Friday, November 26, 2021

Oxbridge to address inequalities in postgraduate education

It is foolish enough to enrol underqualified students into first degrees. Trying to get them into graduate degrees is an even bigger folly. Postgradute degrees are very demanding. Trying to get students who were mediocre performers elsewhere into such degree programs is really Quixotic

Cambridge and Oxford have announced a collaborative programme to widen participation across the postgraduate higher education sector.

The project aims to increase admission rates for students from underrepresented ethnic minority backgrounds, specifically in the area of postgraduate research and PhDs and DPhils.

The programme is funded by a grant of £800,00 from the Office for Students (OfS) and Research England (RE), which will be shared between Cambridge and Oxford.

The proportion of white students who continue into postgraduate education is currently higher than the proportion of students from minority ethnic groups, with the disparity widening at the doctoral level. Disparities are most significant for Black British, British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students.

These trends mean that the academic sector continues to be dominated by white professors.

The project will see Oxford and Cambridge “develop and test a range of new admissions practices and systems designed to transform selection processes for postgraduate research.”

Selection model prototypes will be piloted, building on “world-leading inclusive recruitment practices” which will be tested in 16 departments across the two universities.

Professor Graham Virgo, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, said:

“We are really pleased to be partnering with the University of Oxford, and delighted that this OfS/RE funding competition has brought about the opportunity to share data and current practice so openly. We feel this is indicative of a wider desire across the sector to collaborate to bring about transformational change in representation in postgraduate study.”

By 2025, The programme aims to decrease the ‘offer gap’ by half, and eliminate it completely by 2035. Four new posts will be created across the two universities.

Dr Katherine Powlesland, Postgraduate Widening Participation Manager at the University of Cambridge, said:

“We want to find ways to make admissions systems flex better – thinking imaginatively about pre-requisites, really interrogating the inclusivity of our systems, asking the right questions so we can spot and support the best talent – and also to think radically about innovative inclusive recruitment.”

She continued: “From the postgraduate communities of Britain’s leading research universities come the experts of tomorrow: the decision-makers and advisors on climate change, on educational policy, on social justice. We need these researchers to represent the widest range of lived experience possible, so that, ultimately, all voices can be heard and no perspective goes unseen.”

Cambridge also made a second successful bid and will also collaborate with University College London and City University to offer paid summer research internships to students from underrepresented ethnic groups.

Dr Powlesland added: “We also know there is a lot we could do further upstream to support ethnic minority students to make successful applications for postgraduate research study. We are delighted that, with the support of the Office for Students and Research England, we are also able to partner with UCL and City on a really exciting project to deliver undergraduate summer research internships.

“Cambridge will be offering at least 72 paid internships over three years to Black British, British Bangladeshi, and British Pakistani undergraduates as part of the collaboration. We are excited to be pushing for real change in minority ethnic representation in academic research.”


America’s falling standards in reading and maths predate the pandemic

“We can’t be competitive in the 21st century if we continue to slide the way we have,” President Joe Biden warned in October. Mr Biden worries in particular that educational attainment in America is sliding. Recently published scores, from tests taken just before the covid-19 pandemic, show how far.

As part of its “long-term trend” project, more or less every four years since the 1970s the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has administered reading and maths tests to a sample of American students aged nine and 13. There was no test in 2016.

The results of the latest, in January 2020, were not good. “This was the first time in the almost 50-year history...of the long-term trend assessments that we observed declines among 13-year-olds,” said Peggy Carr of the part of the Department of Education which oversees the NAEP. Average scores for this age group fell by three points in reading and five points in maths (see chart). (The scales run from zero to 500: a score of 150, for example, indicates ability to carry out simple reading tasks or cope with simple arithmetical facts; 300 denotes facility with “complicated information” in reading or “moderately complex” reasoning in maths.)

The scores of the nine-year-olds did not fall by any statistically significant amount. But when grouped by performance levels, the plight of struggling students across both age cohorts is more acute than the overall numbers would suggest. Between 2012 and 2020 maths and reading scores for worse-performing students fell by more than those of their better-performing peers, which were mostly stagnant.

Maths scores have been particularly slippery. While 13-year-olds in the 90th percentile saw little change in their scores between 2012 and 2020, scores for the tenth percentile fell 12 points. The maths gap between black 13-year-olds and their white counterparts, which in previous assessments seemed to be narrowing slightly, also grew. While in 2012 average scores for white 13-year-olds were 28 points higher than those of black students, in 2020 this difference grew to 35 points.

Explaining these trends is thorny. (Some commentators are so reluctant to use these tests to speculate on broader trends that they call doing so “misnaepery.”) Some studies blame the fallout from the financial crisis in 2008 for harming education. But there is no consensus on why things have not improved again. The results of the next set of long-term trend tests, due to be held in 2024, will reflect, among other things, the impact of school closures during covid-19. The current data show that many American students entered that difficult time already woefully behind their peers. And since maths is more difficult than reading to pick up outside school, the pandemic may then harm scores in that subject even further.


Parents Furious After CA High School Announces 'All Gender' Locker Room

Wilson High School parents in Long Beach, California are furious upon learning that the Unified School District is planning to build a co-ed locker room where teenage boys and teenage girls will shower and dress together.

The district has pushed the gay agenda pretty heavily in the past, but an "all-gender" locker room was a shock to parents.

Measure E, as it is being called, will "create all-gender inclusive facilities" and "the instructor stated that it is created as 'a safe space for people who might be otherwise uncomfortable.'”

Wilson’s Assistant Principal Guillermo Jimenez announced the new locker room to parents via email:

Parents and guardians are invited to join a virtual community meeting on Tuesday, November 30 at 6 p.m. to learn more about the new aquatic center and inclusive locker room coming to Wilson High School fall 2023. Construction will begin next summer.

The Long Beach Unified School District’s inclusive facilities are spaces that serve students with disabilities, students of all gender identities and expressions, and students who desire privacy for any number of reasons. Wilson’s new aquatic center will feature an inclusive, all-gender locker room.

How does this not scream bad idea to every person on the school board? This opens the door wide for sexual assault and teen pregnancies.




Thursday, November 25, 2021

Critical Race Theory Teaches False Ideas to Students, Shouldn’t Become Normalized: Rep. Foxx

Lessons based on critical race theory (CRT) are growing more common in school systems across the country despite CRT containing false ideas, a top Republican says.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) is the ranking member on the House Education and Labor Committee.

Foxx said she sees concepts from CRT being inserted into curriculums in various jurisdictions.

CRT “says to students of color that they are victims and it tells white students they are oppressors, and that we’re stuck as a result of our race,” Foxx told NTD’s “Capitol Report” in an interview broadcast over the weekend.

“Well, that’s simply not true in this country. It might be true other places, but it’s certainly not true in this country.”

Foxx recounted growing up in a home with no electricity and no running water and noted she’s now a member of Congress. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), she added, also grew up poor and is one of 100 U.S. senators. Dr. Ben Carson, meanwhile, another black man, ascended to be one of the top doctors in the country, and served as housing secretary during the Trump administration.

