Friday, September 10, 2021

9/11 education should 'avoid placing blame,' leave out 'gruesome' details, Leftist students say

Students from the University of Florida recently shared their opinions on how 9/11 should be taught

9/11 education should "avoid placing blame" and leave out the "gruesome details" of that fateful day so as not to lead to extreme nationalism, according to some college students.

Students from the University of Florida spoke with Campus Reform recently to share their opinions on how 9/11 should be taught.

Among their suggestions was to avoid the discussion altogether of who was responsible for the terrorist attacks. Others said the idea of American exceptionalism shouldn’t be mentioned at all in lessons.

According to one student, American exceptionalism is "rooted in a lot of colonialist and imperialist notions of how we should treat other people."

Another student suggested that a lot of young people who adopt the "dangerous mindset" of American exceptionalism risk growing up to be "extremists and really nationalistic."

Their comments come after less than two weeks after the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) posted a video on YouTube that trains teachers to teach students about American exceptionalism during lessons on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.


California Requires Aztec Prayer in Schools, Parents and Civil Rights Group Sue

Parents in California and a civil rights group are suing the state over its imposition earlier this year of a novel public school curriculum that reportedly has students praying to Aztec gods.

“The curriculum’s unequivocal promotion of five Aztec gods or deities through repetitive chanting and affirmation of their symbolic principles constitutes an unlawful government preference toward a particular religious practice,” Frank Xu, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, said in a statement.

“This public endorsement of the Aztec religion fundamentally erodes equal education rights and irresponsibly glorifies anthropomorphic, male deities whose religious rituals involved gruesome human sacrifice and human dismemberment.”

Paul Jonna, a partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society special counsel said in a statement: “The Aztecs regularly performed gruesome and horrific acts for the sole purpose of pacifying and appeasing the very beings that the prayers from the curriculum invoke.

“The human sacrifice, cutting out of human hearts, flaying of victims and wearing their skin, are a matter of historical record, along with sacrifices of war prisoners, and other repulsive acts and ceremonies the Aztecs conducted to honor their deities.

“Any form of prayer and glorification of these bloodthirsty beings in whose name horrible atrocities were performed is repulsive to any reasonably informed observer.”

The case, Californians for Equal Rights Foundation v. State of California, was filed Sept. 3 in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, by attorneys from the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm.

Californians for Equal Rights Foundation is a nonprofit civil rights organization headquartered in San Diego. It was founded after the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, which if passed, according to Ballotpedia, would have repealed the 1996 Proposition 209. Prop 209 provided that government and public institutions may not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, and public contracting.

The other plaintiffs are Eric Gonzales, Steve Houbeck, and Jose Velazquez, all of whom are parents who now have or had children enrolled in public schools in California, according to the legal complaint.

In addition to the state, the other defendants are the California State Board of Education, California State Department of Education, Tony Thurmond in his official capacity as state superintendent of public instruction, and Linda Darling-Hammond in her official capacity as president of the state Board of Education.

The legal complaint details the California State Board of Education’s approved Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which includes a section on “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers.” Among these is the “In Lak Ech Affirmation,” which invokes five Aztec deities. This pagan prayer addresses the deities both by name and traditional titles, recognizes them as sources of power and knowledge, invokes their assistance, and gives them thanks.

The prayer invokes the names of five beings worshiped by the Aztecs as gods or demi-gods, specifically Tezkatlipoka, Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, Xipe Totek, and Hunab Ku.

According to the legal complaint, the state Board of Education appointed R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a co-author of the 2019 book “Rethinking Ethnic Studies,” to chair a committee tasked with developing an “ethnic studies model curriculum” (ESMC). In his book, Cuauhtin “demonstrates an animus towards Christianity and Catholicism—claiming that Christians committed ‘theocide’ (i.e., killing gods) against indigenous tribes.” In March, the Board of Education approved the ESMC.

The curriculum also includes the “Ashe Affirmation,” which “invokes the divine forces of the Yoruba religion four times—honoring this divine force and seeking assistance for the school day,” the complaint states. Yoruba is “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian vodou or voodoo,” according to the Thomas More Society. It reportedly has 100 million believers worldwide in West Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and in Caribbean nations.

“Our clients have both a religious and civic objection to the Aztec prayer, and they do not want their children chanting it, being asked or pressured to do so, or risking ostracism if they refuse,” Jonna added.

“Under both the California and United States Constitutions, they have the right to expect all branches of the state government, including the State Board of Education and the Department of Education, to respect this choice. Furthermore, all Californians have the right to expect that tax-supported public schools will not aid or promote this religion.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, couldn’t be reached for comment over the holiday weekend.


‘I won’t have a bar of it’: Minister slams national curriculum draft over ANZAC Day stance

ANZAC day is when Australians remember their war dead

Education Minister Alan Tudge has slammed the draft of the national curriculum, which suggests students should be encouraged to contest the importance of ANZAC Day, saying he “won’t have a bar of it”.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has attacked proposed changes to the Australian curriculum, slamming the idea that Anzac Day should be “contested”.

