Friday, December 10, 2021

NYC is Doubling Down on Strict Vaccine Mandate Measures to Go After Private and Religious Schools

It wasn't enough for New York City to require all of its public school teachers and staff to get vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus. Now, the city is requiring teachers and staff at private schools, as well as religiously-affiliated Catholic schools and yeshivas to get vaccinated, as Emma G. Fitzsimmons reported on Thursday for The New York Times.

Fitzsimmons noted it is "believed to be the largest effort in the nation to force religious schools to adhere to a vaccine mandate." The mandate will affect approximately 930 schools and 56,000 employees.

The announcement from Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat with less than a month in office who is known for some particularly stringent coronavirus measures, was immediately met with backlash. As Fitzsimmons reported:

But the decision to include religious schools and not allow religious exemptions faced immediate opposition from some Jewish and Catholic leaders, who sent a letter to Mr. de Blasio on Thursday urging him to reconsider.

“This is an area where government should be using its bully pulpit to persuade, not its regulatory arm to coerce,” said the letter from Rabbi David Zwiebel, the chairman of a group that represents religious and independent school leaders.

It is unclear how the city will enforce the mandate against schools or staff members that refuse to comply — a problem that could fall to Eric Adams, the mayor-elect who takes office on Jan. 1.

The mandate requires teachers and staff to receive at least one of the vaccines by December 20, less than three weeks away. As opponents have highlighted, it could be particularly devastating in the way it impacts students and teachers midway through the school year:

Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, the superintendent of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s schools, signed on to the letter with Rabbi Zwiebel. At Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens, the vaccination rate for teachers and staff members is about 88 percent, his spokesman said.

The letter argued that the mandate could be “devastating to our schools and the children they serve” if teachers who are not vaccinated lose their jobs during the middle of the school year. “Some schools may even be forced to close because of the severe shortage of teachers,” it said.

While Fitzsimmons writes that de Blasio "has longstanding political ties to the ultra-Orthodox community," it's also worth highlighting that the mayor has faced criticism over how he targeted the Jewish community during the pandemic last year in a series of tweets that he doubled down on.

It's not merely the city where residents are subject to strict measures against the virus. New York is just one of three states without religious exemptions for vaccines, the others being Rhode Island and Maine.


Students at Maryland High School Shown Thanksgiving Video Depicting Pilgrims as Oppressors

The Howard Zinn-ification of American history has now been fully embraced by America’s institutions.

It’s not just on college and university campuses where the late Marxist professor’s anti-American history is popular.

An anonymous tip to The Daily Signal on Monday revealed that a video depicting the Pilgrims as one-dimensional oppressors was shown to students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, before Thanksgiving.

The Daily Signal reached out to Walt Whitman High School for comment, but there was no response.

Bethesda, an unincorporated area of Montgomery County, is a suburb of Washington and one of the wealthiest places in the United States. Whitman High is part of Montgomery County Public Schools.

D.C. Public Schools did something similar, issuing a statement to students on how to “decolonize” their Thanksgiving and to acknowledge stolen land at their holiday dinners.

The video shown to Whitman High students was narrated by activist and former United Nations delegate Larissa FastHorse, whose Thanksgiving message was that “we are all complicit in standing on stolen land.”

The historical tale being told here is nonsensical. It requires one to have a narrow and shallow sense of history, where groups of people are forced into silos to fit modern political notions of oppressors versus oppressed.

In FastHorse’s narrative, the Pilgrims’ only notable traits were that they “robbed graves” and “took land” of people who were living in what is today the United States. The origin of the Pilgrims, their ideas and motivations, are entirely irrelevant in her telling.

There was nothing about the Mayflower Compact or how the Pilgrim tradition was a key element in the formation of the United States as a self-governing society.

Any context for their actions is brushed aside. What matters is that they are portrayed as white European oppressors, who showed up and shattered a presumed utopia, where people did not seize land, spread disease, or brutalize their fellow man.

Were the Pilgrims and Puritans sometimes brutish and unjust in how they dealt with the tribal people they met in the New World? Yes, some certainly were. Were the Pilgrims a uniquely rapacious people, devils in human form who came to terrorize and plunder the people they met in the New World? Hardly.

One could say the same thing about the Native American tribes of the New World, too.

The simplistic story of unique European oppression leaves out how some tribes were eager to enlist European newcomers in their wars to eradicate other Native American tribes in continuation of conflicts that long predated Europeans’ arrival.

The Wampanoags that partook in the first, famed Pilgrim Thanksgiving wanted a new ally to gain an edge against the powerful Iroquois Confederacy, a rival set of tribes in the Northeast region of what became the United States.

In the 1640s, the Iroquois waged a war of annihilation against the Huron and other tribes in the Great Lakes region in the so-called Beaver Wars. Just as various tribes, kingdoms, and nations went to war with each other in Europe, so too did the various peoples of the New World wage war on, enslave, and obliterate their neighbors.

The settled civilizations of South America, such as the Aztecs, used neighboring tribes as sacrificial cattle. Their downfall at the hands of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes came only with the help of those formerly oppressed tribes that hated the Aztecs more than the newcomers.

The world the Pilgrims arrived in at the Plymouth Colony was both blood-soaked and had changed hands many times long before they arrived.

If we really want to view history as some grand morality tale to find out who the angels and who the devils are, why should Native American Indian tribes get a pass as we condemn the Pilgrims?

The takeaway from the woke Thanksgiving video isn’t a historical one. It’s not created to give students a deeper or more complex understanding of the world or to teach them the details of history. Instead, it’s made entirely to fit a modern political agenda.

Unfortunately, the narrative weaved by the video shown to students at Montgomery County’s Whitman High is becoming common in K-12 schools, perhaps even more so in elite ones. That’s in part what the battle over critical race theory is about and why parents around the country are getting angry and organizing in opposition to its teaching.

