Friday, October 22, 2021

Tenure Controversy in Georgia


Public policy decisions are often confounded by having to face hard trade-offs and by the law of unintended consequences. This is illustrated now in Georgia. The University System of Georgia, a governing board over the 28 public colleges and universities in that state, has approved new regulations regarding post tenure review of faculty that has concerned faculty, the national American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and even the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) up in arms. What’s all the brouhaha about?

First, what are the arguments for and against academic tenure? On the pro side, tenure greatly increases the ability and willingness of faculty to speak up on consequential issues—it is a tool supporting free expression—the very fundamental first principle of higher education in the post-Enlightenment era. Also, for the faculty, it is a valuable fringe benefit—providing job security in a society where jobs are constantly being both created and destroyed.

But tenure imposes costs—sometimes substantial ones. It creates huge fixed costs on colleges, making it difficult for them to reallocate resources to alternative uses as academic demand shifts. In an era of falling enrollments, it can contribute to the financial demise of institutions. Also, some professors get lazy and do little work after getting tenure, becoming less effective.

Tenured professors now teach less than half the classroom instruction of American college students. Expensive faculty (tenured teachers) have been replaced by cheaper adjuncts, graduate students, etc. Enrollments are falling. Faculty bargaining power has declined. At many schools a surging administrative bureaucracy is running things, and faculty are increasingly viewed as an annoyance rather than an important partner in “shared governance.”

Adding to professorial woes: the “birth dearth.” Many current freshmen were born in 2003—when the number of babies was less than it was 43 years earlier, in 1960, during the Golden Age of American higher education. Foreign students are immigrating less, partly because of the pandemic and tougher government restrictions, partly because of surging competition from improved universities in other countries. And the value proposition of attending college seems to have eroded—too many students end up heavily indebted and underemployed. Going to college is riskier than it used to be the case. Finally, the political atmosphere regarding support of colleges has cooled considerably, especially in relatively conservative states like Georgia. Polls show public support of colleges has waned considerably, I think because the woke progressivism at many universities does not sit well with the public.

Today (October 14), the full Board of Regents in Georgia is expected to approve a new post-tenure review policy. The AAUP claims the new policy “almost certainly undermines academic freedom.” They assert that the burden of proving the case for continued employment will shift from the university to the faculty member, who now will have to make the case for retention. Additionally, the criteria for evaluating faculty performance will be expanded to include student success—is the faculty member in question contributing to the ultimate academic and perhaps postgraduate career success of students?

I have family with degrees from multiple Georgia schools, and one is even attending one now. I am not sure the right tenure policy for the flagship campus of the University of Georgia or for Georgia Tech, both institutions with high research support and expectations, are the same as that for Georgia College or Kennesaw State University, with a somewhat different academic mission. Are state coordinating boards an instrument for promoting efficiency and reducing needless duplication, or are they impediments to innovations, barriers to competition, and expensive annoyances?

In some states, the answer for some faculty is to promote full-blown unionization. Personally, I believe the potential effectiveness of that weapon is very limited, as the ultimate financial problems underlying the declining faculty role cannot be solved by a union—unions cannot effectively negotiate higher taxes or state support, for example.

I am a faculty member whose contrarian views angered governors and other powerful policies, for whom tenure provided peace of mind and job security. But if I were to predict what American higher education will be like, say 20 years from now, I would say tenure, if not dead, would be on life support.


Liberal School Now Expelling Students For Telling Dirty Jokes?

Administrators at one of the United States’ oldest and most prestigious private schools are now drafting a policy where they are going to punish any and all “harmful” language – such as “misplaced humor” – with expulsion, according to leaked documents that were obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The news outlet reported last Tuesday that this draft called the “anti-bias” policy has been circulating among administrative ranks at the St. Alban’s School in Washington, D.C. This is a famous all-boys school that has alumni that are former vice presidents and two current U.S. Senators.

The new policy is allegedly seeking to crack down on what it is calling “harmful” speech and it is also taking the controversial approach of prioritizing the impact that the speech has over the basic needs and intent of the speaker. Indeed, the new guidelines are so strict that many of the students at St. Albans could be expelled even under a single infraction.

“It is the impact of hate speech, rather than the intent of those perpetrating it, that is of utmost importance,” the draft policy states. As such, boys could be expelled “even in the case of a single expression, act, or gesture”—including “misplaced humor,” which the policy says “should be reported immediately to the student’s adviser.”

Reporting infractions would fall to students, teachers, and parents. “We also expect that anyone, whether student, faculty, staff, or family member, who witnesses, or has knowledge of an incident of hate speech, will report the incident to the appropriate individual,” the draft policy reads, clarifying that nobody will be punished for making “a good faith report.”

Interestingly enough, St. Alban’s was once considered an old-fashioned and more conservative school in comparison to some of its elite private school competitors. That has changed in recent years, though, because now they too are under the same progressive sway as other private institutions. The Free Beacon noted that it is not entirely clear whether the policy is still in its draft stages or whether it has gone into effect, as St. Albans has not responded to requests for comment from the outlet. But the outlet noted the policy changes have likely been in the works for more than a year.

In July 2020, there were plans for the school to significantly expand its “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” efforts. This came on the heels of the George Floyd death, and it was one of the main reasons why the school had committed to “developing a new policy for inclusion in the Student Handbook that specifically addresses racial hate speech.”

There have been other progressive initiatives that the school has been undertaken by the school, including the scrapping of Columbus Day and replacing it with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” and the school’s efforts to sponsor an “Alliance of White Antiracists.”

At least one alumnus has been disheartened by the changes.

“St. Albans used to have a simple honor code: Don’t lie, cheat, or steal,” the alumnus told the Free Beacon. “Everything else was adjudicated human-to-human. Now boys are being policed for humor and innocuous comments are subject to the highest form of punishment.”

