Friday, December 30, 2022

Fury as University of Warwick issues 'racism' trigger warning for Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe over 'offensive' depictions of black slaves and Arab Muslim captives

I think I read all of his novels whren I was a kid. Good stories

A descendant of legendary novelist Sir Walter Scott has slammed a university's decision to slap trigger warnings on his historic works and branded them 'cowardly'.

The celebrated Scottish writer, who penned his epic Ivanhoe in 1819, has seen his work branded 'disturbing' by academics at the University of Warwick.

Critics have said Scott's historical novel could be 'offensive' to modern audiences because of its treatment of racial minorities, which includes black slaves and Muslim captives, who along with other characters in the work are prejudiced against Jews.

But the author's great-great-great-great-grandson, Matthew Maxwell-Scott, defended his ancestor's work and was left saddened that Ivanhoe was branded potentially upsetting.

He told the Telegraph: 'Attacking those who cannot defend themselves has always been a coward's charter.

'Today, social media and the growth of academia provide new playgrounds for the modern bully. Long-deceased artists are a particular target. Often exhibiting the hated traits of maleness, paleness and, to some eyes at least, staleness, it is open season.'

The events of Ivanhoe, published in 1819, follow England after the Third Crusade with the protagonist Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe and the raging conflict between Anglo-Saxon and Norman nobles.

The university's English department warns students who are to study the novel: 'Amongst the aspects readers might find disturbing, this text includes offensive depictions of people of colour and of persecuted ethnic minorities, as well as misogyny.'

In common with dozens of universities, Warwick uses such warnings to alert students to sensitive material, such as racism, homophobia and violence, so they can prepare themselves for a potentially unpleasant experience.

Mr Maxwell-Scott, a trustee of his ancestor's residence at Abbotsford and a Conservative councillor, said the university's trigger warning was 'disappointing'.

He added: 'All manner of titles can face this as we seem to have lost the ability to appreciate any artistic output as a product of its time.

'Scott, the father of the historical novel, used his meticulous research to transport readers of Ivanhoe to a different moral landscape, one alien to the Enlightenment world he was forged in, let alone that of today.

'Seeking out theoretical faults rather than identifying the many positives is a shame. Consider Scott's contribution to our language. He is the third most-quoted source in the Oxford English Dictionary.'

Warwick, one of 24 members of the elite Russell Group of British universities, began using trigger warnings in 2019, but had received several complaints in recent years about the content of its literature and drama courses.

A spokesman from the University of Warwick said: 'We believe students should be exposed to challenging ideas, stories and themes through their studies and view it as an essential part of learning and understanding different perspectives. That's why the university does not ask departments to issue content guidance notices for course materials.

'However, a small number of departments and academics choose to do so, making their own judgment and rationale for deciding on what guidance they feel may be needed for the coursework they set.

'We fully respect our colleagues right to exercise their academic freedom in this way, but the practice remains rare within the university with less than one per cent of our overall curriculum including any content guidance.'

Born on August 15 1771, Sir Walter Scott was became fascinated by the oral traditions of the Scottish Borders.

He overcame a bout of polio in his childhood and launched his literary career at 25, beginning to write professionally and translating many works from German.

Dubbed 'The Wizard of the North', Scott was praised by his descendants as an 'early advocate for mindfulness, an environmentalist and a devoted family man'.


A battle over charter co-location reveals how deeply progressives are wrong

The war against excellence reared its ugly head again at a city Panel for Educational Policy meeting Wednesday night — this time as a verbal brawl between charter-school supporters, who sought approval for a co-location in a Sheepshead Bay school, and those who opposed it. Success Academy won its permission, but the battle revealed how deep the anti-academic fervor is inside New York City public schools.

Students both for and against the co-location spoke, and the supplied talking points were quite obvious as many repeated the same ideas using the same words, but some ventured to share their own opinions. What emerged from most of the opponents was a clear distaste for having Success — or any school that’s unapologetically academic and focused on student achievement — in the midst of their school buildings, as if something unsavory would rub off. Why? Why does a school that relentlessly promotes and celebrates student academic success provoke such anger in those who should be doing the exact same thing?

The city’s traditional public schools — the base camp of the teachers unions — have over the last many years focused their efforts on something called SEL: social-emotional learning. There are no tests for SEL, nothing that can let you know if a student has mastered the subject or if a teacher is doing a great job, a mediocre job or nothing at all.

SEL is all about feelings and behaviors. Words like “microaggressions,” “oppression” and “gender identity” come up a lot during SEL workshops and teacher trainings. Grades, tests and achievements, not so much.

De-emphasizing academics and student achievement is, unfortunately, not just a New York City trend — it is a national phenomenon. Asra Nomani, a reporter and education activist who has fought the anti-merit attacks on her child’s once famously rigorous Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, described this week how the school sought to downplay and ignore its National Merit Scholars by not properly notifying students or families in a timely and public manner.

Will Hochul let union pawns keep strangling charter schools?
A school administrator explained, “We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements,” adding that the school didn’t want to “hurt” the feelings of non-scholar students.

What if you’re a really smart kid who takes pride in your academic achievements? What if the answer to “Who am I as an individual?” is “the best mathematician in my class,” “aspiring scientist” or “National Merit Scholar”? How can that be hard for schoolteachers and administrators to understand?

The supporters of Success Academy’s co-location application included students, parents and even alumni who each took hours out of their Wednesday night to listen to an hours-long Zoom meeting and offer up two minutes of testimony about how Success positively shaped their lives. They were pleading for the opportunity to site a K-4 school in an inconveniently located building that already contains two high schools, one a transfer high school. They were begging for crumbs.

The South Brooklyn Success Academy locations have growing waitlists because city public-school families want what Success is known for — rigorous academics and a focus on student achievement. Success Academy students outperform their city district-school peers, with proficiency rates for black and Hispanic students up to triple those for district peers.


Student Parents Need Online Learning Options to Succeed

As colleges and universities work to bounce back from a pandemic that drastically changed the way most people view higher education, many students are hoping some changes stick around – especially many college students who are also parents. Millions of students over the last few years experienced a complete shift to virtual learning, forcing higher education institutions to become more flexible to meet student needs. But with COVID concerns waning, many colleges have rushed to bring students back on campus, rolling back the virtual infrastructure that made it easier for so many students, particularly non-traditional students, to succeed.

Frankly, many students do not want to return exclusively to the classroom. A recent report found preferences for course modalities rapidly shifted over the course of the pandemic with mostly face-to-face classes dropping from 30% of respondents to 12% while completely online courses jumped from 5% to 20%, suggesting students are starting to prefer the flexible benefits of virtual education options over in-person.

This sentiment is certainly shared by student parents who are often overlooked when it comes to student needs, yet they represent more than one in five (22%) of the overall undergraduate population. While many share similar struggles with other students, they also have to contend with the high cost of childcare and the difficulty of staying enrolled in a system that was not built with their needs or experiences in mind.

Over the last two years, we have seen that while virtual learning is not perfect, it does allow student parents to stay home with their children while taking classes online. When coupled with the ability to complete various exams and assignments at times that are convenient for them, this learning environment can be extremely beneficial for student parents who have more demands on their time than their non-parenting peers.

The annual cost of childcare can average close to $10,000 a year for one child. These costs can be difficult for dual parents with stable incomes, let alone a single parent trying to juggle the costs of school tuition and childcare.

While universities alone can’t be expected to cover all the costs of childcare, many have cut their own childcare programs over the years, leading to a 14 percent decline in on-campus childcare from 2004 to 2019. The trend is even worse among community colleges where most student parents are enrolled and are experiencing a steeper reduction of 17 percent. The federal government has made efforts to help reverse this trend by more than tripling its childcare grant funding to schools in 2018 from $15 to $50 million to serve low-income students with children. Despite this increase, estimates show the program only reaches about 11,000 of the 4.8 million total student parents.