Parents are catching on that critical race theory has nothing to do with teaching accurate history or creating better-informed citizens of a republic. Instead, it’s creating the foundation to divide ourselves into distinct classes of people separate from one another, based on the alleged crimes and grievances of our “ancestors,” who may or may not be our real ancestors at all.

This poison is being poured into schools and into the minds of young Americans to an alarming degree.

As former New York Times editor Bari Weiss laid out in City Journal, elite public and private schools are going all in on critical race theory and social justice. This is in part because they know this is the language and ideology of the ruling class.

Embracing stilted and narrow, almost absurdly negative and typically inaccurate tales about American history is how one now identifies with the new managerial elite that carefully excludes and silences all who don’t embrace “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

At city council meetings across the U.S., the traditional Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is being replaced by “land acknowledgement” to various Native American tribes that passed through the area in times past.

In a sense, this is a new pledge of allegiance to woke ideology. And don’t be fooled by the talk of “reparations” or giving the land back. Those who promote this ideology have no intention of relinquishing their cultural, economic, and political power. If anything, their ideology sustains and justifies it.

Despite the name, this new class will not be inclusive, equitable, or diverse. It will uniformly conform to the ideology set by the institutions they control.

Their right to rule, as they see it, comes from being on “the right side of history”—whether that history is true or not.

Generations of Americans have now been raised with ideas like what was peddled in the video shown at Whitman High. But now instead of it just being a slice of education, it’s devouring everything. What was once a trickle is now a torrent.

Our country is drowning in a flood of wokeness that is corrupting our institutions, eroding merit, and pulling us apart as a people.


Australia: Soaring numbers of university students, unregistered teachers fronting classrooms to plug shortages

This reminds me of the Whitlam era in the 60s and 70s when there was another big teacher shortage. At that time I got a job teaching in a NSW High School despite having no teacher qualifications at all. But I had a degree

In 2021, 320 teachers were granted Permission To Teach (PTT) approvals by the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) — an increase from 211 in 2020 and 178 in 2019.

Of the 320 approvals this year, 272 were for pre-service teachers in Queensland, with 222 working in state schools and 98 in non-state schools.

A PTT application can be considered when a school is unable to find an appropriate registered teacher for a specific teaching position and can be granted for up to two years.

QCT director Deanne Fishburn said the majority of PTTs were granted for one year or less.

"Teachers approved under PTT are restricted to teaching specific subjects and year levels in the nominated school only," she said.

"Importantly, applicants must also be suitable to teach and have the knowledge, qualifications, skills or training reasonably considered by the QCT to be relevant to the position."

Ms Fishburn said pre-service teachers who were granted PTT were generally in the final stages of their teacher education program and were continuing their studies while teaching.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the number of PTT applications represented a small fraction of the broader teaching workforce.

"The majority of approved PTTs engaged by the department are in the final stages of their Initial Teacher Education programs, and about to graduate as a qualified teacher," they said. "This is a normal occurrence each year."

Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson said using PTT to fill shortages should be a last resort. "We really should be producing enough quality candidates — and I'm not saying they're not quality people — but we really should be attracting enough people to universities, getting them through and supporting them as teachers," she said.

It comes amid concerns of further workforce shortages due to the Queensland government's vaccine mandate for any staff entering an educational setting, including schools.

Independent Education Union QLD/NT branch secretary Terry Burke said both schools and employees were waiting on clarity regarding the health direction arrangements and advocated for consultation.

Ms Richardson said the union was working with the department on understanding how the directive would be implemented.

"If we apply what's happened in Victoria and New South Wales, we would assume that there will be a very small proportion of people who may choose to remain unvaccinated," she said.

"Where there are numbers or support required, we'll be working with the department on how best to support those school communities to ensure teaching and learning can continue for students in those schools."

Contingency plan

An Education Department spokesperson said all Queensland state schools had contingency plans in place and were well prepared for any disruptions that might occur.

"Principals and their school teams have been planning for these scenarios for almost two years, and are ready to deliver programs that best meet the needs of their school communities," the spokesperson said.

"The department will continue to follow advice from Queensland's Chief Health Officer and Queensland Health to help manage the impacts of COVID-19 on students, staff, and their families."

Soaring demand for relief teachers

This year, the department increased the number of casual relief teachers available to schools to meet rising demand.

"The department continues to track the number of offers made to relief teachers to fill short-term demand within schools to cover the impacts from seasonal cold and flu, as well as managing public health advice, such as 'Feel Sick, Stay Home, Get Tested', which is now a standard practice in the workplace," the spokesperson said.

"The department continues to work towards offering more full-time and permanent employment to teachers within a school, or cluster of schools. and remains consistent with the government's commitment to employment security for public servants."

The spokesperson said the department had managed more than 200,000 relief teacher requests, filling 95 per cent.

"The requests that were not filled can be attributed to late notice of the request by school, geographical location and availability of the relief teacher for that day," the spokesperson said.




Thursday, December 09, 2021

Don’t count on university alumni to protect free speech
Some donors are applying pressure — but others are fighting back

Can alumni save the American university from the illiberal progressive onslaught? A piece in the Wall Street Journal reports that the country’s alumni are increasingly organising to ‘defund’ their alma maters until they get their free speech houses in order. At Washington and Lee University, an alumni group sent over 10,000 emails to alumni calling on them to suspend donations until the university stopped disassociating itself from its namesakes George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

Twenty new organisations have been formed in the past few years and a new national donor organisation, the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, sprang up in October. This new activism is important: witness the way donor pressure prevented Cecil Rhodes’s statue from being removed from Oriel College, Oxford. But alumni pressure, while valuable, is unlikely to change the direction of travel on campus.

According to Pew, the share of Republicans who say universities have a positive effect on the country fell from 57% in 2015 to 34% in 2021. Donors who populate the new free speech alumni associations tend to be conservative or moderate. They resent giving to universities that prioritise cultural progressivism over free speech, rationality and American nationhood.

