks back on her childhood to discover the meaning of environmental racism. Linda Christensen offers ways to teach about this story with students.

Plotting Inequalities, Building Resistance: High School Students Use Math to Reflect on Social Inequality: An article describing how math teachers in a San Francisco high school shed light on the ways economics and racism affect education, housing, and job opportunities.

Alas, the Zinn Education Project, launched a decade ago, seems tame compared to the new wave of anti-American pedagogy that has invaded so many classrooms in recent years.

From the New York Times’ 1619 Project to the explosion of critical race theory, which has permeated many public schools, it sure seems that the trend is worsening.

Moreover, as our so-called educators push race-based indoctrination, they are abandoning their core mission of teaching America’s youth how to read, write, perform math, and engage in the scientific method.

In July, for example, Oregon’s governor signed a bill that suspends proficiency requirements in reading, writing, and math for high school graduates. Unfortunately, this is occurring in states and school districts throughout the nation.

Yet, I remain somewhat hopeful.

If there has been one silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that more parents have become more aware of what is taking place in their children’s classrooms.

As we have seen recently at school board meetings from coast to coast, parents are calling for much-needed change.

For me, the big question is: Will parents regain control over the nation’s public schools, which their tax dollars fund in the first place? Or will radical left-wing social activists, teacher unions, and education bureaucrats (what I like to call the education industrial complex), triumph in the end?

Utah Teacher’s Anti-Parent Rant Exposes Broader, Disturbing Education Agenda

On the first day of school last week in a Utah high school classroom, chemistry teacher Leah Kinyon had little to say about chemistry, but a lot to say about what she regards as the stupidity of parents.

In the course of a wide-ranging political tirade caught on video by students, Kinyon said, “Most of y’all’s parents are dumber than you. I’m going to say that out loud.”

She continued: “My parents are freaking dumb. OK, and the minute I figured that out, the world opened up. You don’t have to do everything your parents say. And you don’t have to believe everything your parents believe. Because most likely, you’re smarter than them.”

Parents who saw the video were—as one might imagine—not impressed. And despite Kinyon’s assertion that school administrators “don’t give a crap” what she says in class, her employment was terminated.

As troubling as Kinyon’s comments are, they are also an indicator of a much broader anti-parent, anti-family movement escalating in education and beyond.

Many teachers increasingly seem themselves not as agents accountable to parents, but as activists charged with crafting their pupils into socially, sexually, and politically correct minions, the wishes of their parents notwithstanding.

The anti-parent sentiment so freely expressed by Kinyon reflects the position of innumerable global organizations and programs bent on freeing children from the oppressive grasp of their parents.

The following are five examples:

1. The World Health Organization published a framework for sexuality educators in 2017 that specifically says educators should be willing “to challenge different religious backgrounds” and be willing “to challenge parents and colleagues.”

2. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which considers itself the education czar for the entire world, is likewise not enthusiastic about supporting parents’ rights or values.

In its International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education, it instructs teachers to help students “differentiate between the values they hold, and that their parents hold” and to stress that students should “acknowledge that some of their values may be different from [those of] their parents/guardians.”

It goes on to educate children on a wide range of sexual topics and techniques that most parents would find troubling, if not alarming.

3. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was drafted at the United Nations in the name of protecting the children of the world, provides footing for arguments that decrease the influence of parents.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child asserts children’s rights to:

“Seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”
Exercise “freedom of association.”

Refuse “arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy … or correspondence,”

Access “information and material from a diversity of national and international sources.”

While some of these elements might be beneficial to children at times, many of them can limit parental influence and endanger children.

As an obvious example, if children are to “receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through any media of the child’s choice,” that could include a wide variety of materials, including pornographic and sexual resources and youth recruiters of all sorts, including terrorist groups and sex-trafficking rings.

Further, if children are granted unfettered “freedom of association” along with prohibitions on “interferences with his or her privacy,” then parents’ authority to limit their children’s access to certain materials or to limit their association with people they deem detrimental or dangerous to their children would be diminished or eliminated in the name of children’s rights.

4. UNICEF is the U.N. agency tasked with protecting the well-being of the world’s children. In 2016, UNICEF published a document, “Legal Minimum Ages and the Realization of Adolescents’ Rights,” which says:

States should review and consider allowing children to consent to certain medical treatments and interventions without the permission of a parent, caregiver, or guardian, such as HIV testing and sexual and reproductive health services, including education and guidance on sexual health, contraception, and safe abortion.

Statements throughout the UNICEF booklet position parents as obstacles to their children’s health, make minimum ages essentially meaningless, and negate parental involvement in their children’s medical treatment.

5. Transgender school policies are taking the art of silencing and sidelining parents to new lows.

Many school districts now have official policies that not only allow, but require, teachers and administrators to withhold information from parents concerning their children’s gender identity at school.

A child could have a completely different name and persona at school than at home, enabled and concealed by teachers.

That’s in keeping with international trends. The WHO endorses U.N. guidelines stating that children should be instructed on gender incongruence starting at age 5, without any mention of parental consent.

Increasing demands for children’s gender statements to be honored above all else are paving the way for the dramatic erosion of parental rights. This troubling trend fails to acknowledge that while parents are not perfect, they are almost always the best and most reliable advocates for their children’s long-term well-being and the most tenacious in pursuing it.

While there are still noble teachers in schools today who value parents’ input and seek to strengthen family bonds, rather than destroy them, it will become increasingly difficult for those teachers to stand against the international educational onslaught that seems bound and determined to train teachers to pit students against their parents.

Thankfully, parents in Utah have won a small victory against one activist teacher for now. Let’s hope other victories will follow.