“Their mothers told them, ‘you can be anything you want to be,'” Foxx said. “My parents didn’t exactly say that to me. But they demanded excellence of me in school. And so I studied hard and I went through an academic route and again, here I am, in the Congress of the United States. Any person in this country can achieve their God-given talents and take them to the ultimate if they want to—doesn’t matter your color, your religion, your race where you grew up—and we don’t want CRT to become the norm in this country or for people to believe in that.”

In some cases, the insertion of CRT elements into lessons has been hidden from parents. That prompted Foxx and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Wis.) to introduce a bill that would make school districts post their curriculums online if they want to receive federal funding.

“Knowledge is strength. And we want parents to know what is being taught in the schools. The curriculum should not be a secret,” Foxx said. “Basically this is about transparency, and about the curriculum being open and available.”


UK: An Open University professor’s harrowing account of what it feels like to be targeted by a trans hate mob

Words are Professor Jo Phoenix’s stock-in-trade, but she struggles to find ones that encompass the scale of her anger and grief.

‘I’ve been living in a state of semi-hell; last summer was the worst of my entire life,’ says the eminent academic. ‘I’ve been publicly vilified by hundreds of colleagues. I’ve been called transphobic. Violent and profane posters have been directed against me.’

She says she was compared to a racist by her managers and has been told that her views are ‘as bad as Holocaust denial’.

‘I’ve been silenced and shunned. I’ve been made to feel like a pariah and I’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.’ When I ask how this vicious onslaught has made her feel, she casts around for exactly the right response before saying: ‘Treachery is too light a word. I feel enraged. There is this bitter sense of betrayal and a dramatic feeling of loss because the university I’ve worked with for several years and loved has failed to support me.’

Jo Phoenix, 57, is Professor of Criminology at the Open University, specialising in sex, gender and justice. How ironic it is that her enemies have compiled a charge sheet of ‘crimes’ of which they say she is guilty.

Professor Phoenix is the latest victim of a toxic culture war that is poisoning British universities and which is also part of a much wider crisis of free speech.

Her principal ‘crime’ is to have spoken out about ‘the silencing of academic debate on trans issues’, criticising the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s influence in universities and highlighting the challenges of dealing with transgender women in women’s prisons.

Professor Phoenix said that she has been branded a ‘transphobe’ and put on a list circulated online that called her a ‘terf’ (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), the derogatory term to describe those who believe that ‘identifying’ as a woman is not the same as being born a woman.

The campaign of bullying against her from ideologues who condemn anyone who suggests that a person’s biological sex takes precedence over someone’s ‘gender identity’ has also targeted fellow academic Professor Kathleen Stock. She was hounded from Sussex University — after being terrorised by banner-waving protesters demanding her resignation — for daring to speak out against aspects of transgender ideology.

And this week J. K. Rowling, who was accused of transphobia last year, revealed trans activists had leaked her home address online. The Harry Potter author added she had received so many death threats she could ‘paper the house with them’.

Here, in her first major interview, Professor Phoenix recounts how she has been verbally abused, harassed and defamed, not just by students but by her colleagues and peers.

She is currently taking the Open University to an employment tribunal in a bid to protect academic freedom and freedom of expression.

To pay the legal costs, she’s using crowdfunding and so far has raised £86,000 in donations from supporters who back her attempt to hold the Open University to account.

Her hope is that the landmark case will force universities ‘to protect academics from vicious bullying designed to silence academic research into sex and gender’.

Professor Phoenix is engaging and articulate. Just 5 ft 2 in tall, with close-cropped hair and designer spectacles, she combines warmth of spirit and unwavering conviction.

She says: ‘I don’t recognise myself as brave. I’m on my knees — exhausted and terrified that this is the end of my career and I will never be able to extricate myself from these accusations.’

It is impossible not to admire her courage.

The battle against her employers apart, she has arthritis and has had both her shoulders and knees replaced. This year, she also had surgery to stabilise her spine with titanium rods.

She was signed off work in June and returned last month, but just for research duties.

Over the summer, following the death of her mother, she hit a particularly low point when she couldn’t sleep.

‘I had a hideous nightmare and woke with flashing lights behind my eyes, feeling terrified and crying. I felt as if I was under siege,’ she says. ‘I’d had such vile abuse on Twitter — things like “shut the f**k up terf” and there were threatening images of baseball bats.

‘I kept telling the university staff that this vile stuff was coming onto my Twitter feed and they just said “Don’t look at it” and invited me to take a break from social media.’

A lesbian, she is quick to point out that she is not transphobic — believing fervently that trans people should be safeguarded and properly supported.

Professor Phoenix, who has been researching sex, gender and justice for two decades, says her first encounter with militant trans-activists came in December 2019 when she was booked to give a lecture at Essex University about prisons and trans issues.

After the talk was advertised, someone on social media linked it to the ‘trans rights’ movement. This triggered a slew of hostile criticism.

Among it was a tweet from an Essex University employee saying: ‘A well-known transphobe is coming to our campus.’

On the day of the lecture, Professor Phoenix says three other academic staff encouraged Essex students to mobilise forces against her. A flyer, including the image of a gun, and the words ‘Shut the F**k Up terf’ was distributed.

The university authorities then rescheduled the talk so as to arrange adequate security.

But Professor Phoenix says the university’s department of sociology convened a meeting to discuss the lecture and asked her for a transcript of what she was going to say.

Since this was not standard practice, she refused. ‘They voted to blacklist me, which was like putting a lit match into a tank of petrol. At first I was outraged, then, when I realised this was going to have a profound effect on my reputation and career, I was devastated. I was likened to a racist, twice, and told that gender-critical views were as bad as Holocaust denial. It was all deeply unpleasant.’

It took a further 18 months for her to be exonerated.

A report on the university’s handling of the case by barrister Akua Reindorf concluded that Essex University had breached her rights.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, duly issued an apology. However, he then appeared to retract it, saying the report had ‘a negative impact on trans and non-binary staff and students’.

Professor Phoenix says: ‘The apology was hollow. It was like hitting someone with a car and breaking every bone in their body then saying, “sorry”.’

It was at this point that she decided to set up the Open University Gender Critical Research Network.

Gender-critical views are the belief that someone’s sex — whether male or female — is biological and unchanging and different from their gender identity (whether they identify as a man or a woman). These beliefs are protected in law.

She is particularly keen to ensure women are safeguarded, especially in places such as prisons where trans women — who were born men and may still have male genitalia — are placed alongside women born female. As an example of problems that have emerged, she references the case of Karen White who, while legally a man but identifying as a woman, sexually assaulted two women fellow inmates while in a Yorkshire prison in 2017.

It wasn’t long before, she says, that the harassment campaign against her ‘went into hyper-drive on steroids — all hell was unleashed’. An open letter denouncing the network was signed by 380 people — including many of her fellow academics.

It said: ‘We do not believe that freedom of speech or academic freedom should come at the expense of marginalised groups,’ claiming that gender-critical feminism is, ‘fundamentally hostile to the rights of trans people’. It also called for the network’s disaffiliation from the university.