Growing attention to culture war issues such as Cancel Culture and Critical Race Theory may be helping to galvanise donor action. ‘This is a battle for our culture and, in many ways, for Western civilization,’ said John Craig, leader of a group from Davidson College, North Carolina. Davidson commissioned a survey which went out to over 1100 donors. Of the 314 that responded, just 20% agreed ‘it is very or extremely clear the school administration protects free speech,’ while 94% said ‘the next president should make protecting free speech and civil discourse a priority.’ This indicates an impressive pool of potential support for the new initiatives.

Yet despite this, there is no sign that the absolute value of alumni contributions to American universities has fallen — even though alumni contributions form a declining share of universities’ total income. Instead, national records show that donations remain static, fluctuating with the economic cycle, as figure 1 shows. Many donors are older and are thus less personally exposed to cancel culture. Status considerations and residual loyalties appear to be more durable than worries about academic freedom or national traditions.

Universities are growing more independent of alumni as overwhelmingly Left-leaning foundations such as Ford or Rockefeller have increased their contributions. Moreover, the political profile of elite donors has shifted substantially Leftwards over time. Big business used to give most of their money to the Republicans, but this is no longer the case.

As professions shift Left and the culturally Left-leaning tech sector has become more economically important, big donors are favouring the Democrats. In 2016, Donald Trump raised 70% of his campaign funds from donations of less than $200 compared to just 26% for Hillary Clinton. As if to illustrate this new elite progressivism, a young tech entrepreneur, Husayn Kassai, offered Oriel College to make up any shortfall in donor funding should it decide to remove Rhodes’ statue.

Alumni money is important, but has declined as a share of US universities’ takings, from close to 30% of voluntary contributions in 2006 to 22% in 2020. Meanwhile, foundations, who largely support the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) agenda, have been rising in clout.

Conservative and classical liberal donors will need to get more organised and convince a larger share of their associates to withhold their cash if they are to dent the rising force of woke culture in universities. More broadly, government-led reforms like Britain’s Higher Education Freedom Bill alongside new free speech universities like the University of Austin, Ralston College or Britain’s University of Buckingham will be more important in restoring academic freedom to our illiberal campuses.


Parents Against Propaganda: Hungary showed the way

While the recent victory of governor-elect Glenn Youngkin in Virginia is a significant setback to those who advocate the introduction of critical race theory and other leftist curricula in schools, it’s by no means a definitive defeat of these forces. Youngkin only won by 65,000 votes, and the districts that had the most notable cases of radicalized school boards, such as my hometown in Loudoun County, still voted for the candidate who believed parents shouldn’t have a say in schools.

Millions of children in the United States remain enrolled in politicized education, with no realistic chance of a change in state or local administration. Even if parents choose to homeschool their children, the current career landscape often necessitates sending children to college, an institution that has long been dominated by left-leaning academia. Parents in solidly conservative states likewise face this quandary as most governors have yet to go after and dismantle the radical academia present in their own state universities. Thus, raising children in this country often means navigating a myriad of woke-dominated educational institutions.

While this might seem like a hopeless predicament for those raising children, parents must realize that despite the extensive levels of political pressure their children may face in school, college, and society, parents are the most powerful force in their children’s rearing.

We know this, because just 65 years ago, parents in Hungary fostered a generation that would rise against leftist totalitarianism, an event that shook the Soviet Union.

The 1956 Revolution, where Hungarians rose en masse against their Soviet-puppet government, began on Oct. 23, when large crowds, mainly led by college students, began demonstrating throughout Hungary demanding reform. Although the revolutionaries initially succeeded in achieving concessions from the Soviets, such as the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Budapest and a reinstatement of a reformist prime minister, the Soviets quickly reneged on their initial gestures and returned a few days later to squash the uprising in Budapest and other major Hungarian towns. On Nov. 4, the Soviet Army entered Budapest and engaged in intense street fighting with partisans and members of the Hungarian Army. Despite fierce resistance, the Soviets crushed the Revolution and killed more than 2,000 Hungarians. In the aftermath of this brutal crackdown, out of a country with fewer than 10 million people more than 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West and tens of thousands of them found a new home in America.

While this tale might seem like a tragic victory of communism over liberty, the Revolution revealed a colossal failure of communism: There are obvious limits to the widespread and extensive system of socialist indoctrination of the youth.

One can understand older Hungarians revolting against the communists. The regime in 1956 was only around 10 years old, and anyone older than 30 could remember what life in freedom was really like. However, a large percentage of those who revolted and who fought in the streets were young adults, some mere teenagers. Many of them were exclusively educated under the communist regime, so it’s no small feat that these young men and women had not been successfully indoctrinated by the Soviet-installed education system.

One of the first actions the communist regime carried out after seizing power in the late 1940s was to establish an expansive and indoctrinating education system. They first nationalized Hungary’s schools, ending the country’s longstanding system of church-run education, and established a curriculum heavily based on the Soviet Union’s education system. This system, dedicated to creating the perfect “Communist Man,” began as early as learning the ABCs.

“All of the textbooks used by first graders in grammar school had political connotations, even in learning the ABC’s, the letters were connected with politics,” stated a 1955 CIA report.

As students moved through the levels, this propaganda and indoctrination would only intensify. Students would be forced to attend lectures on Marxism and Leninism, chant songs devoid of religious content and praising communist leaders, observe new holidays instituted by the Marxist regime, and forget about Christian holidays.

This indoctrination was not limited to school either; the communists pressured students into joining their own version of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts called the Pioneers where “scout leaders” would preach further communist propaganda and build their own mini-version of socialist utopia. As one student under the system put it, “the authorities deprived the young people of their free time—that is, the time that they could live their own individual lives.” Students were thus subjected to propaganda material throughout their daily routine in virtually all aspect of their lives.

The university system only intensified the level of propaganda, with every teacher, no matter what subject, having the primary role of teaching Marxism. Students were subjected to hour-long classes on the philosophical underpinnings of communism and expected to actively participate. Silence would be taken as a sign of dissent and could lead to suspicion of their disloyalty. A ruthless quota system was enforced where previous “privileged” classes, such as the children of aristocrats and the bourgeois and the “clerical class,” were often denied, along with any children of politically unreliable characters. Children of the newly created working-class families constituted most students accepted into Hungary’s university system.