This new policy from St. Albans is reminiscent of this uber-woke speech code that was implemented at the Grace Church School in NoHo, in which students are advised against using terms that the school considered to be “offensive” such as “Merry Christmas” and “mom and dad.” Huh? Yeah, you read that right. It’s official: the liberals have now gone completely nuts.


Woke at Wellesley Public Schools

Parents sue over policies that segregate students and chill speech.

Critical race theory dominates college campuses these days, but parents are fighting its spread to K-12 education. Three Massachusetts families are suing Wellesley Public Schools over woke policies they say violate their children’s rights.

“Nearly seven decades of Supreme Court precedent have made two things clear: Public schools cannot segregate students by race, and students do not abandon their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate,” says the suit filed in federal court Tuesday afternoon by the nonprofit Parents Defending Education. The suit says Wellesley Public Schools “is flouting both of these principles.”

Wellesley has promoted “affinity groups” that hold events for specific races. Parents Defending Education alleges these groups are racially exclusionary “by definition and design,” given that “certain Wellesley students” including the plaintiffs’ children “are prohibited from participating in certain school activities because of their race and ethnicity.” The parents say this violates the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The parents group raised similar concerns earlier this year in a complaint to the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, but the agency hasn’t acted. In May Wellesley superintendent of schools David Lussier and director of diversity, equity and inclusion Charmie Curry told us that no students or staff were barred from participating.

But email correspondence obtained by the nonprofit Judicial Watch and cited in the complaint adds credence to the Wellesley parents’ worries. After a March 2021 shooting in Atlanta that killed several Asian women, Ms. Curry promoted a “Healing Space for Asian and Asian American Community.” A white teacher asked whether it was “appropriate for me to go.” Ms. Curry responded that “this time, we want to hold the space for the Asian and Asian American students and faculty/staff.”

Parents say a seventh grader received an email that described the healing space as “for our Asian/Asian-American and Students of Color, *not* for students who identify only as white” and added, “if you need to know more about why this is not for White students, please ask me!” The complaint says that “other middle school teachers sent similar messages to their students.” Mr. Lussier and Ms. Curry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Wellesley parents also take issue with the school district’s handling of so-called bias incidents, which they say penalize and chill speech. Under school policy, a bias incident can encompass “conduct, speech or expression” that “has an impact but may not involve criminal action” or demonstrates even “unconscious bias,” among other acts.

The complaint says this policy is so “unconstitutionally overbroad” that it can encompass “virtually any opinion or political belief—as well as any use of humor, satire, or parody.” Some of the plaintiff parents say their children have begun self-censoring for fear of penalty.

Parents shouldn’t have to go to court to have a say in how their children are taught, but they have no alternative when school administrators won’t listen. The Wellesley suit is one to watch and could echo beyond New England.




Thursday, October 21, 2021

UK: Law student, 29, sues university for dragging her through disciplinary after she said 'women have vaginas' during seminar on transgender issues

A Scottish law student who was investigated for saying 'women have vaginas' during an online seminar on transgender issues is suing her university for an alleged breach of the Equality Act, MailOnline can reveal.

Lisa Keogh, 29, was investigated by Abertay University in Dundee after classmates complained that she made 'inappropriate comments' during a seminar which 'could be construed as discriminatory'.

But after a two-month probe, which took place while the mother of two underwent her final year exams this year, the university's disciplinary board decided not to uphold the misconduct charge against her after finding there was no evidence that she had discriminated against anyone.

In a series of tweets today, the mature student announced that she is now seeking compensation from Abertay University for the 'stress caused at the most crucial part of my university career'.

MailOnline can also reveal that Miss Keogh's legal team, MML Legal Dundee, believe that the university is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 by pursuing her for 'expressing her gender critical beliefs'.

In a statement, she said: 'I can confirm that my solicitors MML Legal Dundee have raised an action by me against Abertay University, Dundee. As this matter is now in Court, I cannot discuss the merits of the case.

'However, I can confirm that I am seeking compensation from them for undertaking a disciplinary process against me for expressing certain gender critical beliefs, which my legal team believe was a breach of the Equality Act 2010 and an infringement of my ECHR rights of freedom of expression.'

An Abertay spokesman told MailOnline today: 'I can confirm the university has received a letter from Ms Keogh's solicitor. We won't be making any further comment at this time.'

Miss Keogh was formally charged with 'making offensive comments and behaving in a disrespectful manner during class discussions'.

The charge also claimed she had 'behaved in a disrespectful manner', despite being 'reminded about the university's policy on conduct.'

However the board said that, after reviewing the recordings made available from the lesson, it had found 'no evidence of discrimination'. It also found that the student had 'not intentionally shouted in class'.

'As a result, the board found there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations made against you on your behaviour in class and, therefore, decided to not uphold the charge of misconduct,' the board added.

Miss Keogh previously said she was the victim of a 'modern day witchhunt' and that she was 'targeted because of her gender critical views'. She called the complaints 'groundless' and the process 'needlessly cruel'.

Speaking about what caused the complaint, she told the Daily Mail in May: 'I was asked to define what a woman was and I said someone with a vagina. A biological fact, I thought - and still think - but apparently it is now unacceptable to say it.


Nikki Haley Reminds VA Voters: 'Up to Us to Remind Them Parents Have the Final Say in Child’s Education'

Nikki Haley's issue advocacy group, Stand for America, released an ad two weeks ahead of Election Day reminding parents what's at stake in the Virginia gubernatorial race.

Fox News' Houston Keene reported first on the thirty-second ad, "You're a parent," which delves into the journey of parenthood, including the role a parent plays in a child's education.

The ad also features warnings about the state of education in Virginia due to Critical Race Theory (CRT) and also includes a line uttered from Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe, during last month's second debate, to call on parents to take action. "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach," McAuliffe had said at the debate.

A narrator in the ad directs parents to "tell Terry McAuliffe he's wrong on education because you're a parent and parents show up."