She was also monstrously accused of ‘contributing to an atmosphere in which trans people are killed’. Among other abuse, a senior Open University manager likened her to ‘the racist uncle at the Christmas dinner table’.

When she reacted by crying, the manager was, she says, brutally dismissive. ‘She said if I couldn’t cope, she could put me in touch with counselling services.’

Professor Phoenix says she pleaded with the Open University authorities to stop the harassment but said that so far they have done nothing. That is why she is taking them to an employment tribunal.

A spokesperson for the Open University told the Daily Mail: ‘The Open University is an environment where an academic can express a view freely, and others can choose to disagree. That is the nature of academic debate and holds true, even for the most polarising of topics. Our role as an institution is not to take sides, but to facilitate these debates while ensuring that they take place in accordance with the law and that colleagues are provided with support where necessary.

‘The Gender Critical Research Network continues to grow, host debates, produce research and draw on the support of university resources to help with its work.

‘It is open to any colleague to raise a concern, and while we cannot comment on ongoing matters, we would like to reiterate that any concern raised is taken extremely seriously and will be investigated fairly and robustly.’

Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Professor Phoenix is concerned about her personal safety. She is reticent about saying where she lives — other than that it is in the South West of England.

‘When there is an atmosphere in which some people are told they’re a threat to a minority group, the stakes are so high that it’s only a matter of time before someone is physically attacked,’ she says.

Her fears are founded on personal experience. She grew up in America and when she was 13, one of her teachers at a school in Texas was shot dead by a fellow pupil. Then, two years later, she was raped by two men. ‘It gave me a finely tuned sense of justice,’ she says.

Professor Phoenix first worked for the Open University in 1996 and she describes her current post as a ‘dream job because adult education is so important to me’.

All of which makes her current ostracism even more wounding.

The only chink of light is the generosity of those who have donated to help pay her legal fees.

Not only is she battling for her own career and the principles of free speech, she says she is also fighting for younger generations — such as her two stepchildren and four adored grandchildren.

‘I’m doing it for them because they need to be able to talk about the difference between women and trans women without being accused of hatred. I’ll do whatever it takes because this is too important to walk away from.’


Wait...That's Why a New Hampshire High Schooler Was Suspended? He Cited a Biological Fact

Well, it would seem one New Hampshire high school has a problem with simple biology. No, scratch that—it's facts. This school cannot let facts be declared because it might offend someone. Exeter High School is facing a lawsuit from a student who says he was slapped with a suspension from athletics because he declared there were only two genders.

Great Odin's raven! He said a fact, but some facts must be censored to ensure that the whole community isn't triggered. That's the left. The clowns who say they're the party of science…until they're not (via NY Post):

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 4 through an attorney with the Christian organization Cornerstone Action with the claim that he stated a Catholic-based belief that there are only male and female genders, the Portsmouth Herald reported.

The kid’s lawsuit also claims Exeter’s policy on non-binary gender identity and pronouns infringes on his First Amendment rights.

The policy says students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun of their choosing related to their gender identities and also says those who don’t recognize others’ gender identities or pronouns are violating the policy.

The student doesn’t deny he violated the policy, the lawsuit says, according to the Herald.

“He in fact denied, and will continue to deny, that any person can belong to a gender other than that of ‘male’ or ‘female’” the lawsuit says.

The student, it goes on, “will never refer to any individual person using plural pronouns such as ‘they,’ using contrived pronouns such as ‘ze,’ or with any similar terminology that reflects values which (the student) does not share.” ....

A female student overheard the discussion and allegedly told the student there were more than two genders. “No there isn’t: There’s only two genders,” the student allegedly replied.

Wait—he got clipped by the rat squad? Some girl ratted him out. The thought police then went to work—got it. This is ridiculous. Even the Olympics is reconsidering their transgender policy, especially when it comes to weightlifting competitions. Why? It's because they're dudes. They were born male. They have testosterone that gives them an inherent advantage. It's one of those differences that prove there are two genders.

This is why the snowflake swipe works for the left and never the other way around. Liberals are triggered by non-offensive facts. Liberals say something terrible, like gloating about the people killed in the Waukesha Christmas parade post-Rittenhouse verdict, and then say, "the Right is triggered." Yeah, because what you said was actually terrible; a child and five others died.




Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Social and Emotional Indoctrination in Schools

Social and emotional learning is the latest trend at your child's school. SEL sounds beneficial, but that's a disguise. In truth, it indoctrinates kids with extremist ideas many parents don't condone.

On Nov. 22, the Hartford Courant reported that West Hartford, Connecticut, elementary school parents are in an uproar. They're complaining that teachers are putting words such as "nonbinary" on the chalkboard and telling kids, including kindergarteners, they can live life as a gender different from what they were assigned at birth. Parents were told by school authorities that they can't opt their children out.

Most Americans think parents should have the final say on what children are taught. From Treasure Valley, Idaho, to Greenwich, Connecticut, school board candidates made SEL an issue in elections earlier this month.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita encouraged parents to speak up and cautioned that SEL programs shift "the role of teachers from educators to therapists."

Fighting SEL is an uphill battle because it's not only favored by the left-leaning educational bureaucracy; it's also big business. "The SEL ecosystem today is flush with dollars," reports Tyton Partners, SEL industry consultants.

Billions in federal COVID-relief money for schools is being used to buy SEL programs and fund SEL instructors. Advocates and companies that produce the materials lobby Congress and the federal Department of Education to ensure legislative language precisely matches what they're selling.

But parental opposition is also surging. Attorney General Merrick Garland asked the FBI to look into parents protesting issues like SEL at school board meetings. His son-in-law is a co-founder of Panorama Education, a company raking in millions selling SEL materials to school districts. Conflict of interest?

And what about the billions of dollars the Democrats' Build Back Better legislation allocates to child care and pre-K? Will that money pay to indoctrinate even younger minds? Likely, "yes." At least a dozen states, including New York, have already adopted SEL standards for preschool.

As for elementary schools, gender dysphoric kids make up less than 1% of the school population. Protect them, of course, from bullying and discrimination. They need to feel safe. But don't brainwash the rest with one-sided, repeated lessons about gender issues.

West Hartford is reported to hammer away grade after grade, starting with a kindergarten-level book about a teddy bear who knows in his heart he is a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. Then, a book about Aiden, who knows the sex he was assigned at birth is "wrong." Then, a book about choosing pronouns. And another is about a girl named Jazz who changes her gender identity. Are kids reading that many books about the U.S. Constitution?

One Arkansas father objected that his fifth grader's teacher showed a video of a transgender activist's speech. Then, the teacher, wearing a "Protect Trans Lives" T-shirt, invited the class to a pride celebration: "I'll be at Pride from 1-6! I hope to see you there!"

SEL was originally sold as training children to control their emotions, manage their time and make good personal decisions. Teachers have always tried to instill these life skills. They're the same American values Benjamin Franklin proselytized in his autobiography 200 years ago.

But recently, SEL purveyors, including the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, have openly revised their goals. CASEL advocates for "transformative SEL" to promote "justice-oriented civic engagement." Translation: Make your kids into activists.

