Friday, September 24, 2021

End Government’s Monopoly on Education

When every parent has a choice, every student has a chance.

Government schools, usually called public schools, too often have become places of indoctrination instead of learning. Good teachers too often can’t overcome a corrupt system. Former Vice President Mike Pence has an idea on what to do, because, he says, “The last thing America needs is a return to ‘normal’ in our public school classrooms.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was a stress test on public education that revealed fundamental flaws in the system that are deep, lasting, and likely to get worse.

Over the past year, Americans have seen teachers’ unions and education bureaucrats leverage the pandemic to score political victories and extort more money from taxpayers while lobbying to keep schools closed counter to CDC guidance. These efforts needlessly exacerbated and prolonged hardship for millions of students and families.

At the same time, online learning has allowed parents to peek into their child’s virtual classroom, where for the first time, they can see and hear everything their children are being taught. As a result, many parents are now rightly concerned that the primary mission of many public schools is no longer to educate America’s youth but to indoctrinate them with a radical left-wing political ideology.

The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the growing wokeness epidemic, created a perfect storm in America’s classrooms — forcing countless American families to flee in search of shelter elsewhere. The Census Bureau reports that homeschooling has tripled.

Likewise, many private schools have seen enrollment surge to record levels.

These are good changes and a silver lining to a very bad 18 months, Pence says. But there’s a lot more to be done. He proceeds to advocate for “child-centered funding models for education,” which send money with children to the school of their choice. He’s working for this at the advocacy group he founded, Advancing American Freedom.

Child-centered funding of education has never been more critical. During the pandemic shutdowns, wealthy families had the ability to bail out of public schools immediately and enroll in private schools that continued to hold in-person classes. But the vast majority of middle-class families and the working poor were left behind. True school choice can eliminate this gaping inequality in our society.

School choice also allows every family to escape the suffocating political indoctrination that has become all too common in our public schools, where science, history, and even math are increasingly taught through the lens of racial grievance, and children are taught to be ashamed of the color of their skin. School choice stops liberals from using our tax dollars to fill the minds of our nation’s youth with poisonous anti-American lies.

Pence concludes, “Decisions about a child’s education can have lifelong ramifications.” Those decisions should be made by parents.


"Jobs-First" Higher Education Meets Students Where They Are

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported the number of job openings in our country increased to 10.9 million, a record high. At the same time, the U.S. is experiencing a labor shortage of historic proportions. The need to connect Americans to career mobility has never been greater, and yet our country's education and workforce systems have long lacked a true bridge between high school and upward career mobility after graduation, especially for students not immediately attending four-year universities.

As a result, many young adults – especially those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds – are facing an unfortunate dilemma: delay income and amass debt while working toward a traditional college degree, or put off education completely to take a low-paying job with limited chances for advancement.

But there is a way to address these enormous challenges – and now is the time to do so. Our country's government, higher education and business leaders must invest in a "jobs-first" higher education model and the requisite policies needed to ensure residents throughout the country can access it.

A "jobs-first" higher education model positions young adults on a path toward prosperity quickly and affordably. Young adults complete an industry-recognized credential that generates college credit while receiving career training and support that equips them with the professional skills to obtain their job, persist in it, and pursue a plan for ongoing education and career advancement.

In six months and with just a Pell Grant, a young adult anywhere in the country could attain a living-wage job – all while earning college credits that can be stacked into degrees over time.

Early examples of this work exist. In Ohio, Lorain County Community College's Fast-Track program offers short-term certificates that are tuition-free, generate credits that can lead to additional certificates or degrees, and come with a dedicated career coach and connectivity to employers.

Similarly, National Louis University – a nonprofit four-year college based in Chicago – is partnering with my nonprofit organization, Propel America, to blaze an even more ambitious trail, working to develop multiple credential-through-bachelor's degree pathways that offer a viable career ladder for prospective students under one institution's roof. These pathways – with one available now, and two more in 2022 – are not only Pell Grant-eligible, but ensure students have a seamless transition from credential to associate to bachelor's degrees.

To ensure programs like these are readily available to all Americans, we need all relevant stakeholders to take action. The federal government has a significant opportunity to bring about much-needed systemic change through public policy and executive action. Leaders could, for example, increase the Pell Grant amount and ensure Pell funding is flexible for short-term programs; continue to provide state and federal funding to support training and offset the opportunity cost of pursuing education, which includes factors like transportation, technology, food and child care; and create incentives for employers to cover the cost of continued higher education. New stimulus dollars are just one way to provide a solid foundation for these long-term investments.

Higher education leaders, too, must innovate to develop "jobs-first" academic pathways that align to employer needs, allow credits to transfer between institutions and articulate credits into higher degree offerings.

Finally, employers have an opportunity to change the game altogether. A commitment from employers – from the C-suite to human resource departments – to build new and diverse pipelines of historically overlooked talent is the first step. Employers can then get to the core work of reevaluating the competencies needed for their most in-demand, upwardly mobile jobs, shifting toward a skills-based hiring model and investing in creative on-ramps into jobs that include internships, apprenticeships and other project-based capstone activities.

A "jobs-first" higher education model introduces a paradigm shift that can benefit tens of millions of Americans. This is a moment for our policy leaders to work with the business community, forward-thinking institutions and training partners to boldly reimagine higher credentialing and career preparation in a new era.

The nation's economy and an entire generation of young people depend on it.


Education Department Reimburses Florida School Officials Penalized for Defying Mask-Mandate Ban

The U.S. Department of Education has reimbursed several Florida school-board members who were financially penalized by the state government for defying the mask-mandate ban spearheaded by Republican governor Ron DeSantis.

School officials in Alachua County received $147,719 as compensation for the fines imposed by the Florida Department of Education, in a first instance of the Biden administration fulfilling its promise to help school districts counter DeSantis’s executive order with federal funds. Rather than prohibit masks, the governor’s directive leaves the decision to send children to school with masks at the discretion of parents, making the practice optional.

In addition to Alachua, ten other Florida school districts have required that students wear masks on campus, which the DeSantis administration has argued violates state law, therefore potentially warranting punishment.

DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw slammed the U.S. Department of Education’s intervention Thursday.

“Just a couple of months ago, the Biden Administration said that Florida would be violating federal requirements by providing $1,000 bonuses to teachers and principals. Therefore, it’s ironic that the federal government is now using taxpayer funding for education to pay the salaries of elected school board members, who made the decision to violate the law because they don’t believe parents have a right to choose what’s best for their children,” Pushaw told The News Service of Florida.