"Union bosses and liberal activists think they know what’s best for students in Virginia. It’s up to us to remind them that parents have the final say in their child’s education," Haley told Townhall in a statement.

McAuliffe's comments were made weeks ago, with his Republican opponent, Glenn Younkin, seizing on them immediately to feature in campaign ads. And then, just earlier this week, McAuliffe released an ad claiming that Youngkin took his words out of context, which Youngkin then immediately countered with, as Landon reported.

CNN's Chris Cillizza has warned in a headline that the "ad reveals how worried Terry McAuliffe is about the Virginia governor's race."

Also on Tuesday, Youngkin held an event in Burke with Jason Miyares and Winsome Sears, the Republican candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor, respectively. The event, which drew a large overflow crowd, had hundreds in attendance.

At the event, Youngkin announced that he is calling on an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board after a biological male in a skirt allegedly raped two different victims.

Earlier today, Monmouth Poll released results showing that McAuliffe and Youngkin are tied among Virginia registered voters with 46 percent support each; McAuliffe had led by 5 percent in August and September. The poll's results also showed that education is a top issue for 41 percent of respondents, with Youngkin having an edge over McAuliffe by 39 to 38 percent when it comes to who voters trust more on the issue.


Free Community College Nixed

President Biden told House progressives on Tuesday that his proposal for free community college would not be included in the final reconciliation package being hammered out by Democrats, multiple sources told CNN.

Additionally, Biden said the current child tax credit will be extended by one year instead of being made permanent, and will be means-tested as proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). Proposed funding for home-care services for the elderly will also be reduced from $400 billion to below $250 billion.

A key priority for congressional progressives — an expansion of Medicare to include vision, dental, and hearing services — will remain in the reconciliation bill, Biden reportedly said.

The Biden administration initially proposed a $3.5 trillion spending package earlier this year to be passed in the Senate via budget-reconciliation rules, meaning the package would need support of a simple majority. However, Democrats need all 50 of their Senators to support the bill, and Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have expressed opposition to various components of the package and to the overall price tag.

Biden conceded on Friday that the plan would likely cost less and hinted that free community college could be dropped from the package.

“To be honest with you, we’re probably not going to get $3.5 trillion this year; we’re going to get something less than that,” Biden said at a child care center in Hartford, Conn., adding later, “I don’t know that I can get it done, but I also had proposed free community college.”




Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The International Baccalaureate: ‘education’s best kept secret’

London’s Fulham School offers outstanding teaching by combining traditional methods with innovative techniques for pupils of diverse abilities. To unlock the potential of every individual, the curriculum focuses on three pillars – academic excellence, sport and the performing arts.

Founded in 1996, the independent, co-educational school in west London is part of Inspired, a leading global group of premium centres for education. Already offering pre-prep, prep and senior school learning, this year saw the launch of their sixth form, situated in a purpose-built department on Chesilton Road.

All sixth form students take the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. The qualification is recognised by all universities across the world for its broad and rigorous education, and many academics now regard it as superior to A-levels.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, students who take the IB have a greater likelihood of attending a top 20 university, of graduating with honours and subsequently engaging in postgraduate study.

Yet, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the school, nearly half of the parents questioned – 46 per cent – had not heard of the IB programme and of those who had heard of it, a quarter – 26 per cent – had not considered enrolling their children in it.

The IB programme offers a holistic and balanced education which other qualifications struggle to provide because they focus too narrowly on subjects. Some believe it produces more versatile thinkers and learners better prepared to succeed in a complex world where asking the right questions is vital.

This resonates with overwhelmingly positive responses to the YouGov survey which reported widespread agreement among the parents questioned that they believed their child’s education should focus on qualities such as confidence, critical thinking and taking responsibility. The IB has been specifically designed with the development of such traits in mind.

“The International Baccalaureate is education’s best kept secret,” says Chris Cockerill, head of Fulham Senior School. “These findings clearly show that parents are looking for an education programme that is going to help their children leave traditional education at the age of 18 as enquiring, principled and global thinkers.

“Parents know what they want for their children – they just don’t realise yet that this is exactly what the IB delivers. It’s a global education for a global world.”

The diploma is studied over two years. Pupils choose courses from the following subject groups: studies in language and literature; language acquisition; individuals and societies; sciences; mathematics; and the arts. Three are studied at higher level, and three at standard level, with students assessed on each individual course through a combination of internal assessment and exams at the end of their two years.

Underpinning such learning are three mandatory elements within the diploma: the theory of knowledge; creativity, action, service; and an extended essay. Each is designed to develop social and interpersonal skills, and help produce well-rounded citizens of the world.

The theory of knowledge focuses on critical thinking across the chosen subjects with the aim of giving students a deeper understanding of their learning, and encouraging them to consider its importance.

Creativity, action, service is designed to enhance students’ personal and interpersonal development, combining a range of activities alongside academic study to engage in the arts and creative thinking, physical activity and service in the community.

“Parents know what they want for their children, which is what the IB delivers – a global education for a global world”
The extended essay is a 4,000-word paper on a topic relating to one of the student’s diploma subjects based on in-depth study, and written over six to eight months.

Pupils leaving Fulham’s sixth form will not just emerge with a prestigious qualification. They will also have enjoyed a rich and highly rewarding experience preparing them both for higher education and for a future as a responsible, rounded and confident adult.


Hidden college admission factors that hurt students’ chances of acceptance

Across the country, millions of high school seniors are already preparing college applications for next fall. Those who apply to highly selective universities will be engaged in a struggle for very few spots. Last year, my university, Johns Hopkins, admitted 2,477 students from a pool of 38,513 applications.

An offer of admission can be transformational, especially for students from low- and middle-income families. Universities continue to be among the most powerful engines in our society for moving people up the socioeconomic ladder: An American with a college degree is poised to earn more than twice as much as an American without one.