Why Did It Fail?

Despite this extensive and well-organized system of propaganda and indoctrination, the Revolution of 1956 showed how much the system had failed at gaining control of the hearts and minds of many students. But why did this fail? To answer this, we can look at two important factors.

After the Revolution was crushed, many of the student leaders of the Uprising came to the United States and explained why they had failed to be indoctrinated. Several of them attributed their disillusionment with the regime to the blatant lies the regime would tell them.

They recalled history books being changed and rewritten depending on the political mood of the day. Certain politicians or other public figures would be adored one day and hated the next, depending on how the political winds blew. The students were able to see that the “reality” they were being taught was, in fact, the opposite of reality. They were told that communism had brought them empowerment, equality, and prosperity, yet Hungary was impoverished, enslaved, and ruled unequally by the Party leaders.

These lies alone don’t explain the complete disillusionment of Hungary’s youth. While some of the Soviet propaganda was obviously false, in other places it was not as easy to discern. How were Hungarians able or know that the history taught to them was fabricated, or the political philosophies their teachers espoused were bankrupt?

The answer to this question, as well as the answer to our modern predicament with a politicized education system, lies with the parents of the students.

The Real Teachers

It was the parents who became the real teachers of Hungarians. As one student described, “There were two courses open to parents. Either they watched helplessly the effects of the state-controlled up-bringing of their children, or—and this was more frequent—they tried to counterbalance it.”

This “counterbalance” became widespread throughout Hungary, with many Hungarian families thwarting the propaganda schools would preach. As one Hungarian I met described, many of her conversations with her family in the 1950s would end with “not a word of this at school.” In these secret conversations at home, parents, after working gruelingly long shifts, would take the time to teach their children about religion, history, and culture. Since Hungarian culture, with its focus on its unique national history, religiosity, and attachment to the West, was entirely condemned by the state-run education system, it fell on the parents to pass on their traditions, knowledge, and history to their children.

It’s this instruction that allowed students to see through the lies they were exposed to at school. When they marched into the street demanding reform, and later fought heroically against the Red Army, they carried with them a generational teaching that inspired them to revolt against what they knew was wrong and evil. Although the 1956 Revolution would be crushed and the dream of liberty was deferred, Hungarian parents resumed their role as a shield and guide to their children in the face of continued communist rule. When the regime began to collapse in the late 1980s, college students and Hungarian youth would once again play a major role in the dismantling of the communist regime, the so-called roundtable talks in 1989 and Hungary’s first democratic elections in 1990.

As we study the example of 1956 and Hungary’s experiences with communism in general, we can take some hope from this episode; even a widespread and organized propaganda campaign is not inevitably successful. With this hope, however, must come the awareness that the communist education system in Hungary only failed because the familial education system succeeded.

Until (and even after) our entire education system, public, private, and collegiate, can be reclaimed from the clutches of leftist ideology, it’s incumbent on all parents to prepare and raise up a generation that will stay true to the values and principles of previous ones. Undoubtedly, the commitment of the parents is far more important than the quality of a governor and school board in the raising of a child.


Hundreds of college professors - including Ivy League - sign open letter blasting 'woke' math movement to eliminate 'discriminative' advanced classes and say it will put American kids at HUGE disadvantage

Hundreds of university professors slammed a 'woke' math movement that eliminates calculus in favor of social justice principles, saying the curriculum leaves children unprepared for higher education and puts the US at a global disadvantage.

The missive, titled 'Open Letter on K-12 Mathematics,' was published December 6 and signed by 746 math teachers and professors, including many from Ivy League schools.

The letter takes specific aim at a proposed curriculum in California, called the California Mathematics Framework, which seeks to shift away from rigorous math courses to help close the achievement gap faced by underprivileged students, specifically those that are black, Hispanic or from low-income families.

'We are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of recent well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education, particularly the California Mathematics Framework (CMF),' the professors' coalition letter continued.

'Such frameworks aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers. While such reforms superficially seem "successful" at reducing disparities at the high school level, they are merely "kicking the can" to college.'

The CMF would push Algebra 1 back to 9th grade and remove large parts of the calculus curriculum, while applying social justice concepts to math lessons.

The open letter said that taking away advanced math programs will be 'the height of irresponsibility' and will ultimately be to the students' detriment if they choose to pursue higher education.

For those that do enroll in college, the need for more introductory math courses at the university level to compensate for the lack of advanced high school math programs would likely cause students to need more time to graduate.

'We all share the urgent concern that the benefits of a robust mathematical education, and the career opportunities it opens up, should be shared more widely between students of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, and economic status.'

'We fully agree that mathematics education “should not be a gatekeeper but a launchpad,”' the open letter reads.

Rebecca Pariso, one of the team members of educators tasked in late 2019 with creating California's new mathematics framework, said she expected some controversy to come with the program, however she did not anticipate the national backlash.

Regardless, Parisio was one of the few vocal defenders the controversial math curriculum in replacing traditional STEM education.

'There's a huge problem with math instruction right now,' Pariso told CalMatters. 'The way things are set up, it's not giving everybody a chance to learn math at the highest levels.'

'We were transforming math education, and change is hard and scary,' the math teacher at Hueneme Elementary School District added. 'Especially if you don't understand why that change needs to occur. But I didn’t expect it to go this far.'

Meanwhile, the 746 educators and professors who signed the open letter insist that it is vital to adhere to the standards set by STEM - Science Technology Engineering Mathematics - which provides the critical thinking skills needed to excel in the future.

'While it is possible to succeed in STEM at college without taking advanced courses in high school, it is more challenging. College students who need to spend their early years taking introductory math courses may require more time to graduate,' the letter says.