“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

In August, the Biden administration sent a letter to DeSantis suggesting that any school officials penalized over the state’s ban of mask mandates could be repaid with funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan.

“Any threat by Florida to withhold salaries from superintendents and school board members who are working to protect students and educators (or to levy other financial penalties) can be addressed using ESSER funds at the sole and complete discretion of Florida school districts,” it read.




Thursday, September 23, 2021

Reparations Could Be Coming to This Virginia School District

Loudon County, Virginia, which is already in the news quite a bit over issues with Critical Race Theory (CRT) and transgender pronouns, just made news once again. According to Nathaniel Cline for Loudon Times-Mirror, the Loudon County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed the Joint Board of Supervisors and School Board Committee to study the harm faced by the Black community.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court finding that racial segregation in public schools is illegal when it decided Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the Loudon County school district remained segregated until 1965.

The measure passed 6-3, with Republican Supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) voted against.

Kershner is quoted in Cline's piece as expressing concerns over a lack of a specific action:

Kershner and Letourneau cited questions and concerns with Briskman’s motion, saying the initiative does not define any particular action.

“We don't know all the details, perhaps, but we know there was a history of segregation, there was a history of all sorts of things that occurred in this county, but I would think the discussion we would want to have is about how do we move forward as a society, as a county, as a school system, all those things together [to] address them,” Letourneau said.

“My mind goes to places that are completely unrelated to the school system — economic development, business grants for the disadvantaged; all those sorts of things. But those aren't topics for the Joint School Board,” he said, “And I'm not sure a public hearing, or a Truth and Reconciliation committee is going to get us there.”

Further, Cline reported that Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) has already signed a similar initiative, Executive Order 32. The order, from June 4, 2019, established the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. According to a press release from the governor's office at that time:

The Commission will review the Virginia Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations with the goal of identifying and making recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity. In the case of the Acts of Assembly, discriminatory laws were enacted and in some cases obviated by court rulings, but the words still remain.

And, according to a subsequent press release, from February 2021:

The Commission’s recommendations played a key role in the formation of Governor Northam’s current legislative agenda, which includes proposals to automatically restore the voting rights of people with felony convictions, legalize adult-use marijuana, abolish the death penalty, invest in education infrastructure and early childhood education, expand expungement of previous convictions, and protect the ownership rights of “heirs property.” The Commission’s work also informed many of Governor Northam’s legislative proposals for the August 2020 special session that centered on meaningful police reform and COVID-19 relief.

Governor Northam established the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law in June 2019 and appointed its members in September 2019. The Commission was initially tasked with reviewing the Acts of Assembly, Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations to identify racially discriminatory language still on Virginia’s books and making recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity. The Commission’s interim report, published in December 2019, cited nearly 100 instances of overtly discriminatory language. Working closely with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Governor Northam proposed and secured the unanimous passage of fourteen bills that repealed racist language related to education, housing, transportation, health care, voting, and more. While many of these Acts of Assembly are longer enforced or have been invalidated by subsequent federal and state legislation and court decisions, they had remained enshrined in law.

In June 2020, Governor Northam extended the term and scope of the Commission with the goals of identifying existing state laws and regulations that create or perpetuate racial disparities and developing policies that increase protections for minority and marginalized Virginians. The Commission’s expanded charge underscores the Northam Administration’s ongoing work to remedy historical inequities in areas like education, health care, housing, and criminal justice.


The Commission’s work is slated to continue after the 2021 legislative session, when members will focus their attention on laws and regulations that directly contribute to inequity in economic achievement and stability. The Commission will also use this report as a tool to engage with people across the Commonwealth and gain a deeper understanding of the effects of and solutions to centuries of state-sanctioned racial bias and discrimination in Virginia.

Reporting from Tom Fitzgerald with FOX 5 quotes Supervisor Juli Briskman, who brought up the proposal, as saying the board should remain focused on the issue before them:

On Tuesday night, County Supervisor Juli Briskman will call for a vote on her new initiative for both the county government and public schools to study what she called the harm caused by the county’s discrimination of Black residents, and its impact on Black students.

"The anti-CRT movement is much more about ‘today’ and what we’re teaching today. And my Board member initiative is looking back at potential harm that was because we operated segregated schools illegally against the ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education," Briskman said.


But with tempers having already flared up in Loudoun County in school board meetings, Briskman says she’s not concerned about turned up the heat with a debate on disparities because she start it’s a systemic issue that needs to be dealt with.

"I would just encourage our joint commission or whatever committee to come out of this to just ignore the outside noise because what’s happening in Fairfax and us, has little to do with us and in many ways has to do with ‘message testing’ for the 2022 elections and beyond," she said.

Meanwhile, another school district in Virginia is making headlines for other reasons.

In Stafford County, as FOX 5 also reported, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution that denounces teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT), the 1619 Project, and requiring students to give preferred pronouns as a way to cater to transgender students.


Why a School Staffer Came to Work in Blackface to Protest COVID Vaccine Mandate

Matt Vespa

I'm against a COVID vaccine mandate. I think what Biden did was probably one of the most authoritarian edicts issued in recent memory. Private businesses with more than 100 employees must vaccinate all their workers. OSHA, who can't do its job enforcing workplace safety standards right now, now has the added duty of being infectious diseases police. We have a medical Stasi. President Brain Worm says he welcomes GOP lawsuits.

Now, at the local level, there were vaccine mandates for schools and other places. It's also shocking to see the media's narrative on this collapse within hours. Remember, they want to convince us that MAGA-supporting whites are the reason we're stuck in pandemic mode. Well, it turns out a lot of Democratic Party-supporting voter blocs, like black voters are not getting the shot. There have been huge protests in New York City over the vaccine mandates. Teachers' unions are not all onboard either. Are these people voracious readers of conservative media? No.

And now we have a school staffer in Newberg, Oregon, coming to work in blackface, claiming to be "Rosa Parks" in protest of this ordinance. Look, there are many ways to oppose these mandates—this is not the right way

A staff member at Mabel Rush Elementary School in Newberg showed up to work in Blackface on Friday, calling herself Rosa Parks and doing so in protest of a vaccine mandate for all school district staff.

A fellow staff member at the school who provided initial information on the incident said Lauren Pefferle — a special education assistant who the school district said it would not name due to it being a personnel matter — darkened her face with iodine.

The concerned staff member, who requested anonymity for this story, said Pefferle explained her reasoning: that she intended to look like Rosa Parks and have her actions serve as a protest of a vaccine mandate. Pefferle was soon removed from school grounds and placed on administrative leave, according to a district statement.