But are universities giving students a fair shot? Evidence suggests not. Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues found last year that “high-income students are 34 percent more likely to attend selective colleges than low-income students with the same test scores.” With so many talented students vying for so few seats, schools have adopted an array of policies and practices to help determine whom to admit. Regrettably, these policies often disadvantage high-achieving low-income students.

Take “demonstrated interest,” or an applicant’s perceived enthusiasm for a school, typically measured by campus visits, alumni interviews or whether an applicant visits a school’s Web site.

Although seemingly innocuous, “demonstrated interest” tilts in favor of students with the ability and knowledge to travel to campuses, to schedule and navigate interviews, and to send potentially esoteric signals of interest. Did a student write a “thank you” note to a campus tour guide? Spend more time reading an e-mail from the university than the average applicant? Make a phone call to the admissions office? Those who are unable or don’t know to do these things end up losing out to those who do, creating a structural impediment for low-income and first-generation students, who are also overwhelmingly students of color.

Why does such a practice develop? One word: yield. This refers to the fraction of students who accept an offer of admission each year. The higher the yield, the more selective the school becomes. More selectivity increases institutional prestige and was, for many years, a critical factor in determining where a school landed on US News and World Report’s annual college rankings. Policies designed to maximize yield like “demonstrated interest” — which Johns Hopkins does not consider — are an unfortunate consequence of this competition among and between universities.

The quest for ever higher yields is benefitting wealthier students. It doesn’t have to, but the incentives need to change. Universities should instead be competing for more high-achieving, low- and middle-income students.

Colleges and universities have engaged in virtuous competition before to make higher education more accessible and affordable. In 1966, as calls for greater equity in higher education reached a fever pitch, Yale University — under the leadership of a progressive president and dean of admissions — announced that its admissions would henceforth be “need-blind” (meaning that the school would guarantee financial aid to any admitted student regardless of need). This kicked off a scramble among selective universities to follow suit.

Then, in the 2000s, in the midst of mounting criticism of the price of higher education, universities engaged in what journalists described as a financial aid “arms race” to attract and make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students. In each case, a potent combination of cultural pressure and institutional courage created the conditions for lasting, systemic change.

American higher education can do this again. But it will require action on several fronts. Universities themselves need to adapt their admissions practices to level the playing field and recruit more low- and middle-income students. They can eliminate entirely or radically reimagine polices like “demonstrated interest” to be fairer and more transparent and increase outreach to urban and rural public schools. Additionally, college and university rankings need to take account of social mobility to incentivize change, which US News and World Report has already begun to do.

The 19th century preacher Lyman Beecher once called American colleges and universities the “practical equalizers of society.” We haven’t fully realized that vision yet, but we can if we’re willing to fight for it.


It’s Time to Face the Facts on School Closings

Looking back over all the damage done to children over the last year via pandemic response is important for evaluating how to move forward. Noah Benjamin-Pollak and Joshua Coval, both of Harvard Business School, explain what happened.

If you were a school superintendent considering whether to keep your district open in-person or move to online, how would you decide? Most people would suggest you look at COVID-19 case numbers in your community. Perhaps you would consider the vaccination rate, and if you had students with auto-immune disorders or other risk factors, maybe you would consider that. Most Americans would find these sorts of considerations reasonable.

As it turned out, this was far from what happened in American schools last year. An analysis of school-closing data on the nation’s 150 largest school districts reveals something entirely different. Rather than the progress of the disease in a local community, the most important predictor of remote schooling was a school district’s historical propensity to prioritize the interests of its teachers over the competing interests of its students.

Benjamin-Pollak and Coval reviewed loads of data regarding school closures over the last 18 months, and that factor was prevalent. Districts that scored high on factors like “prioritizing teacher seniority over new teachers and teacher performance, granting teachers more days off, and limiting the number of hours students spend in school each day” were “significantly more likely to opt for the remote-learning format last year.”

In aggregate, these measures of district-level teacher favoritism do far more to explain remote vs. in-person school decisions than every other variable we tested, including the COVID-19 infection rates in the community.

On the other hand, districts that historically favor students remained in-person. If only that were fair.

Although there are legitimate reasons to worry about the health risks of in-person school for unvaccinated children, a mounting body of literature has demonstrated that remote instruction is detrimental to students’ learning. While the full effects of pandemic-driven remote school on America’s schoolchildren will not be known for years, it is already clear that remote school has hurt the average student and that the damage has fallen disproportionately on low-income students, urban students, and students of color. Students in these groups are more likely to be in a remote school and are less able to learn in a remote classroom due to resource disparities at both the school and the household level.

The pair concludes:

Rather than using the euphemisms “teacher-favoring districts” and “student-favoring districts,” let us be more direct. If you want to know why your children are in Zoom school, look to your local teachers’ union. The more power it enjoys, the more likely it is that your kids will be in Zoom school, regardless of vaccination rates, infection rates, or emergency-room capacity. Media coverage to the contrary, this should not be surprising. After all, teachers’ unions are supposed to protect the interests of teachers, not students. Most of the time, those interests are somewhat aligned, but when — as with the COVID-19 pandemic — teachers’ interests come into conflict with the needs of students, teachers’ unions become a serious obstacle.




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Primary Stakeholder in Schools: Parents or Educrats?

Someone I know from California told me recently that he has decided to pull his child out of public school and enroll him instead into a private, Christian school.

Why? Because during some of the Zoom instruction during the coronavirus pandemic, this concerned parent discovered some of the lessons they were trying to foist on his child. In this case, it was the anti-American historical revisionism that disgusted this parent.

Multiply this story many times over, and we are seeing a very important development right now---many parents are finding better ways to educate their children, including homeschool and home-school co-ops, than the failing public schools.

But the left is pushing back. Perhaps the most galling thing about this debate is the arrogance of the educrats who think they are the ones who should be responsible for the education of the children---not the parents.

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe let the cat out of the bag. The Democrat is currently running for governor again, and he said in a recent debate: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."

Unfortunately, McAuliffe is not alone in these sentiments.

Writing in, Art Moore points out that parents are supposedly “not the ‘primary stakeholder’ in their children's education”---even though they are “important stakeholders.” Who says this? Some leftwing nut job on a TicTok video? No, Joe Biden’s education secretary Michael Cordona said this.

What’s more, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked the Biden administration to treat concerned parents at school board meetings as essentially domestic terrorists. They write, “Now, we ask that the federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority…to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses.”

They add: “Further, this increasing violence is a clear and present danger to civic participation.”

Apparently, President Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland agrees. He is now claiming that concerned parents protesting at school board meetings are guilty of “domestic terrorism.”

In his End of Day Report (10/5/21), Gary Bauer of American Values responds, “So, let's get this straight: The radical forces indoctrinating your children are trying to shut you up by utilizing the same agency, the FBI, that the left used to smear Donald Trump with the fake Russia collusion hoax.” He observes that the Biden administration is “turning the FBI loose on soccer moms.”

Critics note that Garland has a conflict of interest here. Bauer says: “His son-in-law is the president of a consulting firm that makes millions of dollars contracting with school boards to push the left's radical agenda.”

If you look at the videos of the unruly school board meetings, what you see are parents visibly upset that their children are being taught a bunch of lies. They are not resorting to “violence.”

The most prominent areas of curriculum conflict include:

* Critical race theory (CRT), where by definition whites are oppressors and blacks are the oppressed. Little children who have done nothing wrong are being vilified for the color of their skin.

* Historical revisionism, which turns American history on its head. The settlers and founders of America were far from perfect. But they created a nation with unparalleled freedom and prosperity. Now political correctness has turned America’s founders into villains. One can only wonder why those would-be American immigrants trekking through Central America are currently risking their lives to come to this supposedly evil country.

* The dogmatic LGBTQ agenda. Many children (mostly girls) are questioning if they were born in the correct gender. Because of this fad that is sweeping through many of the schools and is being promoted by teachers and the school administrators, many young people are undergoing “irreversible damage” as puberty blockers and even surgery are administered to try and resolve a conflict that usually resolves itself in puberty. The fallout is horrible. Journalist Abigail Shrier wrote a book documenting this dangerous trend---Irreversible Damage.

The schools and teachers unions are acting as if they own the children. They do not. Children are on loan by God to the parents. Indeed, who is responsible for children’s education? Parents or educrats?

Who knows better than the parents what is in the children’s best interest? To whom have the children been given? Hasn’t God given the parents the responsibility of teaching their children, even if they delegate that teaching to others? Traditionally, teachers have been described as “in loco parentis”---acting on behalf of the parents, not against them.

Our current education crisis could actually prove to be a good thing---if we handle it correctly. This could be the time when many Americans seek to rescue their children from leftist and false indoctrination promoted by too many of our public schools.


Liberals are now going after smart children for being smart!

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is becoming WOKE these days, in the name of racial equity they want to remove advanced courses for talented kids. Are they even thinking? Seriously?

VDOE is attempting to walk back its equity-focuses math program in a way that conflicts with previous statements it has made and materials it has promoted on acceleration.

They want to eliminate gifted and talented programs, removing advanced courses, and overhauling admissions processes to achieve equity across racial categories.

According to Harry Jackson, president of the Thomas Jefferson High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), “removing gifted and advanced courses is a no-cost way to cover up the racial achievement gap while ignoring its root causes.”

Here’s what Jackson told the Daily Caller News Foundation:

“Gifted programs and advanced courses provide a mechanism for low-income households to achieve a stellar education for their children and serve as a ‘great equalizer’ to those families that opt for private education. By eliminating gifted programs and advanced courses in the name of equity, they will create greater inequities.”

According to a Fordham Institute study:

Black students make up 15% of the student population and 10% of the gifted student population, while Hispanic students make up 27.6% of the student population and 20.8% of the gifted student population, according to a Fordham Institute study.

Those student groups are 49% and 23% less likely to participate in Advanced Placement programs than their peers, respectively, according to the Fordham Institute.

This pressure on public schools to resolve racial disparities coming from parents started after George Floyd’s death – public interest in racial inequities increased from activist groups, school board members, and officials in the U.S. Department of Education.

In October 2020, the competitive entrance exam from Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ), the top-ranked public high school in the U.S. has been removed. This happens after a Fairfax County School Board vote and replaced it with a more subjective admission process which includes geographic quotas.

The Fairfax County School Board had been lobbied by the TJ Alumni Action Group, which was formed in light of the events surrounding Floyd’s death, and the release of TJ admissions statistics revealed fewer than ten black students had been admitted to the school’s class of 2024, Washington Post reported.

TJ’s incoming freshman class in 2021 included more white, Hispanic, and black students than in previous years, while Asian student representation fell by 19 points, the Associated Press reported.

New York City is eliminating its gifted and talented program following a March lawsuit which alleged the program – which was 75% white and Asian – exacerbated racial inequalities. The program will be replaced by a maximum of 2 hours per day of advanced courses for gifted students, to be determined by teacher evaluation of students’ capabilities (rather than a standardized test).

The California Department of Education is considering proposals to “de-track” math, meaning that students of all aptitudes would learn math at the same level in the same classes, and advanced math courses would not be offered. Students in the 11th grade could opt to take Algebra II and Pre-Calculus at the same time in order to take Calculus their senior year, according to the Washington Post.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) proposed a plan in January to eliminate traditional mathematics courses in favor of an equity-focused framework that places students in homogenous grade-based courses regardless of aptitude until the 11th grade. “[T]his initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade,” Loudoun County School Board member Ian Serotkin said, according to Fox.


Education ministers must act on Australia's woke national curriculum

In a matter of weeks, Australia’s nine education ministers will decide the fate of the revised national curriculum released earlier this year for public consultation. The document was roundly condemned for prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and spirituality to the detriment of learning about Western culture and Judeo-Christianity.