The gap between childcare needs and availability is unlikely to be fixed in the near future given the scale of the issue across all industries, but it makes clear the need to provide parents with more opportunities, like virtual learning, to help them balance their busy lives.

Lack of affordable, reliable childcare is one of many obstacles that student parents face and that disproportionately impacts their academic careers. It’s less often the academic rigor of college that makes it difficult to stay enrolled and more often the lack of financial resources and having to navigate policies that further exclude them. For example, students with children are often forced to take semesters off or to transfer schools because they can’t afford to stay in school or their childcare is interrupted. As a result, policies that limit transfer credits or federal Pell Grants that expire after six years can force student parents to retake classes with even less financial support. One way to help parents catch up is through online education resources that include study guides, practice questions, writing assistance, and detailed descriptions of how to solve complex math problems. For these students who often cannot make it to office hours, online resources provide a vital lifeline to help students learn at a pace and time that works with their busy schedules.

According to a recent report by Chegg, an online educational resource company, 55% of student parents have considered dropping out of school due to the demands of parenting while 73% of student parents who have children in middle school or below have missed work or class because of childcare arrangements. Colleges must identify ways to be more inclusive of parenting students in campus life and an institution-wide lens that considers the needs of student parents in the implementation of all of its services.

Studies show that student parents are 10 times less likely to achieve a college degree in five years compared to those without kids. Colleges and lawmakers must work to ensure students are not unfairly locked out of the higher education system because they are raising children. Embracing the virtual and hybrid learning opportunities we have developed over the course of the pandemic, along with supportive online resources that can help student parents study on their own schedule wherever they might be, will help ensure all students have a fair shot at earning a degree.




Detroit School Board Removes Ben Carson’s Name from School for His ‘Crime’ of Serving Under Trump

David Sokol

The Detroit school board recently voted to remove world-renowned neurosurgeon and native son Dr. Ben Carson’s name from its Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine magnet school. The reason: Carson served in the Cabinet of President Donald Trump.

Before it was scrubbed, the school’s website glowingly stated why it was named after Carson:

The school is named in honor of the acclaimed Detroit-born, African-American pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson. As a pediatric neurosurgeon formerly on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Carson was honored with the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions.

The school aims to honor the contributions Dr. Carson has made not only to the global medical community, but also as a role model for Detroit students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields.

The website also pointed out that “over 99% of our students graduate” and that the school “is a safe school with a strong college-going culture.”

While COVID-19 lowered the 2019-2021 average graduation rate at the school to 89.5%, it still significantly outperformed the Detroit public schools average graduation rate of 64.5%.

So, what has caused such an underperforming school district to remove the name Benjamin Carson from its best-performing high school? Wokeness and cancel culture, plain and simple.

Was Carson accused of committing a crime? Did he make some outrageous statements? Of course not. His sole offense, as stated by former and current Detroit school board members Lamar Lemmons and Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, is that he had the audacity to agree to be the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under Trump.

Think about that. Volunteering to serve your country in the important role of a Cabinet secretary negates all of your prior accomplishments, disqualifies your name from being on a school building, and erases you as a role model to disadvantaged youth.

This insane decision explains why the Detroit school district ranks among the worst-performing districts in America. Detroit school board members would rather play politics and be woke than focus on the urgent need to teach the district’s young men and women reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Detroit Free Press in a May 18, 2021, article pointed out that “Detroit Public Schools’ students recently won the award of the worst math scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ 40-year history.”

Parents who actually care about their children’s education must retake the school board, or else students will continue to receive an inferior education.

Any school district in America should welcome the opportunity to have such an amazing American as Carson serve as a role model for their students. He and his brother were raised by a single mother who was a domestic worker in the poorest part of Detroit. She emphasized to her boys the importance of a good education, hard work, and determination.

From the humblest of beginnings, Carson became a world-renowned neurosurgeon, and his brother became an accomplished physicist. His mother kept them focused on achieving their American Dream and rejecting the victimhood being spewed by charlatan black politicians.

Dr. Ben Carson is among the kindest, gentlest, and most well-intentioned people whom I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. This slight by the Detroit school board demonstrates just how harmful cancel culture and wokeness truly can be—harmful not only to the target of that cancel culture but to all the children who would benefit if the school board focused its energy on providing a quality education rather than on being woke.


Independent Institute Research Vindicates DeSantis Ed Reform

A recent National Review article, on education reforms implemented by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, praised original research by the Independent Institute. Independent’s report titled “Better than Common Core: Florida’s New K-12 Standards Raise the Bar” demonstrated that the state’s new English language arts and math standards are now the strongest in the country and suggested they could serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

In 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis implemented significant curricular reform, replacing the controversial Common Core standards with new, high-rigor reading and math standards. Florida’s new “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.)” standards shed the mechanistic skills-oriented approach favored by Common Core and restored, for example, classic literature to the English curriculum. These reforms made Florida likely the only state to have rid itself of Common Core after fully adopting it.

As National Review stated:

You can read about DeSantis’s replacement of the failed Common Core in a 2020 report from the Independent Institute called “Better than Common Core: Florida’s New K-12 Standards Raise the Bar.” The report says that Florida’s English language arts and math standards truly do depart from Common Core. More, it calls them “the strongest [reading and math standards] currently in use in the United States.” The report adds that with some slight tweaks, the Florida standards “can stand as a new model for the country.”


Parents’ Rights Activists Turn to Courts To Block ‘Radical’ Ideologies in Classrooms

Across the country, parents are springing into action to defend what they insist are their rights to oversee the education of their children.

These so-called parental rights activists, animated by prolonged school closures during the Covid pandemic, are challenging the supremacy of the educational bureaucracy in their children’s schools. These parents are calling attention to left-leaning curricular material and literature in classrooms, and are protesting the “gender ideology” and “critical race theory” they say are being taught in schools.

It’s a movement that catapulted Glenn Youngkin to the governorship of Virginia and helped lift Governor DeSantis of Florida to his prominent spot on the national stage. It has galvanized parents to show up in hordes at what were once poorly attended school board meetings, and even propelled some to run for school boards themselves.

Now, parents are turning to lawsuits in an attempt to curb policies they see as discriminatory, harmful, invasive, and even in violation of their constitutional rights. These lawsuits, however, could put conservative parents on a collision course with conservative jurists, including Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

As the battle for parents’ rights moves to the federal courthouse from the ballot box, it raises a question: Does our Constitution enshrine parents’ rights?

A lawsuit filed in Iowa by one of the most prominent parents rights groups, Parents Defending Education, alleges that a new policy enacted by the Linn-Mar school district, in a suburb of Cedar Rapids, violates the Constitution. The policy allows students to use new pronouns at school and begin social transition — using the bathrooms, playing on sports teams, and rooming on school trips with the gender of their preference — without parental consent or information.

“Everybody from kindergarten on would be able to have a gender support plan,” the president and founder of Parents Defending Education, Nicole Neily, tells the Sun. “Then beginning in seventh grade, the child’s decision takes precedence over parents’ decisions.”

In a recent study by transgender advocates at Princeton, the majority of children — about 60 percent — who socially transitioned between ages three and 12 began a hormone altering regimen within five years.

The lawsuit alleges that the new policy “plainly violates parents’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

“Nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent makes two things clear: parents have a constitutional liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children,” the initial complaint says, adding that the policy also violates the students’ First Amendment rights by way of “compelled speech.”