A South Bend, Indiana, school district adopted SEL two years ago to curb substance abuse and bullying. Now, parents, recognizing the radical messaging, are demanding more oversight.

Who's in charge of what your child learns? Parents need to take control. It's not an easy fight against the combined forces of educational profiteers and left-wing activists. But the stakes are too high to accept defeat.


There's a New Lord and Savior at Catholic University...And It's Not Jesus Christ

Paintings depicting George Floyd as Jesus Christ hang in both The Catholic University of America’s campus ministry office and its law school, The Daily Signal has learned.

Catholic University appeared to shrug off responsibility for the painting Monday, telling The Daily Signal that artist Kelly Latimore’s painting “Mama” depicts “the Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ”—although the artist has indicated repeatedly that his painting depicts both Floyd and Jesus.

“You can identify Jesus by the marks in the halo,” said Karna Lozoya, vice president for university communications. Lozoya would not further address the matter with The Daily Signal.

“The icon has no place at The Catholic University of America; it is blasphemous and an offense to the Catholic faith, but it is not surprising at all that it was put there,” a junior at Catholic University told The Daily Signal in an email. “It is just another symptom of the liberalization and secularization of our campus.”

“There are many students, faculty, and staff who are concerned about this, but there is nothing we can do,” added the student, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal from the university administration. “And if we sound the alarm, we will be labeled racists.”

I mean, when Catholic universities start dabbling with this "woke" crap, trouble is ahead. And the Church already has a ton of other issues on its hands. They don't need to make things worse. Remove this painting. A mural is fine, but the intent and undertones here are pretty explicit; just look at the painting.


England’s most prestigious universities failing to boost social mobility, IFS finds

Well-known universities, including Exeter, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge, were found to have done the least to help those from the lowest-income households, in analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that for the first time ranks higher education institutions in England by their contribution to social mobility.

The research comes as the government details new measures that would compel universities in England to improve the performance of local schools and pupils, and to do more to help their graduates find rewarding careers.

The IFS study found that Oxbridge and other highly selective universities admit so few people from disadvantaged backgrounds that their impact is far outweighed by other institutions recruiting low-income students in greater numbers and helping them into higher paid careers after graduation.

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is the sole example of a member of the Russell Group of leading universities with an outstanding record in both admitting a high proportion of students who had received free school meals and boosting their career prospects.

Prof Colin Bailey, the principal of QMUL, said he was “incredibly proud” of the achievement by staff and students.

“Recruiting students from backgrounds typically under-represented at universities, and supporting them to succeed, is at the heart of everything we stand for as a university,” Prof Bailey said.

The IFS examined the school, university and workforce history of nearly 1 million young people in England who took GCSE exams between 2002 and 2006, and tracked their careers until around the age of 30. From the data it constructed a social mobility index, using the proportion of disadvantaged young people admitted to a university or course and their later progression into a job in the top 20% of earnings.

“Despite having very high success rates, we see that the elite institutions do very poorly in terms of mobility rates, as they let in so few low-income students. Instead, low- to mid-ranking institutions, often based in London, are the best performers in terms of mobility,” the IFS said.

The University of Westminster admitted 22% of students who had previously been on free school meals, with one in four going on to well-paid jobs, giving it one of the highest social mobility ratings of 5.6%. In contrast, Bristol university admitted only 1.2% of pupils previously on free school meals – meaning that despite more than 40% progressing to highly paid careers, its rating was 0.4%.

The IFS calculated the average mobility rate across all universities in England to be 1.3%, which it said was “well below our benchmark rate of 4.4%, the rate you would get if there were equal access to university for all income groups”.

The figures also showed that high average graduate earnings did not equate to improved social mobility. “It is plausible that policies that restrict funding for low-returning courses could come at a cost in terms of social mobility,” the IFS noted, in reference to rumours that the government was looking to cut funding for courses based on graduate incomes.

The Sutton Trust, which helped produce the research, said it showed universities can be powerful vehicles for social mobility, and that graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to end up as a high earner than those who don’t go to university.

Sir Peter Lampl, the trust’s founder, said universities should “give young people from low income backgrounds a break on the grades they need to get in, as their grades, in many cases, do not reflect their potential”.

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister for England, will unveil new efforts to involve higher education in offering tutoring and summer schools for all local pupils. The government also wants a greater emphasis on universities helping their graduates find skilled employment, and more support for any students in danger of dropping out.

“We need to send a message to every disadvantaged young person thinking about higher education that they will have the support through school, college and university to get there and achieve a positive outcome,” Donelan will say.

The Department for Education has also named John Blake, a former teacher who is currently a policy director for the Ark schools multi-academy trust, as the new director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students.




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving 'myth'? Universities ask whether Americans should 'reconsider' holiday as 'Day of Mourning'

Many communities worldwide have harvest celebrations. It's not political

Several American universities are participating in an event asking whether Americans should "reconsider" the Thanksgiving holiday.

The alumni associations of the University of Maryland, Florida Gulf Coast University, Washington State University, University of Central Arkansas, Hiram College in Ohio and California State University, Long Beach are participating.

After the initial publication of this story, a spokesperson for UCA claimed it had "no knowledge" of the webinar. After Fox News asked UCA why it had no knowledge of a webinar its own website promoted, the spokesperson said, "ALC is a contracted service that the UCA Alumni Association uses for content. From what we’ve been able to determine, the information was mistakenly linked to UCA. This webinar was not one that was requested by our alumni association." The event has now been removed from UCA's website.

According to the event description, the recent national shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day "reflects a changing national mood," and asks if Americans should do the same with Thanksgiving.

"Starting in 1970, many Americans, led by Indigenous protesters, believed that Thanksgiving should be rededicated as a National Day of Mourning to reflect the centuries-long displacement and persecution of Native Americans. The recent shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day reflects a changing national mood," the event description states. "Should Americans reconsider Thanksgiving when wrestling with our country’s complicated past?"

"The myth of Thanksgiving is powerful and ubiquitous. In the autumn of 1621, so American legend has it, English Pilgrims seeking religious freedom shared a feast with Wampanoags, the residents of the territory the Pilgrims labeled Plymouth," the event description adds. "The good feelings of that meal soon faded when Native peoples and English colonists, including the Pilgrims, began to compete for resources, initiating conflicts that raged for generations. Yet despite the often-violent relations between the nation and Indigenous communities, the myth of coexistence remained."

The event's speaker, Peter C. Mancall, a professor at the University of Southern California, told Fox News that his goal for the event is to "explain the context for events and offer insights about how to interpret the existing evidence."

"I respect my audience’s ability to draw their own conclusions about the material," he said.

A spokesperson for the University of Maryland said that the alumni association has a contract with the Alumni Learning Consortium, which hosts the event. A spokesperson for California State University, Long Beach also said that university pays to participate in the Alumni Learning Consortium.

A spokesperson for Florida Gulf Coast University said that the university's alumni association pays $2,500 to Professional Book Club Guru, which also provides access to the event. A spokesperson for Hiram College in Ohio said the college also pays for events through the Professional Book Club Guru.