The history framework, in particular, was criticised for presenting a black armband view of Australia’s origins and development as a nation, with European settlement described as an invasion leading to genocide and society and its institutions as inherently racist.

There is no question about the importance of studying Indigenous history and culture. Of all the lessons to be learned from Australia’s oldest settlers, top of the list must surely be a profound respect for passing on the knowledge and wisdom of the elders. The Indigenous tradition of oral history epitomises the sense of belonging and purpose that humans gain from understanding the past, particularly as they deal with the present and make decisions about the future.

Such is the significance of these links across the ages that Australia’s national curriculum includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures as one of three cross-curricular priorities that all teachers must emphasise in the classroom.

All teachers are instructed to provide “opportunities for all students to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures” and learning about “the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ histories and cultures on a local, national and global scale”. These opportunities are reinforced in every learning area (English, Mathematics, Science, History and so on) across the curriculum.

Where the revised curriculum is flawed and open to attack is its failure to provide a similar sustained focus on the nation’s Western heritage. There is no equivalent cross-curricular priority requiring primary and secondary teachers to ‘engage’ with the evolution of Western culture since ancient times, ensuring that all students develop a shared, objective understanding of the origins of Australia’s liberal democratic values and practices.

On the contrary, the lack of curricular alignment and intellectual cohesion of the key elements of the curriculum that reflect Western civilisation – English, History, Civics and Citizenship, the Arts and others – is striking. In addition, while students are asked to study Indigenous spirituality in detail, the curriculum ignores the enduring significance of Judeo-Christian traditions, especially where these have uniquely and powerfully informed our modern concepts of equality, tolerance, justice and the rule of law, and individual freedom.

One of the key documents guiding the current review states the Australian Curriculum “must ensure young people have a good understanding of the nature of Australian society within which they will be living and working as adults. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives are an important part of the development of our nation, as are the traditions and values of what is often referred to as ‘Western society’.”

Not only does the phrase “what is often referred to as Western society’” signal a qualified and uncertain view of what constitutes the West’s culture and way of life, it also reduces thousands of years of extraordinary philosophical, creative, scientific, religious, economic and other developments to a minor event in history. It is difficult to see how the proposed curriculum can fulfil the goal of producing ‘active and informed’ citizens.

The move to de-colonise the curriculum and cancel what Woke activists describe as ‘Eurocentrism’ and ‘whiteness’ partly explains why the curriculum is so jaundiced and politically correct. Also influential is the ever increasing emphasis on 21st Century learning given the increasing rate of technological, medical, scientific and societal change.

The panel responsible for investigating Australia’s senior school (Years 11 and 12) curriculum and pathways has produced a report titled Looking to the Future. The Chair, Dr Peter Shergold, says “the panel’s view is that we have to design our education system to prepare young people for their future rather than for our past”.

To justify the argument that studying the past is of declining value, those responsible for the report quote American educationalist John Dewey’s assertion that “The world is moving at a tremendous rate; going no one knows where. We must prepare our children, not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world – the world of the future”.

The OECD’s Education 2030 Program, to which Australia’s national curriculum body ACARA contributes, puts a similar case about cancelling the past and prioritising the future. The world is “rapidly changing” and we now live in a world characterised by “a new explosion of scientific knowledge” and “complex societal problems”.

The globalist groupthink pushed by the Paris-based bureaucrats purports to prepare students “for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated”.

Associated with this futurist perspective is the argument that knowledge acquisition is secondary to developing 21st century skills and competencies such as critical thinking, working in teams and embracing diversity and difference. Students are encouraged to see themselves as global citizens dedicated to “transforming society and shaping the future”.

This worldview is strongly represented in the draft Australian Curriculum. It holds that all students should take on responsibility for solving problems in an unprecedentedly uncertain and volatile global environment.

The net effect is that nation-building is no longer emphasised, a concept diminished by a curriculum that fails to give students a clear idea of what it means to be an Australian citizen and what is most valued about our institutions and way of life.




Monday, October 18, 2021

Yale Law Students Tried to Throw Pro-America Party, Here's What Happened

At top-ranked Yale Law School, a second-year student and member of both the Native American Law Students Association and the conservative/libertarian Federalist Society sent an email inviting classmates to an event: “We will be christening our very own (soon to be) world-renowned NALSA Trap House… by throwing a Constitution Day Bash in collaboration with FedSoc.”

The student added that the event would include “American-themed snacks” such as “Popeye’s chicken” and “apple pie.”

Within minutes of the email’s mass distribution, the student’s wokerati classmates were already signaling intense aggrievement. Some immediately concluded, with all the charity of Ebenezer Scrooge, that “trap house” necessarily connoted a nefarious blackface party.

The president of the Black Law Students Association quickly wrote in an online forum available to all second-year Yale Law School students: “I guess celebrating whiteness wasn’t enough. Y’all had to upgrade to cosplay/black face.”

If the story were to end there, it would be unfortunate, but hardly newsworthy. But it didn’t.

Twelve hours after the email’s distribution, the student was summoned to the Office of Student Affairs and presented by the law school’s associate dean and diversity director with a laundry list of already filed grievances.

The diversitycrat, a former Obama White House flunky, lamented how the student’s affiliation with FedSoc, a very mainstream right-of-center outfit often criticized by frustrated legal conservatives such as this columnist, “triggered” some classmates.

The administrators not-so-subtly hinted that the student could face serious professional consequences, such as not being admitted to the bar association, if he did not apologize. The diversitycrat then drafted herself an “apology” letter, Soviet-style, and oh-so-kindly “offered” the student the chance to send the apology in lieu of “character-driven rehabilitation.”

But the key takeaway from this sordid ordeal is how the diversitycrat responded to the student’s demurring and suggestion to instead let his classmates reach out to him individually: “I don’t want to make our office look like an ineffective source of resolution.” And there lies the rub.

The diversitycrat’s line gives away the entire game, exposing how the very act of mass-hiring professional “diversity” personnel — especially on campus, but also in the corporate world, where it usually goes under the heading of “diversity, equity and inclusion” — necessarily leads, without additional firm guardrails in place, to witch hunts such as this.

The great irony is that, at a campus such as Yale’s, the near-ubiquitous and oppressive leftism means there is sufficient social opprobrium to deter most perceived “deviations” such as this. On-campus leftists ought to be comforted, in other words, by their own side’s ability to self-police the commons.

But they won’t because the objective is not to “win” the campus wars. They’ve already done that. The objective is to make the other side feel pain


Threatening messages reportedly directed at Rhode Island teacher who opposes Critical Race Theory

A Rhode Island middle school teacher said she's facing harassment after openly opposing the teaching of critical race theory .

Ramona Bessinger, who teaches at Esek Hopkins Middle School, claimed that the racial ideology led to taunting from students and colleagues alike. One student called her "America" because she is white, and a staff member accused her of having "white privilege," she said.

After speaking out about teaching policies centered on the ideology and whistleblowing on the school's alleged encouragement to participate in "white educator affinity groups," Bessinger was notified on Oct. 5 that she had to attend a "pre-disciplinary hearing" Wednesday — not for her views, but for violating a school safety procedure during a lockdown.

Photographs, allegedly of Bessinger's classroom whiteboard from when she was not present, appear to show threatening messages including "F*** ya b****," "Bye you fired," "b****," "Fire Ms. Bessinger," and many other scribbled phrases suggesting she leave.

Bessinger also reportedly called the police to her school Wednesday because she felt unsafe.

She was interrogated at her Wednesday hearing for the alleged lapse in safety protocol, Legal Insurrection reported .


Australia: ‘I’m just busting to come back to school’: Sydney’s youngest students back in classrooms

Before kindergarten student Maddy Wong had even left her mum’s car and said goodbye this morning, she was making announcements to her head of school through the car window. “I’m just busting to come back to school!” she yelled out to him.

Daniel Sandral, head of the junior school at MLC School in Burwood, rushed forward to open the door and say welcome back. “I’m busting to come to school,” Maddy repeated, as she put her backpack on. “Because my teacher is coming back and I miss my teacher.”

Mr Sandral and deputy head Joanne Sharke were dressed in unicorn onesies and waiting at the school entrance from 8am on Monday, to greet each kindergarten and year 1 student individually as they were dropped off in the school car park.

“We thought nothing could be more magical for a little girl than turning up to school to see a unicorn,” Mr Sandral said. “I have been longing for this moment.”

Elsewhere in Sydney, balloons, posters and smiling teachers welcomed thousands of students through the gates, as kindergarten and year 1 students became the first primary school children to attend school full-time since the end of June.

Some clung to their mothers and there were a few tears, but others were running onto campus before their parents had a chance to wave them off.

MLC mother Rebecca Lim said her daughter Charlotte was “so excited to see her friends again”. “She’s been missing everybody,” she said.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was among the parents resuming the school drop-off routine. He took his son William and said he saw “massive queues” and “excited parents”.

“We know that for many kids, they’ll be anxious with the first day of school... [But there] is a lot of excitement,” he said. “Many of our children have gone through a very difficult time, not being able to interact and play with their friends.”

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said there were “lots of happy smiling faces across Sydney” as she thanked teachers for all their work over lockdown, preparing for a safe return and getting vaccinated.

She said the public school staff vaccination rate was at about 90 per cent on Monday, ahead of the November 8 deadline.

“The learning from home that they [teachers] have done over the last term has just been extraordinary. The way that they’ve adapted, been flexible and really made sure that they had the strong delivery of education,” she said.

“I think that everybody across the state knows that we owe our teachers a lot of gratitude for everything that they’ve done. But now, obviously we’re back and it’s exciting to be back in the classroom and having students return.”

At MLC, Mr Sandral and Ms Sharke said this first week back would entail additional numeracy and literacy lessons to check student progress, but their welfare was the ultimate concern. “At the end of the day I think the biggest challenge has been not being with their peers and the socialisation,” Mr Sandral said.

Ms Sharke has designed a wellbeing program for the rest of the year, so that each day starts with time for students to re-connect with their friends and teachers; they will spend time playing get to know you games and reacquainting themselves with the school site.

“We’ve got lots of different activities, circle time where they can talk about their experiences and feelings. We don’t really know what life’s been like for them... we are very conscious the girls have been away for a long time,” she said.

“I think it’s important we take the time to understand their feelings around coming back - school has been the ‘unsafe place to be’ all this time’ so it’s making sure they’re comfortable.”

Year 12 students also had the option of returning to school full-time on Monday ahead of their HSC, while the rest of students will return full-time from next Monday, October 25.




Sunday, October 17, 2021

NYC schools chancellor robocalls to plead with parents over attendance

The city Department of Education has been sending out robocalls to plead with parents to get their kids to class amid apparent ongoing attendance issues.

The roughly 40-second recording — voiced by Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter — has so far been sent to thousands of city families in an effort to fill classrooms.

“Hello, this is schools Chancellor Meisha Porter,” the recording says. “We are so excited to welcome your child back to school. Our schools are safe and supportive environments, and the classroom is a better place for your child this year.”

In making her case, Porter argues that kids are better off in class as opposed to wherever else they are spending their days.

“More time in school means your child will get the social, emotional and academic support they need to thrive, learn and be happy,” she said.

Porter adds that if some kids are having problems finding transportation to school, the DOE can assist.

“We also know getting to school isn’t always easy,” she said. “We are here to support you. Please contact your school or call 311 to get connected to what you need for your child to attend school and succeed.”

The DOE has yet to reveal this year’s enrollment or say exactly how many kids are in school each day, instead offering a daily percentage.

On Thursday, the agency said 88 percent of kids were in class — several percentage points lower than in a comparable pre-pandemic period.