The 14th Amendment, though, makes no mention of parents or children in its text. Yet the court filings claim that the new policy violates the parents’ constitutional right “to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control,” citing not the text of the Constitution itself, but a 1925 Supreme Court case, Pierce v. Society of Sisters.

The existence of such a right hinges on whether one accepts the legal principle of substantive due process, which has long been the subject of ire from conservative jurists.

Pierce, along with Meyer v. Nebraska, established a 14th Amendment principle that education law not infringe upon the rights of parents to choose their child’s education. Pierce overturned an Oregon law requiring all students to attend public schools, while Meyer overturned a Nebraska ordinance prohibiting foreign language instruction.

In Pierce, the court ruled that “the child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

The 14th Amendment’s guarantee that no “State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” includes — or so say advocates of substantive due process — both the right to procedural due process (a fair trial, in other words) and substantive rights to “life, liberty, or property.”

“The view is that the 14th Amendment, which has a provision that says that no one can be deprived of liberty without due process of law … has a procedural component,” a professor of law at Villanova University, Michael Moreland, told the Sun. “There are basic norms of fair procedure, like how a trial was conducted, and so forth.”

“But it also includes a substantive component of certain liberties that are so fundamental that the government may not infringe upon them,” Mr. Moreland explained. “There’s basically no due process of law that could ever result in their abolition or infringement in a certain way.”

It is the principle of substantive due process that in the past century has been used as a foundation for rights such as abortion, contraception, and gay and interracial marriage. The Supreme Court has noted that rulings based on substantive due process can be a “treacherous field,” and a high standard must be set for the fundamental liberties derived from the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court holds that any rights derived from the 14th Amendment must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “essential to our Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty.”

In the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which overturned Roe v. Wade’s claim to a substantive due process right to abortion, the court ruled that the right to an abortion was not so “deeply rooted” as to merit constitutional protection. The overturning of Roe has led many to question whether all substantive due process precedents may be in danger.

The rights of parents in their child’s education, however, would likely hold up under the historical scrutiny applied in the Dobbs decision, Mr. Moreland of Villanova says — even though he notes that today’s parental rights movement is asking for more than precedent might guarantee.

“Pierce and Meyer were about prohibiting private schooling, prohibiting foreign language instruction, things like that. I think courts are going to be a little cautious about trying to manage school district curricula through litigation,” Mr. Moreland says. “I think the question now is, what are the real limits of that kind of state regulation, and when and to what extent does it infringe on parental liberty?”

These questions are relevant unless one rejects substantive due process altogether, as Justice Thomas has suggested he’s prepared to do. In past opinions, the justice has had harsh words for a principle that he sees as a “legal fiction.”

Justice Thomas — alone among the Nine in his complete rejection of the principle — has referred to substantive due process as an “oxymoron that lacks any basis in the Constitution” based on a “demonstrably incorrect reading of the Due Process Clause.”

Even if Justice Thomas demurs on substantive due process, he — and jurists like him — could flip the question on its head: do children have constitutional rights outside the purview of their parents?

In a lone dissent in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which ruled children have First Amendment rights to purchase violent video games without parental consent, Justice Thomas made an originalist argument that the First Amendment “does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.”

“The history clearly shows a founding generation that believed parents to have complete authority over their minor children and expected parents to direct the development of those children,” Justice Thomas wrote in 2011.




Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Adnan Syed of ‘Serial,’ Newly Freed, Is Hired by Georgetown University

Adnan Syed, who was freed in September after he spent 23 years in prison fighting a murder conviction that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” has been hired by Georgetown University as an associate for an organization whose work mirrors the efforts that led to his release, the university has announced.

Syed, the subject of the 2014 podcast and pop-culture sensation that raised questions about whether he had received a fair trial after being convicted of strangling his high school classmate and onetime girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, will work for Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Syed, who was 17 at the time of Lee’s death in Baltimore, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

The university said Syed, now 41, will help support programs at the organization, such as a class in which students reinvestigate wrongful convictions and seek to “bring innocent people home” by creating short documentaries about their findings. The program, founded in 2016, “brings together leading scholars, practitioners, students and those affected by the criminal justice system to tackle the problem of mass incarceration,” according to its website.

Georgetown University, which is in Washington, said that in the year leading up to his release, Syed was enrolled in the university’s bachelor of liberal arts program at the Maryland prison where he was incarcerated.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” Syed said in a statement. “PJI changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

He added that he hoped to continue his education at Georgetown and go to law school.

In October, prosecutors in Baltimore dropped the charges against Syed after DNA testing on items that had never been fully examined proved Syed’s innocence, officials said.

Lee’s family filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after prosecutors dropped the charges.

On Nov. 4, the court said in an order that the appeal could be heard in court in February.


DeSantis Delivers Another Blow to Teachers Unions

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is taking on the teachers unions by asking the legislature to eliminate automatic union dues reductions from educator paychecks.

"Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida promised Monday to sign a bill into law that would increase teacher pay by a record amount — but he also wants to clamp down on teachers' unions. The plan DeSantis outlined at a school board retreat in Orlando would have teachers send a check to their unions every month rather than automatically deduct the dues from their paychecks,"

Business Insider reports. "DeSantis' plan would create a new hurdle for organized labor in Florida, whose "Right to Work" status is already enshrined in the state constitution. Under current law, Florida workers can opt out of joining a union, which in turn restricts unions from collecting dues from employees who benefit from negotiated worker protections."

In addition, DeSantis is touting Florida as a state respectful of parental rights in education.


Australia: Low-fee private schools rival expensive counterparts in final exams

At Alpha Omega College, a co-ed school in a suburban office block, students don’t wear uniforms, teachers are called by their first names and there is no bell to round up pupils to class.

“It’s not a normal school,” says deputy principal Wesam Krayem. “We do things differently and it makes students feel like there are fewer barriers. We also open the school on weekends and holidays for extra tutoring sessions.”

The western Sydney college is one of multiple lower-fee private schools across NSW that had similar — or better — HSC success rates than schools where fees tip over $20,000 a year, a Herald analysis has found.

Catholic schools that charge fees of about $6000 a year or less — including Randwick’s Brigidine College, Hurstville’s Bethany College and Parramatta Marist High — had a similar or a higher portion of students achieving band-six HSC results as St Joseph’s in Hunters Hill and the Scots College in Bellevue Hill, where parents pay about $40,000 for year 12.

St Clare’s College in Waverley — which charges about $7000 for year 12 — was the highest-ranked systemic Catholic school at 31st out of the 143 top private schools analysed, based on the past two years of HSC results. It had a success rate similar to Barker College and St Ignatius College Riverview, where final-year fees are more than $32,000.

Former chair of NSW Education Standards Authority Tom Alegounarias said fees did not necessarily correlate with consistently high academic performance.

“Results likely reflect all sorts of dynamics beyond the socio-economic backgrounds of students. It could be about the relative effectiveness of the school, and if there is healthy competition among staff and students. Schools might be focusing on academic achievement and the rigours that are needed to get those results. Band sixes are also only one indicator, and are not a reliable indicator of range achievement in schools,” Alegounarias said.

At Auburn’s Alpha Omega College there is an intense focus on academic results and a strict no mobile phone policy for the 500-odd students at the school.

“There is a ‘never give up attitude’ ... students get constant feedback on how they are going. The school is open on some weekends for study groups and algebra workshops,” said Krayem. Parents pay about $13,000 for year 12 at the school.

The Herald’s analysis compared fees with HSC success rates — the ratio of band six results at a school compared to the number of students that sat exams. It used this year’s fees published on school websites, and if these weren’t available took the most recent fees and charges reported or used data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to estimate fees.