"Last Friday, one of our employees reported for work in Blackface," district's statement said. "The employee was removed from the location and (human resources) has placed the employee on administrative leave. The administration of Newberg Public Schools condemns all expressions of racism.

"It is important to remember how Blackface has been used to misrepresent Black communities and do harm. We acknowledge the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention.

This is just embarrassing. What is it with Left Coast whites being so racist? They called black cops the n-word during the summer riots of 2020. And now, doing blackface to protest vaccine mandates? This isn’t the way, but I won't stop white liberals and their moronic antics.


Ohio: Mayor’s Ultimatum to School Board: Resign, or Face Charges

Stories like this are disturbing enough when they happen in the Democrat domiciles of New York, Illinois, or California, but this happened in America’s heartland. The Buckeye State is known for having some of the top school districts and best-trained teachers in the nation. And yet, this story out of the town of Hudson, Ohio, just goes to show how deeply corrupt the public education system has become.

Hudson Mayor Craig Shubert confronted his errant school board on September 13 with the statement: “It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom. I’ve spoken to a judge this evening and she’s already confirmed that. So I’m going to give you a simple choice: Either choose to resign from this board of education, or you will be charged.” This was met with enthusiastic applause from parents in the audience.

These are pretty serious charges and are based on several instances of “grooming” happening at Hudson High School. The most egregious is a writing prompt book used by a college-level class. The book, 642 Things to Write About, has several explicit prompts such as “write an X-rated Disney scenario,” “write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom,” and “describe your favorite part of a man’s body using only verbs.”

One of the students who was interviewed about this book stated that she found this salacious material within a few minutes of looking though the book. It was pervasive enough that a cursory examination would have exposed this trash for what it was. Students were also not allowed to bring this book home, so their parents weren’t able to see firsthand what was in it — which indicates that the educator was fully aware of how bad it was and wanted no pushback.

Just think of how many adults this book had to get past before it landed in the hands of these kids. It had to be viewed and approved by the teacher, department colleagues, the school administration, and the school board. This book had been used for six years and is only now being called into the light. It is the failing in judgment by several layers of accountability. High school students are minors, and this material is asking these impressionable adolescents to engage in their own sexualization. It is sick.

A local police officer who attended the meeting demanded more accountability from teachers and a way to prosecute them with video evidence when they display this child-sex-grooming behavior. His reasoning is that if police officers have to wear body cams, then classrooms should have cameras so that law enforcement and parents have a viable means of proof of what is being taught in their children’s classrooms. While this sentiment is understandable, it may be a bridge too far. It is rife with the potential for misuse and overreach by governing bodies. There has to be a balance between accountability and allowing good teachers to do what they do best.

To be fair, perhaps a few of these writing prompts could be used for good purposes. Here’s a link of a hundred PG-13-rated prompts taken from the book. However, even in those 100 prompts, some still could be interpreted in a perverted way.

In other words, even if teachers are being discrete — i.e., not giving out this book to students but still using some of the prompts — they could still run into trouble if they’re not careful. The most responsible solution is: Don’t use this book. There are better resources out there, and even if there weren’t, teachers can always make their own.

This school board exhibited criminally poor judgement because it allowed schools to engage in this malpractice. Everyone in the chain of command holds some measure of responsibility. All those who allowed this book to be used as an “educational resource” should be charged and prosecuted.

As of this writing, the school board is not going to resign, according to the school board’s president, David Zuro. So in typical leftist behavior, they won’t take responsibility.

If you are a parent with children in the public school, these are the types of issues that your children will likely face in their classes. If it can happen in Hudson, Ohio, it can happen in your child’s school as well. Ask your teens about what they are doing and learning so that you can help stand up for them should the situation arise.




Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Post-COVID Classical-Education Boom

As students return to school this fall, classical education is experiencing an historic boom. The classical-education model has a tradition — steeped in the great books, the liberal arts, and the natural sciences — that extends back millennia. The appeal is obvious, even if it had, until recently, lain somewhat dormant. So why the sudden resurgence? Simple: It is an unexpected outcome of COVID-19’s disruption of the American education system.

When COVID hit, many schools and teachers pivoted quickly to remote learning and worked to move their curricula online. While students and teachers may have been focused on frustrating technology and scheduling, many parents were getting an insider’s look at their children’s classroom experience. And, too often, they didn’t like what they saw: declining standards and hollowed-out curricula, devoid of meaningful content.

Remote learning exposed the reality of American education: that too many students are being left uneducated and unprepared for college or the workplace. Many parents knew that problems with education existed before the pandemic. But the time spent at home revealed the gravity of the situation. Moreover, in 2021, some school districts began eliminating graduation requirements altogether. Oregon governor Kate Brown signed legislation in July suspending math and reading requirements. The governor’s office did not mince words on the rationale, explaining that suspending these standards would aid “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

But mathematics, reading, and writing are human skills that anyone who is well-taught can learn. Lowering the bar — or simply removing the bar altogether — does a disservice to students and their communities. Unfortunate developments such as this make it clear why parents have become desperate for alternatives. Many have found one in classical education, which has always sought to cultivate wisdom, virtue, and eloquence.

Supply is growing — but, in many cases, demand is outstripping it. At the 30 Great Hearts Academies — the largest public provider of K–12 classical education — there were over 13,000 students on the wait list in 2020. That means every single Great Hearts Academy had to turn away an average of more than 430 students. Other institutions are stepping up as well. Hillsdale College, a classical liberal-arts college, promotes the founding of classical charter schools around the nation. This year, the K–12 Education Office welcomed three more classical schools in Wisconsin, Florida, and Georgia, to its existing 20.

Similarly, Classical Academic Press, which provides classical-education curricula, has experienced an 82 percent increase in requests for its materials since 2019. Our own online school, Schol√® Academy, has experienced a 155 percent growth in enrollments since the 2019–20 school year. Both are strong indicators that families are turning to classical learning for at least part of their students’ education.

Demand for classical education is particularly notable among African Americans. In August, a study by the RAND Corporation found that 18 percent of African-American families were uncertain about sending their children back to public schools this fall — compared with just 6 percent of white families. This hesitancy stems in part from pre-pandemic concerns about safety, transportation, and lack of learning. But the pandemic put those problems into sharp relief. And the number of African Americans choosing to homeschool grew from 3 percent to 16 percent. Many of them are choosing classical learning.