The DOE said robocalls are a routine element of outreach — although one involving attendance is not apparently the norm. Every parent was slated to receive Porter’s message this year, the department said.

“We’re proud of our work to reach every student every day,” said DOE rep Sarah Casasnovas. “We’ve already seen strong attendance this school year, and as always, are doing the important work of ensuring our families have a smooth transition back to school.”

Daily absentee estimates have ranged from 140,000 to 180,000 kids in the school system, which has about 1.1 million enrolled.

Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew pressed city officials to intensify outreach to chronically absent kids during a city council meeting earlier this month.

The DOE has pledged to provide enrollment and attendance data before the end of this month.

Observers attribute this year’s elevated absentee rate to several possible factors — including ongoing pandemic-related health fears and the habituation of some kids to absenteeism during prolonged COVID-19 school closures.


What One bigoted Liberal Teacher Wore To Class

There is a reason that parents are pulling their kids out of school left and right in favor of the option to homeschool them. The public school system has turned into nothing more than an indoctrination camp to push their liberal/socialist agenda onto unsuspecting kids for 7-8 hours a day.

Their little minds are like sponges and soak these ideas up and people wonder why their kids are showing such a lack of respect for authority or our country. It is simple, their teachers are taking advantage of the time spent with them in the classroom to indoctrinate them into hating anything that is American.

This is exactly was what this one fifth-grade teacher, Emma Howland-Bolton of Detroit Public Schools Community District, did when she wore a sweatshirt that boldly declared “Columbus was a murderer” in her classroom.

Howland-Bolton said she wore the shirt to “spark discussion,” and the school district did nothing about it.

Here is more from The Blaze:

Howland-Bolton, who teaches fifth grade at Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy, says her shirt isn’t controversial, because “it is a fact.”

She added that a school administrator initially advised her to change her shirt.

“I was informed that my shirt was my opinion, and I countered with ‘It is a fact,'” she added.

A spokesperson for the district said that the shirt was noticeable because sweatshirts are not permitted for the school’s business casual dress code. The district later determined that the shirt was only problematic because it was not “submitted as any lesson plan to be pre-approved,” according to WXYZ-TV.

The teacher did not face discipline over the shirt and ensuing controversy.

There is no reason that a teacher should be wearing a shirt like this in the classroom and what makes it even more disturbing is that there were no consequences for it at all. This is what is going on in our classrooms which is why people are pulling their little ones from schools to protect them.

We have seen over the last several weeks, parents getting fed up with it all and are now protesting the liberal agenda that is found in their schools.

The only way this stops is more parents getting involved and saying enough is enough.

These people work for us and not the other way around. It is the parent’s decision to teach them what history they want their child to know, but when in the public school system, these teachers just need to keep it to the facts and that’s all.


Australia: NSW plans an advertising campaign to recruit 3700 new teachers needed to plug school shortages

This is pissing into the wind. It's not more propaganda that's needed. It is reforms designed to make teaching less stressful. Teachers have to put up with constant bureaucracy and constant bad behaviour from students. So only a loser would normally now choose a job in teaching.

The key to improvement is to re-establish realistic discipline policies. Unruly students have to be prevented from making life hell for everyone around them

The NSW Department of Education will promote the joy of teaching, poach teachers from overseas and identify regional students suitable for the profession while they are still in high school as part of a multi-pronged plan to avert a looming teacher shortage.

Pay remains a point of contention, with the NSW Teachers Federation saying shortages will continue without higher salaries. But the department insists its new teacher supply strategy will attract 3700 extra teachers over 10 years without a significant wage rise.

Award negotiations have begun, and the department has offered teachers 2.5 per cent a year - the highest rise possible under the public sector wage cap imposed by this government. However, the federation rejected the offer and is standing by its claim of 5 to 7.5 per cent a year.

The looming teacher shortage, detailed in internal NSW Department of Education documents, is due to a declining number of people choosing it as a career, a significant proportion of the workforce heading to retirement, and growing enrolment numbers.

The department’s strategy, released this week, involves recruiting teachers from overseas and interstate, improving perceptions of teaching - including with an advertising campaign - and accelerating the careers of high-performing teachers.

The department will also encourage more teachers to train in high-needs areas by providing mid-career pathways in those areas; helping teachers’ assistants become fully qualified; and training teachers in high-demand skills such as maths.

It aims to get teachers to regional and rural schools with a new incentive scheme and scholarships.

The plan for the bush also includes a pilot scheme to identify high school students in regional areas who have the potential to become teachers, and offering them a year’s paid experience in a school before supporting them through university with scholarships.

“There’s a lot of elements to it, and that’s for a reason,” said Education Minister Sarah Mitchell. “There’s a number of issues and complexities in terms of how we manage staffing in our schools, and the challenges are nuanced.

“I’ve been having regular round tables with teachers from all over the state. What has come through is the joy - how much they enjoy their job, how much they feel connected and responsible for the students. They talk about students as if they are their own.”

The department said it used workforce modelling, analysis of teacher supply and demand, and tactics that worked elsewhere to develop the strategy, which it expects will deliver 3700 teachers over 10 years, including 1600 in the first five years.

However, past attempts to boost teacher pipelines show mixed results from strategies such as incentives, scholarships and mid-career pathways. Over 10 years, Victoria’s Teach for Australia program, which fast-tracks people from other professions into teaching, produced just 619 teachers.

Regional incentive schemes have existed for years, and have been tweaked many times, but teacher numbers in the bush are still dropping. There are teacher shortages overseas and interstate, which could also make poaching teachers difficult.

One internal department document also said it was unclear whether there was much demand for teaching assistants to become fully qualified.

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the shortage was a direct result of non-competitive salaries and unsustainable workloads. “If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need,” he said.

However, Ms Mitchell said NSW teachers were paid well compared with those interstate and overseas. “There are opportunities for career progression, there are opportunities to teach in rural and regional schools, and it’s also about creating more opportunities,” she said.