Authorities only release the names and schools of students who achieve in the top band of their subject. Private school sectors have previously suggested the NSW government release more data to reflect the efforts of all students, not just the top achievers.

Fees at Al Noori Muslim School in Greenacre and Al Faisal College are roughly $3000 a year, and those schools had a similar portion of students in the top HSC bands as Knox Grammar and Kincoppal Rose Bay.

Chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW Dallas McInerney said the sector aimed to provide choice for parents through a system of low-fee comprehensive schools.

“HSC results do not account for socio-economic background, fees or enrolment policy, therefore the results of these schools and students are really an against-the-odds story,” he said.

‘We set the bar high’: How Reddam House blitzed HSC maths
Robyn Rodwell, the principal of Catholic systemic school Bethany College, said the school had high expectations of the girls.

“Before we teach a new topic we do pre-testing to find out what they already know, and that way after we’ve taught the unit you can see how much they’ve grown. We also invest in really solid teacher development programs,” she said.

Head of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW Geoff Newcombe said the median fee collected for private schools in NSW was around $5200 a year. “These schools are not selective, and their regular success reflects the commitment of the students, their families, teachers and principals to strong academic outcomes at all levels.”




Friday, December 23, 2022

Woke University Walks Back Proposal to Censor 'Harmful Language' - It Only Took 48 Hours After People Noticed

An elite university is seemingly walking back a rigid campus language code two days after it was rolled out to widespread criticism.

Stanford University appeared to have removed mention of its “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” from its website as of Monday, according to The Washington Free Beacon. The initiative was a product of the university’s IT department.

The webpage for the initiative went live over the weekend, the Free Beacon reported. The proposed language policies were the subject of a critical Op-Ed published by The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

The university resource outlined a laundry list of “harmful” words and phrases that would be removed from Stanford websites and suggested politically correct alternatives to the objectionable language.

Words like “freshman” and “mankind” were singled out for being “gender-based.” Terms such as “blind study” and “tone-deaf” were criticized as “ableist.”

Even the word “American” was designated as “harmful” on the grounds that it supposedly ascribes supremacy to the U.S. over other countries in the Americas.

A professor at Stanford’s medical school publicly rejected the proposed elimination of the word “American.”

“I remember how proud I was when I became a naturalized American citizen,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya tweeted. “I’m still proud to be an American, and I don’t care that [Stanford] disapproves of my using the term.”

Steve Gallagher, Stanford’s chief information officer, released a statement on Tuesday distancing the school from the censorious initiative.

“Over the last couple of days, there has been much discussion of a website that provides advice for the IT community at Stanford about word choices in Stanford websites and code,” Gallagher said.

“First and importantly, the website does not represent university policy. It also does not represent mandates or requirements,” he clarified.

Gallagher said the word “American” would not be banned by the university.

“We have particularly heard concerns about the guide’s treatment of the term ‘American,'” Gallagher said. “We understand and appreciate those concerns. To be very clear, not only is the use of the term ‘American’ not banned at Stanford, it is absolutely welcomed.”

Gallagher indicated that the speech code was undergoing “continual review,” suggesting that it could return in an altered capacity.


Elementary School Counselor Gets 25 Years in Prison for Exploiting Underage Girls Through Snapchat

A former elementary school counselor in West Virginia will go to prison for 25 years for reportedly exploiting underage girls on the photo-sharing app Snapchat.

Todd Roatsey, 43, who was a counselor at Pinch Elementary School in Pinch, West Virginia, used Snapchat to connect with minors while posing as an 18-year-old boy, according to the New York Post:

At the start of January 2020, Roatsey messaged one girl he thought was 16 and another girl he believed was also a minor while pretending to be 18 years old on Snapchat, prosecutors said. He admitted that he convinced both girls to record themselves by making sexually explicit videos that show the girls masturbating, prosecutors said.

He also admitted that he sent videos back where he was masturbating.

He then used his Snapchat account to message several other girls he knew from Pinch Elementary that included more than 100 videos he recorded while communicating with two of the girls, who were both around 12 years old, the feds said. One of the victims was a student at Pinch Elementary at the time, prosecutors said.

He received numerous videos of the girls performing what he called “sexy” dances or gymnastic poses like full backbends, according to prosecutors. The girls only wore the athletic bras and shorts on video while Roatsey admitted to telling the girls they were “hot” and “sexy.”

Prosecutors reportedly said that Roatsey confessed to distributing, receiving and owning child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. He pleaded guilty to child exploitation crimes this year.

Roatsey attempted to cover up his crimes by deleting his Snapchat account shortly after DHS agents searched his home in Oct. 2021 and seized electronic devices in his home with child porn on them.

Roatsey will have a lifetime of supervised release when he gets out of prison in 25 years. He will be required to be registered as a sex offender and pay victims $23,000 in restitution, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“As an elementary school counselor, Roatsey intentionally placed himself in a position of trust over the kinds of children to whom he was sexually attracted,” U.S. Attorney Will Thompson said in a statement, adding that the former school counselor’s actions were “horrific.”

“In our communities, schools are the only constant for a lot of children. A lot of the time, school is the safe place. The fact that Mr. Roatsey made this not a safe place was, I find, to be very horrific,” he explained.

Last week, Townhall covered how a high school basketball coach and school monitor in Martin County, Florida, was arrested for allegedly paying underage girls to send him nude photos on Snapchat. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office reportedly got an anonymous tip about the coach, 28-year-old Alton Edwards, and spoke with seven teenagers who claim they sent him explicit photos.

"Our theory is that he probably [took a] screenshot, saved some of those pictures, and that when we serve the search warrant, we will find them on his camera," Sheriff William Snyder told reporters, adding that it appeared to be a “known secret” among students for years that , but no one spoke up.

If your children have Snapchat, go home tonight and delete it,” the sheriff said.


What Education Issues Did Voters Care About Most?

Critical race theory, LGBTQ issues, and “political indoctrination”—hot topics in the national media over the past year—did not rank as the most pressing issues for voters in the 2022 midterm elections, a new poll suggests.

But the political divide over those issues remains significant. More than 40 percent of voters still labeled fears of indoctrination, critical race theory, and LGBTQ agendas as a major factor in their election decisions, according to results from the poll.

The National Education Association surveyed 1,200 midterm voters—including an even share of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, from Nov. 10 through Nov. 19—about the education issues that were most important to them.

Forty-three percent of respondents identified the statement that “too many schools are teaching critical race theory to be politically correct” as a major factor in their voting decisions, while 42 percent identified “students are being indoctrinated by radical left-wing teachers” and “teachers are grooming students and pushing the radical LGBTQ agenda” as major factors.

Those concerns, however, did not rank in the top five of major issues for voters. The most pressing issue was school shootings, with 60 percent of voters identifying it as a major factor. Fifty-five percent of voters identified students not receiving “a complete, honest history of our country, including on topics like slavery, the civil rights movement, and Native American history” as a major factor in their vote. And 55 percent of voters also said concerns about school funding and book bans were major factors in their votes.

The NEA is the largest national teachers’ union and overwhelmingly supports Democratic political candidates and issues. The union views the poll results as an indication that issues like school safety and funding are more important to voters than issues promoted in the campaigns of politically conservative candidates.

“We ended up seeing that voters voted for candidates and for issues that … supported strong schools, that supported working families, that wanted people to support our students, their children,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in an interview. “I’m not surprised that’s what ended up happening.”

But education advocates who are politically conservative also see the results as an indication that their issues are resonating with voters.

In both statewide and local elections, people who were worried about critical race theory were not significantly more motivated to vote than those who were not afraid of it.