In July, the California Board of Education announced they were going to push back against implementing the 'woke' overhaul of its mathematics curriculum, after opponents to the framework's movement argued the plan needlessly inserts politics and social justice measures into lessons, according to Fox News.

However, many schools have eliminated standardized testing in the wake of the COVID pandemic and have lowered math standards.

Parents across the country have echoed the professors' coalition in revolting against several Department of Education schools where accelerated math programs have been suspended.

'They're changing math to make it math appreciation,' said Michael Malione, a parent in the Piedmont City Unified School District who also works as a private math tutor.

'A part of math is learning things that are not authentic to life.'

Administrators at one of those schools, Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies in Manhattan, were pressured to reinstitute honors math classes in June after a number of complaints from parents.

The Robert Wagner Middle School on the Upper East Side has also looked to remove its honors math program despite a fierce backlash from parents.




Wednesday, December 08, 2021

California's proposed woke math curriculum alarms mathematicians, scientists

Hundreds of highly distinguished science and math professors have signed an open letter expressing "urgent concern" over California’s efforts to reform mathematics education in the name of social justice.

The letter, signed by 597 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, said the California Department of Education’s (CDE) proposed new mathematics framework will aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers, making it more challenging for students to succeed in STEM at college.

The signatories also condemned the CDE’s "deeply worrisome trend" of favoring "trendy but shallow" courses like data science over "essential" mathematical tools like calculus and algebra.

The framework, the signatories argued, would have the opposite effect of what it intends by leading to a "de facto privatization of advanced mathematics K-12 education" and disproportionately harming lower-income students.

"Subjecting the children of our largest state to such an experiment is the height of irresponsibility," the letter said.

The signatories demanded that all students, regardless of background, have access to a math curriculum "with precision and rigor," and that students be offered multiple pathways to explore mathematics at varying grade levels of middle and high school.

"Far from being deliberately held back, all students should have the opportunity to be nurtured and challenged to fulfill their potential," the letter said. "This is not only for their own benefit but also for society and the nation’s economic competitiveness."

The open letter echoes similar concerns in an open letter over the summer, signed by more than 1,100 Californians working in science and technology, who argued it is "immoral and foolish to intentionally hold back the intellectual growth of students by forcing them to waste time in unchallenging classes."

The backlash forced the California Board of Education to postpone implementing the framework until May 2022, when it will review the curriculum again before it's finalized.


Social-Emotional Learning: The Insidious Teaching Tool You’ve Never Heard Of

What is social-emotional learning?

By now, many Americans are aware of critical race theory, which makes race the focus of all aspects of American life. The philosophy categorizes individuals into groups of oppressors and victims, and is currently making its way through the political sphere, the military, and of course, education.

But less well known is its ideological cousin, social-emotional learning. The program seeks to indoctrinate kids into leftist ideology by reinforcing a series of critical race theory-based morals and values.

Jennifer McWilliams was working as a reading teacher at Frankton Elementary School in Indiana when she noticed that social-emotional learning was being taught as part of the curriculum at her school. When she voiced her concerns about the racist ideology, she was summarily fired.

McWilliams says there’s nothing good about social-emotional learning, and that it’s based in racist critical race theory.

“It is all negative,” she says, “When you understand the program fully, and you understand the framework and the ideology behind it, you will understand that it is not good. The entire social-emotional learning framework is based on the critical race theory ideology.”


Chicago Public Schools’ New ‘Gender Equity’ Restroom Policy Ignores Biology, Invades Students’ Privacy

Chicago Public Schools are now requiring schools in the district to ensure all restrooms are “gender-neutral,” erasing single-sex spaces for males and females alike.

That will be not only harmful to the safety and privacy of young people, it’s also yet another disheartening decision to ignore biological differences between the sexes and to create an androgynous society.

On Nov. 27, Chicago Public Schools’ Twitter account announced the new policy, tweeting:

There cannot be true equity in our district without gender equity for our students and staff. Learn about how we’re requiring all schools to adopt new signage to make our restrooms more inclusive.

Via a brief video, Camie Pratt, chief Title IX officer for the Chicago Public Schools, explained the policy:

In compliance with new federal guidelines, all CPS students and staff will have fair and equitable access to bathroom facilities that align with their gender identity.

We will be providing all schools with updated signage that makes our bathrooms more inclusive. They will identify the fixtures available in each restroom and make it clear that all restrooms are open for use by anyone who feels comfortable.

Staff will continue to have staff-only bathrooms available to them.

According to the video, the signs will have descriptions such as:

Gender Neutral Washroom.

All Gender Restroom. This is a single-stall restroom. All gender identities and expressions are welcome here.

This is a gender-neutral restroom with multiple stalls. It is open to users of any gender identity or expression.

Men’s +: This restroom has both urinals and stalls. All who feel comfortable are welcome to use this restroom.

Women’s +: This restroom has stalls. All who feel comfortable are welcome to use this restroom.

There are 421 district-run elementary schools and 91 district-run high schools within the Chicago Public Schools system. The total number of restrooms involved was not immediately available.

According to the Chicago Public Schools’ website, last school year there were 340,658 children enrolled in those schools.

There are several problems inherent in the new school restrooms guidelines:

First, Pratt claims that the Chicago Public Schools system is making the change to be “in compliance with new federal guidelines.” Although there’s no federal law on the subject yet, President Joe Biden did issue an executive order on his second day in office on Jan. 21 “combating discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

In that executive order, Biden cited Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision that “held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination ‘because of … sex’ covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation,” and contended that, by extension, so does Title IX.

Elections really do have consequences, and now school systems are using all this as an excuse to infringe on students’ privacy and safety.

Second, while someone needs to monitor Title IX compliance, Pratt and the other members of the school system responsible for that have taken Title IX too far and flipped it on its head.

Title IX is a civil rights law enacted to prohibit sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools. Passed in 1972, it surely never was intended to be utilized to open up previously private restroom spaces so that now girls are required to share bathrooms with boys and vice versa.

Erasing single-sex restrooms is an egregious misuse of Title IX. Forcing a young woman navigating female-specific puberty developments to share bathrooms with biological boys seems particularly cruel and hardly fair or “equitable.”

Third, so-called social justice issues such as transgender bathrooms are growing in prominence even though the population of transgender students remains vanishingly small.

In addition, while school administrations focus on “all-gender” bathrooms, the real purpose of schools—namely, to educate—seems to take a back seat to social engineering. According to recent statistics, Chicago Public Schools only graduates 84% of its students, and only 26% of 11th graders are proficient in reading and math.

Shouldn’t the school system put more emphasis and resources on helping Chicago students learn and less on changing bathroom signage?

Finally—and most importantly—this new policy obliterates privacy and safety for both girls and boys, young women and young men.

Single-sex restroom spaces are not just common sense, they provide a safe and private space for the most basic of human bodily functions. Imposing this policy by fiat on the entire district ensures the majority suffers for the sake of a tiny handful of transgender youth.

It’s not clear whether parents were polled or given a heads-up about this new policy beforehand.

A better solution might be to let each school decide its own restroom policies, or preferably to encourage schools to provide a third restroom option solely for students who are transgender.

Biological differences between the sexes are normal, and we should celebrate them—“vive la difference!”—not try to write them out of existence.

Policies such as Chicago’s are not only an abuse of Title IX and harmful to young people, they also push society down a path of imposing androgyny as orthodoxy.

Women, especially, have fought for decades to be treated equally. Restroom policies like Chicago’s are not a move toward “equality,” but toward a new kind of society where females, including their need for their own spaces, are erased in the name of “inclusion.”

How ironic is that?




Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Massachusetts Educator Fired Over TikTok Videos Opposing CRT Files Lawsuit Against Superintendent, Principal

A Massachusetts teacher who had been terminated from Hanover High School for posting a number of videos to TikTok opposing critical race theory has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against her former employers, claiming they had violated her First Amendment rights.

Kari MacRae, represented by nonprofit legal organization Judicial Watch, sued Hanover Public Schools superintendent Matthew Ferron and Hanover High School principal Matthew Mattos for firing her over two TikTok videos she posted as part of a campaign to be on the Bourne School Committee that criticized critical race theory, the controversial doctrine that teaches students that white people are oppressors and people of color are oppressed.

She had worked as a math and business teacher at Hanover High School for a month before she was fired.

The court filing notes that MacRae was hired on Aug. 31 and terminated on Sept. 29. However, the TikTok videos Hanover High School cited as the basis for her firing were posted months before she was hired as part of her committee campaign.

"So pretty much the reason I ran for school board and the reason I’m taking on this responsibility is to ensure that students, at least in our town, are not being taught critical race theory," MacRae said in a video posted last spring, according to The Boston Globe. "That they’re not being taught that the country was built on racism. So they’re not being taught that they can choose whether or not they want to be a girl or a boy."

"It’s one thing to include, and it’s one thing to be inclusive. And it’s one thing to educate everybody about everything. It’s completely another thing to push your agenda," she continued in the video.

Mattos told MacRae that "continuing your employment in light of your social media posts would have a significant impact on student learning at HHS."

The lawsuit, which asks for punitive damages but does not indicate how much, asserts that Mattos and Ferron "deprived" MacRae of "her rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution" by terminating her employment.

"[MacRae's] interest in speaking out as a citizen and candidate about matters of public concern outweighs any interest [Mattos and Ferron] may have had in promoting the efficiency of the educational and other services Hanover Public Schools provides," the lawsuit reads.

The filing also alleges that MacRae "suffered loss of earning, emotional distress, loss of reputation, and harassment as a direct and proximate result of" the "violation of her constitutional rights."


Mom Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Filed by Teachers Union When She Looked Into Content of Lessons

A mother’s fight for transparency in public schools continues in a Rhode Island courtroom.

“Parents have an absolute right to request public information about public education and what their children will learn in school,” Nicole Solas, a mother of two young children, told The Daily Signal in an email Thursday.

The state affiliate of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in America, sued Solas, a resident of South Kingstown, which is 30 miles south of Providence, Rhode Island.

The union’s suit, filed in August, came after Solas filed more than 200 requests for public records about the curriculum being taught in her school district and what her kindergarten daughter would learn.

Solas specifically sought information about whether the South Kingstown School District was teaching students critical race theory and gender identity ideology.

Solas is fighting the lawsuit with the help of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative public policy and ligation organization based in Phoenix. Goldwater attorney Jon Riches, representing Solas, asked Wednesday that the Rhode Island Superior Court dismiss the lawsuit.

Riches argued two primary reasons before Associate Justice Linda Rekas Sloan, an appointee of Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat.

“Private parties have no legal standing to disrupt the statutory public records process,” Riches told The Daily Signal during a phone call Thursday.

Because the teachers union is a private party, he said, the National Education Association Rhode Island has “no legal basis for” interfering.

Secondly, Riches argued during the virtual hearing, Solas’ actions are protected under state law governing so-called strategic lawsuits against public participation, known as SLAPP suits. The statute protects citizens from the threat of retaliatory litigation for engaging on issues of public concern.

“We asked the court to find that the anti-SLAPP statute applies, and to award [Solas] attorneys fees and damages against the union,” Riches said.

Solas said she is “hopeful the court will prevent the union’s abusive tactics in this case, and set an example for other special interest groups that might also attempt to interfere with the public’s right to know what its government is up to.”

Carly Beauvais Iafrate, the lawyer representing the National Education Association Rhode Island, argued that the union filed the lawsuit to protect teachers’ privacy.

Iafrate argued that some information requested by Solas included teachers’ personal information.

Iafrate also said the only reason the teachers union included Solas in the lawsuit is that the law requires all parties of interest to be named.

But the union has “no legal justification to bring the lawsuit in the first case,” Riches told The Daily Signal, adding that he finds the union’s argument for why Solas was named in its lawsuit to be “highly suspicious.”

The suit is nothing more than “pure harassment and intimidation tactics,” Riches said.

The National Education Association Rhode Island did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Sloan appeared to have a good understanding of the law and the issues at hand, Riches said, adding that he is optimistic that the judge will conclude the union’s lawsuit is baseless.

Sloan is expected to announce her ruling sometime before Dec. 20.

Even if her motion to dismiss the lawsuit is denied, Solas said, “we will continue to defend this case to the end to protect our right, and other parents’ right, to receive public information.”


Penn State Employees Who Refuse Vaccination Face Reeducation

Despite a federal judge declaring President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate unconstitutional, Penn State University will keep its Jan. 4 deadline requiring employees to get vaccinated, and some employees who choose not to get vaccinated will be given education and counseling.

“Many of you know (the mandate) is being challenged in the courts so we don’t know the outcome of that process yet, but we are planning around it prevailing, and so implementing that mandate,” Penn State Provost Nicholas P. Jones said Tuesday in the University Faculty Senate meeting. “We’ve got to prepare because there’s not a lot of runway between now and January the fourth.”

The University is navigating two versions of the mandate. The federal contractor mandate applies to nine campuses and the College of Medicine, Wyatt DuBois, assistant director of University Public Relations told The Epoch Times in an email. Employees covered under the federal contractor mandate must upload proof to the university that they have received their final vaccine dose by Jan. 4 or be granted a disability/medical- or religious-related exemption. For those with an exemption, “accommodations will include a requirement to test weekly in the university testing protocol program,” DuBois said.

Employees at all other Penn State locations are subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on vaccination and testing, which applies to employers with 100 or more employees. “Under the OSHA ETS, disability/medical- and/or religious-related accommodations are not required for an employee to be put into the testing protocol. So, employees at these locations must receive their final vaccine dose by Jan. 4 or test weekly for COVID-19,” DuBois said.

In other words, those under the OSHA rules won’t lose their jobs if they don’t get vaccinated, but those under the federal contractor mandate who are not granted an exemption could lose their job.

Penn State issued updated details of its vaccine compliance process Monday, with slightly different consequences for noncompliance applied to different classes of employees.

Non-compliant faculty must meet with an executive within 48 hours “to discuss their intent to be fully compliant. Further administrative actions will be discussed individually during the meeting, and will include expectations for progress toward compliance, potential for unpaid administrative leave, and other disciplinary steps up to, and potentially including, termination,” Penn State’s updated mandate explainer said.

Students on wage payroll who demonstrate no steps toward compliance, such as partial vaccination or an in-progress accommodation request, by Jan. 4 will not be scheduled to work until further notice and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine appropriate next steps including disciplinary actions.

Technical service employees will get a “five-workday period of education, including providing noncompliant employees with information regarding the benefits of vaccination and ways to obtain the vaccine. After the period of education, technical service employees will have one calendar week “to demonstrate progress toward becoming fully vaccinated or they will be placed on a two-week unpaid suspension. Continued noncompliance following the suspension will result in termination of employment. Employees will be permitted to voluntarily resign, or if eligible, retire before facing involuntary termination of employment.”

Already, some members of Penn State’s recently formed employee group of medical freedom advocates, Lions for Liberty, have reported uncomfortable conversations with their supervisors about vaccination status and their intentions to comply.

What will a five-day reeducation period look like?

“Regarding the five-day education period for some employees, it is intended as an additional defined period of time when the university can provide information related to COVID-19 vaccination to those employees who still have questions and concerns at that time,” DuBois said. “The university has a host of information already available to its employees, which they are encouraged to review, and this five-day period of time offers an additional opportunity to provide employees with information and resources to learn more about vaccination. ‘Five days’ is not intended to mean that employees will be in an education session during that entire time, but rather that that is when additional education and information will be provided to these employees, if necessary.”

Reeducation may be a new trend.

In a White House press briefing last week, Jeffrey Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, indicated that some folks may just need a little more convincing, and education may be a path to more vaccination compliance.

“To be clear, the goal of vaccination requirements is to protect workers, not to punish them,” Zients said. “We continue to see more and more federal employees getting their shots. And for the small percentage of employees who have not yet complied, agencies are beginning the education and counseling process. Looking at the federal workforce vaccination data makes one thing obvious: vaccination requirements work. They encourage more people to get vaccinated. Vaccination requirements are good for workers and the economy. They protect our communities and country, and they will accelerate our path out of the pandemic.”




Sunday, December 05, 2021

Parents Sue After School Changed Their 12-Year-Old'S Gender Without Their Permission

The audacity of the liberal ideology is often astounding. Most heard the disparaging words of a candidate for Virginia Governor. Terry McAuliffe said that parents needed to step aside when it came to decisions and choices about their children’s education.

McAuliffe’s insane notion inspired voters to overwhelming rebuke this insane insinuation. Well, it appears another school administration took things a step farther. In the Kettle Moraine School District in Wales, Wisconsin, school officials changed a child’s gender.

There was no consultation with the 12-year-old’s parents. Evidently, the young girl was having confusing thoughts about her gender. That isn’t surprising, since the woke mob has ignited transgender into some sort of status symbol.

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Young children can be confused about a multitude of things. It’s a time in their lives when they are growing rapidly, maturing, and everything around them is changing. For certain, it’s even scarier when crazy societal pressures are heaped on top of peer pressure.

Thankfully, the parents of this young girl are standing up against the insolence of these school officials. One foundation of their lawsuit insists that the school was determined to change the sex of this girl without even counseling or otherwise consulting her parents.

The lawsuit alleges the therapist actually tried to persuade the girl to identify as a boy. This girl explained how a therapist at the center said once she confirmed she was a boy, everything would be easier. The girl was told it’s easier to make such choices when you’re young.

Like many students being coerced into changing their gender identity, the girl was cautioned not to tell her parents. This is the most egregious aspect of these disturbing stories. The senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, Kate Anderson, put it succinctly.