Urban classical schools (such as Hope Academy in Minneapolis and The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis) that enroll higher numbers of African Americans and students of color are on the rise. And African-American educators are sharpening their knowledge in this area. ClassicalU’s course “The Black Intellectual Tradition and the Great Conversation,” which one of us, Anika Prather, is co-teaching with Angel Parham of the University of Virginia, has seen rapid enrollment.

We shouldn’t find this surprising. Black history is intertwined with the classics. It is impossible to understand great champions of human dignity and freedom such as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr. without reading Exodus, Aristotle, Luther, and Shakespeare. African Americans are not isolated. Their experience is part of a broader conversation that spans millennia — an expansive history of adversity and triumph, trial and redemption. It’s only when the black experience is viewed as part of the “great conversation” that we can see subjugation as a dark episode to address, but far from the definition of black existence.


UK Schools use 'test-to-stay' protocols to keep students in classrooms

Some school districts are now utilizing frequent COVID-19 tests to allow children to continue attending class in-person, even when they have been in contact with someone who was infected with the coronavirus.

The protocol is often called 'test to stay,' in which students take a Covid test every day for a week.

So long as the test is negative, they're allowed to come into the school building and attend classes.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not yet endorsed this strategy, the agency does recommend that schools use Covid tests to identify cases and control outbreaks.

'Test to stay,' along with other strategies like rapid tests and pool testing, signify that a safe school reopening may be possible even when case numbers are high in the surrounding community.

Since the fall 2021 school semester started in New York City on September 13, more than 500 K-12 classrooms have closed due to a Covid case.

The city - home of the nation's largest school district - has seen a total of 562 closures, as of September 20 while an additional 441 classrooms have been partially closed.

The closures have sent thousands of students into quarantine.

In many cases, these NYC students returned to classrooms for the first time since March 2020 - only to be sent home again, almost immediately.

To cut down on these closures, city leaders announced Monday that students will no longer need to quarantine following a Covid case in their classrooms, if they remain masked and follow three-feet distancing guidelines all day.

At the same time, the city is increasing school Covid testing from every other week to every week.

While the quarantine change follows CDC guidance for schools, parents and teachers have criticized it - saying that proper masking and distancing is difficult in often-overcrowded classrooms.

NYC may be able to learn from districts in other parts of the country that are implementing a strategy called 'test to stay.'

In this protocol, students are allowed to continue attending school in-person after they're identified as a close contact of a Covid-positive child - if they follow a strict testing regimen.

The regimen: a negative Covid test once a day, every day for a week. Students also must remain symptom-free to attend school.

One Georgia school district, profiled by the New York Times, pivoted to utilizing this strategy after more than 1,000 students had to quarantine in early August, 2021.

Districts in other parts of the county, such as Ohio and Utah, are making similar pivots, according to The Times.

'The philosophy of this is how can we keep healthy kids in school and sick kids at home?' said Isaac Seevers, the superintendent of Lebanon City Schools, one of the Ohio districts that is developing a test-to-stay program

'I think there's some real optimism that this is a game-changer for how we learn to live with Covid.'

The CDC does not currently recommend that schools follow a 'test to stay' strategy, because the agency says there's currently insufficient evidence to evaluate the approach's success.

'However, we are working with multiple jurisdictions who have chosen to use these approaches to gather more information,' the agency said in a statement to The Times.


An Educational Charity That Changes Lives

Teachers unions and education bureaucrats say, "We need more money!"

But America already spends a fortune on public schools.

My town, New York City, spends $28,000 per student -- half-a-million dollars per classroom! Think about what you could do with that money: Hire five teachers? Pay for private tutors?

Where does the $28,000 go? No one really knows. When governments run things, money vanishes into bureaucracy. NYC spends $3 million per year on "executive superintendents" and $10 million on consultants.

Some charter schools offer better educations for less. But NYC politicians limit the number of charter schools. As a result, 48,000 kids wait on waitlists.

Fortunately, some charities have stepped in to help.

My video this week features Student Sponsor Partners, or SSP, a nonprofit that helps low-income students go to Catholic schools.

Jeniffer Gutierrez, a parent in the Bronx, was ecstatic to get SSP's acceptance letter. "I cried so hard when I received that letter because I knew it was an opportunity for my son. ... High schools in the Bronx are violent. There's no discipline. There's no education."

Her son Tyler didn't feel safe in public school. "One of my best friends was shot and killed right next to me," he recalls.

Many Catholic schools, even though they spend much less per student than government-run schools, do better. SSP sent Tyler to Cardinal Hayes High School, where, says Gutierrez, teachers helped her son "excel in life."

Tyler now attends St. John's University on scholarship. He and thousands of other SSP students are on a path to success.

That's why I support SSP. I'm not Catholic, but I've paid Catholic school tuition for dozens of kids and personally mentored five.

That mentoring makes SSP different. SSP assigns an adult to every student. Often these relationships continue after students graduate.

Jorge Aguilar says his mentor "planted seeds in my brain that I could do big things in life." Aguilar then became the first person in his family to go to college. Now he's a doctor.

"SSP helped me break the chain of poverty," he says.

Eighty-five percent of SSP kids graduate high school, twice as many as their public school peers. Most are accepted by colleges.

All this happened because decades ago, philanthropist Peter Flanigan wanted to give parents an alternative to government schools. He hoped that would help at-risk teenagers escape poverty.

He started SSP. One of the first kids he helped was Debra Vizzi.

"I had been homeless," she tells me. "I left an abusive foster home and was sort of hopping around from shelter to shelter."

She met Flanigan at a soup kitchen. He told her he'd pay for her to attend Cathedral High School.

"I was suspicious, especially as a kid on the street, but he was legit," Vizzi laughs. "He paid $350 for me to go to one of the best high schools in New York City."

Flannigan's mentorship gave Vizzi more than a better education. "He helped me trust men, believe in people, helped me have a future. Even helped me become a mother later ... something that I hadn't had."

Vizzi is now executive director of SSP.

"If you would have told me when I was 12 years old, I would run this organization, I would have said you were crazy."

This year, SSP has a thousand students attending different private high schools.




Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Family-Style US Constitution Course for Kids: ‘Parents Shouldn’t Rely on Schools to Do This’

A U.S. Constitution and government course for children that has been in the making for over two years was released Sept. 13 by homeschool curriculum company The Good and the Beautiful (TGATB).

The family-style course, titled “US Constitution and Government,” has been created as an open-and-go resource for 4th–8th graders, is suitable for parents to teach on weekends or school breaks, and its timing couldn’t be more relevant, say the curriculum developers.