The Alumni Learning Consortium is managed by the Professional Book Club Guru, which states that its mission is to "help alumni associations create more and higher quality online programs to drive engagement."


The Brainy Bunch! Parents whose TEN homeschooled children all started college before age 13 insist the kids 'AREN'T geniuses' - and claim anyone can achieve the same success with a few simple methods

The parents of 10 children who all started college before the age of 13 insist their precocious sons and daughters are 'not geniuses' - instead crediting their 'efficient' homeschooling regimen for their family's academic success.

Monalisa Harding, 53, and her husband Kip, 53, who are high school sweethearts from San Jose, California, homeschooled all their children from the same syllabus instead of sending the kids to traditional schools.

They knew they were on the right track after getting each of their first three children through high school by the time they all turned 11, and their younger kids went on to achieve similar success.

Their oldest child, Hannah, went on to earn a bachelors degree in mathematics at the age of 17 from Auburn University, Montgomery in 2004 - making her the first child prodigy.

Last year, their youngest child Thunder, 11, passed his entrance exams to college, joining Lorennah, 13, who is already in her second year.

Those of the Harding siblings who have already graduated from college have gone on to become doctors, architects, spacecraft designers and lawyers.

Eight of the brothers and sisters have already graduated by either 15 or 16 - and all went to university before they were 13.

The most recent family graduate Mariannah, 16, is now applying to do her masters in horticulture in January.

Seth Harding, 20, child six of 10, became Alabama's youngest lawyer at the age of 19 after getting his law degree and passing his professional exams during the pandemic.

But humble Monalisa insists her kids 'aren't geniuses' - and said their success is down to homeschooling which is more 'efficient' than going to school.

Monalisa, said: 'The nature of homeschooling is so efficient - anyone can do it.

'It's just about parents dedicating the time to get it done and prioritizing their children's education above all else.

'We're not a wealthy family. We had to make sacrifices so that I had the time to teach each of them individually.

'When you raise kids in an environment where homeschooling and hard work is the norm, then, as they grow, they'll naturally adapt to it and take it in their stride.

'They all worked and continue to work extremely hard, which is why they're breaking new ground every day - I couldn't be more proud of them.'

In 2014, the couple released their own book titled 'The Brainy Bunch', detailing their methods and techniques which has brought their children so much success.

The book goes into detail about the intricacy of homeschool study and offers advice and support for parents wishing to do the same.

Monalisa and husband Kip, who used to be in the military before working in government, also offer private consultations for families about home schooling.


A Declining Industry? The Growing Financial Risks of Attending College

According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Kevin Carey, 46% of the students graduating from Eastern New Mexico State University make less than $25,000 annually (less than the earnings of a typical full-time Wal-Mart employee with a high school education) after college. Almost simultaneously, an article in the Wall Street Journal told of recent graduates who earned degrees online at the expensive University of Southern California sometimes amassing six-digit debts loads and working in similar low-paying jobs.

Many enter college thinking graduation will provide a comfortable middle class life, but that is often simply not true. Going to college has significant financial risks, like with most financial investments—beginning with the reality that close to 40% of matriculants fail to graduate in six years.

While not politically correct to say, college is an inappropriate post-secondary option for a sizable percent of high school graduates. Moreover, most choosing colleges don’t have a good idea about what they want to study, and fail to understand that the choice of major is usually much more important in predicting future vocational success than the choice of college. Ever more woke and politically correct, colleges are reducing reliance on things like SAT tests that actually are decent predictors of collegiate success. Merit is out, and “equity” is in, so I fear colleges will continue to turn out or fail large numbers of mediocre students—further discrediting the notion that college is a good value proposition. I used to encourage bright students to consider becoming college professors some day—rarely any more. Universities are to the professions what coal mining or steelmaking is to blue-collar workers—a declining industry.

In work for the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, Preston Cooper did a rather comprehensive examination of literally tens of thousands of bachelor’s degree programs. Cooper is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying “28% of bachelor’s degrees... do not have a net positive return.” If one calculates a broader social rate of return taking account of college scholarship subsidies, the total rises to about 37%. It probably is roughly true that college pays well financially for about one-third of graduates, is a bad investment for one-third, and is marginally beneficial to the remaining one-third.

A couple big caveats. First, college is a consumption good as well as a human capital investment, and a person can greatly enjoy the four-to-five-year collegiate gap period between adolescence and life even though the result financially is not satisfactory. Second, Cooper is necessarily using data of so-so reliability, especially since some students (not receiving federal student financial assistance) are excluded from the Department of Education data base; I suspect this biases estimated returns downward somewhat.

I think all of this contributes importantly to the most striking trend of the modern era in higher education: the pronounced flight to quality where colleges perceived to be “excellent” are flourishing while those with a less distinguished reputation are suffering. But analysts of the federal data such as Cooper and Andrew Gillen also note that the subject studied in college is particularly crucial. Employers perceive college as high-level vocational education—upscale trade school. As Cooper put it, “a majority of programs in art, music, philosophy and psychology leave their average students financially worse off.” A petroleum engineering major at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin is likely to have a better return on her/his investment (average earnings at age 25 of $89,692) than a comparable major in English literature or art at Columbia University.

Another dimension of all of this that gets less emphasis because it is not very fashionable to talk about these days: an awful lot of college kids meet their lifetime soulmate in school, and love, a decidedly difficult quality to measure quantitatively, is important in assessing the overall quality of life. Even the financial dimension of life is impacted by collegiate hookups: perhaps one spouse becomes a poet and earns little but loves her work—but she or he has a partner making megabucks serving as Whiplash Willie plaintiff attorney. For this couple, college is decidedly a profitable financial investment even if the data for one of them suggests otherwise.




Monday, November 22, 2021

A Manhattan middle school will racially separate students during a controversial social justice exercise officials say is meant to 'undo the legacy of racism and oppression.'

Next week, the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School will reportedly separate kids in grades seven and eight into five racial groups for a two-day program meant to explore 'How do our racial identities influence our experiences?' Principal Shanna Douglas wrote in an email to parents.

The students will be divided into five racial groups: whites, Asians and mixed-race students will each get their own groups, African American and Hispanic students will be combined into one group, and there will be an additional group for those who are uncomfortable with the format, the New York Post reported.

Following the groupings, the students will enter into a discussion that ponders 'why are we even talking about racial identity?' according to the email.

Douglas told parents that the school - which is 44 percent Asian, 29 percent white 15 percent Hispanic and 8 percent black - has failed to adequately address race issues in the past, the Post reported.

She said part of the reason this program has come about is because of student's interest in the topic of race.

'Students are talking about it since race has become a popular topic on social media, or parents are talking even more about it at home due to the recent incidents across the nation,' she wrote to parents, saying the exercises are part of the school's mission to 'undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community.'

Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer told the Post that this exercise will be entirely optional and student participation is not mandatory.

'This optional program was developed in close coordination with both the School Leadership Team, PTA, and families,' Styer said, adding it has been made 'abundantly clear to both students and parents that anyone can opt-out of this two-day celebration if they desire.'

Parents have shared mixed reactions to the practice, which is known as 'affinity groups,' but some say that they trust school staff to navigate the difficult discussions. 'I think our teachers know how to handle it,' one mom told the Post.

Another parent said she also had no objections. 'The staff is very good about being clear when it comes to race,' she said.

But other parents are questioning the practice and say they believe separating kids by race goes too far.

'I think a lot of us feel like this is too much,' one mom told the Post. 'But most parents are too afraid to say anything at this point. Why are we separating our kids like this?'

Her reaction was echoed on social media, where people reacted negatively, saying this was a step backward and a return to segregation at schools.

One person tweeted: 'Why doesn't anyone ask, 'How does this re-branded racial segregation help kids learn?' [Spoiler alert: it doesn't.] How disgusting to divide 11 year old friends & classmates by race in 2021 NYC.'

Another person wrote: 'Irony is broken: 'The Lower Manhattan Community School will conduct the controversial exercises as part of its mission to 'undo the legacy of racism'' bringing back racist segregation!'

Other people simply responded by tweeting: 'We’re going backwards,' 'Segregation is back? I thought that was already done away with...' and 'I'm so done with woke racism.'


Black racism again

A group of four black girls attacked a group of Asian students on a Philadelphia SEPTA train on Wednesday in an attack which was caught on camera. The group of girls aged between 13 and 16 threw punches and screamed profanities at the Asian students

Passengers on the train did not intervene with the teens until the girl was on the ground and kicked several times
Authorities have identified the attackers although they have not been named

Each member of the group has been charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault and disorderly conduct

The mother of one of four black teenage girls who was captured on video brutally assaulting a group of Asian students on a Philadelphia train turned her into police as all four were slapped with a slew of charges, including ethnic intimidation.

Shocking video captured the group of black teenage girls brutally throwing punches and screaming profanities at a group of Asian students this week.

The unidentified girls, who were between the ages of 13 and 16, were charged with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, disorderly conduct, and recklessly endangering another person, according to the district attorney's office.

Thomas Nestel, police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), said the attack was unprovoked and had been based on the group's ethnicity, noting that 'ethnic slurs were used by the attackers.'

Nestel revealed how the mother of one of the teen suspects recognized her own daughter from the video and went straight to the cops.

Her daughter and her pals turned their fury on a group of four students, which included three boys and a girl, who were traveling on the train on Wednesday from North Philadelphia.

Police said 'ethnic slurs were repeated and directed at them and mocking them for their heritage... it was clear they were picked on because they were Asian,' Nestel said.

One of the suspects was also charged with robbery for the attempted theft of a victim's air pods, the prosecutor said.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the city would not tolerate such acts of hate and that he was appalled after learning about the incident.

'Those involved in the assault have been identified and will be held accountable. I want our residents to know that we will not tolerate any acts of hate,' Kenney tweeted.

It is unclear what sparked the feud, but video footage shows a girl in an all-pink outfit and a black ski mask screaming profanities at around 3.30pm on Wednesday.

The video opens with the girl in pink screaming at a group of Asian boys while another in a black quarter-zip jacket punches one who is wearing a red jacket.

The girl in pink appears to say, 'You want to doubt my people,' before firing off a string of profanities.

'You want to come on, b***ch? You want to try me, b***ch, f**king try me, I'll f**king beat ya,' she continued screaming as she stood over the the group of sitting boys.

She also yelled at a female Asian student standing near the boys.

Another girl, dressed in a black sweater that reads 'confidence collection thurl' across the chest, pointed her finger and screamed at the boys: 'Don't try that s**t again. Don't try that s**t again.'

It is unclear what the other students did to anger the girls.

An older girl, dressed in black with a black bandana over her hair, stepped in and pointed at the boy sitting close to the window next to the one in red and said: 'It was really him, it was really him.'

She then proceeded to turn around and slap the mask off the Asian girl, screaming at her: 'Get the f**k out of here, And bitch, stop f**king [indiscernible].'

The Asian girl appears to be upset, but doesn't say anything as she adjusts her mask back over her nose.

The girl in pink then corners her, backing her up until her back's against the door, yelling: 'What? What? What?' as she pushes the Asian girl.

She appears to slam the palm of her hand into the girl's head several times before the girl falls to the ground.

She bends down and continues to hit her before more girls come over and begin to stomp on her back as she screams.

The girl in pink takes off one of her slipper-like shoes and slams it into the girl's head while calling her a b***ch.

Someone in the background can be heard screaming 'yo, yo, yo.'

The video ends as the girl in pink straightens up to look at the male yelling at them to stop.

A SEPTA spokesperson called the incident 'violent and disturbing,' but reported no major injuries.

The Philadelphia School Administration said they 'did have additional Student Support staff on hand at Central High School to support any students who be experiencing anxiety over what happened.'

A Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh is calling on SEPTA and the Philadelphia School District to increase safety measures.

'There has to be a response by the police, by SEPTA school safety officers, formerly known as school police, and by SEPTA itself. It has a police force and we need to see them,' he said.


The Left is now dominated by highly educated people

Higher education tends to lead to arrogance and the most arrogant ones find a natural home on the Left, who never cease trying to impose their ideas on the whole of society. The great tyrannies of the 20th century -- from Communism to Fascism to Nazism -- were all "socialist"

Highly educated people tend to be well-off so their chief concerns are a long way from the concerns of poorer people. So the Left is steadily losing the working class vote that it once relied on

Since 2016, the year Britain voted to leave the European Union and the United States elected Donald Trump, to the dismay of the educated classes in both countries, speculation has grown about whether centre-left or social democratic parties can remain in the electoral race, or whether a polarising world has no place for them.

The centre-left’s demise is far from certain – the German Social Democrats did well in recent national elections. Yet in a host of countries, including Australia, social democrats are struggling to balance the interests of their two big support bases: educated progressives and working people, who in Australia are majority Anglo-Celtic but also contain people from many migrant and refugee backgrounds and Indigenous Australians.

The gaps between these groups over climate change, identity politics issues and – in many countries – immigration, can seem too great to enable a centre-left party to craft a coherent policy platform and election-winning story.

Fifty years ago, there was no such divide. The proportion of the population that was university-educated was just too small. As late as 1975, only 15 per cent of Australian 19-year-olds went to university. Most young people left school to enter factories, trades and shops, as well as nursing and white-collar jobs in banks, company offices and even the public service. Half of all workers were union members.

Today globalisation and technological change have swept away the manufacturing and clerical jobs that were so plentiful in 1975. Unions represent a mere 14 per cent of workers, and just over 5 percent of workers are under 24 years old. As the number of middle-income jobs has shrunk, inequality and the premium paid for a good education have soared.

Aside from some tradies, construction workers and the odd DJ or sports star, people who leave the education system after year 12 will not have a well-paid job. The gap between the lifetime income produced by someone with a university degree and those with a year 12 qualification or less is $700,000, according to a 2016 report by the Grattan Institute. These changes help to explain why 42 per cent of 19-year-olds now go to university.