Anderson assailed these school policies as disdainful. “These policies are so dangerous because they’re allowing schools to encourage students to begin transitioning into a gender identity that isn’t in accord with their biological sex, and then not inform their parents,” she said.

The prevalence of these alarming trends, situations where schools overstep parental boundaries, is shocking. It is being spurred by the wave of woke indoctrination to steal the minds of our children. Thankfully, parents are standing up to these radical ideas.

As much as political ideology will play a role in the future of our nation, it will be the parents who take back our country. Tyrants like Joe Biden, and the rest of his leftist liberals, can push legislation and try to impose Draconian mandates. However, when they enrage America’s mom’s and dad’s, they will be in for a fight they won’t win.


University of Florida: From Football School to Academic Powerhouse

In the first decade of in this century, three of the nation’s colllege football powerhouses came from Florida: the University of Florida, Florida State University (FSU), and the private University of Miami. By contrast, the 2021 football superstars are far less Floridan—these three schools have all lost at least five games and are not even near being ranked in the top 30 schools. In the year 2000, however, all three schools were in the nation’s top 10 in the final AP rankings.

Revenge of the nerds? Florida has developed an academic reputation for having a couple of truly top-flight state universities, the University of Florida and Florida State (FSU). The latest U.S. News rankings has Florida (UF) tied for fifth among public universities, just below longtime leaders Cal Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, and Virginia, and tied with the University of North Carolina. And FSU has risen impressively too. Looking at all (not just public) universities, it rose a dramatic 41 ranks from 96 to 55 in just six years. and is the top 20 among public schools. Similarly, in the methodologically rather different Forbes rankings, UF also ranks sixth among public universities and breaks into the top 25 if private institutions are included, and FSU has also moved up impressively (although less in the Wall Street Journal rankings with a different methodology).

As population and state wealth grow rapidly, states see their flagship schools grow in reputation, but Florida is now far outdistancing its major Sun Belt rival, even larger and richer Texas, which is getting huge in-migration of high tech companies. The University of Texas at Austin tied for 10th in the US News public national university rankings, the only Lone Star State public school in the top 25, and was only the 15th highest ranking public school according to Forbes. And unlike Florida, Texas has a huge oil-based endowment.

Long-time UF president Bernie Machen, now retired, tells how his governing board directed him a decade or so ago to rise from 19th in the US News national university rankings to the top 10. He accepted that as a challenge, and acknowledges that then Governor Rick Scott was a big supporter by advocating giving extra money to schools achieving academic excellence (and higher rankings). Under Machen’s 2015 successor, W. Kent Fuchs, the top 10 goal was not only reached but meaningfully exceeded. Similarly, Scott’s gubernatorial successor, Ron DeSantis, seems, rhetorically at least, to support the performance-based funding model that helps finance the Florida Gators and FSU Seminoles success in the classrooms and laboratories but not on the playing field.

Universities face trade-offs, and have to manage competing and often contradictory goals. The aspiration of providing a college education to all high school graduates can conflict with the goal of having renowned public universities. In the two decades between 1998 and 2018, both the UF and FSU added about 10,000 students, showing steady but very conservative growth—less than the overall population increase. Meanwhile, however, Central Florida University (CFU) added over 38,000 (!!) students and Florida International University (FIU) expanded by over 27,000. UF and FSU became much more selective in the students they admitted, while CFU and FIU promoted high levels of access, necessarily adopting lower academic standards. Some schools promoted accessibility and enrollment growth, while other hyped higher standards and improved reputation. The Floridian high school graduate has all sorts of choices (including several schools not mentioned above).

Reputational improvement at UF and FSU has brought gains to students as well. The salaries of graduates of UF and FSU are typically 15% or more higher, for example, than at CFU or FIU. Employers wanting the best and brightest of Florida’s public university students will pay a premium to get UF or FSU graduates.

Looking nationally, the birth dearth and other factors suggest national enrollment growth in the coming decade may be somewhere between non-existent and modest. Not every school can succeed in becoming “the best.” The Florida experience of recent decades may not be replicated nationally when many states are starting to actually lose population. But the quality vs. quantity trade-off still exists and will be a factor in higher education in the coming decade and beyond


Huge changes to school start and finish times could come to Australia

Radical changes could be made to the average school day in New South Wales as part of an effort from the state government to support working parents and reduce traffic congestion.

The overhaul would mean principals can offer options to parents other than the standard 9am-3pm school day.

During a speech at the annual Bradfield Oration, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested school times should be changed to better suit the lives of working families.

'Despite the progress we have made, so many public services are still designed around government, not around the people we are here to serve,' he said on Thursday.

'Education should be designed around our children, not simply around the schools themselves.'

He used the speech to declare his plans to bring NSW into the '21st Century' by leading a modern government that 'doesn't accept the status quo'.

At one point the Premier directly challenged Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, asking if the existing school day was fit for working parents. 'Why does the school day run from 9am to 3pm — and does it still suit the lives of busy working families?' asked Mr Perrottet.

His speech has reignited debate over whether the traditional 9am-3pm school day should be overhauled to provide flexibility for families.

In June, the government staggered the start and finish times of public schools as part of a push to modernise the traditional school day and reduce traffic congestion.

The bold plan allowed schools to participate in trials where principals could offer parents options that differed from the standard 9am to 3pm school day.

Alternatives include a 7am to 1pm day, or extended after-school care.

NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos previously claimed most schools across the state already offered varied school hours.

'The majority of schools do not operate between nine and three [o'clock], there's all sorts of variations,' he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'There are schools with nine-day fortnights, or four-day weeks. But these matters are not straightforward and require significant consultation to achieve a consensus across a broad parent body and staff body, all of whom are impacted.'

Merrylands East Public in the city's west already operates an 8am to 1.15pm school day.

The scheme could also see an ease of pressure on Sydney's heavily-congested roads by staggering when students are picked up and dropped off from school.

The cost of Sydney's traffic congestion to the state economy is estimated to reach $13.1billion by 2031, according to the NSW Productivity Commission.