“[The course] is ready at a time when the founding of our country is being undermined, socialism and communism are openly and unashamedly promoted, and freedom seems to be on the decline,” Heather Hawkins, a lead writer and researcher for the course, told The Epoch Times.

There is not only a dire need to teach our children constitutional principles, but an urgency as well … They are not taught that our natural rights come from our Creator and that individual liberties are what drive a creative, innovative, and compassionate society.

TGATB founder and owner Jenny Phillips believes it is a parent’s responsibility and privilege to teach their children “the amazing story” of the founding of the United States and wants children everywhere to understand “the principles of freedom that have guided this country and made it a light to all the world.”

“Parents shouldn’t rely on schools to do this,” she said.

“With so much misinformation being spread in our world today, we focused on creating a course based on source documents and accurate information,” said Phillips, who employed a large team of writers, expert reviewers and fact-checkers, editors, illustrators, and designers to develop the “groundbreaking” curriculum, now available as a history course set on the company’s website.

The full course set consists of a 32-lesson full-color course book—which explains the text and context of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and all 27 Amendments—short inspirational audio biographies of the Founding Fathers and Mothers, a student journal, and an adventure story, “Mystery on Constitution Island,” written just for the course.

Teaching the ‘Legacy of Freedom’

Though there are existing U.S. government courses written for high schoolers in the homeschool curriculum arena, Hawkins, of TGATB’s Curriculum Development Team, says there’s been a big hole in the market for courses aimed at the middle grades, yet a “proper understanding of the role of government” by this age group is necessary for the safeguarding of freedom and human rights.

“Children in public schools today are often not taught about the legacy of freedom that our founding documents have,” Hawkins said. “They are not taught that our natural rights come from our Creator and that individual liberties are what drive a creative, innovative, and compassionate society that can impart good all around the world.”

The course teaches children not just to know the liberties that “Nature and Nature’s God” has given them, Hawkins said, but to appreciate and to love them. “The continuation of freedom and human rights depends on our recognizing the proper relationship between us and God and between us and government,” she added.

“If people believe they receive their rights from the government, then they will look to the government for all of their needs. If people read and study the founding documents, they will very quickly realize that the prevailing view of government for much of our country’s existence was that our natural rights come from God and the government’s role is to protect those rights.”


Free College? Who Needs the Feds? Markets Will Provide

In their flurry to produce trillions of dollars of new “infrastructure” and “stimulus” for taxpayers, progressive politicians have put prominent emphasis on “free college.” Joe Biden promised free two years of community college, while Bernie Sanders and others want to provide four years tuition free. Congress is wrestling mightily with this and other entitlement issues in the coming days and weeks.

Yet behind the scenes and quietly, many of America’s leading companies are moving to provide essentially free college opportunities for millions of Americans: their employees. Wal-Mart, which has had an extremely low cost program for employees in a few majors at a small number of colleges, is expanding the number of majors and schools, and is dropping a one dollar per day charge to the employee-student.

Not to be outdone, Amazon is enthusiastically jumping onto the “free college for employees” bandwagon. Some 750,000 workers who have been employed for at least 90 days are eligible to participate in studying subjects like IT engineering or data center technology. Many other iconic American corporations have joined the movement, such as Target, Chipotle, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.

Are American companies suddenly becoming altruistic, wanting to do something special to advance the public good? Not really. They are responding to incredibly tight labor markets. There are record numbers of vacant jobs open—far more than the number unemployed. Big firms like Wal-Mart and Amazon are desperate for dependable workers. They have been raising wages considerably and upping fringe benefits. Since many of the potential new workers are young individuals without college degrees, the offer of “free college” is enticing. Markets are working as they almost always do, reallocating resources to where society says they are needed. The invisible hand of the market is accomplishing much of what D.C. politicians are haggling about, probably quicker and more efficiently.

To be sure, working at Wal-Mart or Amazon won’t get you a free college education at a spiffy private school, studying something academically trendy but vocationally nearly useless, such as gender studies. There are three things in common with many of these company sponsored programs: they are generally on-line (remote instruction), often limited to certain majors that the company wants employees to have, and they are limited to a modest number of respectable but not superlative schools.

There is something paradoxical about all of this. The same tight labor market is leading companies to reduce educational requirements in order to widen the pool of applicants. Some major high tech companies no longer formally require degrees. A computer nerd who dropped out of college but who is a whiz at programming now can potentially get a good, high paying job at some prominent firms. Yet at the same time, other companies (and maybe even the same company) are saying “we will pay you to get a college degree.” Or, perhaps coming soon, “we will pay your tuition at a non-degree coding academy if you agree to work for us for two years after getting your coding certificate.”

The real story here: “credentials still matter.” Companies are desperate for workers, so they are forced to pay less attention to degrees, and for unskilled workers at companies like Amazon they will dangle a potential credential (college degree) in front of them in order to entice them to keep working. At the same time, however, more and more Americans are disillusioned by college—a decade of declining enrollments, exacerbated by the pandemic shows Americans are questioning the value proposition of a college degree.

Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C., Democrats may soon face a realization that they might be able to get a $1.5 trillion dollar program through Congress but not one over twice that large. What to cut out to get to the lower figure? My guess is some new entitlements (child care allowances, family leave, etc.) get pared back, but also generous “free college” provisions as well. The corporate provision of college tuition fringe benefits might provide a rationale for mainstream Democrats to give way on free tuition or, for the most progressive ones, to demand that companies be required to provide tuition benefits for full time employees. But right now, markets are working to provide that benefit anyway.


Maspeth HS diplomas ‘not worth the paper’ they’re printed on

Says The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the NYC Schools District

Maspeth High School created fake classes, awarded bogus credits, and fixed grades to push students to graduate — “even if the diploma was not worth the paper on which it was printed,” an explosive investigative report charges.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir demanded that teachers pass students no matter how little they learned, says the 32-page report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, Anastasia Coleman.

“I don’t care if a kid shows up at 7:44 and you dismiss at 7:45 — it’s your job to give that kid credit,” the principal is quoted as telling a teacher.

Abdul-Mutakabbir told the teacher he would give the lagging student a diploma “not worth the paper on which it was printed” and let him “have fun working at Taco Bell,” the report says.

The teacher “felt threatened and changed each student’s failing grade to a passing one.”

The SCI report confirms a series of Post exposes in 2019 describing a culture of cheating in which students could skip classes and do little or no work, but still pass.

Kids nicknamed the no-fail rule “the Maspeth Minimum.”

Chancellor Meisha Porter, who received the SCI report on June 4, removed Abdul-Mutakabbir from the 1,200-student school and city payroll in July pending a termination hearing set for next month.

But she left Maspeth assistant principals Stefan Singh and Jesse Pachter — the principal’s chief lieutenants — on the job.

Singh and Pachter executed the principal’s orders, informants said, and helped create classes to grant credits to students who didn’t have to show up — because the classes weren’t even held, according to the report.

Abdul-Mutakabbir, Singh and Pachter all refused to answer questions by investigators, citing a right to remain silent, SCI says.

In addition, three teachers in the principal’s “clique” – a favored few who followed orders and got lucrative overtime assignments — also remain.

One of them, Danny Sepulveda, a wrestling coach, was caught on video slamming a skinny young teen onto a floor mat and putting him into a headlock. Witnesses called it bullying. SCI called it “aggressive” and dangerous.

In addition, Sepulveda “likely provided answers to students while proctoring a Regents exam,” the report says.

SCI obtained messages from a teacher to Sepulveda about a girl who did little in class but scored high on the test. “Giving that many answers to her was outrageous,” the teacher texted.

Sepulveda defended helping kids pass the exams, which were required to graduate. “She was smart enough to realize what was happening and took advantage lol. No other kid in that room got that many.”

Among a raft of other wrongdoing, SCI found the school did not properly voucher drugs and weapons in what whistleblowers called a contraband cover-up.

“This is more like an organized crime ring than a school administration,” said City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens).

Holden first met with a group of fed-up Maspeth teachers — some who had left rather than be complicit in the corruption — in the summer of 2019. The whistleblowers turned over stacks of evidence.

But under Mayor de Blasio and ex-Chancellor Richard Carranza, the city Department of Education’s own investigation — a report it’s withholding — as well as SCI’s took two years while Abdul-Mutakabbir, Singh and Pachter continued to run the school.

Holden is outraged by the official foot-dragging. “If somebody refuses to be interviewed by an investigative body, they should be suspended immediately,” he said.

Among the SCI’s findings of academic fraud:

Maspeth enrolled students in numerous classes scheduled during “zero (before school), eighth, ninth and tenth periods — all of which were not actual class times.

Students on the rosters “did not actually attend any classes or submit any work.”

Singh set up 9th-period classes for about 20 juniors and 15 to 20 seniors in English, government and economics worth a total of four credits. The kids checked in but rarely met.

Maspeth repeatedly sought to have troubled students with attendance, behavioral or academic issues graduate early — sometimes as soon as the end of their junior year — “to get them out.”

Thomas Creighton, who spoke to investigators, told The Post he spent 11th and 12th grades drunk or stoned, rarely attended classes and did no homework his senior year. Finally, the school gave him “a few worksheets” to complete in a week. He had a pal fill them in, and received a diploma six months early.

Upset about his quick dismissal, Creighton’s parents asked to see his classwork. The school had nothing to show, but insisted he had earned a passing 65 in all classes.

“I was looking for some school authority to push back and let him know that there were consequences to his actions,” said his mother, Annmarie. “But nothing happened.”

Another student told SCI that Pachter or Sepulveda said it was too late to join a government class, and was put in a different one. A week later, the teen was told “there was no need for him to stay and he could complete his assignments at home.” The boy felt he was “probably pushed out” after being accused of selling drugs in school. He was offered an early diploma.

A girl said she was told to report to the office for one period a week to fulfill a class requirement.

Another girl said she was told “it was fine” if she didn’t come to class: “I kind of got princess treatment there.” She received “a list of assignments with little structure and no deadlines.”

In other cases, Sepulveda told colleagues that several students “cut a deal” with Singh and Pachter to come to school once a month to pick up “a packet of work.” The students were all chronically absent, yet graduated in summer 2019.

Pachter handed one staffer a list of problem students at risk of not graduating, asking to ensure they got enough credits “so they would no longer have to be dealt with.”

The DOE’s own Office of Special Investigations conducted a separate probe of Maspeth, but refused to release its report pending a termination hearing for Abdul-Mutakabbir set for next month.

“We did not hesitate to take action at Maspeth High School as soon as the SCI report was completed. Our schools must uphold the highest ethical standards, and we’re taking action against any employee found to have engaged in misconduct,” DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon said.




Monday, September 20, 2021

Scandal-hit Virginia school board faces calls to ditch member for 'woke-washing' 9/11

A scandal hit Virginia school board is now facing calls to ditch a member who claimed a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the terror attacks would cause harm to minorities who faced persecution as a result of the terror attack.

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks members of the Fairfax County School Board entertained a resolution for a moment of silence. It was intended to honor the first responders who risked their lives to save countless lives, as well as the the nearly 3,000 victims who died and those who were injured as a result of the terrorist attacks carried out that day.

But outspoken board member Abrar Omeish, who has previously sparked outrage for alleged anti-Semitic comments and encouraging high schoolers to remember 'jihad', voted against the resolution, saying it was not 'anti-racist' and failed to address 'state-sponsored traumas.'

'I vote against this today, because our omission of these realities causes harm. We're levitating a traumatic event without sufficient cultural competence,' she said.

'The token phrasing around 9/11 is 'Never Forget.' As a nation we remember a jarring event, no doubt, but we chose to forget, as this resolution does, the fear, the ostracization, and the collective blame felt by Arab Americans, American Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus and all brown or other individuals that have been mistaken for Muslims since that day over the past two decades.' she added.

'Why are we forgetting the experience of these families, their traumas?' Omeish asked.

She later added: 'I hope we can include these components in our broader anti-racist, [and] anti-bias work.

He speech saw a rebuke issued by fellow board member Dr Ricardy Anderson, who accused Omeish of trying to derail a motion that had previously been discussed.

And while Omeish voted against the motion, it was ultimately passed thanks to votes from all other members of the board.

It also sparked fury with a parent in attendance.

'I'd expect that no parent can speak up to this, we are restricted about how..' she said before she was interrupted by board member Stella Pekarsky who asked her to 'please sit down and stay quiet.'

Omeish's comments even led to a call from a local paper to censure and remove her from the school board.

'As Fairfax County School Board Members, you must immediately issue a public statement separating yourselves from the hateful and callous rhetoric of your colleague and hold Ms. Omeish accountable for her words and actions, once and for all,' the Fairfax County Times said in an op-ed.

On Saturday, it emerged that 16 local education groups have also signed a letter addressed to the paper calling on Omeish to quit.

Omeish, who is the sole Muslim member on the Virginia school board, is no stranger to controversy.

This summer she called on graduating high school students to remember 'jihad' at their commencement as she warned they were entering a world of, 'racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, [and] white supremacy.'

In English, she told them that: 'The world sees the accolade, the diploma, the fruit of all your years yet be reminded of the detail of your struggle.'

But when she repeated the speech in Arabic, she told students to remember their 'jihad' - a word meaning both 'struggle' and, specifically, holy war waged on behalf of Islam.

Omeish, who was 24 when she won her place on the board in November 2019, making her one of Virginia's youngest elected officials, has touted various progressive initiatives at the school.

She has promoted a Black History Month assembly that ensured, she said, 'that we confront our history and answer honestly about the ills of our past.'

Others included the school's first-time recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, and the school's Equity Club, which she said had become a standard in the Fairfax School District.

Fairfax itself has hit the headlines amid clashes over the teaching of critical race theory, with parents including Nomani also claiming that the school is dumbing down its curriculum in a bit to achieve equity - equality of outcomes - for student


96 Percent of Kentucky School Boards Vote to Retain Mask Mandates

The vast majority of Kentucky school boards voted in favor of maintaining masks requirements in schools, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Out of the state's 171 public school districts, 165, or 96 percent, announced that mask requirements will be enforced.

Kentucky's school mask mandate expires Friday under recently-enacted legislation, which was passed earlier this month during a special legislative session.

Senate Bill 1, which became law Sept. 9, reversed the Kentucky Board of Education’s mask requirement for public schools, instead leaving the decision on mask mandates up to individual districts. The bill also bars the state from implementing mask mandates in schools until June 2023.

The GOP-controlled legislature voted to pass the bill earlier this month before Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vetoed the aspects that prevented mask mandates. However, the veto was quickly overridden after a vote from the legislature. The part of the bill that eliminates the statewide mask mandate took effect Friday, according to the Kentucky School Board Association's website.

This comes as the governor reported 5,133 new COVID-19 cases and 45 new deaths in the state on Friday.

He also said that 24 children are in the hospital with the coronavirus.


Endless: More Universities Impose Ludicrous COVID Restrictions on Vaccinated Students

We told you a few weeks ago about a battle at Amherst College over heavy-handed, anti-science restrictions imposed on a nearly universally-vaccinated community. Among other things, the school closed dining halls and severely limited students' freedom of movement, including going into town. Mask mandates remained in place for all, regardless of vaccination status.

We noted that Duke University also decided to force vaccinated members of its community to wear masks, even at outdoor events. Duke appears to have relaxed their rules a bit, but not much, while the status quo at Amherst is unclear (the administration had pledged to start phasing out certain components of their lockdown this week).

Other institutions of higher learning are evidently getting in on the action, including a host of prestigious schools. Here's Cornell's COVID dashboard, informing students that things are going well, with cases in the 'green zone,' but they still must wear masks, even if vaccinated -- and the microscopic percentage of unvaccinated students should also mask up outdoors in some circumstances, despite overwhelming data showing outdoor transmission to be virtually nonexistent:

This Ivy League school literally calls its policy the "new normal," which is disturbing. This is not science, and it's not a reasonable or sustainable endgame. Demanding indefinite masking for fully-vaccinated young people, who were already overwhelmingly unlikely to suffer serious COVID cases or death, is lunacy. It's elite neurosis and COVID 'safety' theater run amok. Let's check in at Georgetown:

No water drinking. This is just nuts, as are school districts evidently paying money for elaborate and useless safety theater measures like this. Of course a powerful Democratic union is in on this embarrassing scheme:

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, who has written extensively about the absurdity of institutions clinging to anti-scientific practices even after they've been exposed as pointless, snarks: "There is no question that if COVID were transmitted via cobwebs on the ceiling, this would be an amazing way to fight the virus."

Meanwhile, as New York State reinstates a universal mask requirement that includes two-year-olds (for crying out loud), a mother is alleging that she and her son were kicked off an American Airlines flight because she couldn't keep a mask on the young boy -- who is asthmatic and was struggling to breathe. He's two:

The mother of an asthmatic two-year-old has slammed the “truly evil, power-tripping” attendant who removed her family from an American Airlines flight over mask compliance. Amanda Pendarvis and her young son, Waylon, were travelling from Dallas to Colorado on Monday when the flight attendant noticed the child was having trouble keeping his mask on. “He got on the intercom and to say to the entire plane, ‘I’m sorry for the delay but we are dealing with a non-compliant traveller,” Ms Pendarvis said of the encounter. “I was not refusing a mask, nor did I even say I wouldn’t try to keep a mask on my son. We were escorted off the plane as I was holding a mask over his little face. I genuinely don’t have words.”

Absolute, anti-science, officious madness. I'll leave you with this:

She's unmasked indoors, then emerges in a 'tax the rich' dress (worn to a veritable festival of wealth, which serves as a massive tax write-off for extremely wealthy people), with her gown being held up by the masked help. Play the videos of AOC, and the masked asthmatic toddler getting booted of a flight, back to back, then ask yourself what the hell we're doing as a society




Sunday, September 19, 2021

UK: SAS needs more privately educated officers amid influx of working-class recruits because public schools instil the leadership skills required, soldiers say

When your job involves abseiling out of helicopters, kicking down doors and taking out the bad guys, you might be forgiven for thinking that it doesn't really matter what school you went to.

But the SAS is getting worried that not enough posh officers are applying to command its high-stakes operations.

The elite regiment has typically been led by former public schoolboys whose privileged education is said to instil the leadership skills and poise required.

But increasingly working-class officers are applying to command the crack troops, to the chagrin of some soldiers.

'The typical SAS officer is confident, relaxed, bright and unflappable,' said one of the regiment's warrant officers.

'Many of the most successful officers have been to the top public schools, but recently we have seen a number of guys coming forward who just don't cut it. It's a shame, but they are just not posh enough.

'The bottom line is that the officers shouldn't be speaking like soldiers. We don't want officers who are shouters or know-it-alls.'

His comments might invite accusations of snobbery, but The Mail on Sunday understands that one officer recently failed the SAS selection process because it was felt he 'lacked the sophistication' to be able to brief Cabinet Ministers on operations.

Those applying to be SAS officers must brief a room of special forces soldiers on a potential mission and are challenged about their planning and leadership skills by invigilators.

Former officers of the SAS include General Mark Carleton-Smith, the head of the Army, and Major Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former Private Secretary to Princes William and Harry, who one source described as 'the archetypal SAS officer'.