As the size of the tertiary-educated class has expanded, its political views have changed places with those of the less educated. French economist Thomas Piketty calls it “the great reversal”. Piketty analysed electoral results in the US, Britain and France since World War II to show that in 1960, a person of low education and income in these countries was almost certain to vote left. Today, except for members of some minority groups, that person is increasingly voting right. At the other end of the scale, a person of high education levels in 1960 was most likely to vote right. Today, he or she is almost certain to vote left.

In the US, Trump won much of the white working-class vote in 2016 and held a good share of it in 2020, despite slashing taxes on the rich and trying to nobble initiatives such as Obamacare that helped lower-income people. On the night of Trump’s defeat in 2020, Republican politician Josh Hawley, a graduate of Princeton and Yale, tweeted: “We are a working-class party now.” Hawley’s tweet was self-serving and only half true: there remain plenty of rich and powerful Republicans.

Yet the change may be underway in Australia, too. The ALP still holds most federal lower-income electorates; there has been no Trump tide or breach of the “Red Wall”, the Conservative rout of British Labour in working-class seats in the north of England in 2019.

Nevertheless, in the 2019 federal election, the average swing to Labor in the 20 seats with the highest share of university graduates was nearly 4 per cent. The average swing against Labor in the 20 electorates with the lowest share of university graduates was just over 4 per cent. It is a perfect reflection of Piketty’s argument.

In their report on that election defeat, senior Labor figures Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill pointed to the growing gap between the party’s two constituencies. The party had “become a natural home for diverse interests and concerns, including gender equality, the LGBTQI+ community, racial equality and environmentalism”.

These issues were important, and Labor should not abandon principled positions on them, Emerson and Weatherill wrote. However, working people often resented “the attention progressive political parties give at their expense to minority groups and what is nowadays called identity politics”. At a time of great economic dislocation, working-class voters “would lose faith in Labor if they did not believe the party was responding to their needs”.

The risk for Labor is that if its membership continues to shrink and become more concentrated in the inner cities, the priorities of its progressive activists will predominate. The party has a model for where that might lead in the crushing defeat of British Labour, including the loss of many working-class seats, under Jeremy Corbyn in 2019.

A progressive politics that emerges almost exclusively from universities will take particular forms. The student cohort is much more culturally and economically diverse than it once was. Yet political or viewpoint diversity on campus seems to have shrunk.

The shift is troubling political scientists on the centre-right, according to Cancel Culture: Myth or Reality?, a paper published in July by Pippa Norris, an Australian political scientist at Harvard University. Her analysis of a survey of nearly 2500 political scientists around the world, including Australia, suggests that “cancel culture is not simply a rhetorical myth”. More conservative political scientists are experiencing “worsening pressures to be politically correct, limits on academic freedom and lack of respect for open debate”.

Another trend emerging from universities and shaping left-wing thought, including its extreme manifestation in episodes of cancel culture, has been identified by Nick Haslam, a professor of psychology at the University of Melbourne.

About eight years ago, Haslam noticed that concepts of harm were taking on broader meanings across many fields of academic research. He also found that the threshold for identifying an instance of harm seemed to have dropped. This pattern held true in work on abuse, trauma, bullying, mental illness, addiction, violence, prejudice, racism and hatred, among other concepts.

For example, the meaning of abuse had expanded over time to include not only physical or sexual assault but psychological or emotional injury, and neglect. Bullying now refers to adults as well as children, while addiction can refer to sex and gambling as well as drugs.

In a 2016 paper Haslam gave the trend a name: “concept creep”. He thinks an increased focus on harm is helping to shape the goals of the progressive left.

“It has become standard operating procedure in sections of the left to appeal to harm, to the need to protect the vulnerable, when trying to justify some initiative,” Haslam says in an interview. “It also explains why verdicts on behaviour are so moralistic, since harm is central to moral judgment.”

He sees these trends playing out in the claims of identity politics, with their frequent use of terms such as hatred, phobia, racism and violence. “People are reacting in a way that seems disproportionate to the acts themselves (at least if you don’t accept the recent stretching of these concepts), and in a way that is turbo-charged by social media and political polarisation.”

Haslam stresses that “concept creep” has positive aspects. Broader concepts of mental illness and bullying, for example, have helped sufferers. People concerned about harm often show high levels of empathy, and in many ways we are a kinder society than we once were. Nevertheless, he worries that “concept creep runs the risk of pathologising everyday experience and encouraging a sense of virtuous but impotent victimhood.”

Haslam’s work shows how ideas born in universities migrate over time to the wider society, as students in the humanities, psychology and law go on to work in the media, arts, publishing, the public service and education – fields where the priorities of the progressive left will be most powerfully expressed.

A left dominated by the educated class is likely to be idealistic and principled in fighting racism, sexism and prejudice of any kind. It will support redistribution of wealth – it remains a left-wing movement – but is likely to
register material issues and poverty as more distant concerns. It will focus intently on climate change and on creating the no-carbon economy, but be less sensitive to the claims of workers whose jobs are lost in the transition to it, as Bob Brown’s 2019 Adani convoy revealed.




Sunday, November 21, 2021

You Don’t Need Qualifications to Homeschool Your Kids

Over the years, I’ve heard so many parents dismiss the possibility of homeschooling their children because they don’t feel “qualified.”

“I’m not a teacher.”

“I’m not good at math.”

“I wasn’t good at X in school, so I could never teach my child that subject.”

All these assumptions stem from a fallacy about what education is, and what makes an individual “qualified” to be a teacher.

The fallacy: that your ability to teach relies on your expertise on the topic you’re teaching. While that may be true for selling your teaching as a service—you wouldn’t make a living teaching a class in a topic you don’t understand—it’s not a prerequisite for effectively facilitating your child’s learning.

Whether or not you hold a teaching certificate is an irrelevant accessory to your ability to teach. To be an effective educator, all you need to be able to do is:

* Use reference resources (like books and Google)

* Find the answers to your own questions

* Foster a sense of curiosity in your children

If you can do those things, you’re qualified to be a homeschooling parent.

In most cases, basic Googling skills and the ability to explore with your child is all you need to teach your children at home.

Take this as an example: your child is sitting outside in the sun drinking a cold drink, and asks you why the outside of their cup is getting wet.

Your reaction is simultaneously intimidation (I have no idea) and interest (there might be a science lesson buried in this).

You say, “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.”

Five minutes and some Googling later, your child has learned about condensation, the dew point, and the effects of a hot entity meeting a cold one.

Your child has the answer. They have the same outcome they would have received had they asked an expert; they now know why condensation forms on their cold glass. The only difference is that they got to see your process along the way—which is an asset, not a deficit, because they’ve learned something about finding answers to their questions, a process they will be required to repeat over and over throughout their lives.

As a parent, your ability to use your Googling skills to teach applies to entire subjects, not just one-off questions. The most common subjects I hear parents express intimidation of are math and science; subjects they often found challenging in school, and don’t feel qualified to teach to their children.

With abundant free resources on the internet (such as YouTube and Khan Academy), as long as you know how to find an answer to a question—which every adult who can Google does—you can facilitate your child’s learning on any topic, whether by finding the answers yourself or by finding resources that can do the teaching for you.


Parent Activists Warn That Fight for Education Far From Over

Parent activists, school board members, and a congressman gathered Monday in Washington to remind Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department that the fight for education is only just beginning.

“Whether it’s radical transgender policies in our schools, whether it’s putting masks on our children, which is paramount to child abuse, whether it’s forcing vaccines on our children, or whether it’s teaching radical critical race theory in our school systems, educating our teachers to teach that, the lens through which everything is taught, we reject that,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said at a press conference held by the conservative and libertarian advocacy group, FreedomWorks.

Good warned that parents are not going to stand down or “be quieted,” calling for parents to continue fighting for their children by “standing in the gap” when the state or federal government errs.

“One of the things I’ve advocated for is cameras in the classrooms,” Good said, adding:

Parents ought to be able to look at the classroom at any time and see what’s happening in their school systems. Congress has given over $200 billion in funding to the school systems because of the virus and the pandemic, when they only asked for $25 billion from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to safely reopen. Let’s use some of that money to have greater transparency in the classrooms.

In an Oct. 4 memo criticized by countless parents, Garland directed the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate parents who allegedly threatened violence against public school officials.

Republican Glenn Youngkin’s Nov. 2 defeat of his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, in the Virginia governor’s race has been widely attributed to parental outrage at increasingly radical school policies in that state and across the nation. Virginia Republicans also swept statewide races for lieutenant governor and attorney general and retook control of the House of Delegates in the General Assembly.

At a Youngkin rally in Loudoun County the night before the election, many parents told The Daily Signal that they support Youngkin out of a desire to retain more control over their children’s education and to avoid the pitfalls of progressive education, such as critical race theory and explicit sex and gender education.

But parent activists from Utah, Arizona, Florida, and several other states told The Daily Signal at the FreedomWorks press conference that progressive school board members are not backing down in the face of these parental rebellions—they are fighting back even harder.

“I feel like they are gearing up more,” said Angelique Contreras, a school activist in Palm Beach, Florida.

“They bring 20 police to one person to every school board meeting,” Contreras said. “We’ve had multiple people arrested just for showing up. In the interim, it’s actually the school boards that are treating parents and putting fear into the parents not to show up. … They are leading with that aggression towards the parents, and it’s been really, really bad.”

“Find your voice,” urged Pam Kirby, a former member of the Governing Board of Arizona’s Scottsdale Unified School District.

A member of that school board compiled an “online dossier” on parents that included personal photos, Social Security numbers, one parent’s divorce proceedings, and financial records, The Daily Caller reported.

“This is just one of many examples of bad behavior we are seeing from power hungry school board members across the country,” said Kirby, who also serves as first vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Kirby insisted that the majority of the nation’s school board members want to serve families, but are bullied by the teachers unions, the superintendents, and the school board associations.

“I am calling on those school board members who want to do the right thing to find your voice,” she said. “It’s time for you to tell the NSBA [National School Boards Association] and your state school board associations that you will no longer submit to their indoctrination. You do not work for the superintendents, you are not the cheerleader for the institutions. You work for the people.”

The Arizona school board member also called on parents to remind members of their school boards that they are using tax dollars for their membership dues for state associations and the National School Boards Association.

“Tell them that you will no longer allow them to fund the institutions that are eroding your parental rights,” Kirby said.

Kirby highlighted the launch last month of the Arizona Coalition of School Board Members, an organization that promises to “provide training and resources to school board members, candidates, parents, and communities across Arizona rooted in the priorities of educational freedom, parental rights, and academic excellence.”

“If you are a board member who finds that your state association and the National School Boards Association are unworthy of your continued support, don’t be intimidated,” Kirby said. “Revoke your association memberships today and stand shoulder to shoulder with your parents and your community. And focus on who is important: the kids.”


Teacher Shortage Causing School Cancellations

In five states last week, schools had to make it a short week by canceling classes, using Veterans Day as an excuse. In truth, these cancellations occurred not because of any particular reverence for those who served in the Armed Forces but because of a lack of teachers. These unexpected days off threw parents for a loop as they scrambled to figure out childcare, giving them flashbacks to last year’s lockdowns. But parents are not the only ones who have some post-traumatic stress regarding shutdowns and quarantines. Teachers have also had a lot to cope with since the COVID regulations forced them into remote teaching. This constant cycle of survival mode has not stopped over the last year and a half, and the stain is starting to show.

Teachers have some of the highest burnout rates in the workforce, and that was before the global pandemic threw a wrench into things. There are many reasons for this. One of the biggest is that working with children and teaching them is a calling, a ministry, and a work of heart. If a teacher is in an environment where he or she is not properly supported materially, mentally, or emotionally, it makes an already challenging job unbearable. The pandemic and its constantly moving goalposts really didn’t help matters.

A lot of teachers are Type A planners. When the schedules are volatile and the rules regarding COVID keep changing, that creates a major stressor. There is only so much flexibility teachers can take, especially when their usual modus operandi is so disrupted. They cannot give their best under these conditions, particularly when online learning in rife with student cheating that undermines teaching.

Many teachers are mothers. If their child has the sniffles or some other sickness, this can keep them out of their jobs for days or even weeks due to the hyper-vigilance of the new COVID precautions. At the beginning of last school year, merely being exposed to a person infected with COVID was enough to demand two weeks worth of quarantining. This is extremely stressful on the teacher, whether it be from worrying about their own sick child, or from having to remotely plan for a substitute teacher to ensure their students don’t fall behind.

As if that weren’t enough pressure, teachers are now having to cope with differing philosophies that have slowly invaded the pedagogy. Teachers are being told to treat their students differently based on skin color and to constantly adjust the academic standards based on equity. Many teachers are speaking out against this ideology in the classroom. Some have even quit in defiance of having to teach this racist doctrine. Then there are the unisex bathrooms, LGBTQ+ books ranging from ridiculous to pornographic, and even school administrators and counselors concealing a child’s “transition.” Finally, the teachers unions are playing politics with their dues and further contributing to school closures. No wonder teachers are quitting.

This last issue has become even more important as we experience rising inflation. Teachers’ pay is, in general, not very good, especially at the elementary school level. With the government granting stimulus checks, child tax credits, and eviction moratoriums, it takes away the incentive to work. If these teachers are young mothers anyway, they are much more likely to prefer part-time work-from-home jobs than to go back to the classroom. No one goes into teaching for the fortune and fame, but when you add in all the other factors listed above, a part-time job that potentially pays just as much as a full-time teaching job is extremely appealing.

The biggest issue of all is that this labor shortage isn’t limited to teachers. Other workers such as school janitors, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers are also leaving their positions. Some for better-paying jobs, some because it simply pays better (or at least well enough) to be unemployed right now because the government supplies the paycheck. In this current dangerous economic climate, the government is torpedoing the chances at a quick recovery at every turn. This is just the latest in the butterfly effect of bad economic policy.