Sixty-two percent of people who identified themselves as having an “unfavorable” view of critical race theory said they were more motivated or enthusiastic to vote in the midterms. On the other hand, 60 percent of people who identified themselves as having a favorable view of critical race theory also said they were more motivated or enthusiastic about voting in this election.

The numbers showed similar trends in school board elections. In total, 40 percent of respondents said that school board elections were more important this year than in past years. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents in total voted in school board elections.

Of those in favor of critical race theory, 33 percent said school board elections were more important than in past years and 80 percent actually voted in the school board elections. At the same time, 48 percent of people who were worried about critical race theory said the school board elections were more important than in past years, and 79 percent actually voted for school board members.

Pringle views the poll results as a clear signal that voters rejected the idea that critical race theory was a reason why people would vote for more politically conservative candidates.

“It went to that place of, ‘that’s not what we want,’” she said. “We want our kids to learn about each other and to know each other so they can grow and learn and be in a cooperative space with each other.”

But some education advocates disagree.

Lindsey Burke, director of the center for education policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank, said the results show that “the values schools are disseminating to students matter greatly to parents, and that a perceived misalignment in those values continues to motivate many parents at the ballot box.”

"[Policymakers] should work at every turn to empower families with transparency around what is being taught in public schools,” Burke said in a statement.

The poll results are in line with what the NEA saw in its own campaign efforts during the midterms.

Seventy-one percent of the thousands of candidates endorsed by NEA and its affiliates, who are often liberal-leaning, won their elections. Conservative-leaning organizations, like the 1776 Project and Moms for Liberty, didn’t see the same levels of success, with only about a third of the school board candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project and half for Moms For Liberty winning their elections.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the NEA poll said they support public schools in their community and 65 percent said they support local teachers. The results come at a time when education advocates have expressed concerns that politics are driving a wedge between educators and their communities.

The support for teachers is especially high among parents and Democrats. Seventy-one percent of parents said they view local teachers favorably and 84 percent of Democrats said the same. Sixty-one percent of independents and 48 percent of Republicans said they view teachers favorably.

At the same time, most of the respondents—62 percent—view themselves on the same side as teachers when it comes to making decisions about local schools and education policy. Eighty-five percent of those who voted for Democrats said they are on the same side as what most teachers want while 40 percent of those who voted Republican said the same.

“It showed us that parents and educators are united in wanting to see every student succeed,” Pringle said. “They understand it’s not only about their child, it’s about all children.”

The poll showed that politicians should listen to educators, parents, and education experts if they want to win over voters, Pringle said.

“If you listen to the people who are impacted by the policies and those who have dedicated their lives to educating America’s students, then you not only will develop good policy and a vision for what public education can and should be, but people will hear it and they’ll vote for you,” she said.




Thursday, December 22, 2022

Indiana School Board, Superintendent Refuse to Explain Secret Transgender Policy to Parents

The school board and superintendent of an Indiana school district refused to comment Monday on a recently uncovered transgender policy for students that keeps parents in the dark, nearly two weeks after a public meeting at which parents demanded that officials explain why they’re hiding information.

Concerned parents in Pendleton, Indiana, flocked to the Dec. 8 school board meeting three days after The Daily Signal exposed the school district’s secret policy and a so-called Gender Support Plan for transitioning students.

School Board President Joel Sandefur, other school board members, Schools Superintendent Mark Hall, and one of his assistants all refused to respond to The Daily Signal’s latest request for answers to five key questions about the secret policy before Monday’s publication deadline. Those questions are specified below.

“You should be ashamed,” one mother told Hall and the school board at the Dec. 8 meeting. “I trusted you with my children and you lied to me—to us.”

Dozens of parents and other area residents packed the meeting room to obtain information directly from the elected board and Hall, the appointed superintendent of the Pendleton-based school district, known as the South Madison Community School Corporation.

They soon were disappointed, as Sandefur and Hall evaded questions and blamed the district’s secret transgender policy on unrelated federal law and regulations.

Because of illness, this columnist was unable to follow up my Dec. 5 expose in The Daily Signal by attending and reporting immediately on what happened three days later at the school board meeting. Now I am.

The board’s meeting, livestreamed on YouTube, quickly progressed through typical meeting minutes and updates.

Then, after a short break, Hall read a prepared statement. In it, the superintendent claimed that because the South Madison school district accepts federal funding, the district is required to follow a nondiscrimination policy, which appears as a “Non-Discrimination Statement” on its website. That statement refers to federal nondiscrimination law as well as, incongruously, Department of Agriculture regulations.

South Madison, the superintendent of schools intoned, would not discriminate based on sex, color, age, national origin, gender identity, etc.

To comply with that law and those rules, Hall said, the school system must treat all students equally with regard to “preferred names,” equating a student’s asking to be called by a shortened name or nickname to a student’s changing names and personal pronouns as a result of a gender transition.

The superintendent didn’t connect this explanation to parents’ deep concern about the school district’s withholding information from parents in any way. Hall also offered no explanation as to why a blank form used by the district for transitioning students, called the Gender Support Plan, isn’t accessible online.

Before I go into more detail, some background:

The Daily Signal reported Dec. 5 that the South Madison school district had implemented the secret transgender policy and Gender Support Plan.

Under the policy, the superintendent’s office orders counselors and teachers to refrain from mentioning a “transitioning” student’s new personal pronouns or name to his parents—much less check that parents are even aware that their child believes he or she is transgender.

School counselor Kathy McCord went on the record with The Daily Signal to outline the shady methods the school district employed to keep the so-called Gender Support Plan away from teachers and parents. McCord also described how she was ordered to compel speech from teachers by requiring them to use one set of names and pronouns with students and another with parents.

The Daily Signal reported that McCord and another counselor, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed distress at the district policy. They said that they became school counselors to work with students and parents, not to come between them.

McCord told The Daily Signal that Assistant Superintendent Andrew Kruer, Hall’s subordinate, had informed all counselors that this procedure of keeping information from parents was a school board-approved policy. Kruer also told counselors that the district’s legal counsel, LGBTQ+ advocate Jessica Heiser, had informed the counseling staff it was federal law.

Amanda Keegan, a geography and psychology teacher at the district’s Pendleton Heights High School, told The Daily Signal that the secret transgender policy was one reason she resigned. Keegan said it made her physically ill to lie to parents’ faces about their children.

“When I had to look at that parent, and feel like I was lying to that parent … I was sick to my stomach,” she said. “I can’t lie to parents. I can’t do that again.”

Before publishing its initial report, The Daily Signal sought comment from Hall, Kruer, and Sandefur, the school board president. All three flatly refused to provide comments or explanations about South Madison’s student gender policies.

One school board member, Kaye Wolverton, said that she was unaware of any Gender Support Plan or policy to keep information from parents—but that she never would have approved either.

At one point during his prepared statement to parents, Hall, appointed by the board in 2020, said the district didn’t ask or allow counselors or teachers to diagnose or treat gender dysphoria, which conflicts with expectations set forth for counseling staff in the district’s Gender Support Plan as well as the information provided by McCord.


The Transgender Trajectory

The children had gathered that day for the first time in their first-grade classroom. At the top of the agenda: learn how to do simple problems in addition and subtraction.

After the teacher had reviewed some basic principles of arithmetic, she asked one of the students: "Do you know what one plus one equals?"

The little girl responded: "Two."

The teacher then admonished her: "No, it equals three."

The girl was astonished, but the teacher was adamant. "One plus one equals three," the teacher insisted.

But the little girl was very bright. She held up her right hand where the teacher could see it. "Teacher," she said, grabbing her index finger, "that is one."

Then the girl reached over and grabbed the next finger. "That is another one," she told the teacher. "So now I am holding two."