Both were educated at Eton, while other recent commanding officers attended Winchester and Harrow.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on special forces recruitment, but said they sought the 'best talent from the broadest diversity of thought, skills and background'.


'Inclusion': History Teacher Hangs 'F*** the Police' Poster, Palestinian Flag in Classroom

When students at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, California, returned to class this fall, one teacher's woke decor went beyond the typical liberal bias that's become commonplace in public schools.

Photos sent by a concerned parent to national grassroots group Parents Defending Education show one wall covered with hanging LGBTQIA+, Palestine, Transgender, and Black Lives Matter flags while an American flag can be seen tossed over a piece of furniture in the corner.

Another photo shows anti-police and anti-American posters on the wall reading "F*** THE POLICE" and "F*** AMERIKKKA. THIS IS NATIVE LAND."

The anti-police poster claims that "Policing is a violent, anti-black, settler institution that originated as slave patrols. Their primary mandate is to protect property and to militarily enforce white supremacist capitalism. They are doing their jobs as they are trained and paid to do. You can't fix what isn't broken — that's why we fight for police and prison abolition."

The other "F*** AMERIKKKA" poster is emblazoned with the terms "settler colonialism," "genocide," "slavery," "imperialism," "war on drugs," "Jim Crow," and "prison labor" surrounded by photos of Christopher Columbus.

When Parents Defending Education reached out to the Los Angeles Unified School District to seek an explanation, officials responded with a statement that is full of the usual politically-correct blather education administrators are known for:

L.A. Unified holds firm in its policy that students and adults in both schools and offices should treat all persons equally and respectfully and refrain from the willful or negligent use of slurs against any person on the basis of race, language spoken, color, sex, religion, handicap, national origin, immigration status, age, sexual orientation, or political belief.

Apparently, equal treatment and respect don't apply to students whose parents are in law enforcement.

The LAUSD's statement continues:

Across the nearly 630,000 students and about 30,000 teachers district-wide, individual teachers decorate their rooms in a variety of ways, with some decorations being directly tied to or in support of our district curriculum, while others are inclined to adorn based on their freedom of expression and individuality.

When utilizing decorations in our learning environments, all L.A. Unified teachers are expected to adhere to district policies and to be mindful of our mission to educate children in a classroom that reflects all our policies of inclusion and respectful treatment of individual rights.

Again, how "included" are students whose parents protect and serve the community? What about Jewish students who go to class and are forced to sit under a Palestinian flag?

Despite LAUSD's claim that teachers are decorating with the protection of their freedom of expression and individuality, Parents Defending Education points to legal precedent that "public employees are not insulated from employer discipline under the First Amendment when they make statements pursuant to their official duties" because "teachers speak on behalf of the school district when performing their duties in the classroom."

"When teachers make statements, advocate for particular points of view, and/or post specific items on walls or bulletin boards, they are acting pursuant to their official duties," PDE continues. "They do not have unfettered First Amendment rights."


Brown University Will Test Students Twice a Week for COVID-19 Regardless of Vaccination Status

This week, Ivy League school Brown University implemented mandatory twice-weekly covid testing for all undergraduate students and closed a slew of indoor facilities, like the dining hall, due to a rise in positive cases on campus. This follows the trend of colleges and universities across the country requiring students, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested and abide by strict policies to combat the spread of the virus.

In a tweet shared by the student-run newspaper, Brown Daily Herald, it stated that over 80 positive coronavirus cases on campus had been reported in the past week. As a result, the university implemented a slew of temporary restrictions for students, effective Tuesday.

Some of the short-term policies outlined in a news release include the mandatory twice-weekly testing for all students regardless of vaccination status. Previously, only unvaccinated students with exemptions faced twice weekly status. Indoor masking in on and off campus housing unless in a private, non-shared space is a requirement students must also abide by. In-person dining is halted, and social gatherings, while wearing masks, are limited to five people.

On a more specific note, Brown advises students to refrain from small group “hopping.” “Students are expected to consistently engage with the same small social group, rather than attending or ‘hopping’ among multiple small-group gatherings over the course of a day or short period of time,” the website states. “They should not go to indoor bars or restaurants.”

Additionally, Brown requires that students at outdoor social gatherings with people outside the university community wear masks. This includes university athletic events and campus tours for prospective students.

According to Brown’s COVID-19 website, “Healthy Brown,” all students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus. The school does allow religious and medical exemptions. The Providence Journal reported that as of August, the university had a 97 percent vaccination rate among students.

“By now, we all understand that we will live with the uncertainty of the pandemic for some time to come, and we must be prepared to adjust our behaviors as public health conditions shift,” the news release reads. “The University will necessarily continue to increase and decrease Brown’s activity protocols to align our requirements for indoor and outdoor settings with expert public health and medical guidance.”


Australia: Religious schools in Victoria are banned from sacking or refusing to hire staff because they are LGBTQ

New rules will come into effect in Victoria which bans religious schools from discriminating against staff who identify as LGBTQIA+.

The schools will no longer be able to sack staff or refuse to hire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Under current laws, 'faith-based' organisations are allowed to discriminate employees based on their sexuality, gender and marital status due to a gap in legislation.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the state government would now look to close the 'unfair, hurtful' loophole that allows schools to use religion as the basis for its decision. 'People shouldn't have to hide who they are to keep their job,' Ms Symes said in a statement.

'We're closing this unfair, hurtful gap in our laws so that Victoria's LGBTIQ+ community won't have to pretend to be someone they're not, just to do the job they love.

'These laws strike the right balance between protecting the LGBTIQ+ community from discrimination and supporting the fundamental rights of religious bodies and schools to practice their faith.'

The new legislation means teachers and staff will be protected from getting the sack from religious institutions when disclosing their sexual orientation.

Foreseeably the move has sparked heated debate amongst the religious community with Lobby group Christian Schools Australia describing the state's proposal as an 'attack on people of faith'.

The group's public policy director Mark Spencer said it would oppose the legislation that he believed could 'change the nature of Christian schools'. 'Why is the Government trying to dictate to a Christian school who it can employ or in what role?' Mr Spencer said.

'The Attorney-General can choose all her staff on the basis of their political beliefs – why can't Christian schools simply choose all their staff on their religious beliefs?'

Ms Symes told The Age under the new reforms any discrimination against potential employees would need to be 'reasonable' and an important part of the job.

'For example, a school couldn't refuse to hire a gay or transgender person because of their identity but might be able to prevent that person being a religious studies teacher because of their religious belief,' she said.