Speaking on triple j Hack on Tuesday night, Mr Tudge said he was concerned the draft curriculum painted “an overly negative view of Australia”, taking particular umbrage with the changes to how Anzac Day is referenced.

Under the proposed draft curriculum, Year 9 kids would learn “the commemoration of World War I, including different historical interpretations and contested debates about the nature and significance of the Anzac legend and the war”.

“In relation to what occurred in 1788, the arrivals of the First Fleet, people should learn about that, and they should learn the perspective from Indigenous people at that time as well,” Mr Tudge said.

“However, there’s things that I don’t like, such as the way that Anzac Day is presented, for example.

“Instead of Anzac Day being presented as the most sacred of all days in Australia, where we stop, we reflect, we commemorate the 100,000 people who have died for our freedoms, it’s presented as a contested idea … Anzac Day is not a contested idea, apart from an absolute fringe element in our society.

“The word contested itself is used 19 times throughout the curriculum – it’s asking people to, instead of just accepting these for the things which they are, such as Anzac Day, to really challenge them and to contest them.”

Mr Tudge has been a vocal opponent to the proposed curriculum changes – particularly in Year 7 to 10 history – and has also slammed the curriculum’s failure to mention Captain James Cook.

Other changes to the history curriculum include “contested debates about the colonial and settler societies, such as contested terms, including ‘colonisation’, ‘settlement’ and ‘invasion’.”

The final revisions to the Australian curriculum will be provided to education ministers for consideration and endorsement by the end of this year, with an updated version to be available for 2022.




Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Operation 'Varsity Blues' goes to trial: College admissions scandal

Two parents are set to go on trial in the 'Operation Varsity Blues' scheme, which involved wealthy parents paying large sums of money to get their kids admitted into elite universities.

John B. Wilson, 62, and Gamal Aziz, 64, will appear before a jury in the US District Court in Boston Wednesday, two-and-a-half years after the scheme was exposed as a national college admissions scandal.

They are among the 57 parents charged over the scheme but 46, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin made plea deals.

Wilson, who is the founder of Hyannis Port Capital, is accused paying more than $1.7 million to California college admissions consultant William 'Rick' Singer - the criminal mastermind behind the entire scheme.

John B. Wilson, 62, and Gamal Aziz, 64, will appear before a jury in the US District Court in Boston Wednesday, two-and-a-half years after the scheme was exposed as a national college admissions scandal.

He has been charged with filing a false tax return, money laundering conspiracy, and federal programs bribery in relation to the scandal, which came to light in March 2019 following a widespread FBI investigation.

Between 2014 and 2018, Wilson allegedly paid Singer to fraudulently procure admission for his three children to attend the University of Southern California, Stanford, and Harvard universities as athletic recruits.

Wilson, however, has pleaded not guilty to his charges, saying his three children were admitted to the elite colleges on their own merit.

Aziz, the former CEO of Wynn Macau Limited and MGM Resorts International, is accused of shelling out $300,000 to Singer in 2018 in an attempt to get his daughter fraudulently admitted to USC as a basketball recruit.

According to prosecutors, both parents allegedly conspired to commit mail and wire fraud, in addition to committing bribery related to federally funded programs with Singer. Singer then used the payments to bribe college coaches and administrators.

In April, Wilson filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix over their feature-length documentary about the investigation titled 'Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal'. Wilson is mentioned in the film, which also features a re-enactment of his arrest.

Wilson's attorney, Howard Cooper, told Bloomberg his client's inclusion in the documentary gives 'the false and defamatory impression that the Wilsons engaged in conduct to which others have pled guilty such as having a non-athlete child apply to college as an athlete, photo-shopping pictures to fake their athleticism, and having others take college admissions tests for their children.'

It is unclear how much money Wilson is seeking in damages from the streaming service.

Singer, who began cooperating with the government in 2018, secretly began recording calls with the parents who hired him.

He pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of students to colleges as fake athletic recruits.

While it's possible Singer may not testify, prosecutors said they might rely on recordings of his calls with the parents and e-mails they exchanged, according to a filed pretrial memorandum.

Wilson and Aziz are among 57 people charged in the far-reaching college admissions bribery scheme, which also includes 'Desperate Housewives' star Felicity Huffman and 'Full House' star Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli.

Loughlin and her husband admitted to their roles in the scheme last May when they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

Loughlin was sentenced to two months in jail and Giannulli was sentenced to five months behind bars.

Giannulli and Loughlin's plea deals came after months of them insisting they had done no wrong.


Auburn honors 13 US service members killed in Kabul airport attack

The Auburn University football team began its season Saturday by honoring the 13 American service members killed in the Kabul airport attacks.

The school reserved 13 seats for the game and embellished them with military hats and displays of those who died to help rescue American citizens and Afghan allies.

"These men and women sacrificed so much for our country," said Dan Heck, Auburn's assistant athletic director of marketing. "We thought this is the least that we could do to sacrifice and honor those men and women who did so much for our country."

Heck alluded to the "Auburn Creed," which he said inspires a notion of patriotism in the school's students and fans.

"In that creed, it talks about our country and freedom and why that's important," he told Fox News. "And our students — it's something they strive for every day."

"We call it the Auburn family, and the Auburn family really has always come together to support our troops and our military," he continued.


Fairfax teachers win $32.7 million bonus for “extraordinary” at-home work during pandemic

Virginia's largest school district is paying teachers $32.7 million in bonuses for their "extraordinary contributions and sacrifices" during the coronavirus pandemic, which they spent primarily working from home.

Fairfax County Public Schools allocated federal coronavirus relief funds to reward teachers, bus drivers, and other staff, school board member Ricardy Anderson announced Friday. District teachers lobbied successfully to keep schools closed even after it was safe to reopen. Fairfax County did not return to a full in-person schedule during the 2020-2021 school year.

Dee O'Neal, a Fairfax County parent who leads the Open FCPS Coalition, said not all teachers deserve bonuses.

"The union members who pushed to stay home are not deserving of this bonus," O'Neal told the Washington Free Beacon. She said bonuses were appropriate for teachers who pushed to reopen schools and "whose voices were drowned out by the lazy asses who wanted to stay home."

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers was one of many teachers' unions across the country that used the pandemic for personal gain. The group secured a virtual option for all teachers during the 2020-2021 school year and demanded "proactive school closures" as part of its demands to reopen.

Fairfax Education Association president Kimberly Adams said at a January school board meeting that students should receive the coronavirus vaccine before returning to the classroom, though the FDA only approved the Pfizer vaccine for students over the age of 12 in May.

The Fairfax County School Board approved the district's plan to spend the $188.6 million it received in federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds in July. In addition to the onetime bonuses for teachers, the district will use the money to fund coronavirus mitigation strategies and address pandemic-related learning loss. The district will also direct relief funds to increase bus driver wages to $22.91 per hour.




Tuesday, September 07, 2021

VA Dept. of Ed. Uploads Then Deletes Video of Muslim Guest Lecturer Who misrepresented 9/11 events

image from


Recently, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) posted a video to their YouTube account from Amaarah DeCuir, a lecturer at American University. The video, which has since been removed without explanation, not only focused on "culturally responsive and inclusive lessons" to do with 9/11, but stated it was "not going to reproduce what's understood as American exceptionalism."

The video in question was titled "Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration."

Notes from those who have seen the video highlight that there is an attempt to get rid of the idea of Muslim Responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. "We’re not going to reproduce a false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11. We’re just going to begin right there and name that there is no responsibility and therefore we’re not going to use this space to try and untangle this," DeCuir says at one point, as highlighted by Parents Defending Education.

DeCuir tells teachers not to use "terrorist," but rather "name it as an attack caused by extremists." She also tells teachers, "Do not use this day to amplify the extremists themselves and don’t use this day to amplify their acts on 9/11. You name what happened and that’s it," claiming "there’s no need to provide details."

"As teachers, it’s our responsibility to determine the relevant details of 9/11," DeCuir claims. She later says in the video that "Teaching is a Political Act."

The video also advises teachers on how to discuss the aftermath of 9/11, including immigration policies, and to mention Trump's 2017 travel restriction ban.

DeCuir also emphasizes that teachers should "not demand students to stand and condemn 9/11," which she calls "highly inappropriate."

In a slide of the video titled "Webinar In's & Outs," some of those items which are "OUT" include "False assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11" and "U.S. foreign policy analysis" as well as "American exceptionalism."

In a statement, VDOE tried to distance any involvement:

"This webinar was part of a series intended to help teachers create welcoming and affirming classrooms for all students and in this specific case to provide support to Muslim students, who may be subject to bullying around the anniversary of 9/11," Executive Director of Communications Ken Blackstone said. "As stated in the presentation, the speaker made it clear that her views and opinions do not reflect the views and opinions of the VDOE. As such, any statements made in the webinar are not to be attributed to the Virginia Department of Education."

While DeCuir did make such remarks in her opening, the video was uploaded to the VDOE YouTube account before it was taken down. And, as Parents Defending Education noted:

However, earlier this year Virginia Governor Northam announced that she is a member of the state’s Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee. Also, the state education agency’s communications officials posted the video, titled, “Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration,” on the agency’s official YouTube channel, and it features the Virginia Department of Education “EdEquity VA” logo and name on its first slide, with each slide in the presentation carrying the agency’s official logo. The agency is advertising the video as part of its “EdEquity VA” webinar series. In addition, DeCuir thanked Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni for his support. She said she presented him with her recommendations before presenting the remarks to the public.

Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education, and a Virginia resident, blasted the presentation as "hijacking history" and "sanitizing the truth of the 9/11 attack" in a statement to Fox News.

"As an American Muslim parent and journalist who has investigated Islamic terrorism for the past 20 years, it’s offensive, immoral, unethical, manipulative and dangerous," Nomani said. "The Virginia Department of Education is woke-washing the 9/11 attacks. Speaker Amaarah DeCuir instructs teachers to erase the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were motivated by an extremist interpretation of Islam. Decuir advises teachers to talk about ‘extremists’ behind the 9/11 attacks, without identifying them as Muslim extremists or calling them out as ‘terrorists.’ It would be like teaching about the Holocaust without discussing Nazi Germany."

"What’s more," said Nomani, "the Virginia Department of Education is promoting a victim narrative for Muslims by instructing teachers to focus on ‘anti-Muslim racism’ that allegedly sprang out of 9/11. The Virginia Department of Education is taking a page out of the playbook of truth-deniers within the Muslim community who don’t want to own up to the real problem of Muslim extremism, but meanwhile dedicate lessons to ‘white supremacy.’ The Virginia Department of Education is failing students – and America – and needs to immediately remove this irresponsible instruction and apologize for endorsing this dangerous rewriting of history a platform."


The Time for Education Savings Accounts Is Now

When I enrolled my two younger sons in public school, I did so as a matter of convenience. After all, as a taxpaying citizen, I am entitled to services from a system that I and many others pay into — whether we have children or not. But in the wake of rouge COVID protocols enforced on the local and state levels, the education system has become a pain, riddled with inconsistencies in scheduling, school closures, and programs, leaving parents to fill in the gaps on their own.

Last week I learned that my kids would shift from their usual five-day-a-week schedule to having two intermittent off days. Administrators made these decisions with no proof of their viability and without the consultation of parents (to which I believe we should establish a Parent’s Union to fight back against wayward plans like these). Decisions were made for us, but not on our behalf. And with many of us with full-time jobs and rigid schedules to keep things afloat, these inconsistencies are devaluing the education system that was established to serve the family and society as a whole.

To this, I say the time for educational savings accounts is now. I’ve opined on my viewpoints on ESAs before, but never could there be a time more appropriate to access such resources. To summarize the value of ESAs, schools receive state funds for each child in attendance. But since students are barely benefitting from the school system as it stands today, it makes sense to apply a model in which the taxpayer dollars follow the student to an academic institution of their choosing. For some families, this means taking matters into their own hands and adopting a homeschooling program. Others may send a child to a better school in another district. Some could even attend the private school of their dreams.

Additionally, ESAs are the answer to putting the power back into the parents’ hands on either side of the mask mandate debate. I believe in a family’s right to choose, and the funds should rightfully go to the individual or institution that is fulfilling the educational role. And with the number of parents considering and proceeding with a homeschooling program, it would be a disservice to shut these families out of the taxpayer money they’ve already paid into a system that would not serve them due to strict COVID protocols.

If anything, ESAs would make the education system better as schools vie for state funds and use them to improve and attract more families. Historically, free market competition outperforms government oversight by a long shot, and applying this model to public schools across the country will alleviate much of the conflict and confusion that take away from simply offering a great education to the kids who deserve it. If we’re really looking for solutions, why are ESAs not one of them?


Millions of children return to classes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland today amid fears of a similar spike in Covid cases to Scotland

Millions of children returned to school today amid fears it will cause a new spike in covid cases as headteachers and parents revealed they will ignore official guidance on masks and ask their children to wear them.

The row over whether 12 to 15-year-olds should be vaccinated is also dominating the first day of term in much of the UK this morning.

New research revealed today that two in five parents will insist their children wear masks despite them no longer being compulsory in England as it also emerged that nearly half of all state-educated children failed to get the required amount of online learning during lockdowns during the last academic year.

The current Department for Education guidance on masks says: 'No pupil or student should be denied education on the grounds of whether they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.'

But a survey of 1,300 people by the Parent Ping app has found that 23 per cent of parents will send their children to secondary school in masks because headteachers have asked them to - while a further 15 per cent will do the same even though the school isn't insisting on it.

And three-quarters of parents said that their children would be tested weekly - down to 20 per cent for primary school children, according to The Times.

Sir Hamid Patel, chief executive of Star Academies, which runs schools in Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, said: 'We are encouraging staff and pupils to wear face coverings in crowded areas or in places on site.'

BMA chief says 12-year-olds should be allowed to overrule their parents on decision to get a Covid vaccine because they 'have enough maturity' - but admits jabbing teens will only cut infections by 20%
Children should be able to overrule their parents to get the Covid vaccine, a BMA chief has claimed.

Dr David Strain said 12 to 15-year-olds have 'enough maturity' to decide for themselves whether to get the jab.

The co-chair of the medical body added that rolling out doses to the age group could cut the spread of the virus in schools by 20 per cent.

Britain's four chief medical officers are set to announce whether 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered vaccines by Friday, reports Playbook.

Last week the JCVI told the Government to seek advice from elsewhere whether children should be inoculated.

They said the virus posed such a low risk to children that the benefit to their health of immunisation would be marginal. But they did not consider societal factors such as the closure of schools sparked by the virus.

It comes as experts fear England will see a surge in Covid infections within days as children return to school last week and this week.

Parents told MailOnline today they have mixed views on the use of masks in schools - and whether teenagers should get the jab.

Ian Edginton, 58, an author from Erdington, Birmingham, said: 'I agree that all Year 7's should still be wearing masks at schools, especially when moving around corridors and socialising – classrooms too.

'Unfortunately, in my opinion, we are going to have to keep masks in schools until Covid is wiped out completely.

'I had tuberculosis when I was young and my lungs are scarred, I don't know when any children going through the same. Masks have to remain.

'I also agree with this age group having the vaccine, anything that can help eradicate this disease we have to do.

'We have to protect the schools; we can't have problems like we did before the summer holidays. We all know parents and friends from this school and we all need to carry on doing our bit.'

Rajesh Kesavan, 46, from Walmley, Birmingham. said: 'I strongly agree with the continuation of wearing masks in schools. Right now, we have the information that the only way to protect from this pandemic is to wear the masks and continue social distancing.

'The vaccine is showing some positive signs. I had vaccines when I was younger with no side effects and many other children at school have had other vaccines, or will in the future. I can't see why this covid vaccine for this age group would be a problem.

'This could be the way to protect our children. I work in the medical professional as a radiographer so I am around people who have benefitted from various vaccines.

'While I agree children should be vaccinated against covid, whether that be in the not-too-distant future, I also edge of the side of caution about the side effects it can have on children. We need to do our research too.'

Full-time mum, Keely Stevenson was accompanying her autistic son to this first day of Year Seven at Stationers' Crown Woods high school in Eltham, south-east London.

She said she was grateful the school had given parents like her rapid Covid tests for their children to do before returning.

The mum-of-three, 35, from Eltham, said: 'They gave us rapid COVID tests to make sure it was safe for them to go back to school. My son did his and it came back negative and I feel safe enough with that, especially if all the other kids are doing them.

'But there are no masks in school from what I'm aware of. I wear a mask when I need to like when I'm around vulnerable people or when I go into a shop but in general we're not wearing them anymore. It seems to be that way with most people so I'm not too concerned if there's not a lot of mask wearing.

'We've not had a letter offering my son a jab but I don't know if I want him to have one. I do so as to please everyone but I've not even had mine yet. I'm a carer and I've still not had mine. I make sure the kids have their tests regularly and that has worked out well so far.'




Monday, September 06, 2021

Office for Civil Rights Sticks Its Nose Unnecessarily Into School Masks Debate

To our knowledge, not a single state, school district, or individual school has banned students from wearing masks in the classroom.

Yet, the ever-politicized Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education has decided to use the heft of the federal government to investigate states that don’t mandate children to wear masks.

The Office for Civil Rights tries to disguise the word “mandate” by using the term “universal masking” throughout its press release announcing the investigation of five states that have banned mask mandates.

Again, no state has banned “universal” masking; several have prohibited mask mandates. If any or every child in a school chooses to wear a mask, not a single state has ever suggested that’s a problem.

The Office for Civil Rights’ hunt once again expands the force of Washington into local school policy, as it also did under the Obama administration.

The office’s argument is that if schools don’t mandate every child to wear a mask, that could have a disproportionate impact on students with special needs, and as such, violate their federally protected access to Free Appropriate Public Education, as required under federal law.

The Office for Civil Rights will specifically investigate whether bans on mask mandates violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children over the age of 2 wear masks while indoors. Yet, as Heritage Foundation senior fellow Doug Badger recently noted, “The leading study on which the CDC bases this recommendation found that the COVID-19 infection rate in schools requiring students to wear masks ‘was not statistically significant compared with schools where mask use was optional.’” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

Seven states—Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah—have banned mask mandates. The Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating five of them: Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

As conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted, if that is their standard, “ … there is no limiting principle. How about flu? How about common cold? Authoritarian nonsense from the feds.”

Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina responded: “Under South Carolina law, anybody who wants to wear a mask—in a school setting or elsewhere—is free to do so, but the governor isn’t going to ignore a parent’s fundamental right to make health decisions for their children.”

As required by Free Appropriate Public Education, student “504” plans (developed by schools for students with special needs) and individualized education plans must focus on the individual student, requiring public schools to provide appropriate education and modifications, aids, and related services free of charge to students with disabilities.

The “appropriate” component means that such an educational plan must be designed to meet the individual educational needs of the student as determined through appropriate evaluation and placement procedures.

But President Joe Biden’s Department of Education seeks to turn such legal requirements on their head by focusing instead on a modification of group behavior and taking the emphasis off the individual student with a disability altogether.

That makes the department’s investigations nothing more than a partisan power grab—and another way to intimidate local educational associations from educating children as they see fit.

Although there is an argument that states should not overstep local control and decision-making on the part of schools by prohibiting them from mandating masks within their schools, elevating the debate to Washington erodes state education decision-making authority even further.

The mask wars aren’t likely to subside anytime soon, which is why such decisions should be left in the hands of those who know their child’s education and health needs best; namely, parents.

Choice—not federal mandates and investigations—is the answer, something several states have already recognized within the COVID-19 context.

Amid ongoing debates around coronavirus-related mandates, Florida is providing families access to the Hope Scholarship school voucher program if they find their child’s public school mask requirements to be too lax or too rigid.

Arizona recently followed suit, using funding from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan to provide income-eligible families with a $7,000 voucher if their child’s school closes or if they disagree with a school mask mandate. Lawmakers in Tennessee are considering similar options.

The debate over schools’ COVID-19 policies is growing support for school choice among self-identified Democrats as well. A full 79% of respondents to a nationwide poll who had an opinion on the subject supported allowing students to take their education dollars to a private learning option if their public school did not require masks.

As the American Federation for Children’s Corey DeAngelis explained in The Wall Street Journal, “Democrats favored this school-choice proposal more than Republicans, with support at 82% and 78%, respectively. … Democratic voters are now also realizing that uniform school systems won’t always work in their favor.”

Education choice is an answer to the ongoing debates around school closures and coronavirus-related mandates. And as the 2021-22 school year begins, more children than ever have access to school choice options, such as vouchers and education savings accounts.

Eighteen states have expanded school choice options this year, with seven enacting entirely new school choice programs.

The last thing states and school districts need right now are heavy-handed investigations from the U.S. Department of Education.

For their part, state leaders should enable parents to take their money elsewhere if their child’s school doesn’t reopen to in-person instruction, or if they disagree with masking or COVID-19 vaccination policies at their child’s school, finding those policies either too rigid or too lax.

Funding flexibility—having dollars follow children to schools that align with their needs—can help prevent further disruptions in schooling and enable families to find options with which they’re comfortable.


‘It Feels Like the School Board Is Dividing Us,’ Virginia Mom Says

A Virginia suburb 45 minutes west of the nation’s capital has captured national attention because parents and teachers are resisting a school board that has pushed woke ideas such as critical race theory and gender ideology in the classroom.

Shawntel Cooper is one of those Loudoun County parents who decided to take action. In May, a video of Cooper’s lambasting of the Loudoun County School Board over critical race theory went viral.

“I don’t understand how you would not want to ban anything that is this divisive and divides [us from] each other because of color,” Cooper says, adding: “You can’t understand evil.”

Cooper, who is black, joins tells “The Daily Signal Podcast” to talk about her experiences as a Loudoun mom and to offer advice on how other parents across the country can push back against woke school boards.


Another University Disenrolls Students Who Did Not Obtain the COVID-19 Vaccine

As fall classes begin at colleges and universities across the country, many have required returning students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, some schools have gone a step further and disenrolled students who do not get vaccinated.

Most recently, Xavier University of Louisiana, located in New Orleans, disenrolled students who failed to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine prior to the fall semester. As originally reported by FOX 8 WVUE, the university notified students and faculty as far back as April that returning students would have to be vaccinated before attending fall classes. This follows suit with hundreds of other universities that have implemented similar measures.

“To continue our shared commitment to each other, we are requiring that all students receive their Coronavirus vaccines before returning for the Fall 2021 semester. Proof of vaccination will be required for all students planned to attend this fall,” the letter, dated April 8, reads.

“Xavier has been a leader in providing a safe campus for our community to continue to learn while remaining healthy and safe,” the letter continues. “The need to stay the course has never been more necessary. An effective vaccination program will make our community safer for all.”

The letter mentions nothing about unenrolling students who do not get vaccinated. It does mention that students can apply for medical exemption or religious exemption.

A month later, in May, Xavier issued an official mandate requiring all faculty and staff to be vaccinated. “Xavier requires all active employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on or before July 15, 2021,” the policy states. “Those who do not timely establish that they have received the vaccine or have not timely made a request for exemption as detailed in the below section will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence until proof of vaccination is provided.”

While students were given ample time to get the vaccine, those who didn’t were reportedly disenrolled on August 23, the first day of fall classes.

But, while vaccines are mandatory, the university’s COVID-19 updates page states “[e]ven if you are vaccinated, [f]ace masks are mandatory in all spaces on campus.”

Xavier University of Louisiana is not the only university to take these measures toward students who are unvaccinated. As we previously reported, The University of Virginia made headlines last month for disenrolling over 100 students who did not get the vaccine. Since the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) full and final approval of the Pfizer vaccine, perhaps other schools will implement similar measures.