"I told you and you need to listen," the teacher admonished the little girl. "The fact of the matter is that one plus one equals three -- and you need to accept that."

The little girl looked at the teacher in astonishment and disbelief.

"One plus one equals three," the teacher repeated. "That is the official policy of this school district."

This may not have started happening yet in America's first-grade classrooms, but a similar phenomenon is already taking place in high school athletic competitions.

In 2013, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted what is referred to as its "Revised Transgender Participation Policy."

This "policy," it says, "addresses eligibility determinations for students who have a gender identity that is different from the gender listed on their birth certificates."

"Therefore, for purposes of sports participation, the CIAC shall defer to the determination of the student and his or her local school regarding gender identification," it continues. "In this regard, the school district shall determine a student's eligibility to participate in CIAC gender specific sports team(s) based on the gender identification of that student in current school records and daily life activities in the school and community at the time that sports eligibility is determined for a particular season.

"Accordingly, when a school district submits a roster to the CIAC, it is verifying that it has determined that the students listed on a gender specific sports team are entitled to participate on that team due to their gender identity," says the policy.

In plain English: A boy who "identifies" as a girl is "entitled" to compete against girls on the girls' "gender specific sports team."

Yes, in Connecticut high school sports, one plus one equals three. Or a boy is a girl if he says he is.

How has this impacted girls' sports in Connecticut?

The case of Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools is now working its way up through the federal courts. The plaintiffs are four biological females who were high school track-and-field athletes.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is advancing the female athletes' case, filed a brief last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that summarized the basic facts behind it.

"Biological males, if allowed to compete, will dominate women's sports," said the ADF brief. "That is exactly what happened in Connecticut's high school track and field."

In 2017, said the ADF brief, "a biological male athlete who identified as female started running in women's track and field."

In 2018, the ADF noted, "another biological male athlete who identified as female, switched from competing in boys' track to girls' track events."

The result? Over the course of two years, the ADF informed the court, "two biologically male athletes, won 13 girls' state-championship titles and occupied more than 68 opportunities to advance to and participate in exclusive higher-level competitions -- opportunities that would otherwise have gone to females."

These two biologically male athletes, ADF told the court, "won 13 out of 14 'girls' championships, leaving a female runner to win just one. (Needless to say, in the boys division, males won all 14 parallel 'boys' championships.)"

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its opinion in this case last week, dismissing the case brought by the biologically female athletes.

"Plaintiffs allege that the Policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ... because the participation of transgender females in girls' high school athletic events results in 'students who are born female' having materially fewer opportunities for victory, public recognition, athletic scholarships, and future employment 'than students who are born male,'" the court summarized in its opinion.

"To remedy the alleged Title IX violations," the court said, "Plaintiffs requested damages and two injunctions -- one to enjoin future enforcement of the Policy and one to alter the records of certain prior CIAC-sponsored girls' track events to remove the records achieved by two transgender girls, who intervened in this action."

The court's opinion meticulously refers to two types of "girls." One it calls "transgender girls" or "girls who are transgender." The other it calls "cisgender girls" or "girls who are cisgender."

In other words, in this court's arithmetic, two distinct sexes equal one.

Noting that the biological females who brought this case did sometimes defeat the "transgender girls" they were forced to compete against, the court concluded: "Plaintiffs' theory of injury in fact -- that the Policy deprived them of a 'chance to be champions' -- fails because they have not alleged a cognizable deprivation here."

The trajectory of the transgender movement is driving America away from a society based on objective truth -- where a boy is a boy, for example -- toward a society where what we pretend is true depends on what those in authority demand.


Biden Administration Investigates Texas Schools for Removal of sexually deviant books

The Department of Education is launching a civil rights investigation into a Texas school district for the removal of books with sexually explicit content from school libraries.

The Office of Civil Rights’ investigation of the Granbury Independent School District, which educates just fewer than 7,000 students about 40 miles west of Fort Worth, comes in response to a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

The ACLU of Texas argues the removal of the books constitutes a Title IX violation on “the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation” because all target books were “related to LGBTQ+ inclusion.”

The Texas Tribune calls the investigation the “first-of-its-kind” that explicitly centers a civil right investigation around the removal of books from a library, since liberal literature and curricula in schools have galvanized activists across the country to protest the “gender ideology” and “critical race theory” being taught.

In January, the district’s superintendent, Jeremy Glenn, instructed librarians to remove books dealing with “transgender, LGBTQ, and sex [and] sexuality,” according to an audio recording that was leaked in March to NBC News, ProPublica, and the Texas Tribune.

Citing parental concerns, Mr. Glenn asked for the removal of more than 100 books in the school library — including “This Book Is Gay,” a resource book for teenagers on coming out that has become a focus of parental rights activists across the country. The book contains chapters titled, “Where to Meet People Like You,” which advises readers on how to use gay dating apps such as Grinder, and, “The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex,” which instructs readers on sexual acts.

“I don’t want a kid picking up a book — whether it’s about homosexuality or heterosexuality — and reading about how to hook up sexually in our libraries,” Mr. Glenn told the librarians, before affirming that “there are two genders.”

“Granbury is a very, very conservative community,” Mr. Glenn told librarians, stopping short of accusing them of subverting communal norms. “If it is not what you believe, you better hide it. Because it ain’t changing in Granbury.”

The ACLU’s complaint accused Mr. Glenn of creating “a chilling atmosphere” for gay and transgender students.

“The atmosphere created by Superintendent Glenn’s comments and by the book removals remains — a school environment that is pervasively hostile to LGBTQ+ and especially transgender and non-binary students,” the organization wrote in its complaint, filed in July.

More than 100 books were temporarily removed from the shelves, but most of them returned after a volunteer committee reviewed the content — including “Being Jazz: My Life as a Transgender Teen” and “Safe Sex 101: An Overview for Teens.” Meanwhile, “This Book Is Gay” and several other titles remain out of the school libraries.

The intervention by the Biden administration in the policy disagreement between school librarians and parents is illustrative of the growing tension between conservative parents and liberal educators — fueled by Covid school closures and ideologically driven lessons on race and gender.

While Granbury is a city, a recent study by Jay Greene of the Heritage Foundation and Ian Kingsbury of the Educational Freedom Institute found stark differences in political values between teachers and other residents in rural Texas counties.

In the most recent gubernatorial election, more than 90 percent of campaign donations from public school employees in rural areas went to Democratic candidates. Governor Abbott, a Republican, cruised to victory in the same areas, winning more than 80 percent of the vote.

Two rising Republican stars, Governors Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have both hitched their wagons to the movement of parents asking for more oversight of their children’s education.

Political analysts attributed Mr. Youngkin’s 2021 electoral victory to the mutual support between the candidate and parent activists. Mr. Youngkin campaigned on promises to involve parents in their children’s classrooms and to “ban critical race theory on day one.”

His Democratic opponent, Governor McAuliffe, was criticized for his support of teachers unions and opposition to parental involvement in curricula. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said during one debate.

In a statement, the ACLU of Texas praised the Department of Education for looking into the possible Title IX violation.

“By choosing to open this investigation in response to our complaint, the federal government is signaling that remedying discrimination against LGBTQIA+ students is a top priority and that school districts cannot deny students the right to be themselves in school, be it through book bans, discriminatory comments, or other harmful policies,” the group said. ?




Wednesday, December 21, 2022

University of Oklahoma bans TikTok after Gov. Stitt's executive order cites 'national security concerns'

The University of Oklahoma will be banning the use of the social media app TikTok for students and staff, according to an email sent out to students on Tuesday.

In an email, the school said it would be barring internet access for the app in lieu of Governor Kevin Stitt’s executive order banning TikTok on state devices.

"In compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order 2022-33, effective immediately, no University employee or student shall access the TikTok application or website on University-owned or operated devices, including OU wired and wireless networks," David Horton, the Chief Information Officer and Senior Associate Vice President, wrote in the letter sent to students on Dec. 20.

"As a result of the Executive Order, access to the TikTok platform will be blocked and cannot be accessed from the campus network," the letter continued. "University-administered TikTok accounts must be deleted and alternate social media platforms utilized in their place."

The letter goes on to state TikTok, which operates under the control of the Chinese government, was banned by the governor due to "ongoing national and cybersecurity concerns with the TikTok application."

"Thank you for your cooperation," Horton concluded.

Gov. Stitt, a Republican, wrote an executive order on Dec. 8 that banned TikTok for all "state government agencies, employees and contractors on government networks or government-issued devices."

The devices include "state-issued cellphones, computers, or any other device capable of internet connectivity," he ordered.

"We will not participate in helping the Chinese Communist Party gain access to government information," Stitt said at the time.

"Maintaining the cybersecurity of state government is necessary to continue to serve and protect Oklahoma citizens and we will not participate in helping the Chinese Communist Party gain access to government information," the governor added.

Immediately following the governor's order, Northeastern State University, a public university located in Tahlequah, also banned the app.

NSU's University Relations department emailed students, staff, and faculty notifying them of the policy change on Dec. 9.

The email instructed employees and student organizations using official NSU TikTok accounts devices to delete them and to delete the app if "housed on NSU-owned, leased, or managed devices," according to the Tahlequah Daily Press.

"Northeastern State University is complying with Gov. Stitt's Executive Order 2022-33," wrote Dan Mabery, the Vice President for University Relations. "Therefore, university-owned/leased/managed equipment, including the NSU network, may not be used to download or access the TikTok application or website. As a result of the Executive Order, access to the TikTok social media platform will be blacklisted and cannot be accessed from the campus network."

Both President Biden and former President Donald Trump have raised issues with TikTok being used in the United States, similarly citing national security and surveillance issues, with the latter attempting to ban the app in its entirety.

TikTok is a social media app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It is commonly used by younger generations that allow users to share short videos with annotations or captions or virtually any topic.


New Case Filed: Phillips v. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit in state court Friday on behalf of a professor whom the North Carolina Governor’s School fired after he spoke out about the harms of the racially divisive ideology embraced by the school. Dr. David Phillips is a well-respected English professor who has spent eight summers teaching at the Governor’s School, a residential summer program for the state’s most talented rising high-school seniors.

For years, Phillips spoke out against the school’s increasing adoption of critical theory, an ideology that views everyone and everything through the lens of characteristics like race, sex, and religion, labeling people as perpetual oppressors or victims based on group membership alone. After Phillips delivered three optional seminars in June 2021 critiquing critical theory and the increasing bias and lack of viewpoint diversity in higher education, North Carolina public school officials fired him mid-session without any explanation.

“In an academic environment committed to exploring a wide range of differing viewpoints, as the Governor’s School claims to be, no teacher should be fired for offering a reasoned critique of critical theory. But that’s what happened to Dr. Phillips,” said ADF Senior Counsel Hal Frampton. “There is no lawful explanation for the way North Carolina public school officials treated Dr. Phillips. He was beloved, respected, and regarded by both students and faculty as an advocate for students who felt that their voices weren’t being heard and their perspectives weren’t welcomed at the Governor’s School. By firing him, the Governor’s School violated his constitutional right to free speech and unlawfully retaliated against him for deviating from the Governor’s School’s ideological orthodoxy.”

Over his eight years teaching at the Governor’s School, Phillips has encouraged his students to think for themselves and has notified the administration of the hostility that he and other students with “privileged” characteristics experienced. Phillips’ three optional seminars, which were similar to others he’d delivered in previous years and open to any student or staff member to attend if they so desired, discussed (1) a social psychology critique of some concepts from critical theory; (2) understanding speech through the lens of speech-act theory; and (3) the increasing ideological bias and lack of viewpoint diversity in higher education.

Following these lectures, a group of students and staff members reacted with open hostility, referencing race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion in their comments and questions. Despite the hostility, Phillips stayed long after the conclusion of each lecture to answer questions, even offering to meet with students later for further discussion. The day after Phillips’ third optional seminar, the Governor’s School fired him without warning or explanation. When he asked why, he was told no explanation would be given, and that there was no appeal or other recourse. Phillips had always received glowing performance reviews without a single negative comment up until the point of the lectures.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Phillips v. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, in the Superior Court for Wake County, North Carolina.

Alliance Defending Freedom:


University student banned from classes after she questioned the lecturer's controversial views about Australia

A mature-aged university student has been banned from class and told to take a re-education course for questioning her lecturer's anti-Australian views.

Grandmother Rae Rancie expressed her disagreement with some assertions made by her lecturer in the 'Politics of Indigenous Australia' unit at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

The lecturer allegedly said that Australia was a 's***hole country', that 'white people think they are the most superior race on the planet' and the country 'baulked at the thought of Peter Dutton as prime minister'.

For questioning the tutor's narrative, the grandmother claims she was on the receiving end of a lengthy diatribe and prohibited from attending class.

'I have been banned from classes, I had to listen online to a recording, and I was shocked,' she told Andrew Bolt on his Sky News Australia program.

'To be the subject of a nine-minute humiliating tirade from the lecturer calling me 'a difficult student', 'that person', I was 'making her go crazy,' I was 'a real life example of racism and disrespectful behaviour,' how she encourages speech in her workshops, but not my type of speech.'

But Ms Rancie admitted to also making some more controversial statements during her class, which fuelled her tutor's heated response.

While her class spoke about the Stolen Generation, Ms Rancie said: 'I don't think they are stolen anymore. They get taken away from harmful situations. It's the government's responsibility to do it.'

She also suggested that parents 'failing to look after their children' was the reason why so many indigenous children were in detention.

The problematic comments got Ms Rancie banned from class, and she was also advised to take a re-education course. But when she applied to do the re-education course she 'heard crickets'.

Ms Rancie said one one of the reasons she chose to continue questioning her lecturer's narrative was because other students in her class told her in private that they agreed with her.

After passing the class, Ms Rancie sent her lecturer an email wishing her a Merry Christmas and attached a video of Aboriginal senator Jacinta Price speaking.

She explained that she asked her lecturer in the email to look at 'both sides of the argument'. 'I've been told that that was very intimidating and I'm in line for another disciplinary process,' Ms Rancie said.

La Trobe University told Daily Mail Australia in a statement: 'As a university La Trobe welcomes and encourages diverse and opposing views and opinions, however we expect debate to be conducted in a respectful manner.'

'If a student behaves disruptively or disrespectfully towards others in class, we will take necessary disciplinary action, including requiring the student to attend a course in respectful behaviour.'

'As this particular matter is subject to ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.'




Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Texas Legislation Strikes Back Against University-Backed Discrimination

Texas state Rep. Carl Tepper, R-Lubbock County, has introduced legislation to abolish “diversity, equity, and inclusion” departments and programs in public universities.

The two-page piece of legislation removes the universities’ ability to fund, promote, sponsor, or support any department, program, or office that “funds, sponsors, or supports an initiative or formulation of diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond what is necessary to uphold the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Universities taking money from the Texas government would no longer be allowed to promote or decry any group based on their immutable characteristics. Specifically, the bill would prevent any university from officially endorsing, dissuading, or interfering with any “lifestyle, race, sex, religion, or culture.”

Tepper’s bill follows a flood of woke, pro-segregation activism from progressives across the nation in the last few years. Racially-charged policies under the guise of “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” have become all too common.