Sunday, September 05, 2021

UK: Teachers are NO more likely than other working age adults to be hospitalised with Covid or suffer a severe infection, study reveals

Teachers are no more likely than other working age adults to be hospitalised with Covid or suffer a severe infection, a study reveals.

The findings should 'reassure' teachers and their families as they return to class at the start of the new school year, researchers say.

The University of Glasgow scientists examined all 132,420 cases of coronavirus in 21 to 65-year-olds in Scotland from March 2020 to July 2021.

Each was compared with a sample of uninfected people of the same age and gender at the infected person's own GP practice.

Analysis revealed school teachers and others in their household were no more likely to be hospitalised with Covid or suffer a severe infection at any point during the last academic year.

This included periods when schools were fully open.

Over the year, the risk of being hospitalised with Covid was less than 1 per cent for teachers, healthcare workers and adults of working age among the general population.

Teachers were 23 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid than other workers after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, general practice and ethnicity.

They were also 44 per cent less likely to suffer severe Covid, meaning serious enough to require admission to intensive care or dying within 28 days of a positive test.

Teachers' odds did worsen when schools were open, rising to the same level as the general working age population - but they were still half that of frontline health staff.

The scale of this rise was smaller in the summer term of 2021 than the autumn term of 2020, which is believed to be due to the success of the vaccine rollout.

The researchers concluded it was not possible to say why teachers are not at higher risk than the average working-age adult.

But they suggest it could be because teachers are generally healthier or take more care to avoid Covid than other occupations.

Ninety-two per cent of elderly adults tested positive for the Covid-fighting proteins in mid-August. This was down from a high of 95 per cent in May, according to results of a major blood-testing study.

Levels have also dipped for adults in their sixties and seventies.

Meanwhile, around eight in 10 young adults in the UK are now likely to have Covid antibodies.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data comes amid calls for Britain to confirm its booster vaccine campaign, which ministers hoped would begin next Monday.

No10's advisers are still dithering over exactly who should be eligible — but a final decision is due imminently.

But MailOnline last week revealed the group is expected to only recommend third shots for people with severely weakened immune systems, which may only include several hundred thousand Britons.

This is despite real-world data which has already showed that vaccine efficacy can wane slightly over time.

US health chiefs last night released figures showing jabs now only cut the risk of hospitalisation by around 75 per cent against the Delta variant, compared to 95 per cent when the shots first became available — but they insisted the ability of vaccines to prevent serious disease was still high overall.

Most teachers were young, with an average age of 42, 80 per cent were women and 84 per cent had no existing conditions.

Writing in The BMJ, Dr David McAllister and colleagues said: 'In our study, most of the teachers were young, were women, and had few comorbidities and so were at low absolute risk of severe Covid and hospital admission with Covid.

'Furthermore, compared with healthcare workers and with other adults of working age who are otherwise similar, teachers showed no increased risk of hospital admission with Covid or severe Covid.

'These findings should reassure most adults engaged in in-person teaching.'

The findings come as education unions have warned that a relaxation of Covid safety measures this term could lead to rising infections in schools.

Schools in Scotland have already returned after the summer break and the reopening is believed to have contributed to a rise in cases north of the border.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 'It is very good news and very reassuring that teachers have been found not to be at greater risk of hospitalisation because of Covid.

'The study cannot determine why this is the case - although the fact that teaching is generally a profession for younger people and a large majority of the profession are female, and that teachers were prompt in being vaccinated, appear to be a significant contributory factor to these positive outcomes.

'Nothing in this study, however, negates the importance of vigilance in suppressing Covid transmission in schools.'

She added: 'The NEU has consistently pointed to the issues of Covid in schools as being mainly about onward community transmission, a position belatedly adopted by the Prime Minister in January when he described schools as vectors of transmission.

'A spike in Covid infection in school-age children will lead to more children and staff missing school and run huge risks of viral transmission into the community where many adults do not share teachers' general youth or good health.

'We do remain concerned about our more vulnerable members, for example those who are registered as clinically extremely vulnerable or third-trimester pregnant women.

'We must ensure greater protection for the many thousands in these categories.

'The NEU calls on school and college leaders to give every reasonable dispensation to ensure those staff can continue to work safely.

'This will certainly help keep down the number of school staff in hospital.'

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: 'While most staff will now have received coronavirus vaccinations, it needs to be remembered that the vast majority of pupils are unvaccinated.

'The Government has decided to make the control measures in the autumn term a great deal less stringent than previously and it will now be very important that it keeps this situation under review.'


Psychiatry professor at UC Irvine sues over college's vax mandate saying previous COVID infection means he's immune

A professor in California is suing the university where he works over a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, saying that he already contracted the virus and is now 'naturally immune' to it.

Aaron Kheriaty, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California Irvine's School of Medicine, filed a lawsuit against the school, saying he caught COVID-19 in July 2020.

The University of California school system announced in July 2021 that all faculty, staff and students MUST be vaccinated against the virus two weeks before fall semester classes start.

'In fighting off the virus, his body created a robust natural immunity to every antigen on the COVID-19 virus, not just the spike protein of the virus as happens with the COVID-19 vaccines,' the lawsuit states.

'Nevertheless, UCI has told Plaintiff that he cannot return to his teaching position unless he receives a COVID-19 vaccine.'

'Thus, UC is treating him differently by refusing to readmit him to campus when other individuals who are considered immune to the virus are being admitted back simply because their immunity was created by a vaccine.'

A recent study from the University of Missouri, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, said while there is a low risk of being re-infected with COVID-19, the stakes are higher for some.

According to the study, 63 people out of 9,119 - less than one percent - with severe COVID-19 symptoms got the virus again, in an average of three and a half months, after testing positive the first time.

Another study led by the University of Kentucky showed that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection against reinfection, than natural immunity.

In a group of 740 people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past, those who were still unvaccinated were more than twice as likely to contract the virus again than people who got double-jabbed.

Although research is ongoing to compare protection from vaccines and natural immunization from infection, experts still strongly advise getting a shot after infection.

'There's nothing deleterious about getting a boost to an immune response that you've had before,' Dr. Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, told The New York Times.

'You could get an actually even better immune response by boosting whatever immunity you had from the first infection by a vaccine.'

In the lawsuit, Kheriaty, who is a medical doctor, claims he is 'already naturally immune to the virus' and 'less likely to infect other individuals than are people who have been vaccinated.'

It labels the vaccine mandate as 'irrational' and says “by targeting people who have had the virus but remain unvaccinated, the mandate unfairly singles out one unpopular group for disparate treatment."


More “Death” is Needed in Higher Ed: Bring on More Creative Destruction

By any rational way of measurement, on average competitive, market disciplined private enterprises are more efficient than our colleges and universities. Federal government data show that productivity per worker rises one or two percent annually over time for private American business, but my guess is that it is rising somewhere around zero for higher education.

Why? Is the higher ed sector populated by less hard working, less intelligent, inferior workers and capital resources? While possible, I think the single most important factor is that competitive private businesses constantly are literally fighting for their life, facing the very real and often present possibility of what Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction,” while universities rarely are “destroyed” or “die.”

The very real threat of the loss of employment and income security forces leaders of private businesses to mightily concentrate on doing a better job—building a better mousetrap (if that is the product made), cutting costs by using new technologies, etc. To be sure, creative destruction has been on the rise somewhat recently in higher education, but is not a real threat for the biggest, most prominent, and what are usually considered “the best” American colleges.

I had my ace student associate Braden Colegrove find the 25 top universities in 2000, using the US News & World Report rankings, as well as the 25 largest corporations, using the Fortune 500 largest corporation rankings. He then found the 2020 listings for each of these. There was widespread death or destruction among the largest companies—firms like Enron and Compaq Computer are long gone, and others like Chrysler have merged into other firms, losing their separate identify. Only eight of the companies that were in the top 25 in 2000 are still there today among the largest corporations. Some 68% of the biggest firms died, merged, or underwent major decline. And some of the survivors are shadows of their former selves. General Motors went bankrupt and, in reorganized form, fell from number one to number 20, but, far worse, its market value today is only one-ninth that of a competitor, Tesla, that did not even exist in 2000. Meanwhile, companies like Amazon, Alphabet (Google), and Apple entered the top 25. Changing tastes, innovations, and managerial abilities lead to constant change and companies battle hard just to stay afloat.

What about the universities? Of the top 25 universities in 2000, 23 were still in the top 25 list in 2020 and the others were also surviving, actually rather well. My guess is that if US News or Forbes or someone else were doing rankings in 1900 or, for that matter, even in 1800, Harvard, Yale and Princeton would have been in the top five, much less 25. With the exception of the Catholic Church and a few other religious or fraternal organizations, are there any other organizations that have endured for hundreds of years?

Why is this the case? Universities, unlike private companies, are not solely reliant on their customers for revenues. State governments, the federal government, private donors, and investments provide varying proportions of university revenues. Yale University, for example, has a $31 billion endowment to serve an institution with 12,000 students—about $2.5 million per student, or $100,000 each year if investments return four percent. Yale could stop collecting tuition or accepting private or public grants and still be an important institution 100 years from now with lots of high paid staff and beautiful buildings.

But is such lavish external support justified? Why should modest income taxpayers who never went to college be forced to provide subsidies to rich schools like Yale (through government research grants and the like)? Is this not perpetuating an credential-determined quasi-aristocracy rather than the American ideal of meritocracy centered around hard work, innovation, and shrewd investment?

Despite public subsidies, there has been a modest rise in college closings. Why? Ultimately the answer is that public university support is declining somewhat, enrollments have fallen, and more Americans question whether colleges deserve special support. As they are increasingly perceived to flout values cherished by most Americans and as the perceived return on a degree becomes more uncertain, decreasing public support will force colleges to face the creative destruction commonplace in the Real World.