Since 2020, several universities have created task forces or departments to combat “white supremacy” on their campuses. At Arizona State University in 2021, progressive students accosted two white students for sitting in their DEI office-endorsed “multicultural space.” Dozens of speaking events have been canceled by university administrations for not being diverse, equitable, or inclusive enough.

Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, elaborates:

DEI offices have been used to enforce a favored political orthodoxy and activism, rather than foster viewpoint diversity. They are heavy on identity politics and light on free expression. Campus surveys find DEI offices and their vast bureaucracies fail to improve the campus climate for students. Instead, they contribute to ever-growing college administrative bloat, funded by taxpayers.

Rep. Tepper told The Daily Signal that the time for a bill that fights back against state-funded discrimination is now. “Departments are running amuck practicing ‘reverse racism’,” Tepper said.

Tepper pointed to one example from Texas Tech University, in which the college’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion encouraged students to “understand [their] personal relationship to white supremacy and anti-Black racism.” The “#Academics4BlackLives” program encourages black students at Texas Tech to withdraw into black communities, blaming other cultural groups for societal issues.

Tepper warned, “It’s one thing to understand the different experiences we all have—that’s obvious, but encouraging more racism doesn’t help any situation.”

In 2021, the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion staff at Texas Tech held an “anti-racism” training in which students were forcibly segregated by color.

When asked what the role of activism on college campuses was to be in light of this piece of legislation, Tepper responded, “Students should feel free to form any group they want, but I don’t believe in [Texas] funding segregation.”

While the bill is expected to be a tough fight in the Texas House, Tepper remains confident that H.B. 1006 is exactly what Lone Star universities need: “Keep your eye out; the public’s fed up. A lot of tax dollars are flowing into these universities, and with tuition skyrocketing—dollars should go to operating costs and education, not woke activism.”


Scotland: A law student who sued her university after it launched a disciplinary investigation for saying women have vaginas' during a class on transgender issues has had her case dismissed

Mother-of-two Lisa Keogh, 30, was investigated by Abertay University in Dundee during the summer after classmates complained that she made 'hateful, discriminatory, sexist, racist and transphobic' remarks during an online seminar on gender politics.

She was cleared of the misconduct charges after the university's disciplinary board found there was no evidence that she had discriminated against anyone during a two-month probe - which took place while she underwent her final year exams this year.

Ms Keogh launched legal action claiming that the institution broke the Equality Act 2010 by pursuing her for 'expressing her gender critical beliefs' and caused 'stress at the most crucial part of my university career', but her case was dismissed by Dundee Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Gregor Murray dismissed the bid and upheld submissions made by lawyers acting for Abertay last week, saying the university 'was entitled to take steps to investigate complaints'.

The mature student said she is considering an appeal against the ruling and thanked her supporters. She said: 'We are very disappointed with this result and I am currently considering an appeal. I will be meeting with my legal team to discuss moving forward.

'I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support you have given me so far both moral and financial. I hope you will continue to support me moving forward. 'We are currently planning on moving platforms for crowdfunding which will make donating much easier. Thank you all.'

Supporters of gender critical views believe people cannot change sex.

In his written judgment, Sheriff Murray said: 'The defender was entitled to take steps to investigate complaints.

'It could not be guilty of discrimination simply because it did so. Following investigation in this case, the complaint against the pursuer was not upheld.'

Miss Keogh previously argued that the university's actions had amounted to 'a direct attack on my right to free speech'.

She also said she was the victim of a 'modern day witch-hunt' and that the complaints were 'groundless' and the process 'needlessly cruel'.


Harvard’s Latest Discrimination Problem: Antisemitism

While Harvard University is currently before the Supreme Court defending its admissions policies that discriminate against Asian and white students, a recently released report found that the Ivy League university is suffering from discrimination of another kind: antisemitism.

An annual report for the year 2021 released by the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to combating antisemitism, ranked Harvard as the top school for “assaults on Jewish identity.” With 25 incidents reported, Harvard’s total nearly doubled the University of Chicago, which came in second with 13 incidents in 2021, with instances of antisemitism split into three categories: redefinition, denigration and suppression.

The AMCHA defines redefinition as the belief that Zionism and Judaism have nothing to do with each other and that support of Israel is a “colonial political project that exploits Judaism,” while denigration is the attempt to vilify those who do support Israel or Jews with “undue privilege, power or influence.” Suppression calls for boycotting, divesting, and sometimes shutting down events, programs, or beliefs that are deemed Zionist, according to the group.

Harvard had 14 incidents of redefinition, 16 of denigration and 13 of suppression in 2021, according to AMCHA’s report, with many of the incidents overlapping all three categories.

AMCHA Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told the Daily Caller News Foundation that universities have a hard time “spotting antisemitism.”

“The massive assault on Jewish identity — attempts to chisel away and erase students’ connection to their Jewish faith, people, and history — on campuses across the country is no coincidence,” Rossman-Benjamin explained. “It is the latest strategy adopted by those who traffic in antisemitism, whether from the right or the left, to further normalize antisemitism and make it easier to harass, bully and abuse Jews on campus, and harder for Jewish students to seek recourse.”

Two Jewish Harvard students, Zachary Lech and Alex Bernat, told DCNF expressed that during their time at the university antisemitism was not uncommon and realized that it was also not a priority for the administration.

“Harvard wants to shine [a light] on what is currently popular without necessarily taking into consideration the practical ramifications,” Lech, who is a also CAMERA Campus Fellow, said. “They are less, in my view, interested about actual wellbeing as they are in looking good.”

“Quite frankly, the easiest way to frame it is Jews look white and, therefore, you know, it doesn’t work. They don’t care,” Bernat explained.

Bernat and Lech mentioned an event on campus involving Palestinian activist Mohammed El-Kurd, who is originally from Eastern Jerusalem and previously called Zionism a “death cult,” “murderous,” “genocidal” and “sadistic,” according to the Jewish News Syndicate.

During the event, a Jewish student, who is a close friend of Bernat, asked El-Kurd to condemn the acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians against Jewish citizens in Israel. El-Kurd refused and “got tons of applause for it,” Bernat stated.

While Lech and Bernat stated they believe everyone has the right to speak and give their opinion on a subject, both expressed frustration that their concerns about rhetoric like El-Kurd’s were not taken seriously. Lech said the university had a pattern of responding to the concerns of other marginalized groups, but not to the Jewish community.

“My cynical answer would be that yes to some extent Harvard is very comfortable to allow this kind of discrimination to happen on campus just because it’s [commitment] to issues regarding DEI is superficial at best and more done out of a sense that this is what is socially accepted these days and not out of genuine concern for the well being of any group,” Lech said.

Bernat told the DCNF that one of the pro-Palestine groups was allowed to hold this year’s annual “Israel Apartheid Week” during the Jewish holiday of Passover from Apr. 18-22. The Hillel chapter on campus held a “Stand With Israel” rally to combat “the anti-Israel apartheid week,” according to the university’s student newspaper the Harvard Crimson.

Bernat said Jewish high school seniors looking to attend the prestigious university should be aware of what they are walking into. He clarified that most of the time it’s fine, but when it’s not it’s hard to ignore.

“If someone’s Jewish identity is strongly tied to Israel it must feel like a dangerous space,” Lech said.

Rossman-Benjamin noted that a “new solution” was needed.

“University administrators must acknowledge that harassment and bullying that denies Jewish students – or any student – of the ability to fully participate in campus life should never be tolerated, and they must establish a singe behavioral standard for responding to harassing behavior, irrespective of the motivation of the perpetrator or the identity of the victim,” she stated.

El-Kurd, and Harvard did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact